Sunday, January 16, 2011
Propaganda, Rhetoric and Hype
Propaganda, rhetoric and hype. These are tactics used by the wind lobby to ‘sell’ their product. I’ve seen evidence of it ever since I began paying attention to their PR campaigns—a diligence I began almost 15 months ago. The wind lobby is professional, and their ‘spin’ has been expertly handled. Their propaganda is believable, if one doesn’t look beyond the surface to see the facts.
Today, I acquired a copy of a document which drives home the depths to which the wind lobby will sink to gain support.
Following are quotes from a document titled “Mars Hill, Maine Wind Energy Farm, The Most Commonly Asked Questions…”
Mars Hill, in Aroostook County, is home to Maine’s oldest wind energy facility. This grid-scale project is owned and operated by First Wind, aka UPC wind partners, aka Evergreen Wind Power.
Mars Hill was the testing ground for industrial wind in Maine. The ‘guinea pig’, I suppose. Mainers had no concept of ‘wind’ when this development was proposed, and surely, the residents of this town in our northernmost county didn’t know when—or IF—they were being ‘shined’. I would not be surprised if the residents of Mars Hill took these words from First Wind to heart, believing them without question.
“There is virtually NO mechanical noise from these turbines. If you are near a turbine, you may hear the sound of the wind and the ‘swooshing’ sound made by the slowly turning blade parting the air. If the wind is blowing, the background noise of wind in the trees is likely the only sound you will likely hear! You will not be able to hear any noise at all at the bottom of the mountain.”
“These turbines turn very slowly, rotating 10-20 rpm! That means it takes 6 seconds to the fastest 3 seconds to complete a rotation! Numerous studies have been done around the world and have found no significant adverse affects of monopole towers and slow rotation blades on birds or other wildlife in this type of environment. Your car or the picture window on your house will likely kill more birds than a wind turbine will!”
“All of the electricity from the Mars Hill “wind farm” will be used in the region, most likely by Aroostook County homes and businesses. Power will be delivered to Maine Public Service (MPS) and the “grid”. Other interconnection options are being considered.”
“The estimated cost/investment will be $55,000.000.00. It is paid for by private investments of UPC wind partners, the parent company of Evergreen Wind Power. The town of Mars Hill will be a major beneficiary of the project and will pay nothing for its development but receive major economic and social benefits.”
“The construction work will be by local businesses if possible and certainly from people and companies from within Maine.”
“One tourist bureau, at a similar wind farm, reported an increase of visitors to their town of over 60,000 per year. The town of Mars Hill could be a very busy place after construction, too!”
“According to Governor John Baldacci’s office of Renewable and Energy Independence the annual Contribution of annual reduction of air pollution offsets (Based on United States average power generation:
120,000 Tons Carbon Dioxide (Contributed to “global warming” or “greenhouse” Effect.) This is the equivalent of removing exhaust emissions of >17,000 automobiles.”
I have quoted these bullet points in context. I’ve copied the exclamation points, the misspellings, and the awkwardly structured sentences.
I’ve also tossed my head, rolled my eyes, gritted my teeth, and sighed.
We’ve learned so much since the days when Industrial Wind first came to Maine.
But have we learned enough, and will our education have come too late to save other communities from the same fate as Mars Hill?
Those turbines which produce ‘virtually no mechanical noise’? Currently, there are a dozen families in Mars Hill embroiled in lawsuits with First Wind, due to the health and quality-of-life impacts brought on by the turbines atop this ridge.
Those ‘monopole towers and slow rotation blades’? Those slow rotations can be up to 180 miles per hour at the tips. Yes, the ‘rpm’ number sounds low, but when those blades sweep an acre and a half of airspace with each revolution, they are hardly benign. And a quick Google search will show exactly how gently industrial wind turbines treat raptors, song birds, and bats.
The Bentec Study from Colorado showed that wind energy facilities do not, in fact, significantly reduce carbon emissions, and may actually increase them. This study was performed at request of a petroleum company, so the wind lobby likes to discount it. However, it was verified by independent scientists, and other, similar studies tell the same story. Seventeen thousand automobiles? Give me a break…
And wouldn’t it be interesting to see if Mars Hill has seen their number of tourists increase by 60,000 per year? It’s a fact: many people do travel to Mars Hill. The wind facility has gained notoriety as the Maine Wind Wars have heated up, and folks want to see what all the fuss is about. But 60,000 per year? Not a chance. And once 350 miles of Maine’s irreplaceable mountain summits are littered with these 40-story machines, the novelty will wear off. What pulls tourists here from around the world will be gone forever. Maine’s unique ‘quality of place’ will be a thing of the past.
Propaganda, rhetoric and hype. When will Mainers learn to separate the wind lobby’s sales pitch from the facts about industrial wind?
All photos are of Mars Hill, Maine