I am a resident of Shelburne and was saddened to read that Peru did not vote in favor of a moratorium on wind development. I am a mathematical economist (BA from Princeton; M.S. and Ph.D. from MIT). I have studied alternative green-energy sources as a faculty researcher at MIT and have taught energy economics as an associate professor at Boston University and the University of California. Industrial wind turbines (IWT), such as the facility proposed in Peru, is the wrong technological commitment to meet our energy goals.
Support for IWT has been based upon the state-sponsored January 2012 wind turbine study cited in a Nov. 7 Eagle editorial (“Peru’s way forward”). I have professionally reviewed hundreds of quantitative policy analyses and provided leading expert testimony that ended in landmark legal decisions. I thoroughly evaluated the state-sponsored study, which is similar to the hundreds I have reviewed. I found it to be fundamentally flawed in its analysis and conclusion that wind turbines do not cause negative health effects.
Unfortunately this study is used to discredit people who report negative health effects, and now it is being used by the wind developer to sell the wind project to the Town of Peru.
Simply put, the health impact study is not independent science. Rather, it is biased, distorted and in many cases outright deceitful. Several members of the panel are not independent; they benefit from Big Wind financially or have demonstrated an intellectual preference to view this technology in a favorable light. The study relies primarily upon four to five articles while ignoring hundreds of other relevant studies. It summarizes health effects of much smaller turbines than the ones proposed for Peru, for example, and examines the effects in Sweden, Holland and New Zealand, while inexplicably ignoring the serious health effects that have arisen from the many large wind projects in Massachusetts and rest of New England.
Furthermore, the panel distorts, ignores and misstates the conclusions of the very studies upon which it relies. These studies conclude that IWTs disrupt sleep, and note that chronic noise exposure is a psychosocial stressor that can induce maladaptive psychological responses and negatively impact health via interactions between the autonomic nervous, neuroendocrine system and immune systems. Furthermore, wind turbine sound varies unpredictably, and the noise does not cease at night. This differs profoundly from traffic noise and/or industrial noise, where background levels usually return to lower levels at night, allowing residents to restore themselves psycho-physiologically.
Wind developers are eying our small towns unprepared to evaluate the effects that turbines will have. These include lower real estate values near turbines, and negative impacts on the tourism-based regional economy of Western Mass. Would we alter these elevated ridge lines with 35- to 50-story Wal-Marts? Large turbines projects have significant impacts upon the ecosystem and affect the health of residents stuck living within several miles. Is this the a way forward for the Berkshires?
I sincerely hope that officials in Peru do not rely on this health study as science to evaluate the five-turbine project now in front of the Zoning Board of Appeals. Because if one of my students handed it in to me, I would give it a failing grade.
RAYMOND S. HARTMAN
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