Entries in wind farm abandoned home (34)
3/13/12 Too close to home: Not old enough to vote or sign a petition but old enough and close enough to be tormented by wind turbines AND How green is a bird and bat killing machine? Wind industry claims ring false as slaughter exposed
TURBINES CAUSED HEALTH PROBLEMS
March 12 2012
by Alyssa Ashley
Since I am not old enough to vote or sign a petition, I would like a chance to voice the truth. On May 8, 2011, I left my home in Glenmore, Wis., due to many health problems that are a result from the Shirley Wind Project built at the end of 2010.
Inside my home, I was able to detect when the turbines were turning on and off by the sensations in my ears. I could not hear or see the turbines at the time; I could feel them. In early 2011, I had been noticing extreme headaches, ear pain and sleep deprivation, all three things that were either a rarity for me, or nonexistent. This caused me to struggle with my school work. I could not concentrate due to pressure releasing from my head, or to the fact that I had very little sleep.
After staying away from my home for a week-and-a-half, my symptoms started to subside. I could sleep again, and my headaches were lessening. The longer I was away, the better I felt. Due to our turbine-related health issues, I spent all summer living in a camper with my family, away from the turbines.
At the end of August, my family reluctantly purchased another small house away from the wind turbines, leaving us paying two mortgages. I have not been in the Shirley area since Nov. 19, 2011, and I do not experience headaches anymore and I can sleep soundly.
My ears, however, are still sensitive to the cold and loud noises. This has never been a problem for me in my entire life, and I wonder if this damage to my ears will ever go away.
When contemplating wind turbine siting, think of me.
BIRD CONSERVANCY SEEKS ENFORCEABLE WIND TURBINE STANDARDS
Bonner R. Cohen
SOURCE Heartlander, news.heartland.org
March 13, 2012
The American Bird Conservancy has filed a 100-page petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) requesting replacement of FWS’s proposed voluntary guidelines for operating wind farms with mandatory, enforceable standards designed to protect birds and bats from turbines’ deadly blades.
If FWS accepts the arguments laid out in the Bird Conservancy’s petition, wind farms will be subject to a mandatory permitting system and required to mitigate harm to birds and bats.
Massive Bird Kills
Although wind power supplies only 2 percent of electricity in the United States, FWS reports the wind turbines supplying that power kill 440,000 birds each year. Other analysts maintain the number is much larger because FWS may be overlooking a substantial number of birds that receive mortal wounds from turbine strikes but don’t die in the immediate vicinity of the machines, where FWS counts bird carcasses.
Two well-documented incidents in the mountains of West Virginia shed light on the magnitude of the problem. On a single night in September 2011, a single wind farm atop Mount Storm killed 59 birds. One month later, 484 birds were killed in a single night at the newly constructed wind farm on Laurel Mountain.
In these and other incidents across the country, birds of every description—hawks, bald eagles, golden eagles, the endangered California condor, yellow-billed cuckoos, wood thrushes, and other migratory birds—have lost their lives to wind farms.
Wind Farms Given Free Pass
Migratory birds may pose the biggest threat to the wind energy industry. To date, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act has not been applied to wind firms, but the potential liability could pose a real problem to the industry. The law does not require intent, meaning incidental kills could be prosecuted by the Justice Department.
The legal uncertainty over the potential liability of wind farms might make an FWS permitting process the lesser of two evils for the wind industry. Fearful a permitting process would lead to costly bureaucratic delays, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has expressed a clear preference for FWS’s proposed voluntary guidelines. But a change of heart by the Justice Department leading to prosecution of owners of wind farms for incidental kills of migratory birds would cast a pall over the whole industry.
The industry has never been told it would not be prosecuted. Similarly, if endangered birds or bats are killed in sufficient numbers by wind farms so as to trigger lawsuits under the Endangered Species Act, the industry could be facing even greater uncertainty and costly litigation.
Congress Reconsidering Subsidies
Meanwhile, the wind industry, which has seen its political connections pay off in recent years, is facing a serious threat from another direction: Congress is losing its appetite for subsidizing renewable energy. The spectacular bankruptcy of solar panel maker Solyndra, with a loss of over $500 million suffered by U.S. taxpayers, has made Capitol Hill lawmakers wary of loan guarantees and other subsidies designed to prop up renewable energy ventures.
