Entries in Emerging Energies (13)
WIND FARM PLAN RETURNS
By Thomas Content
A proposal to build a wind farm in western Wisconsin is back despite the opposition of local government officials, who rescinded permits for the project and adopted a moratorium on wind projects.
The proposal from Emerging Energies of Wisconsin was filed with the state Public Service Commission. It's the first proposal for a large wind farm filed with the state this year.
Hubertus-based Emerging Energies is seeking to build 41 turbines that would generate 102.5 megawatts of power in the Town of Forest in St. Croix County.
The state Public Service Commission has jurisdiction over large wind farms - any project with at least 100 megawatts - and will begin a review of the project.
A dispute over setbacks provided to wind energy projects has led to a stalemate for the wind industry on projects below 100 megawatts.
That stalemate resulted from protests over a statewide rule on wind siting developed last year by the PSC.
Wind opponents, including the Wisconsin Realtors Association, considered the proposal too restrictive on property rights. Last January, Gov. Scott Walker, who was backed by the Realtors in his election campaign against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, proposed a property rights bill that would require turbines to be located farther from nearby homes.
This fall, the governor's office and PSC expressed interest in a compromise between wind developers and property rights advocates.
"The PSC is still trying to facilitate a compromise," agency spokeswoman Kirsten Ruesch said.
No resolution is in sight, though.
Emerging Energies is trying to abide by standards set by the PSC when it approved We Energies' Glacier Hills Wind Park northeast of Madison, developer Bill Rakocy said. That wind farm began operation last week.
The setback standard requires that turbines be at least 1,250 feet from nearby homes. Unlike Glacier Hills, the Emerging Energies project would not require any waivers to exempt certain turbines from the setback requirement.
Rakocy said his wind project has been in development since 2007.
"We believe that, given the economy we find ourselves in, Wisconsin needs this project to move forward from an economic standpoint and a jobs standpoint," he said.
The developer is in talks with utilities that would buy the power, Rakocy said.
But local opposition to the project led to the formation of a citizens group, The Forest Voice, and subsequent recall of the entire three-member Forest Town Board earlier this year.
At that time, Emerging Energies was proposing to build four fewer turbines for a project that was under 100 megawatts.
The new town board voted at its first meeting in March to rescind building permits for the wind project and to impose a moratorium on wind power development.
Concerns about the project included the potential for having nearly 500-foot towers in the area.
As a result of the moratorium, the only way for Emerging Energies to build the project was to make it bigger. That triggers state agency review rather than local review.
The PSC has 360 days to rule on the project.
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: The video below features residents of the same developer's first wind turbine project and what has happened to them since the turbines went on line.
At least two families have abandoned their homes in the eight turbine project because of turbine noise and pressure in the ears.
Emerging Energies has since sold the project.
Video courtesy of The Forest Voice-- visit their website by clicking HERE
"At least eight families living in the Shirley Wind Project in the Town of Glenmore just south of Green Bay, are reporting health problems and quality of life issues since the Shirley Wind project went online in December of 2010. Six families have come forward, five of them testify on the video, and at this time two of them have vacated their homes. STAND UP to protect people, livestock, pets, and wildlife against negligent and irresponsible placement of industrial wind turbines."
-The Forest Voice
The maddening sound people being asked to live with: Albany, NY --Wind turbine noise video via deepestdeepstblue
5/26/11 Shirley Runs off with Duke: Flipping a Wisconsin wind farm for fun and profit-- well, not for residents, but for the developer AND The wind industry calls them 'whiners', the rest of us call them people: A pharmacist visits a wind project to see what all the fuss is about
Wisconsin Wind Farm Sold to Duke Energy
Company Will Surpass 1,000 Megawatts of Wind Power
PRESS RELEASE: CHARLOTTE, N.C., May 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) will acquire a 20-megawatt wind farm in operation in Wisconsin.
