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Hot Topic: Windmills – Ugly? Lovely? (Or is that beside the point?)

On the Sept. 27 Forum page, we asked readers to assess the visual impact of wind energy farms: beautiful, ugly or somewhere in between. We also published an editorial on the promise of a non-fossil-fueled future. Here’s a sampling of local reaction:

Desecrating our ridges

It so angers me that Connecticut and other southern New England states feel they have the right to desecrate, bulldoze, scrape the tops, and rape New Hampshire’s mountain ridges, pollute its brooks, rivers and lakes just to erect 45-story-high wind turbines to supply their electricity. Let them desecrate and destroy their own ridges rather than taking away New Hampshire’s signature landmarks.

MARGARET DICKINSON MILLER

Bristol

There are far, far worse things than windmills

The question “Are windmills paragons of environmental beauty or terrible eyesores?” distracts from the real issue. We should grab the bull by the horn and state the problem: “Should we convert to clean renewable energy sources, or let the greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels heat our planet to an inhabitable level?”

However, since the Monitor posed the windmill question, I feel compelled to respond. What is awful is mountaintop removal in Appalachia, blasting the tops off mountains to quickly access the coal layer, burying streams and permanently destroying thousands of acres of natural habitats. What is awful is the mercury and toxic-filled air around coal country, causing excessive cancer victims, and young children gasping for air from asthma.

What is awful is the huge coal pits in Columbia, and worker conditions, all created to provide us with cheap fuel for electricity. What is awful is the run-off from the Fukushima disaster, with continued radiation leaking in to the Pacific ocean.

Europe has become a mecca of windmills, and still we flock to Europe as tourists, enjoying the magnificent beauty. Interestingly, there is no human “wind syndrome” dysfunction in Europe. And to the “bird” objection, note this: In the U.S. in 2009, only about 46,000 avian mortalities were reportedly associated with wind farms, while nuclear plants killed about 458,000 birds, and fossil-fueled power plants almost 24 million.

Wind farms create jobs, too. In fact, it’s a rapidly-growing segment of our economy. In contrast, newer coal-removal techniques, such as mountain top removal, feature large machinery, lots of fossil fuel use, and far fewer jobs. And coal extraction communities have always been linked with poverty, in addition to ill health.

I urge anyone who is anti-wind to do some research on the fundamental fuel source for their electricity. And I mean go beyond the Bow coal plant, to the origin of the coal, the environmental and worker conditions there, and the sustainability of this process. Then look your children, your grandchildren, your nieces and nephews in the eye and say “I’m against wind power.” Anyone with a moral compass, with concern about the future, cannot, in good faith, do so.

SUSAN SHAMEL

Hillsboro

Assault on the environment

As a resident of the Newfound Region, I am disgusted by the invasion of industrial wind projects. I see Groton Wind as an assault on the environment and the well being of people left dealing with reduced property values, loss of quality of life and strife within their communities.

Nearby residents live with flashing red lights at night, roaring industrial engines, shadow flicker from the blades for hours at a time, the whooshing of blades as they spin, and low-frequency vibrations felt within the body.

The Newfound watershed is of great concern, as it provides our drinking water. Industrial wind turbine construction will alter the flow of ground water affecting the watershed in ways no human can predict.

I have lived here for almost a decade and enjoyed the numerous sightings of red-tailed hawks, bald eagles, owls, blue heron, bats, migrating Canada geese and other seasonal birds, moose, black bear, coyotes, fox and even a wolf or two. Raptors rely on thermal currents provided by the Newfound ridge lines to feed. It is not wise to place 500-foot industrial turbines with blades larger then a 747 spinning at speeds that can reach well over 100 mph directly in the path of such animals that help to control mosquitoes and rodents.

I see few economic benefits. There may be a handful of temporary local jobs created but not guaranteed. There will be only a few permanent jobs created and those are not guaranteed to be filled by local residents either. PILOT payments made to host towns only reduce the “town portion” of your tax by a minimal amount. The rest of the money can be used to increase town employees’ payroll or benefits, purchase new equipment, upgrade roads, etc. It is unlikely taxpayers will see any significant reduction in property taxes unless they receive an abatement for the reduced value of their property. Those who benefit most are the landowners leasing their land to the industrial wind company, and of course, the foreign-owned industrial wind companies.

