Spin, baby, spin: Connecticut debates wind turbines

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NAUGATUCK, Conn. - When Ronald Reagan had the solar panels ripped off the White House, it was more than a symbolic move. It was a green light signal to the fossil fuel industry to drill away, run roughshod over the environment, pollute the air, garner billions in profits and acquire more political influence.

An updated version of Reagan's action was Sarah Palin's "Drill, baby, drill."

Now there is another battle cry being heard throughout the country and especially in New England: "Spin, baby spin."

Wind energy proposals in the Connecticut towns of Prospect and Colebrook have stirred much discussion. Some who live near the projected sites are calling for a statewide moratorium of wind turbine construction/operation, including a statewide agreement to set turbines 1.25 miles from residences. Citizens in those towns have every right to be heard and make proposals. Since these proposals would have statewide ramifications if implemented, we are now all involved in the conversation.

Looking at a very recent installation of wind turbines elsewhere is instructive. The Fox Islands off the Maine coast received the following benefits in its first year of wind turbine operation. Its three land-based wind turbines generated 12,105 megawatts of clean power, equal to 7,075 barrels of oil.

That means 5,615 tons of carbon dioxide was not released that would have polluted our atmosphere. (Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and it is a major factor in global warming/climate change.) There was a more than 27% reduction in the energy portion of Fox Island's electric rates, compared to the previous fossil fuel year. The project generated 15 temporary full-time jobs, and sustained other green jobs in its production, transportation, construction and operation.

With the proposed site for two GE wind turbines being the town of Prospect, some have raised concerns about wildlife habitat. Wind turbine projects actually save land and water resources vital to wildlife. At one turbine site on Fox Islands, 17 acres have been set aside for preservation. In this sense, wind turbines also mitigate sprawl.

It is instructive that state Senator Joan Hartley has actively sided with the wind turbine moratorium. This is the same legislator who recently prevented regulations of water usage by utility companies and golf courses from getting out of committee. All this while important streams that make up the west branch of the Naugatuck River are impaired with one completely dried up. Now she is working on stringent regulations on renewable energy. Hartley brings her 2010 "D" League of Conservation Voters record with her.

The cost/benefit discussions of technology are very beneficial. Let democracy flourish. Let's also remember the BP oil platform explosion and oil spill, the eleven workers killed, global warming and the resource wars being fought tragically in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Photo: Three wind turbines on the Fox Island of Vinalhaven. In the background are Penobscot Bay and the Camden Hills of Maine. (Via Vinalhaven newsletter)

 

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  • European laugh at us Americans when it come to energy issues and rightly so, 13 of the 20 largest wind power markets are in Europe. Windmills in Holland and forever...we need to catch up and get smart about our energy future.

    Posted by Yvonne, 03/26/2011 11:54am (4 years ago)

  • yes!! SPIN BABY, SPIN!!! i would rather see thses and hear the whir than the ugly stinking oil rigs COME ON CT GET WITH IT!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by tabby, 03/26/2011 11:11am (4 years ago)

  • Whoever posted that Vinalhaven residents REGRET the installation of the turbines is very uninformed. Only a handful of residents (mostly summer) are complaining. While our utility company is constantly trying to appease them, the detractors keep talking lawsuits. It all boils down to how much money can I get out of this.
    Wind energy works! The residents of Vinalhaven LOVE IT.

    Posted by Robb Warren, 01/29/2011 4:23pm (4 years ago)

  • Those of us who live within the one mile noise umbrella of the Fox Islands Wind Farm and chose to live on Vinalhaven in order to appreciate the quiet beauty of the island have had our lives irrevocably changed by the constant turbine noise! Do your homework before you agree to constructing 400 foot noise makers in your town! Our property values have dropped between 20 to 40% and the noise is horrible! As for the savings....The price of energy has gone down across the country this year due to the discovery of natural gas deposits in Penn. and NY state. The numbers that FIW advertises as energy saving percentages do not take this fact into account. Vinalhaveners would have saved money this year buying their electricity from the mainland. If you want to know the facts, go to www.fiwn.org

    Posted by islander, 01/28/2011 6:03pm (4 years ago)

  • @ Look Ahead- the youtube video represents the opinions of a very small minority of non-natives, but the overwhelming majority (over 95% of islanders) are still very satisfied with the turbines, including myself, and I am in closer proximity to the site than ALL of the detractors. To them, this is all about a "what's in it for me" lawsuit, and it shows more and more in their words and actions.

    Posted by alan barker, 01/25/2011 12:08pm (4 years ago)

  • I have a small wind turbine (3.7kw) for my house in Belize. Its about 25 feet from my house and it provides more power than I can use. Yes, I do hear a swoosh when the wind blows but its less noise than the cars on I-91 which is about 3 blocks from my house in New Haven. I'll take the swoosh and no electric bill anytime.

    Posted by Ron Oster, 01/24/2011 6:37pm (4 years ago)

  • I have lived less than 2000 feet from the Fox Islands turbines since they went online in November, 2009. I have yet to experience any of the health problems that are often attributed to those living in close proximity. I also haven't heard the noise from them, nevermind being inconvenienced by it. Wildlife still freely roams around the site, and no die offs, major or isolated have occured as a result of the turbines. This isn't even to speak of the benefits to the economy or environment. Keep on spinning.

    Posted by alan barker, 01/24/2011 1:55pm (4 years ago)

  • Look Ahead, you are misinformed. We love our turbines by a ratio of about 400 to 5. Good luck Naugatuck from Vinalhaven!

    Posted by Real Vinalhaven Resident, 01/22/2011 5:53pm (4 years ago)

  • You need to go to YouTube and look up Vinalhaven Part 1 & 2.
    The people there REGRET, deeply regret, having wind turbines on their island.
    There would be no wind turbines without taxpayers dollars wastefully being spent on an "experiment".
    No one ever mentions the cost to take these things down once they are deemed not useful.
    Talk about not looking before you leap!

    Posted by Look Ahead, 01/19/2011 8:52pm (4 years ago)

  • Let's also not forget the US-manufactured 100kw wind turbine in New Haven Harbor, owned by PhoenixPressInc.com. It's been producing clean energy at the I-91/I-95 interchange since February 2010. Time to breathe clean air. These politicians clearly need to understand the impact of their policies before obstructing clean energy projects.
    The folks of Colebrook and Prospect also have little knowledge of the various sizes of turbines available. ONE turbine can do a lot- but several small turbines appropriately sited can also work!

    Posted by eric, 01/18/2011 11:43pm (4 years ago)

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