3/30/12 Oh. THAT'S why wind developers won't agree to give residents a property value protection plans
PROPERTY VALUE LOSSES NEAR WIND TURBINES GREATER THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT, APPRAISERS SAY
By Billie Jo Jannen,
SOURCE: East County Magazine, eastcountymagazine.org
March 30, 2012
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.
3/24/12 Message from wind developers to birds: DROP DEAD! The U.S. government stands behind us AND ANDAnd.... Life in a wind project: In Vinalhaven, Maine, the misery continues
NEW VOLUNTARY WIND GUIDELINES WILL FAIL TO PROTECT BIRDS SAYS LEADING BIRD CONSERVATION GROUP
American Bird Conservancy,
MEDIA RELEASE Contact: Robert Johns, 202-234-7181 ext.210,
March 23, 2012
American Bird Conservancy (ABC), the nation’s leading bird conservation organization, has called the final, voluntary wind guidelines released today by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) unenforceable, and charged that they will do little to protect millions of birds from the negative impacts of wind energy.
“ABC supports wind power when it is ‘bird-smart.’ Unfortunately, voluntary guidelines will result in more lawsuits, more bird deaths, and more government subsidies for bad projects, instead of what America needs: true green and bird-safe wind energy,” said Kelly Fuller, Wind Campaign Coordinator for ABC.
“The United States has had voluntary guidelines since 2003, and yet preventable bird deaths at wind farms keep occurring. This includes thousands of Golden Eagles thought to have died at Altamont Pass in California, and just recently, more than 500 songbirds reportedly killed on two nights last fall in West Virginia,” said Fuller.
“Years ago, we thought hydro power was the ’green’ energy of the future, so we rushed ahead and built scores of dams. Over 1,000 of those dams have now been torn down because of their serious impacts to the environment. That same blind, shortsighted rush is happening with wind power. We aren’t learning from our past mistakes. History is simply repeating itself,” said Fuller.
In December, with the help of Meyer Glitzenstein and Crystal (MGC), a Washington, D.C.-based public interest law firm, ABC formally petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to establish a mandatory project permitting system (a process that would ensure that wind farms were well sited, operated, and mitigated). If adopted, this system would prevent the most egregious developments while allowing relatively benign developments to proceed in conjunction with certain mitigations.
However, DOI today also rejected this petition. Had it been adopted, the proposal would have protected birds and provided legal certainty that wind developers in compliance with a permit would not have been subjected to criminal or civil penalties for violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The petition is available here.
“For four years, FWS has been attempting to fix the voluntary guidelines problem with band aids. This is in spite of the fact that more than 150 organizations and 20,000 concerned citizens have shown their support for mandatory standards or are on record asking the Department of Interior for mandatory standards, not voluntary guidelines. Included in this group are the Sierra Club, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, American Birding Association, and many state Audubon societies,” Fuller said.
“The federal government is seeking to promote an energy sector in a manner that is in violation of its own laws. The rejection of the effective alternative proposed in our petition in favor of non-binding guidelines is disappointing — for many years now, voluntary guidelines have proven to be completely ineffective. All the government has done today, despite the groundswell of support for mandatory standards, is come up with yet another version of a failed strategy,” said Shruti Suresh, an attorney at MGC.
“Switching to the project permit system proposed in our petition would have fulfilled the agency’s mandate to protect migratory birds and keep them from becoming endangered while still enabling wind power development to continue,” Fuller said.
In 2009, FWS estimated that 440,000 birds were being killed each year by collisions with wind turbines, and recently included this figure in the agency’s 2013 budget request to Congress. In the absence of clear, legally enforceable regulations, the massive expansion of wind power in the United States will likely result in the deaths of more than one million birds each year by 2030. Further, wind energy projects are also expected to adversely impact almost 20,000 square miles of terrestrial habitat, and another 4,000 square miles of marine habitat.
American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization whose mission is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC acts by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats, while building capacity in the bird conservation movement.
Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal represents clients in federal and state court litigation on a wide range of public interest issues, including Wildlife and Animal Protection; Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation; and Open Government Laws.
Blown Away: Big Wind’s Inconvenient Truth
Blown Away: Big Wind’s Inconvenient Truth, by Alan Farago
The worst are the hours shrouded in fog that I treasured. They now pulse with turbine noise. The Maine fog associates with a weather pattern—wind shear– that the wind turbine promoters knew about but ignored. They knew because in 2008 their experts told them so. It can be dead still on the ground and hundreds of feet in the air, the wind is howling. Not only did the project supporters omit informing neighbors of wind shear during the permitting phase of the Vinalhaven project, they obstructed discovery of the consultant report and, now, are spending ratepayer resources to contest a legal challenge in state superior court.
