Sarah Kelly writes-
Massive 404-foot (that is FORTY STORIES) Turbines Are Coming!
The city of Gloucester is allegedly going to share in the excess electricity generated by two 40-story turbines, soon to be installed by the Gloucester firm Varian. Unfortunately, the residents of the rest of Cape Ann will have two 40-story structures to look at for the rest of our lives without accruing any of the benefits of the energy allegedly generated. And before people respond by saying how much they love the Earth and turbines, let me state for the record that I am very fond of the Earth myself (I even capitalize the word!) and I’m all for turbines, by which I mean the responsible use of appropriately-scaled turbines as a back up for conventional energy sources — sources which come in handy when the wind doesn’t blow or blows when you don’t need it, which, frankly, is much the case with wind — and why we don’t move freight around the world anymore via sailing ships.
All over the globe (especially in the American Midwest, English countryside and in Australia), there is a race to install massive, utility-scale turbines in what appears to be an effort to make a pile of money from tax credits while taking advantage of the public’s low-grade (or full-throttle) hysteria about replacing conventional energy sources before the polar bears all die. This well-intended, deeply-felt desire to use energy more responsibly is circumventing common sense, and the profiteers have seen an opportunity to make a whole bunch of money, tearing around the planet to install massive turbines and wind farms — which can sometimes mean hundreds of massive turbines placed too close to homes in a scattershot, absolutely inefficient manner — before the public understands anything about utility-scale wind. The facts about utility-scale wind technology indicate that wind is just not viable as a mainstream energy source, utterly unsuitable for mass distribution. The technology, such as it is, lends itself to micro-development. So if someone wants to mount a wind turbine on the top of their house (or a turbine in a fast-moving body of water running through his/her property for hydro power) to offset the cost of their electricity, fantastic. But wind turbines become less efficient the more you scale up, which begs the question: why are the Varian turbines so huge? Would an installation of 1.0 megawatt turbines — more along the lines of 200 feet, and more to scale with Cape Ann’s existing structures — have served Varian’s needs just as well? By installing two 40-story skyscrapers, Varian has irrevocably, for all practical purposes, altered a landscape that belongs to all of us. And land is the ultimate non-renewable resource. Once land is industrialized, it is not easily reclaimed, which is why rural areas are zoned differently from urban areas. And while the area where the turbines will be located is zoned as industrial, I would bet that no one on the Zoning Board in Gloucester understood “industrial” to include skyscrapers when the zoning laws were put in place.
So I’m wondering: how is it that Varian can install two skyscrapers without a period of public comment from their non-Gloucester neighbors? Where’s the nearest 40-story structure? A city, of course. In Boston, 248 skyscrapers make up the cityscape, only 27 of which are taller than 400 feet. But no longer will you have to go to Boston to experience the joys of seeing one of those 27 structures. We’ll have our very own skyscrapers, a view of which we’ll have from practically every window in downtown Gloucester, Lanesville, Annisquam, Rockport and Pigeon Cove.
Another factor is that these two 2.0 megawatt turbines, although in an area zoned for industry, are still potentially located too close to residences. International recommendations for the installation of utility-scale wind turbines vary, but the general consensus in Europe is that industrial scale turbines should not be installed within 1.5 miles of a residence, due to shadow flicker and low frequency vibrations that can cause serious health problems for some people. This is no joke, a fact to which people who have been made sick by living too close to massive wind turbines can attest. This situation may be great for Varian, arguably great for Gloucester (we’ll see if the estimations of energy generated actually materialize), but what about the rest of us?
Ed Collard writes-
So the windmills are coming to Gloucester. I am of mixed thoughts on this but I’d have to say that overall I’m in favor of this. With the high cost of energy in dollars, the environment and human lives. I believe that we have to make some changes regarding our energy sources and windmills seem to be a clean, domestic and economical choice. Varian has put in a lot of time and money researching alternatives for their energy needs and would not be spending their money without careful consideration of the return on their investment. We have charged our elected officials, for one thing, to be prudent with our money and they have come to the conclusion that this will save us, the taxpayers on the city’s energy needs. Regarding the visual aspect I for one will look at them knowing that we are being pro-active in our exploration for alternative energy sources. I don’t like telephone polls but I sure do like my phone and cable. There will be many discussions about this in our coffee shops in the months to come but I think we can be proud of the fact that our city is doing something regarding our energy needs.
Any comments that are not civil on this post will not be approved.