2009-11-19 / Letters to the Editor

Wind turbines are a ‘Trojan horse’

The Wind Turbine Committee’s presentation of its study at their recent workshop was received in a respectful manner that was appropriate. However, the conclusion stated in your article of Nov. 12 that there is no opposition to installing a wind turbine in Jamestown should not be made. Few people in Jamestown knew that this presentation was to be made, thereby limiting attendance. The meeting was largely informational and did not serve as a referendum on how Jamestown residents feel about the town installing wind turbines. Certainly, that question was not asked by the committee.

My primary concern about installing wind turbines in Jamestown is aesthetics. These wind turbines rise to a height of up to nearly 400 feet and have turbine blades with a diameter of nearly 300 feet. They have an enormous presence, with a riveting effect on those who view them, particularly on a small island like ours. Nevertheless, there are some who would love to have many of these all over the island. Gone would be the tranquil views of nature that we have grown to love. These views will be replaced by giant windmills and, in the extreme, Jamestown could become a wind energy farm.

Jamestown is a place where property uses and structures that conflict with our harmonious existence with nature have consistently been rejected by the residents. No high cellular towers, refineries, townhouse clusters, etc. are in place. The result is that we have a town with an excellent quality of life that is well recognized, even on a global scale. High property values reflect this accomplishment. What would cause us to make such a radical change to our thinking that would allow a wind turbine (and, to be sure, other wind turbines later) nearly 400 feet high to dominate our landscape?

“Green” is the given answer, both in terms of money saved by the taxpayers and the use of wind as an energy source.

Let’s start with the amount of power generated. It is miniscule by power generation standards, with 180 kw to 430 kw being generated on average, depending on which alternative would be selected. That amounts to 30 or 80 watts for each person living in Jamestown, depending on which alternative is selected. We could easily save that much energy by turning off light bulbs when not required, and using electronic bulbs rather than incandescent bulbs.

How much will the town save? Not much, according to the study. Not enough to affect the town’s tax rate. Depending on which alternative is selected, the cash flow to the town would range from $20,000 to $60,000 per year, compared to a $21,000,000 annual budget. A close analysis of supporting data for the report, if or when available, might reduce this number even further.

How will having wind turbines towering 400 feet high affect our quality of life and our property values, particularly for those near those generators or viewing those overbearing structures as we drive around our village? If Ft. Getty is chosen, for example, how would that park’s future use and valuation be affected as a result? Certainly the diminishment of property values amounting to millions of dollars in the aggregate would not be hard to visualize. The value of town property to be utilized and the diminishment of the reduction of other property values were not considered in the study’s cost calculation.

Wind turbines are most effective when wind farms are established in the ocean, where wind energy is perhaps 50% more effective than in Jamestown, and in selected remote areas of the country in places where there is abundant wind. In both cases, they have efficiencies of scale and are not obtrusive.

Wind turbines have no place in Jamestown. They will change the character of this lovely place. Jamestown has managed to avoid property use that would damage our quality of life and even spent money to promote land conservation to preserve our island’s beauty forever. We should not let wind turbines onto our island in a Trojan horse that looks like it would provide significant amounts of electricity and save us a great deal of money.

Instead, it will adversely change the face of our island forever. No amount of wind utilization or coin is worth that.

If the Town Council rules in favor of wind power nevertheless, then the final say should be made by the voters as a ballot question.

I write this not only as a concerned resident of Jamestown, but also as an engineer with a lifetime of experience in the electrical power industry. I urge Jamestown residents to be vigilant, become well informed and voice your opposition to the Town Council.
Fred Basso

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