Duke Energy Renewables, a commercial business unit of Duke Energy, agreed to purchase the Shirley Windpower Project from a subsidiary of Central Hudson Enterprises Corporation on May 24. The wind farm is located on approximately 500 acres of leased land in Glenmore, roughly 30 miles southeast of Green Bay.
The Shirley Windpower Project, which began commercial operation in December 2010, sells all of its output and associated renewable energy credits to Wisconsin Public Service Corporation under the terms of a 20-year power purchase agreement. The eight Nordex 2.5-megawatt (MW) wind turbines that comprise the Shirley Windpower Project are capable of generating enough electricity to power approximately 6,000 homes.
"Our strategic acquisition of the Shirley Windpower Project not only helps us reach the 1,000-megawatt milestone, it serves as a springboard for growth in a new region of the United States," said Greg Wolf, president of Duke Energy Renewables.
The deal is expected to close this summer. The purchase price was not disclosed.
With the addition of the Shirley project, Duke Energy Renewables will own 1,006 MW of generating capacity at 10 U.S. wind farms – four in Wyoming, three in Texas, one in Colorado, one in Pennsylvania, and one in Wisconsin.
On May 24, Duke Energy Renewables announced plans to start construction of a 168-MW wind power project in Kansas in the fall of 2011.
Since 2007, Duke Energy has invested more than $1.5 billion to grow its commercial wind and solar power businesses.
About Duke Energy Renewables
Duke Energy Renewables, part of Duke Energy's Commercial Businesses, is a leader in developing innovative wind and solar energy solutions for customers throughout the United States. The company's growing portfolio of commercial renewable assets includes nine wind farms and four solar farms in operation in five states, totaling approximately 1,000 megawatts in electric-generating capacity.
Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 500 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available on the Internet at: www.duke-energy.com.
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: The Enz family abandoned their home in this wind project because of turbine related problems. The project, which has been on line for less than a year, has already been sold twice. Read about the Enz family and why they left their home by clicking here.
From: George Papadopoulos, Pharmacist
To: Jillian Skinner MP, NSW Minister for Health; Brad Hazzard MP, NSW Planning Minister
Regarding: Wind Turbine Syndrome victims of the “Crookwell 1 Trial Wind Turbine” site, New South Wales (Australia)
Date: May 24, 2011
I am a trained and registered, practising health professional (pharmacist).
Yesterday, I met two elderly ladies from the Crookwell region who have been for years quietly suffering the effects of what has been described as Wind Turbine Syndrome.
These ladies have been quietly suffering for years. Their local medical practitioners are unable to do much beyond prescribe antidepressants, sleeping tablets and other medication, or recommend that they move.
There is a lack of “published peer reviewed evidence” that these health problems exist, as the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NH&MRC) “Rapid Review” report pointed out. But that does NOT mean there is no health problem, which is what the wind developers and many individuals in government have been wrongly inferring or assuming from the NH&MRC’s report. They have ignored the NH&MRC’s advice to “adopt a precautionary approach.”
I asked one of these ladies why she hasn’t taken the matter further—why she isn’t discussing the matter with the locals. Well, surprisingly, the locals have ostracised her for making comments that might affect the tourist business in Crookwell. So she decided to shut up and suffer, or otherwise become a social outcast.
So who is listening to these quiet victims of this “innovative,” original New South Wales (NSW) wind turbine trial? Why is it that the suffering of these quiet victims has not affected the planning process of newer wind turbine developments?
Strange isn’t it? What was the point of this trial site?
I then decided with two companions to pay my own visit to the local trial industrial wind turbine site—situated amongst rural blocks. I have never been so close to a wind turbine site before. In fact, so close (within 250 metres) thanks to a third victim of this development, who allowed us to access their property. This third victim also needs sleeping pills to sleep and is unduly chronically ill due to Wind Turbine Syndrome.
Well, our experience was absolutely stunning! Almost immediately, pressure sensations in the head abruptly started—plus blocked ears that could not be relieved by swallowing or yawning. We couldn’t hear any loud deafening noises, but the constant whooshing noise was phenomenal—enough to drive you mad.