For years, the wind energy industry has benefited from, and indeed depended on, one such subsidy, known as the production tax credit (PTC). The PTC provides a 2.2 cents-per-kilowatt-hour subsidy for wind power generators for their first ten years of existence. In effect since 1992, the PTC could well expire at the end of this year. In working out a deal earlier this year on the extension of the payroll tax deduction, the House and Senate, despite heavy lobbying by AWEA, refused to include an extension of the PTC.
Without the PTC, the industry will be hobbled in its efforts to compete with cheaper coal and natural gas. With the growing likelihood of an expiration of the PTC at the end of the year, orders for new turbines have come to a screeching halt.
Wind Power’s Environmental Downside
“It’s about time that we look at the downside of alternative energies,” said Marita Noon, executive director of the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy.
“Since the theory of manmade climate change became fashionable, we’ve heard only that fossil fuels are bad and renewable energy is good,” said Noon. “The propaganda shows pictures of black smoke belching out of stacks contrasted with pristine, white, wind turbines. Neither reflects reality. The black smoke was cleaned up years ago. Wind turbines kill birds and bats.
“As Americans make energy decisions, they need to be based on reality, on complete science,” Noon explained. “There is no free lunch, and energy policy should fully weigh the pros and cons of each option.”
3/11/12 In the face of overwhelming evidence of trouble, what will the Wind Industry do? Deny, deny, deny
SURVEY FINDS HIGH RATE OF WIND TURBINE SYNDROME FROM NEWER TURBINE MODELS
By Miriam Raftery,
SOURCE: East County Magazine, eastcountymagazine.org
March 10, 2012
With two new wind farms proposed for our region and another already in operation, evaluating potential health impacts is important.
A survey was conducted on wind farm noise as part of a Master’s dissertation by Zhenhua Wang, a graduate student in Geography, Environment and Population at the University of Adelaide, Australia. The results show that 70% of respondents living up to 5 kilometers away report being negatively affected by wind turbine noise, with more than 50% of them “very or moderately negatively affected”. This is considerably higher than what was found in previous studies conducted in Europe.
The survey was made in the vicinity of the Waterloo wind farm, South Australia, which is composed of 37 Vestas V90 3 MW turbines stretching over 18 km (1). These mega turbines are reported to be emitting more low frequency noise (LFN) than smaller models, and this causes more people to be affected, and over greater distances, by the usual symptoms of the Wind Turbine Syndrome (WTS): insomnia, headaches, nausea, stress, poor ability to concentrate, irritability, etc, leading to poorer health and a reduced immunity to illness.
The wind industry has consistently downplayed concerns over health issues, disputing findings such as those made by Dr. Nina Pierpont in her book and peer-reviewed report, Wind Turbine Syndrome. Dr. Pierpont received her medical degree from John Hopkins University and holds a PhD from Princeton University.
However some jurisdictions are enacting regulations to protect residents as evidence mounts to suggest negative health impacts are a dark side of going green through wind energy.
The Danish government recognized recently that LFN is an aggravating component in the noise that affects wind farm neighbors. This prompted their issuing regulations that limit low-frequency noise levels inside homes to 20 dB(A). Unfortunately, as denounced by Professor Henrik Moller, they manipulated the calculation parameters so as to allow LFN inside homes to actually reach 30 dB(A) in 30% of cases. “Hardly anyone would accept 30 dB(A) in their homes at night”, wrote the Professor last month (2).
A summary of the Australian survey has been published (3), but the full Masters dissertation has not been made available to the public. In the interest of public health, the European Platform against Windfarms (EPAW) and the North-American Platform against Windpower (NA-PAW), have asked the University of Adelaide to release this important document.
A neighbor of the Waterloo wind farm, Mr Andreas Marciniak, wrote to a local newspaper last week: “Do you think it’s funny that at my age I had to move to Adelaide into my Mother’s shed and my brother had to move to Hamilton into a caravan with no water or electricity?” Both Mr Marciniak and his brother have been advised by their treating doctors, including a cardiologist, to leave their homes and not return when the wind turbines are turning.
How many people will be forced to abandon their homes before governments pay attention, wonder the thousands of wind farm victims represented by EPAW and NAPAW. “It’ll take time to gather enough money for a big lawsuit”, says Sherri Lange, of NAPAW. “But time is on our side: victim numbers are increasing steadily.”
