BOSTON – Louise Barteau, who lives on Fairhaven’s West Island, wandered the Hall of Flags at the Statehouse.
With a canvas bag of binders containing turbine-related research, Barteau was looking for her fellow “wind warriors,” members of the turbine opposition group Windwise who had come to Beacon Hill to convince lawmakers to vote against two renewable energy bills.
“You can usually tell us from the gray hair,” she said. Barteau, an artist, said given that it was a weekday, Windwise’s younger members were working so she was “trying to step up and do my part.”
Though Barteau doesn’t live near Fairhaven’s two turbines, located at the wastewater treatment plant, she said she had to break the lease at her art studio located within 950 feet of the machines.
“The pressure was that bad,” she said. “I felt like my eyes were just going to pop out of my head; I was nauseous and disoriented.”
On the third floor of the Statehouse, Barteau found her group of 20 or so fellow Windwise members discussing the legislation they feel could allow the state to easily put turbines on state-owned land without the approval of local governments. This concerns her because the state owns 338 acres on West Island.
“If these conditions get passed, the minute it happens I’m going to have to sell my house before turbines show up,” she told her fellow Windwise members.
Barteau said her parents were teachers abroad. She moved frequently growing up and lived in apartments from Singapore to Germany. Her West Island cottage is the first place she has owned.
“It will break my heart but I’ll just steel myself and do it,” she said. “I’ll have to move.”
Barteau paired up with Albert Weyman, a retired physician from Brewster, and Trina Sternstein from Hawley.
Sternstein became involved in Windwise because she became convinced that wind turbines are not as efficient as they are reported to be, calling them “boondoggles.” Weyman joined because he’s worried about the health effects.
“I’m not against clean energy. I put solar panels on my house in 1978. But wind is a whole different ball game,” he said. “People call it hypochondria but people actually are getting sick. We have a disaster in Falmouth. We need to find out why that happened – and why there are some places without issues – before we rush into building more turbines.”
The group visited the offices of 13 representatives throughout the day and met with legislative aides.
Barteau thinks she “scared off” some aides and said about one of them, “I could see her eyes go blank.” Others told the group they have never heard about the health effects of turbines and seemed eager to learn more.
This encourages Barteau, who hopes to put a face on the legislation.
“I think sometimes it’s hard to connect bills with their effects on people,” she said to an aide from the office of Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Pembroke. “But I’m an actual person and I’m here telling you my life will be radically changed from just these few sentences.”
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