Chicago Offshore Wind Negates Crackpot Invention

By Paul Gipe

An edited version of the following was read on National Public Radio’s Weekend Sunday program.

Weekend Edition Sunday

Re: Robbie Harris (sp)’s report on Wind Energy for Chicago/Sunday 26 August, 2001

Those of us who work with wind energy always welcome interest in the subject. However, Robbie Harris’ piece on a crackpot scheme to put windmills on the tops of Chicago skyscrapers is a disservice to the men and women who are making the use of wind energy a commercial reality. Under the influence of the so-called inventor, she first dismisses conventional wind turbines as something that won’t work for Chicagoans, before going on to extol the virtues of this wondrous new device. In contrast to most NPR reports, there were no interviews with anyone else knowledgeable about the subject, who might have shed light on whether Bill Becker’s invention was worth pursuing let alone airing on public radio. This was a serious oversight.

Chicagoans have no further to look than eastward to Lake Michigan for where they can harvest wind energy. As Denmark continues to show, where land is constrained the turbines can march out to sea. The Danish parliament building looks out across the city of Copenhagen to several wind power plants, one in the shallow waters off the coast. Chicago could do the same.

Wind energy has come of age as a commercial generating technology. Reports on untested inventions serves only to distract public policy from the real job at hand, building a sustainable society. Such reports allow politicians to wrap themselves in a green mantle while effectively doing nothing.


Paul Gipe (as in Pipe with a hard G)
Local station KVPR-Fresno/Bakersfield, CA