"It's a mechanical monstrosity. ... It's ugly. It makes noise, said Beverly Whitcomb. It makes a whopping sound which will just drive you nuts."
Like the giant in some children’s tale, it looms by the water. More than 160 feet tall, long arms flailing at a startling speed, the wind turbine catches the eye – as well as the wind off the water.
"I think it’s kind of modern. It’s tomorrow," said Bernadette White, a grandmother pushing two kids in a stroller down a nearby street.
But another neighbor has a markedly stronger opinion.
"It’s a mechanical monstrosity. … It’s ugly. It makes noise," said Beverly Whitcomb. "It makes a whopping sound which will just drive you nuts."
The scene down by the harbor – and the controversy – is likely to be replicated elsewhere in Massachusetts.
Wind power projects are in various stages around the state, from the Atlantic coast in the east to the wooded slopes of the Berkshire Mountains in the west, gigantic towers whose hurtling blades designed to create energy, may become part of the lanscape.
The most prominent of the projects calls for 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound. It’s the project that has grabbed headlines, stirring fierce debate, drawing in some prominent Cape Cod residents, including broadcaster Walter Cronkite and U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.
The proposal has become a major point of conflict on Cape Cod with opponents saying it would wreck a beautiful seascape, be harmful to bird life and undermine an important ecosystem.
The wind turbines – each hundreds of feet high and located about five miles offshore – could generate 420 megawatts of energy at peak times. Supporters say it could supply nearly three-quarters of the electricity used on the cape and islands.
There are other projects are also in the works around the state, including the 10 turbines planned on Brodie Mountain in the western Massachusetts towns of New Ashford and Hancock and a proposal to erect 20 turbines on mountains in the western Massachusetts towns of Florida and Monroe.
The country gets three-tenths of 1 percent of its electricity from wind.
Wherever they go, wind power proposals have to overcome the concerns of local residents over the turbines’ size, the sound they make, their effect on the environment, and the possible effect on their property values.
In Hull, where the rotor hub is 164 feet off the ground and the rotors themselves reach another 77 feet into the sky, the gigantic steel tower was spinning busily on a recent bright summer day with an eerie, supersonic whistle that visitors seem to admire.
"It’s just one more time you want to look at the windmill and shoot it," she said. "Would you want to move into Windmill City?"
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