June 22-07

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2007: June: June 22-07
Loaded barge    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by Rod Burdick

Mary Drew at Pasty Central (Mdrew) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 05:56 am:

The majority of the time when you see a large vessel out on the Big Lake, it's a freighter, carrying a cargo within its holds. Today's shot from Rod Burdick, is a barge (the Gregory J. Busch), that had taken refuge from a storm in Marquette Harbor. Those are certainly some large pipes on board!

By john mich (Johnofmi) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 06:29 am:

Those "large pipes" are sections of support towers for power generating wind turbines.

By Brooke (Lovethekeweenaw) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 06:59 am:

The ever controversial Wind Turbines. I have never seen a barge on the lakes. Even in the harbor the water is choppy.

By Walter M Sands (Wsands) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 07:16 am:

My wife and I have just returned from a three week trip out west where we saw a wind farm at Snowy Range Pass in Wyoming near exit #172 of I-80,the whole ridge line was dotted with several dozen wind turbines.Enjoyed our time out there,but when we got home my wife said she enjoyed our time in Calumet and Baraga the most.Nothing like the U.P.

By maija in Commerce Township (Maija) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 08:48 am:

Why are the wind turbines controversial? Shouldn't we do more to harness wind and solar power?

By Robert Goniea (Rjgoniea) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 08:55 am:

they are controversial because people dont want to look at them in their own back yard and they alledgedly kill migratory birds. Though imo if the bird is dumb enough to fly into one of those things I say it's darwin in action.:)

By Brooke (Lovethekeweenaw) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 09:10 am:

I personally think they look better than any of our other power sources (like Nuclear) Its clean and we have lots of it.

By Deb S. (Usedtobeayooper) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 09:19 am:

That is so great! We did see barges on the Mississippi when we went to visit Ms. Katie. Those were cool too, but nothing compares to seeing them on the big lake.

By Uncle Chuck @ Little Betsy (Unclechuck) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 09:35 am:

Can't say that I've ever seen a barge on the big lake, looks like it has disaster written all over it to me.

By Marianne Y (Marianne) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 09:36 am:

Robert G is right--the very same people who claim they are for cleaning up our air, cleaner power generation, et al, are against wind turbine generators. Wind turbines as a concept might be ok, but don't you dare put them in my backyard is their philosophy. Why? Because these giant wind turbines (they are massive!) do break up the scenic views. That is true, as there are some near the back of my farm in Iowa, and you can't see a plain view of a beautiful sunset anymore. And, they do kill birds, which brings PETA into it.

But, I'd much rather have either nuclear power or wind turbines than what they are planning to start building here in Midland, next year, I think--a coal-fired plant!!! Yuck!!! They claim it is a clean plant, but I've never seen or heard of a clean coal-fired power plant.

By Dunerat (Dunerat) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 09:43 am:

Maija --

Much of the controversy about wind turbines centers on aesthetic issues. The turbine structures are huge, and they bring with them the added visual distraction of very large objects in motion.

In terms of available energy, the ideal locations for wind farms tend to be on mountains or high plateaus, so the turbines are visible for long distances. Often, these are in undeveloped areas we've always appreciated for their pristine natural look. For example, a proposed wind farm in the Appalachians would be visible from lookout points along a full 50 miles of the Appalachian Trail.

We need only look to the Straits of Mackinac for a local lesson on this issue. It has struck me as kind of odd that I absolutely love the sight of the Mackinac Bridge, an enormous man-made structure we have imposed on the area Yet when I look at the wind turbines on the Mackinaw City side,I have a really hard time with them. They don't seem to fit, even though the area is ideal for capturing large amounts of free, clean energy. The supporters of those turbines would love to add more, and I wonder how it would change the character of the area, within a few miles of the largest, wildest State Park in Michigan. Would we all eventually get used to the sight of a turbine farm, just as we adapted to the sight of the Bridge? I don't know.

Additionally, there is environmental concern about large-scale wind farms. You need to cut access for service roads and transmission lines through wilderness areas. This not only causes direct local impacts where the roads go through, but it can also have the effect of opening previously inaccessible areas to vehicle traffic and possible development. And there is the issue of birds being killed striking the turbine blades. Another one is bats; although it's not yet well-understood, there are documented cases of large numbers of bats being killed at certain turbine locations, perhaps because they're not echolocating during migration, or perhaps because they're attracted to the sound of the spining blades.

So it's a tough one all the way around.

