AFP AUDIO INTERVIEW
A dedicated group of citizen volunteers on the Eastern Shore of Maryland have taken on an arm of the powerful wind lobby and sent them packing back to the Lone Star state.
The group formed for that purpose, Safe for Somerset, comprised of average citizens, some with professional degrees in engineering, law and medicine, gathered the facts necessary to educate the residents of the county, who told Pioneer Green Energy of Austin to move along.
Dave Gahary had the opportunity to sit down with Tammy C. Truitt, a poultry farmer and the co-founder of Safe for Somerset, in this informative interview (41:39).
Tilting at Windmills?
• But, unlike Don Quixote, this band of incensed residents has defeated a massive wind farm project set to endanger local citizens and the environment
By Dave Gahary
A dedicated group of citizen volunteers on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland have taken on an arm of the powerful wind energy lobby and sent them packing back to the Lone Star state. The group, Safe for Somerset, was formed for that sole purpose. Comprised of average citizens, some with professional degrees in engineering, law and medicine, the organization gathered the facts necessary to educate the residents of the county and told Pioneer Green Energy of Austin to move along.
Pioneer’s plan, to construct a wind farm in a county with barely any wind, had been in the works for over five years in Somerset County, Maryland, and represents a microcosm of what is happening across the United States as aggressive companies scramble to get a piece of the wind pie brought on by the Obama administration’s mandate that wind generate 20% of all the nation’s electricity by 2030. Currently the U.S gets around 3.5% of its energy from U.S gets around 3.5% of its energy from over 400 wind farms. Texas, California, and Iowa are the top three states hosting wind farms.
Longtime AMERICAN FREE PRESS subscriber and supporter Bart Van Ness, a resident of the Eastern Shore, brought this matter to the attention of this newspaper. Bart also introduced this reporter to Tammy C. Truitt, a poultry farmer and the co-founder of Safe for Somerset.
AFP asked why she got involved.
“I became concerned,” she began, “because the people who were already living amongst industrial wind turbines were suffering from a multitude of problems. And those problems ranged from health, lower property values, and environmental damage.”
Pioneer Green arrived in Somerset County late 2009 to early 2010, approaching large, politically-connected landowners to get them to sign wind leases, and carried out secret negotiations with them for around two years without public knowledge.
“They were going to construct 400-foot wind turbines,” explained Mrs. Truitt. “As time progressed, those turbines increased in size to 600 up to 700 feet.”
“The wind resource here in Somerset County is considered poor/marginal for industrial wind,” she added, which is why Pioneer found it necessary to increase the height so drastically.
Why a company such as Pioneer would select such a poor wind area provides a lesson on how these large corporations conduct business.
“Pioneer Green kept harping on how poor our county was and that they would be spending $200 million in our county for economic development,” said Mrs. Truitt. “They target rural counties that are economically stressed.”
Incredibly, Mrs. Truitt explained, “They don’t even factor wind resource into the top three criteria when they’re citing a project.”
“Wind survives on politics,” Mrs. Truitt said, “and part of the politics is the mandate where the government requires x-amount of energy to come from renewables, and then they require the suppliers to purchase the renewable energy no matter what the price.”
AFP asked Truitt to detail why these farms are such a danger.
“It is a scientific fact,” said Mrs. Truitt, “that low-frequency noise impairs people’s health, the audible sound is very annoying, but what makes people sick is the force of the sound. You can watch people [near these wind turbines] immediately take their hand and put it to their chest, without realizing they’re doing it, because their heart is reacting to the frequency’s noise that the turbines are emitting.”
The machines also present structural dangers.
“There have been numerous fires, collapses and there have been numerous blade liberations,” Mrs. Truitt explained. “Liberation” is the innocuous term the wind industry uses for catastrophic failure—when the blade separates itself from the turbine.
Blade separation distances in the United States “have been documented as far as 1,500 feet away,” said Mrs. Truitt.
The blades can also go “rogue,” meaning they spin uncontrollably while the wind facility is unable to stop them. In fact, said Mrs. Truitt, two instances have been recorded where blade debris was thrown over half a mile in 2008 in Denmark and this past January in Ireland.
“The wind industry likes to place the machines, no matter how tall they are, 1,000 feet from people’s residences, and a lot of times they measure not from property lines but from the foundations of the residences,” said Mrs. Truitt.
A fire in the nacelle cannot be reached by firetrucks and must be allowed to burn itself out. The nacelle is the housing that holds the wind turbine’s engine and is the size of a school bus.
So serious has this issue become, that “banks in Scotland and Canada have stopped financing properties that are located in close proximity to wind farms,” said Mrs. Truitt.
Besides the obvious danger to humans, many birds pay the ultimate price.
“Our land consists mostly of marshlands and we are home to a migratory path called the Atlantic Flyway,” said Mrs. Truitt. “Our area is ranked number three in the United States for bald eagle population.”
The Atlantic Flyway is a bird migration route that follows the Atlantic Coast of North America and the Appalachian Mountains, utilized by birds since no mountains or hills block the entire path.
“Wind turbines wreak havoc on raptors,” like the American bald eagle, she said.
For this project’s 30-year life span, it was calculated that over 600 eagles would be killed by the machines.
“The wind industry reports and monitors its own kills,” said Mrs. Truitt, and they use methodologies and modeling favorable to the industry, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is woefully unprepared to deal with this accelerating technology.
It’s not just birds being slaughtered.
“Turbines are a very big killer of bats,” said Mrs. Truitt. This results from something known as barotrauma, or a change in barometric pressure.
“When a bat gets in close proximity to a wind turbine their lungs will explode,” detailed Mrs. Truitt. The bats are also attracted to the red, blinking lights on the units which attract bugs.
Somerset County residents depend heavily on their huge and vibrant bat colonies because of the “massive mosquito populations that begin in April till October,” due to the many marshes and bogs of the Eastern Shore.
Besides the dangers, wind power currently makes little sense, due to its inefficiency, mainly due to the fact that wind is intermittent and unreliable.
“Wind requires 42% of energy subsidies to produce 3.5% of energy,” revealed Mrs. Truitt, and “even when the wind produces energy, the grid cannot accept it.”
Even worse, Mrs. Truitt explained, “it makes the cost of the other forms of energy rise because it makes them less efficient.”
The Obama administration’s policy is “any and all costs when it comes to renewable energy,” said Mrs. Truitt, and “to meet these mandates, there is going to be a wind turbine in your county.”
AFP asked if the pro-wind lobby has had an impact on news reporting of the issue.
“The Tri-County newspaper tried to diminish our story as much as they could, and they promoted wind every chance they got,” explained Mrs. Truitt.
Ms. Truitt revealed how closely politics is interwoven with the push for so-called “green” energy.
Pioneer’s “head honcho attended Barack Obama’s 50th birthday party,” explained Truitt.
Dave Gahary, a former submariner in the U.S. Navy, is the host of AFP’s ‘Underground Interview’ series.