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Click to see a simulation of the proposed wind plant atop Backbone Mountain in Western Maryland
Notable Quotes

"Fragmentation of forests via wind turbine erection can impact interior nesting birds in a[n] adverse manner. The size and number of wind power developments in the future are also of concern with respect to habitat loss and fragmentation. This may become the primary ecological consideration in future wind power developments in these habitats."

"A question that remains open is risk to birds that migrate at night at very low altitudes. Virtually no studies have been conducted, in any area, of night migration at altitudes below 200-250 feet. Hence, the potential for risk to nocturnal migrants flying at these altitudes is not known. Most previous studies using radar and ceilometer strongly suggest that only a small percentage of nocturnal migrants fly below 250 feet above ground, but those techniques usually have limited abilities to detect low-flying birds and to discriminate birds at different altitudes. Until technology allows researchers to quantify the low-altitude migration, risk cannot be assessed."

—Paul Kerlinger, avian consultant for industrial windpower, 2002, 2000.

#9. Wind technology consists of "wind mills" on "wind farms."

As if 400-foot tall differentially moving turbines were bucolic Dutch windmills, and their arrangement—eight to a mile on tall ridgetops, each with a four acre clear-cut when sited in the forest, and spread out in rows over many miles of upland habitat—was akin to a family farm.

The reality is that the technology consists of mammoth industrial factories often targeted for areas that pride themselves on their natural beauty. This inherent incompatibility makes for a hard sell. Consequently, the wind industry has commandeered the terms "windmill" and "wind farm" to make its outsized machinery more attractive to rural areas. But when a windplant is built, the rift between promise and reality becomes stark. Contemporary industrial wind turbines are taller than most urban skyscrapers, rivaling the size of the Statue of Liberty. Pittsburgh has but one building near 400 feet, while Cleveland has none.

Wind developers sometimes misrepresent their turbines' size in the press to make the machines appear even more hospitable. Press releases describing "wind farms" occasionally state the turbines' size in meters, causing some readers to think that a 125-meter turbine is really only 125 feet—and not over 400 feet. More often, they will only refer to the height of the turbine tower, not mentioning the size of the enormous propeller blades. However, a turbine tower that is 265 feet tall with a propeller blade that is 135 foot long is 400 feet tall. Even when they concede the actual size, they maintain wind facilities won't be intrusive because the turbines will be hidden in the trees, as if trees over 400 feet tall exist on forested ridges.

Watch for this classic bait-and-switch technique. Wind developers will often initially propose a facility consisting of a number of "smaller" turbines, typically 1.5 MW-340-400 foot machines. When the public begins to realize the threat to its basic qualities of life, and rushes to oppose the project, the wind developer will appear to offer appeasement—in the form of lesser numbers of turbines but 10-15 percent larger (430-465 foot--2.5 MW) with a much greater rotor sweep (the propeller blade will be more than 310 feet long). The developer will claim this is possible because of "newer technology." It is more likely, however, that this is a cynical ploy to make the industry seem more congenial to the communities it seeks to exploit, always "ready to compromise." In fact, however, this is a tactical move that will actually increase industry profits while playing havoc with the community.

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