Having always assumed that wind turbines were an excellent renewable source of energy and a much greener alternative to many other sources, I was thrown off guard after seeing the documentary “Windfall” at Memorial Hall last week.
I was completely unaware of the negative impact that these wind farms are having on small communities like ours across the northeast. When I learned that night that a wind farm is being proposed for Shelburne (on the mountain that faces my home in the village), I began to have lots of questions and concerns. Will this wind farm affect my property value? What about the health affects that residents around these turbines complain of? The noise level that is produced by massive, 400-foot turbines? What will the access roads look like?
When I read that 6,000 homes would be powered by this project, I assumed electricity produced by these turbines would be providing power to Shelburne Falls. Then I found out that the electricity would be sold to the grid, leaving our towns dependent on the grid and as vulnerable to power outages as we already are.
Do we really need more electricity? According to the Massachusetts Slow Growth Initiative, “the organization charged with operating the Northeast Grid estimates that the region will require an additional 8,000 megawatts of electricity by 2025. In 2004, New England Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) published a report announcing that increased efficiency in New England can defer the need to build 28 3OO-megawatt power plants before 2013. This means that more efficient use of current electricity supplies, accessed through increased efficiency, will make 8,400 megawatts of electricity available to consumers. Consequently, New England has the capability to meet 100 percent of its rising electricity demand over the next 15 years with investments in efficiency, not expenditures on power plants. The Commonwealth has before it an opportunity to martial existing electricity, providing the power it needs without adhering to a wasteful and senseless strategy of expanded electricity generation.”
And “the one-time cost to consumers to fund a grid upgrade will be approximately $150 but each consumer will save an average of $500 per year.
This is only one of many energy conservation strategies. The industrial scale wind project proposed for Shelburne Falls, which will affect Buckland just as much as Shelburne, should get a closer look. Do the benefits of this project outweigh the negatives? This project won’t lower our electric bills. In fact our light bills are increased to guarantee the profits to the owners. As it costs three cents to conserve a kilowatt and nine cents to produce it with a new power plant, the Massaemet Wind Project, collecting tens of millions of taxpayer and rate payer subsidies, will not serve the public good. Once this wind project gets built, there is no turning back. Please attend the Planning Board meeting on Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. in Memorial Hall.
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