Entries in wind easement (8)
6/3/11 First comes the wind developer, then comes the met tower, then comes a lifetime of regret AND About that new wind developer poking around Spring Valley
AN OPEN LETTER FROM A WISCONSIN FARMER WHO REGRETS SIGNING A WIND CONTRACT
"By signing that contract, I signed away the control of the family farm, and it's the biggest regret I have ever experienced and will ever experience."
-Gary Steinich, Cambria, Wisconsin. June 2011
Sometime in late 2001 or early 2002, a wind developer working for Florida Power and Light showed up near the Wisconsin Town of Cambria looking to get in touch with someone at the Steinich family farm.
He wanted to talk to the landowner about leasing a bit of land for the installation of a met tower. He needed to measure the winds in the area for a possible windfarm and Walter Steinich's land looked like a good place to do it.
The wind developer seemed like a good guy to Mr. Steinich who was in his early 70's at the time. The money seemed good. A met tower didn't seem like a big deal. It was just a tall pole with some guy wires, and it was temporary. Mr. Steinich signed the contract.
That was nearly ten years ago. Mr. Steinich has since passed away and now his son, Gary, runs the farm. He's written an open letter to Wisconsin farmers about his experience with the wind company since then.
Photos below are of access roads and turbine foundations in various farm fields in the Glacier Hils project now under construction in Columbia County, Wisconsin
From One Wisconsin Farmer to Another:
This is an open letter to Wisconsin farmers who are considering signing a wind lease to host turbines on your land. Before you sign, I’d like to tell you about what happened to our family farm after we signed a contract with a wind developer.
In 2002, a wind developer approached my father about signing a lease agreement to place a MET tower on our land. My father was in his 70’s at the time. The developer did a good job of befriending him and gaining his trust.
He assured my father that the project wasn’t a done deal and was a long way off. They first had to put up the MET tower to measure the wind for awhile.
He told my father that if the project went forward there would be plenty of time to decide if we wanted to host turbines on our farm. There would be lots of details to work out and paperwork to sign well before the turbines would be built. The developer said my father could decide later on if he wanted to stay in the contract.
In 2003 the developer contacted us again. This time he wanted us to sign a contract to host turbines on our land. We were unsure about it, so we visited the closest wind project we knew of at the time. It was in Montfort, WI.
The Monfort project consists of 20 turbines that are about 300 feet tall and arranged in a straight line, taking up very little farmland with the turbine bases and access roads. The landowners seemed very satisfied with the turbines. But we were still unsure about making the commitment.
We were soon contacted again by the developer, and we told him we were undecided. Then he really started to put pressure on us to sign.
This was in March of 2004, a time of $1.60 corn and $1200 an acre land. It seemed worth it have to work around a couple of turbines for the extra cash. We were told the turbines would be in a straight line and only take up a little bit of land like the ones in Monfort.
And we were also told that we were the ones holding up the project. That all of our neighbors had signed, and we were the last hold-outs. It persuaded us.
What we didn’t know then was the developer was not being truthful. We were not the ‘last hold-out’ at all. In later discussions with our neighbors we found out that in fact we were the very first farmers to sign up. I have since found out this kind of falsehood is a common tactic of wind developers.
My father read through the contract. He said he thought it was ok. I briefly skimmed through it, found the language confusing, but trusted my father's judgment. We didn’t hire a lawyer to read it through with us. We didn’t feel the need to. The developer had explained what was in it.
The wind contract and easement on our farm was for 20 years. By then my dad was 75. He figured time was against him for dealing with this contract in the future so we agreed I should sign it. A few months later, my father died suddenly on Father's Day, June 20th, 2004
After that, we didn’t hear a whole lot about the wind farm for a couple years. There was talk that the project was dead. And then in 2007 we were told the developer sold the rights to the project. A Wisconsin utility bought it.
After that everything changed. The contract I signed had an option that allowed it to be extended for an additional 10 years. The utility used it.
The turbines planned for the project wouldn’t be like the ones in Monfort. They were going to be much larger, 400 feet tall. And there were going to be 90 of them.
They weren’t going to be in a straight row. They’d be sited in the spots the developer felt were best for his needs, including in middle of fields, with access roads sometimes cutting diagonally across good farm land. Landowners could have an opinion about turbine placement but they would not have final say as to where the turbines and access roads would be placed. It was all in the contract.
Nothing was the way we thought it was going to be. We didn't know how much land would be taken out of production by the access roads alone. And we didn't understand how much the wind company could do to our land because of what was in the contract..
In 2008 I had the first of many disputes with the utility, and soon realized that according to the contract I had little to no say about anything. This became painfully clear to me once the actual construction phase began in 2010 and the trucks and equipment came to our farm and started tearing up the field.
In October of 2010 a representative of the utility contacted me to ask if a pile of soil could be removed from my farm. It was near the base of one of the turbines they were putting on my land. I said no, that no soil is to be removed from my farm.
The rep said that the pile was actually my neighbor’s soil, that the company was storing it on my land with plans to move it to another property.
Shortly afterwards I noticed the pile of subsoil was gone.
In November of 2011 I saw several trucks loading up a second pile of soil on my land and watched them exiting down the road. I followed them and then called the Columbia County Sheriff. Reps from the company were called out. I wanted my soil back.
A few days later the rep admitted they couldn’t give it back to me because my soil was gone. It had been taken and already dispersed on someone else's land. I was offered 32 truck loads of soil from a stockpile they had. I was not guaranteed that the soil would be of the same quality and composition as the truck loads of soil they took from my farm.
I was informed by the lawyer for the utility that I had until April 30, 2011 to decide to take the soil. There would be no other offer. Take it or leave it.