The installation of wind turbines too close to houses and personal property is a major headache for the wind power industry, but headache scarcely begins to describe their impact to nearby property owners and neighbors. My property and home are scarcely three quarters of a mile from a three 1.5 megawatt turbine wind farm that went online in November 2009 with blades stretching nearly 400 feet into the air.
Large scale wind turbines represent a tiny and lucrative—thanks to federal tax incentives—corner of the electric power industry. By siting large turbine facilities close to population centers, the industry hopes to minimize the cost of expensive new transmission lines, but it faces a whirlwind of resistance from citizens objecting to the destruction of mountains, seascapes, wilderness areas, and natural quiet.
Opponents argue that wind power is a bad deal for everyone but shareholders who use subsidies to prop up an industry that is otherwise not economically viable. But on Vinalhaven, a small island in Penobscot Bay—where only three turbines are in operation—neighbors have opened up the industry’s Achilles heel: excessive noise.
New permit applications in towns across New England are raising hackles of anyone who pays attention to the way citizen dissent has been throttled in Maine where wind warriors mobilized to breach protective legislative barriers erected by the wind industry.
Vinalhaven is a small port town of only a few thousand residents whose primary business is lobstering. During the project’s planning phase in the early 2000’s I understood that my viewscape would change. My neighbors and I wanted to believe the promise of the promoters that our lives would otherwise be unaffected.
As an environmentalist who has often been on the receiving end of the NIMBY argument—opposing ill-advised developments that threaten the Everglades and water quality in Florida—I didn’t want to be part of a movement against wind. Environmentalists can’t wait to jettison hydrocarbons driving our economy, but the lessons of the past three years have tempered my perspective. Wind power is the easiest to seize the popular imagination. It is also the breeziest. There are massive obstacles to bring wind power technology to useful grid scale. Wind is intermittent. Storage of electricity when winds fall is highly problematic. Homeowners and businesses skeptical about noise impacts of wind turbines should revisit sitting on the proverbial fence: if the Maine experience is any guide, NIMBY means that the “next idiot might be you.”
The wind power industry and its local advocates on Vinalhaven insist that turbine noise is an inevitable cost supported by the public. On Vinalhaven, they trumpet that the vote to approve wind turbines was 380 in favor and only 5 against.
Neighbors have spent three years trying to get the State of Maine to enforce its own inadequate noise standards. As a veteran of wars against water pollution, I never expected that a place of solace and respite would prove the point that government can be its own worst scofflaw. It would be one thing if the small size of our community, fad or preference for local control over state or federal mandates, brought closer to resolution a problem that needs to be fixed. Instead of equity and fairness, neighbors are buried in procedural curliques tied to proving violations of state noise standards. We might as well be hog-tied to those spinning wind turbine blades.
Proving noise pollution is no trivial matter. On Vinalhaven, George Baker, a former Harvard Business School professor and executive of the local wind power facility, claims that the noise of the wind turbines is masked by the wind in the trees.
On a summer morning, there is scarcely a whisper of wind in the trees. The sky is blue and the early morning light casts long shadows in anticipation of day. Twenty five years ago I bought my property for its peace and quiet. In the background, the turbines churn like a rotating drum powered by Blakean bellows. What is so distracting is that the quality of sound varies from moment to moment. This is not the noise of a highway, a factory, an airport, or even the noise scape of a city. Turbine noise is as variable as the shifting wind, cementing one’s attention to intermittency like the rotating lights on a police cruiser. That is on the good days.
Neighbors can be woken in the middle of the night with an unidentifiable pounding; it is either in one’s head or chest or the walls of one’s house. From aural flickering to a constant disturbance: either way; having to spend significant time, energy and money to prove the point compounds the despair.
The worst are the hours shrouded in fog that I treasured. They now pulse with turbine noise. The Maine fog associates with a weather pattern—wind shear– that the wind turbine promoters knew about but ignored. They knew because in 2008 their experts told them so. It can be dead still on the ground and hundreds of feet in the air, the wind is howling. Not only did the project supporters omit informing neighbors of wind shear during the permitting phase of the Vinalhaven project, they obstructed discovery of the consultant report and, now, are spending ratepayer resources to contest a legal challenge in state superior court. Their objection: that neighbors do not have a judicial line of appeal. It is incorporated, they say, in a 2008 state energy law that few legislators read much less questioned before passing.
