1/25/11 UPDATE ON HERE COMES THE JUDGE: All eyes on Ontario as safety of wind developer-friendly setbacks are challenged in court AND The latest on the Wind Farm Strong Arm: Date is set for wind developer's lawsuit against a rural community AND What is wrong with this picture? Our Big Wind video of the day
WHAT'S AT ISSUE WITH GOVERNOR WALKER'S WIND SITING BILL:
Pictured Above: Setbacks between 400 foot tall wind turbines and homes in a PSC-approved wind project Fond du Lac County Wisconsin. The yellow circles indicate the 1000 foot safety zone around each turbine.
Pictured Below: PSC approved Glacier Hills Wind Project under constrution in Columbia County. In this map from WeEnergies, red dots are turbine locations. Each yellow circle containing a small red square is a non-participating home.
When they permitted the wind project, the PSC admitted that there were too many turbines around some homes but instead of asking for fewer turbines in those areas they asked the wind company to offer to purchase the homes. They did.
The PSC wind rules allow safety zones to cross property lines and allow a wind company to automatically use a neighbor's land as part of that safety zone. This creates a no-build and no tree planting zone on the property of a non-particpating land owner who must to get permission from the wind company to build a structure or plant a tree on his own land.
Senate Bill 9 helps to correct this problem.
The PSC statewide siting rules are to take effect on March 1st, 2011. They have setbacks of 1250 feet between homes and a 500 foot turbine. The rules allow a wind company to use a non participating landowner's property as a safety setback zone.
Senate Bill 9 increases the setback to 1800 feet between turbines and property lines. If a landowner wants a turbine closer he can enter into an agreement with the wind company. This bill gives some choice and a little more protection to the rural Wisconsin families who have no choice about living beneath the turbines.
PICTURED ABOVE: a map showing the noise level predicted for residents in Invenergy's proposed Ledge Wind Project in Brown County. The yellow dots are homes. The black dots are wind turbine locations. The World Health Organization says nighttime noise should no louder than 35 dbA for healthful sleep. The deep blue areas indicate predicted turbine noise levels above 50 dbA. The purple areas indicate turbine noise levels of 50dbA.
SUPPORT SENATE BILL 9: WALKER'S WIND SITING REFORM
Better Plan encourages you to take a moment right now to contact Governor Walker's office to thank him for the provisions in Senate Bill 9, (CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE BILL) which provides for a setback of 1800 feet between wind turbines and property lines. Let him know you support this bill.
CONTACT Governor Scott Walker firstname.lastname@example.org
115 East Capitol
Madison WI 53702
It's very important that you contact these key legislative committee members and urge them to support this bill and vote to move it forward. Every phone call and email to these committee members matters.
Members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Utilities, Commerce, and Government Operations.
-Chairman Senator Rich Zipperer (R) Sen.Zipperer@legis.wisconsin.gov
(608) 266-9174 Capitol 323 South
-Vice Chair Senator Neal Kedzie (R) Sen.email@example.com
(608) 266-2635 Capitol 313 South
(608) 266-2502 Capitol 409 South
Senator Fred Risser (D) Sen.firstname.lastname@example.org
(608) 266-1627 Capitol 130 South
Senator Jon Erpenbach (D) Sen.email@example.com
(608) 266-6670 Capitol 106 South
Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities
Representative Mark Honadel (Chair)
(888) 534-0021 (414) 764-9921 (South Milwaukee)
Representative John Klenke (Vice-Chair)
(888) 534-0088 (Green Bay) new
Representative Kevin Petersen
(888) 947-0040 (Waupaca)
Representative Gary Tauchen
(608) 266-3097 (Bonduel)
Representative Thomas Larson
(888) 534-0067 (Colfax) new
Representative Erik Severson
(888) 529-0028 (Star Prairie) new
Representative Chad Weininger
(888) 534-0004 (Green Bay) new
Representative Josh Zepnick
(608) 266-1707 (414) 727-0841 (Milwaukee)
Representative John Steinbrink
(608) 266-0455 (262) 694-5863 (Pleasant Prairie)
Representative Anthony Staskunas
(888) 534-0015 (414) 541-9440 (West Allis)
Representative Brett Hulsey
(608) 266-7521 (Madison)
And be sure to contact your own legislators and encourage them to support the bill.
THE LATEST ON THE ONTARIO WIND LAWSUIT:
UPDATED JANUARY 24, 2011
ONTARIO LAWYER CHALLENGES CREDIBILITY OF LEADING WITNESSES IN CHALLENGE TO WIND FARM LAW
Read it at the Source: Ottawa Citizen
January 24, 2010
By Lee Greenberg
TORONTO — An Ontario government lawyer attacked the credibility of three star witnesses in a key legal challenge to the province’s new green energy legislation.
Sara Blake said Dr. Robert McMurtry and two other physicians, who cast doubt on the safety of wind turbines, are not reliable witnesses.
