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Wind Energy's Dark Side Should Cause Pause

Letters to the Editors

By Sue Sliwinski

To the editors:

The idea of “wind farming” (News, "Council To Vote on Energy Bill," Dec. 2) conjures up many images, but global controversy is usually not among them. Most of us would never imagine that such a great idea might have some pretty big problems associated with it. Certainly the students at Harvard weren’t advised or made aware when they decided to purchase renewable (mostly wind) power from companies that are no doubt well aware.

Theoretically, this wind power is coming from a distant “wind farm,” probably a long way from the lovely Harvard campus. The idea is to help clean up pollution, reduce dependence on foreign oil and create a better quality of life for all of us. A noble cause—if only it worked out that way.

The truth is, often where there is commercial wind development, there is also oppression and opposition. Because not only do wind farms ruin local living environments, they apparently do it for no good reason, according to recent data pouring in from around the world—data that run counter to those of the industries and cast serious doubt on their ability to sincerely address the critical issues theyclaim they are committed to.

In the meantime, residents in places like Fenner, N.Y. are living with the constant daily impacts of giant industrial machines while developers lead wind supporters to believe that these folks feel honored—or if they don’t, they should.

Tell that to Pastor Kathleen Danley. She recently explained in several newspapers how her and her husband’s lives have changed since the arrival of the turbines. “In the middle of the summer we cannot enjoy our yard or have the windows open because these machines constantly grind and have a negative effect on one’s nerves. When at the house I find that I am constantly on edge.”

Noise is just the beginning of the problems.  The surreal environment the turbines create includes shadows, flicker, flashing FAA lights, cell and TV interruption, stray voltage, water contamination—the list goes on. It truly does!  And the Harvard purchase and others like it will ensure that rural communities all around the country continue to experience the same fate.

These towns are being forced to sacrifice their environments in the name of the environment. In nearly all cases, just a few landowners and, more importantly, the town’s bottom line will benefit, negating valid objections from most others. And wind developers know that while flying on green coattails, they can’t easily be turned away, despite the increasingly dubious merit of their proposals.

The commercial wind industry lobbied long and hard to emerge as one of but a few avenues to compliance with new laws aimed at carbon reduction—laws they helped write—laws stating that targets are to be reached with percentages of “power generated with renewable sources,” rather than percentages of “lowered pollution levels.”  Works out pretty well for the wind guys.

But it’s a disaster for breezy communities everywhere, especially if places like Harvard College keep swallowing the bait—hook, line and sinker—from slick wind marketers claiming their only concern is for the environment.

Sue Sliwinski

Dec. 3, 2004

Sardinia, N.Y.

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