If wind power isn’t economically viable because wind is intermittent by nature, the costs to my life and property are continuous. There is not a single regulation against excessive noise– at the state, local or federal level– to enforce and protect. Given the level of controversy and impact, one would think that industrial wind turbine noise is a public threat where the nation’s environmental agency, the US EPA, ought to engage. But the sole staffer of the EPA’s Office of Noise Abatement retired years ago.
A 2010 petition to the EPA by Maine residents —triggered by the Vinalhaven controversy—implored the agency to involve itself in regulating wind turbine noise. It was rejected by EPA and an administrator who referred petitioners back to the same state regulator in Maine who subsequently resigned after the regulatory effort to tame turbine noise was thwarted by political meddling.
Dead still. So quiet that a conversation can carry a mile. Hundreds of feet above the island, wind shear picks up the turbine blades and hurls them around (The sardonic anthem of turbine advocates on Vinalhaven is “Spin, baby, spin”.) casting sound pulses through moisture heavy air. At other times, sound from the turbines skips like a rock on the surface of a cove.
Think of the sounds from a wind turbine as of a thunderstorm. The noise metric, called the dbA scale, captures the peal of thunderbolts. It fails to capture the low rumble of the storm; the vibration and hum of the turbines. Most wind noise controversies are framed around the dbA level because that is how the industry established the metric for sound in the 1990’s. At nighttime in Maine, for instance, the upper limit is set at 45dbA. For ordinary homeowners, though, to prove 45dbA is more complicated than pointing an acoustic measurement instrument and registering its results. Our neighbor group has chased in the middle of the night, in the middle of the freezing cold, pointing microphones and instrumentation at the pitch black sky in an effort to provide statistics and samples that state-hired consultants will accept. You can’t pick up the phone and complain. You have to pay for tests to prove your complaint. On that playing field, ie. what constitutes a verifiable and legitimate complaint, the goal posts keep moving. So far as low frequency noise is concerned, the goal posts that citizens are trying to reach might as well be on the other side of the world.
Various terms have been used to describe the low frequency sound output of wind turbines: a droning noise or the dreaded thump that alternates or morphs into and out of a woosh. Sometimes, it is like the low sonic end of a spinning dryer. Depending on the wind and direction, the thrum quickens or slows. It can change from the whine of a jet engine to a pulse in the space of seconds. For unfortunate homeowners who live even closer to wind turbines, the effects are mind-blowing. Those who live closest—within half a mile– report their entire dwelling can throb and pulse in time with the swoosh of the turbine blades.
For neighbors in Vinalhaven, learning how to provide data deemed valid by state regulators, including its own consultant, to prove violations by the wind turbine operator (whose shareholders are soundly sleeping, tucked away in their quiet quarters) required learning, spending and acquiring a level of acoustic expertise no homeowner should be required to produce under any circumstances simply to protect themselves. But that is not how it works with industrial pollution.
All neighbors wanted was peace and quiet, and all neighbors have are data files of acoustics measuring turbine noise in the gigabytes. All neighbors wanted was quiet, and all neighbors have is the enmity, indifference, or silence of those who know an injustice was done on Vinalhaven but feel powerless to solve it. The fact that local electric rates on Vinalhaven have significantly increased in recent years while the cost of merchant power in the region has remained stable is an embarrassment of someone else’s riches.
The industry understands that chasing citizens around the dbA scale is a fool’s errand. The Vinalhaven neighbors pursued Maine state regulators up the regulatory ladder from the bottom only to find at the top, that lobbyists pressured the governor’s office to intervene against neighbors on their behalf. There ought to be a law, and indeed there should. It is not exactly an insight to point out that polluters are expert at erecting high legal hurdles to keep citizens at bay. It is a good regulation, in other words, so long as it is one they wrote. The wind industry spends in states where those “should’s” are likely to change the playing field.
Every large law firm in the state is under restrictive agreements with the wind industry. Well-placed lobbyists and shareholders rotate in and out of government office and appointments. The state environmental agency’s top regulator, Patty Aho, is a former lobbyist for the law firm representing the wind turbine utility on Vinalhaven. Aho “did what she was told” by throttling provisions that might have offered hope to Vinalhaven neighbors in future compliance measurement and enforcement. At a July 2011 public hearing at the state capitol on revisions to the state noise regulation—ostensibly to stiffen them to protect people—Aho affirmed that the purpose of regulatory review was to assist industry.
