Entries in Lauren Azar (2)
9/15/10 Why are there so many complaints about living with wind turbine noise? AND What's going on with the wind siting rules? AND Can I get some maintenance for this turbine? What do you mean you're bankrupt? AND Mafia discovers a clean, green, dirty money laundering machine
Wisconsin small business owner, Jim Bembinster, knows a lot about the complicated subject of wind turbine noise.
He spent 14 months focusing on noise issues as a member of the Large Turbine Wind Study Committee for the Town of Union (Rock County). He also helped author the Town of Union Large Wind Ordinance, considered by many to be the best in the state.
This ordinance has been adopted by local governments throughout Wisconsin, including five contiguous Towns in Rock County. Local governments from other states have used it for a model in creating their own ordinances.
The Town of Union Ordinance calls for a turbine noise limit of five decibels over the existing noise levels in the community.
The wind siting rules approved by the Public Service Commission, which preempt ordinances like the Town of Union’s, allow a nighttime noise level of 45dba—or an approximate increase of 20 decibels over normal rural noise limits.
Here, Mr. Bembinster explains how a 20 decibel increase will impact a rural community, and why masking turbine noise is so difficult.
The general rule for additional noise is this:
Adding 5dB is barely noticeable.
Adding 10dB is clearly heard— as it’s twice again as loud.
Adding 15 dB is very loud and this will become the dominant sound.
If ambient [existing] noise levels in a rural community are 25dB and turbine noise levels are at 45dB, there will be a problem.
The reason is the turbine, at 20dB louder, will be the dominant sound.
Although developers say noise from the turbine will be masked by other environmental sound, such as the wind blowing through the trees, a noise loud enough to cover the turbine must also be similar in character and at least 15 decibels louder, which puts it at least 60dB. This would be something like a the noise from a large truck going by or a Harley.
Also, in order to mask the sound, the character of the two types of sound must be the same.
Take the example of a baby crying.
If you were in a room with people who were all having a conversation at say 50dB and a baby started to cry at 40dB, the baby’s cry would be clearly heard over the conversation because of the difference of character and the tone of the noise it makes.
If the baby ramps up the crying to 50dB --the same sound level as the conversation in the room, the baby’s cry will become the dominant sound in the room even though both the crying and the conversation are at the same decibel level.
This is why people trapped in wind farms have trouble with the noise even though the turbine is within its noise limits of 45dB. Ambient sounds in a rural area can’t mask the sound of a turbine because the quality of the noise is so different, much like difference between a baby crying and adult conversation.
Another way to look at is how loud it would need to be inside your home so that a Harley could pass by unnoticed. That would be really loud, and not the best circumstance for sleeping.
There is nothing in a rural community that makes a sound similar enough to a wind turbine to mask it, except perhaps a jet or helicopter passing overhead, which is exactly what wind turbine noise is often compared to by those now living in wind projects.
WIND TURBINE RULE CAN BE REVISED, PANEL SAYS;
CHANGE WOULD ADDRESS POSSIBLE HEALTH EFFECTS
SOURCE: Green Bay Press Gazette, www.greenbaypressgazette.com
September 16 2010
By Tony Walter
One of the three members of the Public Service Commission who voted for the wind turbine siting rules last month noted in a letter to two top state lawmakers that the panel can revise the rules to address the potentially harmful health effects of the turbines.
“While I support the overall rule because it will promote the development of wind in Wisconsin, the rule fails to provide a much-needed safety net for people whose health declines because of a wind turbine located near their home,” Commissioner Lauren Azar wrote to legislative officials in an Aug. 31 letter.
“As new information becomes available, the Commission can revise this rule.”
Azar wasn’t available this week to comment on her proposal that would require wind turbine owners to purchase the home of anyone who can prove that the turbine has a significant adverse health outcome. An aide in her office said Azar’s letter speaks for itself.
Invenergy LLC wants to build a 100-turbine wind farm in the towns of Morrison, Glenmore, Wrightstown and Holland with turbines that produce more than 100-megawatts of energy. CH Shirley Wind LLC is erecting eight 20-megawatt turbines in Glenmore.
An Invenergy spokesman said last month that the company plans to resubmit its application for the Ledge Wind Farm project, noting that the health issue has been studied by numerous groups that concluded there is insufficient evidence to prove the turbines put people and animals at risk.
That proposal has prompted the creation of a Brown County citizens group speaking out against the wind turbine industry, arguing there hasn’t been sufficient study on health impacts.
Carl Kuehne, a member of the board of directors of the Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy, said the absence of definitive evidence on the health impact of wind turbines is reason enough to conduct more studies.
“No. 1, there is no need to move ahead today with more wind turbines in Wisconsin,” Kuehne said.
“The utilities are currently meeting the energy mandates set by the state government. So let’s study the situation. There’s certainly enough ad hoc evidence that wind turbines do have an impact on people and animals. Let’s study it and find out before we create more destruction on people. We have the opportunity.”