(1) – http://ecogeneration.com.au/news/waterloo_wind_farm_officially_opened/054715/
(2) – http://www.epaw.org/press/EPAW_NA-PAW_media_release_10Feb2012.pdf
(3) – http://www.wind-watch.org/documents/evaluation-of-wind-farm-noise-policies-in-south-australia/
3/10/12 Two reasons wind developer are happy: 1: Now law in Wisconsin : Industrial scale wind turbines over 40 stories tall can be sited just 1250 feet -- or less than 500 steps----from your door. What's that like? AND 2: We kill eagles, and the federal government lets us because we're wind developers!
HEALTH WOES FORCE FAMILY TO MOVE AWAY FROM TURBINES
SOURCE The Cap Times, host.madison.com
March 8, 2012
On May 8, 2011, I left my home in Glenmore due to many health problems that are a result from the Shirley wind project built at the end of 2010. Inside my home, I was able to detect when the turbines were turning on and off by the uncharacteristic sensation in my ears. In early 2011, I started noticing extreme headaches, ear pain and sleep deprivation, all three things that had been either a rarity for me, or nonexistent. This caused me to struggle especially with my high school work. After staying away from my home for a week and a half, my symptoms started to subside. The longer I was away, the better I felt.
Due to these health issues, I spent all summer living in a camper with my family away from the turbines, only returning to the Shirley area when necessary. It would take me around three days after being in the area for my ears to drain and for pressure to release from my head. At the end of August, my family reluctantly purchased another small house away from the wind turbines, leaving us paying two mortgages. Through no fault of our own, this has put a financial burden on my family.
I have not been in the Shirley area since Nov. 19 and I do not experience headaches anymore and I can sleep soundly. My ears, however, are still sensitive to the cold and loud noises and they hurt with every cold I get. I wonder if this damage to my ears will ever go away.
The magnitude of this issue is of utmost importance to me and many other citizens living near the Shirley industrial wind turbines.
WINDMILLS VS. BIRDS
By Robert Bryce,
SOURCE The Wall Street Journal, wsj.com
March 7, 2012
For years, the wind energy industry has had a license to kill golden eagles and lots of other migratory birds. It’s not an official license, mind you.
But as the bird carcasses pile up—two more dead golden eagles were recently found at the Pine Tree wind project in Southern California’s Kern County, bringing the number of eagle carcasses at that site to eight—the wind industry’s unofficial license to kill wildlife is finally getting some serious scrutiny.
Some 77 organizations—led by the American Bird Conservancy, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Endangered Species Coalition and numerous chapters of the Audubon Society—are petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to toughen the rules for the siting, permitting and operation of large-scale wind projects.
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 up to $250,000 and imprisonment for two years.
The renewed focus on bird kills is coming at a bad time for the wind industry, which is being hammered by low natural-gas prices and a Congress unwilling to extend the 2.2 cents per-kilowatt-hour production tax credit that has fueled the industry’s growth in recent years.
Last June, the Los Angeles Times reported that about 70 golden eagles are being killed per year by the wind turbines at Altamont Pass, about 20 miles east of Oakland, Calif. 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 Treaty 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 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 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.
Mr. 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. When it comes to wind energy, he says, “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, the Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife recently filed a lawsuit against officials in Kern County, Calif., 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 state to get 33% of its electricity from renewables by 2020.
Bats are getting whacked, too. The Pennsylvania Game Commission estimates that wind turbines killed more than 10,000 bats in the state in 2010.
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.”
Given that billions of dollars are at stake, the wind industry’s objections don’t surprise Mr. Glitzenstein. And while the lawyer wants more thorough environmental review of proposed wind projects, what he’s really hoping for is a good federal prosecution. So far, he says, 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.”
Photo: Home in the Shirley wind project, Town of Glenmore, Brown County Wisconsin. Project developed by Emerging Energies, a company co-founded by Bill Rakocy who, as a member of the Public Service Commission's Wind Siting Council helped write Wisconsin's pending wind siting rules.