We were ultimately compelled to leave the site due to severe nausea in all three of us. Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to get so close to the turbines. Eventually it was only at 5km away that we finally felt totally relieved and normal—we had finally escaped this whirlpool of disaster.
My dear politician, I am not having a joke. This is no good story. It is a very sad reality of what is happening here in Australia, in our meant-to-be progressive, clean democracy where the rights of the individual should be upheld against the little, if any, good that can be found in these developments.
Why are our planning departments ineffective in drafting policies to protect public health? Why aren’t our health departments effective in monitoring the health of individuals surrounding these industrial power sites? Why are the local medical practitioners and other local health professionals so slow in protecting these most sweet, kind-hearted elderly souls?
The reason is, despite these problems being reported globally, no government has listened to its citizens and ensured that appropriate independent acoustic and medical research is commissioned and funded, to help find out why these problems are occurring and how to prevent them. Or, in plain terms, research which will determine the safe distance between turbines and homes and workplaces.
If this were a drug, these experiences would be reported as “Adverse Events” and the drug would be withdrawn, pending further investigation until its safety from unanticipated side effects could be guaranteed. The equivalent in this situation is to immediately instigate a moratorium where turbines are close to homes, and fully investigate these occurrences.
It’s time to do something about it. The recent Federal Senate Inquiry has heard many stories such as the one above, in both written and oral testimony. I hope you feel compelled as a publicly elected official in a democratic country to do something about this great injustice—and stop it from happening again and again in different sites around NSW and the rest of Australia.
4/16/11 What's happening with Wisconsin's wind rules? Recommended Reading: Rep. Frank Lasee's proposal
PROPOSED WIND FARM REGULATIONS
BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WFRV) -- A proposal from an area lawmaker will make it even harder for wind farmer developers to build in the state. This after two developers recently pulled the plug on projects in Northeast Wisconsin.
David Enz built his home for his family back in 1978. But last month he and his wife decided they could no longer stay.
"Started feeling pressure in my ears, feeling pressurized, started feeling unstable," Enz said.
Enz attributes the symptoms to the eight wind turbines that were built last fall about a half mile from his house.
"It gets to the point where your body just does not want to be here, it just can't be here," said Enz.
Today, State Senator Frank Lasee introduced legislation that would require developers to keep turbines at least 2,250 feet from a person's property unless there's permission to build closer.
Right now, they need to be at least 1,250 feet from homes. Earlier this year, Governor Scott Walker said he wanted to change the law to 1,800 feet.
Senator Lasee says that's not enough.
"Two thousand fifty feet is a reasonable distance that will help preserve their health and safety because of shadow, flicker, noise and I believe there is either magnetic or electric noise that causes health problems for people," Lasee said.
Last month, two wind farm developers pulled out of projects in both Brown and Calumet Counties, saying the current regulations already go too far.
According to Senator Lasee, the strict regulations aren't what's driving companies away from projects here in Wisconsin. He says it all comes down to money.
"Many utilities are no longer paying premiums which drive up our electric costs for wind energy so they're having trouble getting a contract that would pay," Lasee said. "I think they're using this as an excuse."
Enz hopes the Senator's proposal can prevent other families from going through what he has.
"We have a house that we can't live in," he said.
Enz and his wife have been staying with their children for the last few weeks. Senator Lasee is circulating the bill in the senate and assembly.
LASEE BILL WOULD CHANGE RULES FOR WIND ENERGY SYSTEMS
Sen. Frank Lasee is circulating for co-sponsorship a proposal revising PSC authority over wind energy system siting. Basically, the bill requires owners of a large wind energy system to design and construct the system so a straight line distance from the vertical center line of any turbine in the system to the nearest point on the property line be at least one-half mile. The distance could be shorter if the system owner and property owners agree to a lesser distance. The bill also changes the distance from the vertical center of any turbine to the permanent foundation of any building.
