WELLFLEET - Few people can argue with the need to develop alternative and renewable forms of energy. However, Wellfleet residents would be making a big mistake if they backed the proposed 400-foot wind turbine in the White Crest Beach area. There are simply too many instances of towns regretting decisions to fast track plans to be in the forefront of the green energy movement.
Well-meaning members of town energy committees have been shown to be too quick to accept claims made by wind turbine manufacturers. And paid-for "studies" have been shown to gloss over negative experiences in towns that now have wind turbines.
Vinalhaven, Maine, commissioned three wind turbines in November.
Residents had been told the sound from the turbines would have a negligible affect and that background noise would mask the sounds from the turbines. One "neighbor" of the turbines, who had previously been in favor of the project, wrote in a letter to the editor of a local newspaper in early December saying, "As I watched the first rotation of the giant blades from our deck, my sense of wonder was replaced by disbelief and utter shock as the turbine noise revved up and up, past the sound of our babbling brook, to levels unimagined. It was not supposed to be this way!"
She described the noise as anywhere from "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."
She calls Maine's state sound regulations, which designate 45 decibels as "quiet," a "truly cruel joke."
"On our quiet cove, we now know that 45 decibels is loud."
Homes as far as a mile and a half away from the turbines are being impacted.
Residents of Vinalhaven have invited other communities that are considering installing wind turbines to "come stand on our porches, listen to the nonstop roaring, thumping, whooshing, grinding sounds of the turbines, and compare it to the quiet you currently experience."
The Vinalhaven turbines are the same size as what is being proposed for within Cape Cod National Seashore.
The list of other towns with wind turbine horror stories continues to grow (and you don't even have to look hard to find them). Instead of standing at the base of "a" wind turbine to hear if the noise is objectionable, go to a 400-foot one; that's what's being proposed for within the Seashore.
Surely members of the Wellfleet Energy Committee, elected representatives of the town, and appointed National Park Service officials owe it to town residents to travel to Vinalhaven and hear for themselves before further advancing this proposal.
And when they discover that turbines this big have negatively affected residents in other locations, they should admit that erecting a 40-story wind turbine in a residential area is a bad idea.
The noise issues as well as concerns about the financial viability of the project, the very thought of siting an industrial-size turbine within the Seashore, and the impact the turbine would have on birds and other wildlife are being discussed at SaveOurSeaShore.org.