No There are Not 14,000 Abandoned Wind Turbines in California
Never Have Been
And, No There are not 14,000 Abandoned Wind Turbines in the USA, North America, or Anywhere for that Matter
Type “14,000 abandoned wind turbines” into Google and you’ll get 70,000 hits. And not one of those links has the facts straight. Not that any of the bloggers using that number care. One, who doesn’t use his real name, even goes so far to reply that because he was challenged about the accuracy of that number, referred his readers to . . . yes, another blogger who repeated the same lie.
For some background on this, see my 2013 article San Gorgonio Pass and the “Abandoned Wind Turbines” Near Palm Springs, California—an Update.
The best I can determine–that’s a lot of links to check–this myth all started with someone in Hawaii who was sore about a small group of abandoned wind turbines at South Point on the Big Island of Hawaii. (I may have complained about those turbines myself at some point.)
What Makes Good Propaganda
All good propaganda begins with a kernel of truth. Joseph Goebbels knew this and practiced it well. The Nazi’s called it the “Big Lie.”
What you do is take a kernel of truth and distort it just enough to prove whatever point you want to make. It’s very simple, but powerfully effective.
The Kernel of Truth
Here’s the kernel of truth: There were 14,000 wind turbines in California.
That’s simple enough. That’s a number that can be verified. You could call me for example, and last week several media outlets did just that.
The Propaganda or the Big Lie
Our Hawaii blogger then takes that fact and makes this.
“California’s wind farms — then comprising about 80% of the world’s wind generation capacity — ceased to generate much more quickly than Kamaoa [the abandoned wind farm]. In the best wind spots on earth, over 14,000 turbines were simply abandoned. Spinning, post-industrial junk which generates nothing but bird kills.”
It sounds authoritative stated with such conviction. And he quotes one wind energy advocate extensively, yours truly, to buttress his assertions. (This is the reason so many media outlets then called me for verification.) But note that he doesn’t quote anyone in that paragraph, certainly not me.
That’s the brilliant part. You make a wild assertion under the guise of authenticity and your reader just swallows it–hook, line, and sinker. Then you reel them in.
There’s more in the blog of course. For example, there’s a photo with a telephoto lens that shows a jumble of turbines on truss towers. I’ve taken that picture myself in the past.
The telephoto lens makes the shot particularly ugly. The rule for photographers in using telephoto lens to make a point is to state explicitly that the photo was taken with a telephoto lens. Of course they don’t do that in the blog. Why should they. They have a propaganda point to make.
The caption says “Tehachapi’s dead turbines”.
This photo then appears to reaffirm the statement of the “14,000 abandoned turbines” made earlier.
But what the reader won’t know, but I do, is that those turbines work, are operational, are in service–whatever you want to call it–and generate electricity. They are far from “dead”.
As a critic of dead turbines for many years–and that’s the reason I am quoted extensively in the blog–I can tell the difference between abandoned, or what I call derelict wind turbines, and those producing electricity.
I suspect the blogger doesn’t care one way or the other. He has a point to make.
What You Need to Know
This is how such pernicious propaganda works.
The anti-renewables (anti-wind, anti-EVs, climate skeptic, anti-everything) blogger makes a bogus statement. Then an affiliated or sympathetic fellow-traveler reposts the blog as gospel. Then the post goes viral. Within weeks if not days Google will have a unique search string to take you to the innumerable sites around the globe where variants on the original blog can be found.
But of course it doesn’t stop in the blogoshere. That’s not the intent. The intent is to get the propaganda into much wider circulation than a few wacko web sites.
That’s where the next phase begins.
The affiliated bloggers then send “news tips” to their allies in the so-called mainstream media (MSM) alerting them to a “scandal” or a “coverup” (there are a lot of conspiracy peddling blogs out there) that needs “exposed”.
Susceptive writers in the MSM then read the blog, make a few cursory phone calls as if to do their own original research, and then write their version basically parroting the original blog. Tom Leonard’s over-the-top opinion piece in London’s Daily Mail is a good example.
Now the bloggers have a MSM endorsement of the original propaganda, and the whole cycle can begin again.
The theme then bounces around the echo chamber until bloggers tire of it and move on to the topic du jour.
In the meantime, any anti-wind, anti-renewables, or any climate-change skeptic has a handy reference to use when they need it.
My Position on Derelict Wind Turbines
I have been a critic of derelict wind turbines in California for years in part because I knew some day it would be used against not only wind energy but renewable energy in general. Apparently, that day has come.
What I say in my letter to the Daily Mail is if you pay a fair price for the electricity, then it pays to operate the turbines. And if turbines don’t operate they should be removed. It’s as simple as that.
I go further and say that the solution to abandoned wind turbines, as I informed the Daily Mail, is a removal or demolition bond. This is a well-known concept in common law, something we share with Britain.
And I’ve been saying that for more than two decades–you can quote me on that.