December 19, 2009. I am aware of two projects in North American on smaller populated islands: Wolfe Island in Ontario, and Vinalhaven in Maine. Manitoulin and Prince Edward Island are larger and may not have the same issues, but we’ll see. Both smaller islands are having significant problems. Wolfe’s are noted here, and there’s this instructive letter from Vinalhaven. To be fair, the developers on Vinalhaven did respond. I’ll be trying to follow this story as it unfolds, given that Vinalhaven isn’t too disimilar from Amherst, and the comparisons might be useful. At least Vinalhaven’s project was community-based, so there’s a better chance the developers will be responsive compared with a commercial developer. Update – the local Bangor radio station interviewed some of the Vinalhaven residents for almost an hour (60+ mb!) and this interview is perhaps the truest indication of what the locals are faced with that I’ve ever found. If you have the bandwidth and the time, it is really worth a listen.
Putting wind turbines on “smallish” populated islands also represents special risks for the developers. The risks to the residents are similar to the risks of neighbors everywhere and need no further mention here. The risks to developers, however, are heightened on islands. Specifically, there’s no way to hide the noise, property value, health and environmental effects the turbines have. If birds and wildlife disappear from an island, there’s no way to fudge the study area to minimize the damage. If property values decrease, there’s no way to include properties further away to minimize the decreases.