December 4, 2012

Residents protest wind turbines as Gov. Patrick, officials celebrate Hoosac Wind Project

Residents express concerns over wind turbines | By Edward Damon, North Adams Transcript | December 4, 2012 |

FLORIDA – While a crowd gathered Monday to hear Gov. Deval Patrick and other officials celebrate the Hoosac Wind Project, about half a dozen people were just steps away protesting the 19 wind turbines scheduled to be turned on by year’s end.

Among them was town resident Michael Fairneny, who has lived with his wife on Moores Road for 29 years. Fairneny is concerned about how the turbines have changed his life, and whether he will have more to worry about once they begin to spin.

He claimed he was never given notice he’d be able to see a turbine from his property. Now, he can see three from inside his home and seven from his property.

“I’m very concerned about my family’s future,” Fairneny said.

One concern Fairneny and others voiced are the turbines’ effects on property values.

“It’s been shown nationwide that homes near turbine sites can see 25 to 40 percent depreciation,” he said.

But Fairneny said the money is the least of his worries.

“I’m worried about my health, and my family’s health,” he said.

Fairneny points to recent studies that suggest living near wind turbines can cause negative health effects such as headaches, heart palpitations and sleep disturbances.

“We’re concerned because there’s not enough information to really know how bad living near turbines can be,” he said.

Fairneny also expressed concern over payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) to be made to Florida and Monroe by Portland, Ore.-based project developer Iberdrola Renewables. The developer’s website, he said, states that $257,000 will be given to the host towns each year over the life of the project – $135,000 to Florida and $122,000 to Monroe. He said the math for how much money each town would receive was calculated as if each windmill would operate at 100 percent capacity. Similar ones in upstate New York, he said, operate at closer to 25 percent capacity.

Another protester was David Moriarty, of Falmouth. Moriarty related a story of a Falmouth woman who lived in a house for several years before a turbine was built 1,600 feet away.

“After two years of suffering, she abandoned her home,” he said.

Lloyd Crawford, of Hawley, is concerned with the new wind turbines not addressing the state’s current energy problems.

“This project produces one 1,000th of the electricity used in Massachusetts,” he said. “Power demand is expected to grow one percent per year for the next decade. We’d have to put up a project like this once every 5 weeks for the next 10 years just to keep up with demand.”

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