STATEMENT OF DAVE ENZ REGARDING WIND TURBINES BUILT NEAR HIS HOME IN DENMARK, WISCONSIN
by Robert Bryce via robertbryce.com
During my reporting on the problem of wind-turbine noise, I have interviewed a number of homeowners who have abandoned their homes due to the noise. One of those people: Wisconsin resident Dave Enz. After talking with him on the phone, he sent me the following statement. I edited only for punctuation. I have added some follow up questions at the bottom of his statement. -- RB
My name is David Enz. My wife and I used to live about 3,000 feet from the nearest wind turbine driven generator. There are five more within about one mile of our home. These Glenmore turbines are some of the tallest in the state at 492 feet.
We raised our children in this house we built in 1978. It was a great place to live but we can no longer live there. We are now living with children, friends and in our RV. So far we have received no offer of compensation. We get sick in an hour or less most times when we return to get food or different clothes. Other people also get sick when they spend time at our place. We found new homes for our dog and chickens so they could be cared for. We try to go to our home when the turbines are down because we are fine then. The turbine owners are going to sound test our home, but it doesn't matter what the test results are, the results for us are we can no longer live in our home. We and others get sick outside and inside the buildings. From the research I have done our symptoms are consistent with the other folks who are driven out of their homes.
Some of the symptoms we experience are headaches, ear pain, nausea, blurred vision, anxiety, memory loss, and an overall unsettledness. This is no way to live in one's own home! I believe there needs to be health studies done to find out what the cause of the serious health issues is, and what rules need to be in place to protect people. The present rules do not address this problem. I think different types and sizes of wind turbines produce these effects over greater distances, therefore measurements should be in place based on what is causing the adverse health effects on people. I cannot understand how the people sworn in to protect the citizens can let companies profit from the pain of the people.
We are not like some other countries where people don't have rights and freedoms. This is America where the goal is to have liberty and justice for all, not a country where the rich and powerful rule over them. The wind industry claims their turbines are not the problem but throughout the world when wind turbines go on line the problems show up. I believe if this was in any other industry they would be shut down, until they proved they were not the cause. I am not a rocket scientist, but if the health issues are present when the turbines are running and gone a while after they shut down, it sure would cause me to think maybe there is a connection. Why doesn't the turbine industry have to prove they are not the problem instead of the people proving they are?
With so many people with the same or similar health symptoms, I think if this was a drug that would be evidence enough to remove any drug from the market. The people that are hurt aren't getting any government funding to pay for a study but the industry sure is. These health issues are so unbearable they are forcing us and others from our homes. Do wind companies have this right to take away our freedom to live in a house we built, raised our family, and planned to enjoy?
-- Dave Enz, October 22, 2011
Questions emailed to Enz by Robert Bryce. Replies received October 25 and 30, 2011
Q: May I publish all or part of the note you sent me?
A: Yes, you may.
Q: How old are you? How old is your wife?
A: I am 68 my wife is 66 years old.
Q: I assume you are now retired. Is that so? What was your occupation prior to retirement? In what town did you work?
A: Yes I am. I worked as a millwright in a paper mill for over thirty years. I worked in Green Bay.
Q: Have you sued the company that owns the wind turbines? If not, are you planning to?
A: We haven't been approached yet to settle and don't know if we will be.
Q: Could you sell your house in Glenmore if you attempted to do so? Or have your neighbors and others been alerted to the problems you are having?
A: We have been very open about our health issues with the neighbors, town,county and state.We thought about selling but if the new owners got sick.the money wouldn't be worth it. I don't think anyone would buy it at it's pre- turbine value even if it would sell.
Q: Are other people in your area experiencing similar problems?
A: I believe there are at least two other families that need to leave their homes to get relief from their symptoms.
Q: How did Senator Lasee become familiar with you and your story?
A: I don't know for sure but they called and asked if I would do an interview with Senator Lasee for TV. I did it because people need to be informed.
Q: What is the best outcome for you? That is, what would be a fair resolution of the situation you now face with your home?
A: First of all the industrial wind turbine setting rules would be in place to protect peoples health. That means health studies need to be done and a measurement system developed that can insure setbacks are right. As to your question, either move us with fair compensation or move the turbines. We don't think we could ever regain what has been lost by our family due to this injustice.
Q: You said you built the home in Glenmore in 1978. Do you own it free and clear or do you still have a mortgage?
A: We built it and own it. Have a small equity loan now to purchase our motor home we now call home. Makes the wife nervous since she doesn't like debt.
Q: What's the approximate value of the home?
