December 1, 2013
Opinions, Rhode Island

Dark side of renewable energy: megawatt turbines

By FRANK HAGGERTY | November 29, 2013 |

In the past few years most anyone that has gotten up in front of a crowd to speak about commercial megawatt wind turbines starts with an apology. The speakers usually say I’m all for green energy and I like the idea of renewable energy, but commercial megawatt turbines have serious issues. The days of apologizing before speaking about renewable energy programs in Rhode Island and Massachusetts are over.

The public needs to hear the truth about the maintenance issues with the gear-driven wind turbines installed in the past four years. Many of these turbines are suffering major catastrophic gearbox failures within three to five years of installation. Portsmouth (R.I.) Island High School is a prime example. The repair estimates range from $600,000 to a million dollars. The Portsmouth High School wind turbine sits there day after day with 40,000 vehicles going by the broken and forgotten megawatt turbine. There is no news on any repair date in the foreseeable future.

Massachusetts has several examples of turbines sited far too close to residential homes. Massachusetts Superior Court recently ordered wind turbines in Falmouth shut down from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. The court agreed for the first time in U.S. history that the noise was hurting residents.

Noise and “shadow flicker” complaints against commercial wind turbines installed in Fairhaven, Scituate and Kingston also have been registered.

The green community and those interested in renewable energy need to bring a halt to the poor installations of commercial, land-based wind turbines larger than 1.5 megawatts. The community needs to focus on other sources of renewable energy. Those sources include photovoltaic, heat pumps, geothermal and fiber-optic lighting in industrial buildings. Too many resources are being wasted on commercial wind.

The current policies and actions with commercial wind turbines are making misbelievers in renewable energy.

Frank Haggerty is a Jamestown, R.I., resident.

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