7/4/11 Wind developer brings the community a big surprise: and it's a very bad one AND Battle of Britain: residents driven from their home by turbine noise fight back AND Laying it out Hawaiian style: Why wind power has no Aloha Spirit AND Don't need it, can't use it, don't want it? Too bad, take it we'll sue you.
A TRANSMISSION PROBLEM
READ THE ENTIRE STORY AT THE SOURCE Salina Journal, www.salina.co
By MICHAEL STRAND
“Most of us found out about it when we started seeing stakes in our front yards,”
ELLSWORTH — The first time many property owners heard of plans to build a high-voltage transmission line along their street was when the marker flags and stakes showed up.
And by then, the decision had already been made.
“Most of us found out about it when we started seeing stakes in our front yards,” said Caleb Schultz, one of about 100 people who live along 10th and 11th roads in western Ellsworth County, where Wind Capital Group is planning to build a line to connect a wind farm in the northern part of the county to a power substation in Rice County. Construction is scheduled to start in September.
The 134 turbines will generate 201 megawatts of power, and “one of the necessary parts of the project is getting the power to market,” explained Dean Baumgardner, executive vice president of Wind Capital.
Baumgardner said the 31-mile route was chosen as the most direct route between the wind farm and the substation.
“Given federal regulatory agencies, environmental concerns and the effect on landowners, we want as direct a route as possible,” he said. “Fish and wildlife and the Corps of Engineers prefer we use areas that are already developed — rather than go through pristine areas.”
This doesn’t seem right
Kent Janssen said he first found out about the proposed transmission line by reading about it in the minutes of an Ellsworth County Commission meeting.
“But I had no clue about the size, that it was going to be a main transmission line, with 75-foot poles,” he said. “Just to have stakes start showing up, and being told this is going to happen just doesn’t seem right.”
Janssen said the line will run within 100 yards of some homes, and predicts the line will lower property values.
“There’s plenty of room to run this and not get within a quarter or a half-mile of a house,” he said, noting that such transmission lines usually cut cross country, rather than following a road.
Susan Thorton is also “disappointed” with both Wind Capital and the county commission.
“I really was disappointed that we found out through neighbors,” she said. “They should have gotten our opinions before decisions were made. We at least would have felt like we had our say — and if they’d listened to our concerns, it might not have turned out that way.”
It’s out of our hands
Ellsworth County Commissioner Kermit Rush said the discussion now needs to be between Wind Capital and people along the proposed route.
“It’s kind of out of our hands,” he said. “We have an agreement to let them use the right of way.”
Rush said that in the past, the county has worked with two other wind farm projects, “and those were never a problem.”
“As commissioners, we make a lot of decisions,” Rush said. “If we had to call the public each time, I’m not sure we’d get anything done.”
We all like wind power
None of those interviewed said they oppose wind power in general, or the Wind Capital project.
“I have no problem with wind power, or with transmission lines,” Thorton said. “Just not right on top of our homes.”
“I want to stress, I am for wind energy, and I’m for the transmission line,” Janssen said. “I’m happy for the guys up north that are getting the towers — we just want the line run in a responsible way.”
Janssen added that he’d been neutral on wind power up to 2006 — when the first wind company to build in Ellsworth County hosted a meeting with county commissioners to outline its plans to the public.
As for not talking to people along the route first, Baumgardner said he’s been involved in projects like this for years, and “No matter who you talk to first, the other one always thinks you should have talked with them first,” he said. “We approached the county and township people first. We’ve met with every landowner along the route, now — but hadn’t when we first met with the local governments.”
NOISY WIND FARM DROVE COUPLE OUT OF THEIR HOME
READ ENTIRE STORY AT THE SOURCE The Telegraph, www.telegraph.co.uk
July 4, 2011
A couple who say they were driven out of their family farm by the “nightmare” hum of wind turbines have mounted a ground-breaking £2.5 million compensation bid in London’s High Court.
Jane and Julian Davis, moved out of Grays Farm, Deeping St Nicholas, near Spalding, Lincs, four years ago because of the strain of living with the incessant noise.
And now they are taking on a local windfarm and other defendants in a pioneering case which will test the law on whether the sound created by the turbines amounts to a noise nuisance.
Mrs Davis, whose husband’s family cultivated Grays Farm for over 20 years before they were uprooted by the noise, said it had been a “nightmare living there”, and that they had no option but to leave.
Speaking before today’s High Court hearing, she added: “The noise is unpredictable and mainly occurs at night, you can never get to bed with the assurance that you will stay asleep.
