4/23/12 How long will the Wind Industry deny the problem? For as long as the money keeps coming.

California, Wisconsin


By Miriam Raftery,

Source East County Magazine, eastcountymagazine.org 

April 22, 2012

For years, the tobacco industry claimed that cigarettes don’t cause cancer—long after compelling medical evidence proved otherwise.  A similar scenario is now happening with the wind industry, which has put forth various “experts” funded by the wind industry to claim that no evidence exists of negative health impacts caused by wind turbines.

Those are dubious claims that ignore mounting medical evidence around the world indicating that living near wind turbines can harm human health.

In numerous countries, neighbors living near turbines have been forced to abandon their homes after developing serious health problems.  Low-frequency infrasound, audible noise, dirty energy, and ground currents are among the measurable outputs at some wind energy facilities—despite industry denials–and all have been linked to serious health impacts in people as well as animals.

Besides extensive anecdotal evidence, a growing number of medical journals, including peer-reviewed studies, have documented health issues related to wind energy.  A growing number of medical experts and public health departments  have called for new wind facilities to have significantly greater setbacks than the industry wants in order to protect public health—if such projects are built at all.

The American Wind Energy Association steadfastly denies that wind turbines cause health problems.  According to the AWEA website,  “An Expert Panel Review (full report here, executive summary here), was released in December 2009.  Following review of current literature, the advisory panel concluded that there is no evidence the audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects on humans.” 

AWEA further claims that “Wind power is a clean energy source that can provide communities with decreased greenhouse gas emissions, along with air quality improvements and corresponding human health benefits.  For more information, please see AWEA’s Wind Turbines and Health and Utility Scale Wind Energy and Sound fact sheets.”

On a large scale, replacing coal-burning plants with wind means cleaner air.  But clean air is just one measurement of health—and the industry conveniently omits the fact that for people living or working near wind turbines, health concerns appear both real and plentiful.

Let’s start with a real world example.  On January 10, 2012, the Brown County Board of Health in Wisconsin adopted a resolution http://www.windturbinesyndrome.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/BCResolutions.pdf  also supported by County Supervisors calling for emergency state funds to aid “families suffering around industrial wind turbines” including relocation of entire families. The resolution includes an extensive bibliography of sources documenting serious health impacts from turbines, including many that are peer-reviewed. The resolution declares an “emergency relating to public heatlh, safety or welfare” including effects from noise and shadow flicker.

Judy Frieerichs, director/health officer at Brown County Health Dept., told ECM that the residents who are ill live at distances ranging from 1,150 feet to 3,200 feet from the turbines. 

Jay Tibbetts, M.D., with Brown County Dept. of Health said the board recommends a minimum half to three-quarters of a mile setback, with no audible noise or shadow flicker.  “There is some consensus of a setback of 2 kilometers,  1.24 miles,” he said.”A huge problem is that none of these setbacks take infrasound (inaudible sound) into consideration.  Infrasound can travel much greater distances than audible sound,” he said, adding, “Infrasound may be more of a threat to human health than other factors.”

Dr. Tibbetts also voiced concern over stray voltage (dirty electricity) linked to wind turbines in his community. “There is an association of pediatric leukemia and lymphoma with prolonged exposure and one family has a very high stray voltage measurement.”

Symptoms experienced by Brown County residents include a “sense of flight or flight, marked uneasiness, headache, nausea, dizziness, ear pressure…A few family members living in the vicinity of wind turbines can sense when the turbines are on and off without seeing them. Two families have abandoned their homes and another four would if they could financially.” 

Shadow flicker, which can cause migraines and potentially seizures in epileptics similar to the effect of strobe lights are simply annoying to many people.  “One local wind farm supplied a household with a room darkening shade,” said Tibbett, who finds the solution woefully inadequate. “The best way to prevent health issues is safe siting.”

(Editor’s note:  In San Diego County, this author took a neighbor to arbitration over a security light shining through a bedroom window. The owner proposed a black out blind for her neighbor, but the mediator ruled that this would not be adequate mediation since a homeowner has a right to have their windows open for fresh air.  He found the light to be a private nuisance and ordered the owner to cover half of it and prevent light from disturbing the household next door.)

Brown County officials also called for science-based setback guidelines, noting that wind siting rules “were created without oversight of a medical professional.”  Their proposed guidelines also include provisions to hold wind energy companies responsible for resolving problems if health issues occur despite reasonable efforts to establish safe setbacks.

Carmen Krogh, a retired pharmacist from Ontario, Canada, spoke in Boulevard, California recently on the impacts wind turbines could have on people, particularly children.  Research has found that intrusive noises adversely affect children’s cardiovascular systems, memory, language development and ability to learn, though studies specifically on impacts of wind turbine noise on youngsters has not been done. She titled her presentation “Children: The Canaries in the Coal Mine.”  At the same meeting, appraisal consultant Mike McCann of Chicago said the impact zone of a wind farm is two to five miles, with dramatic negative impacts on property values as well.

