5/24/10 UPDATED TRIPLE FEATURE: Dr. McFadden tells Wind Siting Council there are no health issues with wind turbine noise. So why are people all over the world having so much trouble? AND Wind Goliaths crack heads over right to make money on Big Wind
Click on the image above to hear the noise from a wind turbine located 1100 feet from a home in Fond Du Lac County. Because of turbine noise and shadow flicker, this home along with others in the project is now up for sale. On May 17th, Dr. Jevon McFadden told the wind siting council that wind turbines presented no threat to human health and safety. The council will be advising the Public Service Commission in setting up uniform standards for siting wind turbines across the state of Wisconsin.
HEALTH RISK OF WIND TURBINES DEBATED
Green Bay Press-Gazette, www.greenbaypressgazette.com
May 24 2010
By Tony Walter,
Both sides in the wind farm debate say health and safety evidence is on their side.
A group of Brown County residents working to stop the wind farm proposed for the southern part of the county cites reports from the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health that suggest wind turbines located too close to homes or schools cause negative health impacts.
“It is my opinion as a physician that the best evidence supports that building large wind energy turbines in close proximity to humans has a negative impact on the health,” wrote Dr. Herbert Coussons, a Wrightstown resident and Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy board member.
The wind farm proposal could cause sleep disorders, he said.
But the Chicago-based company seeking to build 100 wind turbines in four southern Brown County communities says that argument is wrong.
“Some opponents have made up scary names to create false fears about wind turbines and health, but there is no science to back up their scare campaign,” according to officials for Invenergy LLC.
The company’s proposed Ledge Wind project in the towns of Morrison, Glenmore, Rockland and Wrightstown awaits siting guidelines from the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.
“There are more than 20,000 wind turbines currently operational in the U.S., and there is prodigious evidence nationwide that wind turbines are safe and produce no negative health effects,” said Kevin Parzyck, project manager for the Ledge Wind project.
The Brown County Human Services Committee and Board of Health will hold a joint meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to listen to health and safety arguments.
“That’s all we’ll cover, safety and health,” said Supervisor Patrick Evans, chairman of the Human Services Committee. “We’re not going to get off on tangents.”
Evans said he hopes the Board of Health will eventually make a recommendation on the issue.
In its presentation to the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce’s policy committee last month, the citizens group quoted Dr. Christopher Hanning, a sleeping disorder physician in England who wrote: “In my expert opinion … I have no doubt that wind turbine noise emissions cause sleep disturbance and ill health.”
In January, the PSC approved the Glacier Hills wind farm project in Columbia County proposed by Wisconsin Electric Power Company. At that time, the board wrote: “The Commission also finds that, while members of the public are concerned about possible health effects associated with the project, there is not sufficient evidence in the record to conclude that the project would cause adverse health effects.”
The American Wind Energy Association said evidence of negative health effects from wind turbines is lacking.
“We are not aware of any scientifically peer-reviewed information demonstrating a link between wind turbines and negative health effects,” according to the organization’s Web site. Thousands of people around the world live near wind turbines without ill consequences.”
WIND TURBINES NOT SILENT
SOURCE Ottawa Sun, www.ottawasun.com
May 22 2010
By Justin Sadler,
Ka-thump. Ka-thump. Ka-thump.
That’s how it sounds in Ed and Gail Kenney’s home when the wind is blowing on Wolfe Island where they have 86 turbines as neighbours.
Completed last summer, the Wolfe Island EcoPower Centre can generate 198 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 75,000 homes per year.
The Kenneys know better than anyone how wind turbines can change a place. Their home sits 800 metres from a cluster of turbines — a setback they say isn’t enough.
They’re playing the cards North Gower’s Gary Chandler worries he’ll soon be dealt. His home is also about 800 metres from the closest turbine of a proposed 10-megawatt wind project in that town, about 30 minutes south of downtown Ottawa.
Chandler and members of the community’s wind action group are fighting the project and calling for a moratorium on wind development until an independent health study is conducted.
Had the province’s Green Energy Act, enacted in May 2009, been approved in the summer of 2008 when construction began on Wolfe Island, Gail Kenney says the setbacks would have likely been much further from many homes on the island.
Under the legislation, the 550-metre setback is for developments of five turbines. The greater number of installations, the further the setbacks are as noise effects become compounded.
