Monday, November 1, 2010

An Islander's Perspective on Industrial Wind

What follows is a letter to the editor written by Cheryl Lindgren of Vinalhaven Island. Hundreds--if not thousands--of Mainers are opposing the governor's plan to install 2700 megawatts of land-based industrial wind by 2020 (that's nameplate capacity, not actual production ability, which is closer to 675 megawatts). But few of us can write from Cheryl and Art Lindren's perspectives. They live in the shadow of George Baker's Fox Island turbines. They are Mainers in the trenches. And they are standing up and speaking out-- in the hopes that someone will give heed to their voices. The Lindgrens and others like them have been blocked at every turn as they've tried to get relief from the daily assault to their senses created by the high, low and ultra-low frequency noises and the strobe-like shadow flicker produced by turbines in their backyards. I cannot do their story justice... but I can give them a forum and help their voices to be heard...

A year ago Fox Islands Wind began operating the wind turbines on Vinalhaven. A community effort that began with eager anticipation is now tarnished. As a neighbor of the wind turbine farm this year has been a journey from hope to anger and disgust. Fox Islands Wind continues to misrepresent and mislead our community while using its authority to bully state regulators on the issue of violating noise standards. Our experience has forced me to look into the deeper issues of industrial wind - the technology, the economics, and the politics - and the investigation has been an uncomfortable journey that has brought my once honeyed-eyed vision of easy, green power to the conclusion that industrial wind energy is, at present, BAD science, BAD economics, and BAD politics.

I add my voice to the growing numbers of Mainers that are demanding a moratorium on wind projects all over Maine. Jonathan Carter, once an advocate for wind power, travels statewide to expose the arrogant destruction of mountaintops. David P. Corrington, Registered Maine Master Guide whose new web-site, provides information about Grid Scale Industrial Wind Power Development nationwide and Industrial Wind in Maine. And there are the many voices of the residents of Camden, Montville, Bucksfield, Thorndike, Jackson and Dixmont who have repelled the efforts to locate windmills in their towns.

These voices, and countless others, are shouting truth to the half-truths, misrepresentations and distortions of wind developers. As wind energy proponents continue to demand that we provide them with unprecedented resources and that we waive basic, traditional rights to discussion and debate; as wind developers undermine local autonomy, enjoyment of property, and health and safety; as they thumb their noses at environmental compliance and demand that citizens forego normal, time-honored mechanisms of due process, we must ask a simple question: How many more years will citizens be expected to pay, and what rights will we have to surrender to benefit an unproven technology and the smoke and mirror economics that seem to be the foundation of industrial wind?

George Baker, as Vice President of Community Wind at the Island Institute and as CEO of Fox Islands Wind must be held responsible for the damages inflicted on our community. His Island Institute Community Wind website says, “We will demonstrate how wind projects in the coastal area can be sited without adverse environmental and aesthetic impacts, and provide long-term economic benefits for local residents.” Their failure to demonstrate success has placed our quiet community on the front pages of the nation’s top newspapers, including the New York Times. How can the Institute’s formula of 70% acceptance be deemed a success? What happens to the other 30%? Dismissed? Excused? Collateral damage? Where do our neighbors find the money that has been stolen from them, stolen in lowered property values that they will never be able to recover? What happens with the increasing medical bills that families must shoulder from the stress of living with days filled with tortuous light flicker and sleepless nights of low frequency rumblings? How can the Island Institute justify Fox Islands Wind’s preposterous use of the ridiculous efforts of the National Renewable Energies Laboratories efforts at compiling data from summer residents with an experiment that started in October? How can anyone call this past year a success when Fox Islands Wind refuses to share financial information to show exactly where the purported savings is coming from and what the projections for the next several years might be?

I know that the Baker/Island Institute strategy is to wear the neighbors down. That is not going to happen. It gives us strength to know that, while Baker, the Island Institute and their cronies congratulate themselves in their boardrooms they should be aware the nation is watching them with a jaundiced eye.

After this long year I can only shake my head and say: Shame on the Island Institute, shame on Fox Islands Wind, shame on all the other wind projects that are changing the face of Maine for the profit of a few ex-governors, ex-Public Utility Chairmen and ex-Harvard Professors.

Cheryl Lindgren, Vinalhaven

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