The Dark Side of Big Wind | NBC New York

The Dark Side of Big Wind

Renewable energy blows some communities apart



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    ROCHDALE, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 30: Walkers sit on a cairn as they view the turbine sails of the controversial Scout Moor Wind Farm in the South Pennines, on June 30, 2008, in Rochdale, England. The development is near completion and will soon supply power to the national grid. The ?50m windfarm will have 26 turbines, reportedly as tall as Blackpool tower's 518ft 9in. The site will have a capacity of 65 megawatts providing enough electricity to power 30,000 homes. It was turned down for planning permission by the local council but was given the go ahead by the government in 2005. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

    The wind-power may not emit noxious fumes or other pollutants, but the industry is still leaving a bad taste in many people's mouths.

    "Big Wind" is ripping many communities apart and even creating family rifts pitting father against son and brother against sibling. John Yancey is an upstate New York resident who accuses his own father of selling him out by installing wind turbines on his land.

    "(Yancey) hates the sight and he hates the sound. He says they disrupt his sleep, invade his house, his consciousness. He can't stand the gigantic flickering shadows the blades cast at certain points in the day," writes Helen O'Neill of the Associated Press

    Wind turbines are viewed as a preferable source of energy to carbon-based sources such as oil, but the presence of turbines on mostly rural land is viewed by others as a visible blight. Wealthy property owners––including Senator Ted Kennedy––successfully derailed plans for an offshore wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod earlier this year.

    Detractors are also accusing some local politicians of corruption for legislating zoning changes that allow turbines while profiting personally by placing the windmills on their property. The towering structures can cost approximately $3 million to put in place, but energy companies will pay property owners a steady annuity to have them located on their land.

    Concerns about the turbines are not limited to the aesthetic. Studies have been published linking wind farms with something called vibroacoustic disease, a rare condition allegedly linking low-frequency noise with epilepsy and cancer.