I contacted the Public Service Commission for help. The PSC approved the terms of project and I believed the utility was violating those terms. The PSC responded by telling me they could do nothing because the issue involved a private contract between myself and the utility.
They told me my only option was to sue the utility.
My father and I both worked those fields. Watching the way they’ve been ripped apart would sicken any farmer. But what farmer has the time and money it would take to sue a Wisconsin utility?
By signing that contract I signed away the control of the family farm, and it’s the biggest regret I have ever experienced and will ever experience. I have only myself to blame for not paying close enough attention to what I was signing.
We had a peaceful community here before the developer showed up, but no more. Now it’s neighbor against neighbor, family members not speaking to one another and there is no ease in conversation like in the old days. Everyone is afraid to talk for fear the subject of the wind turbines will come up. The kind of life we enjoyed in our community is gone forever.
I spend a lot of sleepless nights wishing I could turn back the clock and apply what I've learned from this experience. Now corn and bean prices are up. The money from the turbines doesn't balance out our crop loss from land taken out of production. The kind of life we enjoyed on our family farm is gone forever too.
I would not sign that contract today. As I write this, the utility is putting up the towers all around us. In a few months the turbines will be turned on and we'll have noise and shadow flicker to deal with. If I have trouble with these things, too bad. I've signed away my right to complain. These are some of the many problems I knew nothing about when I signed onto the project.
If you are considering signing a wind lease, take the contract to a lawyer. Go over every detail. Find out exactly what can happen to your fields, find out all the developer will be allowed to do to your land. Go through that contract completely, and think hard before make your decision.
I can tell you from first hand experience, once you sign that contract, you will not have a chance to turn back.
Steinich Farms, Inc.
UPDATE: JUNE 5, 2011 Gary Steinich contacted Better Plan to let us know he and the utility have reached an agreement on his soil restoration.
EXTRA CREDIT READING:
It can be found on the PSC Docket for the Glacier HIlls project. [ #6634 CE 302]
NEXT STORY: From Rock County, WI
SPRING VALLEY CONSIDERING BAN ON WIND TURBINES
SOURCE: The Janesville Gazette, gazettextra.com
June 4, 2011
By GINA DUWE
SPRING VALLEY TOWNSHIP — Town officials in Spring Valley are considering a new moratorium on wind turbines after the largest wind company in North America inquired about town wind ordinances.
The town board will discuss and likely vote on a moratorium at its Monday, June 13, meeting, Clerk Judy Albright said.
Spring Valley is among several area townships that wrote wind moratoriums while new rules to regulate wind projects less than 100-megawatts are decided at the state level.
Town officials discovered their previous moratorium expired Dec. 1 after Ted Weissman of NextEra Energy recently inquired about ordinances related to wind development and the process for placing a met tower.
A met tower gathers weather data to help wind developers determine if a site is good for development.
Weissman said he couldn’t comment but the company was looking at the area and hadn’t made any decisions. A company spokesman, however, said NextEra is not pursuing a met tower in Rock County.
Spokesman Steve Stengel said Weissman might have conducted some inquiries, but “we are not proposing it at this point,” he said. “What may or may not happen in the future (is) all speculation.”
NextEra owns and operates two wind farms in Wisconsin: 36 turbines at Butler Ridge Wind Energy Center in Dodge County and 20 turbines at Montfort Wind Energy Center in Iowa County.
Neighboring townships Magnolia and Union became possible sites for wind turbines a few years ago, and one met tower was placed in each town to gather data.
A spokeswoman for Acciona, the company that eyed those townships, said this week it is not pursuing “the early stage development project in Union and Magnolia. This enables (Acciona) to focus efforts and resources on other projects that are a better fit for their portfolio.”
Developers would be interested in hooking into the major transmission line that runs east-west through the northern part of Spring Valley, town officials said.
Smaller wind projects are permitted through local ordinances until lawmakers enact statewide rules.
Under state law, the Public Service Commission has to develop the rules, and a committee worked through most of last year to write the rules. When the rules were set to take effect in March, Republican lawmakers suspended them. It’s now up to legislators to approve new rules by May 2012 or the suspended rules would go into effect, a PSC spokesman said.
Republican Sen. Frank Lasee has proposed a bill that would add additional requirements to the PSC rules. The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy, Biotechnology and Consumer Protection, but no hearing is scheduled.
If you go
The town board will discuss and likely vote on a wind moratorium at its 7 p.m. meeting Monday, June 13, at the Orfordville Fire Department, 173 N. Wright St., Orfordville.
1/5/11 Tattoo of the day: She REALLY digs wind turbines AND PSC lays welcome mat for wind developers on backs of rural Wisconsin residents AND Document links to the papers presented at the first international symposium on wind turbines and health impact
This new tattoo is only 30% efficient CLICK HERE FOR SOURCE
STRONG GUST FOR WIND FARMS?
A new rule could make it easier to build wind-energy projects in Wisconsin
January 4, 2010
By Craig Reber
A wind-siting rule that took effect in Wisconsin on Jan. 1 could open the door to wind farms in southwest Wisconsin.
The rule provides a path for obtaining a permit to build a wind farm -- as long as the project developers abide by the guidelines established by the state Public Service Commission. If a township or other municipality opts to regulate a wind-energy power system, its ordinances can't be more restrictive than the PSC's rules.
Basically, the PSC's rules trump any local ordinances.
In southwest Wisconsin, the new rule could pave the way for the development of the proposed White Oak wind project by Wind Capital Group that includes parts of Smel-ser, Hazel Green and Paris townships. The project has been on hold for more than two years.
"We believe that passage of the PSC's rule will certainly set the conditions in place that make development of wind facilities much more possible in Wisconsin," said Tom Green, Wind Capital senior manager of project development. "In reviewing the new rule and applying those rules to their plans for White Oak, they will have a better idea moving into the future of the viability of the project."