“It’s incredibly unpredictable.”
In a bid to recreate the effect, she mimicked a sound she said was “something between a whirr and a hum”, adding that it was the peculiar, insidious “character” of the noise which made it so unsettling.
“You can’t even have a barbeque,” she said.
The couple are suing local landowners – RC Tinsley Ltd and Nicholas Watts, on whose land some of the turbines have been sited – as well as Fenland Windfarms Ltd and Fenland Green Power Cooperative Ltd, who own and operate the turbines.
Their lawyers are seeking either a permanent injunction to shut down the turbines or damages of up to £2.5 million to compensate the couple for the disruptive effects on their lives.
They have not returned to their home since 2007, and are now living in Spalding.
Mrs Davis said before the hearing she had no quarrel with the appearance of the turbines – only with the unsettling effects of the noise.
“We want them to stop the noise so we can move back in,” she said, adding: “We want them to recognise that the noise is a nuisance so we can go back and get some rest and sleep like we did five years ago. ”
The couple’s QC, Peter Harrison, said that, for his clients, windfarms “have emphatically not been the source of trouble-free, green and renewable energy which the firms promoting and profiting from wind energy would have the general public believe”.
The Davis’ had, instead, faced an operator which “has refused to acknowledge the noise their turbines make and the effect that that has had on the lives of these claimants”.
“Their lives have been wholly disrupted by that noise”, he told the court, also alleging that the main operator had tried to “impose a code of silence on those examining or recording the noise that these turbines in this location have caused”.
They had, he claimed, tried to “attack the credibility and reasonableness of the claimants rather than examine what they were actually being told”.
“From the defendants’ witness statements, and the material they wish to put before the court, it seems that those attempts to undermine the claimants, to say they are over-sensitive, that they are exaggerating and over-reacting, will continue during the trial,” the barrister added.
He claimed the defendants had been irked by Mrs Davis’ eagerness to “speak publicly about her experiences” and that she was being attacked for simply refusing to “put up with the noise”.
“To not quietly accept your fate, it appears, is the ultimate provocation,” he said.
The QC said the case was not a test of the Governement’s Green policies, but concerned the Davis’ wish to “get on with their lives and get back into their house”.
Although the case will hinge on technical arguments about measuring the “Amplitude Modulation” (AM) given off by the turbines, there are also vexed issues about the extent to which the defendants were given a fair opportunity to monitor the noise levels.
The hearing before Mr Justice Hickinbottom continues.
BIG WIND PROJECT HAS TO BE KILLED BEFORE IT KILLS OUR POCKETBOOKS
READ ENTIRE STORY AT THE SOURCE: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, www.staradvertiser.com
July 3, 2011
By Mike Bond,
Like some bizarre weapon of the former Soviet Union, Big Wind is finally being revealed for what it is: an engineering and financial tsunami that will enrich its backers and leave the rest of us far worse than before.
Its promised 400 mega-watts (MW), at the outrageous cost of $3 billion to $4 billion, makes no economic sense, but the full story is even worse.
Because wind is so inconsistent, Big Wind will produce only about 20 percent of that fictional 400 MW, or 80 MW (the Bonneville Power Administration, with 12 percent of America’s wind generation in one of its windiest locations, gets only 19 percent of its installed capacity).
And because most wind power is produced in non-peak hours when it can’t be used, turbines must then be shut down (curtailed). This “curtailment factor” lowers Big Wind’s potential 80 MW to about 48 MW. An additional 2-3 MW will be lost across the cable, bringing Big Wind down to 45 MW.
Moreover, wind requires backup fossil generation to run parallel offline for when the wind fluctuates or stops.
Called spinning reserve, this backup generation wastes millions of kilowatts and brings the Big Wind’s net generation down to about 40 MW.
And it’s why countries with extensive wind power like the United Kingdom, Denmark and Germany are finding wind power doesn’t reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.
Hawaiian Electric Co. could build a new 40 MW power plant on 30 acres of Oahu rather than 22,000 acres of Molokai and Lanai, and with no billion-dollar cable, for a fraction of Big Wind’s costs and carbon dioxide emissions. Or for Big Wind’s $3 billion, HECO could install rooftop solar on 165,000 homes, generate more power than Big Wind, and create 1,000 Hawaiian jobs, whereas Big Wind will create only a handful.
