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Windmills ho

Congratulations to Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort for successfully erecting the Berkshires’ first modern windmill – also the first in the nation to contribute to the power needs of a ski resort.

The multimillion-dollar endeavor was done professionally and efficiently with a minimum impact on traffic and, arguably, on the environment. The connection to the national grid was already right at the bottom of the mountain. Power lines were buried for the most part in existing conduits for the resort’s ski guns. This was a project that made sense, was done with mostly local, private investment and will make Jiminy Peak more energy efficient.

But already some people are complaining about turbine’s visual impact on the region’s scenic landscape (Transcript story, Page 1 on Saturday). The 265-foot-high turbine can be seen clearly from many spots in Hancock, from Pontoosuc Lake in Lanesborough and Pittsfield and, we suspect, from a lot of other spots in surrounding communities.

This is only one windmill. Imagine the complaints to come when turbines begin to sprout up in the 10s and 20s and hundreds, in Hancock, Florida, Monroe, Savoy and off the waters of Cape Cod – if these projects come to fruition.

The wind turbines would be far taller than Jiminy’s – from 350 feet to well over 400. Most would be built by out-of-state developers with substantial help from government subsidies (read taxpayers’ subsidies) and would require significant tree cutting and road building, not only to get the turbines where they must be but also to connect them to the grid.

The residents of Berkshire County should seriously consider if the end result would be worth it.

North Adams Transcript

16 July 2007