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Wind turbine: A plea for involvement

Living in the woods far from the shore, I never really got involved with the wind turbine that towers over the North River basin. With full disclosure, I was never a big fan of the concept. Wind energy feels good I know – renewable energy may be worth the fight – although its real costs are often disregarded in favor of the purpose. I understand that. Getting to the future of energy is expensive and takes effort. Maybe we do need to transform our landscape for the greater good of reducing carbon-based fuels, but I wonder how well that concept would have worked here in Scituate had we proposed turbines in Minot or on the town-owned land in the Harbor? I am certain that many of us would fight against a 300-foot active power plant if it were shadowing our neighborhoods. I’m still kicking myself for not paying attention to the Driftway project.

This past weekend I learned what “shadow flicker” from a wind turbine is and the pain it causes. To my surprise, it is not the flashing of the red beacon that sits high on the tower. It is much more harsh and the term “flicker” is understating the magnitude. Shadow flicker is a continued strobe light effect caused by the large blades of the turbine shadowing the sun every few seconds. Sounds almost poetic like an eclipse of the sun, but to watch the video of this strobe effect in a family’s living room, kitchen, hallway, bedroom – well, it was painful. It’s hard to imagine the intensity of this in real time. The true pain is that this is happening here to people in Scituate. Add the daily noise pain to the mix – a significant issue – and we see the adverse effects this energy plant is having on many people in our community. It’s worth noting that the Mass DEP acknowledges that their noise compliance standards do not account for low frequency sound emitted from wind turbines. So our Driftway turbine was built and is being tested against standards developed before wind turbines were widely in place here in Massachusetts. That’s a bit like testing a 16-year-old for a driving test and staying in the parking lot. We’re not getting the full picture.

A few years ago when we needed money for schools, many people with no personal need, supported the schools in our community. When the special ed programs needed help, many of us fortunate enough not to need special ed programs supported our neighbors that did. We now have neighbors that are in pain and are in need of our support, even though most of us don’t have this pain and don’t need to get involved – much like the past school supporters who could have ignored the greater community need.

To many, the wind turbine is all good. After all, it went through permitting, MassDEP standards, town boards, and it symbolizes all that is good in fighting carbon energy sources. But there are down sides – most importantly, significant health problems occurring to our neighbors right now. Nothing is ever easy it seems – including developing green energy sources. Please take some time to understand these other issues created by wind turbines. Our neighbors and our community need our involvement.

Steve Tassini, 138 Vernon Road