The three are named as experts in the case brought against the government by Prince Edward County property owner Ian Hanna. Hanna and his fellow anti-wind campaigners believe turbines emit low-frequency noise that lead to a range of health problems, including sleep deprivation, stress, chronic depression and even cardiovascular disease.
The case is the first major test of new regulations introduced in September 2009, four months after the province passed its Green Energy Legislation. According to those new rules, wind turbines will have to be placed a minimum of 550 meters from the nearest home.
That “setback” is at the centre of Monday’s court challenge.
Hanna and his backers say the government failed to fully examine the medical studies on the health affects of turbines. The government denies the claim.
Blake says McMurtry, an orthopedic surgeon and former medical school dean who also has advised the federal government on health policy, is neither an expert on the issue of noise emissions nor is he impartial.
He and the other two doctors cited in the court challenge all took an interest in wind turbines because they were being built near their homes, the prosecutor said. (McMurtry, who is the brother of former Ontario chief justice and attorney general Roy McMurtry, owns property in Prince Edward County and is the founding member of an anti-wind group there).
Blake said McMurtry expresses opinions in a deposition that he is not qualified to give.
“This is pure advocacy,” she told a three-member panel at Osgoode Hall in Toronto Monday. “He is not an expert ... It is the belief of a passionate person.”
She also cast aspersions on the study of Dr. Michael Nissenbaum, who concluded people living within 1.1 kilometres of a wind farm in Maine suffered numerous health affects, including hearing problems, increased psychiatric symptoms and overall increased use of prescription medication.
The study is not published and is not peer reviewed, she said.
Eric Gillespie, the lawyer for Hanna and the anti-wind advocacy group behind him, contends that the rule placing turbines 550 meters from the nearest house was made without sufficient scientific evidence.
But under questioning from the three judges hearing the case, Gillespie acknowledged the science is inconclusive on the health effects of turbines.
He also takes issue with the fact that a planning expert — and not a public health expert — reviewed the science on the impacts of turbines.
“On a matter of human health it is not enough to have a land use planner say we considered it,” he said in court.
Gillespie also withdrew a request for an injunction on all new wind farms in Ontario. He is asking the court to strike down regulations laying out the 550-meter setback. It is unclear what sort of temporary regulations would emerge if he is successful in the request.
It is unknown when — if at all — the court will issue a decision on Monday’s one-day hearing.
While the three judges listened to arguments, they are also considering an argument by the attorney general that the case should be sent to an environmental tribunal.
The Green Challange
SOURCE: Owen Sound Sun Times
January 24, 2011
Ian Hanna has asked an Ontario court to strike down part of the province's Green Energy Act, enlisting doctors who argue human health was compromised when the act created a buffer of only 550 metres between wind turbines and homes.
* If Hanna prevails, the burgeoning wind industry could grind to a halt until medical studies are done.
* The lobby group for the wind industry has intervened in the case.
* The Ontario government dismisses medical claims as irrelevant and says Hanna doesn't have a legal basis for a challenge.
* Three judges in Toronto will hear evidence Monday and Tuesday.
- - -
Several doctors are saying turbines emit low-pitched sounds that disrupt the body's normal rhythms and cause ailments including:
* Problems with concentration and memory
* Rapid heart rate
- - -
'The right thing to do'
Last week Free Press Reporter Jonathan Sher spoke with the Prince Edward County man who sought the judicial review, Ian Hanna, and his Toronto lawyer, Eric Gillespie. Below are excerpts of their conversation:
Q Prior to getting involved with wind turbines had you been involved with environmental issues or activism?
Hanna: No to both questions.
Q You never led petitions before, subscribed to newsletters on environmental issues or tried to interject yourself into public debate?
That's absolutely correct.
Q What things attracted you to move to Big Island from the GTA?
The idea of a more rural atmosphere appealed to us. The openness, the stars, the birds. You have to come here sometime and walk outside on a summer's afternoon. It's just unbelievable.
Q What about adverse health effects of wind turbines?
People appear to be emotionally drained, unable to really function on a calm, natural basis. We know people can't sleep properly at all when they are close to industrial wind turbines . . . They appeared to be very tortured by the effects.
Q Why did you continue to pursue the case even though your home and Big Island no longer in harm's way?
Because it's the right thing to do. I have three children who if I gave them nothing else . . . I think I at least gave them the strength or assisted them with gaining the strength to stand up for what they believe in and for what's right.
Q How has the legal action been financed?
We put every cent we could put in to it so far and if we have to put more, we'll find it . . . 100% of the money that's been contributed has come from people just like us, other families all over Ontario . . .
Q How much has been raised so far? Ballpark?
Close to $200,000
Q How are you feeling as you head toward the hearing in Toronto?
