In the local debate over bringing wind farms to this county many issues have been considered: safety, health, property values, property rights, financial benefits for the community, relative effectiveness of wind power, contributions to the fight against global warming, impact on local wildlife.
All these are serious and worthy considerations, but ultimately what should matter most to all of us is quality of life. What defines quality of life? If you live in an urban or suburban setting, you probably define quality of life as access to services and amenities such as entertainments, recreational facilities, shopping, parks, close by medical care, cultural institutions, a variety of restaurants, proximity of schools, sports teams, etc. On a day to day basis, this laundry list of amenities may fluctuate but there is always the potential for a rebound.
Given that the rural community has none of the amenities valued in suburban and urban life, what defines our quality of life? It is defined by the harmonious balance between man, nature and animals, a peaceful bucolic landscape and the deeply rooted bond between generations of farming families. Just being able to view an unspoiled sunset each day, the path of migrating birds or a pheasant meandering across an open field represents a large part of quality of life to those in our rural areas.
Machinery and technology have been gradually introduced to that balance over decades and so far successfully integrated. Introducing industrial wind turbines poses a radical change to that balance. It strongly threatens to tip our defining characteristic from agriculture to industry because of the massive scale of the turbines and the necessity of broad coverage. It has already proven to disrupt, in a markedly unprecedented way, the good feelings between neighbors in our tight knit community and in a way that in some cases, may never be forgiven.
If the rural communities lose those two benefits, it is a staggering loss because that is most of what we have.
Industrial wind farms do not have to be an inevitability for Montgomery County. Just because someone shows up at your doorstep with an offer doesn’t mean you have to take it. Just because the guys down the road are taking the offer doesn’t mean you have to. Just because someone says we need “growth” and “progress” doesn’t mean we need it at any price. Just because we have the force of wind here to power a farm doesn’t mean we have to do it.
Martha E. Flaningam
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