Blowin’ in the wind

A serious public policy debate is under way and it has to do with energy and how we make the transition from fossil fuel to a wide array of renewable energy sources.

PBS is doing its part in furthering that discussion with a program to air Tuesday night on KACV-TV. Texas Panhandle residents ought to look and listen, given this region’s stake in the future of renewable energy development.

The program is called “Powering the Planet — Earth: The Operators’ Manual,” and it airs at 9 p.m on Tuesday or you can watch it online. It will highlight those nations that are transitioning into the renewable energy era. Where does the United States stand in that effort? Stay tuned and find out.

But the critical element for Panhandle residents lies in the region’s leading-edge stance in the development of wind energy, one of the many renewable resources available to producers.

In case you haven’t noticed, we have a lot of wind around here. It’s endless, relentless, sometimes annoying, plentiful and clean. Drive in any direction from Amarillo and you’re likely to see wind farms sprouting up all across the Caprock. The Panhandle isn’t the only West Texas region that is developing wind energy. Head south toward Lubbock and then turn east toward Snyder and Sweetwater. The mesas in the South Plains region are covered with wind turbines.

Is wind power cheap to produce? Not yet. But it’s clearly part of the discussion that must continue as the nation seeks to wean itself of fossil fuel, much of which still is imported from unstable and dangerous regions around the world — and from countries that aren’t always friendly to the United States.

Of course, wind isn’t the only alternative energy resource to be explored. France and Germany are powering their homes and factories with nuclear-powered electricity. Indeed, France is relying almost exclusively on nuke plants.

We do know this about fossil fuel: It is a finite resource that will run out eventually. The world must find alternatives to the oil and natural gas we’re pumping out of the ground. We have one of those alternatives here on the High Plains.

Let’s see whether we’re ever going to put all that incessant wind to maximum use.

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