Impact on Landscape or Massachusetts
More and more Mainers, who earlier had bought into the simplistic conclusion that wind turbines in Maine are a wonderful "green" solution for our energy needs, are learning that, by and large, Maine is not getting a justifiable economic or energy return from the wind turbines that mar the landscape.
Recently I hiked up to the top of Lowell Ridge to see where 21, 400-foot wind towers will be placed. As I crested the mountain I came face to face with an energy policy that is at war with itself. The environmental destruction taking place there pits those seeking to reverse climate change against those who wish to preserve Vermont's pristine natural resources.
Those customers aren't the only ones who are being fleeced. Even at high premiums the entire wind industry would be blown away by conventional power sources if not for huge taxpayer subsidies. According to a 2008 Energy Information Agency (EIA) report, the average 2007 subsidy per megawatt hour for wind and solar was about $24, compared with an average $1.65 for all others.
Without a doubt, the most vocal debate at Town Meeting this Saturday is likely to center around Article 13, which seeks to appropriate $3.9 million to erect a wind turbine at the landfill in Madaket to offset energy costs at that facility.
Maine's experience with is instructive. While everyone was worried about the "visual" pollution of 450-foot tall white towers sticking up four to five times higher than the surrounding forest, the most invasive aspect of wind turbines has actually been the incessant low frequency "thuds" that come from the blades as they rotate.
This has caused issues for the people who live within the sound's radius which, even in forested areas, is significantly further away than the quarter mile setback.
For years environmentalist fought ski areas over putting one lift up to a summit for thousands of skiers and riders to enjoy. Now some of these same environmentalists support desecrating entire ridge lines with heavy-duty roadways and giant wind turbines towering 400 to 450-feet with wing spans greater than a 747. I do not get it. How do these big white erections pass as "green"?
Locking in prices is supposedly desirable because it will protect NStar customers from price volatility. Yet we are in the midst of a natural gas boom that promises to revolutionize America's energy picture. Natural gas prices have plummeted from near $5 per MMbtu last summer to around $2.60 per MMbtu. According to the EIA, the energy equivalent of $3 natural gas is $18 oil. If our current prices are high, why would we want to lock them in?
The following letter was published by Dr. Pierpont in the Massachusetts newspaper, South Coast Today, responding to a letter written by a Fairhaven, MA, resident named Donald Mulcare, titled "Pierpont's wind syndrome study isn't applicable to Fairhaven" (2/23/12).
The facts are the facts and the science is very clear - mountaintop industrial wind destroys forests, lays waste to fragile mountaintops, alters mountain hydrology, causes soil erosion and heavy metal leaching, eliminates important wildlife habitat, kills birds and bats, and does NOT reduce carbon emissions. In addition, it destroys the wild, scenic quality and silence of the mountains with flashing red lights and industrial high and low frequency sounds.
The headlines focused on NStar's commitment to purchase 27 percent of the expensive power to be generated by Cape Wind - something the utility had been loath to do. Less noticed was another concession NStar made: that it would not use any hydropower to meet state-mandated renewable energy targets for the next five years.
The Patrick Administration can continue to ignore the green bubbles bursting around us, while it's in the public interest that they provide us with an honest accounting and some painful acknowledgments.
The Schatz Center's professors simply overlooked these issues in their op-ed article. They painted a positive green picture for the county to see, leaving out the perils and sacrifices Ferndale must now consider. Apparently, in their exuberant interest in Shell Wind, the Schatz energy practitioners think that industrializing the gateway to the priceless Lost Coast is acceptable -- at any cost.
What a wonderful world it would be if Fairhaven's "town counsel" felt an obligation to recognize and defend the rights of ordinary citizens to protect themselves from dangerous decisions emanating from Town Hall. I suppose that could or would happen if the turbines were to be located in the Fort Phoenix area. Instead, they are intended for the same general neighborhood already plagued by the nauseating scent of the sewage treatment plant.
The problem at this point could not be clearer: the town's wind turbines have intruded on the lives of residents in that area. The community must now ﬁnd a solution. More bickering, more accusations of unfairness, of conspiracy will do nothing, nothing whatsoever, to help get to that solution.
We understand the distress of the residents in the neighborhood of the turbines. It is clear something has to be done.
The irony of fighting global warming by destroying an untrammeled mountaintop can't be ignored. To me, it sounds suspiciously like the Vietnam-era fallacy that you have to destroy the village in order to save it. ...We need a more thoughtful way to make those choices when mountaintops are involved.
Vermont's mountain summits are too precious a resource to be made a pawn in the alternative energy game.
And yet the DPU - controlled by the pro-Cape Wind Patrick administration - determined that the contract is both in the public interest and "cost-effective," as required by the Green Communities Act. The court essentially confirmed that the state board had the legal authority and the expertise to make those determinations.
The reason the information in them should be highly valued is that they have been submitted, reviewed and accepted by an academic journal ...It further requires the authors to disclose any financial support or conflict of interest. This is important because information funded by the wind industry has an innate tendency to suppress dangerous safety information because it will lower demand for their product. If wind turbines are perceived to be dangerous, it will be harder to sell them to towns like Fairhaven.
Opposition to wind power is about far more than health, as some critics suggest. There is good reason to believe Ontarians have been sold a bill of goods about turbine developments, that they're not nearly as efficient nor will produce the number of jobs the Dalton Gang says they will.
If the Town of Fairhaven refuses to acknowledge new, scientific and experiential evidence that is being made available to them before the turbines are constructed, it seems to me that we are opening ourselves up to the possibility of lawsuits against the town for negligence. And that might end up costing us a lot more than what the wind industry is promising us.
When the look, feel and aesthetic value of a landscape is to be altered in a permanent and extremely visible way there must be room for emotion. To confine the regulatory consideration only to the mechanics of access roads, lease terms and transmission lines misses an essential community value; that is, our view of place is often shaped by its visual impact.