Mason County News
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Human Aspects of Wind Turbine Development and Transmission Line Construction
Wednesday, April 28, 2010 • Posted April 28, 2010

We experience our surroundings with multiple senses. That is how we develop such a strong tendency to protect our homes and the positive experiences we enjoy on a daily basis. Concern and anxiety over changes that will have a continued negative affect is a universal phenomenon.

Wind turbines are industrial machines. They are huge and noisy and intrusive. They cannot be ignored. Accompanying them are the necessary transmission lines that move what energy is produced by the turbines to the populated areas where there are higher energy requirements.

Taken together, the projects use fairly extensive land areas. In the case of the Hill Country, none of the land area suggested for use by wind energy promoters has ever been considered "industrial development sites". Not in the entire history of our area have we ever considered such a use.

The transmission towers being proposed by LCRA are much taller than any local zoning ordinance has ever considered and the wind turbines are twice taller than that! They are impossible to screen from view, can be heard for long distances and they are by anyone’s opinion, incompatible with the long vistas and scenic beauty which we take for granted and most derive economic benefit from.

While everyone has different value sets, negative impacts on our aesthetics, cultural resources, historic and archeological sites and recreational enterprise will result from wind generation and energy transfer projects. It is also wise to expect, because of past experiences elsewhere, negative impacts on human health and well being, quality of life and other economic and fiscal systems. Other noticeable characteristics such as electromagnetic interference on electrical devices including television and radio broadcasting, cellular phones and microwave/radar will be experienced.

If the wind turbines come to the Hill Country, some landowners will be given money because the turbines will be developed on their land and the certain destruction of the natural environment must be compensated for. Others, impacted because these industrial developments are seen and heard from great distances, will receive nothing even though they are forced to live with them. That is most of the rest of us. This is a reminder of why private property rights are not absolute. While we need to guard our right to enjoy of our own property and do what we want on it, we must also consider the rights of our neighbors to do the same. Community cohesion will certainly be damaged. As a matter of fact, there is already a great deal of community discomfort over these projects.

As with any human endeavor that will use both private and public resources, there is precious little integration and interconnected planning. The majority of the citizens of the Hill Country are opposed to both wind turbines and transmission lines for many various reasons. They may be opposed because of the negative impact on the wildlife of the area, the aesthetics of the environment, the disruption of the peace and tranquility or even the fact that some of the neighbors will enrich themselves at the cost of their neighbors. Many are concerned because without our tax money being provided to the promoters, (most of whom are foreign investment enterprises with built-in profits,) this development would be just another boondoggle with very long lasting negative affects. It is certain that the subsidies given to the wind developers will not last forever.

Generally, there is little cooperation with the several groups who are joined to oppose these projects. This of course is how the promoters like it since it is easier to win when your opponents are divided. It is that old theory of "Divide and Conquer!" at work here. More cooperation would certainly be in order and everyone needs to participate in the process. It will certainly be you who will feel these changes as they come about. Get involved. Don’t just sit and watch it happen.

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