The wind installation of five industrial turbines about to be constructed in Savoy makes me terribly sad. Into the foreseeable and unforeseeable future, these huge industrial machines will mar a once beautiful place.
Each of the turbines will be 492 feet high. The Statue of Liberty and the Bennington Monument both measure about 300 feet. The turbines will be situated right on Hawley’s border, adjacent to several homes and Stump Sprouts, a lovely hill-top resort which brings visitors to the area for skiing, weddings, and retreats all year round.
Wind energy is about money, not about saving the planet. This industry is supported by huge government subsidies. Lobbyists for wind have fought frantically and successfully to hold onto these tax breaks.
Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, has a seat on the American Wind Association’s board. A couple of years ago he explained why he is in the wind business. “We get a tax credit if we build wind farms. They don’t make sense without a tax credit.” So all of us are paying for giant companies like Berkshire Hathaway, Goldman Sachs, and others to make large profits.
Unfortunately, to understand why wind-powered electricity is not what it’s advertised to be takes some research. It’s understandable that many people don’t have time for this research. If there was more information about wind energy in the media, people would be better informed of it’s downsides. But there isn’t.
There is a lot of information about wind energy online, including a lot of negative information recently from those with extensive experience with it. Denmark, Spain, and Germany have recently cut their wind subsidies sharply.
They have done so because their ratepayers have some of the highest electricity costs in the world and their citizens are tired of the destruction of land, seascapes. Moreover, the damage to health suffered by those living in proximity to the turbines has become more and more evident. This explains why companies like Iberdrola and DONG Energy are so eager to build turbines here.
But what about the amount of electricity wind turbines make? On average, wind turbines produce about 30 percent of capacity. Wind sales people will throw out numbers, but verifying what they say is very difficult. The companies seem very shy about letting us know the actual amount of electricity that they are producing. State Representative Todd Smola sponsored a bill in the 2015-2016 legislature, number H2913, entitled Transparency in Wind Generated Electricity Production. It required that wind companies accepting public funds report their monthly output and that a third party verify their reports. It was tabled.
Many people don’t know what an industrial wind turbine is actually like and have not considered the enormous amount of fossil fuel required to construct, transport, and build roads for them. People hear “clean, green energy” and that sounds good. But here are some basic facts:
Mountaintops must be blasted to create level areas (3 acres per turbine).
Each of these huge industrial machines requires clearing many acres of trees. This is ironic because a mature growing tree can absorb 48 pounds of CO 2 a year.
Transporting turbines requires that the roads be widened and that new roads be built in wild areas.
The steel towers for the turbines must be anchored in a thousand tons of concrete and rebar steel 30 to 50 feet across.
I also feel sad for the people of Savoy. I believe that the carrot – Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT – that they are being offered for voting in the turbines will not make up for what they will lose in quality of life, property values, health, and the beauty and peace of their surroundings.
I would like to ask others to do their own research into the wind industry. This industry is big business, and I believe it will not benefit the people of Western Massachussetts. I hope that we can prevent this lovely area of the country from becoming an industrial zone.
Trina Sears Sternstein is a painter and energy enthusiast from Hawley.
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