Link to PDF of the proposed bill:
LAWSUIT FILED BY RESIDENTS OF TOWN TARGETED BY WIND DEVELOPER
SOURCE: Forest Voice, March 24, 2011
A controversial western Wisconsin wind energy project has come under fire and may be stopped by a federal lawsuit which was filed by a citizens group on February 9, 2011, and by decisive action by a new town board that was elected through a successful recall election of the former town board members who had approved the proposed wind energy project last summer.
After taking office following a recall election on February 15, 2011, the newly elected town board members for the Town of Forest, in St. Croix County, Wisconsin, voted to rescind a controversial wind energy development agreement and other approvals that had been granted to a wind developer, in a decisive vote on March 17, 2011. As a result, the project, which was proposed by a private wind energy developer named Emerging Energies, LLC, is now under fire and may be stopped.
The federal lawsuit was filed on February 9, 2011, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, by a Western Wisconsin citizens group named Forest Voice, LLC, and several individual citizens, against the Town of Forest, its former town board members, and Emerging Energies, LLC.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by attorneys Glenn M. Stoddard and Patricia Keahna, of Stoddard Law Office. The suit alleges that the Town of Forest, its former board members, Roger Swanepoel, Carlton Cress and Douglas Karau, and Emerging Energies, LLC, acted in concert to intentionally violate the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights to due process and equal protection of the law, by approving two different wind energy development agreements during 2008 and 2010.
According to Attorney Glenn Stoddard, “[t]he suit alleges that the former town board members had conflicts of interest and illegal and secretive dealings with Emerging Energies, LLC, in order to reach the agreements, which provide substantial financial benefits only to property owners who support the proposed wind energy project and who own residences within a half mile of the proposed wind turbines.” The lawsuit seeks to nullify the 2008 and 2010 agreements, halt the proposed wind energy project, and other relief.
Forest Voice, LLC is a citizens group comprised of individual landowners, and Town of Forest property owners, whose goal is to create community awareness about the realities of wind energy development.
The Town of Forest is located in St. Croix County, Wisconsin, approximately midway between Clear Lake and Glenwood City, Wisconsin. The group formed early in the fall of 2010 after its members learned that their 36-square mile community was targeted for a wind energy project consisting of 39, 500-foot tall wind towers.
According to Attorney Stoddard, most Town of Forest residents were completely unaware that the former the town board members, who lost a special recall election on February 15, 2011, had approved an agreement in 2008 and another one on August 12, 2010, to proceed with the proposed wind energy project. The landowners who signed contractual leases to allow wind turbines on their properties are prohibited contractually from talking about the leases and the proposed project, so the project was kept secret for some time.
That the first public notice of the controversial wind energy project to the broader community arrived in the form of a postcard which was mailed to each Town of Forest property owner with postage paid out of Town funds, announcing the project and a planned bus trip to Glenmore, Wisconsin, to view the “Shirley Project”–which was represented as having “the same wind turbines that are coming to Forest, WI.” No public hearing was ever held by the defendants during a three-year development period marked by secretive deliberations between the former town board members and Emerging Energies, LLC.
Because the Town of Forest is a densely populated rural area consisting of farms, hobby farms, and small acreage homesteads, many non-participating property owners believe the utility-scale wind turbine project is inappropriate for their township, because of unacceptable setback and noise allowances from non-participating residences in the two agreements. The plaintiffs in the case allege that the proposed wind energy project would destroy their quality of life and have adverse health and safety impacts on them. Moreover, the process that led to the two agreements, and the substance of the agreements, allegedly violate the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights to due process and equal protection of the law.
Attorney Stoddard said, “[t]he plaintiffs are concerned that installation of the proposed project would unfairly stigmatize and devalue their properties and interfere with the quiet, rural quality of life they currently enjoy. Residents who had no knowledge of the size and scope of the project, and no input into the development are unwilling to be so adversely affected by the health and safety issues associated with the proposed project, which includes 39 massive wind turbines.”