A: Don't know because we never had it appraised. Best guess: $300,00 to $500,000.
Q: You said you and Rose raised your children in the house. How many children did you raise there?
A: Nine wonderful children. They also feel the loss because they helped build the house and out buildings. As a family, we have a lot of memories connected to this property.
Q: How many acres is your place?
A: A little over forty.
Q: On whose land were the turbines built?
A: Our next door neighbors.
Q: Are you getting any royalty payments from the turbines? If so, how much?
A: Not a dime thankfully
Q: If you are not getting payments, who is and how much are they getting?
A: Some of the neighbors received a good neighbor payment of $1,000 one time I was told. I was also told if you live within 1/2 mile you receive a small yearly payment. The turbine host have a well-kept secret. Maybe the
Town of Glenmore could shed more light on this. You can find them at townofglenmore.wi
Q. Do you have a lawyer? If so, could you provide me with his/her name?
A: I do not have a lawyer at this time.
2/6/12 Big Wind's dark side exposed in movie "Windfall". Even National Public Radio and the Wall Street Journal get it: Will Wisconsin legisators? AND Should your money keep feeding wind developer's cash cow?
WIND POWER DOCUMENTARY TAKES A SKEPTICAL TURN
February 2, 2012
By Mark Jenkins
As is often the case, the outside developer's biggest asset was the local elite, which was certain it knew best. Farmer and town council leader Frank Bachler joined the town's attorney in overruling a skeptical planning commission report about the effects of erecting the turbines.
Not even the most ecologically minded are always keen on the prospect of giant wind turbines near their homes. But Meredith, N.Y., welcomed "Big Wind" when it first came whistling through town. That's what makes Windfall so interesting: The documentary is the story of an education.
In some ways, Meredith seems a natural place for a wind farm. Situated in one of New York's poorest counties, it's in an agricultural area whose principal enterprise, dairy farming, has dramatically declined. But the area is mostly home to small landowners, with few large tracts that could be developed without affecting nearby neighbors. And some of those neighbors are refugees from New York City, where they learned to be skeptical and outspoken.
Director Laura Israel is among the Meredith residents who split their time between the town and the big city 160 miles to the southeast, which explains why she was able to follow the controversy over a year or more, as pro-windmill sentiments gradually shifted to anti-.
This is no first-person piece, though; Israel stays off camera, allowing her neighbors to speak. She doesn't present the views of the wind-power developer, Airtricity (originally Eiretricity, before the Irish firm was sold to Scottish and German interests), but that may be because the company is a low-profile one that didn't address the community collectively, and insisted on confidentiality agreements before it would even enter into negotiations with property owners.
As is often the case, the outside developer's biggest asset was the local elite, which was certain it knew best. Farmer and town council leader Frank Bachler joined the town's attorney in overruling a skeptical planning commission report about the effects of erecting the turbines.
Bachler and other supporters labeled the anti-windmill forces "a vocal minority." But with an election looming, the pro-wind forces had to double-check their math. Even Bachler, one of the principal on-screen proponents of the turbines, would give the whole idea a second thought.
In Meredith, the case against wind turbines turned on their size — about 400 feet high and 600,000 pounds each — not to mention their grinding noise, their bone-shaking vibrations and the flickering shadows they cast, which disrupt light and sleep (and video games). One of the opponents, Ken Jaffe, is a retired doctor who looked into the high-tech windmills' medical side effects.
Also, the turbines sometimes fall over, catch on fire or hurl dangerous ice projectiles. They kill birds and bats in large numbers. And there's more.
To optimize the investment, wind-power developers tend to build a lot more turbines than they initially propose. In Tug Hill, farther north in upstate New York, a proposed 50 high-tech windmills became 195. As skeptics began to investigate, they learned that wind power is too unreliable to replace dirtier forms of generation, and that the wind business is based less on electricity than on tax credits: Big investment companies keep flipping the companies so as to restart the depreciation process.
A veteran film editor making her first feature, Israel emphasizes the area's low-key beauty. She conducted most of the interviews outside to show the landscapes. When the movie finally gets to Tug Hill, the contrast is all the more striking. Meredith, N.Y., may not be paradise, but it's clear why residents didn't want to sacrifice its rustic appeal to the steady whomp of industrial windmills.