I'm excited, I'm confident, I'm grateful for the incredible capable way it's been handled . . . and to be really fair I'm exceedingly sad and disappointed . . . It's all been based on facts and realities and truths coming from just regular people like myself who have no axe to grind with anybody beyond the fact that we're frightened by the potential of this, yet, the other side has done one thing and one thing only: They've circled their wagons.
WIND ON TRIAL
A burgeoning billion-dollar industry and the political fortunes of Dalton McGuinty's Liberals may turn on a legal challenge by a single man whose day in court arrives Monday.
Ian Hanna lives far away from the corridors of power in Queens Park and Bay Street in a century-old farmhouse on Big Island in Prince Edward County. But Monday he finds himself in the epicentre of a debate that could shape the economic future of the province and the political fate of the ruling Liberals.
It's a fight over wind turbines that have been rising across Ontario with ever greater frequency, an industry the Liberal government has subsidized with plans to double its energy capacity in this year alone.
But those plans in Queens Park -- really the heart of the Green Energy Act -- were placed in judicial crosshairs 15 months ago. That's when Hanna, 58, challenged a provision that creates a buffer of only 550 metres between turbines and homes.
Several doctors have lined up behind Hanna's challenge, saying turbines emit low-pitched sounds that disrupt the body's normal rhythms and cause ailments including headaches, tinnitus, dizziness, nausea, rapid heart rate, irritability and problems with concentration and memory.
Those concerns have been dismissed as irrelevant by lawyers representing the Ontario government, who instead will try to convince three judges in Toronto that Hanna doesn't have a legal basis for his claim -- that there is no provision in the Green Energy Act itself or elsewhere that allows a citizen to challenge a regulation.
The dismissive approach concerns Hanna's lawyer Eric Gillespie.
"That's been a significant concern for all the experts that are part of this process on behalf of Mr. Hanna. These are medical doctors from Ontario, the United States and England, all of whom have seen what they believe to be first-hand sufficient evidence to say that industrial wind turbines do pose a very real risk to residents," Gillespie said.
Gillespie is an environmental lawyer who cases include one that landed a $36-million award since appealed.
The government's decision to object solely on procedural grounds worries the wind industry that over the next 20 years has planned about $20 billion in investments that would be subsidized by Ontario taxpayers.
A lawyer for the Canadian Wind Energy Association declined to comment about Hanna's case but did provide a copy of its written arguments.
An Ontario Environment Ministry spokesperson defended the Green Energy Act.
"Our process is based on science, modelling and jurisdictional comparisons. It will be protective of public health and the environment," Kate Jordan said.
JUDGE SETS ECOGEN, PRATTSBURGH HEARING
SOURCE Bath Courier, www.steubencourier.com
January 23, 2011
By Mary Perham,
Prattsburgh, NY — A court hearing has been set for Jan. 27 to learn more details about the events behind a year-long lawsuit between the town of Prattsburgh and a wind farm developer.
The hearing will resolve some issues and lead to a final decision in the dispute between the town and the developer, Ecogen, according to state Supreme Court Justice John Ark.
Ark wants sworn testimony from former town officials, including Attorney John Leyden and Supervisor Harold McConnell, Ecogen representatives and other town officials.
Questions appear to pinpoint Ecogen’s contention that it has been ready to set up 16 turbines for more than two years and questions Ecogen’s claim it had “vested rights” by late 2008.
Ecogen also claims board members have stymied the builder’s efforts to proceed with the project.
“Which is funny, when they’re on record telling the Town of Italy, Prattsburgh has been very cooperative throughout,” said Prattsburgh’s attorney Ed Hourihan.
Hourihan said the town is pleased to see the judge has narrowed the issues to “specifically pin down Ecogen’s ever changing position. Since this litigation has started, Ecogen had changed its position so many times its hard to tell what is the truth.”
Hourihan said he will question the witnesses and can present evidence proving any testimony is incorrect.
Last fall Ark said he was close to a decision in the case, but urged Ecogen and the town to meet and find an out-of-court compromise.
Town officials offered to provide other sites for the proposed turbines, but Ecogen maintained the December 2009 agreement was binding and refused to compromise.
An offer to meet with Prattsburgh by Ecogen’s parent company, Pattern, apparently fell through last month, current town Supervisor Al Wordingham said.
Wordingham said he called Pattern representative John Galloway just before Christmas to follow up on several phone conferences and a plan to meet.
“He told me he had some internal issues to resolve,” Wordingham said.
Galloway has not returned his final call, Wordingham told residents at the town board meeting Monday night.
“And we still don’t have their final site map,” Wordingham said.
In related action, the board held a public hearing on extending their moratorium on tower construction another six months. Several residents said they supported the moratorium, although they thought six months was too long.
The board will vote on the moratorium during their regular Feb. 22 meeting.
FROM OUR 'WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?' VIDEO FILE-- Or Why aren't those turbines turning?
AND: What they're finding out about big wind in Taiwan