I recently visited the Berkshires, where I grew up, and learned about a proposed five-turbine wind power project in Peru. It’s an interesting idea, but does it make sense? I’m not convinced. Here are some thoughts that I hope the community of Peru and the surrounding area will consider.
Data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado indicate that the magnitude of the yearly mean wind velocity around western Massachusetts is low to moderate when compared to magnitudes in the central US. Wind energy produced from a turbine will be relatively low in Peru when compared to other parts of the country such as the vast plains in the Midwest and Texas.
The turbines proposed in Peru would be constructed along the Peru State Forest boundary. This location potentially waives mandated setbacks which may set a precedent and will certainly block scenic lookouts. The turbines will also impact Peru residents and potentially those in surrounding towns. Depending on conditions, turbines can be heard over a mile away, and for some residents, rotating blades could produce a flickering shadow effect of the sun and even the moon on their homes.
Finally, it is unclear that the proposed project will lower energy bills or taxes for the Peru community, despite the negative impact it will have on many of its residents. Rather, any savings might be transferred to the developers.
Wind power can be a beautiful thing – energy is produced when it’s windy and there’s no exhaust. But, like all forms of energy production, wind power has costs and benefits. There’s certainly a place for wind power in the US, most sensibly where the wind is best, and successful local projects can be documented. Consider Jiminy Peak: wind turbines are located on a ridge that was already developed and far from residents, and the energy generated primarily powers a local business.
Will Peru and the surrounding community benefit from the proposed five-turbine wind project? I suspect that the answer is “No.”
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