Last month, the PSC adopted rules for projects less than 100 megawatts. The rules can be altered by the state Legislature and lawmakers can ask the PSC to make changes. The issue has been assigned to the Assembly’s Committee on Energy and Utilities, which is led by Jim Soletski, D-Ashwaubenon, but no meeting date has been set.
BANKRUPTCY RAISES WIND TURBINE ISSUES
September 16, 2010
By Bruce Burdett
PORTSMOUTH — With its wind turbine supplier bankrupt, Portsmouth is looking for a new company to provide the service it had believed was covered under the equipment’s original warranty.
Bankruptcy proceedings for Canadian firm AAER were completed in July. Pioneer Power Solutions bought some of AAER’s assets ”but appears unwilling to provide warranty coverage or operations and maintenance support,” Finance Director David Faucher wrote in a Sept. 8 memo to the town council.
Mr. Faucher and Assistant Town Planner Gary Crosby, who has overseen much of the town’s wind turbine effort, said they have met with representatives of Templeton Power and Light which has commissioned an AAER wind turbine generator similar to Portsmouth’s in hopes of partnering with the Massachusetts utility for a long term maintenance services contract.
But Mr. Faucher said Templeton is not yet at a point that it can enter into such a partnership.
So for now, Mr. Faucher recommended that the town council enter into an emergency one-year maintenance and service agreement with Solaya, a division of Lumus Constrictoon Inc. of Woburn, Mass. The council was scheduled to discuss and possibly vote on the agreement at its meeting on Wednesday this week (after the Times went to press).
The agreement would include two 6-month scheduled maintenance sessions (the first being this month), around-the-clock monitoring and unscheduled maintenance. At the end of the year, Mr. Faucher said he would ask the council to award a competitively bid contract for a three-year period.
The agreement with Solaya is “very detailed and describes the monitoring , warranty protction and maintenance services we have been seeking.”
Cost of the year’s basic service is $33,000, and the town would be charged additional fees for extra work.
SOURCE: The Independent, www.independent.co.uk
MAFIA'S DIRTY MONEY LINKED TO CLEAN ENERGY
September 16 2010
By Michael Day in Milan,
After decades of drug-running, extortion and prostitution, the Mafia appears to have found a rather more ecological way of laundering their money: green power.
And if the assets of the Italian police’s latest target are any indication, the Mafia is embracing the renewable energy business with an enthusiasm that would make Al Gore look like a dilettante. The surprising revelation of organised crime’s new green streak came as Italian police said yesterday they had made the largest recorded seizure of mob assets – worth €1.5bn (£1.25bn) – from the Mafia-linked Sicilian businessman Vito Nicastri, who had vast holdings in alternative energy concerns, including wind farms.
Organised crime in Italy has previously been notorious for trading in environmental destruction – principally earning billions of euros by illegally dumping toxic waste. But most of the newly seized assets are in the form of land, property and bank accounts in Sicily, the home of Cosa Nostra, and in the neighbouring region of Calabria, the base of the rival ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate.
Police said the operation was based on a 2,400-page investigative report and followed 54-year-old Mr Nicastri’s arrest last year. He has since been released without charge, and has denied wrongdoing. But General Antonio Girone, the head of the national anti-Mafia agency DIA, said that Mr Nicastri, known as “lord of the winds”, was linked to Matteo Messina Denaro, the fugitive believed to be the Sicilian Mafia’s “boss of bosses”.
Senator Costantino Garraffa, of the parliamentary anti-Mafia committee, said the Mafia was trying to break into the “new economy” of alternative energy as it sought to launder money earned from crime. The seizure of Mr Nicastri’s assets “confirms the interest that organised crime has in renewable energy, which several annual reports on environmental issues have already stressed,” added Beppe Ruggiero, an official with the anti-Mafia association Libera.
Generous subsidies have led to rapid growth in wind power in Italy in recent years. Mr Ruggiero said: “It is very important for this sector to stay far from Mafia activities.” However, he stressed the need for renewable energy to develop in Italy’s poorer South. “Investment in renewable energy should not be discouraged,” he said, adding that the nuclear alternative would be “a losing choice”.
Recent estimates suggest the total annual turnover of Italy’s main organised crime groups is around €100bn (£83bn), or 7 per cent of GDP. Officials, including the Bank of Italy governor, Mario Draghi, have argued that organised crime has perpetuated poverty in the south of the country.
8/23/10 PSC discusses wind siting rules today AND what do Maine and Wisconsin have in common? What happens when a state changes law to fast track wind development? Good bye local control.
