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Wind turbine criticism churns: Noise, water contamination

WEBSTER – Citing potential noise, groundwater contamination, nauseating strobe effects and sheer ugliness, concerned residents came out in opposition last night to a proposed 11-turbine, 27.5-megawatt wind farm in the neighboring town of Douglas.

Robert Anders, the former Webster building inspector, said he resigned from that position so he could spend his time fighting the proposed Douglas Woods Wind Farm.

Owned by American Pro Wind LLC, the project has 11 turbines, each towering 492 feet and weighing an estimated 250 to 300 tons, proposed for a 298-acre parcel on Route 16 abutting the Douglas State Forest near the Webster line. The project is expected to produce 27.5 megawatts of electricity and is expected to be in service by January 2012. The Douglas Planning Board will have a public hearing Sept. 28 on the site plan.

“It’s a piece of land surrounded by the Douglas State Forest, and our area, Blueberry Hill and Douglas Road (in Webster), is right on the line. That’s why we have no say in it,” Mr. Anders said. “The nearest house in Douglas is probably three-quarters of a mile there. Basically, Webster has all the burdens and none of the benefits.”

During his PowerPoint presentation titled “Wind Power is NOT Free,” shown during last night’s selectmen’s meeting to a standing-room-only crowd, Mr. Anders claimed each turbine produces more than 800 gallons of hazardous waste, induces lightning strikes, can throw ice several thousand feet, cause nauseating strobe effects with the flickering shadows of its blades, can contaminate groundwater and can fall over or explode.

In addition, Mr. Anders said, the turbines can be heard a mile or more, often run at 20 percent efficiency or lower, impose an “astronomical” cost to taxpayers and are going to ruin the scenic beauty of Webster.

Mr. Anders said there are 75 homes in the Blueberry Hill neighborhood, where he lives; 30 homes along Route 16; and 15 to 20 homes on Douglas Road, all in Webster, that will be directly affected by the wind farm. .

Mr. Anders said he was initially in favor of the project until he heard about a turbine blowing up in California in May and started looking into it further. The more he found, “the worse it got,” he said.

“We don’t like the way it’s going,” Mr. Anders said. “I think it’s going to be a two-year battle and I am very fortunate to have the time to be doing this.”

Kurt Tramposch, who referred to himself as a community and environmental health planner, said wind turbines are an appealing source of energy given the right conditions, but the proposed Douglas Woods Wind Farm lacks the right conditions.

“The problem is, most of these environmental impasses require sufficient setbacks to be mitigated,” Mr. Tramposch said. “Communities now are finding that a mile to a mile and a quarter isn’t far enough, especially for a project of this scale.

“The unpredictability of a wind farm this scale and elevation can have serious consequences that are not predicted in the modeling by the developer.”