By Helen (Heleninhubbel) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 09:45 am:

I think the turbines are cool, and the least dangerous to the enviroment around them....not that I am a "tree hugger" or anything. If they do the job it has got to be worth a try....

God Bless.....beautiful day!!!!

By Janie T. (Bobbysgirl) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 09:58 am:

Last summer Bob and I saw one of these barges come into Duluth, they are funky looking.

By Cindy Pihlaja Russell (Gone2long) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 10:00 am:

If you're going to have people, you're going to have to have the things that support people. There is really no way around it.

By Dan Severs (Seversda) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 10:06 am:

"a coal-fired plant!!! Yuck!!! They claim it is a clean plant, but I've never seen or heard of a clean coal-fired power plant."

Actually, there is such a thing. Coal-gasification is a process which has little to no emissions because of the efficicncy of the burning. I don't know much more about the process...my wife is the engineer; she is the one who explained it to me (she works at a coal power plant). The only problem with coal-gasificaiton is the cost to build the plant. Even converting current plants to the new process is cost prohibative. Much like anything else related to the environment, until companies can make money by using/producing it, it won't catch on.

By Liz B (Lizidaho) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 10:30 am:

See the picture story of these items on the following site.


I love seeing our rolling foothills of the Rockies dotted with the modern "windmills."

By Eddyfitz (Eddyfitz) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 10:34 am:

There are many barges that operate on the great lakes hauling oil, kerosene, pulp wood, stone, steel coils etc. They operate with a crew of only 5 or 6 men as compared to freighters that have crews of 25 to 30. There is an advantage here in payroll overhead even tho less tonnage is carried per trip.

The way we are going with the increase in gasoline usage we are going to need our "home grown" energy sources..We cannot keep importing oil from the middle east or other countries that despise our government.
Wind power farms are being built all over the Midwest as we type today i.e. Michigan, Ontario, New York, Ohio. I have seen thousands of these operating in the Palm Springs, Ca area and providing electricity to 3 different states.

The staunch enviromentilists keep halting any oil drilling off of California, Florida, New Jersey etc, instead they would rather have us get our energy from Mexico, Canada and Venazuala etc.

I personally live 9 miles from a Nuke plant that has been running now for 20 some years ( I helped construct this for 3 years)..We have had plants in Michigan decommissioned after running for 40 years and never had any major problems with them.

By Joe Dase (Up_miner) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 12:22 pm:

Nuke is the way to go, if Jimmy Carter didn't put an end to breeder reactors we would have allot more power with less waste. That and if we could reprocess our fuel, with uranium prices as high as they are I would think that it would be economic to reprocess the used fuel. Further the price of Uranium will only go up since we are running short on uranium from old Russian Nuclear weapons...

By Kathy P. (Katiaire) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 12:56 pm:

LIZB, thanks for the link to a really neat website. And Cindy, I agree 100%. If there are people, there will be development to sustain those people. One thing is certain, we must develop new energy sources which are environmentally friendly.

By Marianne Y (Marianne) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 01:20 pm:

Another disappointing thing on alternative energy sources: some of the environmental groups don't approve of hydroelectric power. They are worried about fish not being able to spawn because they supposedly can't get over the dams. So, they are making areas in Washington & Oregon tear down their hydroelectric power dams. I believe they even want dams with fish ladders torn down, which is crazy.

The crazy thing is that they don't mind if a single sea lion or two or whatever manage to get into the fish ladders, sit there in the ladders, & eat thousands of the fish that were going up the ladders to spawn. The sea lion is a protected species so he can just sit there at eat all of the fish, to his heart's content. And, they don't think about what would happen to those areas when large lakes disappear, or the water supplies, etc. I really haven't figured out how they come to the conclusions they do.

Hydroelectric power is another great clean (& free) energy source that is going by the wayside. What a complete waste!

By maija in Commerce Township (Maija) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 02:08 pm:

ya never knows whatcher gonna find on Pasty, and I particularly enjoyed the conversation/information today, so far. More to come?

By Budone (Budone) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 02:24 pm:

And the most deaths to migratory birds occur on the guide wires on cell and radio towers.

By Ann Muir (Annm) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 03:15 pm:

I grew up in Mio, Michigan, which is located on the AuSable River and has a hydroelectric plant. Not only is it the cleanest, least intrusive way to generate electricity, but trout fishermen used to come from all over the country to fish there. As someone said earlier, how do these "environmentalists" come up with some of their ideas!