A former governor, Angus King, is a large shareholder of a wind turbine company, First Wind. He wrote in a Maine business publication that he spent last July 4th on Vinalhaven and didn’t meet a single opponent of the wind turbines. He also didn’t seek the neighbors out. A recent single-question poll by First Wind claimed to measure public support for wind power. A similar poll question, limited to a single question, might solicit the opinion of neighbors who live within three miles of industrial scale wind turbines.
The public is ill-informed about wind turbine noise for a variety of reasons. Usually, a gag order accompanies payment when homeowners are bought out—often after a exhausting, protracted struggle. The industry counters with arguments; wind noise disturbs different people in different ways. The inference is that if you object to noise, you are a complainer in the great scheme of freeing energy tied to oil. In small communities like Vinalhaven, these formulas can be used to great effect, dividing the local population.
In the early phase of permitting the Vinalhaven project, a sound consultant to the project developers wrote tellingly that the site chosen for the wind turbines was likely to generate noise complaints from nearby homeowners and residents. Instead of dealing with property owners up front as the consultant recommended, the wind turbine operator buried the report and hired another consultant. In doing so, Mr. Baker, the former Harvard Business School professor and chief executive of the Vinalhaven turbine operation, made an implicit decision that pit islanders against each other. The result imposed a significant cost on the turbine neighbors; let them fight the state.
Divide and conquer is not the last refuge of polluters but it certainly is a popular one. At a public hearing last July when citizens battled industry on the outline of regulatory reform, a neighbor of a wind turbine installation in another part of the state despaired to me privately– she would not be quoted– that her livestock fences had been cut and garbage dumped in her rural driveway when she spoke out against the turbines in the permitting phase. Now that the turbines roar, her children can’t play in their backyard. The noise is so relentless in her home, another mother testified, that when her children go to bed she asks every night: “Did you brush your teeth, say your prayers, and take your sleeping pills?”
On Vinalhaven, supporters of the wind farm project—goaded by the local utility board and executives—posted a drawing of goat heads in a bucket of blood on a Facebook page, wishing the worst for neighbors who subsequently moved—for health and safety reasons. There are nights when the lobsterman Arthur Farnham, whose home is only seven hundred feet from the nearest turbine, turns his television volume to high, the fans on, and still can’t drown out the noise. It is worst in the winter. But the Harvard Business School professor and turbine operator insisted and the state acquiesced so that wind noise for compliance would only be measured in summer months on Vinalhaven.
Unless you have had something of deep value stripped from you, you don’t understand what the noise does to a fine summer morning on Long Cove or a deep winter night when the noise is roaring in your head or in your house.
The solutions are expensive to polluters. 1) Require fair market price buy-outs or property value guarantees for property owners within two and a half miles of turbines, 2) apply 35 dbA limits to nighttime operations immediately, 3) require the wind turbine industry to pay for the costs of noise monitoring and make all data available through web sites in real time, and 4) develop metrics that capture and regulations that protect against low frequency noise.
As stories pile up of citizens driven from their homes by turbine noise—sometimes health and property values ruined —the absence of effective wind turbine noise standards reflects the quest of polluters and their shareholders to demonize regulations. Shifting the costs of noise pollution has created a new caste of politically connected entrepreneurs who in turn have hired consultants, attorneys and lobbyists to obscure the wind power industry’s most inconvenient truth.
In its brutal outline, regulating noise from wind turbines illustrates the struggle of our times: whether government regulation can protect public health, or, whether private industry should be left alone to do a better job, whether or not it can demonstrate the results. Industry responds by hiding in the deep weeds of “complexity” and “disagreement with interpreting facts”. They buy time for an industry desperate to keep federal subsidies flowing; subsidies set to expire at the end of 2012. The wind power industry hopes Congress and the White House will ignore the fact that people, property values, and natural quiet are collateral damage to popular enthusiasms whose economics have failed to pan out.
We used to say with pride, “this couldn’t happen in the United States”. But wherever the costs of pollution are unallocated, it happens every day the wind blows.
3/19/12 How did that PSC wind rule thing turn out? Lobbyists and Wind developers win, Wisconsin residents lose.
LEGISLATURE LETS WIND TURBINE PLACEMENT RULES STAND
By Thomas Content
SOURCE: Journal Sentinel, www.jsonline.com
March 18, 2012
One of Gov. Scott Walker’s first legislative goals – to restrict wind farm development by protecting property rights – was dealt a setback last week when the Legislature adjourned its regular session.
