photo: John Davey via flickr
I suppose it was only a matter of time... According to a new article in The New York Times some residents near the Shepherd's Flat wind farm in Oregon have been offered $5000 to not complain about the whooshing noise from the planned 338 wind turbines--apparently it's a preemptive effort to avoid the brouhaha about noise at the nearby Willow Creek wind farm, which has been found to be in violation of state noise pollution laws. TreeHugger has discussed whether or not wind farms do or do not cause adverse health effects if they are built too closely to human habitation on a number of occasions, but that part doesn't really concern me right now.
What does is this:
Residents of the remote high-desert hills near here have had an unusual visitor recently, a fixer working out the kinks in clean energy.
Patricia Pilz of Caithness Energy, a big company from New York that is helping make this part of Eastern Oregon one of the fastest-growing wind power regions in the country, is making a tempting offer: sign a waiver saying you will not complain about excessive noise from the turning turbines -- the whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of the future, advocates say -- and she will cut you a check for $5,000.
"Shall we call it hush money?" said one longtime farmer, George Griffith, 84. "It was about as easy as easy money can get." [...]
Some people who did not sign said that Ms. Pilz made them feel uncomfortable, that she talked about how much Shepherd's Flat would benefit the struggling local economy and the nation's energy goals, and that she suggested they were not thinking of the greater good if they refused.
"The lady that came said everyone else signed," said Jarrod Ogden, 33, a farmer whose house would be directly opposite several 300-foot turbines once Shepherd's Flat is completed. "But I know for a fact that some people didn't. I'm all for windmills, but I'm not going to let them buy me like that. I think they're just trying to buy cheap insurance."
Just not cool. At all.
Just because wind turbines generate low-carbon electricity doesn't mean a) we can overlook concerns about siting them in regards to conservation or potential human health issues (and I stress 'potential' in that as the jury is still out on turbines' long-term health effects), or b) it's acceptable for green power companies to essentially bribe people to keep quiet, any more than it's acceptable for fossil fuel companies to do so.