By Kathyrn Laughlin (Kathyl) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 04:06 pm:

Hi all
I like seeing the wind turbines at Mackinaw City, just like I enjoy looking at the bridge. I remember hearing, or reading, that problems with bird migration can be minimized if you watch where you put it (same story with grumpy home-owners). I also have heard of off-shore wind farms proposed in the Atlantic.

We see lots of barges go by in Lake Huron when we're at our cabin (we are near Cheboygan, so it counts as the Straits area). Sometimes they do look like they're about to sink. Note that an old freighter with the engines removed and a huge tug permanently in back is also classed as a barge---though I call them zombie ships.

By Joe Dase (Up_miner) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 05:12 pm:

It should be noted also that wind turbines are a supplement, not a replacement. Wind turbines are unreliable since they rely on wind, which we all know can be intermittent... I think the rule of thumb is you expect them to put out 20% of their nameplate capacity, which isn't much.

On another note, my fiancé and I just found out we are having a baby boy in November!

By Uncle Chuck @ Little Betsy (Unclechuck) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 05:23 pm:


By Jodie Hagan (Jodiehagan) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 05:33 pm:

I think the most underused energy source is solar. Imagine if every hospital, school, large business, grocery store, mall etc. in places like Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and other sunny states, put solar pannels on their roofs. Even here in not so sunny Oregon, I have a friend who's husband built their house and put solar pannels on it. In the summer they pay nothing for electricity, and sometimes even make more than they need, so then they get a credit on their next bill.

Take it even further and imagine if over the last 8 to 10 years when the housing boomed all over the country, builders had added solar pannels to homes. House prices in many places have doubled in price, and people bought anyway. I don't think solar pannels would have made a house too expensive for people to buy even if they add $20,000.00 to the price. The home/company owner could even sell back power to the power company if they make more electricity than they need. If you look at a lot of the new homes going up, kitchens are made with granite counter tops, wood floors, bedrooms have huge master suites with walk in closets etc. - standard, because that is what consumers want. If consumers demand solar powered homes they would get that too. And the price for solar pannels would drop as demand went up. Imagine going to Cost-co or Sam's club and seeing solar pannels. Why not? Cost-co has custom garage doors with instalation service, flooring, tile, custom landscaping service, custom decorating service. Why not add solar pannels too?

I can't think of any environmental problems with solar power. No birds, bats or fish die. No lanscape dotted with anything unususal. I've always wondered why solar pannels haven't cought on.

By Paul H. Meier (Paul) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 06:51 pm:

Interesting two days! Yesterday's conversation about the Gay stack and Mining ruins. Back when those artifacts were built, they were the sign of prosperity. Now some see them as an eyesore.
Today we have wind turbines. Here on the Illinois prairie, we are in the midst of turf war over the towers. NIMBY's v. farmers and the wind companies. There are over 400 towers planned in my county (Woodford)which is rather small. If they are actually built, I will have 3 475' towers within 1/4 mile of the house. I can't say I want them there but I will not fight them. In neighboring McLean Co. there was been a very bitter fight going on over them for 2 years. The lines are drawn between farmers who gain lease money for each tower on their land and the rural small lot homeowners who see them as an eyesore and detrimental to their property values and lifestyle. One wind farm is up an operational on the East side of McLean Co. and there are claims of property values going down, and a mysterious fire that destroyed a $500,000 home 1/2 mile from a tower which happened to have been on the market for some time. Battle lines are being drawn here in Woodford reflecting much the same issues.
Look what happens anytime someone mentions a new mine on the UP! NIMBY's turn out in droves. We in the US love to drive our large metal cars and live in homes powered by electricity coming to us on copper and aluminum wires. But heaven forbid if we actually have to live near the sources of these commodities! Much better if somebody off shore produces it cheaply without any controls. We've had our head in the sand way too long. Even this "new" wind technology is out sourced. The companies manufacturing the turbines and towers are Spanish or German.
We can burn coal cleanly, and we can build safe nukes, we can harness the wind, and we can even mine copper and iron cleanly. We have face up to the fact that we might have to look at the plants. If we don't we are doomed to be a nation of sniveling cubical dwellers at the mercy of the producing nations.

By Capt. Paul (Eclogite) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 08:39 pm:

I couldn't have said better, Paul.......

By Capt. Paul (Eclogite) on Friday, June 22, 2007 - 10:23 pm:

I couldn't agree more Paul.......