By John Anderson,
Via The Wall Street Journal, wsj.com
February 3, 2012
Speaking of horror movies, the monsters are 400 feet tall in “Windfall,” easily the more haunting film of this week and a sublimely cinematic documentary by the film editor-cum-director Laura Israel. Her subject is the battle waged over wind power in the tiny upstate New York town of Meredith. What’s so scary? Industrial wind turbines, the fetish objects of the green-minded, those sleek, white, propellered and purportedly eco-friendly energy collectors that one might have seen dotting the desert outside Palm Springs, and which may soon be sprouting out of Nantucket Sound. They’re sustainable, they produce no emissions and they’ll reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil. Right? Not quite. And living next to one seems like a nightmare.
Ms. Israel’s movie proves, once again, that the best nonfiction cinema possesses the same attributes as good fiction: Strong characters, conflict, story arc, visual style. The people of Meredith, be they pro or con the wind-turbine plan being fast-tracked by their town council, are articulate, passionate, likable. The issues are argued with appropriate gravity, and even though Ms. Israel, a Meredith homeowner herself, is clearly antiturbine, the other side gets a chance to speak its piece: Farmers, an endangered species, need income. Turbine leases are a way to it. But not only do the energy and ecological benefits fall short of what they’re cracked up to be, the turbines themselves are an environmental disaster: The monotonous whoosh of the propellers, the constant strobing effect caused by the 180-foot-long propellers, the threat of ice being hurled by the blades, the knowledge that it’s never going to end, all adds up to a recipe for madness. And that’s just during the movie.
“Windfall” is thoroughly engaging, educational and entertaining; the neo-blues music by Hazmat Modine is a real plus. Ms. Israel might deny it out of respect for her collaborators past and future, but documentaries are all about the editing. Many filmmakers might have been able to assemble the parts of “Windfall.” Far fewer would have produced as stylish a result.
TILTING AT WINDMILLS
By ROBERT BRYCE
via New York Post, www.nypost.com
February 4, 2012
The battle in Meredith (population: 1,500) pitted landowners who stood to profit by putting the wind turbines on their property against those who didn’t. Israel interviews one couple, Ron and Sue Bailey, who took money from a wind company, a move they soon came to regret. The couple said they “were blinded by the money” and “never thought about what our neighbors across the road would think.”
Documentary makers are always hoping that their film will come out at just the right moment, when a favorable news cycle and popular sentiment are converging so that the public is primed for their message.
In 1989, Michael Moore made his career with “Roger & Me,” a documentary that pinned the decline of his hometown — Flint, Mich. — on General Motors. By focusing his fire on GM’s chairman, Roger Smith, Moore tapped into the public’s anger at tone-deaf corporate bosses as well as the growing disenchantment with the American car industry.
Laura Israel’s new film, “Windfall,” has the same sort of fortuitous timing. Her documentary — which focuses on the fight over the siting of wind turbines in the small upstate town of Meredith — premieres at the same time that “green energy” stimulus failures fill the news, and the wind-energy industry faces an unprecedented backlash from angry rural residents.
Consider this Nov. 1 story from The Village Market, a news outlet in Staffordshire, England, about 150 miles northwest of London. The paper’s reporter, covering the staunch local opposition to a proposed wind-energy project near the tiny village of Haunton, wrote, “Huge numbers of people in rural areas are rising up against the technology, despite government assuming they would support it.”
Throughout the UK — indeed, all over the world — fights against large-scale wind-energy projects are raging. The European Platform against Windfarms lists 518 signatory organizations from 23 countries. The UK alone now has about 285 anti-wind groups. Last May, some 1,500 protesters descended on the Welsh assembly, the Senedd, demanding that a massive wind project planned for central Wales be stopped.
Although environmental groups like Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and Greenpeace claim that wind energy is the answer when it comes to slowing the rate of growth in carbon dioxide emissions, policymakers from Ontario to Australia are responding to angry landowners who don’t want 100-meter-high wind turbines built near their homes.
Last September, CBC News reported that Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment has logged “hundreds of health complaints” about the thumping noise generated by the province’s growing fleet of wind turbines. In December, government officials in the Australian state of New South Wales issued guidelines that give residents living within two kilometers of a proposed wind project the right to delay, or even stop, the project’s development.
