National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News Industrial Wind Energy/Wind Power News

July 20, 2003

Ed Sliwinski to Rep. Quinn on need for wind energy development criteria

Filed under: Opinions — National Wind Watch @ 1:55 pm

The Honorable Jack Quinn
U.S. House of Representatives
2448 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515?3227

Re: wind energy development criteria desperately needed

 Dear Representative Quinn:

 

I’d like to share with you some of my concerns and the concerns of my community, Sardinia NY, regarding wind development.  "Zilkha Renewable Energy," who’s owners made their fortunes (and are still engaged) in the oil business, is proposing to erect at least 34 commercial scale wind turbines on the very hilltops where our homes already exist.  Further, the company has mentioned on several occasions (and it was reported in the Buffalo News) that future expansion is likely. 

Commercial wind turbines are gigantic machines that distort natural light, sound and space.  Their impacts are constant, making them oppressive when situated too near to homes and the places where we live.  It’s hard to describe today’s modern wind turbines, but several phrases I’ve heard include: "unbelievable", "awesome", and "mind?boggling".   Imagine living your life surrounded by mind?boggling machines!  Another description you might hear is "beautiful."   I know that for those who feel passionate about wind power, it’s easy to think turbines ‘beautiful.’  But it’s that passion that has made it so difficult to have the negative aspects of development adequately addressed.

Years ago wind farms were built miles away from the nearest communities, and the main impacts created by the turbines were on the view?sheds and on the birds.  Supposedly the bird issue is being addressed, and arguably we can get used to the view if it means that our environment will benefit.  But in just the past few years, with the dramatic increase of developers comprising the industry …new, unacceptable impacts on the human condition within targeted areas of development are occurring. 


For the most part, the wind industry is self?regulated, and it’s often at the local level of government where decisions are made as to what a wind developer can and cannot do.  The industry’s reps who initially make the first contacts tend to use (to their own advantage) the usual lack of knowledge on the part of the town regarding wind development.  They convince our leaders that it’s ‘an honor’ to have a forest of turbines built amongst their residents, and offer large cash incentives to persuade them.  As you would see by their proposal map …I’m not exaggerating.  Because of their deals with only a handful of landowners, the whole western end of Sardinia (where approximately 1000 people reside) is now considered by Zilkha to be their "impact area."  That term alone has triggered panic in our quiet rural neighborhood.
 

For the majority of people, the decision to support the wind industry is made with the most sincere and honorable intentions.  If it weren’t for my dilemma, I would probably support it as well (having no reason to investigate), and I resent feeling alienated from the type of people I’ve always identified with.  I grew up listening to John Denver, reading the ‘Mother Earth News’, and escaping every weekend to our country cabin.  Years ago, my wife and I spent time in Maine learning how to build eco?friendly houses, and now as parents, we’re teaching our children similar values.  We spend hours picking up litter from those who (somehow) don’t care. We recycle, not just our own…but for others who haven’t the option or simply can’t be bothered.  Our family vacations are spent in natural, wild places… pitching tents on top of fresh mountain?lion tracks in Utah, or paddling ocean lagoons.  But we only have to go as far as our own back yard in Sardinia to thrill at a flock of geese flying overhead, or be mesmerized by the songs of crickets as we gaze up at the stars on a warm summer’s night.    Those treasured values are now being threatened by the wind industry.

       I don’t attend church very often.  I don’t feel close to my maker in a crowded building.  Instead, I go to our back meadow and, in the words of JD, "talk to God…and listen to his casual reply."   I think there are lots of folks like me.  I think those sentiments are at the core of the opposition for many who find themselves directly in the path of wind development and who could end up with turbines as close as 2000′ (and closer!) to their homes.  It’s such an intrusion into the spiritual side of our lives…such an assault on our senses and on the rhythms of nature.   The idea of this happening feels so fundamentally wrong that we’re motivated to spend endless hours pursuing activities that might prevent it.  There are hundreds of grassroots efforts springing up all over this country because of the ever?increasing possibilities that our cherished natural environments will be ruined "in the name of the environment."  Obviously, something’s wrong with this picture….

       Personally, if I found something tangible and positive about the industry, I might simply try to justify my losses, because I believe that the world can’t go on the way it is.  Even without such evidence, I’m resolved that my scenic views, in fact many views, may be ruined.   But I can’t and won’t accept that my life should be ruined by this commercial endeavor.  There is documentation offering hard data and very compelling evidence backing up claims that by far, the biggest benefactors of the wind industry are the owners of the turbines, not the environment.  That makes for a very bitter pill to swallow.
Our neighbors used to call us "tree?huggers" when we first moved to Sardinia five years ago.  Now those same neighbors stand to make big money leasing their land to the developers, and their rhetoric has turned all ‘environmental.’  Now they shake their fingers at us and say…  "Shame on you!"  It’s so ironic.

 

Sincerely,

 

Ed Sliwinski  
  

 Documented impacts include: *Noise? #1 issue faced by the wind industry despite claims to the contrary   *Strobe effects? flooding onto properties and into homes when the sun eclipses the turbine blades?  strobe is known to trigger symptoms of several medical conditions  *Visual dominance? unacceptable proximity to residences  *Blade Defragmentation leading to blade throw? tips of blades travel at over 170 mph!   *Increased traffic, increased automobile accidents, decreased privacy *Loss of wildlife habitat  *Communication interruption?television and cell phone?signals reflecting off rotating blades  *Safety and security concerns:  Stray voltage, fire hazards, constant maintenance, unknown service people routinely in neighborhood   *Loss of visual and quiet enjoyment, natural amenities  *Property devaluation ? for homes within one mile of commercial turbines? documented up to 26% in US (as per the public record entitled "Final Report of the Wind Turbine Moratorium Study Committee" Lincoln, Wisconsin)

Ed Sliwinski, Sardinia

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