The road to hell is lined with windmills, or at least that what many Westfield residents seem to think.
Jon Boone, a retired administrator from the University of Maryland and a consultant with the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown, likened wind power development to the saying “the road to hell is paved with good intentions,” with little debate from residents.
Boone said he had once been “seduced by wind power” but he decided to research it fully because “I know if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
Boone presented his investigation into wind power earlier in the day Wednesday at the League of Women Voters wind power meeting at SUNY Fredonia. He expanded on his studies that evening at the Westfield Academy and Central School.
Town Board Supervisor Martha Bills and several other board members who are currently negotiating a possible new wind power deal with a developer were present to hear Boone speak.
Boone produced a documentary entitled “Life Under a Wind Plant” as part of his testimony to a public service commission on wind power in Maryland.
The documentary was a case-study of the town of Meyersdale. Residents who lived within a mile or two of the wind turbines on their mountain ridge complained of health problems due to the noise causing sleep loss, the strobe effect of the sunlight through the turning turbine, and dust and odor spread by the turbines. One resident even experienced low frequency vibrations which caused adverse health effects.
The jobs that had been promised to the Meyersdale community as a result of the wind development ended up being only two full-time jobs as maintenance workers.
Property values also decreased drastically in the area because of the wind turbines obstructing the natural view of the mountains. One home sold for 80 percent less than the fair market value.
Boone stated electricity is only a small percentage of the energy used in the United States; most of it is for heat and transportation, so the idea that wind energy could drastically reduce the amount of fossil fuels released seems far-fetched.
Boone pointed out the “feckless” nature of wind turbine power, given that it is reliant on something as capricious as the wind. He reported on studies that revealed that more than half the time, wind turbines produce less than 11 percent of the power they are supposed to be able to generate.
Boone commented that local governments have generally handled wind power development badly and recommended the residents become more informed.
“Ask good questions and demand solid proof,” Boone advised the audience. “Be especially vigilant about those who live else where and have a financial stake in it.”
Boone was invited to speak on behalf of the Chautauqua County Citizens for Responsible Wind Power. For more information on Boone and his studies, visit his Web site at www.stopillwind.org.
By Shirley West
18 October 2007
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