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Turbine troubles  

Credit:  Wicked Local Kingston | www.wickedlocal.com 20 August 2012 ~~

I am a high school student who lives in a neighborhood in close proximity to the windmills that were put in place this year. For the past several weeks, I have been following a series of articles on Kingston’s controversy surrounding these new windmills. These windmills have caused quite a stir (excuse the pun!) around town, and I have been intrigued by the debate. The windmills are said to have many advantages, such as a reduced electricity cost and less dependence on fossil fuel. Yet, despite these advantages, many of us are obviously having a difficult time with the effects of the windmills.

From reading the articles, certain residents are struggling with windmills due to their location. They have said that the windmills could have negative side effects, including migraines, heart palpitations, sleep disturbance, vertigo and depression. This strikes me as a valid concern. For, while wind energy has its benefits, these benefits certainly don’t justify risking the health and well being of people living in town.

Far from clear-cut, this issue seems to have solid arguments on both sides. Granted, wind power will be helpful to both the environment and the town in many ways. But potential health concerns also need to be addressed. I decided to do a little research in order to clearly understand what harm these windmills may cause. Articles from the Kingston Reporter, as well as other things I’ve read on this topic, suggest that common negative side effects include hearing loss, headaches, sleep disturbances, vertigo, tinnitus, vision and other health problems. Also, medical professionals have determined that, in living near windmills, one may develop something known as “wind turbine syndrome,” a problem rooted in the inner ear which manifests itself in the aforementioned symptoms.

I remain optimistic that all parties involved seek a positive outcome for Kingston and its residents. The windmills were put into place for a specific purpose, and all the criteria for their use were met. Kingston’s Planning Board and Town Meeting also provided the required approvals. So, it does seem unfair to argue that the windmills “just showed up one day.” The problem here is probably that, during the approval process, many did not realize how close the wind turbines would be to their homes and the health concerns were not properly conveyed to citizens.

Is there room here for compromise? I believe so. Perhaps the windmills could be turned down or turned off during the night, which would enable residents to sleep peacefully. Also, have the turbine operators explored all options to reduce noise and wind disruption? We would all benefit from making certain that a “clean energy” solution, which was intended to be a positive advancement, does not turn out to have a more negative effect than anticipated. Rather than dwell on our points of disagreement, we should strive to find common ground on wind energy. Reaching consensus on this topic might be as groundbreaking as the invention of clean energy itself!

I am interested in reading what is next to come on this grueling debate over energy, and I have learned a lot about how much controversy can be caused by something as simple as wind. I can’t wait to hear what the outcome is.

– Shauna Sweeney, Kingston

Source:  Wicked Local Kingston | www.wickedlocal.com 20 August 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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