PERU – Sue Hobart says whenever she’s near her Falmouth home she suffers from headaches, nausea and disorientation. And she sleeps poorly.
The symptoms, she said, amount to acute “wind turbine syndrome.”
Hobart’s home sits 1,600 feet away from three, 400-foot-tall turbines, which were installed by Lightship Energy in 2010.
“I worry for you people,” she told Peru residents on Thursday night. “(Wind developers) are like the cigarette companies back when they were saying everything’s cool. I’m a front-line guinea pig. I get what’s going on.”
Hobart and her husband, Ed, were special gets at an informational meeting in Peru, where Lightship has proposed to erect five, 500-foot turbines between Haskell and Garnet Hills off Curtin Road. The nearest homes would fall within 2,000 feet of the structures and there exists perhaps 40 homes within a 1.5 mile range.
Concerned about the impact the wind farm would have on their community, residents have proposed a two-year moratorium on wind energy projects. Residents will vote Nov. 4 on the moratorium, which if approved would block the Lightship project.
Proponents of the project point to the nationwide need for clean, renewable energy and the potential tax revenue it could bring the town.
To offer a counterpoint to the Hobarts’ perspective, resident Mike Dewkett has scheduled a “positive informational meeting” at 2 p.m. Sunday at Peru Fire Department.
Dewkett’s planned guests of honor – Ronald Zweig and Christina Rawley – also hail from Falmouth.
“They are the neighbors of (the Hobarts),” Dewkett said. “They’re happy with the wind turbines and want to share their own stories.
“I’m just trying to even out the playing field,” he added.
More than 50 people attended Thursday’s meeting, and the overwhelming consensus was to support the moratorium.
“I was for (the development) for a lot of reasons at first,” said resident Debbie Cahill. “Then I educated myself and listened, and realized no, I have more consideration for my neighbors and friends. If they get in and there’s issues, there’s no chance of getting them out.”
Ed Hobart acknowledged that not everyone who lives by an industrial turbine suffers the acute effects experienced by his wife.
But, Hobart said, Maine acousticians Stephen Ambrose and Robert Rand both took ill while conducting a study in the Hobarts Falmouth home. Their study concluded that industrial-sized wind turbines cause “visceral” physical reactions and that sound waves from turbines are felt more intensely indoors than outdoors.
Many residents at the meeting said Peru wouldn’t gain much from the proposed arrangement. They called $150,000 per year in extra tax revenue for the town floated by Lightship “chump change” when compared to the millions in production tax credits and green energy tax credits the company stands to gain from the development.
In the Hobarts’ case, they abandoned their Falmouth home.
Previously valued at more than $500,000, they say they “can’t give (the home) away” after more than a year of trying to sell it.
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