In researching turbines, resident says negative claims seem overstated

Posted 15 May 2016 at 12:00 am

Editor:

When a divisive issue arises within our community, one should get curious. Over the last several weeks I’ve delved into the matter of wind turbines – and for the record I’m completely neutral on this issue.

I vetted my research to eliminate extremist viewpoints on either side. I also required non-affiliated corroborating information because one viewpoint does not make a case. I looked into most of the talking points and here’s what I discovered.

Flicker. Yes, it does occur. However, the nationwide average a dwelling or structure is subjected to flicker is just 22-to-100 minutes a year – or a maximum of about 30-seconds a day. A quick solution here might be to just close the window blinds and wait a minute.

Bird strikes. Yes. They do occur. Nationwide estimates are as high as 375,000 birds dying as a result of hitting or being hit by a wind turbine blade. On the other hand, it is established that housecats kill about 2.8-billion (yes, with a “b”) birds annually. Some put this figure at nearly double that. The second largest bird killer? Windows. Another 500-to-900 million birds are killed by flying into windows. The third biggest bird killer is agricultural pesticide. In this context, bird-lovers are grasping at straws to think wind turbines are of major concern.

Wildlife and sportsman have also entered the discussion so I looked into it. What I found were hundreds of photos of grouse hunters, deer hunters and varmint hunters participating in their chosen sport not just on the fringes of, but smack in the middle, of large wind farms. Photos don’t lie.

Noise levels? Yes again, wind turbines make noise. Large turbines require a minimum 1,000-foot setback from an established dwelling. At that distance the noise levels were rated at 40-decibals. Most homes located near large wind turbines had interior noise levels of 30db. How noisy is 40db? There’s an easy way to find out. Stand next to the refrigerator in your home. It puts out about 40db of noise.

Some folks have thrown the Niagara Air Station into the discussion. For years the Niagara air base has been on the Base Relocation And Closure (BRAC) list. So too nearly every base in the country. BRAC is a fiscal issue pure and simple. And quite candidly – if members of the most powerful air force on the planet say they will have trouble negotiating wind turbines this opens up a whole series of other questions, doesn’t it?

A big argument surrounds property values. Yes, some will go down. The stated average decline is 11-percent. What I never found in my research was any law that said property values must go up – or even remain constant. Practically speaking – any real decrease in property values comes about only when you sell. But what if you’re not selling? A reduced property assessment might lead to a reduction in property taxes.

Lastly – wind and solar power are the only two “native” sources of energy. What that means is the power they generate is created directly at the source. Compare that with mountain-top removal and strip mining for coal which forever lays waste to the landscape. And beyond that- Consider the trucks and trains burning millions of gallons of diesel fuel annually to deliver their energy cargo and doing so on our already quickly deteriorating infrastructure.

Which brings this down, I think, to a single question: “Do you want to see them?” Even this requires some perspective (and some tricky math.) It’s entirely possible that from as little as 4-miles distance, these large turbines will not be visible on our generally flat landscape.

I’m not taking sides here. Like I said earlier, I’m completely neutral. What I’m not neutral on are crazy claims and no empirical evidence.

Darren D. Wilson
Lyndonville