After lobbying by wind energy developers, supporters and utilities, the Republican-controlled Legislature decided not to throw out rules governing how far wind turbines should be placed from homes.
The move won’t bring immediate moves to develop major wind projects, experts say, but it helps provide clear rules for utilities and wind developers to follow.
Over the past week, We Energies and other state electric utilities came out in favor of the rules, which were opposed by the Wisconsin Realtors Association and the Wisconsin Towns Association.
As with the mining reform bill, state Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) was the deciding vote when the Senate shelved the issue.
The state rules, adopted by the Public Service Commission under the administration of Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, set setback and noise standards for wind farms. The setbacks are in line with those that applied to We Energies when it built the state’s most recent wind farm, the Glacier Hills Wind Park.
Last year, the Walker administration sided with wind farm opponents and the Realtors in backing a much more restrictive proposal aimed at protecting property rights. The Legislature then voted in March 2011 to bar the Public Service Commission’s rule from taking effect.
Critics of the rule cited concerns about the impact of wind turbines on property values of nearby homes and problems with noise and shadow flicker that residents near wind turbines have experienced.
Wind energy supporters say the state has lost out on the job creation and landowner payments that come with wind farm development as developers raced to build wind farms in other states.
“2012 is going to be, if not the biggest, it’ll be the second-biggest year for wind project installations in the country,” said Jeff Anthony, director of business development at the American Wind Energy Association. “Wisconsin’s missing out on that.”
As part of implementing the rule, the PSC must conduct a survey by October 2014 of peer-reviewed scientific literature examining the health effects of wind energy systems, spokeswoman Kristin Ruesch said.
The PSC rules “are no cakewalk for developers,” Anthony said, because they include specific decibel limits on noise and shadow flicker restrictions in addition to the setback provisions.
Wisconsin has one wind project under construction – a 5-megawatt project being developed by Organic Valley Cooperative and Gunderson Lutheran Health System near La Crosse.
Also in the planning stages: a small two-turbine project proposed by S.C. Johnson & Son in Mount Pleasant.
The wind industry is seeing strong development activity across the country this year because of a rush to finish projects before federal wind power tax credits expire in December.
Under construction in nearby states, according to the association: 614 megawatts of wind power in Illinois, 470 in Iowa, 348 in Michigan and 202 in Indiana.
We Energies last year built the state’s largest wind farm, the Glacier Hills Wind Park, northeast of Madison. Its two wind farms, wind power purchase agreements and construction of a biomass energy plant in Rothschild position the utility company to comply with the state’s 2015 renewable energy standard.
But because the renewable standard is tied to electricity sales, the utility expects to need more renewable energy by 2016 or 2017.
“Our hope is that those wind-related companies that saw Wisconsin as a place to do business and create jobs will now invest in our state,” said Chris Kunkle of the Wisconsin Energy Business Association, a trade group of wind developers and wind components suppliers.
3/15/12 Breaking news: wind developers lied to residents. Wait... I guess that's really old news and no surprise
From West Virginia
GREEN MOUNTAIN WIND TURBINES NOT CONDUCTIVE TO A GOOD SLEEP
Cumberland Times-News, times-news.com 14 March 2012 ~~
I am writing this letter to inform Mineral County residents of the noise that is heard from the newly installed wind farm on Green Mountain.
I was a supporter of the wind farm and the jobs it would create for Mineral County. I am also a member of the Community Advisory Panel that was formed to inform the public about wind turbines and there advantages.
I will state that the information provided to me and others was not truthful. Also, my neighbors and I were invited to meetings demonstrating the wind turbines and the noise level they would make.
It was stated to us that we would hear a swooshing sound such as a wave of the ocean coming into shore. I will tell you that the sound we are hearing is a jet plane or a locomotive coming in the house. This is totally a different sound than an ocean.
My wife and I drove to several different wind farm sites at Mt. Storm, W.Va.; Thomas, W.Va.; and Berlin, Pa., to hear the noises the wind turbines would make. Believe me, it is nothing close to the sound of these turbines.
I will state that my wife and I are not against green energy or anything that would possibly create jobs in our county. I would ask anybody to come to Green Mountain and listen to the noise and ask yourself would you want to put up with this noise at your homes.
I would also ask to help us fight this battle so that companies such as US wind Force (which built this project) will not be able to mislead any other communities as they did us.
Also, help us get our elected officials to get behind us and support us. We, the residents on the mountain, have sent a letter to the Public Service Commission to help with the issue. I have asked our county commissioners to help, but was told by one that we wanted them so deal with it (she will be up for election).
