Entries in shadow flicker (12)
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.
2/27/11 WINDKILL: How "Green" is a bird and bat killing machne? AND No matter what language you say it in, wind turbine shadow flicker is intolerable
[Note: Illustrations and photos on this post added by the BPWI Research Nerd]
WIND FARMS AND DEADLY SKIES: TURBINES ON TEXAS COAST KILLING THOUSANDS OF BIRDS AND BATS EACH YEAR
SOURCE: San Antonio Express-News, www.mysanantonio.com
February 27, 2011
By Colin McDonald,
SARITA — The 260-foot-tall wind turbines of the Kenedy Ranch stand like a steel forest along the edge of the Laguna Madre and pump out hundreds of megawatts of emission-free electricity.
The spinning blades, alongside some of the most important habitat in Texas and one of North America’s largest migratory flyways, are killing thousands of birds and bats each year.
How many isn’t publicly known because, unlike California counties, Texas and the federal government don’t require turbine operators to make public reports, according to state and federal officials.
Aside from the quantity of bird and bat deaths, a more complicated question remains unanswered as more wind turbines are put up along the Texas Coast: Have the turbines changed the ecosystem and displaced wildlife?
For the first time, Pattern Energy, which owns 118 turbines on the ranch, and Iberdrola Renewables, which owns 168, voluntarily released results of their first yearlong studies.
Pattern estimates up to 921 birds and 2,309 bats were killed between Aug. 24, 2009, and July 31; Iberdrola’s estimates: 1,812 birds and 3,087 bats for the same period.
While the bird killings match the national average, one researcher found the bat killings much higher than expected.
Those who opposed the wind farms are not convinced the studies are credible or conclusive.
The work was paid for by the companies and not peer-reviewed. In their reports, biologists wrote about the challenges of collecting good data with rattlesnakes biting their search dogs and cows that would not leave. The researchers estimate scavengers removed half of the bird and bat carcasses before they could be found.
They also could not get federal permits to collect the species they did find, so many had to be marked as unknown.
After more than a year of submitting forms, the companies received a collection permit last month, said Rick Greiner of Pattern Energy.
But of the species identified, none were endangered.
“We think there is a low impact to T and E (threatened and endangered species) because we have not found any,” he said.
The reports state the wind farms had a bird mortality rate of three birds per megawatt, which is in the middle for the national average of one to six birds, according to the American Wind Energy Association, a trade group. A national average for bats killed per megawatt is not well-established.
In addition to average bird mortality, the companies point to the high-tech radar systems they voluntarily installed that will trigger a shutdown of the spinning turbines during fog or low visibility when a mass of birds or bats is approaching.
As of the end of 2010, a shutdown had not occurred.
“At every stage of the project’s life, Iberdrola Renewables has gone above and beyond what has been required by the state of Texas and federal government to conduct extensive studies and monitor the outcomes of our wildlife protection measures,” said Jan Johnson, a spokeswoman for Iberdrola.
More than numbers
One who disagrees the studies have been extensive is David Newstead, an environmental scientist for the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program in Corpus Christi and president of the Coastal Bend Audubon Society.
He believes mortality rates are an incomplete measurement of the effect of wind farms. The numbers do not reflect how turbines could be changing behavior of birds and bats by forcing them out of their habitat and putting them under greater stress.
“Cumulative effects are practically never discussed by wind developers,” Newstead said. “At the end of the day, the most important numbers, for the sake of the wildlife, is how many of what species of birds and bats are being not only killed, but displaced.”
Newstead is one of most vocal challengers to the construction of wind farms along the Texas Coast and was part of an unsuccessful lawsuit to stop them, funded in large part by the King Ranch, which borders the Kenedy Ranch.
“There is no other place in North America that plays such an important role for so many species during some part of their lives,” Newstead said about the Laguna Madre and surrounding grasslands. “Collision mortality can thus affect any of more than 400 regularly occurring species.”
Newstead’s concerns for the coast only grow as more turbines are built, following the lead of the Kenedy Ranch.
Since the Kenedy turbines came online in 2009, Iberdrola has added more, and the Papalote Creek Wind Farm with 196 units was built outside Corpus Christi, according to AWEA.
When operating at capacity, the Kenedy Ranch turbines in total can generate close to 680 megawatts, or enough electricity to meet the needs of 135,000 to 170,000 homes, according to CPS Energy, which buys power from Iberdrola.
That power is produced during the day when consumer demand is the highest, and it can be delivered via uncongested transmissions lines, said CPS Energy spokeswoman Lisa Lewis, adding that effect on wildlife was not considered when it signed the contract.
Working with wind
For now, wind companies face few consequences for killing wildlife, explained Paul Schmidt, assistant director at the Migratory Bird Program for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
While it’s against federal law to kill or harm any endangered, threatened or migratory bird species, the agency has not prosecuted any wind farm owner.
Instead, the service is working with the wind industry, scientists and conservationists to establish guidelines for how wind companies should place and operate a wind farm, Schmidt said.
A draft of those guidelines was released for comment this month.
Once the guidelines are adopted, the Fish and Wildlife Service will have a basis to decide which companies to investigate, Schmidt said.
“It’s just like you’re driving down the highway and the speed limit is 55,” he said. “You can go 60, probably 62, but at some point you are going to get caught.”
Schmidt said companies that volunteer information will avoid the scrutiny given those that do not.
Pattern and Iberdrola have regular communication with the service. But the reports they send are marked “privileged and confidential,” so they can’t be shared.
When Pattern gave its reports to the San Antonio Express-News, it called them public but then requested it preapprove anyone who saw them and that they not be posted online.
“Clearly we have a problem with transparency with the wind and wildlife issues, and I think we have a ways to go,” said Edward Arnett, director of programs at Bat Conservation International, whom Pattern approved to review its studies.
With wind farms across the country reluctant to share data openly, the understanding of the cumulative effect on wildlife and the best way to minimize it are stunted, Arnett said. This is especially true of bats.
At 150 feet long, the wind turbine blades move between 100 and 180 mph at their tip. The pressure change on the trailing edge is enough to cause internal hemorrhaging in bats, according to Bat Conservation International.
