The unequal contest about the implementation of utility-scale wind plants between a number of ordinary citizens, on one hand, and the system of government intransigence, environmentalist narrowness, strong industry lobby groups, and uninformed public opinion, on the other, is a difficult but necessary one.
In Europe alone, which has the most experience with the wind plants, the number of such groups is approaching 450 in 21 countries. In Ontario Canada, one of the North American extremist jurisdictions in support of wind, the number is 35.
Unfortunately, compared to the wind proponent side, the relatively small number of people fighting wind plants comes from those who are faced with the reality of the prospect of wind plants in close proximity to their communities. However, others who for various reasons have done the necessary research to see past the misconceptions to the reality of the total folly of pursuing such policies have also joined them.
We must rise above the negatively intended, and unthinking, use of the term NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) that is quickly applied to these citizens’ groups. Although, initially their opposition represents self-interest (which is not automatically to be criticized), nevertheless they progress to becoming informed on the subject to properly represent their case. In doing this, they soon discover that the associated problems and worthlessness of the whole wind agenda. They find out that the Wind Crusade is hardly noble environmentalism. Many find themselves asking: why have so many self-styled environmentalists sold out to image, to form over sustance?
My view is that utility-scale wind plants are ineffective in all respects as an electricity source and should not be part of any electricity system, rendering all the other problems that come with them needless. The ‘other problems’ are the negative impact on:
A Letter to Real Environmentalists on Windpower
The following letter from Eric Bibler to the Cape Cod Commission about planning for industrial wind turbines is noteworthy. Bibler is an environmental activist and President of Save Our Seashore, a non-profit organization based in Wellfleet, MA, that is devoted to the principle that our National Parks, including the Cape Cod National Seashore, should be preserved and protected as a natural resource and not subjected to industrialization through the installation of wind energy.
His letter, while important on a stand-alone basis, is representative of the bureaucratic impenetrability that surrounds policy planning for wind plants. It has been slightly edited by him from the original for typos, proper punctuation, grammar and clarity.
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11/10/10 Letter to the Cape Code Commission by Eric Bibler (Save Our Seashore, Wellfleet, MA)
Can there be any doubt from reading the transcript of this meeting that the overriding motivation for reducing the setback provision – as was repeatedly and explicitly stated by numerous parties – was that this provision was getting in the way of development; that it was preventing the installation of the massive towers, and thwarting the ambitions of the developers, for the simple reason that it is virtually impossible to find any sites that do not have residences located within such a perimeter?
As we’ve seen, the management and the planners of the Commission, the developers, their representatives and the vested interests, all expressed the need to water down or remove the restrictions to development that “made them skittish” or “we wouldn’t be able to site wind turbines on the Cape.”
Did ONE person on the Commission mention the possibility that such development might not be consistent with the preservationist principles of the Cape Cod Commission; or in the best interests of the Cape as a region – a place that has thrived by zealously guarding its “unique character” against such onslaughts?
Did ONE person mention any concern for the health and well-being of Cape Cod’s residents? (And, to be clear, citing “noise complaints” – another niggling impediment to development – doesn’t count as it is not even remotely the same thing).
Did ONE person ask for any of the proponents to EXPLAIN what societal benefit would accrue to the residents of the Cape – since the sacrifices are so painfully obvious? After all, it is hard to ignore a vast array of 500 foot wind turbines, or the chronic noise that they emit. What is that benefit? Could someone please articulate it?
Have ANY of the developers – or the management of the Cape Cod Commission – ever calculated, quantified or publicly provided and verified the amount of green house gas emissions that will allegedly be reduced by allowing the intrusion of these monstrous structures in town, after town, after town?
The developers, and other vested interests, participated in shaping the model wind turbine bylaws in 2004 and have haunted the Commission like harpies ever since, goading them relentlessly into adopting more and more lenient, prescriptive provisions for the construction of their developments. But have they ever actually had to MAKE THEIR CASE as to the benefits of their program?
Do ALL of the Members – and the management of the Cape Cod Commission – really believe that there will be NO significant consequences from erecting one enormous structure after another – or one cluster after another – of 500 foot kinetic towers? Do they really believe this, even after witnessing the agony and the suffering of citizens in nearby Falmouth?
Has ANY member of the CCC management ever acknowledged – ever – that the enormous scale of these structures is even an issue? Or that caution ought to be exercised in performing a close study of potential hazards from such a dramatic, wholesale industrialization up and down the Cape?
Have ANY of the Members experienced even a MOMENT OF DOUBT as to whether this whole program – which has been so uncritically embraced as an end unto itself – is truly in the best interests of the region, the individual towns and the residents of the Cape?
Did ONE person – other than Mr. Putnam from Wellfleet – dare to suggest that the Members might not want to give the Commission – and the developers it so ardently supports – a BLANK CHECK to regulate – or fail to regulate – such development – particularly in view of their gross incompetence on this issue to date?
