Corporate Crime, Wind Turbine Noise, French Nuclear Accident, and More

This installment of the Energy Flashes feature touched briefly on over a dozen topics, including a corporate crime penalty that benefitted the company responsible, wind turbine noise, and a French nuclear accident.

| September/October 1980

065 wind turbine noise - Fotolia - GINA SANDERS

A new generator enabled a large wind turbine in Boone, North Carolina to turn more slowly while still producing power, thus reducing wind turbine noise.


A CORPORATE CRIME PAYOFF: From 1967 to 1977 Texaco, Inc. diverted a vast amount of natural gas from public lands for its own use, and was ordered by the U.S. government to sell the pipelines an equal quantity of fuel over the next 10 years. It's said that the "penalty" will—because of today's higher natural gas prices—increase Texaco's gross profits by at least $373 million!

LET THEM EAT FROZEN CAKE, TOO! People who can't afford fuel this coming winter can turn to a "self-help booklet" issued by the federal government's Community Services Administration. The publication explains—through the use of text and diagrams—how to wrap yourself with newspapers.

THE BLIMP IS BACK (ALMOST): Goodyear Aerospace Corp. of Akron, Ohio has designed a new lighter-than-air craft equipped with four helicopter rotors and four propellers, all of which are driven by small jet engines. Called a "heavy-lift" vehicle, the airship should be capable of carrying loads up to 75 tons.

BUREAUCRACY BLUES: When a Michigan applicant sought a grant from the Energy Research and Development Administration's $10 million loan fund—which was set up to finance work that might bring about solutions to the energy shortage—he was advised that there was only $1 million left ... as $9 million had gone for "administrative expenses."

WIND TURBINE NOISE: The "swish-swish" noise made by the 200-foot-long blade of the world's largest windmill—in Boone, North Carolina—brought so many complaints from residents that the machine had to be shut down at night and on weekends. A new generator will drop the blade's rotation speed from 35 to 23 RPM. And if that move doesn't cure the noise problem, the DOE plans to replace the steel unit with fiberglass.

UNFAIR PLAY: A package of "educational materials" issued to the Austin, Texas school district contained a board game called "Energy Quest." Similar to Monopoly, it teaches children that a nuclear power plant costs a mere $150,000 ... less than an Energy Quest solar installation (totally centralized, of course) and less than most of the game's coal and gas utilities, as well.

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