Before the Kenedy wind turbines went in, Arnett had expected low bat mortality, as there were no known concentrations of bats in the area. Since so little is known about bat movements, he is not surprised the numbers turned out to be higher.
Before wind turbines were built, little was known about bat movements.
It isn’t possible to know what is and isn’t working, he said.
“Until we have the information published in a credible fashion that is publicly shared and published in journals, it is going to be unknown,” he said.
SECOND FEATURE:WIND TURBINE SHADOW FLICKER MAKES DANES MISERABLE
WIND TURBINE SHADOW FLICKER MAKES BADGERS MISERABLE
8/24/10 TRIPLE FEATURE What the commissioners said at yesterday's PSC meeting and what the people are saying back AND Wisconsin resident walks us through a wind contract AND What made We Energies call the police?
Their Money or Your Life? PSC Commissioners weigh wind developers financial needs against residents health and safety
Better Plan, Wisconsin
August 24, 2010
MADISON- Although Public Service Commissioner Lauren Azar made it clear she believes a small number of Wisconsin wind farm residents are suffering from turbine noise related sleep deprivation and associated health impacts, in the end she seemed to go along with Chairman Eric Callisto and Commissioner Mark Meyer in sticking to the same noise limits residents have been complaining about: 50 decibels during the day and 45 decibels during the night.
At the previous meeting on Thursday, Azar had suggested a setback of 2200 feet and a nighttime noise limit of 40 decibels, which she referenced as the World Health Organization's nighttime noise standard. [Note: The World Health Organization's nighttime noise standard was recently lowered to 35 decibels.]
Azar said the basis for the 2200 foot setback was information given to her by PSC staff regarding the setback distance required to reach 45 decibels. Her proposal was for developers to use a 2200 foot setback unless they could prove they could come closer and still meet noise and shadow flicker standards.
Chairman Callisto made it clear he would not go along with this. Commissioner Meyer also indicated he rejected this idea.
Callisto recommended a setback of 3.1 times the blade tip height or about 1250 feet for a 400 foot tall turbine, although his basis for choosing the 3.1 figure was not stated and is unknown.
Callisto also said that should problems come up for residents, they have recourse though the legal system and can sue the developer.
Azar pointed out that bringing a lawsuit against a wind company would put an unrealistic financial burden on nearly any family. She estimated the cost of such a lawsuit as being at least $200,000, and stressed that the commission had the opportunity to build protection for residents into the rules.
Throughout the discussion all three commissioners expressed clear concern for wind developers needs, and repeatedly indicated distrust of local government.
Only Commissionar Azar expressed concern for impacts on residents. She also indicated concern about impacts on wildlife and domestic animals.
Commissioners agreed that shadow flicker impacts to non participating homes should be 30 hours per year. The basis for this number was not stated.
They agreed that non-participating homes with more than 20 hours of flicker per year should be eligible for 'mitigation' from the wind company. Usually this means window blinds.
What happens when shadow flicker lasts over 30 hours created a sticking point in the discussion.
Azar felt going over the 30 hour limit would require curtailment of the turbine. The possibility of required curtailment of a turbine-- which can mean anything from feathering the blades to stopping the turbine completely-- is a sore subject for wind developers.
Commissioner Meyer seemed troubled by the possibility of required curtailment for violating shadow flicker standards and asked the commissioners to think of another option.
The next meeting is scheduled for 8:00AM, Wednesday, August 25th, at the Public Service Commission.
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" to listen. 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.
SECOND FEATURE: FROM THE PSC DOCKET: 1-AC-231
Wisconsin residents contact PSC about discussions on windsiting rules.
You made a comment at the end of your broadcast for us to call in our comments, well when I called the lady that answered said she thought you were joking.
... I did not think that was funny, so I emailed you a letter. I sure hope you read every one you get and share them with the other commissioners.
½ mile setbacks from nonparticipant'a property line and that’s not a joke. Take your time and think about what you’re doing and how many lives are depending on that all 3 of you to do the right thing for the state of Wisconsin.
From: Mike Winkler
Sent: Tuesday, August 24, 2010 8:49 AM
To: Heilman, Alice - PSC
Subject: tower setback
1000' is not enough setback from a home. My brother has a tower that was put (accidentally) 880' from his house. Although he is "gagged" from saying anything about it, I am not.
I can tell you that even at 1100' from the tower the noise is loud enough to be agitating during the day, and it downright impossible to sleep through it at night...
People's lives are being affected, and degraded in quality. Why don't the wind profiteers and the PSC care?
Isn't Wisconsin worthwhile enough to save these innocent people's way of life?
Fond du Lac
To the Public Service commission:
As a father of 2 boys, I am alarmed that instead of doing the necessary independent studies to determine the health risks of industrial wind turbines in close proximity to our homes, the suggestion was made to offer compensation to affected neighbors?
How could a parent take money when the health of their family is at risk?
How can the PSC even make this suggestion?
I commend Commissioner Azar for having the courage to recognize the need for "at least" a 2200 ft setback......Our families support for any industrial wind project that jeopardizes our health and safety is not dependent on any dollar amount.
It is time for the PSC to evaluate industrial wind projects based on the health and safety of our families, not political direction.
Thank you for this opportunity to share my concerns with the wind siting draft rules. I have been listening to every siting council meeting as well as the past two PSC meetings. I do have the following concerns.
1) 128.14 (4) Line 15-20. Compliance Page 18: I will feel better if noise testing is done by an independent 3rd party, NOT THE DEVELOPER/OWNER. What other industry is allowed to be its` own testing resource?
The draft also states that if the test shows compliance, another test can't be done for two years.
What if the test was not done on the night that the noise complaint was made or if the test was not accurate? A person should not have to continue to suffer for 2 more years.
The developer or owner should not be conducting the test. It should be a 3rd party. Otherwise who determines if the test was fair and accurate? The testing needs to be verified or done by more than one source to protect the landowner.
2)128.14 Noise Criteria. Page 16: I would like to ask if testing will be done at night and the specific night of the complaint?
I have serious concerns as to why low frequency noise and measurement has not been addressed. The 45dba limit will not cover this serious issue.
3) 128.14 (C) Compliance: Page 19 Pre and post construction testing must also be done by a 3rd party, not the developer or owner. This is to prevent any conflict or problems from happening in the first place to reduce the need for mitigation.