Industrial wind is not just an eyesore issue. This is a quality of life issue, environmental issue, community well being issue, political issue and economic issue.

MICHELLE SANBORN

Alexandria

Lanky beauties

The Monitor’s Sept. 27 photographs of our windmills do not do them justice.

As residents of Dorchester who travel Route 25 each day to and from Plymouth, my husband and I have come to love these lanky beauties. As everyone in the Baker Valley knows, we have very variable weather. So not only each day, but at various times of the day, the windmills offer majestic juxtapositions with the fog, clouds and sun. They provide plenty of conversation as we wonder why some seem to be turning at different rates, some facing different directions, etc.

We have a friend who lives across the Baker River from the windmills and was very concerned when so many people seemed to be opposed to the windmills while they were going through the rigorous permission process. The misinformation machine was hard at work! She now loves to look out her window and enjoy our glorious, pollution free, environmentally friendly power mills dancing. We had told her not to worry as we had seen so many on mountains, hills and plains in our travels and had been exposed to their beauty and we have been proved correct. They doesn’t seem to interfere with tourism in other countries.

In addition, even if we didn’t enjoy the interaction of the windmills with nature, we would be thankful to the people of Groton who welcomed wind power to our neighborhood. To us, each tower is a symbol of a U.S. soldier who does not have to go to the Middle East to protect our “national security” better known as “oil interests,” an American’s well that will remain unpolluted due to fracking and a mountaintop not exploded for coal. Thank you, Groton, for bringing these beauties to our neighborhood; let’s hope we can expand this effort to other neighboring communities.

ELIZABETH and WILLIAM TROUGHT

Dorchester

What about the neighbors?

There was no mention in the Monitor’s Sept. 27 editorial on wind power about the impact of industrial wind projects on people. How about the neighbors – remember us?

Groton Wind changed two turbine locations and built its operations and maintenance building in a non-certificated site, resulting in lack of vegetative buffer from neighboring residences. Claims are still on the open docket. Groton Wind failed to submit review plans for fire suppression and has operated for nine months without a certificate of occupancy, placing people in danger. EDP Renewables submitted an application to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for an energy contract, stating project feedback from local, regional and state officials has been very positive. How? Several towns in the area made public statements opposing industrial wind development. The project is located predominantly in remote forestland, which provides a screening effect, which will minimize the visual impact within the surrounding community. How do you screen 500-foot tall turbines located on a ridgeline?

Residents of surrounding towns are reporting violations to the state because the state is not enforcing compliance. And now there are plans in the making for three more wind projects. Who will enforce the laws? Residents are bringing to light wind companies’ false statements because no one else is watching. The wind companies are here to make money and don’t care about the public welfare. People have the right to live safely and contently in their homes. Stop promoting these companies who are not good neighbors.

NANCY WATSON

Groton

No different from Norther Pass towers

Wind turbines are no different from the Northern Pass transmission towers. I object to both on aesthetic grounds. They mar the landscape. They ruin views. They are a barrier between beauty and those who wish to admire and appreciate that beauty.

I care deeply about the environment. I have supported this cause in a number of ways for the past 40 years. The reason I became involved and the primary reason I stay involved is a love of nature and the visual gifts it brings to humanity. We are all stewards of the Earth, charged with valuing and protecting it in the present, for the future. I do not support any project, whether it be considered “green” or not, which significantly alters the treasured vistas we inherited from those who came before us. Being an environmental advocate can mean many things. To me it means defending the beauty around us from those who would defile it. Natural, by definition, does not mean man-made. Towers of any kind do not enhance the natural environment.

ELAINE KELLERMAN

Concord

Energy meets ballet

On a recent drive to the heartland, and through Pennsylvania especially, I came across a number of wind generator installations. At one site I counted maybe 20 machines, with their slender white blades slowly rotating in the wind. On the ridges across the valleys the first vision that came to my mind were those of ballerinas waving their long and delicate arms to beautiful music. The word I would use to describe these machines and their movement is graceful. Artful sculptures they may not be, but it’s hard to think of any other energy generators more pleasing to the eye.

JAMES McCONAHA

Concord

Three big reasons

Wind farms are a good idea because, one, they represent 100 percent clean energy that does not have a limited supply, two, the power company will have to pay taxes for the property they reside on, which means they will benefit our economy, and three, they will create new jobs. Who cares if it doesn’t look great? It doesn’t look horrible either, and it will only benefit us.

