Just as sound tests prepare to begin on two wind turbines in Fairhaven, opponents have announced – before the test has even happened – that they won’t be appeased no matter what the test results show. If the sound results come back normal, they’ll invoke wild conspiracy theories about how the test was rigged:
Ken Pottel, a member of Windwise, said the group fears Shah could tilt the blades to slow the turbines and thus lessen the noise they make during testing. He said the group is particularly concerned about [turbine builder Sumul] Shah’s ability to control the turbines remotely from his cellphone and laptop.
“It’s obviously in his best interest to make sure these turbines pass the test,” he said. “How do we know he isn’t controlling the pitch from his phone?”
Shah said he not only “would not do that” but that “it is impossible for me to adjust the speed of the rotor while the turbines are spinning.” Shah said he can only change the pitch of the blades when the turbine is turned off. If the turbine is on for testing, he said, its speed cannot be controlled.
“I have no intention of doing that and, not only that, I can’t do that; it’s technologically impossible,” he said.
Before the turbines were built, wind opponents pushed theories with no basis in reality about health impacts. Since the turbines were built, wind opponents have been busily filing noise complaints about the near-silent turbines. Now, we have new conspiracy theories about secretly rigged sound tests.
It’s important that these test be completed. If the sound levels are too high, that should be addressed. But no one should be under any illusions that these tests, no matter the results, will do anything to satisfy opponents, who deny any reality that doesn’t fit their pre-existing points of view.
And let’s be honest, views are what this is all about – “we don’t think we should cut the pollution that causes global warming and asthma and puts mercury in our waterways and fish and pregnant women because we think the turbines muck up the view” is a terrible argument that doesn’t sway anyone, so wind opponents try to come up with something more reasonable-sounding, hence health impacts and double-secret phone-based turbine-tampering.
What we really need to test is why anyone would think opponents of wind energy can be appeased.