With rooftop solar, customers need only HECO for load-balancing and low-demand night use, thereby depriving HECO of its cash cow, the captive consumer. That’s why HECO has limited rooftop solar to 15 percent on its circuits. It’s as if we’re told we can’t grow vegetables in our own gardens; we have to buy Mexican vegetables from a supermarket chain.
Conservation is even easier, since 2008 state agencies have cut electricity use 8.6 percent at almost no cost. This could easily be implemented throughout Oahu, twice Big Wind’s net generation and saving $3 billion to $4 billion.
In fact, no developer will even touch Big Wind unless the entire $1 billion for the undersea cable can be charged to HECO customers, raising our electricity bills by 30 percent.
Contrary to the governor and HECO et al., Big Wind should be in public scrutiny. This is known as democracy.
And they should admit other potential tragic costs of this project, including the desecration of 35 square miles of beautiful coastal wilderness, possible damage to archaeological sites and endangered birds, a reduction in neighboring property values, and dynamiting in America’s finest coral reef and the Hawaiian National Whale Sanctuary.
No wonder that opposition to Big Wind is 98 percent on Molokai and nearly that on Lanai.
And when our nation is suffering the worst financial crisis in its history, a pork-barrel project adding billions more to our deficits seems nearly treasonous.
“The truth shall make us free” is a maxim of democracy. The opposite is also true: Cover-ups steal our freedom.
The governor, HECO et al. should realize that Maui, Lanai and Molokai are not colonies, nor part of the former Soviet Union. It’s time we were given the truth about Big Wind, so this ridiculous project can be quickly killed before it eats us all out of house and home.
Molokai resident Mike Bond is a former CEO of an international energy company, adviser to more than 70 utilities and energy companies, and author of studies on electricity transmission, cable operations and power generation alternatives.
When Water Overpowers, Wind Farms Get Steamed.
SOURCE: National Public Radio, www.npr.org
July 3, 2011
by Martin Kaste
The Pacific Northwest is suffering from too much of a good thing — electricity. It was a snowy winter and a wet spring, and there’s lots of water behind the dams on the Columbia River, creating an oversupply of hydropower. As a result, the region’s new wind farms are being ordered to throttle back — and they’re not happy.
It seems like a simple problem to fix: if there’s too much water behind the dams, why not just dump some of it? Just bypass the power generators and spill it? Would that we could, says Doug Johnson, spokesman for the Bonneville Power Authority. When you spill water over a dam, he says, it gets mixed with nitrogen from the air — and that’s not good for the salmon.
“What it can do is give the juvenile fish a condition similar to the bends, similar to what scuba divers experience,” he says.
So Bonneville — a federal agency that runs the power transmission system in the region — has been ordering wind farms offline, usually in the middle of the night when demand is lowest. Wind farm companies are crying foul.
“This is not about fish protection, this is strictly about economics,” says Jan Johnson, a spokeswoman for Iberdrola Renewables, which has 722 wind turbines in the Pacific Northwest.
“There’s options,” she says. “In other parts of the country — in fact in every other region — these types of transmission providers will just go into a negative pricing situation.”
Negative pricing means paying people to take your surplus power. The wind farm companies say the dams could run at full tilt and Bonneville could pay customers in other regions — like California or British Columbia — to take the surplus.
Five wind power companies have filed a complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to force Bonneville to start doing so. Bonneville would prefer not to have to pay to get rid of power, Johnson says, because that cost would be a burden to power customers in the Northwest.
“What we’ve said is no. We’re willing to give away energy — we give away energy to a whole lot of people when we’re faced with the situation — but if we were going to just pay negative prices, and incorporate that into our wholesale power rate, and this is the only set of customers that are affected, we just aren’t prepared to do that,” he says.
A Challenge For Wind Power
Complicating matters is the fact that wind farm generators make much of their income from federal tax credits. The government pays them per megawatt hour, so they really don’t like it when those blades stop turning.
They also say Bonneville is forcing them to break contracts with utilities in places like California, which are required to buy a certain amount of renewable energy. Wind farms have encountered similar problems around the country. Mark Bolinger studies renewable energy markets for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
“Transmission is probably one of the largest issues facing wind development in the U.S.,” he says. “In 2010, roughly 5 percent of all wind generation that could have happened was actually curtailed due to transmission constraints.”
Sometimes the reason is infrastructure — lack of room in the grid — and sometimes it’s financial, as in the case of Bonneville’s reluctance to pay other regions to take the surplus. Finally, there’s the economy. Until customer demand for power picks up some more, the tricky problem of too much power isn’t likely to go away.