CODY DURGIN

Laconia

In some circumstance okay; in others, not

When I see one or two relatively short wind turbines in developed areas, such as from Interstate 93 in Somerville/Charlestown, Mass., or from Route 3 in Kingston and Bourne, Mass., I find them intrusive but acceptable. When I see many tall (almost 500 feet) on New Hampshire ridge lines from remote roads and recreation areas such as Cardigan Mountain and Newfound Lake, I find them very objectionable. They pollute what is otherwise a mostly natural and beautiful setting which is an attraction to tourists, vacationers and those seeking outdoor activities.

PETER SILBERMANN

Bridgewater

Wind projects will kill tourism

I am disappointed in the Monitor’s Sept. 27 editorial (“Shift from fossil fuels is under way”). I find it disturbing that you meet with people of these wind companies without researching the impact environmentally or economically or mentioning where future projects in New Hampshire are being proposed.

Just who is getting the price of $0.08kw? Who will benefit from these wind farms? Massachusetts and Connecticut, not New Hampshire. Connecticut is pushing hard to have these windmills built here in New Hampshire while having referenda in its own state preventing wind farms from being built there. People there want the power; they don’t want the product that generates wind power. Why is that?

The proposed projects you failed to mention are all around Newfound Lake along the ridge lines near Mount Cardigan and Sugar Hill. Newfound is the cleanest lake due to it being spring fed. Surrounding communities are dependent on tourism the lake brings. Who is going to want to come stay when the water becomes polluted from the runoff that will enter the lake’s watersheds? Who will ever enjoy a starlit night on the lake when all they can see is blinking red lights from the tallest turbines in the country? Who will come to the lake known for its scenic views when all they can see are wind turbines? The wildlife such as bald eagles and loons that have returned in recent years – how will they be affected?

Do you honestly believe this will not have a huge negative impact environmentally and to tourism economy to the area? I agree things need to change, but I don’t believe in destroying what brings people and tourist money to our state and beautiful lake. Please research completely before making such a blanket stand. Not green! Not clean! Not cheap!

MARY E. HEWITT

Loudon

A goad to Ayotte, Shaheen

Re “Shift from fossil fuels is under way” (Monitor editorial, Sept. 27):

Keep up your great work on energy, the environment and climate change! I was delighted to hear that the Monitor’s editors had a meeting with representatives of wind energy companies. I hope your efforts create the political will to inspire Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen to co-sponsor national bipartisan climate change legislation.

Jim Rubens, recently announced candidate for the Republican nomination to run against Shaheen in 2014 has expressed concern about climate change and his support for a carbon tax to replace income and corporate taxes. If a Republican candidate for Senate is willing to talk about his belief in climate science and the need for a market-based revenue-neutral solution to climate change that will make renewable energy even more competitive against fossil fuels, then the time is clearly ripe for New Hampshire’s current senators to co-sponsor such legislation.

JUDY WEISS

Brookline, Mass.

(The writer is a member of the Citizens Climate Lobby.)

Off the mark

Re “Shift from fossil fuels is under way” (Monitor editorial, Sept. 27):

The Monitor’s stand on wind farms in New Hampshire is grossly off the mark. For the state to take away every zoning law in all New Hampshire towns is an incredible breach of democratic process. And to risk all esthetic values and the loss of our second largest source of revenue from tourism is not the way to energize New Hampshire.

Please, listen to the people who have overwhelmingly voiced their opposition to this in town after town all over the state.

Thank you for your consideration of all the aspects and consequences of the proposals being considered and editorialize appropriately.

PHILLIP TWOMBLY

Hebron

We’re being used

Anyone who thinks that wind turbines are “cool landmarks” has very little understanding of the issues involved. Take a closer look: the acres of clear-cutting along the ridge lines; the resultant dirty runoff muddying our rivers, streams and lakes; the 100-mph blade tips potentially killing eagles and bats; the all-night lights that the FAA requires.

More important, how “cool” will these “landmarks” look years hence, when they become obsolete, the federal subsidies run out, and the foreign companies who built them leave rusting, useless, monstrous eyesores dotting our countryside?

New Hampshire, being a net exporter of energy, doesn’t need the power; Connecticut and Massachusetts do. So why should we allow the natural beauty of our landscape to be compromised for the benefit of those states? Folks, wake up; we’re being used! If those states want wind power, let them build the wind turbines there!

