Thursday January 19, 2012

It is not surprising that those unconditionally opposed to wind energy would be dismissive of a study finding that wind turbines do not create health problems for neighbors. Residents who still have open minds on the issue, however, should factor this report into their thinking about what role and how much of a role wind should play in the state's energy equation.

A panel of independent physicians and scientists found the assertions that wind turbines cause inner ear or balance problems or psychological distress are without foundation. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Department of Environmental Protection convened the panel to make an objective determination as to whether or not "Wind Turbine Syndrome" or related ailments actually exist as the state seeks to expand its wind power presence over the next eight years. The panel recommended further research into the effects of turbine noise on sleep and ways of minimizing them.

If the findings had been more to the liking of Windwise Massachusetts and other anti-wind energy groups they would be praising the study today, but because the conclusions were counter to their ideology opponents are dismissing the study as politically motivated. This is an insult to the panelists, who are not affiliated with the state or any wind energy groups, pro or con. Unlike foes they have no ax to grind.

Fear-mongering to the contrary, the state and wind power developers are not attempting to cover every available ridge line and mountaintop with turbines. Not every potential location will generate enough wind consistently to be worth developing, and some locations that could be financially feasible will go undeveloped because they are not accessible.

After years of bureaucratic delays and nuisance court challenges, wind projects are finally under way in North Berkshire County that will contribute clean energy to the grid without harming the environment, which cannot be said of coal, oil and other contributors to global warming. Clean energy, including solar, which has an important Berkshire presence, employed judiciously, won't solve our energy problems but it will lessen them.