Filmmaker Laura Israel follows the installation of wind turbines as sources of energy in two rural towns in New York State, and discovers there are downsides to the source of energy generally thought to be a clean, green and sustainable alternative to the dirtier resources of oil and coal.
In Meredith, New York, residents welcome the proposal made by wind power developers to build 40 industrial wind turbines in their town, believing that the project will inject a flow of income into their failing economy, and that they are helping to free the nation from our dependency on foreign oil supplies. But, when they further investigate the project and realize that the 400-foot high windmills will transform their bucolic landscape, dwarf their town and create unanticipated noise pollution, some citizens begin to oppose the project. Opposition strengthens when they discover that most of the huge profit from the project will go to outside developers rather than to their town. As the time to decide on whether to approve the project or not approaches, the community of people who once got along peacefully becomes a battleground of opposing ideas and interests.
Meanwhile, in the town of Tug Hill, New York, where 195 wind turbines have already been erected, Israel follows residents who are experiencing unanticipated and severely adverse effects from the tall towers, including non-stop strobe-like light and shadow patterns and the disturbing low frequency “whomping” sounds caused by the constant rotation of the turbine blades. Their quality of life and, in some cases, their health has suffered considerably, and the value of their property has plummeted.
A Timely Study
As more and more communities across the nation and around the world consider whether or not to allow construction of wind turbines on their turf, Windfall raises some very important issues that should be investigated, including not only the effects on the quality of life of residents, but on the fiscal and construction policies of the purportedly green companies that are pushing for wind power development.
In presenting a carefully researched and well-balanced study of the two towns, Israel reveals some facts that are not widely known about living in proximity to industrial wind turbines. The information is invaluable.
Background statistics presented in the film indicate that wind power development is currently increasing at a rate of 39 percent per year in the United States, and that means a lot of people should see this film and consider what it reveals before steaming ahead with wind turbine development.