Windmills will eat your babies

“We used to wave to everyone that goes by. Now, nobody waves. Some give us the finger.”

That’s a quote from the latest mailing sent to residents of my town about the proposed windmill project here. It’s part of a statement by Anne Britton, a resident of Brandon, NY, describing the effect that a proposed windmill project has had on her town. Apparently Anne Britton doesn’t like windmills. Based on the rest of her statement, she’s also not much into complete sentences or linear thought. I’m tempted to just transcribe the whole thing, but the boldface headline pretty much says it all:

Why are they doing it? How can we stop them?

The Savoy windmill project has been in planning for at least a year now; we’ve had town meetings and mass mailings and arguments over zoning bylaws and all sorts of drama.

I’ll admit, when I first heard about it, I was a little nervous. I don’t like machine noise, and had visions of gigantic turbines whirring 24 hours a day driving me slowly insane. And I admit, at the town meeting we attended, the representatives from Minuteman Wind came across as… well, thusly:

MINUTEMAN WIND ENGINEER: Our windmill project in XYZ has had zero noise complaints from the local residents. The turbines in Savoy will be much farther from any residences than those in XYZ, so you should have no problem with turbine noise.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: XYZ is an industrial area directly underneath Logan Airport’s flight path. Savoy is a quiet rural area. You can’t possibly be trying to compare-

ENGINEER: Next question? Any other questions?

…which is to say, not exactly liars, per se, but obviously just there to tell us whatever they thought we wanted to hear, however misleading, and then do what they were going to do anyway.

So, while I’m totally in favor of the windmill project personally, now that I’ve done some research, seen some real windfarms, and (let’s be honest) now that I know the project is going to be miles from my house — I can understand why there might be some skepticism and even opposition.

But holy crap, if the anti-windmill people can’t do their propaganda any better than this, I’m going to ask for a windmill to be built directly on top of my skull, thank you very much:

Those dastardly environmentalists...

Maybe I’ll ask for two windmills, one over each ear. That’d be nice and symmetrical. Or I could just get one big one for my top hat.

That image is one of several hosted at W.E.C.A.R.E., an unexplained acronym which is the main result when googling for ‘Anne Britton, Brandon.’ The same search also leads to the equally incoherent We Oppose Windfarms — hey, a Tripod site! haven’t seen one of those for a while! Both sites consist primarily of garbled essays written by the same handful of people.

We’ve gotten three separate mailings about the project over the last few months. The first had a faint tinge of loony about it, but not enough that I saved it or really noted it much. The second included a map of Savoy, with windmill icons scattered across every point on it that could conceivably be called a hilltop — so pretty much the whole thing. The dire implied warning: if you allow the minuteman wind project to build the four isolated windmills they’re planning now, then tomorrow they could put windmills EVERYWHERE! RIGHT IN YOUR BACKYARD!!! Never mind that some of these “potential windmill locations” are hills that could be demolished by a determined ten-year-old with the heel of his Keds; it was at least semi-plausible on first reading. If you were blind and had never visited Savoy.

This latest one, though, has devolved into pure, crayon-on-the-wall gibberish: Anne Britton talks for a while about broken families, shed tears, never-to-reconcile families torn apart by the monster wind turbines; then ominous questions are raised in bold print: “Why are the Selectmen acting as if the wind farm is a done deal? Why have they destroyed the good names of a Fire Chief and a Captain/EMT with unproven and undocumented accusations? … Why have they shown disrespect to the Seniors and effectively kicked them out of their meeting place in the Town Office building?” Questions such as “what do the fire chief or the seniors have to do with the windmill project?” are left as an exercise for the reader. It’s almost glorious, in a scribbly lunatic kind of way.

But here’s the kicker: the mailings are all postmarked Springfield. Which is hours away. Who are these people? Why do they care if we build a windmill here or not?

I’ve been searching around trying to find some non-insane source of information about all this — I haven’t exactly got my finger on the pulse of the Savoy community, fair enough, maybe I’m just missing the context. There has indeed been some controversy at the fire department, though it seems to have more to do with fundraising than with windmills. I have no idea what the thing with the seniors being kicked out of the town office is all about. And the only current news I’ve been able to find that even obliquely mentions the Minuteman project is an incomplete archive stub about Florida (the town immediately north of us): “It’s good to hear about a commercial proposal for the Mohawk Trail in Florida that doesn’t involve nude dancing or windmills…”

Actually I’d rather like to hear about the nude dancing, please. Because this windmill thing sounds like a done deal.

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