Most disturbing to the plaintiffs and other non-participating residents were the contents of open records which laid out the secretive dealings between attorneys for the Town and the developer and the former town board members.
The agreement of August 12, 2010, superseded an earlier agreement of April 2008. Former Town Chairman, Roger Swanepoel, who allegedly contracted with Emerging Energies, LLC for two wind turbines on his property, signed the 2008 agreement. When conflicts of interest centering on financial gain became apparent between all members of the former Town board, a scheme was allegedly devised to circumvent and replace the 2008 agreement with a new agreement to allow development of the proposed wind energy project. Evidence of corruption and collusion and “creative” measures to remedy conflicts of interests surfaced in over 83 pages of documents obtained through public records requests by Town of Forest residents.
According to Attorney Stoddard, “Town of Forest meeting minutes revealed inconsistencies in communications between the former town board members and the town plan commission, and failure to follow agenda rules. Former Town Chairman Roger Swanepoel recused himself from voting on and signing the 2010 agreement, but it was approved and signed by former town supervisors Carlton Cress and Douglas Karau. Since both Cress and Karau stand to receive substantial financial gains under the 2010 agreement, they allegedly had serious and illegal conflicts of interest and should not have voted on or approved the agreement.”
In October 2010, Forest Voice requested that the Town board rescind the allegedly illegal 2010 agreement, signed on August 12, 2010 with Emerging Energies, LLC and Bill Rakocy, the owner of Emerging Energies, of Hubertus, Wisconsin.
On December 2, 2010, recall petitions were served on the Town of Forest town clerk with petitions containing 93 signatures, above the 50 that was required of the electorate. The process culminated in the recall election held on February 15, 2011. All three town board members were recalled and a new town board was elected.
On March 17, 2011, the new Town board voted to rescind the August 12, 2010 wind energy development agreement and took other action to rescind and nullify other wind energy project approvals that had been made hastily by the former town board members at about the time of the recall election.
Attorney Stoddard said: “The recent actions by the new Town board are a welcome development but the federal lawsuit against the town, the former town board members and Emerging Energies, LLC is likely to be continued, since the company has apparently threatened the new Town board with legal action and has taken an aggressive stance. As a result, we are expecting the company to try to push ahead with the wind energy project despite the recall, the rescission and the federal lawsuit.”
Brenda Salseg, a property owner and managing member of the Forest Voice, LLC, said: “What has happened in our township is heartbreaking and has left many residents feeling betrayed. Those of us who researched industrial wind turbines found disturbing evidence of health, safety, and property devaluation issues associated with so-called wind farms when turbines are sited too close to homes. It’s all about what is profitable rather than responsible, which is what I thought green energy is supposed to be. We believe the people who have reported they are suffering from the effects of the Blue Sky/Green Field wind project in the Fond du Lac area of Wisconsin, as well as countless similar stories throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia. Something must be done to make more people aware of the negative consequences of industrial wind energy to people, animals, and ecosystems. To force non-participating residents to live inside a wind factory on a scale unheard of in any other type of energy producing resource is a violation of our constitutional rights. And the funding to developers for these projects with taxpayer dollars for an inefficient and parasitic form of renewable energy is unacceptable. The statement we continually hear that ‘wind energy is green, clean, and renewable’ is nothing more than deception.”
LOCAL COMMUNITES COMING [TOGETHER] AGAINST WIND FARMS
SOURCE: New Richmond News, Pierce County Herald www.piercecountyherald.com
February 24, 2011 By: Chris Hamble - Hudson Star-Observer and Jeff Holmquist -
The question of wind turbine location has roiled communities in St. Croix County. The township board of Forest was recently recalled in the Feb. 15 election and the Town of Troy has passed a moratorium on wind farm development.
At its board meeting Thursday, Feb. 10, the town of Troy passed a resolution putting a temporary moratorium in place for the development of wind-energy turbines in and around the town.
