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Tough questions for Savoy

The meeting on Oct. 26 on the proposed bylaw addressing wind towers drew a respectable audience, but hardly the interest one would expect considering the importance of the subject. I sat at the back of the fire station sympathizing with the Planning Board trying to gather helpful direction from the comments offered by residents and others, all apparent experts on the pros and cons of wind turbines. It is amazing how easily we can acquire and process all this technical information with the click of a “mouse,” but we still fall prey to a very human ailment. We see things as we want to. We read or hear only what works for us.

The answer I was looking for, and I would imagine the Planning Board was as well, was “is this a good deal for Savoy?” Are the benefits of this project equal to, or better than, the supposed unfairness to the residents and others who will be directly affected by the towers?

Savoy is a tiny community. Five 420-foot machines towering over us, each taller than the Statue of Liberty, is a big price to consider. And what about second-home owners? They are a vital commodity all through the Berkshires. Will they still want to come here? Their presence supports the restaurants, the museums, the theaters. They buy up our old houses in need of repair and restore them, increasing the value of our property. They use local carpenters, electricians, masons and other services. They don’t overburden our schools. They pay taxes, many for years and years. They retire here. Will we have to trade them for the turbines?

When the idea of the possibility of additional turbines on state land was introduced, there was a unified groan heard within the hall. Why is one project OK and the other unacceptable? Is this really about the environment or about money?

Minute Man Wind, the wind power investors on the Savoy project, have offered what appears to be an attractive monetary incentive to the town as well as compensation to the individual land owners involved in the project. That’s hard not to consider when budget problems are a constant worry for a small town like Savoy, but is it all worthwhile? Has Santa Claus really come to town with the right present or is it just a piece of coal? Lots to think about. Hard to figure what’s best.

Jane Phinney

Savoy, Oct. 27, 2006