Basically any testing referenced in the draft should be done by a 3rd party, never the developer. Please keep in mind, they are not a utility and not regulated as the utility industry is.
4) Existing property uses: I feel strongly that vacant land zoned for residential building should be considered, not just those with building permits.
What if someone is planning to build a year or two down the road because they are just in the planning stages, which can take years? My husband and I worked on our home plans for 3-4 years after we purchased our property and then went for a building permit. Or if someone is planning a retirement home in 5 or 10 years?
Many, including my neighbor have every intention of building sometime in the near future. He specifically is waiting for his home to sell and will not get a permit until it does. We have friends that own land and will build when they are able to financially.
If a parcel is already zoned for building a home, accommodations should be made. Having setbacks from property lines rather than homes, would resolve this issue. This is what was done in Manitowoc County. Setbacks were made from property lines to prevent a "taking."
I agree with the fact that a developer should be required to purchase homes of non-participating landowners that are negatively affected. No one should have to be forced from their home and lose the value in their property.
If the developer feels the turbines do not affect property values, they can buy and sell the home. If a non-participant is going to be considered a participant for accepting a payment only a 1/3 of a participating landowner and not be able to have mitigation, no one will sign on for that.
Those fighting for their health and safety will not take money in lieu of their quality of life.
5) Residence: What about cottages/vacation homes. While they are not used year round, they are either used frequently and some people spend entire summers at these. Especially along the lakeshore area and Lake Winnebago, Door County etc.
I would like to suggest that "Occupied Community Building" include other things that are common in rural areas such as business`s, Sportsman's clubs, Town Halls, Golf Course Club Houses/Golf Course, some of these host weddings, Business's, i.e.: gas stations, restaurants, and other business's. All of these are located in rural areas and have people present at least as or more often than a church or place of worship.
This is also in Setback table, page 14. People that use these facilities, especially those that spend all day working at them, deserve the same protection as those that go to a church service.
6) Setback Table: What about "safety setbacks" to County, State, and Federal parks and campgrounds. People picnic and sleep in campgrounds which are located in many parks and there should be" safety setbacks" to those areas.
I feel safety setbacks should be to non participating property lines for noise and shadow flicker to prevent a takings.
I feel someone should be safe from harm anywhere on their property, not just in their home.
People in rural areas spend a lot of time outdoors. Vestas recommends a 1300ft safety setback in case of fire, but the siting council majority wants to stay with 1000ft. It what other industry do we disregard recommended safety protocol?
I agree with Commissioner Azar to set the 2200 ft setback for noise to help make sure the 45dba is met. If staff has found that is what is necessary, it will be a safety net and would be sensible to use that number for a noise setback.
We do not know how dependable the computer modeling is and if a developer can be trusted to be honest. I also feel any computer modeling should be verified by an independent 3rd party. If they can prove with verification that they can go less, then so be it.
The modeling used in Fond du lac County has proven to be completely inaccurate and that it can`t be depended on.
While I really feel a 5 over ambient is the fair way to go for a noise limit, because most rural areas where turbines will be located average 25-30 at night. If the World Health Organization recommends a general 40dba noise limit, why should there be a 45dba limit?
We listen to WHO for recommendations on other health recommendations ie:flu shots, so why are we not heading their recommendation here?
7) 128.16 line 18. Signal Interference: (b) Line 20-22, and line 2 of next page, line of sight. What width is the corridor? The following is from the Manitowoc County Ordinance: A large wind energy system or met tower may not be located within an emergency communication corridor, which is defined as the area within 500 feet of a line connecting a specified pair of communication towers. Each of the following pairs of communication towers, whose locations are described using Manitowoc County coordinates, delineate a protected emergency communication corridor. (3) A large wind energy system or met tower may not be located within one mile of any communication tower location identified in sub. (2).
The following is from the White Paper done for Manitowoc County, which was used to address the section in the ordinance. "I would not want a user to build a critical communications tower in a wind farm unless the windmills were at least ½ mile away--better yet a mile.
8) I feel that financial assurance should be provided at time of permit application, not when construction starts. You want to make sure a developer is financially capable upfront before agencies are required to do planning work at the taxpayer`s expense. If you are trying to take out a mortgage, the bank wants proof you can afford it before you move in not after. A credit check is done before anything else.
The developer should be required to give the municipalities at least 60 days notice prior to them selling or transferring a controlling interest to another entity. Municipalities should also be granted the authority to deny such a change in ownership if the developer is unable to provide proof of adequate financial resources in the new entity (e.g. for decommissioning). Developers can change ownerships to various LLCs, where they eventually are just shell corporations that have no assets, cannot be sued, and just fold.]
I agree with Commissioner Azar that decommissioning money should not be in the form of a letter of credit that can expire. If Navitas Energy, which was sold to Babcock and Brown would have built the wind farm in Manitowoc County, the county would now be up a creek because letters of credit must be renewed on a yearly basis, and Babcock and Brown went bankrupt.
I would also like the hosting landowner take some responsibility for what he is taking on. This is from the Manitowoc County ordinance: Statement signed by the landowner acknowledging that the landowner is financially responsible if the owner fails to reclaim the site as required by sec. 24.10(4) and that any removal and reclamation costs incurred by the county will become a lien on the property and may be collected from the landowner in the same manner as property taxes.
9) 128.13 (c) Siting Criteria Page 15: Who defines hardships?
10) Real Property Provisions, Page 9: I would like to suggest leaving this section in.
Unlike real estate agents, wind developers are not regulated by anyone. They have been known to lie to landowners to get them to sign up. They recently told a landowner in Sheboygan that no one in Fond du Lac is having problems with noise, etc. We know that is not true.
While common sense would tell you that you should have an attorney look at anything before you sign, these landowners are quite often older people who are used to taking care of business with a hand shake.
There should be someone overseeing the people that are signing up landowners that are not being told the whole truth. Again, these developers are not regulated and basically have no one looking over their shoulders to make sure they are doing things legally and morally. The consumer/landowner deserves some sort of protection from the developers.
