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Letter: “Brodie turbines benefit others while we suffer”

July 25, 2018
Trina Sternstein’s letter to the editor in the Berkshire Eagle (7/18/18) notes the winners and losers in the 2-turbine expansion at Brodie Mountain in Hancock MA:
The Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative plans to install two new additional turbines on Brodie Mountain. To me this new wind project is an illustration of the extreme lack of understanding many people have of the wind industry and wind turbines themselves. For example, their electricity is unreliable and most available when least needed — in spring and fall. Adding more and bigger turbines callously disregards the complaints made by those in the vicinity of the first Brodie project.

We are told that the cooperative is an initiative of the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Co. with 14 municipal utilities who participated in the first phase of this project. The participants in the second project (the two new turbines) include the towns of Boylston, Chicopee, Hull, Marblehead, Peabody, Russell, Sterling, Wakefield and West Boylston. David Tuohey, spokesperson for the company, said that customers (of the company) “desire to be more involved in clean energy projects.” With the exception of Russell and Chicopee, all of these towns are within an hour’s drive of Boston. These people will not hear the turbines, see the environmental damage or view these massive industrial machines. They don’t seem to care about the impact that their “feel good” project will have on people in Western Massachusetts.

The last two paragraphs allude to very bad problems with wind turbines, the environmental destruction they cause and the noise they make. We are told that when the original turbines were installed “access roads (for two more) were built and pad sites cleared so the only work (for the two new ones) will involve transport and the erection of towers minimizing the impact on the Brody mountain ridge line.” I am unable to see the difference between damage done in the past and the same damage done in the future.

Feathered blades will be used to minimize noise. Where is the proof that they do so?

Trina Sears Sternstein,

Hawley

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Noise: Too Much in Plymouth, Expect More at Brodie

July 16, 2018

SA-NGW-analysisAcoustician Stephen Ambrose has issued a new analysis, finding that all the Future Generation Wind turbines in Plymouth exceed noise levels at night.

In his message to MassDEP Regional Director Millie Garcia-Serrano, Ambrose said “This review finds FGW exceeds the MassDEP noise policy by 10 to 20 dB at all locations. Nighttime turbine noise curtailment does not work. All turbines should be turned off at night.” His interpretation of the noise testing confirms what Plymouth and Bourne residents know from experience: the turbines are too loud to operate at night in the quiet rural area.

The analysis cites the Plymouth Sound Compliance Monitoring Report issued in May 2018 by Waltham-based Tech Environmental.

BrodieMtn2addlLOC

Anticipated position of cleared pads for 2 more turbines on Brodie Mountain.

Meanwhile the Brodie Mountain power plants will expand by two under an initiative to add larger, 2.3 MW, turbines on previously-cleared sites near the 10 existing 1.5 MW turbines. Apparently anticipating the potential for noise complaints with 8 homes in proximity to the new turbines, reporter Scott Stafford wrote “The turbine blades will utilize a feathered blade trailing edge, reminiscent of a bird’s wing, to minimize blade wake and sound levels.” The turbines are to go up in the fall and begin operation in spring 2019, according to the Berkshire Eagle article (“2 more turbines slated for Berkshire Wind Power project on Brodie Mountain” 7/12/18).

 

Of Russian Gas, Nuclear Power, and Renewables

February 19, 2018

LNG Everett terminal against a sunset skylineWhen shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) reach the Massachusetts Distrigas Terminal in Everett, they are usually from Trinidad.  But this winter, extra shipments were needed to meet the high demand for gas heating and to keep the lights on.  This LNG came from Russia through their new terminal in Yamal, a site in the Arctic Circle 1550 miles from Moscow. A Boston Globe editorial offered its opinion on the Yamal LNG facility in “Our Russian Pipeline and its ugly toll” (February 13, 2018).

