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7/9/11 Let's hear it for the Birds (and bats and bees) AND Not-so-breaking-news: Wind developers don't like local ordinance AND Measure wind turbine noise? Sure, let me get my ruler.

New York Times - Turbine Free Wind Power from Gareth O'Brien on Vimeo.



By Traci Tillman

BLISSFIELD, Mich. — Riga Township’s newly amended ordinance to build turbines on township property leaves no room to actually construct the turbines, wind-power developers said Friday.

But some community members are discussing a referendum petition that would let Riga residents vote down the ordinance, leaving room for the development of new regulations.

“[The farming community and the wind-farming community] realize the situation and I think they’ll push for a referendum too,” resident Paul Wohlfarth said. “I expect it’ll probably go to a referendum vote.”

Wind-power developers said amendments to an ordinance involving sound and setbacks between turbines and property lines are too restrictive for a single turbine to be placed in Riga — the first among four townships slated for wind energy development.

The township board approved the ordinance Wednesday night at a meeting attended by about 500 people. Developers are looking at land in Riga, and some of its township neighbors — Ogden, Palmyra, and Fairfield — for construction of the turbines. The issue has been controversial, with opponents expressing concerns about possible noise, pollution, and health issues.

According to Riga’s ordinance, any turbines the developers build must be set back from properties a distance of four times the height of the turbine, which would be almost 500 feet in height. Additionally, the turbines must not produce noise that exceeds 45 decibels during the day, and 40 at night.

Doug Duimering, Exelon Wind’s regional manager of business development, said there is no space in the 4,500 acres the company has leased in Riga that will allow the turbines to meet the standards for both sound and distance.

“There’s just no room,” Mr. Duimering said. “On the land we control, which is a significant portion of land, there is nowhere we can meet the requirements for setback and sound.”

With the restrictions in mind, the company continues to consider options for its 45-turbine project, Mr. Duimering said.

A few Lenawee County citizens with farmland in Riga said they hope voters request a referendum for the sake of alternative energy.

When Charles Marr of Morenci — whose wife, Irene, has leased her Riga land to turbine developers — heard the ordinance might be too restrictive for the turbines, he said he would like to see changes to the ordinances that would accommodate wind-power projects.

Ogden resident Melvin Thompson, who owns farmland in Ogden and Riga that he has leased to developers, agrees.

“I would like [the project] to continue. I’m just waiting to see what happens … but I want the turbines up.”

Riga Township Clerk Karlene Goetz said a registered voter would have to file a notice of intent for a referendum to get on the ballot.

According to the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act, a voter has seven days after this Wednesday’s ordinance publication date to file a notice of intent with Ms. Goetz.

Once the notice is filed, the petitioner will have 30 days to gather signatures of at least 15 percent of Riga residents who voted in the last gubernatorial election.

Residents would have to file the petition by Aug. 16 for the referendum to make the Nov. 8 election ballot.

Joshua Nolan, director of the nonprofit Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition, said a referendum request would not come from his group. Mr. Nolan said he is satisfied with the ordinance.

“The ordinance as it exists is probably the best compromise,” he said.

The coalition is a group that tries to raise awareness of the impact the turbines would have on the communities.

Though the ordinance has complicated wind power projects in Riga, Mr. Duimering said Exelon continues to work with Palmyra and Ogden townships to develop “well-designed projects” on land leased there.

With turbine construction in Ogden and Fairfield under moratoriums so township officials can better study the issue, Riga is the only township to have finished its zoning ordinance.

While developers are considering their options in Riga, they hope the other townships will not follow Riga’s lead.

“We certainly hope they don’t adopt an ordinance similar to Riga’s,” Mr. Duimering said.

But Fairfield trustee and planning commission member Greg Hillard said that as the commission develops its own ordinance, he expects the restrictions to resemble Riga’s.