Ron Brisbois, Grant County Economic Development director, said the new law will allow communities to plan and give wind developers the freedom to create wind-farm strategies.
"That was what everybody was waiting on," Brisbois said of the White Oak project and another in northern Grant County. "This should allow them to move forward to secure financing and implement the design of the full layout of where the turbines will go."
"It's important," said Joe Alt, of rural Cuba City and a participant in the White Oak project, discussing the new rule. "It's definitely going to help get a wind farm going."
The White Oak project has its opponents, and the Smelser Township supervisors enacted a moratorium on wind farms in 2009. Foes said siting has and always will be the main concern of numerous Smelser Township residents. Some sought an 1,800-foot minimum setback requirement to minimize what they call the "noise, safety and health risks" to their families and their houses. Others cited concerns about falling property values because of the size and location of the towers, usually as high as 400 feet.
"We're just sitting in neutral right now," said Smelser Supervisor Arnie Rawson, who voted for the moratorium and who hadn't seen the new wind-siting rule as of Monday afternoon. "We are very open-minded on it, but we have to be careful to weigh in both sides."
Gabe Loeffelholz, Smelser Township chairman and a former state legislator, said there still are residents in favor of the moratorium. He isn't one of them.
"I don't know what lies ahead," Loeffelholz said, "but whether it's ethanol, solar power, or wind turbines as an alternative source of energy, I say go for it."
That's what former Gov. Jim Doyle and state lawmakers did previously. In October 2009, Doyle signed a bill (2009 Wisconsin Act 40) that called for state regulators to come up with statewide rules for wind farms that specified the conditions a local government entity could impose on the installation or use of a wind-energy system. The state Wind Siting Council formulated the rule after numerous public meetings, hearings, discussions and fine-tuning.
Earlier this month, the commission adjusted the requirements on two issues of critical importance to the wind industry: setback distances and compensation to neighboring residents, called a "Good Neighbor" payment.
Initially, the rule did not specify a definite setback distance between turbines and residences neighboring the host property. Now, municipalities cannot establish a setback distance on non-participating residences that is less than 1,250 feet.
Alt said the new rule allows for the owners of non-participating residences within a half-mile of a wind turbine to receive monetary compensation from the wind system owner.
"It's fair to everybody," he said.
If the wind farms move forward, Brisbois said both the participating townships and Grant County will receive revenue. Participating landowners will receive a new source of farm income from the leases on the wind turbines.
"This is an opportunity that not a lot of townships in Wisconsin have," he said. "It's somewhat unique. You can't just plop down a wind farm anywhere. You have to have the wind and the substations."
Author: Society for Wind Vigilance
Abstracts from the international symposium held October 29-31, 2010, Picton, Ontario, Canada, by courtesy of the Society for Wind Vigilance, Ontario. Click on a title to download the complete presentation. Or click here to download them all in a 16-MB zip file.
FRIDAY 7:00-9:30 pm
Session I: No Rules, No Caution, No Accountability
NO GLOBAL STANDARDS
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Abstract: The rapid expansion of the wind energy industry globally has resulted in governmental authorities at different levels responding to opposing pressures to create or modify regulations and planning guidelines for the siting of utility scale wind turbines. Siting guidelines for health, safety, cultural and natural heritage were reviewed and compared. The results indicate wide ranges of siting standards are being adopted. Government authorities have employed a variety of criteria, resulting in significant variation in the spatial separation between wind turbines and sensitive areas as well as the intensity of the development. Separation distances in many jurisdictions are less than those recommended by health professionals suggesting some in the population are at risk. Current trends in government planning and regulations are discussed.
John Harrison, PhD
IT’S PURE PHYSICS
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Abstract: The setback of wind turbines from homes and other sensitive receptors is determined by national and local regulations. These regulations specify a maximum noise level at the receptor and make use of sound propagation models. The models account for spherical spreading of the sound generated by the turbine, refraction of sound by wind speed and temperature gradients, absorption of sound energy by the atmosphere and the ground, and reflection of sound by the ground. In practice, the resulting setbacks result in considerable annoyance, sleep deprivation and consequent health problems for a significant proportion of people living among the turbines. The talk will review deficiencies in the regulations and limitations in the modelling.
Rick James, INCE
HOW WE GOT HERE
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Abstract: What was learned in the 1980′s was forgotten in the 1990′s and set the stage for the Wind Turbine Boom of the 2000′s. But the pillars of the position, that wind turbines are safe for use near people’s homes, are falling. An overview of the key arguments presented by the wind industry’s trade associations and their representatives who support their position will be discussed.
SATURDAY 8:30-10:00 am
Session II: What Clinicians Need to Know
KEY NOTE SPEAKER:
Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD
DEFINING A SYNDROME
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Abstract: Wind Turbine Syndrome. Consider that no government, and certainly no health agency, anywhere on the face of the earth believes in it. Nor does the wind energy industry, which ridicules it as preposterous, telling sufferers they’re hysterical and making up their symptoms. Primary care physicians generally look the other way and plead ignorance or indifference. The media, meanwhile, treats it as an entertaining sideshow. How does one perform credible clinical research in the face of such massive and systematic denial, cover-up, and apathy? Where the research population is often silenced by “confidentiality clauses” or the fear of alienating neighbors and relatives — and potential buyers — should they reveal that their homes are acoustically toxic and, frankly, uninhabitable. Welcome to the past six years of my life. This morning I’m going to explain how I navigated this surreal landscape, employing the instruments of population biology, clinical medicine, and ethnography — along with the services of a first rate guardian angel.
