Without being too scientific about it, I was under the impression that there was a fair amount of public support for wind energy here in Massachusetts. And what’s not to like about it?

No need for oil spills, no need for mountaintop removal to get at the coal, no radioactive fuel rods to store for the next millennium, no greenhouse grass emissions. Other places – Texas and parts of Europe – have jumped into wind power with both feet.

Here in Massachusetts, things have been a bit slow getting off the ground. There are only 22 licensed wind turbines in the state. Gov. Patrick would like to see that number increase to 3,000 in a few years. The proposed wind farm in Nantucket Sound has been stalled for 10 years. Residents are fighting smaller facilities in Brimfield, Munroe, and a few other places. There’s opposition to an offshore wind farm in Rhode Island, too.

It seems that while a lot people like the idea of wind power, they’d like it to be someplace else.

I’m not sure that large-scale wind farms are the way to go, unless they’re comfortably offshore. They seem to be successful in northern Europe, where there are several, and several more being planned. A large land-based wind farm may not be appropriate here in Massachusetts. I do think smaller-scale projects should be encouraged.

The town of Princeton has two or three located on Mount Wachusett that provides a generous amount of power for the town. They recently upgraded to newer models to produce even more power. I’ve hiked around there, looked around at the older ones when they were operating (I’ve haven’t yet been up to see the newer ones) and my impression was that they were pretty unobtrusive.

I think it would be an entirely different matter if someone decided to try to put up a couple dozen wind turbines on the mountainside. That would be intrusive.

No method of generating electricity is perfect. There are going to be trade-offs. As long as we have an appetite for inexpensive power, we’ll have to accept those trade-offs.

The growing opposition, even to small-scale wind power development, is an ill wind that blows nobody any good.

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