Saturday, August 05
To the Editor of THE EAGLE:
In response to Deborah Burns’ July 9 op-ed column “Wind is the Place to Start,” my response is, “Wind in the Berkshires is the last place to start.”
More than half of Ms. Burns’ criticism is based on anti-fossil fuels. No Berkshire wind opponent I know of would argue against that. Her statement that the only reason not to bring wind turbines into the Berkshires is their appearance is a stretch. She states that wind turbines will not hurt tourism, as does William Wilson Jr., the president and CEO of the Berkshire Visitors Bureau, in the same column. How do they know? Why take a chance on Berkshire County tourism?
Burns misstates Eleanor Tillinghast’s position on subsidies because I have heard the president of Green Berkshires’ presentation. Of course, many energy initiatives receive subsidies. Ms. Tillinghast’s point is that wind projects receive thrice the level of benefits per investment dollar than the average subsidy. Green Berkshires questions the basic economics of wind projects in the short and long term.
Ms. Burns posits that “Thoreau would have approved and have been fascinated by it (wind turbines)…” I doubt Thoreau would have appreciated the constant whirring sound, the continuous, highly visible flashing strobe lights, the sight of dead bats and birds on his hikes, or the stripping of his favorite ridgelines. He would suffer many detours as wind turbines would require closing off thousands of acres to protect hikers from ice or debris flung from long turbine
blades with the overall diameter of 305 feet as proposed in Savoy.
Saturate wind turbines in areas where wind has been impartially studied, measured and proven to exist. Promote investment in energy efficiency and conservation measures before we dot our hillsides with turbines providing minuscule contributions to the energy grid.
If all else fails and we can’t meet our ravenous appetite for gas guzzling cars and other excessive oil consumption, then, and only then, strip the Berkshire mountaintops. Line them with the same wind turbines that stretch across the deserts of California, where more than 12,000 wind turbines generated less than 1 1/2 percent of consumption in 2004. Then, tell our bed and breakfasts, restaurants, cultural institutions, homeowners, visitors and employees when unemployment returns to double digits that there was “no evidence that wind turbines will hurt tourism.”
Burns writes that the Berkshires are “in danger of becoming an artificial environment sustained primarily by tourism.” In English, we call this a contradiction of the entire essay. Well, tourism won’t affect me, just my Thoreau-like experience of the Berkshires.
Sheffield, July 31, 2006
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