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Harvesting the wind

October 30, 2012
Daily Press


The Garden Peninsula is not the best place to farm. Most of the soil is poor to marginal with some good. It ranges from clay to sand and stony, shallow, wet and any combination of the above.

For every farmer left there are many who either quit or went broke so when we had a chance to receive revenue from wind turbines, most of us signed up. Since each turbine requires about 80 acres participation is pretty much limited to farmers.

We immediately started hearing horror stories about how these turbines would have a negative impact on our lives. Our ground water would be contaminated, their trucks would destroy our roads and the noise would drive us nuts. Most of these stories came from a few newcomers who are retired and have no family or historical connection to the area. They don't want to see any development if it won't benefit them.

One of them passed around a DVD about a wind farm in New York state. I finally got to see it. It was in an area similar to ours - a few scattered farms, some small business places, retiree's and summer and weekend homes. This latter group was the main opposition. A woman with some sort of business in her home commissioned this video "to inform the locals about the pros and cons of wind power." It was all con and mostly lies. It showed a wind turbine, 1,000 feet away, making a noise like a stone crusher, running in slow motion about 20 feet away. The fact that they failed to synchronize the noise with the rotation of the turbine proved it was faked. Another man described the noise entirely different - he said it sounded like a vacuum cleaner running along side his bed all night.

Now that the Garden farm is in operation, the noise issue is pretty much put to rest - some claim they can hear a swish-swish sound under the right conditions, but most can hear nothing. The roads are still fine, the bird kill is almost zero, there's still plenty of space for medical helicopters to land and the turbines haven't contaminated the water.

As the outsiders in N.Y. did - the local newcomers have managed to polarize the population into pro-anti and neutral factions.

Hopefully, in a year or two, the damage to the community will dissipate to the point where we can mention "turbine" to each other.

James Collins




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