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Litchfield debate on wind turbine answered few residents’ questions

Litchfield, a small town in turmoil over the proposed wind turbines project held its first Q and A debate on wind energy last night. 66 questions were submitted days before hand, and the wind developers and the group opposed to the project came prepared to answer residents concerns.

The modern technology that looks to produce green energy is not a simple task to undertake but Patrick A. Doyle, President of Northwind and Power, the company looking to build the wind turbines said it would be a great economic boost for the area. Doyle said, “A clean energy project in Litchfield will bring payments to the Town, the County and the School District. It will bring money to the land owners and it will bring jobs–especially construction jobs and it will bring business to the community here in Litchfield and the surrounding area, so it’s all good.”

So why are some residents adamantly against the project if it is all good? Jonathan P. Knauth, the Certified Engineer representing the residents opposed to the project said the jobs claims are not necessarily true because most of them will be temporary. Knaught said, “We all want renewable energy but this unfortunately is not the way to get there. Wind doesn’t have any capacity factor. It doesn’t provide any of the elements of load, and so with all of the impacts, particularly noise, and property values, and all of these things–it simply doesn’t make sense. It’s too much money, it’s not enough power and too much of a negative impact on our community.”

But Doyle disagreed saying, “Well, during construction I would expect at least 50 people on site, and then probably another 50 people working to supply material for the project in the region. During operation of course, it’s 2 or 3 jobs at this site, and 2 or 3 jobs at another site but remember, we are also putting money into the land owners pocket. So, I think that overall probably there will be 10 to 15 permanent jobs created directly or indirectly through the presence of wind farms in Litchfield.”

Knauth said town residents want green energy and jobs, but pointed to a study done by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which concluded that by the year 2100, $13 million turbines would be needed on a continental scale in order to produce 10 percent of the world’s renewable energy need, and that he says, increases global warming.

Residents at the meeting were also divided on the issue. Some came in support of the project wearing T-Shirts that read, “Communities For Wind Energy”, while others voiced strong opposition to it. Jeff Donahoe is a life long resident of Litchfield who wants to see the project move forward. He said, “I don’t stand to gain anything financially, but it is nice to see that somebody wants to spent $40 million dollars in our area–that’s a lot of money to be spent.” But Jody McKane sees things differently and was even moved to tears explaining her opposition to the project. She said, “They keep talking about green energy but really I think it’s just green money that they’re after, and it’s really bad for our health.”

The meeting adjourned after only 27 of the 66 submitted questions were answered by representatives of both camps. Town Board Member Kathleen Entwistle said the remaining questions will be split between direct inquiries on Northwind and Power and the specifics of the project. The next meetings will take place on November 9th at 7:30PM, and on November 16th at 7PM. Both meetings will be held in the Town Hall in Litchfield. In the meantime, the project is on hold until the issues are resolved, and new laws are enacted to allow construction of the Litchfield Wind Turbines.