With the current political campaigns focused on the downturn in the economy, people are tightening their belts. As a result, alternative forms of energy have come to the forefront.
One alternative energy solution that has been gaining attention is wind power. In a New York Times article earlier this week, green jobs are moving into the Midwest and many of them are due to the wind turbines that are being installed for various projects.
Recently, Governor Jon Corzine of New Jersey told the Associated Press that his state plans to increase their wind power by 13% which would power approximately 1 million homes. Corzine was also quoted as saying his state was looking to “harness this potential wind source off our coasts, and bring economic development, environmental benefits, and, new, green jobs to the Garden State.”
Earlier this month, New Jersey was granted the rights to build wind turbines off shore. It is estimated that 20% the state’s power will come from renewable energy.
Massachusetts hopes to do just that with its Cape Wind project. Off the coast of Nantucket in a shallow water area called the Horseshoe Shoal, wind turbines have been planned with the expectation that the overall megawatt production rate will be 75% of the electricity demand for Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket combined.
But in order to make use of wind, the turbines that generate that power into electricity need a home. As with Cape Wind, there is a Not-In-My-Backyard reaction to it. Often, the largest tracts of land are found on reservations owned and managed by Native American tribes. Across the country, many of them in the West and Midwest, these tribes are taking wind power seriously.
According to a New York Times article dated October 9th, the Sioux tribes in South Dakota are simply taking advantage of a natural resource. “We’re poor,” said Ken Haukaas, a Sioux tribal official in Rosebud, SD, as quoted in the Times article. But, Haukaas pointed out that the wind is free and there for the taking. “There’s energy here all the time.”
For some time now, the gaming industry is what has led Native American tribes to new-found riches. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, in particular, is one of the richest tribes in the country because of their Foxwoods Casino in Ledyard. The casino is one of the largest in the world.
But these tribes are looking at the economy and wondering if there isn’t another way. The Mohegan Tribe, who manage another casino, the Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino, has used fuel cell technology to reduce their carbon emissions. The system takes in fuel and air and not only produces electricity but a large amount of waste heat. That heat is then used as residual heating rather than ignored as run off. Traditional fuel systems use coal and oil and are only 33% efficient while fuel cell technologies are 99% efficient.
In their 2007 UTC Power Report to the CT DEP, the Mohegan Tribe stated that it was their long-term goal to become self-sufficient from the electrical grid. And in 2004, the tribe was honored the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable MVP2 Award for their sustainability projects.
Perhaps wind power for these tribes is a plan in the not-too-distant future? Only time will tell how green they will be.