Audiology Today, a publication of the American Academy of Audiology, published an article in June/July 2010 titled “Wind Noise: What Audiologists Should Know.”  The report cites “evidence that exposure to high levels of low-frequency energy can have adverse health effects” and notes that wind turbines produce low-frequency acoustic energy below the level that humans can here.  Turbines also generate vibrations that can be highly disturbing and harmful.   These inaudible sounds can vibrate in houses and building spaces, rattling doors and rumbling through the ground, even vibrating in “bodily tissues and cavities”, causing chronic sleep disturbances and other illnesses, the report states. 

Sleep disturbances are “common in people who live up to about 1.25 miles away” from turbines.  “This is the setback distance at which a group of turbines would need to be in order not to be a nighttime noise disturbance,” the Journal of Audiology concludes, noting that this is the setback required in several countries with substantial experience with wind energy facilities. 

The French National Academy of Medicine recommends turbines be placed at least 1.5 km away from residential areas  Buffers to disrupt sound waves and filters to prevent stray electricity are among other measures that can also be taken—but the core protection is making sure that homes are not located too close to industrial wind facilities.

But sleep isn’t the only problem.

Wind Turbine Syndrome has been documented by Dr. Nina Pierpont of the esteemed Johns Hopkin Medical School in a peer-reviewed report. http://www.windturbinesyndrome.com/wind-turbine-syndrome/what-is-wind-turbine-syndrome/  These include headache, dizziness/vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in ears), ear pressure, ear pain, memory and concentration problems, fatigue, irritability, sleep disturbance and Visceral Vibratory Vestibular Distrubance (VWD). The latter includes rapid heartbeat, nausea, internal quivering or pulsation, and more.

A report in Aviation, Space, Environmental Medicine  details Vibracoustic Disease (VAD), an ailment associated with long-term exposure to infrasound for ten years or more.  It can cause permanent tissue and organ damage as well as cardiac arrhythmias, hypertension and more.  It can also cause chest pain, severe join pain, stroke, epilepsy, and neurological disturbances in the late stages, the Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society reports, citing multiple scientific studies.

Audible sounds from turbines have been described as airplanes or helicopters overhead that never leave, whooshing and thumping sounds. 

The World Health Organization concludes that what you can’t hear CAN hurt you, just as x-rays and UV radiation that you can’t see causes harm.  According to WHO, populations vulnerable to infrasound include “elderly persons, children, especially those younger than age six; and people with pre-existing medical conditions, especially if sleep is affected.”

To date, the wind industry has fought to keep sound measured only in decibels (dba) using an A-weighted scale.  But the Journal of Audiology report concludes that “For wind turbine noise, the A-weighting scale is especially ill-suited because of its devaluation of the effects of low-frequency noise. This is why it is important to make C-weighted measurements, as well as A-weighted measurements, when considering the impact of sound form wind turbines.”

The Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society issued a proof article September 20, 2011 titled Wind Turbines Make Waves: Why Some Residents Near Wind Turbines Become Ill.”  Researchers describe how turbines generate pressure waves and electromagnetic waves.  High frequencies can also flow along wires (dirty electricity) and along the ground generating ground current. 

“These four types of waves—noise, infrasound, dirty electricity, and ground current—and shadow flicker are each likely to contribute to ill health among those who live near wind turbines,” the article states.

Not all individuals experience symptoms. Just as some people are more sensitive to chemicals, allergies, and electromagnetic radiation, so, too, are some people more sensitive to the effects of waves from wind turbines. Some studies suggest that people who  experience motion sickness, experience dizziness or nausea on carnival rides, or have migraines, eye or ear problems are more apt to suffer serious effects.

A report by the U.S. Air Force Institute for National Security Studies in 1997 indicated that low frequency sound can travel long distances and penetrate buildings with potentially lethal effects. “Transmission of long wave-length sound creates biophysical effects, nausea, loss of bowels, disorientation, vomiting, potential organ damage or death may occur,” the report found.

Indeed, infrasound has been used by the U.S. military as a weapon capable of deterring enemy forces with potential for serious and permanent harm to health at high or prolonged levels.

Dirty electricity, or electricity escaping power lines,  can interfere with electronic equipment as well as harming humans, livestock, pets and wildlife.  Symptoms include sleeplessness, higher blood pressure, heart palpitrations, itching, ringing and pain in the ears, watery eyes, chest pressure, difficulty breathing and more – symptoms that disappear when patients leave home and reappear when they return. Impacts on health have been documented at schools in Canada and Wisconsi, as well as among teachers in a California school, as Milham & Morgan reported in 2008.

Dr. Milham submitted evidence at a San Diego County Planning Commission in April 2012 demonstrating that he took measurements and found skyrocketing levels of ground current inside the Manzanita Indian reservation’s tribal hall and church—measurements he attributes to the nearby Kumeyaay wind farm on the Campo Indian reservation.  High ground current levels have also been found in Palm Springs due to a wind farm nearby. Ground current can even enter homes through plumbing.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture in 2007 warned that  ground current, also called stray voltage or tingle voltage, can harm farm animals, pets and people.  Symptoms that the Ontario report cites include high rates of spontaneous abortions in cattle, higher piglet mortality rates, horses exhibiting behavior and handling issues, dairy cows shocked through milking machines, an cats producing small, unhealthy litters or dying. 

If wind farms can cause miscarriages in animals, can they have similar impacts on pregnant women?  Nobody knows, since no studies have been done.

