7. Wind Energy Forum -- The Real Risk/Benefit Ratios, April 16, 2011
|April 16, 2011|
Housatonic Valley Regional High School
Falls Village, CT
1:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Admission: $5.00 at the door.
The Berkshire-Litchfield Environmental Council, Lakeville, CT
Housatonic Valley Association, Cornwall Bridge, CT
Audubon Sharon, Sharon, CT.
Housatonic Environmental Action League, Inc. Cornwall Bridge, CT
Housatonic Riverkeeper, MA/CT, Lee, MA
Housatonic River Initiative, Lenoxdale, MA
Northwest Conservation District, Torrington, CT
Green Berkshires, Great Barrington, MA
Municipal agents; planning, zoning, conservation, and inland/wetlands commissions; land-use attorneys, environmentalists, local/state/federal legislators and regulators; potential landowners interested in leasing to wind turbine companies, and concerned citizens.
No one in their right mind could be against renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, and tidal resources. In fact, people have embraced small and medium-scale applications with an admirable fervor. Many applaud the federal government for stepping up with stimulus dollars, as well as state governments with tax breaks, to help get promising approaches to clean energy off the ground.
But in our enthusiasm for green technologies, have we neglected potential downsides with industrial-scale facilities, especially when proposed for residential neighborhoods, sensitive environmental areas or scenic ridgelines? Have we factored in that many interior regions of New England may not lend themselves to anything other than small-scale approaches due to weather, topography, and population density? Or that the financial payback for large-scale facilities may never be justified in some areas in either the short or the long term? Or the fact that this nascent field is attracting speculators with no intention or ability to build such large systems but are rather developing sites to flip for profit after approvals are garnered? Is our automatic goodwill toward renewables being taken advantage of and how much caution should we bring to the table without being blindly obstructionist?
Some critical questions to be addressed:
. Where does wind generation fit in with other renewable sources in our national energy needs?
. What is the real risk/benefit ratio of wind turbines? Does that ratio change from region to region? What determines those variables?
. Are there potential, permanent adverse effects to other species such as birds and bats that are being ignored?
. Are there adverse effects from low frequency sound, vibration, and light flicker to humans and other species, especially in wetland habitats? What about increased ground current effects near turbines to turtles and amphibians? Are sensitive habitats such as vernal pools especially vulnerable?
. Are environmental concerns primarily one of scale? And are there some windmill designs that are better than others?
. Are there inherent environmental problems when converting a direct current resource such as wind to an alternating current infrastructure? Are there ways, for instance, to avoid the phenomenon called dirty electricity, which creates high frequency harmonics on common utility lines and is considered a new metric for adverse health effects in humans?
. What are reasonable ways to mitigate, legislate, and anticipate such problems before damage is done?
. What is happening at the federal, state, and local levels?
Industrial wild turbines are more complex than anyone imagined at first glance. This is an issue suddenly facing many communities as wind companies seek to place facilities on pristine ridgelines and in wide valley corridors, ignoring the fact that sometimes our windy areas are also our most cherished.
Sample planning and zoning regulations will be available, with ample time for Q&A.
. (Confirmed) Keynote: Albert M. Manville, II, Ph.D. Senior Wildlife Biologist, Division of Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to discuss bird and bat deaths near wind turbines and recent federal recommendations for tower siting and mitigation.
. (Confirmed) Madga Havas, Ph.D. Professor of Biology, Trent University, Canada, to discuss dangerous environmental couplings of electromagnetic fields from wind turbines.
. (Confirmed) Helen Parker, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist, to discuss Wind Turbine Syndrome caused by environmental infrasound.
. (Confirmed) Dave McGlinchey, Senior Program Leader on Energy and Environment, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, Massachusetts, on wind generation in our larger national newable energy needs.
. Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Senate (D-CT), to discuss the balance between energy independence and environmental protection.
. George Jepsen, Attorney General, State of CT
. John Fonfara, CT Senate, Co-chair, Committee on Energy and Technology
. (Confirmed) Andrew Roraback, CT Senate, (R-CT)
. (Confirmed) Roberta Willis, CT House of Representatives (D-CT)
. (Confirmed) Eleanor Tillinghast, Green Berkshires, Inc., Great Barrington, MA. on general siting concerns.
. Starling W. Childs, President, Berkshire-Litchfield Environmental Council
. B. Blake Levitt, Communications Director, Berkshire-Litchfield Environmental Council