Back here in the States, many communities are passing ordinances that prohibit large-scale wind energy development. On Nov. 8, for instance, residents of Brooksville, Maine, voted by more than 2 to 1 in favor of a measure that bans all wind turbines with towers exceeding 100 feet in height.
Meanwhile, the promoters of Cape Wind, a large offshore wind project proposed for Nantucket Sound, are still hoping to get their project built. But they continue to face lots of well-heeled opposition, including, most notably, environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Well-known for his advocacy of renewable energy, Kennedy opposes the wind project — because it will be built a few miles from his family’s estate in Hyannis Port.
As “Windfall” is premiering this week in New York, wind-energy lobbyists in Washington are desperately hoping to convince Congress to pass a multi-year extension of the 2.2-cent-per-kilowatt-hour subsidy for wind energy. Without it, the domestic wind business, which is already being hammered by falling natural-gas prices, will likely end up becalmed.
Israel’s portrayal of the bitter feuding that happened in Meredith over wind-energy development is similar to fights that have occurred in numerous other rural communities around the world. The battle in Meredith (population: 1,500) pitted landowners who stood to profit by putting the wind turbines on their property against those who didn’t. Israel interviews one couple, Ron and Sue Bailey, who took money from a wind company, a move they soon came to regret. The couple said they “were blinded by the money” and “never thought about what our neighbors across the road would think.”
The landowner faction in Meredith was led by the town’s supervisor, Frank Bachler. Israel portrays him as a well-intentioned man who, in favoring the wind development, is trying to help the area’s struggling farmers. Bachler dismisses the opponents of the wind project as “a minority of people who are very aggressive.”
But Bachler is proven wrong. The anti-wind faction quickly gains momentum and the resulting feud provides a textbook example of small-town democracy. Three wind opponents run for election to the town board with the stated purpose of reversing the existing board’s position on wind. In November 2007, they win, and a few weeks later pass a measure banning large-scale wind development.
Israel’s film also features a colorful interview with Carol Spinelli, a fiery real-estate agent in Bovina, a town of about 600 people located a few miles southeast of Meredith. Bovina passed a ban on wind turbines in March 2007. Spinelli helped lead the opposition, and she nails the controversy over wind by explaining that it’s about “big money, big companies, big politics.” And she angrily denounces wind-energy developers “as modern-day carpetbaggers.”
That’s a brutal assessment. But it accurately portrays the rural-urban divide on the wind-energy issue.
Lots of city-based voters love the concept of renewable energy.
But they are not the ones who have to endure the health-impairing noise that’s created by 45-story-tall wind turbines, nor do they have to see the turbines or look at their red-blinking lights, all night, every night.
So many want to make the world green — so long as it’s not them who have to suffer for it.
TOPPLING TAX DOLLARS FOR TURBINES
by Marita Noon,
February 5, 2012
On February 1, an urgent alert was sent to supporters of wind energy. It stated: “The PTC is the primary policy tool to promote wind energy development and manufacturing in the United States. While it is set to expire at the end of 2012 … the credit has already effectively expired. Congress has a choice to make: extend the PTC this month and keep the wind industry on track…”
The wind energy industry has reason for concern. America’s appetite for subsidies has waned. Congress is looking for any way it can to make cuts and the twenty-year old Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy is in prime position for a cut—it naturally expires at the end of 2012. Without action, it will go away.
The payroll tax extension will be a hot topic over the next few weeks as it expires on February 29. Wind energy supporters are pushing to get the PTC extension included in the bill. Whether or not it is included will be largely up to public response—after all, regarding the PTC’s inclusion in the payroll tax extension bill, the February 1 alert stated: “our federal legislators heard us loud and clear.” In the December payroll tax bill negotiations, the wind energy PTC was placed on a “short list of provisions to be extended through that bill.” Wind supporters are worried—hence the rallying cry.
Due to a deteriorating market, Vestas, the world’s largest manufacturer of industrial wind turbines, is closing a plant and laying off workers. Everyday citizens, armed with real life information gleaned from the wind energy’s decades-long history, are shocking lobbyists and killing back room deals by successfully blocking the development of industrial wind plants in their communities.
As news of actual wind energy contracts are coming in at three and four times the cost of traditionally generated electricity becomes widespread, and natural gas prices continue to drop due to abundance, states are looking to abandon the renewable energy mandates pushed through in a different economic time and a different political era. American Wind Energy Association spokesman, Peter Kelley, reports: “Industry-wide we are seeing a slowdown in towers and turbines after 2012 that is rippling down the supply chain and the big issue is lack of certainty around the production credit that gives a favorable low tax rate to renewable energy.” All of this spells trouble for the wind energy industry.
