Growing up on the South Shore, I know how windy that area of costal Massachusetts is. The region has potential to harness this wind power and lower energy costs to town residents and neighbors. Hull, Ma has two turbines: one built in 2001, the other in 2006. Currently the two turbines produce more than 10% of the town’s energy usage, and adding 4 more turbines can produce enough to cover 100%! Scituate is ready to build one wind turbine that will cover more than 50% of consumption. The turbines increased renewable energy awareness in the area over the years and it isn’t surprising a new proposal to place one in Hingham is in the works.
Developer Michael Ferrara owns land in Hingham and instead of building houses, wants to build a turbine. But because Hingham does not have any laws allowing turbines, he had to draft a new bylaw and succeeded in getting the necessary signatures to move forward and opening the discussion for other sites in the town. So knowing how much energy it can bring in it would make sense that this trend should take off, right? WRONG! Even self-proclaimed energy activists have been shying away from the project. Residents of the historic Hingham are worried about property values of their classic homes diminishing due to the turbine. Some don’t mind a wind turbine but feel like the new bylaw may be too lax in restrictions. Others are concerned with noise and aesthetics. Ferrara said, “It amazes me, people want [turbines] but there seems to be a resistant fear about them. “ It seems like a wind turbine in Hingham is even more unlikely especially since during a recent town meeting in neighboring Cohasset for the Turkey Hill turbine project, many Hingham residents showed up to protest!
Other south shore towns are faced with the similar issues. In Milton, Granite Links Golf Course is suing the town to stop the build of a turbine that will block golfers’ views of the local blue hills. Plymouth and Marion developments have residents on the fence with very mixed reviews. Most of the issues seem to be the same; residents want to pay less for energy but not at the sacrifice of great views and property values. I feel that soon feelings will change with more and more people becoming educated with what it means to have a turbine and issues will become less superficial. Currently Weymouth is not planning on utilizing turbines although there has been discussion on where one would be placed if needed, but I would be proud to live in a town that understands the need for renewable resources and welcomes it openly. Where do you stand?
Written by: Jessica Murphy