There has to be some legal recourse, especially if they are being lied to, to get them to sign on the dotted line of a document they have no way out of. These landowners are being told there are no issues with the turbines, but yet the leases have gag orders stating if they have problems with noise or shadow flicker, they can`t tell anyone or can`t seek mitigation. Now does that seem right? Please talk to some people that turned down developers or are trying to get out of leases.
11) 128.33 (1) (2) Political Subdivision: Page 45 Require a developer or owner to cooperate with any study coordinated by the commission or the DNR of the effects of wind energy systems on wildlife populations and natural resources. Is there going to be any study on the effects on people?
We already know there are problems with negative effects in the existing wind farms. I would like to ask you to slow this process down and take the time you need to think this out as it sure seems to be rushed. Once these are up, it is not like a car that can be recalled and fixed. They are up for the next 30 years.
The best mitigation is done in the rule planning stages. Please err on the side of caution. If engineers need to design a bridge to carry 2 tons, they spec it to carry 3 or 4 tons. It seems we are setting limits here at the bare minimum rather than taking necessary precautions and that is asking for trouble. Please visit the homes of those that are being affected and speak to them personally to make sure this is done responsibly. Rather than guess as to what should be done, study the existing wind farms before allowing more to be constructed.
Mishicot, WI 54228
From: Diane Hoerth
Sent: Tuesday, August 24, 2010 7:35 AM
To: Heilman, Alice - PSC
Subject: Safe Setbacks
Please do not allow the construction of industrial wind turbines to be built any less than 2200 feet from homes, schools, business, churches or any building that people and also animals use. Even though it is far short of the recommended setbacks of; The United Kingdom Noise Association of 1 mile, France National Academy of Medicine for a minimum 1mile, Barbara J. Frey, BA, MA and Peter J. Hadden, BSc FRICS report, NOISE RADIATION FROM WIND TURBINES INSTALLED NEAR HOMES: EFFECTS ON HEALTH recommends setbacks of 1.25 miles, Dr. Amanda Harry a minimum of 1.5 miles, Dr. Nina Pierpont calls for a minimum of 1.5 miles.
At 2200 feet the problems that homes/families will experience with noise and vibration issues will still take place but not as frequently and hopefully not as strong or loud. That is why at one time, Renew Wisconsin stated, "Some individuals living within a one‐mile radius of large wind farms complain of headaches and sleeping problems, due to noise pollution. Wind turbines are mechanical devices that emit low‐frequency sound waves. Large wind farms should be appropriately sited for this reason."
The quiet country nights will still be affected at 2200 feet, a minimum distance of 2640 feet would maintain a safer environment of 40 dB, but the above paragraphs recommendations would allow families/residents, taxpayer of the State of Wisconsin to NOT lose their quality of life because it would reach the ambient levels closer to 35dB.
The PSC’s past decisions of setbacks of 1,000 and 1,200 feet from homes has caused problems
for families in our state. Your decision now will affect thousands more and if this decisions affects our health, our safety, our property value --we will not be silent.
Noise studies should NEVER be concluded by the wind industry or utilities. That is letting the fox guard the hen house. All noise studies MUST be done by an independent third parties. In the draft it states another test can‘t be done for two years, this must be removed. If there is a problem with noise a family should not have to wait two years for another test. Once again, using the setbacks in the first paragraph would decrease the problem of noise.
The PSC –THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISION must protect the public, the taxpayers of Wisconsin from any cost in decommissioning and not allow these massive machines to be abandoned.
We are writing in regards to the proposed wind siting rules to be determined by the PSC. Our main concern is the noise issues that may be caused by industrial wind turbines when built in close proximity to residential homes and businesses.
Therefore, we ask that you adopt the 2200 setback recommended by Commissioner Azar, which was based on findings of PSC staff which indicated a 45dba noise standard would be met at this
Additionally, if you chose to allow the developer to be given the opportunity to prove that the noise standard could be met at a closer distance, then we ask that the modeling to prove this be done by an independent 3rd party, rather than the developer themselves, since this type of testing should always be conducted by a party that does not have a financial interest in the outcome of the testing.
We are also very concerned if the PSC only requires a 1000 ft. safety setback, when Vestas recommends a 1300 ft. safety setback for their workers in case of a fire. I would ask that the PSC also provide Wisconsin residents and businesses the same 1300 ft. minimum safety setback that Vestas recommends for their own workers.
We appreciate your careful consideration of our concerns with regards to the health and safety of Wisconsin residents when determining wind siting regulations.
Gus & Nicole Garcia
Fond du Lac, WI 54935
From: Timothy J. Harmann
Sent: Tuesday, August 24, 2010 10:15 AM
To: Heilman, Alice - PSC
Subject: Draft Siting Rules - Comments
I testified in Fond Du Lac and now want to follow‐up and give input on yesterday's draft siting rules discussion:
I believe that yesterday there were some positive points being made in protection of the general public around the turbines. (It is refreshing compared to the heavily wind dominated 15 person panel. It was hard for me to watch this process because it directly impacted my family.)
I have 4 turbines planned around my home (within 1/2 mile) for the Ledge Wind Project by Invenergy.
1. My family needs protection from the very annoying turbine noise that would be keeping us awake at night. Our current ambient is 25 ‐ 30 dba at night. 40 dba is more than double the noise and anything higher should try to be avoided so we can have needed sleep in our own home. I cannot imagine living with an annoying noise that I cannot turn off for 30 years. 5 dba above ambient should be all that is asked of non‐participating homes and hopefully that will protect people against low frequency noise and infrasound too.
2. 2200 foot setback is the minimum that would protect us and most studies say 1/2 mile (2640 feet). We are very hilly in our beautiful setting so noise tends to travel farther and be louder especially at night when its calm at ground level and then wind cannot cover the turbine noise.
3. I am not looking to be compensated for living near a turbine. I wouldn't accept the money anyway because I know too many people that have to live in a wind project today. I interviewed 10 of them near Fond Du Lac in the Blue Sky Green Fields project and know 3 others personally. I need the ability to pursue the wind developer if they make my family's life miserable.
4. My home is a large part of my investment and life savings and I cannot afford to lose up to 40% or more and I don't really want my home bulldozed. Wind developers say turbines increase the property value and I'd like them to be held accountable with property value protection. They do not have eminent domain and they are affecting so many people with so many turbines. The playing field is not level and this is property value theft. Please consider property value protection based on similar homes at least 5 miles outside a wind project. Please consider using property lines so I can develop my own property as I see fit in the future instead of having this right taken from me.