Alec Salt, PhD Cochlear Physiology, MSc, BSc Biology
INFRASOUND: YOUR EARS HEAR IT BUT THEY DON’T TELL YOUR BRAIN
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Abstract: The ear is far more complex than a microphone. It actively amplifies high frequency sounds, so you hear them better, and likely works to actively cancel out infrasonic sounds, so that you don’t hear them. So, it is wrong to regard the ear as insensitive to infrasound. Indeed, measured electrical responses from the ear with infrasound can be larger than those for sounds in the acoustic range and these responses may alter function in a variety of ways. They may also be transmitted to the brain by subconscious pathways that do not represent “hearing”, but affect some people in other ways, such as by causing the sensation of “fullness” or perhaps disturbing sleep. It is therefore physiologically possible that prolonged exposure to the moderate levels of infrasound generated by wind turbines could have detrimental effects on people, mediated by unheard physiological changes in the ear. This work supported by NIDCD/NIH, grant number DC01368, 2005-2010.
SATURDAY 10:30-12:00 am
Session III: Cause and Effect
Arline Bronzaft, BA, MA, PhD
CHILDREN: CANARIES IN THE COAL MINE
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Abstract: Research linking loud sound to hearing loss in youngsters is now widespread, resulting in the issuance of warnings to protect children’s hearing. However, studies attesting to the adverse effects of intrusive sounds and noise on children’s overall health and psychological well-being have not received similar attention. This, despite the fact, that many studies have demonstrated that intrusive noises, e.g., from passing traffic or overhead aircraft, adversely affect children’s cardiovascular system, memory, language development and learning acquisition. While some American schools have received funds to abate noises from intrusive aircraft, many schools still expose children to the noises from passing traffic and overhead aircraft. Additionally, homes and schools expose youngsters to the impacts of interior noises as well. Discussion will center on the harmful effects of noise on children, what has been done to remedy the problem, and what needs to be done further to lessen the impacts of noise, including low-level vibrations.
Christopher Hanning, BSc, MB, BS, MRCS, LRCP, FRCA, MD
THE TORMENT OF SLEEP DISTURBANCE
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Abstract: The most common complaint of those exposed to industrial wind turbine noise (WTN) is sleep disturbance. Many of the other symptoms, fatigue, headache, nausea, memory problems and tiredness are probably secondary to sleep disturbance. Sleep is by the brain and for the brain. It’s principal purpose seems to be the consolidation of memory. Loss of sleep, in the short term, causes daytime sleepiness, fatigue, problems with memory and thought processes and, in the longer term an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. There is now a large body of evidence proving beyond any reasonable doubt that sleep is disturbed and health impaired by wind turbines at distances up to 2km, at noise levels claimed to be safe by the industry.
SATURDAY 12:30-1:30 pm
Session Working Luncheon
A JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY
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Abstract: Over the past decade, the global wind sector has experienced phenomenal growth thanks largely to the industry’s ability to portray itself as “green.” But that growth will be difficult to sustain for several reasons: the industry has overstated its ability to deliver meaningful savings with regard to carbon dioxide emissions; it faces a growing backlash from landowners irritated by noise and flicker caused by the turbines as well as from ratepayers who are learning the high costs of “green” energy; and finally, the industry must compete, particularly in the US and Canada, with low natural gas prices for the foreseeable future.
SATURDAY 2:00-3:30 pm
Session IV: Research and Motion
Michael A. Nissenbaum, MD
DELETERIOUS HEALTH EFFECTS ARE UNDENIABLE
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Abstract: In the Real World: Adverse Health Effects Related to Industrial Wind Turbines – Controlled Studies at Mars Hill and Vinalhaven, Maine. Following reports of adverse health complaints among residents of Mars Hill, Maine, a pilot study was undertaken to provide information to the Public Health Subcommittee of the Maine Medical Association in the first half of 2009. This represented the world’s first controlled study of adverse health effects related to industrial wind turbines. Adverse effects are real, and significant. The findings from this pilot study will be discussed. Since the pilot study was completed, a larger, more detailed and standardized controlled study has been undertaken at Mars Hill and Vinalhaven, Maine, utilizing validated questionnaires. Preliminary findings from these will be presented.
Carl V. Phillips, PhD
THE ABSENCE OF HEALTH STUDIES PROVES NOTHING
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Abstract: The claim that there is no evidence of negative health effects from wind turbines near residences is clearly false since there are ample credible reports of people experiencing problems. Many of these offer compelling case- crossover data, with individuals experiencing changes in symptoms when changing the exposure. But to the extent that we do not have as much data as would be ideal – which is certainly the situation – the problem is the failure to carry out the optimal studies. Obviously the lack of evidence resulting from the lack of studies is not informative. We should demand affirmative evidence about what risk exists, and make decisions that admit and consider whatever is found. Industry should pay for independent research but failing that, creative solutions are called for. I hope to develop a self-administered research tool for collecting case-crossover data that could be used by any interested community.
SATURDAY 4:00-5:30 pm
Session V: The Consequences – Violation of Social Justice
Carmen Krogh, BSc Pharmacy
A GROSS INJUSTICE
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Abstract: “I trusted the wind energy companies.” “I can’t believe the government is doing this to me.” Those experiencing symptoms feel victimized by the very systems that would normally protect them. The lack of social justice hurts deeply. Many families are affected by the industrial wind turbines sited too close to their homes. In some cases Ontario families have abandoned their homes to protect their health. Some have had to sign non-disclosure agreements as a condition of a buy out of their homes by the wind developer. Their grief is exacerbated by the emotional toll, disturbed living conditions, loss of enjoyment of their homes and property, and financial loss and the negative impact to the health of their families.
