Windfall

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Windfall
Directed by Laura Israel
SnagFilms
Opens February 3, Quad Cinema

Extolling the virtues of wind power is where most ecological documentaries finish after subjecting us to the details of the land-raping extraction process du jour and asserting those whispering windmills as the remedy. Not so fast, Laura Israel's playfully thorough examination of the subject warns. Big as hell and largely unregulated, those scenic wind turbines aren't nearly as benign (or whispering) as their image suggests, something Israel's upstate New York neighbors discovered when several of them leased land to wind developers. Among the problems they bring are respiratory ailments, decimation of bat and bird populations, and the murderously distracting "shadow flicker." First-time director Israel tells us that the same investors who brought us fracking also back wind, but she avoids a full-throttled attack on industrial money-grubbers (who in fact never appear) in favor of a close-up examination of how energy policy gets worked out on the ground—often at the expense of community harmony. Windfall is also more narratively and aurally daring than most of its kin, thanks in part to intriguing sound design, a haunting electro-folksy score by Hazmat Modine, and Israel's refusal to hew to a simplistic Big Energy-versus-Little Guy format. The latter might actually make her film a target of the anti-wind lobby, but the joke's on them: Prescriptive eco docs are rarely as attuned to the folly of human ingenuity as this one or as insightful on our knee-jerk demand for impossibly easy solutions.

 
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8 comments
Mike Barnard
Mike Barnard

Windfall succeeds as a documentary in that it focuses on first-person anecdotal interviews and local politics.

Unfortunately, it fails on the larger questions and is deeply biased as a result. It's important to note that the sole technical advisor listed for the movie is Lisa Linowes, a long-term anti-wind advocate.

The facts are the following:1. Wind energy is harmless to the vast majority of people near and far from wind turbines, as has been shown by independent studies by medical health officers, audiologists and doctors world wide. Some people get really annoyed by them and apparently some of them lose sleep as a result, but the latest health study in the USA finds no causal link even here. Respiratory ailment claims associated with wind in the film are hilarious compared to coals 13,000 person per year annual death toll.

2. Wind energy is producing more and more of the world's power, cleanly and at a reasonable price. Last year, globally there was a 21% or 41Gwh increase in installed wind energy.

3. Studies out of Europe show a clear correlation between annoyance at the sound of wind turbines and whether the annoyed person can see the wind turbine as well as whether they are receiving economic benefits from it.

4. All of complaints about wind turbines pale in comparison to the real, documented and widespread ill effects of coal generation. The reality is that wind energy is one of the few significant generation sources safe enough to have close to homes.

5. Fossil fuel based generation kills enormously more birds than wind turbines, as do cats, lighted windows and power lines. Yet wind turbines somehow come under attack for this. The only birds significantly impacted are raptors, and that's a siting question. Similarly, white-nose syndrome kills millions of bats, yet wind turbines are attacked for killing a few. Perspective is sadly lacking on this subject.

6. Simple, standards-based set backs such as those in Ontario's Regulation 359/09 are completely reasonable for both home-owners and wind generators and should be enabled and enforced. Unfortunately, anti-wind advocates wish to throw the baby out with the bath water.

It's a pity that Mark Holcomb didn't do the slightest bit of additional research before declaring this documentary "thorough". It lends credence to a deeply flawed work.

FBastiat
FBastiat

"It is impossible introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of law into an instrument of plunder."..... "When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it. Frederic Bastiat

MaisieReiser
MaisieReiser

mу сlаssmаtе's stер-аunt mаkеs $74 аn hоur оn thе lарtор. Shе hаs bееn оut оf wоrк fоr 9 mоnths but lаst mоnth hеr inсоmе wаs $8524 јust wоrкing оn thе lарtор fоr а fеw hоurs. Rеаd mоrе оn this wеb sitе... С А S Н S Н А R Р . С О М

noturbine
noturbine

People living close to these 40-story monstrosities have lost millions in home equity due to the noise, health impacts and loss of view shed. If this were not true, why would Denmark, home to the largest turbine manufacturer Vestas, make it law that homeowners be compensate by developers for loss-of-value: http://www.ens.dk/en-us/supply...The wind industry is built on crony capitalism, it is the only way it can exist. Taxpayer money builds them and power companies are mandated to buy wind generated power at much higher rates than conventionally produced power.

Leola
Leola

Windfall addresses how a community dealt with a wind project. The issue of industrial wind turbines is not based for or against, it is the fact that a new industry has been given free rein in it's field and that developers have not considered the full effect on abutting properties.If the industry is not being responsible for building to close to homes, then the federal or state should make sure that guidelines are in effect before projects are built. First Wind was investigated by the Attorney General in New York and First Wind was required to sign an ethics contract. First Wind proceeded to move out of New York and to Maine. Maine has no requirements and again the wind industry has free rein. windfall opens the doors of how things really happened. It brings out issues that should have been addressed before the building of the project and peoples perspective on wind power. What you are told may not be the outcome.

Penny Gray
Penny Gray

Most newspapers shy away from tackling such a thorny and controversial subject as industrial wind, but this documentary peels some of the layers away and reveals that all is not what it seems. Once people are educated (and this happens usually only when it comes to their towns and they do their homework) industrial wind is exposed for what it really is, and what it really is has nothing to do with "green" and everything to do with GREED.

Candace Rupley
Candace Rupley

Wind turbines are not scenic...they create an environment of destruction. Thank you Laura for this documentary. Candace Rupley, Island Falls, ME

Sewall House Yoga
Sewall House Yoga

thank you for knowing what wind is really about..the word needs to get out before we destroy more.

 

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