MONROE – When Michael Fairneny of Moores Road, Florida, first heard of plans for the Hoosac Wind Project, he was relieved to learn that the 10 turbines sited in Florida wouldn’t be close to his home. But at least four of the nine 340-foot-tall turbines on Crum Hill in Monroe – which he said are about 3,000 feet from his home – can be seen right outside his kitchen windows.
“My quiet, peaceful, serene world and home has been turned into a reeling of unending noise, annoyance and constant dealing with those in charge to help us,” said Fairneny. “My wife’s ears are ringing constantly. When I’m home, I have headaches around the clock.”
Fairneny said he went to the Florida selectmen with his complaints but was told there was nothing they could do. “Those turbines are in Monroe,” he said.
Fairneny moved here 25 years ago from Boston, to have the peace and quiet of country living. He said the neighbors “are not too well connected here,” but that he is so concerned about the impact the turbines have had on their lives that he has gone door-to-door, to urge other residents to report their concerns to the Department of Environmental Protection.
“I’m very concerned that DEP will brush this stuff under the rug,” he said. “The noise is pretty much unending, unless the wind is dead and (the turbines) aren’t running.”
Irving and Rosalyn Mullette, both 75, of Tilda Hill Road, Florida, say they wonder if they’ll be able to enjoy their home and yard when summer comes, because the noise “is always there.”
“We’ve had folks come to the house who thought ‘the wind is really blowing,’ then realized that it wasn’t that windy; it was just the sound of the turbines,” Irving Mullette said. “Others have said it sounds like you have an airplane hovering overhead.”
The Mullettes moved back to their family homestead after living for four years in New York City, craving the quiet country life.
Irving Mullette remarked that the family cat “went crazy” when the turbines first started up. “She went racing around, couldn’t find a place to sit and calm down.”
“I never had headaches, but since they’ve started this up, I’ve had headaches every day,” he said. “We’ve been to our doctor and we’re concerned about whether we will be able to stay in this house.”
The 19 1.5-megawatt wind turbines went on line for the first time at the end of December, and the residents with complaints have started a website:
that describes the project and their concerns.
About six residents organized a press conference Tuesday afternoon, to voice their concerns and to give reporters a chance to experience the working turbines from their homes. But they say at least 20 residents they’ve spoken to have had difficulty adjusting to the new turbines atop Crum Hill.
The group has filed complaints with the Department of Environmental Protection, and is hoping other residents will come forward with their complaints – while the DEP still has time to address them with Iberdrola Renewables Inc.
“MassDEP has been tracking complaints from residents in the area and we have been in contact with the company about those complaints,” said a news statement from spokesman Edmund Coletta. “Mass DEP requested – and the company recently submitted – a plan for performing noise monitoring. We are working with the company to ensure the plan will evaluate conditions around the turbines. We expect to finalize that plan shortly and then the company will begin monitoring.”
To this reporter, the wind turbines located near the Moores Road home of George Berne, created a sound resembling wind gusts from an approaching storm. The sound of rushing wind exceeded any visible wind that could be seen in the nearby trees.
Berne says he is deaf, but still is affected by the sound. “It reverberates from Spruce Hill (behind the house) to the front of the house.” He said the windmill is about 2,000 feet from his home.
He said his grandchildren, ages 11 and 12, have had trouble sleeping and have been bothered by the “pulsating” red aviation warning lights – an effect caused by the wind turbine blades passing in front of the red lights, intended to alert aircraft to the turbines’ presence. He said the strobing effect isn’t seen from the first floor, but it affects those in the third-floor bedrooms. He said his grandchildren have had to change bedrooms “Nobody told us we were in for this kind of situation,” said Berne. “Something has to be done – for our emotional and physical health.”
Berne pointed out that he “hasn’t seen a deer or moose” around his property since the turbines were turned on. “It’s just wrong to put (the turbines) this close to people,” he said.
His neighbor, Mark Lavariere of Moores Road said the noise is worse between 7 p.m. and 3 a.m. He described it as “two helicopters hovering.”
“I’ve experienced headaches, as Mr. Mullette has, and sinus-pressure headaches,” said Lavariere. “When I leave my house and go to my workplace, that’s when the headaches go away. When I go home, I really don’t want to go to my house anymore.”
The Hoosac Wind Project is the largest wind farm in both Massachusetts and Southern New England.
In December, during a ceremony before the turbines were started up, Gov. Deval Patrick said the windfarm would reduce reliance on “volatile, foreign fossil fuels,” and would generate enough power to run at least 10,000 homes a year.
The project has been in the works since 2001.
Paul Copleman, a spokesman for Iberdrola Renewables LLC, owner and operator of the project, has said the project will generate roughly $6.9 million in payment-in-lieu-of taxes for the towns, with landlease payments to local owners totalling about $3 million.
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