5. Decommissioning needs to be guaranteed and money needs to be set aside upfront.
6. Some control needs to be available to the county and town boards who understand our local issues. Our well water is very vulnerable here and clean water is just as important as clean energy. Our town is actively pursuing alternate clean and renewable energy that re‐uses garbage and cow manure to help solve our unique problems. 81 miles of trenches will make the problem worse here. I already have occasional well problems.
Thank you for your time, efforts, and consideration!
Timothy J. Harmann
From: Ron Heuer
Sent: Monday, August 23, 2010 4:38 PM
To: Heilman, Alice - PSC
Subject: PSC Wind Energy System Rules
Commissioner Meyer offered to listen to comments on the Rules Discussions that have been underway. I would like to address three issues:
o Safety Setback- current recommendation is 1.1 times the maximum blade tip height. This is not a safe distance when the a Vestas manufacturer manual calls for a setback for safety of 1,300 feet. This setback should be from the property lines.
o Non-participating Residence Setback - The recommendation of 3.1 times the maximum blade tip height will not meet the for Commissioner Azar was on the right track of 2,200 feet for minimum setback from a home.
In countries where they have had Wind Turbines for a number of years, they learned from their mistakes and moved the setbacks to, in some cases a mile from homes. Most have moved the allowable setback of 1/2 mile, again from property lines.
o 50/45 (day/Night) will not work, you are putting individuals health at risk with this type of allowable noise. Once again, Commissioner Azar was on the right track with 50/40, closer to the
World Health Organizations rule. Your decision has to consider the residents of Wisconsin.
Why are you throwing this burden on them? They will be forced to sue these companies to get justice. We have experience here in Kewaunee County with the Lincoln Township fiasco.
We had people living within 1300 feet of these turbines and it ruined their lives. Having the Developer to measure these noise criteria is like having your 12 yr. old set their curfew times!
This testing has to be completed by a disinterested third party.
o Per Commissioner Azar, a LOC cannot be set for a period of 30 years. Perhaps she is right. If that is indeed true, then what should happen is the developer of the wind farm should have to put up a cash deposit that is updated annually by the COLA percentage. That way the county or township has some guarantee the turbines will be removed when these companies go bust (without federal funding) and / or abandon a project. Recent costs associated with dismantling a 400ft turbine in Texas was at the $300K level.
From: Travis Van Zeeland
Sent: Monday, August 23, 2010 6:06 PM
To: Heilman, Alice - PSC
Hello Ms. Heilman,
I am emailing you today about my concerns with the windmills to be cited in Southern Brown County. I believe that these windmills should be at least a 1/2 mile from any property dwelling and that there only be a 35-40 decible reading at night. Due to all the health risks that these windmills cause. It is our duty to protect the people that live in these areas.
Thank you for your time.
WADING INTO A WIND CONTRACT-- A resident lets the PSC know what is worrying him:
Source: Public Sevice Commission of Wisconsin, Docket 1-AC-231
Please consider the following Un-Ethical Practices by Wind Energy Cpmpanies.
This is a common thread throughout the industry and needs to be addressed in the new rules being proposed by the PSC.
[This is a] Summary of Element Power Contracts Element Power Worksheet
· Sidebar at the bottom of the page is a disclaimer that renders all of the terms "subject to change" at the sole discretion Element Power. Essentially, that statement makes the entire term sheet worthless.
· Uses vague terms such as "are deemed" for soil compaction (deemed by Element Power - are they soil compaction experts?) and "all necessary insurance" (necessary for what coverage and to protect whom?)
Element Power Agreement for Waiver of Setback Requirements
· 1. Waiver of Setback by Grantor - You are agreeing to ignore legal setback requirements!
· 3. Binding Effect - This section binds you into ignoring setback rules even when you are no longer under contract.
Element Power Renewable Energy Lease
1.3 Phase of Contract
- Phases shall be determined by [wind devloper/owner operator] in its reasonable discretion.
1.4 Development Period - Up to 10 years.
1.5 Operations Period - Up to 50 years - 30 years plus option of two 10-year extensions.
1.6 Commercial Operation Date - Don`t get paid until 95% of operation is installed and output is at 95% and reliable! That could be that 10 year development stage.
4.4 Tenant`s Right to Terminate - which refers to section 16.2. Summary of both sections - they (Element Power) can terminate the operation contract at any time with 30 days written notice, take 1 ½ years to remove the tower where the landowner gets paid squat and if they don`t "get around to removing the tower" the landowner "may" remove it at the landowner`s expense (there goes all of the profit) and try to get reimbursed back from Element Power.This is called a one - way clause (going one way towards Element Power and one - way against the landowner).
5.1.5 Generate electromagnetic, audio, flicker, visual, view, light, noise,Vibration, air turbulence, wake, electrical, radio interference, shadow or other effects attributable to the Facilities or any other operational or development activities If these turbines don`t produce these concerns why list them as possible effects?
5.2 Solar Development - Element Power has the right to use your land for solar development without paying you until you have an alternative 3rd party to offer you remuneration. Element Power could then match your offer from 3rd party or decline. Of course, that is providing that landowner meets all notification deadlines in writing!
5.3 Substations and O&M Buildings - In this section, they are setting the price of your land and can force you to sell your land to them, either by taking their offer or by way of arbitration.
5.6 Right of Access - Roads can go anywhere they choose, even on land not under contract.
6.5 Taxes and Assessments - Landowner does not submit tax bill to Element Power within 10 days, Element Power does not have to pay it
7.1 & 7.2 Liens against property - restrictive language including landowners responsibility to post notices in court and notify tenant within 10 days of discharging lien and then seek reimbursement from Element Energy. No notice within 10 days, no reimbursement.
7.3 Maintenance of Premises - Element Energy will restore to their liking (commercially reasonable, i.e., they determine).
7.4 Tranmission and Collection Lines - Any lines buries will remain buried in perpetuity (forever)!
7.5 Erosion and Weed Control - Landowner notifies Element Energy in 10 days or may not get reimbursed for costs.
7.7 Crop/Lifestock Damage - Maximum of $30/acre.
7.9 Drainage Tiles - Who determines if drainage tiles are damaged?
9.1 Insurance - $5,000,000 of "the right to use a qualified program of self insurance"... What is Element Energy goes bankrupt?
