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4/12/11 Lien on me: company puts lien on properties of turbine hosting landowners AND Another one bites the dust, and then ANOTHER one bites the dust: How many 'unique' incidents does it take to equal a problem?



SOURCE: Utica Daily News, uticadailynews.com

April 10 2011

Dana C. Silano

“It’s gone to the credit bureau – if I wanted to sell my house, I couldn’t,” Jim Salamone said. “And I can’t get a loan. This is what happens when things aren’t done right.”

FAIRFIELD-LITTLE FALLS, April 11, 2011 — They’re a colossal sight – towering metal giants with blades as long as airplane wings humming in the rural fields of Central New York.

But for residents in Fairfield who already felt they’d been deprived of a fair say in construction, the windmills are nothing but an expensive, loud nuisance.

“We should have been able to vote on them,” said resident Carol Riesel. “We were never made aware until the deal was almost done – it’s makes me so angry. No one had a voice in this — the board members listened and looked and moved on to the next business.”

And so it was, that through the summer and fall of 2010, Iberdrola Renewables constructed the Hardscrabble Wind Farm.

Now, Riesel, who lives at 797 Davis Road, and other residents say the giant windmills are nuisance to their community.


Riesel said many of the town residents are in agreement that windmills are ugly, scary and loud.

“It interferes with my life,” she said. “Now the beautiful landscape is gone. They’re 500 feet tall! And to live underneath them is unbelievable. They’re within 1,000 feet of my property and I hate them. My anxiety is sky-high.”

Nearby, neighbor Monique Consolazio said from her home at 1183 State Route 170, the effects of the windmills – particularly one that stares into her kitchen window, dubbed Turbine 33 – are ‘maddening.’

“It’s like living in an insane discotheque,” Consolazio said. “When the sun hits the blades at a certain angle, you get a strobe-light effect. And the blades throw their black shadows across the house, the field, everything, while the strobe light effect is going on.”

That’s hard for Consolazio, who said she moved to Fairfield nearly 18 years ago, after she was widowed, to live a simple life. Now, she said, she can’t even watch basic television. Her TV is in constant pixilation, which is so annoying that half the time, she shuts it off and doesn’t bother to watch. And the noise is like listening to the highest volume of ‘an old-time coffee grinder,’ she added, making a noise that signified the sound: ‘GRIND! SWISH! GRIND! SWISH!’

“I was told by a representative (of Iberdrola) that they were sorry about that, and what I should do is do the same thing they did in World War II — get shades and black out my windows,” she said in disbelief.

A red blinking light atop each tower shows itself to air traffic, but Consolazio said the company never put the promised ‘sleeve’ over it so it wouldn’t bother land dwellers.

“No one’s taken responsibility for that,” she said.


Jim and June Salamone live at 820 Davis Road. They have for many years.

Jim said he and his wife were shocked and angered when last Wednesday, April 6, they received a certified letter in the mail from Saunders Concrete Company indicating they, along with 33 other property owners, had a lien placed on their property. That’s the company that poured the concrete bases that root the windmills to the ground, residents explained to Utica Daily News.

Why legal action against the residents? Saunders Concrete’s attorneys, Gilberti Stinziano Heintz & Smith in Syracuse, did not immediately return messages from UDN, and neither did the company’s Vice President, Tracy Saunders.

In the letter, it was indicated that out of a project worth $2,165,304.40, Iberdrola’s contractor, Mortenson Construction, still owed the company $1,946,284.10. The properties listed in the lien notice all had windmills on their property – except, at least, the Salamones.

“It’s gone to the credit bureau – if I wanted to sell my house, I couldn’t,” Jim Salamone said. “And I can’t get a loan. This is what happens when things aren’t done right.”

The Salamones discovered they were listed as participants – that’s someone who hosts a windmill, wires and cables, or other parts of the wind farm project – in 2009 when friend and neighbor Andrew McEvoy noticed his name listed in some documentation.

“If Andy didn’t find it, I never would have known,” Jim Salamone said. “This is what happens though when things aren’t done right.”

From there on out, he added, the Salamones tried nine times in vain to get their name removed from anything that indicated they were participants in the project. For the record, participants are awarded annual ‘pay’ for hosting, they said.

“The landowners didn’t realize what they were signing, they just wanted the money,” Jim Salamone said.

Iberdrola spokesman, Paul Copleman, indicated in a statement that the concrete company, acted rashly, and alongside Mortenson, they were working to remedy the issue.

