Massachusetts photographer travels to St. Lawrence County to warn officials and locals concerning controversial wind tower project
By MATT LINDSEY
PARISHVILLE -- A Massachusetts photographer warned about 60 St. Lawrence County residents last night about what he sees as the potential dangers and disadvantages of the North Ridge Wind Farm, which has divided the community.
Presenter Larry Lorusso, who lives about one mile from Hoosac Wind Farm, located in Massachusetts, said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the turnout last night, even though a storm dropped about a foot of snow over much of the North Country. The meeting was held at the town hall.Avangrid, the developer of the proposed North Ridge Wind Farm between State Rts. 11B and 72 in Parishville and Hopkinton, is looking to install around 40 wind towers -- as high as 500 feet tall from the bases to the blade tips. Dozens of people have signed leases to allow the windmills on their land.
The controversial wind towers have created rifts between family and friends in Hopkinton, Parishville and the surrounding areas. When he heard about the proposed product he reached out to locals and wanted to educate people, he said.
Lorusso will present a slideshow at the county Legislature’s Services Committee meeting at 5:30 p.m. tonight at the county courthouse. He has been allotted 20 minutes for his presentation.
“I have nothing to gain,” he said, about why he travelled to the North Country to speak about wind towers. “Who better to know what is going on than someone who has them in their backyard?”
Lorusso said he supported the wind towers based on what Iberdrola, an energy company based in Spain, had told him. Avangrid, a subsidiary of Iberdrola, is heading the project in Hopkinton and Parishville.
“They told us it was going to help the environment – it doesn't,” Lorusso said. “Wind towers are not the answer to green energy.”
Based on his experience living one mile from wind turbines, Lorusso became a community activist and documented through photography and stories and is sharing that with other communities considering installing wind towers.
“These are being sold to us that they are saving the environment,” he said. “I am not anti-wind, I am pro-environment.”
Lorusso documented the land prior to the installation, the installation process and what has come of it since wind towers were installed.
He describes his land as an “enchanted forest” with “little impacts from humans.”
“There were mountain alterations of beautiful land – they wrecked it,” Lorusso said. “There used to be wildlife sign and wildlife – all gone.”
Lorusso said the noises range from ringing in ears, to the sound of a helicopter hovering or a jet engine that never takes off. But, he says the vibrations are the worst part.
“The worse is not what you see or hear, it’s what you feel,” he said. “I can feel my head pulsing -- I can put my hand on my windows and feel them vibrating.”
Lorusso said he, his wife and neighbors developed several medical issues since the towers were installed near his home about four years ago. He says the issues include heart problems, high blood pressure, and sinus issues.
“They have not been able to determine the source of my wife’s sinus issues,” he said, noting that it was not a sinus infection.
He says he has sleepless nights at home, but slept well during his stay in St. Lawrence County.
“I wake up in a state of anxiety – on the edge of fear,” he said. “Yesterday and today were the first days in months that I haven’t woken up anxious.”
And then there is the ringing in the ears.
“It’s never quiet, even when it’s quiet,” he said.
Lorusso said the issues have driven some people away from their homes. “People abandoned their homes, they just left.”
Lorusso is determined to stay and fight against the wind tower company.
“We are prisoners in our own house – it’s sad,” he said.