Has it occurred to any of the Members – or to any member of the Commission management – that the critics of these plans are the ones who are actually FREE from conflict of interest; who have studied these issues closely; and who have documented these concerns to the Cape Cod Commission – only to be summarily rebuffed; and that is the critics of this unbridled industrial policy who are, in fact, struggling to ensure that the long-term best interests of both the region, and their fellow citizens, are preserved?
Where is the evidence of the “balance,” Ms. Christenberry, to which the Cape Cod Commission – particularly under its current leadership – so often pays lip service but so rarely seeks to do anything to preserve?
Has the Cape Cod Commission become so corrupted by the mania for wind power that the Executive Director, and the Planners, accompanied on the floor of a Commission meeting by a bevy of developers, lobbyists and consultants, no longer feels any shame in declaring, quite matter-of-factly, that the Commission needs to eliminate and/or weaken the modest handful of restrictions to industrial wind energy – which already amounted to no more than a fig leaf of protection – because, if they don’t, no projects will get built?
Who are the real “constituents” of the Cape Cod Commission and the member towns?
Aren’t your constituents really the people who have joined those communities; who have purchased homes there; or who visit habitually, year after year, because they have – or had — faith that this community shares their interest in protecting and preserving the “unique character” and “special charm” of this fragile, but resilient, and hauntingly beautiful, region?
Why are you so willing to abuse them, and all that they love about the Cape, to serve the interests of a handful of rich developers, or unabashedly opportunistic towns, who seek nothing more than to profit from the temporary gusher of state and federal subsidies driving the wind energy mania?
Those towers are huge and they will be permanent. And they will profoundly alter life as we know it on Cape Cod. They will disproportionately benefit a small handful of investors, and they will create agony for thousands of innocents who did nothing to deserve such treatment – and who had every right to expect that the Cape Cod Commission – the protector of the Cape — would never allow such an outrage.
What justification do you have for offering up these sacrificial lambs on the altar of industrial wind energy? What will you say when you attempt to explain why you allowed it?
Why are these points lost on you? Why do you not understand that your urgent priority of installing industrial wind plants on Cape Cod can never be accomplished without incalculable sacrifice? And that the return on our collective investment – both in terms of the amount of energy produced and the reduction (if any) in green house gas emissions is truly pitiful.
The Cape Cod Commission has become so corrupted in its thinking that it now serves an entirely different master than the one that was prescribed for it when it was invented. It no longer serves the region’s interest, or the people’s
Instead, the Cape Cod Commission today is the unapologetic servant of a political agenda and the chief enabler for a handful of opportunistic developers who are insensitive to the true needs of the community and who seek to profit from the lavish subsidies that keep this misguided industrial plan from collapsing under its own weight – at least for the time being. interest, by advocating development that is sensitive to the local environment and which keeps the soul of the place – its most precious asset – intact.
That will be someone else’s problem, too – the problem of who actually comes back to pick up the pieces when this bubble bursts. I imagine that this is another issue to be worked out in some future Technical Bulletin, not to worry. The important thing for now is to make sure that they all get built. There is plenty of time to worry about the rest later.
(signed) Eric Bibler, President
A fine letter. What has been astounding to me, a confirmed cynic, is how easily local “environmental” board are bought off, and how easily the total futility of wind power has been concealed from the public.
When this monstrous fraud finally collapses here — as it is doing in Europe — a large number of people, contemplating their ruined countryside and devastated wilderness, will long to find a wind developer to lynch. But they will, of course, be long gone. To someplace untouched by the monstrosities.
Agreed, Mr. Goodrich. Those who promote wind’s confidence scheme, which privatizes profit and socializes risk, which promises a great deal and delivers dysfunction at many different levels, which demands opacity and relies on gullibility, should be prosecuted for bunco, and their booty confiscated to dismantle these totems of massive ignorance and greed.
Here in Ontario: “…CanWEA submits that the proposed requirement for infrasound or low frequency noise monitoring as a condition of the REA [Renewable Energy Approval] be removed.”
What do they have to be afraid of if their product is so safe? Is this simply willful and premeditated harm to human beings including children?
For most people, their support for wind turbine power is inversely proprotional to their understanding of science and engineering. In other words, the less they know about the realities of the ‘mechanical’ world, the more they are fooled into thinking capturing the fickle wind is a great way to generate energy.
What a bunch of mis-guided baloney. NIMBY at it’s best. Mr. Bibler is not even a resident of the Cape so go make a stink somewhere else please!
Dear Big Picture,
I’m not sure I follow your logic. If it’s none of my business what happens on Cape Cod — because I’m not a resident there — how can I be a NIMBY?
And why is it none of my business what happens on the Cape when a substantial portion of it — including 61% of the town of Wellfleet, which first attracted my interest — lies within the Cape Cod National Seashore?
Doesn’t the charter of the Cape Cod Commission specifically provide that one of its primary purposes is to regulate development on Cape Cod in such a way as to preserve its rural and historic character?
Don’t the design guidelines of the Commission specifically discourage development that is “out-of-scale” and “out-of-character” with the surrounding landscape? How do 400 and 500 foot industrial wind turbines observe these restrictions when the average tree height on the Cape is approximately 40 feet?
