Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Clean energy from wind AND water?

Photo taken by me in southwestern Wisconsin, 2007, from a moving car. I was not driving at the time.
In 2006, renewable energy equirements were increased for Wisconsin utilities. The mandate for renewable energy is no less than 6 percent by 2010, and 10 percent by 2015 of total retail energy delivered on a statewide basis (source).
President Obama stressed the need to expand solar and wind power during his inaugural address- one of the things I really like about him (and Jimmy Carter, but that is a discussion for another day). The Obama administration supports a national mandate for 10% of the country's electricity to come from renewable power by 2012 and 25% by 2025 (source).

To this end, some people have wondered whether the Estabrook Dam can be used for hydroelectric power. Here is a video showing how strong the flow can be on the Milwaukee River- taken approximately March 8th, 2009.


Erik Helm said...

The 1937 permit grant found that the dam could produce @ 50 horsepower around 50% of the time, perhaps a bit more as it was based on the available technology of the day. That would equate to the power a portable generator produces.

I agree that wind is a very viable energy source, but many dams on rivers such as the Columbia and Snake have effectively led to the destruction of multiple species of salmonids. Fish have to migrate to spawn, including on the Milwaukee where native smallmouth bass run up from the lake. The dam as an electrical generator would have to allow for fish passage with a ladder, which would reduce the flow to the generator, further reducing the 50 horsepower output. Spate rivers are usually bypassed for electrical generation due to their nature of low flow followed by rain and snow melt flooding.

KeepItReal said...

Why am I not surprised that a dam removal advocate would immediately shoot down this idea? Why am I not surprised that he justifies this rejection with data from 1937, thus ignoring monumental technological advances that have occurred since that time? Why am I also not surprised that he refers to the original dam permit and application here but elsewhere ignores that the original permit states that the dam was constructed for FLOOD CONTROL?

His argument is typical of the so called "environmentalists" who wish to creat a fantasy world that they could never survive in. Worshippers of "nature" and "evolution" that they are, they ignore the fact that man is a part of "nature" and "evolution" and therefore alters the environment as he "naturally" sees fit. Man has managed to develop a world in which most citizens of the USA, and indeed much of the world, live in luxury. They could not survive in the world that they advocate for. For that matter, I doubt if Mr. Helm could survive if he lived exactly 2 miles west.

The "environmentalists", living in their cozy in winter and cool in summer houses seek to shoot down any form of energy production. Here, a potential hydro-power dam is shot down because it is small and it might not be good for fish. There, a coal plant is shot down because the coal is "dirty". Somewhere else, a natural gas pipeline that would allow the use of "clean" natural gas for electrical power generation is shot down because it would go through a forest somewhere. Wind turbines are shot down because they are "ugly" or they might kill some birds or alter the weather somewhat. Meanwhile, they all sit in their armchairs and rail against a war for foreign oil that they depend upon for their cushy lifestyle.

Real conservationists and environmentalists seek to effectively manage and utilize the resources of nature. They are realistic and realize that every use of natural resources has its trade-offs. They understand all of the above issues related to energy production along with many more. They also recognize the value in teaching our youth about the value of nature and all of its resources, and especially the conservation of those resources.

The Estabrook Dam impoundment is an ideal and easily accessible way to introduce people, and especially youth, to the beauty of nature. This is the reason why the DNR operates many State Parks with recreational lakes created by dams. Nature is "tamed" in order that more may see, enjoy and understand it. Nature is also "tamed" so that more may benefit from it. Many of the people living 2 miles west of Mr. Helm never get out of the city in their lives. A one hour drive to the Kettle Morraine is out of the question for them. Why take this from them? Why not re-develop the Estabrook dam impoundment into an even more useful water-based recreational area? The benefits of that would long outlive Mr. Helm and the County Board.

Erik Helm said...

Keep it real;

I was stating facts, not opinion. Facts based on research and years of study. Sorry I touched a nerve and caused your attack.

Another fact. From all the research I have done, I found no flood control design in the dam; engineering or historical. From what I understand, the flood relief was undertaken by driving a deep channel through an 'S' curve in the river, which slowed the river and caused flooding in the Lincoln park area. Once the channel was complete, the water moved much faster, preventing buildup and flooding. However, now the river was emptying the slower water section between Estabrook and Kletzch, and the dam was built to keep the water elevated. That, I think, is its entire purpose.

On another point. I am not ignorant of technological advances, but no technology in the world can turn a spate river into an effective power generator.
As to your other points, I see no rational way to respond.


Anonymous said...

Get real,
I am really not following any of your logic here. All Mr. Helm was saying was that the Estabrook dam would never be a viable candidate for producing hydroelectric power. His arguments are solid and quite true. Your response to him is a complete non-sequitur diatribe.

To turn your conversation on its head, why not use the removal of the dam as a way to teach the youth of this city all about the wonders and beauty of a free flowing river and a river system changes throughout the course of a year.

Your criticism of so-called environmentalists is tired and reminds of the crap you hear on WTMJ in the morning.

Returning to the original thread, I challenge you to produce one piece of evidence supporting your argument that producing hydroelectric power at estabrook dam is a viable option.

KeepIt Real said...

So who was it that hit the nerve? You know you are hypocrites.

willie dynamite said...

keep it real--
It's nice to have you respond to the other posters concerns with more name calling...I'd love to see some evidence about the milwaukee river and estabrook dam as a good site for hydro. Your response is childish uncalled for and exposes the limits in your point of view. In the end, the river will be a river long after the dam & you and i are gone from the world. your arguments are baseless and counter productive to a constructive conversation. The evironmental and economic benefits of a free flowing river vs the environmental and econmic costs of the impoundment are the issue at hand, not your baggage against "environmentalists", "evolution", "taming nature" and whatever else you want to rail against. How about you stick to the issue at hand? I notice no one has resorted to calling you names even if(god forbid) we have a different opinion? The river WILL be a river, live with it.

Erik Helm said...

One of the reasons I use my actual name, and not a username or pseudonym is that I stand by what I say, and say it in a rational manner, without ad hominem attacks. How is that hypocritical? I respect River Otter's opinion, even if we disagree, and she is civil. Is it too much to expect the same respect in return?