Chris Kapsambelis, a regular Wind Wise Massachusetts commentator, posted this  response on the Globe web site. “We might all wish for a clean energy future,” he wrote, “but realistically we may be forced into a system of wind and solar with dirty natural gas firming which pollution-wise is no better than what we got.” Read his full comment here:

The early retirement of coal and nuclear power plants is based on the expectation that renewable energy from wind and solar is a replacement that avoids fossil fuel pollution at a lower cost. It is not working out. The loss of both coal and nuclear cancel each other out for a net zero change in carbon emissions. Variable and intermittent wind and solar need backup firming from inefficient natural gas peaking power plants, again for a net zero change in carbon emissions.

Our rates are going sky high to support a policy that is not working. ISO-NE tells us that for the policy to work, we need seasonal energy storage. That is we need to store enough wind and solar energy in the Fall and Spring to address peak demand in the Winter and Summer. No one knows when, if ever,  in the future seasonal storage may materialize. Until then we should put a halt to land based wind turbines with their high impact on the health of nearby residents, bird and bat kills, and mountain ridge destruction. Furthermore, we should rescue nuclear power plants like Pilgrim, and promote the development of new and safer nuclear power for the future.

We might all wish for a clean energy future from wind and solar backed up by seasonal energy storage, but realistically we may be forced into a system of wind and solar with dirty natural gas firming which pollution-wise is no better than what we got. Of the three choices, nuclear with a small amount of natural gas to address demand fluctuations looks to be our best and cheapest solution.

The editorial addresses the environmental cost of Russian gas processing. The letters and comments in response form an intriguing thread, worth the time to follow.

Savoy Moves to End Wind Plant Era

December 23, 2017

20171222-101522-savoywind2-t5r_90326In a large showing for a winter night, a quarter of Savoy’s registered voters filled the fire station to pass a change in the town’s bylaws to restrict wind turbine development. According to Larry Parnass, reporting in the Berkshire Eagle, “Savoy residents rescind wind power bylaw” (12/22/17),

By a vote of 101-22, residents who crowded into the town fire station deleted Section 9 of Savoy’s zoning bylaw, which allows commercial wind power generation, and added language specifically prohibiting it.

The small town of 800 has recently been at odds with the 5-turbine project currently permitted to go ahead. It was the Minuteman Wind proposal to raise the height of the turbines that prompted a vote to retain the height limit of the then-existing bylaw.

Mary Serreze, reporting in MassLive for the Springfield Republican, noted the

Opponents cited noise, wildlife, and scenic impacts, and organized their neighbors.  Residents in nearby Hawley, a Franklin County town, also opposed the project.

Trina Sternstein, a neighbor who has watched the process from Hawley, said

Ten years ago the town voted “yes” to the bylaw. But in the intervening years a great deal more information about the negative aspects of wind turbines has been revealed and many Savoy residents have changed their minds. This is a beautiful example of what information can accomplish.

Scituate Weighs Impacts to Residents in Considering Further Turbine Shut-down

October 5, 2017
Scituate wind turbine

Click to access WADT 95.9 FM Radio’s report by David Cedrone.

For families living near wind turbines, it is easy to lose heart when their complaints are not acted upon. So people will perk up at the news that the Scituate selectmen are again weighing the shut down of its turbine at night.

In her article, “Scituate selectmen consider shutting down wind turbine,” Patriot Ledger reporter Mary Whitfill interviewed town officials and wind turbine neighbors.

On Tuesday, selectmen asked town health director Jennifer Keefe and acting Town Administrator Al Bangert to determine how much money the town would lose if it stopped operating the turbine.

“I personally do not want to see residents impacted negatively with their health and wellness,” Selectman Maura Curran said. “But I think we do need to see what is the impact to our town if it is turned off every night.”

There is no question that residents have been negatively impacted, and a lack of complaints is not a real indication of their circumstances, according to Valerie Vitali.

“Here is this home we’ve had for 36 years and it’s not the peaceful place it once was,” said Valerie Vitali, who lives on the Driftway.

“I chose not to call and complain every night because I can’t live my life screaming at you. I love my home and I love my property, but it’s a problem. … It’s a plane circling that never lands, and it’s a vibration.”

