7/19/10 Sow the wind, reap dead bats AND The sport of pitting neighbor against neighbor: Wind developers won't hesitate to tear communities apart AND an interview with a wind project resident who had to leave her home once the wind turbines went on line
Note from the BPWI Research Nerd: Wind turbine related bat kills are ten times higher in Wisconsin than anywhere in the nation except Pennsylvania. There is serious concern about the survival of bat populations near Wisconsin wind projects.
WIND TURBINES AND DISEASE CUTTING BAT TOTALS
SOURCE: The Times Leader, www.timesleader.com
July 19 2010
By Matt Hughes,
WILKES-BARRE — Sue Gallagher of the Carbon County Environmental Center has presented her educational program on bats so many times she could probably do it hanging upside down in the dark.
She ran through much of that program Thursday at Wilkes-Barre’s River Common, going over myths and misconceptions about nature’s only flying mammals. To summarize: Bats aren’t blind, they aren’t flying mice, they won’t get stuck in your hair and, unless you’re vacationing on a South American cattle ranch, they won’t suck your blood either.
A little more than a year ago, things changed, and Gallagher’s message about bats changed with it.
Bats in Pennsylvania are dying, Gallagher said, in such extreme numbers that future generations of Pennsylvanians may never see them in the wild.
“You guys aren’t going to grow up seeing bats the way we grew up seeing bats,” Gallagher told the approximately 10 children who gathered with their parents for the program, which was sponsored by rivercommon.org.
There are two culprits in the disappearance of the state’s bats, Gallagher said.
Hibernating bats, the sort that live in caves, have been affected by white nose syndrome, a fungus-based illness that causes bats to awaken from hibernation early. The bats, which live on a diet of insects, then die of starvation.
The illness, which spread south from New York State last year, kills 85 to 100 percent of bat populations it infiltrates.
Other bats, especially the migratory variety, are being killed by an unlikely source: wind turbines. Bats are attracted to the turbines during mating season, Gallagher said, when they will fly to the highest point above ground. They are then either killed by the large fan blades or by low pressure systems that form near the tips of the blades that cause the bats’ lungs to explode.
A single turbine can kill 50 to 100 bats a year, Gallagher said, adding that it is too early to judge the effect of wind energy on bats because Pennsylvania does not track bat population size.
“We want to get behind wind energy; we want to say wind energy is green, but we’ve got to address its impact on bats,” Gallagher said.
“I feel bad, because I really like bats, and I don’t want them to die,” Bethany Kelsey, 7, of Wilkes-Barre, said after the program.
“I didn’t know that they were dying, which makes me very sad,” Kelsey’s mother, Angel Kelsey, added. “I grew up in the woods watching the bats.”
The bat program was the first in a series of free children’s nature education programs being held at the River Common. The next, a live mammals program, will take place July 23.
Wind farm sows discord among friends
URBANA, Ohio - One need not drive too far into Champaign County to recognize that 2010 will be a bumper year for corn and soybeans. As for harvesting the wind, the jury is still out.
Last week, the Ohio Power Siting Board essentially reaffirmed its decision to allow 53 wind turbines to be erected near here, despite the persistent objections of residents who are not convinced that the turbines - some of them approaching the height of the Washington Monument - will do any more than set longtime county residents at one another's throats.
"One woman told me she couldn't go to church anymore because she couldn't stand to look at one of the people who has sold out" by leasing land for the turbines, Julia Johnson, one of those longtime residents, said last week.
These once were Champaign County farmers who shared a tremendous kinship as stewards of the land. If one were injured or fell ill, his friends would bring in his crops. They attended Grange meetings and social gatherings together. Their children signed up for 4-H and the Future Farmers of America.
The atmosphere has become so acrimonious that merchants who must sell to all community members have avoided any signs at their businesses suggesting favoritism to either side of the issue.
"There are certainly some people I will never trust again, and any friendship we might have had in the past is now gone," said Diane McConnell, who, with her husband, Robert, owns farmland. "We will have five turbines right out the north window 700 feet from our property line."
Those who want the windmills say they produce electricity without pollution, fit in with farming because crops can be planted around them and cattle can graze underneath, and will bring jobs to the county. But neither the McConnells nor Johnson believe that the quality of life in the Urbana area will be enhanced.
"Eighty percent of the revenue for those turbines will go overseas and will not benefit our economy at all," Johnson said. EverPower Wind Holdings, the company developing the wind farm, is owned by Terra Firma, a British private-equity firm.
"It is not about energy. It is about money," Johnson said.
The McConnells and Johnson also worry about safety. People living near wind turbines in other places have complained about headaches, sleeplessness and anxiety from the humming.
Could it be that in some now-forgotten, long-ago debate, some energy whiz proposed going after crude oil not only with land-based drilling but by employing offshore oil platforms as well? Surely, the question of safety arose.
If offshore oil drilling were scrutinized no more carefully than wind turbines have been, it was only going to be a matter of time before something happened.
It might be time for a good, ol' Bible-thumping homily preached in a rural Champaign County church from Hosea 8:7: "They have planted the wind and will harvest the whirlwind. The stalks of grain wither and produce nothing to eat. And even if there is grain, foreigners will eat it."
Retired columnist Mike Harden writes Wednesday and Sunday Metro columns.
Click on the image below to find out why a family in a wind project left their home once the wind turbines went on line
In this interview by Save Our Skyline Renfrew County (sosrenfrewcounty.wordpress.com), Helen Fraser talks about health issues she suffered after the Melancthon wind energy facility near Shelburne, Ontario, began operation in the spring of 2006.
Her home, where she had lived for more than 30 years, ended up in the middle of the facility.
Her fibromyalgia seriously deteriorated shortly after the wind turbines were active, yet improved just as drastically every time she was outside the vicinity of the facility.
Mrs. Fraser also notes that they no longer saw the abundance of wildlife that they had before. There were 12 turbines visible on three sides of her home, the closest only 423 meters away. Eight of the turbines had an obvious direct impact on the home, with noise or shadow flicker.
“I could tell if the turbines were running if I had a headache,” she says. When the towers were erected, she began having severe head and body aches, ringing in her ears, digestive issues, and chronic fatigue, which led to a whole host of other issues, including depression and not being able to concentrate.
“And they all cleared up after 24 hours [of being away from home], and when we’d come back the symptoms would be there 24 hours later.”