Noise and Maine
Building industrial size wind turbines right next to my home is NOT the same as the possibility of drowning or having allergies. I can take steps to protect myself from these things, even move if I feel the need to, but I cannot protect myself from the health effects from wind turbines.
Compliance with state regulations is not optional, and the rate payers of the Fox Islands Electric Co-op would expect it to be run within the law. Baker admits that by following state law, Vinalhaven rate payers will lose the savings FIW promised. ...He has chosen to lay the blame for his poor planning and lack of foresight wherever he can find a convenient scapegoat.
The take-home point from this and other windmill controversies is that windmills are not the magical power source they're touted to be. They should not be built near where people live.
The cost of wind turbines has been shifted onto neighbors who never imagined these kinds of burdens when the benefits of wind energy were sold to the public. It is wrong and it is unfair to impose both the noise and the uncertainty of resolution - or if there will ever be resolution - on a few nearby homeowners.
The prospect of cheaper "green" electricity, even at significant cost to private citizens, appears to be totally acceptable to these entrepreneurial wind developers, and now with the Department of Energy in Washington DC involved, actually "exciting." However, for many of the 106 Vinalhaven households within the 1.5 mile FIW noise umbrella, the daily turbine experience is vastly different. Our feelings of "excitement" would best be described as outrage.
Imagine how you would feel if turbines were built in your neighborhood and suddenly you were forced into an unimaginable situation? There are so many families in Maine that are overwhelmed trying to deal with problems related to wind farms because the Maine state noise regulations are outdated.
The turbines were running, the community had pulled together, and with the support of the Fox Islands Electric Cooperative Inc. et.al. ...the dream of community-based wind power on Vinalhaven was a reality! ..."We support the windmills, but not the noise." The noise is as constant as the wind, building in intensity according to wind speed and direction. It can be a low rumbling, whooshing, grinding background noise that one can just hear above the sound of the trees or it can build to an in-your-face noise, like jet engines roaring combined with a grinding and pulsating sound that echoes in your head, keeps you awake at night, and beats on your house like a drum.
Our work has shown that people in Mars Hill living within 3,500 feet of turbines there are truly suffering, in a real medical sense. Clearly, any regulation that results in placement of turbines, anywhere in Maine, at less than a 3,500-foot setback is courting a bad human outcome, regardless of sound modeling used by the industry to show there will be no ill effects in that range.
As clearly demonstrated by post-construction measurements at Mars Hill, the model used by the wind industry for that project was seriously flawed.
What I want more than anything is for you to understand what the project will truly bring to the community. I am not judging whether it is right or wrong for Freedom, but there are answers that you need before you move forward. The residents who live the closest to the proposed site have legitimate concerns.
Many in our town opposed the project in Mars Hill, but time and time again the arguments were dismissed. The developer had answers for most of the questions of concern, but other questions were avoided with the suggestion that they would be researched and answered later. ...Turbine noise can range from barely audible to a gentle whooshing, to a high range jet overhead, to a number of jets overhead, to a wailing thumping beast that you can't escape. ...Please, use caution as you decide what is best for your town. Remember to treat each other with respect. Each side is fighting for what they believe is their right. I know if the Town of Mars Hill had understood everything about the project that it would be different than it is today. What if it was your property and your home that were going to be affected? Most people don't think about it until it happens to them. I know I didn't.
We had heard about the windmills, but when we asked how they would affect us if we bought the land, the town manager told us we wouldn't even see them, much less hear them because they were going to be on the front of the mountain.
We believed him. That was our biggest mistake. At the time, we had no idea that the town fathers had not even read the application that they had co-signed, nor hired a lawyer to explain it to them. They had no idea what they had agreed to. They believed everything UPC had told them.
The biggest lie of all was that there would be no noise, or you had to be within 500 feet to hear anything. I believe that is still the propaganda.
Thank you for allowing me to speak. My name is Wendy Todd. I am from Aroostook County. I am a resident of Mars Hill and live approximately 2600 feet from the Mars Hill Wind Project. I am here today to offer testimony that residents around the project are suffering. There are 18 families that I know of that are negatively impacted on a regular basis from the noise, strobe effect and shadow flicker from the turbines. Most of these 18 families live less than 3000 feet from the turbines. There is no one that I know of from 425 East Ridge Road to 212 Mountain Road that does not agree that there are issues with noise. Issues that are changing the way residents view life around the mountain. We have formed a group called the Mountain Landowners Association in an attempt to share information and come up to speed on the issues of living this close to turbines of this size and generation. We have had to struggle through massive amounts of documentation from the Internet and from other towns that are dealing with the same issues.
The Freedom Planning Board should revisit its decision to close the hearing and ask CES to address lingering questions about project. A few weeks’ delay is less important than ensuring the board meets its responsibility to abutting landowners and other residents of Freedom.