Unexplained mass die-offs of livestock have occurred near some wind farms.  In New Zealand, 400 goats dropped dead.  In Wisconsin, a farmer lost most of his cattle herd after turbines went in. 

Problems are getting worse as turbines become bigger and more powerful.

On June 29, 2011, the Waubra Foundation in Australia issued an “explicit cautionary notice” to officials worldwide responsible for wind turbine siting decisions.  The Foundation’s field research identified symptoms of people not only living, but working or visiting within 10 kilometers or turbines. In addition to symptoms listed above, the list includes depression and post traumatic stress disorder, suicidal ideation, heart attacks and more at the Toora and Waubra wind projects in Australia, where over 20 familiies have abandoned their homes due to ill health since turbines began operations. 

“Some of these people have walked away from their only financial asset, to live in a shed or a caravan on someone else’s land,” Waubra Foundation notes.

The organization urges prohibiting turbines within 10 km of homes, adding, “To ignore existing evidence by continuing the current practice of siting turbines closet o homes is to run the dangerous risk of breaching a fundamental duty of care, thus attracting grave liability.”

Around the world, opposition to wind energy is growing. 

The North American Platform Against Windpower (NA-PAW) at http://www.na-paw.org/ is mobilizing people seeking a moratorium on siting projects near homes until science determines safe distances.   Similar groups have formed in many communities around the wolrd, such as the Ontario Wind Resistance Website (http://ontario-wind-resistance.org/) and Wind Wise Radio in Vermont (http://www.windwiseradio.org).

In Wisconsin, residents near the Shirley wind farm have videotaped their stories and put them on Youtube. 

One family moved away after the entire family developed ear pain and headaches, but can’t sell their home due to the property devaluation. 

A farmer whose land is a mile to a mile and a half away from turbines reports that “cows are dying…going down, pretty much lifeless…19 died or had to be put down, I lost 30 calves so far.” One cow taken to a friend’s recovered after leaving the farm.

 Yet another family says they escape into their basement, where symptoms including severe headaches temporarily subside. 

Eerily, several residents reported they no longer hear crickets or see birds.  “Wildlife in our area has drastically dropped…it’s pretty much lifeless,” one resident said.

An elderly neighbor living near a wind facility said hearing aids pick up turbine noise that can’t be tuned out. “Once they’re up, there’s no way out,” she complained. “You’re stuck for 30 years, which is a long time.”

One problem facing researchers is that the wind industry has often persuaded residents to sign nondisclosure releases regarding medical and noise complaints in exchange for money, such as renting a farmer’s field to site turbines, or giving money to organizations. 

Government officials have often failed to give adequate weight to health issues, ignoring voluminous evidence.  The final environmental impact statement/final environmental impact review for the Ocotillo Express wind project proposal, for instance, is dismissive of the issues despite the fact that some homes in Ocotillo would be within a half mile of turbines on not one, but up to three sides – clearly well within the impact where significant health problems can be anticipated.

Some agencies ARE taking notice, however.  

San Diego County’s Planning Commission recently heard testimony regarding a proposed wind ordinance that industry sources said would impose the toughest infrasound requirements in California—so stringent that some wind energy representatives present testified that if enacted, it could spell the death knell for the wind industry in San Diego County.   Harley McDonald of  Iberdrola, which hopes to build the Tule Wind facility in McCain Valley, said the ordinance would amount to a “de facto ban” on wind facilities in San Diego County, where numerous projects are proposed, most on public lands including Cleveland National Forest sites.

The proposed San Diego ordinance would include C-measurements for infrasound—a proposal the industry representatives vigorously opposed, claiming it would force setbacks from homes that would be impossible to meet. http://eastcountymagazine.org/node/9354 . San Diego planners also heard from concerned residents, then postponed a decision in order to conduct site visits and a workshop to explore issues further—including the impacts of noise, infrasound, dirty energy and ground current. 

Commissioner Bryan Woods drew applause from beleaguered residents when he stated that he will not support “wind energy at the expense of folks who have lived there for generations. It’s not right to displace them.”  

[video available: "The Unvarnished Truth: Shirley Wind Project Victims Speak Out" {Wisconsin}]

Posted on Monday, April 23, 2012 at 05:44PM by Registered CommenterThe BPRC Research Nerd | Comments Off

4/16/12 Brits Back Away from Big Wind AND How many types of turbine noise are there? And how many more times are wind developers going to tell us they sound like a refrigerator?

From the U.K.


SOURCE The Sunday Times, www.thesundaytimes.co.uk

April 15 2012 

Isabel Oakeshott, Political Editor,

Britain does not need more onshore wind farms, according to the climate change minister.

In what will be seen as a shift in strategy, Greg Barker has declared there will be no significant expansion in the number of turbines on land beyond those already in the pipeline.

The move comes five months after his department unveiled plans for up to 10,000 extra onshore turbines, prompting an outcry among Tory MPs.

More than 100 Conservative backbenchers wrote to the prime minister labelling onshore wind “inefficient” and attacking the scale of government subsidies to the industry.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Barker claimed the Department of Energy and Climate Change had adopted an “unbalanced” approach to wind farms in the past and must now look at other options.

“Far from wanting thousands more, actually for most of the wind we need . . . they are either built, being developed, or in planning. The notion that there’s some spectre of a new wave of wind [farms] is somewhat exaggerated,” he said.

