Significant or Insignificant Shadow Flicker

The power and nuance of words.

My objective would be to have a Newburyport wind ordinance that effectively uses wind energy and also protects local quality of life (to paraphrase or steal from Newburyport City Councilor Ed Cameron).

From talking to and emails from people, one of the central themes of this “work through” on various local Massachusetts wind turbine ordinances, appears to be the word “significant” in the phrase “that does not result in significant shadowing or flicker impacts” (Newbury’s draft wind turbine bylaw amendment), and on Newburyport’s current wind turbine ordinance on the Shadow/Flicker–XXVI-G 3.e..”the effect does not have significant adverse impact..”

It appears that the conflict or disagreement from different people’s point of view–the word “significant.” What appears “significant” to some would appear to be “insignificant” to others.

Folks who email me, rightly worried about Global Warming, and see wind energy as a win-win scenario, often feel that shadow flickers from large wind turbines would be insignificant.

My very cursory “whisk through” in understanding where these folks would be coming from, leads me to believe that there could be a disconnect between a larger wind energy agenda, and how things are accomplished on a local political level.

Which is why, I believe the Newburyport City Council is taking very seriously the concerns of neighbors of Newburyport’s wind turbine who do find the shadow, flicker significant in their lives. I think that they understand from a “getting things done” point of view, that “all politics is local.” That translating a larger wind energy policy into local lives, is difficult and takes an empathetic and nuanced approach, if we as a country are going to have an effective alternative energy policy.