12.3.3 Defualt - This section deals with Element Power being in default (bankrupt). And if they`re bankrupt, sole responsibility of restoration of land (that includes the astronomical costs of removing turbines falls squarely on the shoulder of the landowner).
14.7 and 14.8 Takes away any right for the landowner to sue them for punitive damages. If landowner gets sued for having turbines on their land for any reason, the landowner cannot take Element Energy to court for punitive damages (which is the majority of lawsuits).
14.9 Arbitration - Does any landowner want to negotiate with a third party as to what their land is worth and once the negotiation is finished, the landowner must sell their land to Element Energy at that "arbitrated price"?
16.2 Restoration of Premises - Refer to Section 4.4. Also, under no conceivable circumstances will the landowner ever get "re-imbursed" if Element Energy goes bankrupt.
16.3 Removal Security - This section essentially states that unless mandated by Government, Element Energy does not have to post any bond or assurance that they will take down the turbines when they are done with them or have filed bankruptcy. The Net Removal costs will be the whole cost of removal, unless the whole turbine with tower is sold as a working unit.
There is little, if any, real salvage value with the cut up materials. It also says that after fifteen years, they will determine, at their sole discretion, what the cost is to remove the turbines and all its parts, connections, concreate foundation, etc., and then what the salvage value is. The landowner gets stuck to pay the difference.
17.15 Setback Waive - Refer to Element Energy Set - back Agreement addressed in beginning. Addendum to Element Power Contracts Tisch Mills project worksheet.
( If you based your decision to sign up on the preceding project worksheet. I would be very nervous about this statement at the bottom of that calculation!!)
1. The information contained herein is purely an estimation, based on several assumptions, all of which are believed to be reasonable as of the date hereof. When reviewing this information, please be reminded that it is preliminary and is subject to change based on any number of variables that may change or be introduced over time.
Such changes may be material and we cannot guarantee that the information contained herein will reflect the actual performance or financial terms of the project if and when it enters operation.
This is NOT an offer to purchase or a solicitation of an offer to purchase and any transaction will only be consummated upon execution of negotiated agreements between the parties. Agreement for waiver of setback requirements.
PAINTBALLS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS:
More patrols requested
August 24, 2010
The manager in charge of the WE Energies Wind Farm along County Trunk W in Malone is requesting extra patrols around the area after dark.
Arthur Ondrejka told the Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Department the wind farm at N8303 County W has become a gathering place for trespassers with paint balls, according to a sheriff's log.
6/24/10 DOUBLE FEATURE: Brown County wants PSC to look more closely into health and safety issues AND Gag me with a contract: Will you accept $15,000 from a wind developer in exchange for your legal right to complain about the ability to use or enjoy your property, nuisance, injury or harm to persons, anxiety, suffering, mental anguish and loss of ability to enjoy life"?
BROWN COUNTY TOWNS URGE MORE STUDY OF WIND FARM SITES
June 24, 2010
The elected officials of three southern Brown County towns will ask the Public Service Commission to take more time to study possible health and safety issues before approving wind turbine siting rules.
Comments from town supervisors and residents in the towns of Morrison, Glenmore and Wrightstown will be delivered to the PSC's Wind Siting Council next week. A joint meeting of the three town boards was held Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the county's Human Services Committee unanimously approved a resolution supporting the Board of Health's recommendations that turbines not be built in areas where the fractured bedrock and thin soil could lead to groundwater contamination. The resolution will be considered by the County Board at its July 21 meeting.
Invenergy LLC, a Chicago-based company, has proposed to build a 100-turbine wind farm in Morrison, Glenmore and Wrightstown. It is waiting to resubmit its application until the guidelines are approved by the PSC.
Supporting Invenergy's plans are those who say sustainable energy must be encouraged.
The Wind Siting Council released a draft of rules in May and is holding meetings statewide to hear public comments.
Glen Schwalbach, a supervisor for Rockland, has been hired by the three towns to present the comments to the PSC. He isn't addressing the Invenergy proposal specifically but wind turbines in general.
Comments from town supervisors and residents in the towns of Morrison, Glenmore and Wrightstown will be delivered to the PSC's Wind Siting Council next week. A joint meeting of the three town boards was held Wednesday.
In his presentation to about 35 area residents Wednesday, Schwalbach cited three major points:
The Human Services Committee spent little time discussing the Board of Health's recommendations before approving it on a voice vote.
Bill Hafs, the county's Land and Water Conservation director, told the committee that the proposed 81 miles of trenching to construct the Ledge Wind farm could impact groundwater in an area where dozens of wells were contaminated in 2006.
The resolution calls for a maximum 30-decibel level outside any occupied structure at night, and construction of turbines at a minimum of 2,640 feet from structures.
"The Board of Supervisors recommends that no wind turbines be constructed in unincorporated areas of Brown County until … wind siting rules are enacted and in force," the resolution concludes.
Invenergy has contracts with several property owners to construct wind turbines on their land, paying about $8,000 per year to the landowners.
Find out more about what's happening in Brown County by visiting the Brown County Citizens for Responsible Renewable Energy website at BCCRWE.COM
The letter below was submitted by a resident of the Ashtabula wind project to Jerry Lien a staff analyst for the North Dakota Public Service Commission. It details how NextEra (formerly Florida Power and Light Energy) opted to address the problems of noise and shadow flicker caused by the Ashtabula Wind Energy facility.
Wind project residents in Wisconsin have been telling similar stories about what happens when they complain to wind project developer/owners about noise and shadow flicker. Also included here is the contract offered by NextEra to the non participating landowners.
[TO] Jerry Lien
North Dakota Public Service Commission
I appreciate your attention to this matter of the effects of living next to wind turbines. As was discussed in our phone conversation, Next Era Energy is not offering to repair the damage or fix the problem of the noise and shadow flicker imposed on our home, business and property.
They merely want to pay us to accept it. They say we can use the payment to fix the problem ourselves. In order to receive the payment, we must accept this contract as offered, which I have attached to this letter [below]. This contract, as you can see, is a release for the company to negatively affect us.