The former energy secretary, Chris Huhne, was an enthusiastic proponent of wind power, publishing a report last December which called for up to 32,000 new wind turbines, 10,000 of which could be onshore. There are now about 3,000 onshore turbines, with a few hundred offshore. The plan would have transformed Britain’s wildest landscapes, alarming local MPs. Huhne’s resignation in February appears to have paved the way for a retreat.

Barker dismissed the 10,000 figure, saying: “It’s about being balanced and sensible. We inherited a policy from the last government which was unbalanced in favour of onshore wind.”;

He wants a focus on offshore farms and admitted some onshore locations had been misguided. “There have been some installations in insensitive or unsuitable locations — too close to houses, or in an area of outstanding natural beauty.”;

Last week Barker announced new details of the government’s “green deal”, a scheme to make homes more energy efficient. Under the programme, householders will be able to invest in energy-efficient installations, such as double glazing and underfloor heating, without having to pay upfront.

Barker said the economic downturn had forced the government to change its approach to green issues to deliver better value for money.

“There is a requirement to rethink the economics of green. We have to have a more nuanced and sophisticated policy. Basically, that means reducing costs quicker, looking to commercialise sooner, and thinking more carefully about the use of public subsidy.”

From California


By Miriam Raftery,

SOURCE East County Magazine, eastcountymagazine.org

April 15 2012 

The San Diego County Planning Commission voted Friday to postpone action on a proposed wind ordinance after hearing several hours of testimony. The vote was unanimous, with the exception of Commissioner Peder Norby, who abstained due to a conflict of interest.

On one hand, wind industry representatives contended that setbacks and low frequency noise standards proposed would effectively bar most industrial-scale wind projects in our region. On the other hand, rural residents voiced fears that the ordinance did not go far enough to protect health and safety , as well as to preserve many of East County’s most scenic areas that fall within a “wind resources” map. Among the most contentious areas is the “Descanso Wind Resources” area within Cleveland National Forest.

The Board of Supervisors asked staff to develop a two-tiered framework to “simplify” standards and bring wind regulations into line with current wind turbine technologies including newer, larger turbines, a staffer explained. Currently the county has three wind use categories based on heights and other factors. Under the new proposed wind ordinance, there would be two categories. Turbines greater than 50 kilowatts would require major use permits to install, those under 50 KW would not. Smaller turbines would be prohibited on ridges and could have no power lines or lights.

The wind resources in San Diego County are predominantly in East County, including mountain areas such as Julian and the Lagunas, numerous places within Cleveland National Forest, and rural communities such as Boulevard.

A staff member said low-frequency noise emitted by turbines can cause noise and pressure sensations in neighbors close to turbines due to the”bumping and swooshing” of turbine blades “all day and all night.” He said the sensation has been likened to hearing the bass sound of music. Staff played a Youtube video depicting various sounds made by turbines: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3FvyrHOeB0 “Low frequency noise can only be mitigated through distance,” the staffer said. Staff proposed a new low-frequency noise standard based on “C-weighted” dBAs. If standards were found too restrictive, planners would waive the rule on a case by case basis, he added, or a developer could get permission from neighbors.

A State Fish & Game official voiced concerns over impacts on birds and bats particularly if smaller turbines don’t go through review for biological impacts and warned that some small land owners might unknowingly violate state law. The Viejas band of Kumeyaay Indians sent a letter raising concerns over impacts on cultural resources, birds and health—as well as concerns that they were not notified of the hearing.

Donna Tisdale, Chair of the planning group in Boulevard, where multiple industrial wind projects are proposed, presented a slideshow and testified emotionally that wind developers are playing “hardball” with misrepresentations including “actual fraud” to push projects through.

For example, she said some wind industry representatives have claimed turbines are “quiet as a refrigerator” and that golden eagles and other birds can “easily dodge blades moving at 200 mph.”

Industry representatives at the hearing claimed that dirty electricity does not travel through the ground. But Tisdale said in Italy, it has been tested and found to travel over six miles.

It’s happened here, too. Samuel Milham, a retired physician epidemiologist and author of Dirty Electricity, submitted charts showing measurements he’s taken on the Manzanita Indian reservation in East County, near the Kumeyaay wind farm in Campo. His findings revealed extremely high levels of ground voltage in the Manzanita tribal church and tribal headquarters.

“The spectra prove that the Campo wind farm and the utility is the source since the sine waves are at 60 Hz,” he said…At the Tribal Headequarters the ground voltage is 7.3 volts.”

Dr. Milham says infrasound generated by turbines is also an issue, found to cause health problems as far as ¾ mile from blades. “My recommendation is that wind turbines should not be sited within ¾ mile of homes and that it would be prudent to delay wind farm construction until the utilities and the manufacturers can solve their electrical pollution problems,” he wrote in his comments.

Tisdale testified that ground currents and infrasound could affect burrowing animals, birds and other wildlife. She also voiced concerns that turbines would increase fire insurance for area residents.

She said Interior Secretary Salazar has failed to respond to her request for an investigation into failures at the Kumeyaay wind farm, where all 75 blades had to be replaced after an apparent electrical malfunction in a storm shut down the facility for three months and hurled blade chunks off turbines. She called the matter a “breach of care.” She also quoted a rural resident who said sound from the turbines is “like helicopters hovering overhead.”