A four-man committee was organized by town chair Ray Knapp to look into the “what and how” of possible turbine energy generators and to make an ordinance for the town regarding the building, regulation and usage of possible turbines in the future.
Currently, there is talk at the state capital that the new administration is looking to make strict regulations and standards regarding wind turbine usage, visibility and setbacks. According to Knapp, in a situation such as this, the town may not be “more strict” with its regulations than the state.
Since the state has yet to fully develop a plan, it was suggested that the town issue a moratorium on the building of wind turbines, even though there is currently no plan to build any. The board hopes to keep prospectors and developers from looking into the possibility of constructing turbines until the town can get a hard ordinance on the books. This move was also suggested by the Wisconsin Towns Association.
The moratorium unanimously passed, and is effective until Sept. 26.
“This temporary stay in wind permits will give us time to come up with something right for the town,” said Knapp.
In addition to the moratorium, Knapp also reported that under the current project timeline, the committee would like to draft a possible town ordinance by the regularly scheduled July board meeting, and also compile a list of possible sites for developers to inspect.
The ongoing wind farm controversy has blown the sitting Town of Forest board out of office.
A recall election on Tuesday, Feb. 15, held in conjunction with the Wisconsin primary, went to the three challengers in the contest.
For the chairman position, Jamie Junker gathered 194 votes and incumbent Roger Swanepoel had 123 votes.
For the position of supervisor, challengers Rick Steinberger (207 votes) and Patrick Scepurek (185 votes) were elected. Incumbents Carlton Cress (123 votes) and Douglas Karau (113 votes) were voted out of office.
The recall election was the result of a group of Town of Forest residents who circulated a petition to remove the current board. The petition included the signatures of 93 town residents. A total of 50 signatures was required for a recall election to be conducted.
The group’s main issue with the current board was their approval of a wind project proposed by Emerging Energies LLC, which calls for some 39 turbines to be installed on parcels scattered throughout the township.
Opponents of the plan claim the proposal was approved without appropriate notice and participation from the public.
“The recall election pretty much speaks for itself,” said Junker following his successful run for the chairman post. “The Forest residents have concluded through simply reading a vast number of documents that a number of legal irregularities have taken place. These irregularities are easily understood by anyone that took the time to read the public documents to know what happened in Forest. With great confidence that they had the legal proof, the residents of Forest moved for the rare recall of its officials from office, and to nobody’s surprise they won.”
Junker said the town residents “were never told of the project details until the evening the agreement was actually approved, never knowing of the placement, size, or number at any point during what has repeatedly been said was a public process.”
The towns’ plan commission was also never publicly told of the details, Junker said, yet the formal agreement says the plan commission recommended the agreement.
“Clearly the residents of Forest feel that the previous town board, proven through the records, tried to pull the wool over the residents’ eyes and we’re finding out it didn’t work,” he said.
Junker pledged that the new town board will do “everything legally possible” to stop the wind turbine project now that they’re in office.
He said the chances of the project being stopped are good.
In a phone interview, Steinberger said he was pleased with the results of the recall.
“It was just what I had hoped for,” he said.
Steinberger said he is ready to take on the job of town supervisor and he promised to “represent the people.”
“I want to keep the process open and honest,” he said.
Scepurek was pleased with the outcome as well.
“The citizens of the township decided enough is enough,” he said.
He noted that almost all of the registered voters in the town cast a ballot in the recall, which was an encouraging sign.
“People are waking up and taking notice,” Scepurek said. “People have to start being informed and make sure that things don’t happen under the radar.”
Outgoing supervisor Cress said he didn’t have much to say in the wake of his recall, other than to say he was frustrated by the single-issue focus of the campaign to kick the board out.
“It was unfortunate that it came down to a wind turbine issue and not what it takes to run a township,” he said.
Swanepoel and Karau did not return phone calls to get their reaction to the results of the election.