At a recent Board of Selectmen meeting the proponents of a plan to erect eight 492-foot tall wind turbines in Wareham said there has been little opposition to their proposal thus far.
That wasn’t exactly the case Tuesday night.
Residents from Charge Pond Road and Blackmore Pond Road packed the selectmen’s room at the Multi-Service Center and voiced serious concerns about the noise pollution such turbines would bring to their neighborhoods. They also worried that their property values would greatly diminish if the proposal is ultimately approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals, which is meeting to discuss the issue on Sept. 22.
Beaufort Wind Power LLC. of Boston has been working with local cranberry bog owners to erect the turbines on agricultural land. The proposal, known as the Bog Win Power Cooperative Project, would provide 40 million kilowatt hours of power to the state each year. Bog owners would rent a portion of their land to Beaufort Wind Power and would get free electricity as well.
The opposition to the plan was stiff on Tuesday. Former selectman John Cronan, who lives near one of the proposed sites, said the scenic values of residents near the turbines will be greatly effected, which in turn will lower property values.
“The character and the scenic piece of Wareham is history if we allow a 494-foot piece of equipment, let alone eight of them,” Cronan said. “I can’t find one study outside of Berkeley Laboratories that says (wind turbines) won’t have an impact.”
It was later noted the Berkeley Laboratories is actually involved in the development of wind power.
Rick Hollis of Charge Pond Road said anyone living within a half-mile radius of the turbines would not be able to sell their homes.
“I have articles about people who have walked away from their homes; walked away from their mortgages,” he said.
Doug Kerns said the turbines being proposed were actually developed for off-shore sites.
“They are made by (General Electric) and designed to be out on the ocean,” he said.
The turbines would be twice as tall as the one at Mass Maritime Academy.
Kerns said such turbines would create “boom-box” type percussions.
“I’m all for clean energy, but at 500-feet tall it’s not the right package. It’s not the right fit. I don’t think people should take a hit so somebody else can put a few bucks in their pockets,” he said.
Christopher Senie, a lawyer hired by Charge Pond Road residents to represent them, told the Board of Selectmen that the turbines being proposed would be the largest on the East Coast. To demonstrate just how big the turbines would be, Senie displayed a graphic showing that a 747 airplane could easily fit inside the 100-meter “sweep area” of the turbines’ blades. He later explained that inland areas of Wareham simply don’t get enough wind sheer to generate enough power for the turbines. That’s why they have to be build so large.
Senie is also representing several residents of Falmouth after a turbine was erected in their neighborhood. He said after visiting some of the residents in their homes he understood the impact such turbines can have.
“You hear it,” he said. “You feel it. I had to pinch my nose to relieve the pressure in my ears.”
Charge Pond Road resident Barry Cosgrove acknowledged that most people see wind power as a good thing.
“But most people don’t understand wind technology and the economics of wind power,” he said.
Cosgrove said people should seriously evaluate green projects before automatically accepting them.
“It’s an over-subsidized industry that benefits only a small group of people,” he said. “Everyone needs to make sure that nobody is taking advantage of a desire to be green.”
Cosgrove said residents can switch to green energy simply by visiting the NSTAR web site.
“Just click a button and watch your energy bill go up 19 percent,” he said.
Cosgrove said people in Wareham would panic if Donald Trump came to town to build eight 50-story buildings. The turbines would be just as tall. “The people who benefit from this are the owners and the investors in the project,” he said. “It’s an enormous tax shelter.”
Jane Donahue, chairman of the Board of Selectman, ended the discussion by urging the ZBA to take a hard look at the proposal and put it off for further study.
The proponents of the proposal were invited to attend Tuesday’s meeting, according to Selectman Brenda Eckstrom. They declined the invitation.
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