Slides presented by Tisdale illustrated the massive scale of modern turbines, which can be nearly 500 feet high, taller than the highest skyscraper in downtown San Diego, with blade spans the size of a commercial jetliner’s wingspan.

At an Iberdrola wind facility in Canada, some neighbors had to abandon their farms and homes, Tisdale testified.

Iberdrola proposes to build Tule Wind Farm in McCain Valley on Bureau of Land Management federal recreation lands. The area has already been impacted by Sunrise Powerlink, a factor Tisdale attributes to displacing wildlife. “Three mountain lions were killed on I-8 last month, a record, and CHP just had to chase bighorn sheep off the freeway,” she noted.

Tisdale also pleaded with planners not to gut Boulevard’s community plan in order to facilitate development of industrial-scale wind projects. (Conversely, the commission’s proposal called for changes to preserve views and prevent large-scale turbines in Borrego Springs.) She called for a moratorium on turbines to protect residents and wildlife.

Harley McDonald from Iberdrola testified that the company seeks to “help supply our renewable energy needs” and cited a need for more power in our region with San Onofre now offline, in order to prevent blackouts. She said the proposed ordinance would amount to a “de facto ban” on large-scale wind projects. Iberdrola currently has 12,000 MW of wind installations in 23 countries and claims to be the largest renewable energy supplier in the world.

Another Iberdrola representative , Jeffrey Durocher, objected to the low-frequency sound standard proposed, adding that “Our project in East County has baseline conditions without turbines that exceed the standards.” He added that it’s unrealistic to expect companies to make big financial investments based on the hope of getting a waiver or permission from neighbors.

He likened low frequency noise to “beach waves” adding, “Some people spend a great amount of disposable income to live there.”
A spokesman for Invenergy, another wind company, said concerns over turbines focus on “annoyance” not health and safety. (A planning commission staffer earlier told commissioners that health risks were not considered due to insufficient data, despite existence of peer-reviewed literature documenting clusters of similar symptoms among people living near turbines, such as sleeplessness, headaches, heart palpitations and ringing in the ears.) Invenergy’s spokesman called wind farms a “good fit” with rural lifestyles due to economic development.

Enel, which wants to build a wind facility in Jewel Valley on 3,600 acres owned by the Lansing family, said only 135 of those acres could be utilized for wind under the proposed ordinance, absent a waiver.

Benjamin Weiss, general counsel for Lansing, contended, “If you think you’re going to get Ms. Tisdale to sign a waiver, that’s not going to happen.”

John Gibson with the East County Renewable Energy Commission launched an even more pointed attack on Tisdale, complaining of a “nuclear warhead from our resident NIMBY.”

Tisdale fired back in her presentation. “I take that as a compliment, but I relate more to backwards NIMBYs, especially when the wind spin doctors are at work.” She displayed a slide showing a bull labeled “Your Bullshit Makes Incredible Nonsense—Be a backwards NIMBY.”

She also showed images of beautiful areas marred or slated to be marred by wind turbines, along with maps showing many new areas in Cleveland National Forest and elsewhere in East County that could become wind facilities in the future.

In addition, she said 505 foot setbacks proposed by the County are inadequate—showing images of towering turbines dominating homes even from much further distances. Tisdale says she has spoken with residents in other areas who complain of noise and health problems while living much farther away from turbines than the County proposal would require.

Holly Smithson with CleanTech San Diego argued against the low-frequency noise standard, which she claimed would be the most restrictive wind ordinance in California.

One slide by a proponent of the ordinance urged the County to “cut green tape.”

But a woman who resides in Borrego Springs testified that living 150 feet from a neighbor’s small turbine, just 160 feet tall, has caused noise and light issues that have ruined her enjoyment of the outdoors at her home. She said other neighbors 500 feet away also have issues and that sounds reach 60 decibels, similar to a “plane of helicopter with blades chopping. It’s not fleeting-it’s continual sounds. What can the County do to restore our right to peace and quiet in the desert?”

A Sierra Club representative called for a key section in the wind resources map to be removed from consideration including a roadless area within a mile of eagle nests near the upper San Diego River Gorge. The spokesperson feared the wind projects could be a “way to dignifiy bringing huge transmission lines across Boulder Creek and across the face of Cuyamaca.”

Laurie Baker, a Santee resident who enjoys hiking in the backcountry, said she supports a “no project” alternative and worries about habitat fragmentation.

ECM editor Miriam Raftery raised concerns over setbacks, health and safety issues, impacts on wildlife and views and urged that the cumulative impact of multiple large projects be considered.

An attorney from Latham and Watkins cited concerns over brownouts with San Onofre offline and urged the commission to move quickly. “Do you want it or do you not?” he said of wind energy. “If we don’t want wind, then let’s move on and do something else.”

Some on the commission seemed inclined to do just that.

Commissioner Bryan Woods said he wants to have a workshop and a fieldtrip to “get educated” more on the issues and voiced concerns over having “wind energy at the expense of folks who have lived there for generations. It’s not right to displace them.” Adding that he’s heard from enough wind industry representatives, he added, “I want to hear from more residents.”