Scituate-2200ft

Scituate turbine 2200 feet from these homes. Photo by Dave Dardi

Wind turbines across Massachusetts are in violation of the MassDEP’s noise standard, but developers have prevented curtailment in many communities. As in Scituate, the operations are shut down for limited periods or under specified conditions (e.g. wind speed low and from certain directions). If this were any other industrial use in a residential neighborhood, the turbines would be turned off to allow sleep, at the very least.

Savoy Speaks Loudly Against Taller Turbines

September 27, 2017
tags:
Concerns about noise, quality of life, and viability of the project led the reasons voters in Savoy rejected a bylaw amendment to allow larger wind turbine blades, according to Adam Shanks reporting in the Berkshire Eagle (Savoy voters reject bylaw change that would have allowed for taller turbines in wind energy project 9/27/17).
Pat Palmer, a Holly Road resident, said those who live near wind turbines in Florida had sparked concern among Savoy residents. She also questioned the PILOT payment.

“They’re not going to get the money they think they’re going to get,” Palmer said.

Wes Briggs was also against the proposal, citing the noise generated by the turbines and their potential health impacts.

“It wasn’t really about the length of the blades,” Briggs said.

The vote was 126 to 53, bringing into question the town’s willingness to proceed with the 5-turbine Minuteman Wind project on West Hill.

A bylaw amendment was needed to accommodate larger turbines the company said were needed because turbines in the original proposal are no longer manufactured.

When they initially submitted the proposal, developers initially told town officials the PILOT would exceed $200,000, according to Select Board Chairman John Tynan.

But since the wind farm project was resurrected about 18 months ago, the proposed annual PILOT has fallen to $73,000.

Home Values at Risk in Savoy?

September 14, 2017

The letter Wind turbine plan bad for Savoy home-owners, published in the Berkshire Eagle (9/13/17) reports the unintended consequences of the Hoosac Project–no houses have sold at market rates in Florida or Monroe.

“I’ll tell you what you can expect in Savoy,” he said, “If you get a job offer in another state or, God forbid, one of your kids becomes ill and needs your help caring for their children, you may not find a buyer. Your house will suffer from `external obsolescence’ (factors external to the property itself). Wind turbines will definitely have an effect on the marketability of your house.”

 

To the editor:

Seeking a more accurate idea of property devaluation we could expect from Savoy’s wind turbines, I contacted a North County appraiser. He told me that when turbines were built in Florida and Monroe every house in the area went on the market.

“How much depreciation did they suffer?” I inquired.

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?”

“Oh, I have an idea,” he said, “professional appraisals are based on comparative sales, and since the turbines were built, no houses have sold. Oh, a few were let go at a fraction of their value, but you can’t derive comps from short sales.”

“I’ll tell you what you can expect in Savoy,” he said, “If you get a job offer in another state or, God forbid, one of your kids becomes ill and needs your help caring for their children, you may not find a buyer. Your house will suffer from `external obsolescence’ (factors external to the property itself). Wind turbines will definitely have an effect on the marketability of your house.”

Those who want the turbines believe there will be greater benefits for the town. Here’s what I know: Selectmen cannot state the amount the town will receive, as the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) discussions have not yet settled on a number. It’s been reported that payments offered nine years ago are now off the table. Minuteman wants to enlarge the turbines to increase its profits and will not commit to a payment agreement until after the vote. The unknown benefits to the town could be offset by diminished property values, reduced state aid, and the added cost of the electricity passed on to consumers.

The pros and cons for larger blades are also an unknown. Past experience evidenced at other sites indicate a potential for more noise and more serious health concerns. Minuteman needs to specify the exact make and model, as without technical specifications, it is impossible to predict noise levels at neighboring homes. Those with first-hand knowledge in Florida and Monroe can provide direct, witnessed “eye and ear” evidence, as can people living in Falmouth, Fairhaven, Scituate, and Kingston.

There is an unspoken moratorium for permitting new on-shore wind turbines because there is not enough separation distance to homes. Ironically, towns with the greatest wind potential in the state, have no plans for new on-shore wind turbines. Savoy must not vote to enlarge these turbines.

Salvatore Raciti,
Savoy

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