A Vermont family abandoned their home in 2014 after the installation of noisy wind turbines nearby, then environmentalists moved in and turned it into a research center to study the impacts of wind power on human health.
The company behind the wind project that drove the Therrien family from their home recently declared bankruptcy, and their Vermont wind farm produced disappointing amounts of energy throughout the year.
The Therriens abandoned their home of two decades because the sound and vibrations of the turbines were causing sleepless nights and health problems, but now Energize Vermont, a local environmental group, has gotten permission to use the home to study environmental and health impacts.
“We certainly can’t get the wind companies to do the right thing for the towns. It’s a push in the right direction, with all of the other [wind turbine] projects that they are trying to put in,” Steve Therrien, the former owner of the home, told Watchdog.org. “I hate to say it, but any kind of studies or testing (by the state) has been gamed. This will hopefully level the playing field.”
“We are going to solicit universities and research institutes to conduct studies, and we are going to make the property available to them,” Mark Whitworth, president of Energize Vermont, told Watchdog.org. ““The Therrien family abandoned their home, and we want to start to figure out why. What are the conditions that those turbines created that could cause a family to take the extreme step of abandoning their home and property?”
One of most common complaints about wind turbines by local residents is that they cause “flickering” when the sun is behind their blades. This is generally agreed to be incredibly annoying and there’s evidence that it can cause headaches, sleep disorders and anxiety and depression symptoms in people who live nearby.
“The State of Vermont and the Public Service Board does not seem to be interested in doing real monitoring and real measurements,” Whitworth continued. “They certainly aren’t interested in enforcing the conditions that they themselves established for these wind operations.”
An anti-wind power activist in Vermont has been targeted by a state criminal investigation for allegedly “practicing law without a license” after helping residents appear before a public service board to oppose wind turbines. The complaint letter was partially redacted, but a footnote and other documents suggest it was sent by a law firm representing the founder and CEO of major solar and wind developer AllEarth Renewables. Unlicensed legal work is not a misdemeanor or felony under Vermont law.
Major environmental groups like the Center For Biological Diversity have a long history of pursuing legal action against even “green” development, like wind turbines or solar farms, which it believes encroach on animal habitats and kill tens of thousands of birds.
Environmentalists are already concerned about how solar panels, wind turbines and the batteries required to back them up use materials like cobalt, nickel, molybdenum, or highly purified silicon. All of these materials must be mined, refined and manufactured. The industrial processes required to build solar panels and wind turbines could also potentially contaminate the environment.
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