If anybody can help us please do so. We all would like to sleep at night the same as everyone else. Please do not hesitate to call Edison Mission to request they shut the turbines down at night. Thanks for any help.
Donald C. Ashby Jr.
3/15/12 Bird and bat killers called out: Environmental groups put the heat on wind developers and the US Fish and Wildlife service
NINETY ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS SEEKING TOUGHER RULES ON WIND PROJECTS
By Robert Bryce,
March 15, 2012
In 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that the domestic wind turbines are killing about 440,000 birds per year. Since then, the wind industry has been riding a rapid growth spurt.
But that growth has slowed dramatically due to a tsunami of cheap natural gas and hefty taxpayer subsidies. Even worse: that cheap gas looks like it will last for many years, and Congress has, so far, been unwilling to extend the 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour subsidy for wind operators that expires at the end of this year.
And now, the wind industry is facing yet another big challenge: increasing resistance from environmental groups who are concerned about the effect that unrestrained construction of wind turbines is having on birds and bats. Ninety environmental groups, led by the American Bird Conservancy, have signed onto the “bird-smart wind petition” which has been submitted to the Fish and Wildlife Service.
It’s about time. Over the past two decades, the federal government has prosecuted hundreds of cases against oil and gas producers and electricity producers for violating some of America’s oldest wildlife-protection laws: the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Eagle Protection Act. But the Obama administration — like the Bush administration before it — has never prosecuted the wind industry despite myriad examples of widespread, unpermitted bird kills by turbines. A violation of either law can result in a fine of $250,000 and/or imprisonment for two years.
But amidst all the hoopla about “clean energy” the wind industry is being allowed to continue its illegal slaughter of some of America’s most precious wildlife. Even more perverse: taxpayers are subsidizing that slaughter.
Last June, Louis Sahagun, a reporter with the Los Angeles Times, reported that about 70 golden eagles per year are being killed by the wind turbines at Altamont Pass, located about 20 miles east of Oakland. A 2008 study funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency estimated that about 2,400 raptors, including burrowing owls, American kestrels, and red-tailed hawks — as well as about 7,500 other birds, nearly all of which are protected under the Migratory Bird Treat Act — are being killed every year by the turbines at Altamont.
A pernicious double standard is at work here and it riles Eric Glitzenstein, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer who wrote the petition to the Fish and Wildlife Service for the American Bird Conservancy. He told me, “It’s absolutely clear that there’s been a mandate from the top” echelons of the federal government not to prosecute the wind industry for violating wildlife laws.
Glitzenstein comes to this issue from the left. Before forming his own law firm, he worked for Public Citizen, an organization created by Ralph Nader. But when it comes to wind energy, “Many environmental groups have been claiming that too few people are paying attention to the science of climate change, but some of those same groups are ignoring the science that shows wind energy’s negative impacts on bird and bat populations.”
That willful ignorance may be ending. The Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, and Defenders of Wildlife recently filed a lawsuit against officials in Kern County, California, in an effort to block the construction of two proposed wind projects — North Sky River and Jawbone — due to concerns about their impact on local bird populations. The groups oppose the projects because of their proximity to the deadly Pine Tree facility, which the Fish and Wildlife Service believes is killing 1,595 birds, or about 12 birds per megawatt of installed capacity, per year.
The only time a public entity has pressured the wind industry for killing birds occurred in 2010, when California brokered a $2.5 million settlement with NextEra Energy Resources for bird kills at Altamont. The lawyer on that case: former attorney general and current Gov. Jerry Brown, who’s now pushing the Golden State to get 33 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020.
Despite the toll that wind turbines are taking on wildlife, the wind industry wants to keep its get-out-of-jail-free card. Last May, the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed new guidelines for wind turbine installations. But the American Wind Energy Association quickly panned the proposed rules as “unworkable.”
Billions of dollars are at stake. And the wind industry is eager to downplay the problem of bird and bat kills. But the issue, which clearly has the Obama administration in a tight spot, is not going away. The Sierra Club now favors mandatory rules for wind turbine siting.
And while wildlife protection is essential, the broader issue of equitable treatment under the law may be more important. For years, says Glitzenstein, the Interior Department has been telling the wind industry: “‘No matter what you do, you need not worry about being prosecuted.’ To me, that’s appalling public policy.”
Disclosure: Robert Bryce is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, which over the past ten years, has obtained about 2.5 percent of its budget from the hydrocarbon sector.