In the small town of Ione, Oregon the residents are being offered what could be called ‘hush money’ if they agree not to complain about the noise the wind turbines make. Clean energy has a price, and the energy company Caithness Energy wants to keep its neighbors happy. It is offering $5,000 to the neighbors who agree to not complain about the whooshing sound the wind turbines makes as the blades cut through the air.
Oregon is becoming one of the nation’s top spots for generating electricity using wind turbines. The New York energy company came up with a novel idea to keep the peace in the area and some residents are very pleased.
“Shall we call it hush money?” said one longtime farmer, George Griffith, 84. “It was about as easy as easy money can get.”
Mr. Griffith happily accepted the check, but not everyone is taking the money. Even out here — where the recession has steepened the steady decline of the rural economy, where people have long supported the massive dams that harness the Columbia River for hydroelectric power, where Oregon has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in tax incentives to cultivate alternative energy — pockets of resistance are rising with the windmills on the river banks.
Residents in small towns are fighting proposed projects, raising concerns about threats to birds and big game, as well as about the way the giant towers and their blinking lights spoil some of the West’s most alluring views.
Here, just west of where the Columbia bends north into Washington, some people are fighting turbines that are already up and running. In a region where people often have to holler to be heard over the roar of the wind across the barren hills, they say it is the windmills that make too much noise.
Oregon is one of a growing number of places that have drafted specific regulations restricting noise from wind turbines. The Oregon law allows for noise to exceed what is considered an area’s ambient noise level by only a certain amount. But what those ambient levels are is sometimes disputed, as is how and where they should be measured.
So it seems that not everyone in the nation wants clean energy at any price in their neighborhoods. I would imagine that the whooshing noise would get to anyone after an extended period of time.
What do you think? Would you take the five grand?