I am writing as both a merchant on Main Street in Ferndale and a homeowner on Ambrosini Lane, which borders on Williams Creek just outside the city limits. I am writing to object to the Shell Wind Energy project. Being a merchant in a tourist town is very challenging in these times, and many of us are watching our profits go down this year. The challenge of the economy is tough enough, and we don’t need the addition of Shell Wind to exacerbate our problems. My home is my sanctuary and a legacy for my children. I have worked hard to improve my property, and fight a yearly battle with flood damage due to erosion along Williams Creek. (Old-timers here tell us that Williams Creek did not flood in the ’64 flood. Erosion started it flooding about 12 years ago.) Shell Wind could blow all this away. It could badly impact my business while the windmills are being built, and cause long-term damage to my property.
I am not oblivious to the short-term advantages of this project to Humboldt County. But I also know that Shell Wind will have long-term subsidies from this. And I know that the energy produced will go to other places in California.
These windmills will be 430 feet tall, or somewhat taller than a 40-story building. There will be 25 of them. Each of them will require red signal lights 24 hours a day. These lights will cause a red glow in the night sky that will be visible for up to 20 miles away. Shell Wind has a right to get subsidies. But they do not have the
right to ruin my view of the night sky in order to obtain those subsidies. They do not have the right to lower the value of my legacy to my children. They do not have the right to make the fog glow like the outer rims of Hell.
The windmills are truly huge. They are so huge and heavy that trucks carrying some of the major components will be unable to exceed speeds of 10 mph. They will be large, loud and smelly. It is estimated that the trucks will be coming into Ferndale every 10 to 20 minutes of every working day, and they will be here during the height of the tourist season. Tourists are likely to find it very frustrating to be stuck behind these trucks, especially if they pass one truck only to get stuck behind another. Tourists love our clean air. But local air quality will be, at least temporarily, lowered as these trucks belch diesel fumes as they rumble through town.
As these trucks deliver cargo to the windmill building sites, they will tear up our very fragile soils. Ferndale spent a lot of time and money to clear up Francis Creek. Serious erosion will reverse that within a year or two. I live on Williams Creek. The thought of what more erosion will do to Williams Creek makes me feel sick. Shell Wind does not have the right to ruin what is left of the Williams Creek watershed. No one has the right to sacrifice clean water for a small bit of energy use.
Ferndale is a beautiful town, and the well-maintained shops on Main Street only add to its charm. But the recession already has adversely impacted our tourist industry. It is a serious challenge to stay as successful as we have been. What kind of adverse impact will the windmill construction have on our tourist industry? Many merchants may not survive if we have an even slower tourist season than we experienced this year. Empty stores are eyesores. Empty stores are empty dreams.
There are undeniably short-term benefits from this project for a few people. But the long-term disadvantages are very long-term indeed. I do not want Shell Wind in my backyard. I don’t want them in your backyard either. These huge windmills should be placed in areas that don’t have backyards.
Ann Barbata, owner of Golden Bee Candleworks, resides in Ferndale.
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