CANTON – A Massachusetts resident warned St. Lawrence County legislators Monday night they’ll be sorry if an industrial wind farm comes to fruition in the towns of Hopkinton and Parishville.
Larry P. Lorusso, a professional nature photographer from Clarksburg, Mass., gave a 30-minute slide presentation during the Legislature’s Services Committee meeting. On Sunday night about 60 people braved winter weather to hear Mr. Lorusso speak at the Parishville Town Hall.
Noting that he lives about a mile from Hoosac Wind Farm, Mr. Lorusso said the arrival of industrial-sized wind turbines installed by Iberdrola Renewables has brought far more harm than good to his rural, mountainous community.
He displayed photographs of homes that have dropped in value, claiming that owners can’t find buyers. He listed health problems he said have plagued residents including sleep disturbances, headaches, palpitations, hypertension and sinus issues.
“I go for nights when I can’t sleep,” Mr. Lorusso told lawmakers. “It’s horrible, I can feel my body vibrate.”
Avangrid Renewables, a subsidiary of Iberdrola, plans to build North Ridge Wind Farm in the towns of Hopkinton and Parishville. The project involves construction of 40 wind turbines up to 500 feet tall. The company has reportedly signed lease agreements with 54 landowners who are supposed to receive money in exchange for allowing wind turbines on their property.
The controversial proposal has divided residents in the two rural communities. Opponents formed a group called Concerned Citizens of Rural Preservation.
Mr. Lorusso also claimed the water near Hoosic Wind Farm became polluted and said the aesthetics of peaceful, rural living has been ruined.
“We were originally in favor of this project. That was based on what Iberdrola told the neighbors,” Mr. Lorusso said. “Basically, I have learned otherwise. I want to talk about some of the environmental impacts, some of the health impacts and economic impacts.”
During construction of the wind farm, he was disturbed to see that century-old trees were knocked down and sawed up into little pieces rather than reused for lumber.
“One of the things we were told was that this was really good for the environment. Then I saw a place that I love being ripped apart and becoming something much different,” he said. “I cried, I tell you, the first time I went up there. But I tried to keep an open mind because we need energy, we need electricity.”
He said he continued to watch construction and document the process with his photographs, hoping for a “silver lining” that never came.
Rather than providing local jobs, he said the 365-foot-tall turbines were constructed in China and most of the people who worked on the project came to the north country from Texas and other states. He said the $90 million project has only provided three permanent jobs.
“So there’s the jobs. They were telling us all these jobs we were going to have,” Mr. Lorusso said.
Citing other concerns, he said there are times when large ice chunks fly off of the wind turbines, traveling far distances.
“We now have problem with our wells not providing sufficient water,” he said, noting that the wind farm area is polluted with lead, zinc and other hazardous materials.
Mr. Lorusso told legislators he volunteered to speak to them and is not receiving anything in exchange for his presentation.
“I feel compelled to try to educate you,” he said.
Kathy Mackay, a Hopkinton resident who accompanied Mr. Lorusso to the meeting, said she felt legislators needed to hear the information that was presented.
“I think it’s important that the truth comes out about what’s really happening,” she said.
Legislators did not ask Mr. Lorusso any questions following his presentation.
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