Because of the controversy over safe setbacks and the resultant adverse health effects to residents from an improperly located wind turbine, a town selecting wind turbines as its alternative energy source faces a decision centering around profit for the town or protection for its residents.
For that reason, the town must be willing to work on a parallel track with its Board of Health, with the town focusing on project development and the health board, in an advisory capacity, researching and monitoring the project through all stages of development.
In this manner, the town will be required to give equal consideration to the human factor— that is, residents’ health and welfare, in its decision-making.
Town officials should be willing to conduct on-site visits to communities with turbines comparable to those contemplated for their own town, and to experience first-hand, even if only for a short time, what living with a turbine as a neighbor is like. By doing so, they will have afforded themselves a better opportunity with which to evaluate their personal reactions against what is told them by those in the wind power industry who have a stake in turbine sales and construction.
Comparison should be equal, with turbines and location as similar as possible; if a larger turbine is compared to a smaller turbine or the locations greatly differ, both officials and the public will be misinformed and misled, which could give rise to a false sense of security easily misconstrued by both.
Officials should also be willing to take the time to talk to residents, such as those in Falmouth, who live in close proximity to a turbine. Face-to-face meetings would provide personal interaction that paperwork could never provide, allowing officials a different perspective with which to assess if turbines were a judicious avenue to pursue in their own community.
Essentially, town officials must ask themselves if the turbine project is a responsible undertaking in which everyone wins, and no one sacrifices.
Whatever the decision, it should be justifiable and officials should be prepared to do exactly that because residents should know precisely the basis of their decision. Residents should ask for those answers. If due diligence had been expended in the manner above, officials, as a matter of transparency, should have no difficulty answering.
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