Don’t fall for Windfall

As the anti-wind power docu-diatribe "Windfall" opened this weekend in Chicago and New York, AWEA extended an unusual invitation to noted film critic Roger Ebert to come visit an actual operating wind farm so he can better judge for himself whether the film tells the truth.

AWEA’s letter, from AWEA VP for Public Affairs Peter Kelley, gets right to the heart of the matter: "It was disappointing to see such a normally clear-eyed film critic taken in by such a fact-free and slanted take on wind power."

Viewers may be taken in by Windfall’s HD cinematography and lingering landscape views of rural New York landscapes, but there is little pretense of balance or scientific accuracy in its content. Some other reviewers have noticed. Comments AV Club’s Noel Murray, "The documentary isn’t big on hard data; instead, [Director Laura] Israel allows the majority of her interviewees to deliver anecdotes, speculation, anti-corporate conspiracy theories, and just a few statistics, rebutted only by their equally riled-up neighbors or by industrial videos." Variety’s Rob Nelson describes it as "gassy" and "strictly and gratingly" one-sided.

AWEA urges Mr. Ebert to see for himself, inviting him "to tour a wind farm within a two-hour drive of your home in Chicago, and to meet with wind workers for a roundtable discussion of how misinformation is impacting their lives and careers – at which they will answer any questions you have. We can include neighbors of the project, and health experts, in this discussion as well… "

The letter continues, "No energy source, or human activity for that matter, is completely benign. Regardless of how we decide to power our society, there will be some impacts… It is important to keep in mind that wind power won’t produce any pollution — today, tomorrow or over the next 10 or 20 years. The National Academy of Sciences has estimated the "hidden costs" of traditional energy sources — largely due to the human health impacts from pollution — at $120 billion per year. Because of this, wind energy has remarkable health benefits when compared to other energy sources."

American Wind Energy Association extends the same invitation to all viewers and critics of Windfall the movie, and all those who come across the colossal quantity of misinformation about wind power circulated on the Internet:

Come see for yourself. Visit a working wind farm and watch and listen to the wind turbines. You won’t hear much, but you will gain a better understanding of why we are proud of what our industry has achieved.

This year, U.S. wind turbines will generate as much electricity as a train full of coal stretching from Los Angeles to London, with no air or water pollution, greenhouse gases, or hazardous waste. You won’t learn that from Windfall, because this film is not about the choices we make as a society, but rather about smearing an industry and misinforming all the Americans who are counting on wind to make more clean, renewable energy than any other source — right now, when we need it the most.

Tom Gray,