The PTC is part of a push for renewables that began in the Carter era. Enacted in 1992, the twenty-year old wind energy PTC was designed to get the fledgling industry going. However, after all this time, wind energy is still not a viable option. Even the industry’s own clarion call acknowledges that government intervention is still needed to keep it “on track.” If the training wheels are removed, it will topple.
Wind energy lobbyists have a plan: HB 3307 will extend the PTC for another four years. If the PTC extension passes, it will add an extra $6 billion to the $20 billion in taxpayer dollars the wind industry has already received over the past 20 years. These are monies we borrow (typically from China) to give to Europe—where most of the wind turbine manufacturers are located.
With advertisements featuring blue skies, green grass, and the warm and fuzzy images of families (and not one shot of a 500-foot wind turbine looming over their home), it is easy for the average person to be taken in and think we should continue to underwrite this “new technology”—after all, there is an energy shortage. “What will we do when we run out of oil?” Wind energy is electricity and electricity doesn’t come from oil—even if it did, we don’t have an oil shortage. Electricity comes from clean-burning natural gas and coal—both of which we have in abundance and know how to use effectively. They don’t need an expensive replacement.
Wind energy supporters often tout turbines because of the misguided belief they will get us off of fossil fuels—when, in fact, they commit us to a fossil fuel future. Optimistically, a wind turbine will generate electricity 30% of the time—and we cannot predict when that time will be. Highly variable wind conditions may mean the turbine generates electricity in the morning on Monday, in the middle of the night on Tuesday, and not at all on Wednesday. A true believer might be willing to do without electricity at the times when the wind is not blowing, but the general population will not. Public utilities and electric co-ops cannot—they are required to provide electricity 24/7 and to have a cushion that allows for usage spikes.
So, during that average 30% of the time that the turbine blades are spinning, the natural gas or coal-fueled power plants continue to burn fossil fuels—though possibly slightly less in an extended period of windy weather, and full-steam-ahead the remaining 70% of the time. (Research shows that turning up the heat on power plants, and then turning it back down, and up again actually increases the CO2 emissions.) Absent a major breakthrough in expensive energy storage, wind can never save enough fossil fuel to make any significant difference. After twenty years of subsidies, wind energy has not replaced one traditional power plant.
Some argue that many new technologies got their start through government support. This might be a good viewpoint if wind energy were “new.” But after twenty years of subsidies it is little better now than it was in the late 1800s. Windmills produced electricity then, and modern industrial wind turbines generate electricity now. It is not that they do not work, they do. They just don’t do so effectively, economically, or 24/7—and they still need Uncle Sam to prop them up.
Those who favor free markets need to seize upon this opportunity to push for the government to get out of the business of picking winners and losers. Clearly the “green” experiment has failed. Billions have been lost in the effort.
If we truly believe in free markets, why stop at just cutting the subsidies to wind energy? Stop the subsidies to all energy! May the strongest survive! The fact is, such a move is afoot. While HB 3307 aims to stretch out the subsidies for wind energy, HB 3308 will stop subsidies for all energy sources—wind and solar, oil and gas. The playing field will be level; billions will be saved!
A congressman I spoke to fears that, in the current political climate, his colleagues will cave on the wind energy subsidy, as they seem unwilling to take a strong stand on any issue. While wind energy supporters are calling their representatives, free-market advocates and everyone who believes the government-gone-wild spending must stop has to place a call, too.
Call, or e-mail, your Congressman, and as many others as you can take the time for, and tell them to stop subsidizing energy: “Do not include HB 3307 in the payroll tax extension bill. Support HB 3308 which will repeal the PTC and numerous other renewable energy tax incentives including the investment tax credit, the cellulosic biofuel producer credit, the tax credit for electric and fuel cell vehicles, and tax credits for alternative fuels and infrastructure. Additionally, HB 3308 will also repeal the enhanced oil recovery credit for producing oil and gas from marginal wells.”
Instead of propping up energy policy based on politics rather than sound science, we have to prop up our representatives and give them the backbone to do what is right.
Tell them to end energy subsidies.