PETER R. DEVINE

Bridgewater

Not clean, not green

Wind energy is among the least effective of renewable energy options, both economically and environmentally. We oppose the continued destruction of our state’s most precious natural resources at the hands of industrial wind developers.

If the wind energy production in New Hampshire is so abundant, why is the wind energy generation output not ever provided to the public?

Wind energy on the New Hampshire ridgelines is not cheap, it is not green, it is not clean, it is not reliable and it is definitely not wanted. The towns around the Newfound Lake and Cardigan Mountain areas are strongly opposed to any additional industrial wind plants and have made that clear through town votes. All it takes is a drive through the area to see very clearly that industrial wind turbines are not wanted.

As recently stated by Gov. Maggie Hassan in her Boston Globe column, “Our natural resources and natural beauty are also essential to our travel and tourism economy – our second largest industry – which generates billions of dollars and creates thousands of jobs. Year-round, visitors come from across the country and around the world to ski our mountains, hike our trails and kayak on our lakes.”

We need to preserve the beauty of our state, not allow industrial wind turbines to forever destroy our beautiful scenery and pristine lake. Why should New Hampshire be expected to sacrifice our economy and quality of life to help Massachusetts meet its Renewable Portfolio Standards goal?

LORI LERNER

Bridgewater

Not as good as you think

Re “Shift from fossil fuels is under way” (Monitor editorial, Sept. 27):

Are you aware that the Los Angeles Times and New York Times have both written articles that refute your headline and basic premise?

Please read “Rise in renewable energy will require more use of fossil fuels” (Los Angeles Times, Dec. 9, 2012). If you’re still not convinced that the information you received from the group of industrial wind developers you sourced is not quite as accurate as your editorial gives it credit for being, then please read “Germany’s efforts at clean energy prove complex – emissions still rising, along with the costs” (New York Times, Sept. 19).

These articles clearly point out that wind is more redundant than renewable. Wind is not a base-load power provider; base-load power providers (fossil fuel or nuclear) do not, as these articles point out, shut down during the intermittent, sporadic and unpredictable times wind actually makes it onto the grid ithout being curtailed as it often has been here in New England.

There are significant cost and emission consequences as both articles clearly point out. California and Germany are real-world examples of what happens with industrial wind.

LARRY GOODMAN

Hebron

Legacy Comments2

How wind turbines look is personal, but the way mountains are ripped up in New England to install these projects is ugly to say the least. First thousands of trees are removed and then the tops of the ridges are blasted and filled so the huge parts can be brought in and erected, not to mention the miles of roads built to get to the ridges. Environmentally is a disaster as this requires a large area and anything in the way is removed including swamps and wetlands and the watersheds will be altered. The real shame is all this is done under the guise of producing electricity in green renewable ways. If wrecking the mountains aren't bad enough, certainly spending millions on tax incentives for a power source that has shown can at best add 25% of rated capacity and has nothing to do with demand is. The extreme variability of wind means that wind turbines must be backed up by another source, which is typically gas turbines in New England so the claim of CO2 reduction or addressing global warming is a myth. It's not just, not enough, but too much wind, and even when there is wind on mountains, it is variable and needs another source to even the power out. Another impact is to wildlife and humans. Not only birds and bats are killed but the noise from turbines causes animals stress and avoid their traditional habitats. Neighbors living near these projects can expect their peace and quiet to be mostly taken away as wind turbines generate lots of noise. Aside from symptoms from infra sound, including, headaches, nausea, tinnitus, anxiety, heart palpitation, and dizziness, also sleep deprivation from the audible noise. After several nights of not being able to sleep because of the noise from wind turbines can take a toll and has health impacts. If you think buying an over priced car that runs 25% of the time at best, not necessarily when you need it, then I have a nice bridge to sell you.

Sure, Ct wants to benefit from either the relatively inexpensive, relatively renewable wind power generated in NH or from the destructive no. pass proposal with it's 200 mile long line of massive towers cut through the heart of NH - but they recently rejected a proposed wind farm in CT because it was visually objectionable among other things and they also outlawed overhead transmission lines like no. pass and mandated underground. They don't have a problem with CT companies doing damage to NH though - that's just collateral damage. Burn coal in NH and bring the cleaner energy to CT - that sounds fair, doesn't it?

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