Shelburne and Buckland residents (and people beyond) have the legitimate right and absolute responsibility to question and challenge the proposed, Mount Massaemett wind farm.
Shelburne ZBA member Ted Merrill is correct in saying “this is a major decision that the town should make at town meeting …. ” This may be among the most important decisions your town ever faces. The impact will be for generations to come! This industrial-scale and prominent wind installation with its elevated presence will necessarily change the character of this region. This proposal should rightly be a multitown or even a regional decision because of the breadth of its impacts.
I’d like to quote the eloquent and thoughtful statement by Richard Todd about proposed industrial wind in Ashfield that appeared last month in Ashfield News.
“Here is what troubles me about the-debate so far: we seem to be so ready to devalue the ground we stand on. In the interest of an uncertain good – “clean energy” – we are ready to sacrifice some very real, present and tangible goods. … We are inheritors of generations of stewardship of the land. We live in one of those increasingly rare places where the human presence has not destroyed but has, for the most part, enhanced the environment. … Our society needs this model far more than it needs more kilowatts, however “cleanly” they are generated. But we can at least save something of the planet by respecting the place where we live.”
Using Todd’s astute insight, we have an obligation to our special place and community, to ask discerning questions and demand complete, logical and documented answers. Boiler-plate statistics and platitudes generated by the wind industry’s paid consultants must not suffice. If we are to trade our precious long-protected regional resource for an uncertain and predictably underperforming industrial technology, we had best get a certain and good bargain.
Make no mistake, this proposal for a Massaemett industrial wind installation is not confined to the few hundred acres and several cooperating properties. The proposal permanently and necessarily borrows heavily, without compensation from all of us – especially those within 1½ miles from the proposed turbine properties.
As recently as nine months ago, as a sustainability focused citizen and a professional designer and planner, I had been hopeful and enamored with industrial wind power. Informed only casually by the industry and government publications, I had thought that careful siting of the necessary and inevitable machines was what was needed. As a now more fully informed person, I have a conviction that wind does not do what it is purported to do, reduce carbon-dioxide production in any appreciable manner.
As one of two points made here, wind developer and governmental claims of actually wind-energy production are far below actual performance according to internationally documented figures. It is rare for the machines to achieve or exceed 30 percent efficiency of rated name plate capacity. Energy production would most certainly be even lower in a marginal wind site as the proposed Massaemett facility.
Secondly, Shelburne Falls is a quiet community with a similar night time base line ambient sound in the low 20 decibels as has been documented in Ashfield. Raising the DCB by just six or more decibels is the essential equivalent of doubling sound that reaches the human ear. The noise and health impacts of industrial wind turbines are a focus of worldwide discussion of what is now labeled a “health calamity.”
More damaging is “infra-sound” not measured in many DBA sound studies. Many countries worldwide are significantly increasing the required setback from habitable buildings to any turbine to 1¼ to 1½ miles for this reason. Most of Shelburne Falls and Buckland homes and businesses fall within the 1½-mile noise impact zone.
I am now alarmed by the numerous impacts any single turbine or group of turbines will necessarily produce.
Literally hundreds of informed antiwind organizations are forming daily and especially in the countries with the longest experience with wind installations. They believe as Richard Todd and I do, it is our obligation to defend our uncommon and cherished landscape from unnecessary impacts.
As a possible help and jump start to your inevitable questions, here are just three of many we need to be asking:
• What sources, studies, facts, authors and authorities have led you to the conclusion and prove with scientific certainty that industrial wind does work sufficiently to justify our communities several large sacrifices?
• What are the precise substantiated sources, contacts and basis for your calculations of energy out put of the eight machines? This includes number of homes supplied with electricity, metric tons of CO2 saved and for the gallons of oil not consumed.
• To not make our community an expanded and unwilling “risk partner” to your proposed enterprise, identify the guaranteed employment and other annual economic contributions to be delivered to this community regardless of whether it is a “bad wind year,” such as England has just experienced.
Once installed, the Massaemett eight turbine negative impact on our most cherished elevated landscape and beyond will likely be maimed for generations.
Shelburne citizens and beyond: Consider holding yourselves open to the possibility that, “industrial wind simply does not work” or “does not work efficiently enough” to warrant approving this or any similar project.
Walter Cudnohufsky, who lives in Ashfield, is a landscape architect and land and community planner.
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