Eric K. Gillespie, LLB
SOCIAL JUSTICE AND THE LAW
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Abstract: The advent of large-scale industrial wind turbine (IWT) projects has brought with it many legal challenges but also opportunities. Families, communities and municipalities are more aware of the risks posed by IWTs. At the same time, legal options are starting to be pursued that may lead to local resolutions of issues, or potentially provincial, national or even international changes. These legal strategies include (i) private litigation brought by individuals, (ii) public interest litigation raising broader issues; (iii) by-laws, resolutions and other steps taken by local government, and (iv) administrative hearings outside of the court system. All of these areas will be reviewed, using Ontario as a case study but with examples of how communities around the world are also responding.
SUNDAY 8:30-10:00 am
Session VI: Social Marketing – Disinformation
Dale Goldhawk, Broadcaster
MEDIA AND PRE-EMPTIVE STEREOTYPING
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Abstract: I believe that advocacy journalism, used sensibly and carefully, backed up by proven facts and presented with passionate conviction, can influence and even change public policy. I am in my 43rd year as a journalist and have seen it happen countless times. And it happens at any stage in a war against policy, dumb laws and stubborn champions of bad ideas. Advocacy journalism was a major triggering factory that stopped a dump site project, even after the hole had been dug, getting ready for the garbage that never came. And this was a project where we were told it was a “done deal” and that nothing could be done to stop it. There are no done deals with projects that are counter to the best interests of people — and that includes wind turbines. Advocacy journalists would do well to remember the prescriptive words of Mohandas Gandhi: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
Ross McKitrick, PhD
COAL KILLS: WHERE ARE THE BODIES?
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Abstract: This presentation will look at the evidence regarding the health effects of coal-fired power generation in Ontario. The Ontario government maintains that the risk is large enough to necessitate shutting down the two major coal-fired generating stations in Southern Ontario and replacing them with, among other things, wind turbine installations. I will explain the nature of the Lambton and Nanticoke generating facilities and the network of thermal power plants in the northeast corridor of which they are a part. I will also explain their air pollution control features and the potential effects on Southern Ontario air quality from eliminating these plants, as estimated in the province’s own cost- benefit analysis. I will then discuss observed air pollution trends in Ontario since the 1960s and show that the claims that current air pollution levels result in thousands of cases of illness and death are not supported in up-to- date, peer-reviewed literature.
Brett Horner, BA, CMA
ANNOYANCE: A CLINICAL MISNOMER?
VOW (VICTIMS OF WIND)
Conclusion: Government Policy for Renewable Energy implementation overrides adverse health concerns. Until 3rd-party human health research is conducted to determine safe setbacks and noise levels from industrial wind turbine facilities, including risks of electrical pollution, further development should cease and existing sites mitigated or decommissioned.
Barbara Ashbee and contributors globally
POLICY AND POLITICAL PROCESS: The Consequences
These comments are a compilation drawn from personal communications and interviews of those suffering ill health from the onset of industrial wind turbine operations. Their frustration and loss of social justice is apparent. Any compassionate member of society cannot help but be moved.
Elizabeth E. Wheatley, PhD
AN INTEGRATIVE CURRICULUM FOR THE WINDS OF CHANGE: Advancing Critical Thinking About the Michigan Wind Rush
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The Global wind industry is colonizing more and more of rural, wild, and coastal America with its expansive fleet of colossal, propeller-style wind turbines. Michigan has emerged as a favored target among wind developers for further deployment of industrial wind zones, given its legislative mandates for ever-increasing production of “renewable” energy, its vast swaths of agricultural land, extensive coastlines, and the absence of statewide health or safety regulations pertaining to wind energy generation. This presentation summarizes a university-level integrative curriculum designed to inspire and encourage undergraduate students’ critical thinking about the implications of wind energy development for Michigan citizens and communities. The curriculum addresses cultural, political and economic forces shaping wind energy development in Michigan, compares various forms of electricity generation methods and their impacts on humans, animals, and ecosystems; and reviews the emerging evidence of adverse health effects of industrial wind turbines in light of sociological theories of reflexive modernization as well as “popular” epidemiological struggles over socially contested environmental disease. The curriculum is a work in progress and is offered in two parts. Each part of the curriculum is offered as one of several themes addressed in two courses I teach: Part I: Social Problems; and Part II: Sociology of Health Care.
Lorrie Gillis, Protocol Administrator, and Carmen Krogh, BScPharm
THE RELATIONSHIP OF INCREASED MOOD ALTERATIONS AND INDUSTRIAL WIND TURBINES: Implications and Social Justice (WindVOiCe – Wind Vigilance for Ontario Communities)
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Industrial wind turbine projects became operational in rural Ontario, Canada, in 2005. Within a short period of time, residents near the projects reported noticing adverse health effects. By 2008, reports of health problems became more common and had been associated with the advent of Industrial Wind Turbines. In some cases Ontario families have abandoned their homes to protect their health. Government vigilance and long term surveillance programs for industrial wind turbines do not exist in Canada. Volunteers in various affected communities organized and funded an Ontario-based vigilance health survey to capture and document the array of adverse health effects being reported. Reports are now being received from other jurisdictions. Wind Vigilance for Ontario Communities (WindVOiCe) is a community-based self-reporting health survey based on the principles of Health Canada’s Canada Vigilance Program designed to monitor suspected drug reactions. This survey is ongoing. WindVOiCe respondents report altered quality of life. Sleep disturbance is the most common health complaint. Other symptoms include but are not limited to inner ear problems, cardiac concerns, and headaches. Respondents report in the comments section of the survey, anger, frustration, and loss of cognitive functions such as inability to concentrate, ‘foggy thinking’ and short term memory loss. Depression anxiety and stress are common. The symptoms of adverse health effects reported are consistent with other surveys and research conducted by clinicians such as Harry, Pierpont, Nissenbaum. Parents have responded on behalf of their children and indicated adverse reactions such as vomiting, nausea, nose bleeds and headaches. In the comments section of the survey, some respondents describe their emotional toll. They describe disturbed living conditions, loss of enjoyment of their homes and property, and financial loss due to the negative impact to the health of their families which further contributes to increased stress levels. Informal discussions with respondents indicate some family members grieve deeply. These include those who suffer adverse health effects, those who had to abandon their homes, and those who had to sign non-disclosure agreements as a condition of a buy out of their homes by the wind developer. They feel victimized by the very systems that normally would protect them. The lack of social justice hurts deeply.
