Outlook on wind power depends on where you live

17 years ago

To the editor:
While town officials in Mars Hill are patting themselves on the back for the 20 percent property tax decrease that was so recently touted in the Star-Herald and Bangor Daily News they have left out a few interesting facts.     While citizens, me included, on the west side of Mars Hill Mountain and the Evergreen Wind Power-owned wind farm are enjoying this tax break it comes at the expense of 15 or so family’s on the east, or downwind side of the wind farm. The noise from the wind turbines is so bad that the people living in back of the mountain cannot even open their windows at night in this extreme heat. One of the residents told me and as you know, the only opportunity to cool their home comes in the evening when the sun goes down. The decibel level is so high and constant (over 50 decibels in the home) that they are unable to open their windows.
So people understand, you have to be a distance from the turbines to hear the full effect of the noise, if you stand under them as the noise goes above you and you don’t hear it. The noise is like a jet plane sitting high over your house and it never goes away. Also, you don’t hear the noise unless the wind is blowing so if you go out to listen, go when there is a breeze at 1,000 feet, where the turbines are. In some months there are only two or three days the wind doesn’t blow, some, none.
Tower thump or compression of the air against the tower as a blade passes it creates a resonant noise, sort of like a car beside you with its bass up loud, you can almost feel it in your heart. Remember, it’s not just one tower out there but at least 10, or 30 blades right behind their homes. It is now known that this resonance, or tower thump over long periods can affect your health. Then there is the strobing effect of 30 or more blades turning with the sun shining through them on our long summer evenings and the shadow these blades make over the surrounding countryside. Thirty or more blades turning on the north end of the mountain with these effects it is very disturbing to the residents.
If you believe, as many do, that these people are complaining just to get money from someone, reflect on this: The problems with this wind farm are so onerous that the Governor has set up a select panel to now regulate where wind farms can be sited. This is a lot like closing the door after the horse is out of the barn. These problems were all known about wind farms before they were built yet our town council and manager, supposedly looking after the interests of all our citizens, ignored any facts that came their way. Evergreen Wind Power’s own sound studies warned them there would be a problem for the nearby residents if they sited those towers where they have and suggested an alternative site, which they ignored. Reason, one can only speculate that it was easier to build them on relatively flat land in a straight line than over on the west shoulder where they should have been. Our town manager and council had access to these sound studies and admitted they did not read them.
The property values of the homes on the east side of Mars Hill Mountain, many of them newer homes, has been greatly diminished and they will probably never be able to sell them. Many have said they would sell in a heartbeat, but there are no buyers and probably won’t be.
The property tax break we have recently received should be bittersweet for many people as it is at the expense of the folks who had homes on the east side of the mountain long before Evergreen Wind Power ever came to town. The amazing thing to me is that our town manager is still in his job as are all the councilors who voted full support for this project. Of course, none of them live near the project.
The Land Use Regulation Commission has apologized to these residents and realize they made a mistake in this project as I believe, from the hearings I have attended, does the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s too bad our own town government can’t admit publicly that they also made a huge mistake by facilitating Evergreen Wind Power’s project. In Augusta they call it a gold rush to get towers up so the owner’s can collect the government subsidies we pay for with our tax dollars. The north end residents of Mars Hill Mountain are paying in full.

Terry Hamm-Morris
Mars Hill