NIMBY has become a rather well known acronym of late. For those who are not familiar with it, the letters stand for “not in my back yard.” The term is generally negative, as one who is accused of “NIMBYism” is basically thought of as a hypocrite – one who is supportive of some kind of development, as long as the development is nowhere near his property.
Well, this writer pleads absolutely guilty of NIMBYism in this column today in regard to the wind turbines that are to be constructed in Garrett County. While being in full support of the concept of harnessing the wind – a wonderfully clean source of energy, and especially inviting because of the current petroleum energy crisis – let it be done somewhere other than Garrett County. We simply have too much at stake here to risk adding these monster wind machines to our extremely valuable landscapes.
Like it or not, Garrett County’s life blood is still tourism. We are a destination location. Why would we – why should we – risk endangering tourism and property values by erecting scores of these towers?
Yes, overdevelopment in the lake area is another big concern, and a legitimate one; but that’s another editorial.
Besides the property-value issue, there are a number of other negative effects of wind turbines, such as noise, lights, shadows, and view obstruction/pollution, the levels of which, granted, have been both exaggerated and disputed by some on both sides. Some opponents have even alleged that the towers cause health problems and television/tele-phone interruption from what they call “stray voltage,” which, at least to us, is so far unsubstantiated.
But besides what we believe could be a real risk to tourism and, ultimately, property values, there is without question from these turbines a significant negative impact on birds and bats. Studies were done in nearby Meyersdale, Pa., and Tucker County, W.Va., that showed significant bird/bat kills by the towers there; evidently so significant that the turbine owners banned further studies on their property! It has taken 24 years for opponents to finally get 2,500 turbines in Altamont Pass, Calif., shut down for three months during bird migratory season, as thousands of birds are killed there every year by the towers. These include an estimated 500 raptors such as eagles, red-tailed hawks, and owls.
Wind company biologists and local birders have also found that morning warblers, which are on Maryland’s endangered species list, nest in the Gar-rett County areas that are proposed for wind turbines. So herein is the bottom line for us – whether one is for or against wind turbines, state law is now the issue. State law cannot be ignored, regardless of how far along the process is to erect towers, either by Clipper Wind Power or the more recent applicant, Synergics Energy, and regardless of whether or not the Public Service Commission gives its stamp of approval. At the very least, additional studies should be conducted before any approval is granted.
Next Thursday, Oct. 13, is the deadline for persons to submit written comment on the proposed Synergics wind project to the Public Service Commission, the address for which is: 6 South Paul St., Baltimore, MD 21202. All correspondence on this matter must reference “PSC Case 9008/Synergics Energy.” So now is the time to write that letter, or clip out this editorial and send it.
6 October 2005
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