He also suggested that the County should consider imposing stringent sound standards. “I’d even like to make the threshold tougher, to what will be built tomorrow,” he said, indicating he believed the industry would response with turbines that would be quieter and generate less low-frequency sound. “When we decided autos had to get 30-40 mph, it’s amazing how fast that developed,” he remarked.

Commissioner Michael Beck wanted to know if vertical axis turbines are viable alternatives for small-scale turbines. Proponents have indicated vertical axis turbines are safer for birds, have less visual impact and can produce more megawatts. Beck suggested they might be “silver bullets” adding pointedly, “Until I get clear about that not being a viable alternative, I can’t be serious about this.”

Beck also worried about infrastructure impacts, noting the damage done by Sunrise Powerlink. “Drive out there and you can see it,” he said of the large towers. He wants to see power lines undergrounded, but notes that granite-strewn terrain could be a constraint. He also voiced support for a field trip to see the areas that would be impacted.

Commissioner David Pallinger said there are “many, many issues from many groups” and said consideration of how to resolve issues at the “county and national” levels must be determined.

Commissioner Leon Brooks said he shared his colleagues concerns and also voiced support for a workshop and field trips.
Commissioner Riess recalled an incident when a Russian submarine leaked secrets through sounds intercepted and said the Soviets promptly eliminated all leaks. “Can’t we get the C-levels down?” he asked.

The Commission will likely have further discussion on the wind ordinance issues at its next meeting on April 27, with staff provided additional time to address concerns raised. Public testimony will be heard again at a future date not yet determined. Meanwhile a workshop and tour will be organized by staff.

With wind subsidies expiring at year’s end, the wind developers face a steep obstacle to future projects in the U.S.; some have also experienced plummeting stock prices in part due to market uncertainties. Now, those uncertainties also include the future of wind regulations in San Diego.
Commissioner Adam Day suggested moving forward with the general plan changes affecting Boulevard and Borrego, but backed down when staff said that was infeasible given the objections raised. Day then responded, “If we’re going to encourage clean renewable energy, let’s do that…not put up artificial barriers.”

As for what the industry should do in the meantime, Day opined, “Maybe people should just submit their projects and roll the dice.”

Posted on Monday, April 16, 2012 at 11:12AM by Registered CommenterThe BPRC Research Nerd | Comments Off

4/12/11 Gone with the wind developer

From Wyoming:


By Ben Neary

Associated Press

April 11, 2012

The pitch on behalf of Mountain State Power sounded enticing: For $25,000 and with minimal risk, you could cash in on the green energy boom in Wyoming and South Dakota, taking advantage of a wind farm project partly funded by the federal government.

Contracts with local power companies already were in place to buy the wind-driven power, so you'd get your initial investment back quickly, along with a 40 percent annual return on it for the next decade or so.

Contractors using heavy machinery already could be seen working land in Butte County, S.D., a sign to investors that the plan was under way and viable.

All of it was little more than hot air, say federal prosecutors.

An indictment filed March 15 accuses three people of defrauding investors of $3.7 million. Robert Arthur Reed and Lauren Elizabeth Scott of Morgan, Utah, and Christopher Ponish, of Panorama City, Calif., were charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Reed faces other charges of mail fraud and wire fraud.

All three pleaded not guilty at arraignments in federal court last week. Their attorneys didn't respond to telephone messages seeking comment.

John Powell, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Cheyenne, declined comment on the case and declined to identify any of the alleged victims.

According to the indictment, Reed and Scott used aliases as well as the company names of Mountain State Power Group, Inc., Mountain State Power, Inc. and Sovereign Energy Partners in the scheme.

Reed and Scott paid phone solicitors to make cold calls to investors, telling them that the wind farms were being constructed jointly by private investors and the U.S. government, the indictment says. Potential stakeholders were told that "government funds had been set aside by the President of the United States for the development of green energy for these alleged wind farm projects."

The indictment also states that Scott incorporated Mountain State Power. Bank and postal accounts were opened in Wyoming and other states in 2009. Scott allegedly moved to acquire a parcel of land near Casper while investors were told more land was under development in South Dakota.

Ponish even traveled to Butte County in August to allegedly pay contractors $2,800 in cash "to move earth around with heavy equipment to create a false illusion that the Sovereign wind farm project was actually under construction," the indictment says.

Through it all, investors received letters stating that the wind projects were under way or had been completed, it said.

The indictment charges that Reed, Scott and Ponish variously used investors' money for personal investments as well as to buy a motor coach and make payments on Scott's residence in Morgan.

U.S. District Judge Scott W. Skavdahl of Casper on Tuesday ordered Reed detained. Court papers state Reed has several aliases and drivers licenses and poses a flight risk. Skavdahl set bail for Scott at $20,000, unsecured, allowing her to be released to the custody of her daughter.

Skavdahl arraigned Ponish on April 5, allowing him to remain out of custody.

Investors might have been taken in by the buzz over the past several years surrounding green energy, while the notion that the federal government might jump into an alternative power project isn't far-fetched. Federal agencies are investigating the Obama administration's loan of more than $500 million to Solyndra Inc., a California solar energy company that collapsed soon after receiving the federal funds

Ron Rebenitsch, executive director for the South Dakota Wind Energy Association, said he had never heard of the defendants or the companies.

Some in the wind-energy field in Wyoming also said they hadn't heard of the defendants.

