December 20, 2008
New Mexico, Opinions

Regulation must precede wind-power building

Keely Meagan, 20 December 2008

I live in a solar-powered home on the quiet, rural mesa that Invenergy wants to turn into an industrial wind facility, and I don’t know if I should laugh or cry at this corporation’s claim that it is a “good neighbor” because it would give a whopping $500 per year to families living within one-third mile of their turbines.

While Invenergy makes off with hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, those of us who actually live with the turbines will face sleepless nights, health problems, property values that could drop up to 80 percent, and the trashing of an incredibly beautiful historic corridor with road building, foundation blasting and 47 noisy towers as tall as 40-story buildings.

“Good neighbors” indeed.

Here is the truth as I see it: El Valle is caught in the middle of a state-wide (and planet-wide) crisis. We need to make the switch to alternative energy, but there are no state or federal laws regulating this facility. Our minimal county regulations will not apply if turbines go on the state land already leased by Invenergy.

Why do we need regulations? One example: The World Health Organization recommends that wind turbines be at least 1.2 miles from homes (more, in hilly areas like ours) to prevent damage to human health. Like most people, I was unaware health problems are associated with wind turbines. My neighbors and I live a half mile from potential turbine sites. Invenergy thinks it’s OK to put turbines even closer to homes. That is why we need regulations.

Invenergy insists on putting the wind facility here, in the middle of this populated, historic area with marginal wind because it is close to major transmission lines. Moving electricity from windier, more remote areas is expensive.

Would you be willing to sacrifice your health, your sleep, and your gorgeous, historic sites so that Invenergy can save a buck, when it will be raking in hundreds of millions in subsidies by harvesting low winds barely suitable for turbines? Should anyone have to answer this question?

Residents of this area are petitioning for a moratorium on new industrial wind permits, so that adequate county and state regulations can be put into place. All county residents deserve this protection.

On Jan. 6, we will be sponsoring a state-wide conversation about the wind industry with local, state, tribal and federal officials and with businesses, nonprofits, health professionals and community members. Contact for more information.

Keely Meagan lives in Sena.

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