Letter: Wind turbines in residential areas a mistake

To the editor,

“Wind Turbines – The Truth.” This was the heading of a document I created and handed out at an initial meeting with about 40 neighbors in the southeast corner of Prospect on Oct. 18, 2010. Most who attended I had never met before. The meeting came about as a result of an unexpected news article from this paper a few days earlier, about a quietly kept secret to install two massive 492-foot tall industrial wind turbines in Prospect. This is how the wind industry works. They work quietly on the initial applications, in meeting with local government officials; so that by the time news accounts are published they are already well underway, before local residents can gather to form any resistance.

Now that two of these state-approved wind turbines are up and spinning in Colebrook, the local residents are showing the same ill health impacts cited in my group’s exhaustive research-based presentation to the state Siting Council. Headaches, sleep deprivation, increased blood pressure to name a few are the symptoms being felt by a doctor’s wife on their Flag Hill Road home in Colebrook. As reported in the Dec. 13 Sunday Republican, the couple lives 1,500 feet from the turbines.

In the first meeting I presented my initial findings about the impacts of these spinning giants when placed in or near residential areas, and then over the course of eight months our group of neighbors banded together to fight. We hired some of the brightest experts in the areas of real estate valuation, audiology, engineering and law. We worked closely with state legislators, and our local town boards.

Our painstaking research showed that the Prospect site selection by the wind turbine developers would have become the most densely populated residential siting of wind turbines in America. This reported fact was never disputed by either the developers or the Siting Council. The Siting Council is the responsible state entity for the review and approval of all energy infrastructure installations in the state.

At a cost to my neighbors of nearly $200,000 to pay for all the expert research and testimony we required to defend our homes, we went up against the developers and the state Siting Council.  And we did something few grass roots groups ever do, we won. The rights of the homeowners trumped a business that was being propped up by big government. The outcome was justified.

And now after only a few months of the Colebrook wind turbines spinning, the residents of Connecticut wake up to this article heading, “Family finding wind turbines a health hazard.”  Unfortunately, Colebrook had little to no hope of winning its battle due to its low density of homes and a town government that offered inadequate support to its residents in their fight.

Yet what is the cost to be accepted in approving these industrial energy giants in residential areas? Is it the loss of resale value to a homeowner who could never hope to sell their home with a turbine behind it? Or is it a loss of use of your own personal property, as is now the case of the good doctor and his wife in Colebrook where they were reported to have moved their bedroom, and “limit their time on the upper floors to a few minutes and wear earplugs at all times.”

State legislators, and government agencies, my town’s local leaders and board members, Colebrook’s and each and every town in Connecticut, should ponder the great mistake that was made in Colebrook. Next time you decide policy keep in mind the rights of your constituents to live freely and unencumbered in their homes. That should always be your focus.

As I sit drinking my coffee on a mild Sunday in December, I have my slider door open a bit, and hear no noise from the west of my home. I am thankful for the tenacity and friendship of my many neighbors and new dear friends like our incredible attorney Jeff Tinley, but I am saddened to think of the hardship my friends in Colebrook are now facing.

Timothy C. Reilly

Prospect

The writer is the former president of the now-defunct Save Prospect, a group formed to fight against placing wind turbines in Prospect.