"It's no secret that starting in about 2002 and 2003, the speculation market for Wyoming wind was a hotbed of activity, and continued to be, all the way up until three major things came to a head," said Dave Picard, a state lobbyist for the Wyoming Power Producers Coalition, an association of wind energy companies. Development recently has slowed because of changes in state tax policy, uncertainty over the federal tax credit and concern about development's effect on sage grouse, a bird that could be placed on the federal endangered species list.

Picard said Wyoming also suffers from a lack of power-line capacity to move more power out of the state even if more farms are built.

Posted on Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 09:24AM by Registered CommenterThe BPRC Research Nerd | Comments Off

4/2/12 Their money or your life? Wind Farm Strong Arm Continues: Emerging Energies VS Town of Forest


By Jeff Holmquist,

Source: New Richmond News, www.newrichmond-news.com

March 30, 2012 

About 20 residents of the Town of Forest attended last week’s St. Croix County Health and Human Services Board meeting to seek help in their fight against a wind farm proposal.

Forest resident Doris Schmidt told the board members that residents are concerned about possible health issues that may develop among those living close to the 41 wind turbines planned for the township.

She pointed to a turbine project near Green Bay (Brown County) that was installed by Emerging Energies LLC, the developer seeking to construct the Highland Wind Farm in Forest, as an example of what can go wrong when turbines are close to homes.

Brenda Salseg, Forest, said people living near a turbine often complained of headaches, sleep deprivation, anxiety and other health issues. Stray voltage, low-frequency sound and “flicker” from the moving shadow of the blades are among the impacts of wind energy on residents, she added.

“There is no doubt in my mind that there are health issues related to industrial wind turbines,” she said.

Resident Nicole Miller fought back tears as she talked about the possibility that her family’s life on a dairy farm could be disrupted by a wind farm coming in.

“We don’t know if we can afford to move,” she told the board. “We don’t know if we can afford to stay. Any support you could give us would be wonderful.”

Salseg said the Town of Forest was targeted by Emerging Energies because the municipality is not governed by St. Croix County zoning rules. Now the developer wants to squeeze in a bunch of turbines in a relatively small area, impacting residents for miles around, she told the board.

State siting rules allow for a turbine to be placed within 1,250 feet of a residence. Salseg noted that some research indicated that such turbines should be as much as 2,000 feet away from a home.

According to Salseg, there are 21 landowners in the township who have agreed to have turbines placed on their property. That’s a small percentage of the 170 families and 215 households currently in the Town of Forest, she noted.

Forest resident LaVerne Hoitomt said there are places across the nation that make more sense for wind farms. Large tracts of land in states like North Dakota and Nebraska would allow for turbines to be placed well away from houses, he said.

A wind farm in a densely populated place like the Town of Forest makes no sense, he added.

If the wind farm proceeds, Schmidt claimed, Forest residents would likely see a drop in their property values. Property rights would also be compromised, she said, as setbacks from turbines would likely limit what people can build on their properties.

County board member Esther Wentz added that county roads could be in jeopardy if the wind farm goes forward. County and town roads aren’t constructed to a high enough standard to withstand the beating they’d take while the wind farm would be constructed, she claimed.

Pete Kling, director of the county Zoning and Planning Department, said the county has little say when it comes to the placement of turbines in the Town of Forest. The county does have an existing tower ordinance which limits the height of towers to 200 feet, but it’s unclear if that ordinance would include wind turbines. The Forest project would include turbines that could reach almost 500 feet.

Although he had few encouraging words, Kling said county officials continue to research the matter.

“We hear you and we’re working with officials in the Town of Forest,” he said. “These are very complicated issues.”

Ed Thurman, environmental health specialist with St. Croix County, said studies on the health impact of wind turbines is inconclusive. Three studies have been done to date but additional studies are not likely, he said.

Thurman told the board that research seems to indicate that health impacts are “minimal,” so he suggested the officials not take a stand in the matter.

But board member Richard “Buzz” Marzolf said the residents did a good job of laying out their concerns and the Health and Human Services Board should back their efforts to derail the project.

“The research they’ve done is quite apparent,” he said. “I see no reason to delay.”

The board voted unanimously to support a four-part plan of action suggested by the Forest residents in attendance. The Health and Human Services Board, with the help of staff members, will send a letter of “official support” of a Brown County Board of Health resolution on behalf of the Town of Glenmore and the Town of Forest to the State of Wisconsin; file a “Letter of Declaration of Health Concerns” for the Town of Forest residents and residents within the project footprint with the Public Service Commission on PSC Docket 2535-CE-100; petition the state of Wisconsin to “authorize and execute third-party, non-biased health studies in existing wind energy project areas to determine why industrial wind turbines make some individuals sick;” and assist the Town of Forest and residents within the project footprint with a voluntary baseline population health assessment before and after should the Highland Wind project be permitted by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

The residents in the audience applauded following the vote.

“We’ll try to do anything we can to help you,” Wentz said.

After the majority of Forest residents left the meeting, St. Croix County Board Chairman Daryl Standafer told the board that he was “uncomfortable” with the action it took in the matter.

He said his family has had personal experience living near wind turbines and he is not aware of any health issues surrounding them.

“There are two sides to this issue,” he said.