WIND SITING TO BE DISCUSSED BY COMMISSIONERS AT TODAY'S OPEN MEETING AT THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION OF WISCONSIN
Beginning at 11:30 Am
610 North Whitney Way, Madison, Wisconsin
Live audio of the meeting will be broadcast over the web. CLICK HERE to visit the PSC website, click on the button on the left that says "Live Broadcast". Sometimes the meetings don't begin right on time. The broadcasts begin when the meetings do so keep checking back if you don't hear anything at the appointed start time.
At the last meeting Commissioner Lauren Azar recommended a setback of 2200 feet from homes unless a developer could prove that noise and shadow flicker standards could be met at a closer distance.
She also recommended a 40 decibel noise limit, in accordance with the World Health Organization's nighttime noise guidelines.
A call for a windpower moratorium
August 20, 2010
By Karen Bessey Pease
This law fast-tracks industrial wind development in the high terrain regions of Maine — by eliminating citizens’ automatic right to a public hearing, by removing our ability to object to development based on scenic impact, and by allowing what I consider to be state-sanctioned bribery (couched as “tangible benefits” and “mitigation”) by industrial wind developers of individuals and entities who might be impacted by massive wind turbines on our iconic ridges. LD 2283 can be read in its entirety at: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_123rd/billtexts/SP090801.asp
I live in Lexington Township, which stands to be greatly impacted by LD 2283. Former Gov. Angus King and Rob Gardiner of Brunswick’s Independence Wind have submitted a permit application — to be reviewed under this new law — for a 48-turbine development at the gateway to the Bigelow Preserve and the Appalachian Trail.
Local residents have also heard of plans to continue the line of industrial wind down through Lexington to Brighton, Mayfield, and beyond. In order to meet Gov. John Baldacci’s goal of 2,700 megawatts of land-based wind power by 2020, another 300 miles of Maine’s mountains will be sacrificed, as well.
Maine citizens weren’t consulted before this misguided and biased law was enacted. As an “emergency measure” we didn’t have time to make our objections known before it was implemented. What is now apparent is that the wind industry hugely influenced the crafting of this law.
In a letter from Rob Gardiner to Alec Giffen, chairman of the Governor’s Task Force on Wind Power, Gardiner lists his recommendations for how to write a law which would give wind developers the advantage over Maine citizens, forestalling their objections to wind developments.
Gardiner states: “In my opinion, the biggest sticking point is visual impact. Under the standard of ‘fitting harmoniously into the environment,’ wind is at a serious disadvantage. Because it involves 250-foot high structures that are usually on high ridges, the visual impacts are significant.” (Gardiner’s own permit application states that the turbines destined for Highland stand more than 400 feet tall, creating a more serious “disadvantage” — and those visual impacts will be far, far more significant.)
“An immediate executive order followed by legislation that specifically removes the presumption of negative visual impact from wind farms would go a long way toward setting the stage for balanced regulatory review.”
“A second element of such executive order and legislation should be to declare that reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions is a public benefit, and that wind farms can make a significant contribution toward a more sensible energy mix for Maine. Therefore, any regulatory agency should accept these positions and not waste time receiving further evidence and debating them. To the extent that regulators are charged with balancing the benefits of any project against the negative impacts, these beneficial aspects should be ‘a given’ for wind farms.”
Further directions given to Giffen: “…wind farms ought not to be expected to help purchase conservation lands or do other types of mitigation. Wind farms ARE mitigation for our energy consumption habits and for the impacts of fossil fuel consumption.”
“I understand that preserving Maine’s ‘quality of place’ is an important goal for your task force. I fully accept that having wind farms everywhere might ruin that quality.”
“I recognize that LURC feels overwhelmed … This may need attention, but it is a short-term phenomenon. Don’t change the rules, provide the necessary resources. The Governor can do that ... But creating a new agency or shifting responsibilities will, in actuality, make it harder for developers.” (Gardiner’s entire letter can be read at http://highlandmts.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/comments_rob_gardiner_120607.pdf)
Impartial experts are speaking out about the negligible ecological benefits of industrial wind. After two decades of experimentation around the globe, there’s been no significant reduction in carbon emissions. Electrical consumption is constant, but wind is undependable and intermittent; therefore, conventional electrical generators must be kept online to take up the slack when the wind doesn’t blow. Because of the extremely inefficient combustion from the modulating in-fill of natural gas backup for wind plants, it’s possible that we may actually be increasing overall fossil fuel use.
The wind industry has repeatedly told us that wind will get Maine off “foreign oil.” However, Maine does not use oil to generate electricity, but rather to heat our homes and power our automobiles — two applications that even John Kerry and Phil Bartlett acknowledge aren’t addressed by wind power.
To say that we’ll reduce our dependence on oil if we install wind turbines across Maine is misleading.
Ms. Schalit’s fact-based series is a wake-up call. In light of these revelations, Maine citizens whose lives have been turned upside down by this legislation are requesting an immediate moratorium on wind plant construction and a careful reexamination of LD 2283 by our Legislature.
Karen Bessey Pease lives in Lexington Township.