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Beginning to question industrial wind turbine projects  

Credit:  Shelburne Falls & West County independent, 14 October 2011 ~~

I’ve been doing a massive amount of reading about industrial wind turbine projects and I’m concerned.

Seven European countries, Japan and Australia have begun to change their industrial wind turbine policies. These countries have reduced or completely withdrawn subsidies for industrial wind projects, begun decommissioning industrial wind turbines, and started to refuse or limit inclusion of industrial wind turbine-generated power into the electric grid. There must be good reasons.

Denmark: Cancelled plan for three offshore wind “farms” (planned for 2008). Scheduled withdrawal of subsidies from existing sites.

Spain: Began withdrawing subsidies in 2002.

Germany: Reduced tax breaks in 2004.

Switzerland: Cutting subsidies as too expensive for significant benefits.

Netherlands: Decommissioned 90 wind turbines in 2004.

Japan: Utilities severely limit the amount of wind-generated power they buy because of the instability they cause to the grid.

Ireland: Halted all new wind power connections to the national grid in December 2003 because of instability caused to the grid.

Spain: In 2005 utilities began refusing wind power connections. In 2006 the government ended, by emergency decree, subsidies and price supports for wind power.

Australia: 2004 reduced the amount of “renewable” energies utilities are required to buy.

Source: ‘A Problem with Wind power” Eric rosnbloom: http://www.aweo.org/problemwithwind.htm.

Could we in the U.S. and Massachusetts be making a big mistake?

My read: There are serious downsides to industrial wind turbine projects and we’d all better do our homework. We would do well to examine the proposed Mt. Massaemet project (or any other proposed industrial wind project) very, very carefully. It doesn’t look to me as if industrial wind turbine projects are turning out to be the clean, green, sustainable alternative we thought they might be. In fact, it looks like taxpayers, already stretched thin, will pick up the tab in more than one way, while the developers and investors (and the politicians who make this possible) increase their wealth at our expense.

Will the Mt. Massaemet industrial wind turbine project truly help the Goulds, Davenports and Doles to protect and save their family farms? Will the Mt. Massaemet project truly benefit the larger community? I am not at all certain that there are benefits for the farms, the farm families or the community.

Questions we need to find answers for:

• Exactly where are these turbines manufactured?

• What materials are used in the manufacture of turbines? Under what conditions are these mined or created? Does either process contribute to C02?

• How much C02 is contributed in the manufacturing process?

• How much C02 is contributed in the transportation from point of origin to the place of installation (in this instance, Mt. Massaemet)?

• How much total acreage will be clear-cut for the industrial turbine project: sites, access roads, staging, etc.?

• How much C02 sequestration by mature forest will be lost because of this clear-cutting and leveling?

• What changes will have to be made to Little Mohawk Trail, beginning at the turn-off from Rte. 2, up to the Goldthwaite meadows, onto the Patten Road that runs between the meadows, and up to Tower Road in order to accommodate the delivery of twenty-four 130-foot, inflexible turbine blades?

• Will these changes alter the quality of life of all who live along or near these roads?

• Will these changes alter the value of property for those who live along or near these roads?

• If this project is approved, who will pay for the changes in the roads if they are needed (as I suspect they would be)?

• How much C02 will be contributed by the construction and alteration of roads by heavy equipment and big trucks?

• Each of the eight turbines will require a cement base that, as I understand it, must be at least 30 feet deep and 40×40 feet. These eight 30x40x40-foot holes will more than likely require blasting. What amount of dynamite will be required? How long will residents throughout the Patten and the village be subjected to the noise and dust of blasting?

• Once the holes are blasted and dug, 1,700 cubic yards of cement for each turbine base will need to be delivered. 1,700 tons of CO2 contributed just by the cement alone.

• How many cement trucks will be coming along Rte 2 and up the Little Mohawk Trail and Patten Road to deliver the equivalent of 1,000 truckloads of cement? How much CO2 will be contributed just by this deliver and exit of those 1,000 trips by cement trucks?

• And then there are the cranes needed to hoist up the eight 420-foot-tall towers. How big are the cranes? How many will there be? How are they powered? How much CO2 will they contribute? How will they arrive? Horizontally? Will they have some of the same road-altering requirements that the turbine rotor blades will have? Does a certain amount of forest need to be clear-cut and leveled specifically for the cranes?

• What is done with all of the trees that are clear-cut?

And these questions are only about construction. I haven’t even begun the questions and findings that have been accumulated that indicate that industrial wind turbine projects are not capable of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, do not help to shut down coal-fired or nuclear power plants and do not reduce our carbon footprint.

There is increasing evidence that industrial wind turbine projects significantly reduce property values. There is no evidence that I can find that supports the claim of jobs being created in the community on anything but a short-term basis, if that. There appears to be no evidence that a single coal or nuclear plant has been closed as a result of even the largest scale industrial wind turbine installations.

All of us have an obligation to become as informed as time and circumstances allow. I believe this is also the obligation of each one of the members of our boards. I have begun this process by giving packets on several occasions to the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Planning Board and the Board of Selectmen. I am happy to provide Internet links to studies, video clips, articles for anyone (deborah.w.andrew@ gmail.com).

The Mt. Massaemet project public hearing has been rescheduled for Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Hall. All of us need to be well prepared and ready to serve the best interest of everyone in the community.

Additionally, many of us are becoming more and more aware of the unfortunate influence of our government, both state and federal, in subsidizing and mandating projects that are not in the best interests of communities and those that live there. WESRA, the Wind Energy Siting Reform Act, is but one example. This legislation will remove all public input into the siting of industrial wind turbines. This legislation, if passed, will make it possible for the state to by-pass our local Zoning Boards of Appeal and our zoning bylaws.

The next hearing for this usurping of “home rule” is to take place on Oct. 20 at 10 a.m. at Barnstable High School, Knight Auditorium.

There are alternatives. Alternatives begin with significant conservation of resources and reduction of our current use of fossil fuels – not only by each of us individually, but supported politically. If the $40 million it will cost to create the proposed Mt.Massaemet project were instead invested in retrofitting all of our municipal buildings and schools, in retrofitting every home in the community, aiding the Goulds, Doles and Davenports in developing self-sustaining farm practices and alternatives to increase their incomes and reduce their overhead and labor-intensive farming while allowing them to keep and enjoy the land they have cherished for generations, we would all benefit.

We can either decide that we are unwilling to make the effort, take the time and also make the adjustments that might be needed to go in a direction of true conservation, demonstrable reduction of our carbon footprints and do no harm … or we can let the government and investors make decisions for us. Costly decisions. Not only in terms of tax dollars, dollars that come out of our pockets, but in terms of harm to the environment, the quality of life, to peace of mind. That this may involve opposing initiatives of our state and federal government will also take dedication, time and effort.

Deborah Andrew

Source:  Shelburne Falls & West County independent, 14 October 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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