In a telephone interview Monday, Jay Mundinger, founding principal of Emerging Energies, said recent studies indicate that there are no negative health effects of wind turbines near homes. He cited a recent Massachusetts study that there was no health impacts related to wind turbines.

Mundinger said the developer continues to work with state and federal regulators to ensure that the public’s health is not at risk.

He admitted, however, that the comments about health concerns are part of the public process and Emerging Energies welcomes the opportunity to answer any and all questions.

He added that the Highland Wind Farm is “rightly sited” because the turbines would be located in one of the least populated townships in St. Croix County.

3/30/12 Oh. THAT'S Why wind developers won't agree to give residents a property value protection agreement.


By Billie Jo Jannen,

SOURCE East County Magazine, eastcountymagazine.org

March 30, 2012 

The current study, released in July of 2011 by the Economic Financial Studies School of Business at Clarkson University, cites losses of up to 45 percent on properties located within 0.10 miles of new wind turbine facilities.

A real estate appraisal expert who has made a specialty of assessing impacts from nearby wind turbines has announced that he is revising his figures in response to a recent study of over 11,300 transactions near northern New York state turbine arrays.

Mike McCann of McCann Appraisal, LLC spoke at a Boulevard wind energy information meeting last winter and said property owners experience an average 25 percent value loss. At the time, he expected properties up to two miles away to experience value changes in response to turbine construction.

“I wish to refine my distance of forecast adverse value impacts to include at least three miles, should any 3 MW turbines be proposed by any of the developers in East County,” McCann said. “Furthermore, property value guarantees should extend to this greater range to reflect the nuisance and stigma effect of more powerful turbines on marketing of homes.”

The current study, released in July of 2011 by the Economic Financial Studies School of Business at Clarkson University, cites losses of up to 45 percent on properties located within 0.10 miles of new wind turbine facilities. This has prompted him to revise his loss figure upward to a maximum of 40 percent and expected adverse impacts out to three miles, with effects becoming less extreme with distance.

“The Clarkson study clearly shows value impacts out to three miles … and clearly shows the closer the turbine, the greater the impact,” McCann said.

A Department of Energy-funded study originally released in 2009 by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, often cited by wind proponents, says property value impacts are negligible and that effect of what is known as “wind farm anticipation stigma” goes away after the turbines are built. The Berkeley results are divided into sale values for pre-announcement, post-announcement and post-construction time periods. The study may be flawed, however, as it leaves out some of the very properties that might provide the most telling results, McCann said.

In the study footnotes, Berkeley authors specified that land without homes, properties of over 25 acres, homes where the sale price was thought to deviate too far from the norm and 34 repeat sales were excluded from the study.

A co-author of the study, SDSU Economic Department Chairman Mark Thayer, defended the exclusions as appropriate from a statistical standpoint and said he feels the Clarkson study supports the Berkeley conclusion that negative value impacts go away after the projects are built.

The Clarkson study is based mainly on pre-construction figures, Thayer said: “There is no impact. Property values do not go down near turbines.”

However, real estate appraisers, which are closely regulated by the federal government, base their calculations on “comps,” or nearby sales of comparative properties. A licensed appraiser would not have the luxury of leaving out the properties omitted by Berkeley, McCann said, so the older study does not offer a realistic assessment of the value loss that would be suffered by neighbors of turbine arrays. Statistically appropriate or not, those sales would not be excluded from an appraisal.

“The fallacy of the Berkeley study is the assumption that value impacts must somehow be statistically significant against a data background of sales located 5 to 10 miles from turbines,” McCann said. “Had they focused on the 1/10th-mile to 3-mile range, I expect their findings would be significant to the homeowners who are losing 15 to 40 percent of their home equity and value.”

Neither of the studies consider time-on-market, McCann said, adding, “And what about the homes that don’t sell at all?” The latter do not show up on studies because there are no transaction records for them.

The size of the turbines being built is also a factor in McCann’s announcement, as almost all the data available is on older installations that contain smaller turbines. Increasingly, 3-megawatt machines are appearing on the landscape with concomitant increases in visibility and sound pressure. Sound is a “disamenity” often mentioned by wind farm neighbors, some of whom have abandoned their homes altogether because of the constant noise.

McCann is a proponent for property value guarantees in communities that are heavily impacted by wind turbine projects. Both the Boulevard and Jacumba planning groups have asked for property value guarantees as a condition for permitting large projects, as well as evidence-supported setbacks and protections in the noise ordinance to include low frequency and sub-audible effects. Both wind developers and the county have, so far, resisted addressing either.

Among the numerous energy projects proposed for the Boulevard area is Tule Wind, a 420-turbine project slated to be built along McCain Valley Road by Iberdrola Renewables. The turbines will range in size from 2MW to 2.5MW.

Asked why, if they are so confident of no impacts, wind developers wouldn’t offer value guarantees, Tule Wind project manager Jeffrey Durocher said the terms of some proposed guarantee programs are just too subjective.

Some proposals “… give the homeowner leeway to claim that any value loss is attributable to the presence of turbines, despite the possible effects of other factors,” Durocher said.

“It’s very difficult to get agreement among the various parties on what causes the value loss. To do that for a number of homes for an unspecified distance is pretty unmanageable,” Durocher said.