THE PROBLEMS WITH ‘NOISE NUMBERS’ FOR WIND FARM NOISE ASSESSMENT
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Conclusions: Personal perception of a sound is investigated through assessment of personal noise sensitivity, personal perception of the characteristics of the sound and observable adverse health effects. Noise includes vibration in any form that can be “felt” by a person. There is, in my opinion and despite the differences in opinion as to cause, considerable agreement between the parties – residents, clinicians and acousticians – as to observable health effects from unwanted sound. There are clear and definable markers for adverse health effects before and after the establishment of a wind farm and clear and agreed health effects due to stress after a wind farm has started operation. It is the mechanism of the physical or mental process from one to the other that is not yet defined or agreed between affected persons, clinicians and psychoacousticians. There has, however, been considerable work recently (May-June 2010) on the possible mechanism between infrasound and adverse health effects.
Christopher Hanning, BSc, MB, BS, MRCS, LRCP, FRCA, MD
WIND TURBINE NOISE, SLEEP AND HEALTH
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Summary: Section 1 sets out my expertise in sleep medicine and physiology, my brief from CFA, the scope of the report and source material. Section 2 reviews the basic physiology of sleep. Noise can disturb sleep by causing awakenings, which are remembered and arousals, which are not recalled but are more likely. Both disrupt sleep making it unrefreshing. Research on the effects of wind turbine noise has concentrated on remembered awakenings and has thus underestimated the effects. Inadequate or poor quality sleep has many health consequences apart from daytime sleepiness and fatigue. These include obesity, poor memory, increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly may be at greater risk. Section 3 reviews research on wind turbine noise, sleep disturbance and health. These include the major contributions of van den Berg and Pedersen and the dose-response relationship derived from their data. Also considered are the Salford study and the Hayes McKenzie Partnership study commissioned by the DTI. Recent major reports by WHO and RIVM are reviewed, both of which mandate lower night time noise levels than are permitted by ETSU-R-97. Predicted external turbine noise should not exceed 35dB to avoid disturbance to sleep and 40dB to avoid risks to health. Experience of existing wind farms mandates a setback of at least 1.5km in order to avoid disturbance to sleep. It is concluded that there is compelling evidence that wind turbine noise can and does disturb sleep and impair the health of those living too close and that current guidance is inadequate protection. Section 4 reviews the means of mitigating wind turbine noise to prevent sleep disturbance. It is concluded that external turbine noise levels of less than 35dB(A) or a setback of at least 1.5km of the turbines is necessary to prevent unacceptable levels of sleep disturbance and potential risk to health. Section 5 reviews UK planning guidance and argues that the evidence presented constitute material considerations. Section 6 presents the conclusions of the report. Section 7 lists the documents cited in support of this paper.
SUBMITTED SLIDE SHOW
Author: U.S. Institute of Medicine Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research
It is estimated that 50 to 70 million Americans chronically suffer from a disorder of sleep and wakefulness, hindering daily functioning and adversely affecting health and longevity. The cumulative long-term effects of sleep deprivation and sleep disorders have been associated with a wide range of deleterious health consequences including an increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, and stroke. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research concluded that although clinical activities and scientific opportunities in the field are expanding, awareness among the general public and health care professionals is low, given the magnitude of the burden. The available human resources and capacity are insufficient to further develop the science and to diagnose and treat individuals with sleep disorders. Therefore, the current situation necessitates a larger and more interdisciplinary workforce. Traditional scientific and medical disciplines need to be attracted into the somnology and sleep medicine field. Renewed and revitalized commitments to the field from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), academic health centers, private foundations, and professional societies are essential to ensure appropriate public and professional awareness, education and training, basic and clinical research, and patient care. Finally, the fragmentation of research and clinical care currently present in most academic institutions requires the creation of accredited interdisciplinary sleep programs in academic institutions.
- The National Academies
- Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research
- Board on Health Sciences Policy
- Independent Report Reviewers
- Organization of Academic Health Centers
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Sleep Physiology
- 3. Extent and Health Consequences of Chronic Sleep Loss and Sleep Disorders
- 4. Functional and Economic Impact of Sleep Loss and Sleep-Related Disorders
- 5. Improving Awareness, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Sleep Disorders
- 6. Ensuring Adequate Diagnosis and Treatment: Access, Capacity, and Technology Development
- 7. Opportunities to Improve Career Development in Somnology
- 8. Bolstering Somnology and Sleep Disorders Research Programs
- 9. Building Sleep Programs in Academic Health Centers
2/2/10 Wind Wars: Wind industry continues to deny negative health impact in spite of increasing numbers of complaints from wind farm residents AND Let's review: What do night time noise levels have to do with an increased risk of coronary heart disease?
