"May God help you." Letter from Mars Hill, Maine

Aug 3, 2008


—letter written 3/26/08 by Mark and Kate Harris, Mars Hill, ME, to the people of Roxbury, ME, as they considered a wind turbine proposal.  With thanks to the Harrises and to Better Plan, Rock County (Wisconsin), where we first encountered this letter.  The Editor.

You have asked for a description of how our lives have been affected by the wind farm on Mars Hill. These comments may be used in any way you please in assisting your town in making their decisions. I serve three congregations here as their pastor and my wife is an administrator in the area hospital. We moved here four years ago, coming from Vermont. We reside in the town of Bridgewater, Maine, which is eight miles from Mars Hill. We have purchased eighty acres on Mars Hill with the intention of building a home and living there when we retire. Unfortunately this cannot happen with the wind farm destroying the peace and safety of the residents all along the east and north sides of the mountain.

What has convinced us that we [can]not invest ourselves and our life savings here are our own observations, not what someone else has said. Over the past four years we have been working on establishing our boundaries, cutting in roads, developing a potable water source, thinning and pruning a maple sugar orchard, releasing and pruning apple trees, and establishing the best site for our house. In the last year, it has become increasingly clear that we will not be able to tolerate the intermittent and intense sounds coming from the turbines. When the wind comes from the west or the northwest, there is a rhythmic pounding that exceeds the permitted level of sound, namely in excess of fifty decibels. The nature of the sound is that it has a major low frequency component that makes the sound penetrate homes. My own experience is that when I am cutting with my chainsaw, when I put on my helmet with the hearing protectors, the sound actually penetrates the protectors. They [hearing protectors] block out the sounds of birds, wind, tree in the wind, brook babble, but not the relentless pounding of the turbines. The sound penetrates Wendy Todd’s home when we have meetings there, as well as Merle Copperwaithe’s home when we meet there.

We are greatly disappointed that there is no one to address our plight. My neighbors along the Mountain Road are discouraged with the lack of integrity of the town fathers, the Department of Environmental Protection, and UPC, the [wind]farm’s developers, who all have just abandoned us to our plight. The notion of this being “clean power” is untrue. It is morally and ethically unclean. The town was lied to by representatives of the investors, the town fathers did not read the application before they co-signed the application, the DEP did not and still does not have the expertise to assess or monitor the wind farm and UPC cannot be trusted. We do not have wind-farm specific laws to protect us from these uncontrolled forces. You are at great risk if you let these people into your town. With an investment of eighty-five million dollars, people’s judgment begins to erode.

I was trained as a biologist and worked in medical research and the food industry, and my wife is a hospital administrator. The health field is an unanswered question when it comes to turbines near homes. We have seen research that is coming out regarding the health problems involved with long-term exposure to the wind turbines. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have more documentation than we do. The World Health Organization has recommended a two kilometer distance between a turbine and a dwelling. We have turbines within a thousand feet of a dwelling, with children in the family.

Your risk at the hands of these uninformed and overzealous and unscrupulous people is large. Let them put the turbines in wilderness areas and not near dwellings. Better safe than sorry, as my grandfather used to put it.

I hope this letter may be of some use to you. There are others in our group who have better firsthand experience than I. I hope they will assist you. Wendy and Perrin Todd have given of themselves to this community and you can trust them. They are good people and not just some whacks. They have integrity in our community and you can trust what they tell you. Any mud slung at them will not stick. They have served this community well.

If there is anything else we can do, let us know. May God help you as there is no one else presently able to if you should let these turbines come to town.

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