Yesterday I saw Windfall, a film about the controversy over wind turbines in the upstate New York community of Meredith. Overall, it’s a pretty good film, showing how the big corporations pitted neighbors against neighbors by trying to get land leases for turbines on farmers’ lands. I’m suspicious, too, about big commercial power companies and their investors who want to make money. These folks, whether promoting wind or fracking or nuclear power could care less about the impact of their projects on local communities. The Meredith citizens conclude that, though they don’t want to make their community available to commercial wind companies, they might want a community-scale wind project that they would own and benefit from. That’s what we’re looking at in Salem. A community-owned turbine benefits us, the taxpayers, not a commercial wind company.
What I didn’t like about the film is that it left misinformation unchallenged. For example:
- Wind turbines spin at 150 miles per hour. Really, the blades turn a 6 miles per hour.
- Wind turbine accidents are something to fear. The turbine could collapse or catch on fire. These are extremely rare events. A plane can fall out of the sky, too, but that doesn’t mean that we are going to end the aviation industry or that millions of people are going to stop flying.
- Wind turbines are decimating bat populations. A couple of recent studies suggests that bats and wind turbines don’t mix well. However, scientists looking at this issue believe that there are strategies for mitigating the problem, just as strategies have been found to reduce bird fatalities.