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Letters Consider Otis Vote

September 6, 2015

Several people with experience of wind turbine proposals have been weighing in with letters to local news outlets, primarily the Berkshire Eagle. The short quotes here are followed by the full letters on the next screen.

Otis should slow down on wind turbine plan, by Jane Pinsley, Blandford–Letter to The Berkshire Eagle  (9/3/15):

What advice would your big sister Blandford (incorporated in 1741, Otis in 1810) give? Cool it, Otis. You need time to think this one over very carefully. One hour won’t do it. If it still looks good in a few months, then say “I do.”

Otis should learn from others’ mistakes, by Trina Sternstrom, Hawley–Letter to The Berkshire Eagle (9/4/15):

Have those who are so positive about this turbine asked for a second opinion from an unbiased source? I know people who would not purchase a toaster without checking up on it thoroughly but who bought into wind turbines without bothering to do any research at all.

Otis must be wary of wind’s drawbacks, by Larry Lorusso, Clarksburg–Letter to the Berkshire Eagle (9/2/15):

We are residents that live about one mile from the Hoosac Wind Turbine project. Our experience is that’s too close for rural residential neighborhoods to be invaded by an industrial wind turbine of this huge scale. Noise can be more than annoying and on numerous nights we have been awakened and left sleepless, making the next day difficult to say the least.

Major questions about Otis turbine, by Virginia Irvine, Brimfield–Letter to the Berkshire Eagle (9/1/15):

Why haven’t residents been provided information regarding nearby projects where unanticipated costs have affected the bottom line? The MassDEP required the owners of the Hoosac (Iberdrola) to install serrated edges on the blades of the turbines at great expense. This spring a gearbox failure on one of the Brodie Mountain turbines had to be replaced at great cost to the owners, the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Co.

Otis should slow down on wind turbine plan, by Jane Pinsley, Blandford–Letter to The Berkshire Eagle  (9/3/15):

To the editor:

Our sister town of Otis voted on Aug. 4 to commit to a $6.4 million investment for the installation of a 415-foot high industrial turbine, which is about the height of the Washington Monument, and quite a bit taller than the Statue of Liberty, in a complicated scheme that purports to offer a sure way to make lots of money. This took place after a one hour proposal by the Otis Energy Committee.

A ceremony (another vote) is planned for Sept. 8 to solemnize this agreement in a legal fashion with a debt exclusion on a Proposition 2 1/2 Override to pay off the cost.

What advice would your big sister Blandford (incorporated in 1741, Otis in 1810) give? Cool it, Otis. You need time to think this one over very carefully. One hour won’t do it. If it still looks good in a few months, then say “I do.”

Several years ago, Blandford, my hometown, was courted by wind turbine interests with promises of a new era of prosperity in return for the simple act of approving a bylaw amendment allowing such turbines in town. A Special Town Meeting was called, and a compliant electorate appeared ready to say “I do.” That is, until one courageous soul spoke up to say she didn’t yet know enough, and asked for a postponement of the vote. The gathering reluctantly agreed.

In six weeks a remarkable thing happened. Yes, knowledge is power, but I think that Blandford also learned the corollary, that power is knowledge—the town now had the edge on knowledge, and became empowered. The resulting vote was a resounding no.

Otis needs time to learn, understand, and become empowered. Its conclusion may be very different than Blandford’s, but it will be celebrated with a shout, instead of a slouch.

Our best of luck, Otis, and if more information is needed, try Wind Wise Massachusetts, the non-profit volunteer coalition of people who have collected much data on the experience of people and communities in the state in relation to wind turbines. Their website is windwisema.org.

Try to keep in mind the advice of the renowned stock market investor, Peter Lynch, “If you don’t understand it, don’t invest in it.” Absent that understanding, it’s purely a gamble. Better to say “I don’t” until that understanding is gained.

Jane Pinsley
Blandford


Otis should learn from others’ mistakes, by Trina Sternstrom, Hawley–Letter to The Berkshire Eagle,  (9/4/15)

To the editor:

I will feel very sorry for the people of Otis if they vote Sept. 8 to put an enormous wind turbine in their midst. I beg them to contact people in places like Falmouth, Florida and Monroe who welcomed this technology. A number of them, like many other credulous people all over the world, reaped not a windfall but a whirlwind of negative impacts.

Some people in Otis appear to have accepted the pitch of the wind salespeople without question. Who told them that the turbine will produce 6.2 million kilowatts of electricity? Wind turbines routinely underperform to a great extent. Most produce only 30 percent of capacity. Who told them that there will be minimal environmental impacts or noise issues? The landscape will be blasted apart and large roads will be built at the expenditure of large amounts fossil fuel. The noise from a turbine can be considerable. Who is doing the sound tests? Other places have found that the tests fail badly to report the actual volume of the sound.

Have those who are so positive about this turbine asked for a second opinion from an unbiased source? I know people who would not purchase a toaster without checking up on it thoroughly but who bought into wind turbines without bothering to do any research at all.

Kathryn S. Sternstein
Hawley


Otis must be wary of wind’s drawbacks, by Larry Larusso, Clarksburg–Letter to the Berkshire Eagle (9/2/15):

To the editor:

I recently read that Otis voters overwhelmingly endorsed a $6.4 million wind power project. We are residents that live about one mile from the Hoosac Wind Turbine project. Our experience is that’s too close for rural residential neighborhoods to be invaded by an industrial wind turbine of this huge scale. Noise can be more than annoying and on numerous nights we have been awakened and left sleepless, making the next day difficult to say the least.

Another problem of being too close to such installations is strobing/flicker where light modified by the blades create a disturbing flashing of light and shadow that can be very disorienting and also result in affecting people’s health. Not limited to just us, many communities in Massachusetts and the world are having the same problems along with other issues in regard to industrial turbines.

Make sure you do no harm to the residents. Money is not worth a person’s health!

Larry Lorusso
Clarksburg


Major questions about Otis turbine, by Virginia Irvine, Brimfield–Letter to the Berkshire Eagle (9/1/15):

To the editor:

There are some serious issues regarding the proposed wind turbine in Otis that taxpayers should consider before voting for a Prop 2½ override Sept. 8 to fund the community-owned 415-foot tall GE turbine.

Why is the project relying on an old feasibility study (2012) done for a different location than the currently-proposed site and for different makes of turbines than the one chosen?

Why is the project relying on estimated wind speeds? The standard feasibility study method calls for installing an anemometer and running it for a year to get the true basis on which to predict the amount of electricity that could be generated. Instead Otis relied on the Massachusetts GIS wind resources map, which uses modeling. Factual data is better than virtual data.

Why has community concern over the height of the turbine been neglected? The standard method is to fly a balloon at the height of the turbine. This was not done. Comparing the project with the considerably smaller, 290-foot tall Williams stone quarry turbine is misleading.

Why haven’t residents been provided information regarding nearby projects where unanticipated costs have affected the bottom line? The MassDEP required the owners of the Hoosac (Iberdrola) to install serrated edges on the blades of the turbines at great expense. This spring a gearbox failure on one of the Brodie Mountain turbines had to be replaced at great cost to the owners, the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Co.

Otis town officials should provide answers to these questions so their voters can make an informed decision when going to the polls next week.

Virginia Irvine
Brimfield
The writer is president, Wind Wise Massachusetts

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