A substantial portion of the economy on Cape Cod — the majority — is still tied to the annual influx of seasonal residents and to tourism which swell the population in the summer to some multiple of the number of winter residents. Do you really believe that it is irrelevant that these people are attracted to Cape Cod and to the National Seashore — a national treasure — precisely because of the determined efforts to preserve precisely the same values that the Cape Cod Commission embraces in its charter?
I have family in Wellfleet — a town that abandoned its wind turbine proposal almost a year ago when the Wellfleet Board of Selectmen reversed its position and killed the project by unanimous vote. There is no longer any threat of wind turbines in that Town, so I am no longer even a NIMBY once-removed.
Along the way, during the debate in Wellfleet, the head of the Wellfleet Energy Committee (WEC) resigned, saying he could not support the project because of the adverse impacts.
Another of the chief proponents, also a member of the WEC, who had written all of the grant proposals for preliminary work dating back to 2004, stated publicly — on three occasions — that he was “wrong;” that the adverse impacts were far worse than he had believed; and that “Wellfleet is no place for a wind turbine.”
All of the selectmen and energy committee members above live in Wellfleet and were instrumental in bringing the proposal to life in the first place.
Are they full of baloney, too? Or were they all bamboozled by the NIMBY’s and their accomplices — despite having spent hundreds of man hours studying the ramifications of their own proposal and making the painful, but necessary decision to go before the Town, admit error, and urge that the wind turbine proposal be abandoned?
Now it seems that I owe apologies — or at the very least, congratulations and my own admission of error — to both Ms. Christenberry and Mr. Niedzwiecki of the Cape Cod Commission — and to all of the Members of the Cape Cod Commission, as well — for it appears that I misjudged them all in writing this article.
Yesterday, after receiving thousands of pages of written material and hearing public testimony from scores of citizens on Cape Cod — and after numerous Joint Planning and Regulatory Committee meetings devoted to this issue — the Cape Cod Commission approved, by a vote of 8-1, new, much more stringent, Minimum Performance Standards to regulate the installation of wind turbines anywhere on Cape Cod. The lone dissenter was Mr. Roger Putnam, the representative from Wellfleet — God bless his heart — who opposed the new MPS because he thought that they were still far too lenient (and he’s right).
Ms. Christenberry and Mr. Niedzwiecki were instrumental in drafting, and gaining acceptance for, a set of standards which provided some meaningful thresholds to trigger additional review by the Commission and in promoting the idea of vesting such authority in a regional planning organization (the Commission) that is free of any conflict of interest arising from prospective monetary gain (as with the myriad municipally owned projects) and which possesses the requisite expertise and resources to perform a proper evaluation. Kudos to Ms. Christenberry and Mr. Niedzwiecki.
For a number of reasons, including:
a) that the Minimum Performance Standards serve only as an initial screen that triggers full Commission review under an established procedure for “Developments of Regional Impact” (DRI);
b) that the Commission will next undertake to develop a detailed Technical Bulletin that will address many complex technical issues, and restrictions, in detail; and
c) that the new procedure will, at long last, force any Applicant (the developers) to adopt their proper burden of proof in demonstrating an absence of harm from their projects;
Save Our Seashore yesterday gave its qualified support to the Commission for the new MPS.
My apologies to Ms. Christenberry and Mr. Niedzwiecki. I misjudged you both.
Save Our Seashore
Thank you for this heartfelt and insightful article.
As I sat here reading it, I turned to my husband and said, “I simply can’t believe this. We have hundred– HUNDREDS– of informed, factual, dedicated citizens’ activist groups all around the world, and STILL– the wind industry has the upper hand! What is wrong with this picture???”
Steven is accustomed to my outbursts in regards to industrial wind, but that’s because I simply have never encountered such a well-seated corporate interest getting ‘its way’ despite massive resistance… and despite being completely and totally in the wrong.
Industrial wind is a scam. I’ve aways hated that word, ‘scam’…I associated it with radicals–with folks who used inciteful rhetoric to create a frenzy–rather than a word employed by reasonable, respectable people with a factual and important story to tell.
But the facts tell the true story. The paltry benefits of grid-scale industrial wind turbine plants are far, far outweighed by the colossal negative impacts. Economic impacts, environmental ones, impacts to our health, ‘quality of place’, ‘quality of life’….the list is long. Science and economics should be what determine our energy policies, and yet… it is the corporate lobby and the government agencies which cater to it which are determining our future.
Is this still America? Do the people still have the right to ‘have a say’?
Yes. We do. And I thank you, sir, for exercising that right. Please don’t stop. We need a groundswell of people just like you, doing the same thing. And eventually, we’ll bring common sense back to the table.
I only hope we can do it quickly enough to save some of America’s most pristine places from the intrusion of an undependable, intermittent, useless energy producer which is far too expensive to justify its existence, and which would not exist without huge tax-payer subsidies.
Lexington Twp., Maine