The Kenneys have 26 turbines in view of their home.
“We take a guesstimate that the setback would have been 1.5 km,” says Gail Kenney, who is also a founding member of Wolfe Island Residents for the Environment — a group of concerned residents seeking more transparency in the development process.
The project generates about $645,000 annually for the municipality. Landowners, meanwhile, receive an estimated $7,000 to $10,000 for each turbine erected on their properties.
She says the turbines have created deep divisions between proponents who’ve agreed to have turbines erected on their properties and those opposed to the power project. In what was a very tight-knit community, many now can hardly look each other in the eye.
“It makes me angry and sad. It makes me concerned and worried. To be specific, it makes me angry how it has divided our community and created pain and anguish for a lot of families and friends,” Gail Kenney says.
Even more troubling, she adds, are the health issues many are suffering. The stress of not knowing whether the turbines are safe is taking its toll, she says.
Victoria Stewart, originally from Montreal, moved to the island about six years ago. Since the turbines went up, she hasn’t had a good night’s sleep and is constantly tense and anxious. Her house sits only 400 metres from the closest turbine.
“The silence at night was just out of this world. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d be waking up to the sound of a huge windmill behind me. Never.
“It just makes you terribly nervous,” she says of the noise. “You can’t sleep. I take a lot of sleeping pills from time to time only because my nerves can’t take it and I have to work.”
Depending on the direction and wind speed, the noise can be described as anything from rhythmic waves crashing on the beach or a jet engine. While they might appear to be rotating slowly from across the water in Kingston, Ed Kenney points out the tips speed of the turbines’ rotors reach more than 320 km/h on a windy day.
“It’s a disturbance of the atmosphere … a ka-thump, ka-thump, ka-thump,” Gail Kenney says.
On top of the noise, there are concerns here about property values, too.
The island’s story, she says, illustrates how a seemingly modest plan can easily grow in scale and forever change a community. The 198-megawatt Wolfe Island wind turbine project began with 24 turbines and grew to 86. It’s the second-largest wind energy installation in the country.
The lack of political action, she says, is disheartening.
“It certainly makes you feel that you’ve been bulldozed over.”
Soon, Wolfe Islanders might share their cherished St. Lawrence Seaway with 150 more turbines offshore — a first for the province. The project, proposed by Windstream Energy Inc. in Burlington, was also awarded a FIT contract for the 300-megwatt installation.
A longtime sailor, Ed Kenney says with the combined projects proposed for the eastern shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence in the U.S., wind installations will ruin the landscape he and Gail have enjoyed for so long.
“With the development on Wolfe Island, with the developments proposed for Cape Vincent down the river and on down behind Clayton and Horse Creek, at the Town of Lyme and Galoo Island, we figure by count if they all went the whole eastern estuary of Lake Ontario just east of Oswego all the way around would be 1,700 or 1,800 of them,” he says. “Is that really what the future of the beautiful 1,000 Islands holds?”
“I feel like we’re in the middle of an invasion,” Gail says. “What they have done is introduced into our home and into our area industrial noise.”
Cutthroat Competition at Heart of Ge-Mitsubishi Dispute
Industrial heavyweights General Electric Co. and Mitsubishi are raising the temperature of a 2-year-old dispute claiming patent infringements and monopolistic behavior in the U.S. wind turbine market.
In a complaint filed in a U.S. District Court in Arkansas yesterday, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries accused GE of scheming to control the nation's wind power market. Through a series of "baseless claims of patent infringement," Mitsubishi said in its complaint, GE has successfully scared off potential Mitsubishi customers and discouraged well-capitalized foreign competitors from setting up shop in the United States.
"GE is attempting to kill competition in the marketplace to the detriment of U.S. consumers," said Mitsubishi spokeswoman Sonia Williams. "We anticipate damages will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and may be over $1 billion."
In a separate suit filed in Florida yesterday, the Japanese turbine maker accused GE of infringing on a critical Mitsubishi patent.
The Mitsubishi complaint is the latest in a series of claims and counterclaims unfurled by the two companies, made as competition increases in the U.S. wind market and as both companies roll out their latest high-capacity wind turbines. GE, Japan's Mitsubishi, Denmark's Vestas Wind Systems, Germany's Siemens AG and a growing crop of global industrial conglomerates are racing to get a permanent foothold in North America, where wind projects are grabbing a bigger share of electricity generation.