“The new data indicate that noise pollution is causing more deaths from heart disease than was previously thought."“Until now, the burden of disease related to the general population’s exposure to environmental noise has rarely been estimated in nonoccupational settings at the international level.”---Deepak Prasher, professor of audiology, University College in London
1/22/10 Why are our neighbors to the north making noise about turbine noise? And Beavers best Badgers when it comes protecting communities from wind turbine noise limits
Home in a wind farm. Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin. Photo by Gerry Meyer 2009
Government of Ontario requests 'Expert Advice' on Wind Turbine Noise
From THE SOCIETY FOR WIND VIGILANCE
January 20, 2010
TORONTO- The government of Ontario admitted this week that it does not know 'how or whether' to measure for low frequency sound at wind turbine installations.
Two Requests for Proposal www.merx.com were issued yesterday by the Ontario Ministry of Environment to help the ministry in "determining how or whether to regulate low frequency noise emissions from wind turbines".
The requests go on to state, "The Ministry requires a consultant to assist in the development of ameasurement procedure to assess noise compliance of existing wind farms with the applicable sound level limits"
"Unlike typical industrial noise sources, measurement of audible noise from wind turbines in general raises technical challenges."
The request adds, "the MOE Noise Guidelines for Wind Farms, October 2008 do not contain a measurement method for assessing the actual noise impact."
If the government does not have a method for measuring noise impact, why are they moving ahead with more wind developments before proper studies and science are completed?
How did the Ministry of Environment arrive at an arbitrary distance of 550m from industrial wind turbines to protect from noise?
Reports of adverse health effects experienced by people living too close to industrial wind turbines have been brought to the attention of the Ministry of Environment for more than two years.
Nothing has been done to mitigate the suffering and many have been forced to abandon their homes or be bought out by a wind developer. Hundreds of requests for mitigation of the issue have not been dealt with yet industrial wind turbines continue to be erected.
The Society for Wind Vigilance, an International Federation of Physicians and other professionals, repeats its appeal to all governments including the Government of Ontario to place a moratorium on all wind development until a third party health study is conducted into the impact of industrial wind turbines on human health.
At the minimum, current turbines should be turned off at night as a French court ruled and new industrial wind turbines should be set back a minimum of 2000 meters from residences. Ongoing monitoring for adverse health effects must be conducted.
Note from the BPWI Research nerd: The Oregon State noise limit for the Invenergy wind farm mentioned in the following story is 36 dbA
The current turbine noise limit for Invenergy in the State of Wisconsin is 50 dbA
The "too loud" referred to in the story below is under 38dbA
Study says wind farm is too loud
East Oregonian, eastoregonian.com
January 21, 2010
The Willow Creek Energy Center is in violation of state noise standards for at least three nearby homes, its acoustical expert revealed at a planning commission meeting Tuesday night. Still up for debate, according to the other experts in attendance, is how much and how often.
The meeting amounted to a day in court for the neighbors of the wind farm – Dan Williams, Mike and Sherry Eaton and Dennis Wade – who began complaining about farm’s noise and other effects last year.
According to Oregon Administrative Rule, energy-generating facilities can be as loud as 36 decibels at adjacent homes – that’s 26 decibels for background noise plus 10 for the facility. In the analysis of the acoustical expert that Invenergy hired, Michael Theriault of Portland, Maine, the noise at the Wade residence was usually less than 36 decibels. At the Eaton residence, it was usually less than 37 decibels. At the Williams residence, the noise “moderately” exceeded the noise code about 10 percent of the time, Theriault said.
Theriault also conducted a noise study at the home of another neighbor, Dave Mingo, and found that the noise was usually less than 37 decibels. “On overview, the facility is substantially in compliance with state rules,” he said.
Kelly Hossainin – a lawyer for Invenergy, the company that runs Willow Creek Energy Center – argued that the amount by which the wind farm exceeded the noise limit at the Eaton and Mingo residences, one decibel, is not perceptible outside a laboratory environment.
She said the times the wind farm exceeded the noise standards were unusual events, which would qualify for an exception under the rules.
Theriault explained some of his methods to the planning commission. For example, he did not analyze the noise data that was generated while the wind was blowing more than 9 meters per second (about 18 miles per hour). According to General Electric, the company that made the turbines, turbine noise does not increase after that point, he said.
Commissioner Pam Docken asked Theriault if he could speak to the health effects of turbine noise.
“Annoyance is a very complex phenomena,” he said, referring to a recent wind-industry study that found no negative health effects of wind turbines except annoyance. “We know that in some cases, annoyance isn’t even related to noise level. It can be related to whether they see the noise source and can change with the subject’s attitude to the noise source.”
Then Kerrie Standlee, a prominent acoustical expert – he works for the Oregon Department of Energy doing site certification reviews and was even hired by Morrow County to analyze the racetrack issue – began to speak for the Eatons, Williams and Wade. He presented his own noise study, which showed that the noise at the Eaton’s residence hovered just above the noise standard on a regular basis, and at the Williams residence it regularly went above 40 decibels.
Standlee also analyzed Theriault’s study. He pointed out that the wind farm consistently broke the noise rule at precisely the time when Theriault decided not to use the data – when wind speeds exceeded 9 meters per second.
When the data is analyzed in a wider range of wind speeds, he said, the wind farm was in violation of the rule 22 out of 37 nights.
“I’m not sure how someone can say this is an unusual, infrequent event,” he said. “To me, 59 percent is not occasional or unusual.”
Standlee’s noise study also went beyond Theriault’s in that he gave the residents a sheet of paper to log their experiences with time and date. He then overlaid those comments on the data and showed that when the residents reported high noise, the wind was blowing from a particular direction or at a particular speed.
Another acoustical expert, Jerry Lilly, spoke for Dave Mingo. He came up with results similar to Standlee’s, but noted that the Theriault study was also flawed because it did not measure noise at the residence’s property line – as required by Morrow County noise ordinance – and it did not measure the noise inside the homes.