Furthermore, this contract has more wording in it about keeping quiet about the whole issue than solving the problem. Also you can see that it will be binding on us and our property in any future issues.
$15,000 as a payment is not going to fix this problem. We did not ask for money from this company but requested a relief to the problem at hand.
Scott Scovill from Next Era, suggested for us to buy trees with the money. Trees will not block the effects because they are not tall enough and may take up to twenty years before they would grow even fifty ft. tall.
One solution we suggested was to turn the offending turbines off only during the time they cause shadows. That suggestion was answered by Scott bluntly saying "we're not shutting them off".
Since then Scott or any other Next Era representative has not returned our phone calls.
Mary Ann and I cannot sign on to a contract of this nature. Our attorney advises against it as well. We are not willing to release to the company our property and enjoyment of our home so they can cause noise, shadow flicker, interference, diminishment of property value and the effects acknowledged in their contracts.
We are now suffering from these problems as a result of the decision to allow this irresponsible siting of wind towers too close to our farm.
By reviewing the project you can see there are about four or five turbines to the east of our farm that are causing blinking shadows up to and hour and a half per day for at least 12 weeks of the year. The shadow effects across the windows of our offices are severely disruptive to our business.
How does the Public Service Commission plan to deal with our issue?
Is this going to be allowed in every wind farm project in the future? Is it going to be allowed that a large out-of-state company negatively impact a local business? Are the residents of this state expected to sell - (quoted from the contract) "the ability to use or enjoy your property, nuisance, injury or harm to persons, anxiety, suffering, mental anguish and loss of ability to enjoy life"?
I would like a response to these questions.
It has been brought to my attention that Next Era representatives have been spreading a lie that we knew this wind farm project was planned before we purchased our property here in Griggs County. This is a false statement and can be proven. We were living on our farm when we were invited to the first meeting of this project.
I request that you make this contract and my letter part of the public record.
THIS RELEASE ("Release") is made as of the _____ day of _____________, 2010 by and between Ashtabula Wind II LLC, a Delaware limited liability company ("Company") and __________________________________, ("Owner") (hereinafter collectively the "Parties") upon the terms and conditions set forth below:
WHEREAS, Owner is the owner of a certain tract of land located in Griggs County, North Dakota legally described on the attached Exhibit A ("Property") and incorporated herein; and
WHEREAS, Company owns and operates the Ashtabula Wind Energy Center ("Wind Farm"), a wind farm which is adjacent to the Property; and
WHEREAS, Owner notified Company that they are experiencing problems with shadow flicker at their residence on the Property.
NOW THEREFORE, in consideration of the mutual promises and agreements set forth herein, the Parties hereby agree, as follows:
The recitals are true and correct and are incorporated in this Release by reference.
Company shall pay to Owner the one-time amount of Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000.00), payable on or before March 31, 2010, for any and all shadow flicker related to the Property, caused or alleged to be caused by the Wind Farm stemming from, related to or attendant to the operation of the Wind Farm by Company, its parent companies, affiliates, successors, assigns, related companies including but not limited to interference with glare, shadow flicker, diminishment of the value of the Property, the ability to use or enjoy the Property, nuisance, and any injury or harm to persons, including but not limited to anxiety, suffering, mental anguish, loss of the ability to enjoy life, or any other harm or wrong, tort, intentional or negligent conduct stemming from, related to or consequent to shadow flicker from the Wind Farm whether claimed or not claimed, including all claims that could have been brought, or which hereafter might be brought by Owner or any of their successors and assigns.
The matters settled and released pursuant to this Release include all matters, claims, causes of action, and disputes of any nature whatsoever within the authority of the Parties (including third-party claims, indemnity claims, contribution claims, direct and derivative claims, and any other claims held in any capacity) whether or not fully accrued, relating to or arising out of the interference on the Property. The foregoing matters described in paragraph 2 are referred to hereinafter in this Release as the "Released Matters."
The Parties, each for itself and its directors, officers, agents, and/or representatives, hereby expressly and unconditionally release and discharge one another, and their respective directors, officers, agents, representatives, employees, agents, successors and/or assigns, from any and all obligation, liability or responsibility arising from or as a result of the Released Matters.
The execution of this Release shall not be construed as an admission by any Party as to the validity or invalidity of any other Party's position with reference to the issues resolved in this Release and neither party shall, directly or indirectly, seek to take or advance any position before any court, agency, or administrative tribunal, predicated in whole or in part on any term or condition of this Release except in connection with an action to enforce this Release or the terms or conditions thereof.
The fact of settlement, the amount, nature of terms of the Release, and this Release are to are to remain strictly, totally and completely confidential and any breach of the terms of this Release shall entitle the non-breaching Party to seek all equitable relief as well as monetary damages from Owner.
The Parties agree not to make any statements, written or verbal, or cause or encourage others to make any statements, written or verbal, that defame, disparage or in any way criticize the personal or business reputation, practices, or conduct of the other party, its employees, directors, and officers.
The Parties acknowledge and agree that this prohibition extends to statements, written or verbal, made to anyone, including but not limited to, the news media, investors, potential investors, any board of directors or advisory board or directors, industry analysts, competitors, strategic partners, vendors, employees (past and present), and clients.
Either Party, if approached, has the right to state "we had an issue and that the issue has been resolved to our satisfaction."
The Release may not be modified or amended except by a written instrument signed by all the Parties hereto.
In the event of litigation arising out of or in connection with the enforcement of this Release or any dispute arising out of this Release, the prevailing party shall be entitled to recover all reasonable attorneys' fees, costs and incidental expenses incurred in connection with such litigation proceeding, including all costs or fees incurred on appeal.
The provisions of this Release shall be governed by North Dakota law.
This Release shall be binding upon the predecessors, heirs, successors, and assigns of each Party.
EXECUTED on the dates appearing below their signatures by the Parties' undersigned officers, duly authorized.
Ashtabula Wind II LLC,
a Delaware limited liability company
Name: Dean R. Gosselin, Vice President
HAVE YOU REACHED OUT AND TOUCHED YOUR PSC TODAY?
The PSC is asking for public comment on the recently approved draft siting rules. The deadline for comment is July 7th, 2010.
