“Two flags fly above my land that really sum up how I feel.
One is the colors that fly high and proud the red the white the blue
the other ones got a rattle snake with a simple statement made
Don’t Tread on Me is what it says and I’ll take that to my grave
because this is me I’m proud to be American and strong in my beliefs.
And I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again cause I’ve never needed Government to hold my hand
And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again cause my family’s always fought and died to save this land and a country boy is all I’ll ever be.”
“Country Boy” by Aaron Lewis
The controversial BNE projects to construct industrial wind turbines in the towns of Prospect and Colebrook need a closer look. They need some perspective.
Initially, BNE, a start-up energy company run by two partners with literally no experience in wind energy or construction for that matter, exploited a loophole in Connecticut law that does not require towns to notify residents when test towers for wind turbines are erected. We never realized the impact a project of this magnitude would have on our community. We never imagined that it would be possible for six, 492-foot industrial wind turbines, structures nearly twice the size of Hartford’s Traveler’s Tower, or over three times the height of New York’s Statue of Liberty would be constructed less than 1,000 feet from our front door.
Who would have imagined that? And who could have imagined a residentially zoned neighborhood would be forced to house this industrial power plant?
We then discovered that BNE’s petition to build these industrial wind energy plants was already in the hands of the Connecticut Siting Council, fast tracked to get it done before the end of this year or lose the 30 percent federal funding which is the only way to make the project feasible.
Does it matter that BNE’s own business plan shows a lack of financial practicality? In essence, based on their own projections they will not generate enough income to cover expenses and can only end up going bankrupt. The Siting Council has the authority to site these turbines regardless of town ordinances and zoning.
Who would have imagined that? And who could imagine that the chairman of this Siting Council would have to resign due to his inappropriate conversation with the attorney representing Prospect, and in his comments he all but said, “it’s a done deal” even before the evidentiary hearings had concluded? Who could imagine that no town body or board—not in Colebrook and not in Prospect – would be consulted prior to the Siting Council rendering their decision?
My research began. Not only do industrial wind turbines cause noise, flicker, and vibration, they damage the environment (wildlife, wetlands), and they are the cause of something known as Wind Turbine Syndrome. Look it up; educate yourself; but we’d rather avoid vertigo, tinnitus, sleep deprivation, anxiety, panic attacks, migraines, high blood pressure, depression, and irritability. Who would have imagined that even our pets would be susceptible to these same symptoms?
If you want to know the manufacturer’s standards and/or recommendations for the siting of these turbines, you will soon discover that is sealed information. If you want to know the mechanical load information, or how these machines are to operate safely, you can’t have that information either. No, you, the general public, do not have the right to know if the turbines sited–less than 1000 feet from your home – are built with your family’s safety in mind. It is sealed information, BNE calls it “confidential and proprietary”. Imagine that?
Will your electric bill go down? Will your taxes be lowered? No, and no. Power generated from the turbines goes to the grid for general use. Property values surrounding these turbines will lose 20%-40% of their present value, IF they will sell at all. Sound extreme? Look it up; educate yourself; look in Cohocten, New York and in Ontario where adjacent homes have actually been abandoned, because no buyers could be found.
And if you’re expecting this to be adding to your town’s tax base, don’t hold your breath. As an added bonus, the wind industry will soon be tax exempt, just like the solar industry, so the town’s tax base will not increase, it will actually decrease from dropping property values.
Wondering if Connecticut is windy enough for these turbines? Connecticut is ranked 50th in wind resource. Fiftieth. Turbines in our state need to be taller and have longer blades in order to capture available wind. What happens when there isn’t enough wind? Due to the blades being so long, these turbines have to keep turning to keep the blades from warping, so they will actually draw energy from the grid to keep them moving. If you want to know exactly how little wind Connecticut produces, you can’t. That too, is sealed, again BNE calls this information “confidential and proprietary.”
Are we green? You bet we are! We organically grow our own food which we carefully preserve for the year. We make our own bread, jams, and soaps. We collect fresh eggs every day from our own chickens. We heat our house with wood, a renewable energy resource. We harvest the wood from our own property and if we could get federal funding like BNE, we’d buy enough solar panels to be completely off the grid. We are self-reliant. We fully support renewable energy, but now that we’ve educated ourselves about industrial wind turbines we believe they are not suited for the state of Connecticut—it is just too densely populated.
Invest in solar power, fuel cell power, but before investing in industrial wind power, spend the time to do research and educate yourselves to avoid pitfalls. Our state has no regulations regarding industrial wind turbines. Our state has a Council made up of nine people who wield the power to site these things wherever they see fit. And they are supposed to do it with consideration for the welfare of the people and environment in Connecticut.
Your town will have no say and you won’t even know it is happening until you have to fight for your Constitutional right to use and enjoy your property as you intended when you selected its location and purchased it. Can you imagine the day it becomes okay to consider the health, happiness and prosperity of residents to be EXPENDABLE in the quest to be green? Can you imagine that?
Finally, to those who say we’ll get used to the annoyance of the turbines; that we have give up something in order to be green; that we must start somewhere to support our energy demands; I say this: How about you giving up your cell phones, your cable TV, your video games and electronic devices? No worries, because like you say, you’ll get used to it.
Michael and Jennifer Truss are residents of Colebrook.
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