The Wasatch Behind: Blowin' in the wind
"I just came back from SLOP (Salt Lake, Orem, Provo)," Uncle Spud said, "and I see they're putting in a big air-conditioning unit there in the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon."
"They're doing what?" I asked.
"Looks like a big air-conditioning project," he said again. "There are nine huge fans in the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon. They must be 200 feet tall. Looks like they intend to send some cool breezes out over the Orem, Provo area and maybe blow some of the smog out of the valley."
"Oh, good grief," I said. "Those are not air-conditioning fans, they're for generating electricity. That's a wind farm. Those big blades catch the wind blowing from out of the Provo Valley and turn generators that make electricity. It's a power plant from the future."
"Really?" he answered. "That's pretty cool. I knew there was a small windmill at the mouth of the canyon, but I didn't know there was enough wind to turn more than one fan at a time. I thought they had to switch from one windmill to the next to conserve the wind and keep from using it all up. Seems to me that if they tried to turn nine big fans all at once the wind would be spread so thin it would just stop blowing."
"Those smaller windmills have been at the mouth of the canyon for several years recording data for this project," I told him, trying hard to ignore his caveman logic. "They needed to find out how many days each year the wind blows there, how hard it blows and from which direction and all. For some reason, the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon is one of the windiest areas in Utah. I don't know why."
"I had a smart-aleck turkey farmer over in Sanpete tell me once that the wind blows in Spanish Fork because eastern Utah sucks," Spud said with a smile.
"Well, some of those farmers over in Sanpete are mad at us," I explained. "We've had a lot of trouble with them over water. They want some of our water from the Gooseberry area up on Skyline Drive diverted to their side of the mountain. There have been lawsuits about it for several years. They say they own that water legally."
"So let's trade them some of our wind for some of their water," he said.
"No kidding," he said. "If the wind blows in Happy Valley because eastern Utah sucks, that means the wind belongs to us. We created it, so we own it. Right?
"This is getting weird," I offered.
"Lets trade wind for water," he insisted. "The county attorney needs to file an injunction against that wind farm and shut them down until we resolve this issue of wind ownership. That wind is blowing east. It is coming to us. We need that wind and we deserve it. We didn't grant any usage to those folks over in Spanish Fork. They are stealing our wind to turn their power generators. It's just not fair."
"I'm not sure anyone can own the wind," I offered.
"Well, even if we don't own it we can still sell wind-credits," he said. "Let's start a big public relations campaign to make those folks feel guilty about stealing our wind, and then we'll sell them wind-credits the same way those environmentalists sell carbon-credits. A person could pay by how much wind his body blocks. Fat people could pay more than skinny people and tall people more than short people, just to make it fair."
"You've been reading too much about global warming," I said.
"That's it!" he exclaimed. "That's how we'll get them to pay for our wind. We'll tell them that when they start all of those big windmills they're going to drain off all the wind and cause Global Calming. It'll be a make-believe man-made disaster we can exploit. Just think of the possibilities. With Global Calming the smog would never leave places like Salt Lake and Los Angeles. It would never stop raining in Seattle, and everyone in Wyoming would tip over. Endangered turkey buzzards would fall right out of the sky."
"We can't let Global Calming happen," he grinned. "We've got to stop that wind farm or make them buy wind-credits for messing-up the wind. Get Al Gore on the phone. He'll know how to handle this."