By Brenda Leigh (Brownmoose) on Saturday, June 23, 2007 - 05:15 am:

Wow- IF YOU HAVEN'T HIT THE NAIL STRAIGHT ON THE HEAD WITH THIS STATEMENT. We certainly have become a spoiled society. I feel that they are not enough of us that are willing to sacrifice to save our planet. The U.S. as a whole is such a wasteful country.

"We in the US love to drive our large metal cars and live in homes powered by electricity coming to us on copper and aluminum wires. But heaven forbid if we actually have to live near the sources of these commodities!"


By David Hiltunen (Davidcorrytontn) on Saturday, June 23, 2007 - 02:19 pm:

I have just been sitting back and reading the past 5 day's.We had friends from L.MI.here,so been out running around the Mountains showing them this great state of TN.So now that I have time I was going to write some.However like Capt.Paul wrote,I agree and can't say it any better either then Paul H.did.But I do know this.. Limited government is good..Privatization gets things done right!

By Mel, Kansas (Mehollop) on Saturday, June 23, 2007 - 10:13 pm:

Frankly, I have to say that I would love to have a wind farm in my backyard. I love to watch them, and find it to be a thrill any time I drive by. Have to stop and watch them spin for a while. :)

Maybe the complaints about lackluster sunsets come from the fact that due to the wind farm, there's a little less smog in the air to make the sunset "prettier?"

Mainly joking there.

By Danbury (Danbury) on Monday, June 25, 2007 - 04:17 am:

The windturbines (4 of them) we've got on the first ridge behind the city were supposed to kill bats. The controversy was fun, one side screaming "batkillers", the other "bat distributers", assuming that hundreds of dead bats were put there to sabotage the turbines and have them removed. Solution: after finding that most dead bats were found after calm summer nights (when turbine output was rather low anyway), during similar conditions the turbines were turned off. Dent in output: somewhere around 1-2%.
Less output than announced: Sign of lousy planning. So far, every windfarm in Germany was so conservatively planned that as a rule, output is actually higher than expected.
Good point, wilderness riddled with cables/trails.
People got used to electricity cables and watertowers in towns. How about wind turbines? Put them near towns, on agricultural lands, reduce the consumption of unspoiled land?
Nuclear: With waste not even yet adressed, nuclear is hardly clean energy (dumping is not adressing but avoiding). Also, who's going to pay the bill for dumping and storage? Gets pretty expensive for a longer time than most want to admit. Breeding technology, unavoidable as urane is a limited ressource like oil, produces lots of plutonium. Not to mention the increased amount of waste, since even with breeding, nuclear energy is no unlimited source of energy. Same trouble as with fusion - no immediate waste, but some day the plants will have to be renewed. Then they turn into waste - radioactive waste.
With windturbines, solar cells and water energy plants scattered around, energy production would be a lot more visible. Which I think would be a very good thing.
Water: Dams do alter the watershed and influence the biosphere. Ought to be taken into account. Fishladders do not always work, usually due to inappropriate design.
The limitations of wind and solar energy (no wind, darkness make the mix necessary, including water, specifically pumped-storage hydroelectricity. An issue in itself, but as was said better before, people need ressources (or: back to the caves ;))
With humans involved, there's no "safe" technology. I'd rather live next to a windturbine that might fall on my head because the good-for-nothing builder cheated on material than in a world with nuke plants where private business and government supervising mess things up out of greed, stunheaded routine or plain old carelessness, which they will sooner or later. Very human traits, come to think of it.

Who thought I wouldn't put in lots of two cents on windturbines and such? ;)

By Joe Dase (Up_miner) on Tuesday, June 26, 2007 - 11:31 am:

Yes uranium is a limited resource, but luckily there’s ALLOT of it, and it produces allot of energy. Its not a permanent solution but a very good intermediate step. The point of breeders is to make plutonium, which can be used as a fuel itself. With reprocessing the fuel, you get much more use out of the fuel and you end up with much shorter half life wastes. The nuclear waste situation isn’t so bad to dispose of, geology does a very good job of trapping it, as there used to be naturally forming nuclear reactors on earth.

As far as fusion goes, that is the ultimate solution, sure you still produce some waste (read the tiles in the vessel), however it would take about 300 years so reduce its radioactivity to coal ash. No matter what you use to power the world it will produce waste, Fusion produces ALLOT less waste the fission, is more biologically sound, would not be high level waste and is within our current technology level.

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