September 3, 2015
Letters, Massachusetts

Otis should slow down on wind turbine plan

The Berkshire Eagle | 09/03/2015 |

Our sister town of Otis voted on Aug. 4 to commit to a $6.4 million investment for the installation of a 415-foot high industrial turbine, which is about the height of the Washington Monument, and quite a bit taller than the Statue of Liberty, in a complicated scheme that purports to offer a sure way to make lots of money. This took place after a one hour proposal by the Otis Energy Committee.

A ceremony (another vote) is planned for Sept. 8 to solemnize this agreement in a legal fashion with a debt exclusion on a Proposition 2 1/2 Override to pay off the cost.

What advice would your big sister Blandford (incorporated in 1741, Otis in 1810) give? Cool it, Otis. You need time to think this one over very carefully. One hour won’t do it. If it still looks good in a few months, then say “I do.”

Several years ago, Blandford, my hometown, was courted by wind turbine interests with promises of a new era of prosperity in return for the simple act of approving a bylaw amendment allowing such turbines in town. A Special Town Meeting was called, and a compliant electorate appeared ready to say “I do.” That is, until one courageous soul spoke up to say she didn’t yet know enough, and asked for a postponement of the vote. The gathering reluctantly agreed.

In six weeks a remarkable thing happened. Yes, knowledge is power, but I think that Blandford also learned the corollary, that power is knowledge – the town now had the edge on knowledge, and became empowered. The resulting vote was a resounding no.

Otis needs time to learn, understand, and become empowered. Its conclusion may be very different than Blandford’s, but it will be celebrated with a shout, instead of a slouch.

Our best of luck, Otis, and if more information is needed, try Wind Wise Massachusetts, the non-profit volunteer coalition of people who have collected much data on the experience of people and communities in the state in relation to wind turbines. Their website is

Try to keep in mind the advice of the renowned stock market investor, Peter Lynch, “If you don’t understand it, don’t invest in it.” Absent that understanding, it’s purely a gamble. Better to say “I don’t” until that understanding is gained.

Jane Pinsley

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