Basta! Non Voglio Eolico! 

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Enough!  I do not want to see another ugly wind mill on one Southern Italian Mountain!  They are putting up more and more around Pontelandolfo, Casalduni and Morcone.  What I discovered is that the local community doesn’t benefit one iota from the ugly things.  I thought they could tax the landowner – who is getting rent.  Or the town got a piece of the revenue generated – or even a break on the electric bill.  Nada.  Niente.  Nothing.

Those of you who have followed me for a while know that I have been talking about the turbines for a number of years.  First I thought they were wonderful.  Than, I thought they we’re ruining the south’s chance to get a piece of the tourism pie.  I mean would you want to sit on the terrace of a charming agriturismo and stare at the whizzing blades and hear the ongoing whoosh of the colossal metal whirligigs?  Now, my anger has intensified – they are defiling mountain top grazing lands.  The mega corporations are the only winners.

My ire increased last summer when Jack and I finished a mini vacation in Northern Italy.  We drove on A7 through the mountains in Liguria and noticed high tension electric lines transmitting power but not one giant windmill between Milan and Genoa. Not one.   Staring out the windows I realized that I also hadn’t see one gargantuan whirling edifice in the hills surrounding Lago Como, any where in the regions of Lombardia, Toscana or Lazio! Hmm, the trees were flowing in the wind.  Perhaps that was an anomaly. Obviously, the wind has stopped blowing in Northern Italy.  I’ll bet those ski slopes never feel the slightest breeze.  The hills of Rome must cry for a breath of wind. Years ago cute Dutch looking windmills were used in Montefiesole, Tuscana for the salt production industry. But now, there obviously isn’t enough wind now to generate electricity or blow out a match.

We are tired of the disparity and don’t want to take it anymore!

The residents of Morcone are taking a lesson from the Dakota Pipeline.  On February 14th, they decided to peacefully stop the building of windmills on yet another ridge.  A mountain that for hundreds of years has been grazing land for large herds of white cattle and its rich soil farmed.  Stalwart citizens stood in the road blocking access to the bulldozers and mammoth drills.  Pleadings, negotiations and dialogue have been going on for years.  The mayors have gone to Naples championing the cause but no one seems to care what happens in the Province of Benevento’s mountains.

Saturday, February 11 environmental groups and local residents organized a sit-in on the mountains outside Morcone.  They wanted to draw attention to the abject devastation that occurs to a mountain by the savage and seemingly careless construction.  Complaints had been submitted to Comando Stazione Carabinieri Forestale di Pontelandolfo, Comunità Montana Titerno e Alto Tammaro the Carabinieri Command of Pontelandolfo and the Prosecutor’s Office of Benevento siting irregularities and asking for urgent intervention and suspension of work in progress. These arguments apparently had no impact.

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Photo by Pupo in Pontelandolfo News

So, on Valentine’s Day morning mountain farmers, ranchers and citizens stood in the way not of progress but of the degradation of the Sannio hills.

Pontelandolfo News  has a great article full of interesting yet depressing data on how the south gets screwed again – this time it seems by the politicians. (How unusual, she said with great rancor.)

American newspapers have not picked up on this political  travesty.
Errrrrggggggg.

Chasing Windmills

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Whirling dervishes dance madly in the noon day sun as the wind whips

over the mountains of Campania.

One morning, on our way to the  Naples airport , I screeched at Jack to pull over.  He raised an eyebrow and kept on driving.  Rats, how would I really get a glimpse of the thousands of windmills that peppered the mountain ridge if he didn’t pull over?  That was the first time I spied the windmills that are part of the onshore wind farms that earned Italy its 2012 standing as the world’s sixth largest producer of wind power. I have no idea how wind power works but the science guys at http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/wind-power.htm will absolutely explain it all.

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Sentries posted on the tops of mountains

Sannino soldiers gaze down on the approaching Romans.

Tall, helmets pointed to the heavens – bodies still against the azure sky.

When I first saw them, I wasn’t thinking – “Gee, how green and save – the – planet this is.”  I was thinking, “Hear the sounds of the marching feet as the Roman army emerges over the crest of the hill.”  Seriously, from a distance they look like advancing ramrod straight soldiers with pointed hats.  Up close they are more like super giant stick figures.  Up close?  H’mm did she really drive up the mountain to get closer?  Yes, by gum we did!   Why?  Because we could!  So why not.  OK, if the truth be told, it was a chilly, dreary day and I was going to poke out my eyes with a pen if we didn’t get in the car and do something.  Anything – as long as it didn’t cost a bundle of bucks and we didn’t have to change out of comfy clothes.  Anything – never give me that option.  My brain tumbles and rumbles and soon bizarre suggestions spew forth like Vesuvius.  Anything meant – chasing windmills.  Jack, knowing divorce was eminent if he didn’t get behind the wheel of the car, started the engine and let me navigate.  Navigation was something like – “NO, NO – TURN RIGHT” – when ever I saw the top of a windmill.  We were so intent on getting close to the windmills that I didn’t even shriek at the switchbacks along the way.  What we didn’t do was record exactly how to get to the ridge.  All I remember was from Colle Sannita take SS 212 and make a right on SP 55.  I was too entranced to take notes but said into my video at least 10 times – we were on SP55!

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http://www.thewindpower.net/zones_en_7_campania.php keeps a database of wind farms and their operators.  You tech folks might find this interesting.  I don’t know how often they update it.  I swear I counted more windmills than are noted.  Some may have been the third or fourth phases of a farm and not yet included.

According to http://www.ieawind.org/countries/italy.html, Installation of new wind farms in Italy continued its pace in 2011. Total online grid-connected wind capacity reached 6,878 MW at the end of the year, with an increase of 1,080 MW from 2010. As usual, the largest development took place in the southern regions, particularly in Apulia, Calabria, Campania, Sardinia, and Sicily. In 2011, 590 new wind turbines were deployed in Italy and their average capacity was 1,831 kW. The total number of online wind turbines thus became 5,446, with an overall average capacity of 1,263 kW. All plants are based on land, mostly on hill or mountain sites. The 2011 production from wind farms could provisionally be put at about 10.1 TWh, which would be about 3% of total electricity demand of the Italian system.

Electricity is expensive here so I was hoping the wind farms were producing a lot more than 3%.  Well, this data is from 2011 and we know that Italy in 2012 was the 6th largest producer of wind power.

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Hay fields surround the windmills.

 What is interesting is that the farmers are still working the land around the windmills.  As we wended our way around we passed beautiful new combines, tractors and balers .  I am guessing that the income from the utility companies helps keep this area green and farmed.  Windmills plus farm land sure beats the housing developments plus loss of farm land that are a blight on New Jersey.

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Grey day washed away by the buzz of chasing windmills.

I learned something this grey day – chasing windmills is a guaranteed cure for boredom.  Listen to the sound of the wind whistling on the ridge!