This grudge match started in 2008, when GE filed complaints at the U.S. International Trade Commission alleging Mitsubishi had infringed on GE wind-turbine patents. The U.S. ITC ended its investigation in January after finding Mitsubishi had not violated the patents, but it left the door open for further action. In February, GE then filed a suit in a Texas court accusing Mitsubishi of breaching the GE patents.
Japanese turbine maker claims it's been shut out
The dispute at the ITC attracted the attention of influential members of Congress with GE factories or headquarters in their states. Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, which is where GE Energy is located, and Republicans from Southern states wrote letters to the ITC warning that job losses would result if GE lost the patent case.
The dispute also continues to play out amid heated discussion about U.S. leanings toward protectionist policies and the capacity of global wind and solar companies to reach American consumers without expanding their U.S. manufacturing base.
In the complaint yesterday, Mitsubishi said that GE has a 70 percent market share for variable-speed wind turbines. As Mitsubishi tells it, once it entered the market in 2006 and secured lucrative contracts, GE "embarked on an unlawful scheme" to drive it and others out of the U.S. market.
Variable-speed windmills are designed for significant utility-scale power generation. They operate on a wide range of wind speeds when connected to the transmission grid. Mitsubishi also claimed that GE obtained a handful of wind-turbine patents through improper means and failed to disclose sources of information to the U.S. patent office.
"GE's unlawful scheme has worked," says the complaint. "Prior to the initiation of GE's first lawsuit against Mitsubishi, Mitsubishi had sales of approximately $2 billion a year of variable speed wind turbines in the United States. Since GE's litigation campaign began over two years ago, Mitsubishi has not sold a single variable speed wind turbine in the United States."
GE calls claims 'outrageous'
When GE filed a new suit against Mitsubishi shortly after the ITC ruling, Mitsubishi explains, "This, GE hoped, would prolong the period of uncertainty over Mitsubishi turbines in the U.S. market for the pendency of the second suit."
GE spokesman Daniel Nelson in an e-mail called Mitsubishi's antitrust complaint "meritless and outrageous."
"GE stands strongly behind the merits of its patent infringement lawsuits against [Mitsubishi] and will fight to protect its intellectual property," Nelson said, adding that the company intends to "vigorously defend itself" against Mitsubishi's charge of patent infringement.
Matt Kaplan, a wind analyst at Emerging Energy Research, said wind purchasers have been scared off by the potential for legal problems if they purchase turbines from Mitsubishi instead of GE. The market-level impact is there, but he said the complex patent infringement claims made by the companies are hard to parse.
"It shows that the market is very competitive," he said, "and that Mitsubishi does feel a real threat from GE patent issues."
Tempest in once-tranquil market
GE controls about 44 percent of the North American market for wind turbines and components, and Mitsubishi comes in a distant fourth. Still, Kaplan said, the Japanese manufacturing giant isn't to be toyed with, and neither is the line-up of significant global power players that want a piece of the U.S. wind market.
"GE's dominant lead over the market has made it difficult for companies to enter and steal market share," Kaplan said. "But Mitsubishi, a heavy industrial company, does have the ability to threaten GE."
Kaplan said the ITC ruling and its ability to push back against GE litigation is critical for Mitsubishi. The company plans to begin construction this year on a $100 million plant in Fort Smith, Ark., to build wind-turbine engines for the U.S. market.
While Mitsubishi's Williams said the project is still a go and could employ nearly 400 people, she acknowledged the drop-off in Mitsubishi wind contracts since GE's claims raised concerns about building the plant. She warned that the plant could sit idle "if GE's unlawful conduct continues."
According to the American Wind Energy Association, 15 companies sold large-scale wind turbines to U.S. customers in 2009, up from five companies in 2005. "The wind industry is increasingly in the hands of major industrial players," Kaplan said. "This is a clear shift from what we've seen in the past."
Companies interested in installing wind-power capacity in the United States haven't shied away from the market, Kaplan said, but the GE-Mitsubishi disputes have caused those companies to pause for a second and walk gingerly as they chooses their suppliers.