There is a strong grassroots objection to the proposed wind turbine project that has developed among Somerset County residents who do not have vested financial interests in it.
We are looking into broader issues involved with an industrial project of this kind – there are serious environmental and health issues and the long-term impact to the quality of life and character of Somerset County, as opposed to short-term financial gains by a few.
Safe for Somerset has been researching scientific studies and personal experiences with similar projects in other parts of the United States and overseas, and working with local academics for assessment of its potential health and environmental impacts.
Some of these impacts uncovered include:
• Bird kills: The Somerset County wind turbines will be sited in a wild bird migration flyway and could be destructive to many species of birds. Bald eagles nesting here will likely be killed. Bats will also likely be killed in large numbers. Insects that are consumed by bats reduce farmers’ costs for pesticides.
• Low-frequency noise: Turbines emit low-frequency noise that may cause sleep disorders and headaches in some people. Light flickering from the shadows of the moving blades could also affect people who live in close proximity to the turbines.
• Property values: Studies in other areas of the country indicate a loss in the value of properties that are situated in proximity to turbines.
One of the important reasons people move to Somerset County is for the natural environment and views of fields, marshes and rivers. No one is likely to seek a country home with a view of a 500-foot turbine.
Wind resource maps show the land portion of the Eastern Shore is located in the worst zone for wind power. Areas of the Chesapeake Bay and off the coast show better wind resources, although even those areas do not show highly favorable wind levels.
The selection of Somerset County does not make engineering or economic sense. It only makes sense where government subsidies are used to finance the project. In the Review and Opinion section of the May 5 issue of the Wall Street Journal, Warren Buffett states why he invests in wind farms: “I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire’s tax rate. For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them.”
This project is being built for the benefit of Wall Street investors and a few landowners.
Harvey A. Kagan is a licensed professional engineer who lives in Somerset County.
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