Mr. Hillard added that, with its moratorium continuing until January, the commission has time to follow the progress of the ordinance and potential referendum in Riga before placing Fairfield’s ordinance before the board.

Ogden Township Trustee Mark Vandenbusch said the township is also developing an ordinance that “fits and protects health and wellness of our community.”

The production of an ordinance in Ogden has been complicated by the recall of Township Supervisor James Goetz and Clerk Phyllis Gentz on the Aug. 2 election ballot.

Riga Supervisor Jefferee Simon is also up for recall Aug. 2.

The recalls are related to possible conflicts of interest involving the turbine issue.

From Ontario



July 9, 2011

By Parker Gallent

Wind power generates noise at levels that Ontario says must meet enforceable standards — but it has no enforceable standards. The long shabby story of wind noise from the province’s wind energy regime: Misguided Direction or Failure to Communicate

The issue of noise from Ontario’s wind farms deserves a full public review. Instead, people are getting a run around from bureaucrats and politicians. Standards don’t exist, yet approvals are being issued without regard to consequences or the impact on people of noise levels.

Donna Cansfield, in November 2005, as Ontario Minister of Energy issued a “Direction” to the Ontario Power Authority instructing it to enter into contracts for up to 1000 MW of new electricity supply from renewable energy. Most were wind turbines. The health and other effects of wind turbines wasn’t actively studied before the contracts were signed. Noise, building codes, environmental standards etc. existed and were adapted tofit. No real review was undertaken.

To cite an example, the Amaranth wind contract used Stantec Consulting Ltd. of Guelph, Ontario to complete an Environmental Screening Report in February. They used Helimax Energie Inc. for the “noise” sector portion of that report. Three and a half years later Helimax presented a paper at the June 2008, World Wind Energy Conference which stated: “no recognized standard exists for measuring the noise impact of an operational wind farm.”

So the “noise” information used for Amaranth in the Environmental Screening Report in 2005 to secure the licence from the Environment Ministry was done without a “recognized standard”.

A leaked paper from the Guelph district office of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment stated the local authority “knowingly issued a series of Certificates of Approval (AIR) that are unenforceable.”

Sound measurement reports from the Ministry of the Environment exceeded the approved 40 decibel limit by almost 30%. The Ministry notes that allowances are related to wind speed and will allow 51 decibels based on higher wind speeds. This is almost 30% greater than those “experienced in a quiet office”. Research indicates a “clearly notable change” occurs with only a 5dB change and a 10dB increase is roughly equivalent to being a doubling in the perceived sound level as noise is measured on a logarithmic scale similar to earthquakes.

Noise produced by wind turbines is defined as “tonal” (eg: sirens, saws, etc.) and intrusive. Normally a 5dB penalty is applied for tonal noise, including that emanating from wind turbines. It is not clear that this penalty is applied by the Ontario regulators.

Dr. Arlene King, Ontario’s Chief Medical Health Officer, has accepted the findings of others in the May 2010 review endorsing setbacks established by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment so that noise levels that do not exceed 40 decibels at the nearest residence. However, health complaints by residents are generally ignored and end up tangled in provincial bureaucracy. A recent story indicates the MOE received 750 complaints in two years.

Most complaints about how people have suffered wind turbine related health effects remain unresolved, but over 25 families (five in Amaranth alone) have publicly disclosed their problems. Families have abandoned their homes and others have had their homes purchased by the developers and signed “gag” orders. Despite all of this, the various Ministries have not altered or changed their outright denial that there are any health effects.

We don’t really know what the health and quality of life issues are related to wind farms, but the evidence so far seems at odds with the basic premise that politicians are elected to execute the “will of the people.” We clearly need a full open factual review of the wind/noise issue. We have the noise, what we don’t is sold review of the facts on the impact on citizens who have to live with it.

Click here to read a more complete version of my comments and report on this subject.

Parker Gallant is a retired Canadian banker who looked at his Ontario electricity bill and didn’t like what he was seeing.

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