The commission also heard heartfelt testimony from the residents themselves, who said that their lives had been completely changed since the wind farm came.
“A basic right in my life is to live in my beautiful home with my peace and quiet, and now I can’t do that,” Dan Williams said.
When the testimony ended, the planning commission agreed to wait until their next meeting to make a decision about whether – and how – the Willow Creek wind farm must mitigate the noise problem.
1/22/10 Dear Columbia County, Did you know those 90 Glacier Hills turbines come with an automatic extra 18 turbine 'Country Cousin'?
PSC STILL SORTING OUT DETAILS OF COLUMBIA COUNTY WIND FARM
By Lyn Jerde, Daily Register, portagedailyregister.com
January 21 2010
Within days, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin will finalize its list of conditions for the construction of a wind farm in northeast Columbia County.
But officials of We Energies already are planning where the turbines will go and determining whether the PSC’s conditions will allow erecting all 90 of them.
On Jan. 11, the PSC approved a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the wind farm, called Glacier Hills Wind Park, on about 17,300 acres of farmland in the towns of Scott and Randolph.
The proposal called for 90 turbines, each about 400 feet tall, capable of generating up to 207 megawatts of electricity.
The commission met again Wednesday, this time to draft the specifics of conditions that the commissioners had discussed Jan. 11 before granting approval for the project.
PSC spokeswoman Teresa Smith said Monday is the deadline for the formal list of conditions to be in the hands of We officials. The list is undergoing final editing, based on the discussion of the commission at its meeting in Madison on Wednesday.
We Energies spokesman Brian Manthey said he listened to the live electronic broadcast of Wednesday’s meeting and has heard nothing in the proposed conditions that could stall or stop the utility’s plans to start construction late this spring.
The most challenging condition, however, is a minimum 1,250-foot setback between each turbine and the property of landowners who are not leasing any land for the turbines, Manthey said.
The original proposal, with 90 preferred turbine sites and 28 alternate sites, included a minimum setback of 1,000 feet from nonparticipating landowners, he said.
The hope, he added, is that “preferred sites” that are closer than 1,250 feet can be replaced with alternate sites that meet the setback requirement, thus allowing all 90 turbines to be built. It’s too early, however, to determine whether the setback rules will result in fewer turbines going up, he said.
“Hopefully, we’ll be up to that number of 90,” he said, “but it might be a different 90 than we’d planned.”
The PSC’s condition limiting the noise of the turbines also is a factor, Manthey said – not only in where they are located, but also in the type of turbines eventually used in Glacier Hills.
The commissioners set noise limits of 50 decibels day and night during colder months and 50 decibels by day and 45 decibels by night during the warmer months when people often like to sleep with their windows open.
Minimizing noise is one reason why We Energies is considering turbines capable of generating 1.8 megawatts each, for a total of 162 megawatts. Manthey noted that these turbines would be about as tall as the ones that would, all together, generate the 207-megawatt maximum allowed by the PSC. The difference in the turbines, which accounts for the difference in the noise they create, is the size of the attached generators.
No final decision has been made regarding the generation capacity of the turbines that soon will be part of Columbia County’s skyline.
But even if the project were to generate the maximum power allowed, Manthey said, We Energies still would need other renewable energy projects to meet the state requirement of generating 10 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2015. (Those standards might go up. There’s legislation pending in Wisconsin to raise the renewable energy standards for utilities to 20 percent by 2020 and 25 percent by 2025.)
We Energies has another renewable project pending – a power plant built on the premises of a paper mill near Rothschild, south of Wausau, that would burn waste wood left over from the paper-making process.
Meanwhile, Manthey said, it’s not certain when Columbia County residents can look for trucks carrying the huge wind turbine components down the country roads. The initial construction work will entail site preparation and foundation building. Glacier Hills is expected to be up and running by late 2011.
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: According to following press release, the 90 turbine Glacier Hills wind farm mentioned above has an 18 turbine "country cousin."
New 30-Megawatt Wind Project in Columbia County Approved
PRESS RELEASE: E Wind LLC last week received approval to proceed with its 30-megawatt, 18-turbine wind project near Friesland, Wisconsin and the recently approved Glacier Hills wind project to be built and owned by WE Energies.
E Wind LLC is the country cousin to the larger Glacier Hills project, being developed by some local landowners and entrepreneurs who are determined to not let all renewable energy (and money) go to the big companies. Bob Lange, an E Wind member who farms near Columbus remarked, "I was involved in the development of the UWGP ethanol plant in Friesland and saw all these wind measurement towers being installed in the area by several large wind developers; that got me thinking that wind energy might be the next renewable energy of choice for the area." Bob found a few others to join him and off they set to put together a wind project. It included finding willing landowners to lease their property for turbines, paying the transmission owners to study the electrical connection of their project, installing a 200-foot tall wind measurement tower, and approaching the Town of Randolph about receiving permission to build the project.
Wes Slaymaker, P.E., of WES Engineering LLC, a Madison-based wind energy consulting company who is acting as the E Wind LLC project engineer, commented, "We staked some possible turbine locations in the winter of 2008 and spent the next year moving those locations around to address all the concerns of the landowners and community members." Later E Wind hired Cullen Weston Pines and Bach LLP, a Madison law firm, to assist the project with negotiating a development agreement with the Town of Randolph.
Unfortunately, E Wind’s timing was poor as the Glacier Hills project had recently been announced by We Energies and the local area was inflamed with concerns regarding how that large wind project would affect their homes and communities. The E Wind members spent plenty of their evenings attending town and village meetings. They hoped to get some sympathy from the area residents as the local project and eventually convinced the town to vote to approve the E Wind project, contingent upon the approval of the larger Glacier Hills project.