FLORIDA, MA – Residents living near the Hoosac Wind Project located in Florida and Monroe, MA met today to describe how life is for them now that the wind turbines have begun operation. The project is comprised of nineteen 1.5 Megawatt, 340 foot tall, wind turbines situated on two mountains, Crum Hill in Monroe and Bakke Mountain in Florida, and went online at the end of December, 2012. It is the largest wind turbine installation in Southern New England.
“My quiet, peaceful, serene world and home has been turned into a reality of grief, unending noise, annoyance, and constant dealing with those in charge to help us. And the realization that unless something changes, my family’s dream of a quiet place to live for myself and my wife, my kids and my grandkids, has been altered forever,” said Michael Fairneny of Moores Road in Florida, who lives about 3,000 feet from the turbines and can see four of them from his property. As for how his health is impacted, Fairneny reported that “my wife’s ears are ringing constantly when we are home and I now have headaches around the clock. Our only relief comes when we leave our house.”
Tilda Hill Road residents Irving and Rosalyn Mullette moved back to Mr. Mullette’s family homestead after living in New Jersey. According to Ms. Mullette, “We are both 75 years young now have enjoyed the lifestyle here where we can enjoy the yard in the summer, sit out both in the daytime or evening to enjoy the surroundings, and have a small garden. We now find this way of life is challenged and jeopardized by the wind turbines surrounding our home. Since the turbines started operating, 7 of which are visible through our kitchen window, my husband has had daily headaches which he never had before and is now being documented with our doctor and by our daily records. I have been awakened in the middle of the night several times by the sound of them, and on some days when the turbines are extremely loud, and our cat cannot rest and goes racing erratically through the house.”
According to Mark Lavariere of Moores Road, “I purchased a house in the middle of nowhere about eighteen years ago to have peace and quiet from the hectic world. I loved being here until the wind turbines took that all away. When I arrive at home after a hard days work I can no longer hear the sounds of nature. All I hear now is what sounds like helicopters hovering over my house. It is the noise of the turbines. I can only imagine when the weather turns warmer and my windows are open. My family’s future and well being is being jeopardized. This is unacceptable.”
George Berne, also of Moores Road said “My and wife I moved here to get away from the noise and activity of the city. We built our own house and we loved the seclusion, the quiet and the wildlife, and since the turbines got turned on there is a noticeable lack of certain wildlife species here. The lights from the turbines are very disturbing at night. I am deaf, but I can clearly hear what sounds like motors and I can feel the vibrations both inside my house and outside. When they first started, my granddaughter woke up terrified in the middle of the night. We are retired, so are here all day. It’s all worse than we imagined it would be.”
Wendy Miller of 15 Tilda Hill Road described the turbine operation as a life altering event. “I have lived on my family’s land my entire life. For forty years I have enjoyed the view, the wildlife and the overall sense of peace and quiet. Now there are nights I go outside to walk my dog and the sound of the wind turbines is as if jets are hovering nearby. I will no longer be able to sleep peacefully with the windows open in the summer. My family land is sacred to me and my plans were to leave it to my children for their “peaceful place of living” when they grow up. This won’t happen. I have a dog that never barked during the night and since the turbines started he freaks out and starts barking for no reason. My indoor house cats go nuts and run like crazy more than a normal cat would since these turbines fired up. Sad to see the country turn into chaos.”
The wind project was touted by Governor Deval Patrick and energy officials during a celebration at project owner Iberdrola’s headquarters on Bliss Road in Florida in December several weeks before the turbines began operation. While the officials expressed their excitement about “harvesting energy” from the project, protesters, who were told to stand outside the event, warned the public about the downsides of the project. “We knew that we would be affected by the noise, but it is worse that we thought,” said Fairneny’s wife, Jo Ann Upper. “We don’t see how Iberdrola could have believed that the noise from the turbines would not exceed state noise standards. Now we asking our neighbors and anyone else who is being affected to send complaints in to the Department of Environmental Protection so that DEP can figure out the best way for a sound study to be done. If we don’t complain, DEP will have to assume that we are okay with the noise being inflicted upon us.”
The State noise standard is to not exceed 10 decibels above ambient sound. The project permit included a modeled sound study, but opponents said that they are unable to uncover an actual sound study. Massachusetts DEP is required to enforce the noise standard.
The Friends of Florida and Monroe, a group formed in response to the project, has a website, www.hoosacwindproject.com, that describes the project and outlines their concerns, including questions about the actual benefits of large scale wind energy. Information about how to complain to DEP is explained on the website. “Making an official complaint to DEP is most important thing that we can do right now to help ourselves deal with this problem. After that, we’ll see where we stand,” said Fairneny.
Other communities are reporting similar problems with turbines in their neighborhoods. A lawsuit asking for $200 million in damages was filed in October, 2012 against owner Iberdrola and others involved with the Hardscrabble Wind Power Project in upstate New York. On January 30, the Selectmen in Falmouth, Massachusetts voted to have town meeting members decide whether or not to take down two 1.65 Megawatt, 397 foot tall, municipally owned turbines that have sparked intense debate in that town.
In nearby Shelburne, MA, the town voted to ban large scale wind last May after a developer tried to place eight 480 foot tall turbines overlooking Shelburne Falls, and the neighboring town of Heath, MA will vote February 26 on whether or not to ban large turbines in their town. “I wish our town had it to do over again,” said Upper. “We would encourage every town to ban these things. These projects are truly much more pain than gain.”