Letter Box -- Wind Power

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Editor of the Reformer:

A wind turbine project in Florida, Mass., has turned my two best friends into wind turbine refugees.

The Hoosac Wind Power Project, brought to their neighborhood on Tilda Hill Road by Iberdrola Renewables, has literally put my friends out of their home. Since the gigantic wind turbines started producing power, residents of the neighborhood have been experiencing many different types of illnesses including headaches, dizziness, stomach upsets, breathing difficulties, chest pains and other maladies. My friends literally abandoned their home in the middle of the night during a snowstorm because they could no longer stand the sick feelings they were experiencing from the wind turbine vibrations. Wild animals have abandoned the area, which used to be home to bear, moose and other mountain creatures, as well as reports of neighborhood pets being sick.

Though the wind turbines sound like a jet engine 24 hours a day, they also emit a low-frequency vibration that a person cannot hear, but bodies can feel. Those vibrations are what caused my friends to experience all of the above listed illnesses.

Once they left the area for a few days, they started to feel better. Presently, they are staying with me in South Newfane and trying to figure out what to do next. Aside from participating in a neighborhood lawsuit, they are attempting to recover from the initial shock of losing their home and property value.

If the residents of Grafton and Windham want to visit the area and see the Iberdrola sponsored wind turbines, all they have to do is drive up Route 2 to Florida and turn on to Tilda Hill Road. Look to the right and you will be shocked to see how large these things are and how ominous they appear.

I am not against wind power, only against big companies that are not from the United States coming into our areas and ruining the lives of a town full of people for their own profit. Smaller wind turbines are great, but the extra large size that now lives on Tilda Hill Road should not be allowed in Vermont.

Susan E. Rosano,

South Newfane, Feb. 22 Editor of the Reformer:

My husband, Ron, and I urge Sen. Jeanette White to vote in favor of Senators Hartwell and Benning’s bill, S. 30. Industrial wind projects should meet all existing state standards and requirements for development, town plans should not be overridden, and we must take the time to assess, objectively and rigorously, the economic and social impact of these divisive projects on our communities and state.

As you are aware, we in the towns of Grafton and Windham now face the possibility of an industrial wind project along the boundary ridge between the two towns. It turns out that there are hundreds of homes in Grafton and Windham that are within two miles of the proposed project’s turbines. This is not a project in a remote and unihabited part of the state. Easily 1,000 people will be directly vulnerable to the noise, lights, shadows, and detrimental health affects of the inaudible sound waves. Surely such costs are too high, especially given the reality that wind power is not going to significantly reduce the state’s reliance on conventional energy sources.

We respectfully ask that White support the moratorium bill. It is time for this little, beautiful state of ours to step back and take some time to think seriously about the pros and cons of industrial wind. Our health, well-being, welfare, and magnificent ridgelines require nothing less.

Anna Vesely Pilette,

Grafton, Feb. 25

Editor of the Reformer:

We have been puzzled by the intensity of opposition to wind power in Vermont in the last year. The National Resource Defense Council, long known for the integrity of its positions on the environment, continues to see wind power as "an affordable, efficient and abundant source of domestic electricity." Yet, we hear reports that wind towers are "horrendously and permanently invasive," and that they kill wildlife, leach money from our economy, lower real estate value in nearby towns, and damage human health, causing seizures, deafness, insomnia, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

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This rhetoric of fear begins to sound oddly familiar; thus, we were not surprised to learn of a network of ultra-conservative groups who have been "ramping up an offensive on multiple fronts to turn the American Public against wind farms and Barack Obama’s energy agenda." These groups were summoned together over a year ago by John Droz, Jr, a long-time opponent of wind energy and a senior fellow at the American Tradition Institute, notorious for lawsuits against climate scientists, including James Hansen, and for having been denounced by the Association for the Advancement of Science for contributing to an "environment that inhibits the pure exchange of scientific findings and ideas."

Seeing an opportunity to create a groundswell movement against wind power, this confederation has been working at the state and local level to cause, "subversion in message of (the wind) industry so that it effectively becomes so bad no one wants to admit they are for it." In a coordinated nationwide campaign, "wind warriors" have been dispatched to fight the wind industry anywhere, anytime. "Wind warriors" rely on supposedly "scientific" reports generated by ultra-conservative think tanks with close ties to the oil and gas industry and the Koch family. Another aspect of the confederation’s 20-point strategy is promoting an anti-wind curriculum in public schools and colleges, including discouraging students from entering wind energy projects in science fairs. The confederation’s complete proposal is available online at National Campaign PR Proposal.

The people in these think tanks (ATI, the Heartland Institute, the John Locke Foundation, and Americans for Prosperity, among others) are not stupid: They are very skilled at creating the appearance of science. One example is their claim that wind turbines generate low-frequency sound and infrasound that endanger human health. Reviews of the literature commissioned by both the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority have discredited such claims. These were independent studies, in contrast to the plethora of white papers issued by scientists who share the think tanks’ ultra-conservative views and mission.

For our democracy to flourish (or even survive), we must have before us reliable information in order to make wise decisions. Well-funded ultra-conservative think tanks and networks make our job of discerning what is or is not factually true doubly hard. We must be alert to deception and careful in our research. And we must not be blind, in our work to save this planet, to the extremes to which the opposition will go.

Charlene Ellis, Fred Taylor,

Dummerston, Feb. 25

Editor of the Reformer:

A recent letter ("The negative side effects of wind power," Feb. 21) recycled myths about wind power.

Across the country, wind power has already brought economic benefits to rural areas, with minimal environmental impact. But perhaps more importantly, the time is now to deploy clean energy sources to meet the carbon dioxide reduction targets science tells us are urgently needed. When the wind is blowing, the electricity generated by a wind farm causes the utility system operator to reduce the output of the most expensive, least efficient (and often dirtiest) power plant on the system -- reducing carbon dioxide emissions and saving consumers money on their electricity bills.

That’s because wind power, which uses no fuel, has long-term, fixed-rate pricing and acts as a hedge to protect against price spikes in the often volatile fossil fuel markets. In fact, a recent New York Times article noted that the New England region is particularly dependent on natural gas, and is experiencing a "remarkable spike in electricity prices brought on by high heating demand and rising natural gas prices for electric generators."

The good news is that a study by the New England utility system operator, ISO New England, found that obtaining 20 percent of the region’s electricity from wind would reduce electricity prices by more than 10 percent. That’s why a proposed moratorium on this well-developed and understood technology simply does not make sense.

Effective energy policy choices require a careful cost-benefit analysis of what is best for both the long-term economic and environmental health of our communities. It is important to remember that while all energy development has some impact on wildlife and the environment, wind energy’s is minimal.

Wind power requires no mining or drilling for fuel -- activities which often have massive environmental impacts. Wind energy also has the distinct advantage of not emitting air pollutants that are harmful to human health, such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulates, and mercury. Those pollutants can cause respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease, and developmental problems in vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly.

Vermont has ample wind resources. With a thoughtful siting policy, we can do our part to reduce regional carbon dioxide emissions and air pollution while preserving the natural beauty of our state.

Thomas O. Gray,

Norwich, Feb. 25


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