The setback recommended in this draft is 1250 feet from non-participating homes, 500 feet from property lines.
5/21/10 DOUBLE FEATURE: Video of wind turbine shadow flicker in Dodge and Fond du Lac Counties AND Let's get a second opinion: Dr. McFadden reviews the literature and tells the Wind Siting Council there is no health concern from wind turbine noise or shadow flicker. Dr. Nissenbaum interviews people living with turbines and comes to a different conclusion.
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: What does shadow flicker look like?
Below are three recent videos taken in Fond du Lac and Dodge County showing shadow flicker.
The first video is from a wind project home in Fond du Lac County which gets shadow flicker in the morning and in the evening. Family members in this home have the option of pulling down all the shades or going into the basement until it passes. Remaining in a room being hit by shadow flicker is not an option.
Click on image below to see shadow flicker filmed on May 4th, 2010 in Butler Ridge wind project near Iron Ridge Wisconsin in Dodge County
Click on image below to see shadow flicker in the Invenergy Forward Energy project near the Town of Byron in Fond du Lac County
WIND FARMS WILL HARM HEALTH, ACCORDING TO DOCTOR
May 12, 2010
MONTPELIER — A doctor who has studied the health effects of a commercial wind power project in northern Maine brought his conclusion to the State House Friday morning, May 7.
“There is absolutely no doubt that people living within 3,500 feet of a ridge line arrangement of 1.5 megawatts or larger turbines in a rural environment will suffer negative effects.”
The conclusion is in a statement distributed at Dr. Michael Nissenbaum’s press conference, held in the middle of one of the busiest days of this year’s legislative session.
Click on the image above to watch a presentation by Dr. Michael Nissenbaum on wind turbines and health impacts.
His statement is of local interest because, in terms of both size and distance, it would apply to the proposed wind project on Lowell Mountain.
Green Mountain Power is seeking permission to erect up to 24 towers with a capacity of 2.5 or 3 megawatts each. And GMP has said the towers would be at least 3,000 feet from the nearest homes. (Exceptions are the home of the resident who would host most of the project, and a hunting camp that GMP overlooked until it was drawn to the company’s attention.)
For projects on a ridge line, Dr. Nissenbaum said Friday, turbines should be 7,000 feet from homes, at a minimum. (That would be well over a mile, which equals 5,280 feet.)
The doctor said his findings, which are disputed by the wind industry, are based on interviews with 22 of about 30 adults who live within 3,500 feet of a ridge line arrangement of 1.5 megawatt turbines in Mars Hill, Maine.
As reported in this newspaper, people who live near that project began to complain about the noise it made shortly after it began to operate.
Of those 22 people, Dr. Nissenbaum found, 18 reported new or worsened chronic sleep deprivation, nine reported new chronic headaches, 13 reported stress, and 17 reported persistent anger. More than a third reported new or worsened depression, and all but one of them said the quality of their life had been reduced.
Such problems did not appear in a parallel study of a control sample of 27 people living about three miles away from the project, Dr. Nissenbaum reported.
The problem, the doctor said, is that would-be wind power developers employ sound engineers who use standard instruments to measure sound levels in the normal range that the human ear detects most easily.
“The devil is in the details,” said the doctor, who for two years has focused on the physics and potential for adverse health effect of the energy emission related to industrial wind turbines. That statement comes from an introduction to Dr. Nissenbaum distributed by Energize Vermont, the group that brought him to the press conference, and to a forum in Rutland the day before.
While the experts work in terms of pure stead sounds, the doctor said, the turbines emit a complex tone which “is registered as louder than a pure tone, and is more effective in waking you up.”
Using a recording to demonstrate, he said that the turbines emit a pulsing sound, which again can affect he listener more than a steady tone.
Low-frequency sounds seem ominous to people, he said. “As humans we’re evolutionarily wired, and there’s some indication that low-frequency noises indicate threats.”
Low-frequency sounds can cause structural elements in houses to vibrate, and amplify the effect, Dr. Nissenbaum said.
He showed a photo of a tent in the backyard of a home that sits in the middle of a large wind project in Ontario. The resident moved into the tent so shoe could sleep, Dr. Nissenbaum said. That would make no sense, he added, unless being inside the house made the sound worse. He quoted from the resident’s journal: “The house is humming again tonight.”
The woman moved away fromt he project after the wind developer bought her home. Her story was detailed in the Chronicle in December 2009. [Also see: "Low-frequency sound, stray voltage, are suspects in ill effects of wind turbines".]
People who can’t sleep get sick, Dr. Nissenbaum said, and some people find the throbbing sound of wind turbines particularly annoying — “a plane that never lands.”
“Annoyance leads to sleep deprivation illness as day follows night,” the doctor said.
The worst part of it, he added, is when people are offered psychological help to deal with their problems with wind turbine noise. Such people don’t need a psychologist, Dr. Nissenbaum said, “they need the turbines placed farther away from their home.”
One of the few legislators at Friday’s press conference was Representative Rachel Weston, a Democrat from Burlington.
She said she had moved to the city from a small town, and gradually grown accustomed to a variety of urban sounds.
People can get habituated to some sounds, Dr. Nissenbaum said. “But there’s something unique about wind turbine noise that prevents habituation. There is something unique about those lower-frequency noises.
The doctor was talking about individual perception, Ms. Weston argued, not about science.“It’s not about my perceptions,” she said. “It’s about the physiology of my body.”
HAVE YOU REACHED OUT AND TOUCHED YOUR PSC TODAY?
The PSC is asking for public comment on the recently approved draft siting rules
SPOILER ALERT: Because of the composition of the WSC , the Research Nerd predicts the interests of the wind developers, utilities, and wind lobbyists will win out over the protection of the people and bats and birds of rural Wisconsin who will be living with the fallout of wind development.
Unless--- by some miracle---the PSC Horton Hears a Rural Wisconsin Who. The PSC Commissioners, particularly Lauren Azar, have made it clear that the do want to hear from you.
If you'd like to make your voice heard, CLICK HERE to leave a public comment on the Wind Siting Council Docket. What you post will become public record. There is no limit to the number of posts you can make. You are free to post opinion, articles, documents, and video links. Anything that you would like the wind siting council to consider.