While we cannot discuss the specifics of the dispute, Iberdrola Renewables has a commitment and obligation to remedy this issue on behalf of the property owners who had a lien placed on their property and are acting to remove the liens as quickly as possible. While mechanics liens are not uncommon in construction contracts, we believe that Saunders had other avenues available to resolve their dispute with Mortenson, and by pursuing a mechanics lien they have unnecessarily involved the landowners involved in this project as well as several that are not even part of the project.

Iberdrola Renewables is working as quickly as possible to resolve this matter and remove the liens. We have been in contact with the affected landowners and will be working diligently with Mortenson Construction to secure a resolution.

Mortenson has started the process of obtaining a bond that will remove the liens from the individual property owners.

The Salamones will likely hire a lawyer, acknowledging how costly it could become, to fight the lien. They’re hoping they can at least be compensated for what they feel turned their lives upside-down.

“How am I going to get this off my credit score?” Jim Salamone asked. “I want it clean again! What happens if they don’t correct this and they go bankrupt? I have nothing to do with this and I’m right in the middle of it.”

And while Iberdrola indicated its company agreed that a lien was a hasty move to make, that doesn’t get them off the hook, Jim Salamone said. Neither does the letter of apology they sent the couple shortly after the lien letter.

“This is bad business,” he said. “They’re not even looking at what they’re doing. And they’ve got so much money they can buy their way out of it. What are we going to do?”


Companies Say ND Wind Turbine Accident Unique

SOURCE: Associated Press

April 11, 2011

By Dale Wetzel

Experts said a North Dakota wind turbine's rotor and blades crashed to the ground because they weren't properly aligned with a power shaft atop the turbine's steel tower, which caused the rotor's connecting bolts to fail.

The March 14 accident north of Rugby will prompt more frequent inspections of other turbines, said Scott Winneguth, director of wind plant engineering for Iberdrola Renewables Inc. of Portland, Ore.

Winneguth told North Dakota's Public Service Commission that investigators were unsure whether the problem resulted from the turbine's operation or reflected an assembly flaw.

He said the accident was "very out of the ordinary" and "a singular event" that did not indicate a broader problem.

"I can assure you, for the near term, that we will check for bolt integrity and misalignment on a much more frequent basis than our normal maintenance activities would entail," Winneguth told the three North Dakota commissioners, who are responsible for regulating large wind energy projects.

Normal maintenance procedures, Winneguth said, "are not designed to detect this sort of misalignment."

Commissioner Kevin Cramer said Monday the information would be useful in evaluating future requests for locating North Dakota wind farms.

"They seem to have figured out what created the failure on the one turbine," Cramer said. "I'm certainly encouraged they didn't have a bunch of other ones to report to us."

The turbine was one of 71 that make up an Iberdrola wind energy project in Pierce County, in north-central North Dakota, that is capable of generating 149 megawatts of power.

The turbine was first put into commercial service in December 2009, Mark Perryman, an Iberdrola managing director for field services, said in an interview with The Associated Press.

The turbine's rotor, which has three long blades, is attached to its main power shaft with 48 bolts. The connecting surfaces of the rotor hub and main shaft were not properly aligned, which eventually caused the bolts to fail, said Winneguth and Duncan Koerbel, an executive for the turbine's manufacturer, Suzlon Wind Energy Corp.

Winneguth said the 70 turbines in the Rugby project were subsequently inspected and each of their 3,360 bolts checked. Seven bolts on four of the turbines were replaced as a precaution.

Koerbel said the 70 turbines resumed operation within a week. The affected tower was dented by a falling blade, but it should not need to be replaced, he said.

No one was injured in the accident, which happed around noon on March 14, and Iberdrola officials said the company's emergency response plan worked well.

Koerbel told the AP that the exact cause of the misalignment wasn't known, but that North Dakota's harsh winter conditions did not cause the bolt stress. He said he was not sure how long it took for the problem to develop.

"We cannot pin it on one specific thing," he said.

Suzlon has about 7,600 wind turbines in operation worldwide, including about 1,800 of the S88 model involved in the Rugby accident. There are about 1,100 S88 models operating in the United States alone, Koerbel said.

Next Story:


April 11, 2011


A wind turbine came crashing down near Western Reserve High School in Berlin Center on Sunday.

The piece of the turbine that fell was one of three installed at the school back in 2009.  The company that makes the equipment is out of Scotland, they work with an Indiana company.

The turbines supply about 40-percent of the school's electricity.

No official word on what caused the turbine to fall.  However, officials say it may have been the result of fatigued bolts.

A crew out of North Jackson climbed the other two towers to make sure there were no structural problems with either of them.

The area's been taped off. No one was hurt. 

EXTRA CREDIT: Why some members of the Wisconsin Wind Siting Council say "Safety is a Relative Term"

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