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3/25/10 DOUBLE FEATURE: Why 45 dbA is still too loud AND Anybody out there know how to measure this? AND The future of corporate hostile takeovers is green AND Extra Credit Assignment 

“It’s been an ongoing disaster since they started to turn in 2008,” Marilyn said. “Sometimes (the sound) can be compared to a helicopter; it’s not something we are able to get used to.”

According to the couple, David began experiencing sleeplessness and fatigue, which caused them to move into an apartment.

“The turbines chased us from our home and we don’t want what happened to our family happening to yours,” Marilyn said.

Opponents say 45 decibels is still too loud

SOURCE: The Allegan County News, www.allegannews.com

By Daniel Vasko, Staff Writer, 

March 24, 2010

More than 100 Monterey Township residents attended a presentation at Hopkins Middle School by the Citizens for Responsible Green Energy Saturday, March 20. The event was designed to explain the harmful effects of industrial wind turbines that are planned for Monterey Township.

The township has been considering modifying an ordinance regulating their placement since August 2009.

“The purpose of the presentation is to teach people about the turbines and how they will affect and impact their lives and quality of life,” Citizens for Responsible Green Energy member Laura Roys said.

According to another citizens group member, and Western Michigan University senior Nevin Cooper-Keels, township officials have been inefficient with drafting a safe and acceptable ordinance.

“The majority of the board on the planning commission have signed leases with the energy companies,” Cooper-Keels said. “My impression is that it has affected their judgment, and the board seems more concerned with an ordinance that will allow as many wind turbines as possible instead of protecting the community first.”

Township planning commission member Karon Knobloch, who owns an option for an easement with GE along with her husband, said in an interview there was no conflict of interest.

“It’s not a conflict of interest to write rules for (the companies); if it were to affect my home alone in some way then it would be,” Knobloch said. “Nobody wants to be awake all night because of noise; it’s our job to make it as safe and comfortable as possible.”

A major concern in drafting the wind energy ordinance has consistently been the sound levels produced by the wind turbines, and opponents have said the 45-decibel limit on all non-associated dwellings is too high.

Marilyn and David Peplinsky, who reside near wind turbines in Huron County traveled to Hopkins to speak about their experiences living near a wind farm.

“It’s been an ongoing disaster since they started to turn in 2008,” Marilyn said. “Sometimes (the sound) can be compared to a helicopter; it’s not something we are able to get used to.”

According to the couple, David began experiencing sleeplessness and fatigue, which caused them to move into an apartment.

“The turbines chased us from our home and we don’t want what happened to our family happening to yours,” Marilyn said.

Dr. Malcolm Swinbanks, who has worked for 23 years as an engineering consultant in the area of sound and vibration mitigation, said the Peplinskys live near turbines that have a 45-decibel limit—the same limit discussed by the Monterey Township planning commission.

Swinbanks also said wind turbines are known to produce low-frequency sounds that many people will find a disturbance. He also said low frequency sounds will penetrate structures and are amplified the more the background, or ambient, noise is shut out.

“It’s not something you get used to,” Swinbanks said. “(Some people) actually become more and more sensitive to it.”

He also said wind power was not as cost effective as people think, and that turbines have a greater “carbon footprint” and produce more pollution than other methods like nuclear power.

He said wind turbines each contain 20 gallons of gasoline and that the turbines run at only 20 percent efficiency.

The planning commission will meet April 12 to discuss further amendments to the ordinance.


Amaranth Substation concerns remain

Orangeville Citizen, www.citizen.on.ca

March 25 2010

By Wes Keller,

A TransAlta Corp. executive said last Wednesday there are no plans to expand the Melancthon wind farm northward into Grey County and, in the meantime, the company would listen to anyone who can offer advice on how to deal with complaints of noise from the transformer substation in Amaranth.

Calgary-based Transalta is the successor to Canadian Hydro Developers Inc. (CHD), and now the owner of Canada’s two largest wind farms with a combined capacity of roughly 400 megawatts – at Melancthon/Amaranth and on Wolfe Island.

Jason Edworthy, Trans- Alta’s director of communications, told Melancthon council last Thursday that CHD is “a jewel in the crown (of TransAlta’s generation network).”

He said the township staff had “done a tremendous job” of accounting for the company’s taxes (segregating the amount to be paid by TransAlta to participating landowners), and said it was “exciting to see the areas” on which the township was spending its amenities payments.

He said the only change likely to be seen in the transition from CHD would be signage. (The sign at the CHD office is still the original.)

Mr. Edworthy did have one concern: the township’s reasoning in its call for a moratorium on wind turbine development.

Mayor Debbie Fawcett responded that “people are wary of health implications,” but Deputy Mayor Bill Hill referred to the reduction of assessments near the transformer substation, and said the township “didn’t want others to come in and potentially reduce all tax assessments in half.”

Mr. Edworthy said the “process (of reassessment) did not consider scientific evidence available publicly.”

In an interview earlier last Thursday, Mr. Edworthy said the CHD substation in Amaranth has had “the most investment in the TransAlta fleet.” He said the company has done everything it could measure to satisfy neighbouring concerns.

He said the substation is in compliance with Ministry of Environment guidelines and has sound barriers plus a new transformer. “We don’t know what to fix. We can’t measure any more. If anyone can tell us how to measure (the problem), we would follow through.”

The substation has two 100-megawatt transformers, adequate for the 200- MW capacity of the Melancthon/ Amaranth (Melancthon EcoEnergy Centre) wind farm.

TransAlta is a giant in the industry by comparison with CHD. It has roughly 80 plants in Canada, the U.S., including Hawaii, and in Australia. Why did it make its hostile takeover bid for CHD?

In a nutshell, it needed CHD’s “green energy” plants and future developments to reduce its carbon footprint.

“We have a lot of coalfired plants,” said Mr. Edworthy. “There’s lots of coal in Alberta. The company recognizes it’s got to go green going forward. CHD was a logical target – hostile at the start but friendly at the end.”

Even with the addition of CHD, TransAlta generation is heavily weighted with coal: 4,967 MW capacity with an added 271 MW under development. It has 893 MW hydro with 18 MW in development, 1,843 MW in gas-fired, 950 MW wind power with another 1,123 in development stages, 164 MW in geo-thermal, and 25 in biomass.

At the moment, 57% of capacity is in coal-fired, and 20% in natural gas. Between them, wind and hydro account for 22% of capacity. On location, 75% of capacity is in Canada, 22% in the U.S., and 3% in Australia.

At the time of the hostile bid last summer, CHD had announced plans to expand its operations by 100 megawatts annually in wind, hydroelectric and biomass as well as, possibly, solar.

Going green, TransAlta also needed the expertise of CHD personnel in wind, water, solar and biomass. So the entire staff complement was simply transferred to TransAlta.

Locally, Mr. Edworthy wasn’t entirely certain of the number stationed at the CHD operations centre, but did say there would likely be a dozen involved, which would be an increase from seven permanent a year or so ago.

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