Letter to the editor: Wind turbines safe, clean energy

As a taxpayer, ratepayer, and lifelong resident of the Town of Prospect, I am in favor of Wind Prospect.  The wind turbine project includes siting two GE 1.6 mega-watt turbines on 67 acres of land abutted by the Naugatuck Reservoir property, which consists of approximately 500 acres of undeveloped land.    Wind Prospect, proposed by BNE Energy, Inc., will bring a number of significant benefits to our local community and the State of Connecticut.  The benefits include much needed local tax revenue, cleaner air and water, the preservation of 67 acres of land from being developed, improved energy security and independence, and clean energy funds going to in-state wind project development.

Unfortunately some residents, opposed to the Wind Prospect project, have begun to attack wind energy as an unsuitable and hazardous energy source.  Over recent weeks these residents have described wind turbine technology as unsafe, unhealthy, noisy, detrimental to wild life, and having a negative impact on property values.  I find these attacks unfounded based on over 40 wind project installations currently operating throughout New England, with over 90 other wind projects in various stages of development.

To back up their claim that wind turbines are noisy and unhealthy, a bus load of residents opposed to Wind Prospect, traveled to Falmouth, MA to listen to the town’s turbine.  They also listened to local residents, who live near the Falmouth turbine, present their own symptoms as evidence that noise from the town’s wind turbine is causing health problems.

Earlier this year, in a forum entitled “Wind Turbines – Noise & Health: Fact vs. Fiction”, a research scientist at M.I.T. ,and staff physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, presented studies that show no clear connection between low-frequency noise or infrasound and adverse health effects.   Studies also showed evidence that the audible sound, of blades cutting through the air, is not the cause of health problems, but more the listener’s perception of the sound as “annoying” – the definition of which is highly subjective.   According to the newspaper covering the forum, this conclusion did not sit well with several members of the audience, who live near the Falmouth turbine.  The wind turbine in Falmouth meets acceptable noise level standards.

I get annoyed being stuck in traffic, when cars speed through the stop sign on my street, or when people try to make public policy based on emotion instead of the best available interpretation of science.  It would be difficult to determine the health implications of my annoyance.

The residents opposed to Wind Prospect could have saved some fuel by stopping the bus in Portsmouth, RI instead.   The town of Portsmouth has a wind turbine sited at the high school and within 800 feet of residences.  There are no health, noise, or shadow flicker complaints from neighbors of the turbine.   Since the turbine went online in March 2009, there have been no reports of negative impacts to property values or injury to wildlife.  The Town of Portsmouth has a wind turbine that is producing clean renewable electricity and a positive economic return to the town’s treasury.

Fossil fuel as a source for electricity negatively impacts health and the environment; wind does not.   The common house cat kills more wildlife than wind turbines.  In New England and Canada, modern wind turbines are built on college campuses, near school ball fields, near places of worship, in the center of cities, and in some locations a few hundred feet from homes.  This would not be possible if wind turbines were unsafe or harmful to our communities.

Michael Dreher, Prospect