Entries in wind farm bats (31)
3/15/12 Bird and bat killers called out: Environmental groups put the heat on wind developers and the US Fish and Wildlife service
NINETY ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS SEEKING TOUGHER RULES ON WIND PROJECTS
By Robert Bryce,
March 15, 2012
In 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that the domestic wind turbines are killing about 440,000 birds per year. Since then, the wind industry has been riding a rapid growth spurt.
But that growth has slowed dramatically due to a tsunami of cheap natural gas and hefty taxpayer subsidies. Even worse: that cheap gas looks like it will last for many years, and Congress has, so far, been unwilling to extend the 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour subsidy for wind operators that expires at the end of this year.
And now, the wind industry is facing yet another big challenge: increasing resistance from environmental groups who are concerned about the effect that unrestrained construction of wind turbines is having on birds and bats. Ninety environmental groups, led by the American Bird Conservancy, have signed onto the “bird-smart wind petition” which has been submitted to the Fish and Wildlife Service.
It’s about time. Over the past two decades, the federal government has prosecuted hundreds of cases against oil and gas producers and electricity producers for violating some of America’s oldest wildlife-protection laws: the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Eagle Protection Act. But the Obama administration — like the Bush administration before it — has never prosecuted the wind industry despite myriad examples of widespread, unpermitted bird kills by turbines. A violation of either law can result in a fine of $250,000 and/or imprisonment for two years.
But amidst all the hoopla about “clean energy” the wind industry is being allowed to continue its illegal slaughter of some of America’s most precious wildlife. Even more perverse: taxpayers are subsidizing that slaughter.
Last June, Louis Sahagun, a reporter with the Los Angeles Times, reported that about 70 golden eagles per year are being killed by the wind turbines at Altamont Pass, located about 20 miles east of Oakland. A 2008 study funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency estimated that about 2,400 raptors, including burrowing owls, American kestrels, and red-tailed hawks — as well as about 7,500 other birds, nearly all of which are protected under the Migratory Bird Treat Act — are being killed every year by the turbines at Altamont.
A pernicious double standard is at work here and it riles Eric Glitzenstein, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer who wrote the petition to the Fish and Wildlife Service for the American Bird Conservancy. He told me, “It’s absolutely clear that there’s been a mandate from the top” echelons of the federal government not to prosecute the wind industry for violating wildlife laws.
Glitzenstein comes to this issue from the left. Before forming his own law firm, he worked for Public Citizen, an organization created by Ralph Nader. But when it comes to wind energy, “Many environmental groups have been claiming that too few people are paying attention to the science of climate change, but some of those same groups are ignoring the science that shows wind energy’s negative impacts on bird and bat populations.”
That willful ignorance may be ending. The Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, and Defenders of Wildlife recently filed a lawsuit against officials in Kern County, California, in an effort to block the construction of two proposed wind projects — North Sky River and Jawbone — due to concerns about their impact on local bird populations. The groups oppose the projects because of their proximity to the deadly Pine Tree facility, which the Fish and Wildlife Service believes is killing 1,595 birds, or about 12 birds per megawatt of installed capacity, per year.
The only time a public entity has pressured the wind industry for killing birds occurred in 2010, when California brokered a $2.5 million settlement with NextEra Energy Resources for bird kills at Altamont. The lawyer on that case: former attorney general and current Gov. Jerry Brown, who’s now pushing the Golden State to get 33 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020.
Despite the toll that wind turbines are taking on wildlife, the wind industry wants to keep its get-out-of-jail-free card. Last May, the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed new guidelines for wind turbine installations. But the American Wind Energy Association quickly panned the proposed rules as “unworkable.”
Billions of dollars are at stake. And the wind industry is eager to downplay the problem of bird and bat kills. But the issue, which clearly has the Obama administration in a tight spot, is not going away. The Sierra Club now favors mandatory rules for wind turbine siting.
And while wildlife protection is essential, the broader issue of equitable treatment under the law may be more important. For years, says Glitzenstein, the Interior Department has been telling the wind industry: “‘No matter what you do, you need not worry about being prosecuted.’ To me, that’s appalling public policy.”
Disclosure: Robert Bryce is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, which over the past ten years, has obtained about 2.5 percent of its budget from the hydrocarbon sector.
12/26/11 More evidence of negative health effects wind developers claim do not exist AND Getting away with murder: how green is a bird and bat killing machine?
STUDY: FALMOUTH TURBINES HURT ABUTTER'S HEALTH
By SEAN TEEHAN,
Via Cape Cod Times, www.capecodonline.com
December 26, 2011
FALMOUTH — A study released last week concludes wind turbines in Falmouth negatively affect abutters’ health.
The analysis was partially funded by a grant from Bruce McPherson, who opposes the Falmouth wind project and other turbine projects on Cape Cod. Its results assert that wind turbines cause “visceral” physical reactions and that sound waves from turbines are felt more intensely indoors than outside.
“We did not expect it,” said Stephen E. Ambrose, a Maine environmental sound consultant who co-authored The Bruce McPherson Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise Study.
Ambrose declined to release the amount he was paid but said he and a partner each spent about 800 hours on the study.
Ambrose and Robert W. Rand, who also specializes in sound studies, conducted their research over three days in April, Ambrose said.
The two former employees of Stone & Webster Inc., a Stoughton engineering firm that designs and builds power plants, have conducted peer reviews on acoustics from turbines for several towns in Massachusetts, Maine and Wyoming.
For this study, Ambrose and Rand lived in a house near Blacksmith Shop Road for three days while measuring pressure originating from infrasound. They documented the intensity of sound frequencies from a privately owned turbine in the Falmouth Technology Park and how their bodies responded to it. The turbine studied is roughly the size of Falmouth’s two municipal turbines.
When the two arrived at the house — located 1,700 feet from the turbine — on April 17, they began feeling effects within 20 minutes, according to the study. Both felt nausea, dizziness and anxiety, among other side effects.
They also reported having difficulty performing “normal activities” associated with the investigation, which included setting up instruments and observing measurements, the report states.
According to a chart included in the study, the discomfort and sick feelings intensified as wind speeds increased and the blades spun faster.
Previous sound studies that showed no negative health effects were done outdoors, Ambrose said. The recent study, which used low-frequency microphones to measure sound waves, showed sounds are more intense indoors than out. Data from this study showed a 10 dbG (a measurement for infrasound) increase outdoors and a 20 dbG increase indoors. The effect is similar to "living in a drum," he said.
An independent review of the acoustics data indicates it is scientifically valid, Nancy S. Timmerman, chairwoman of the Acoustical Society of America's Technical Committee on Noise, said in an email. She added that she can speak only to data on acoustics, not physiological effects reported in the study.
Jim Cummings, executive director of Acoustic Ecology Institute, another expert who looked at the study, said in an email the results could be a red flag on the correlation between infrasound and negative health effects, but more data are needed to establish proof.
"This is an indication, for sure, but a short sampling to base large claims on," Cummings wrote. "This and one other recent paper from the Association for Noise Control Engineers conference, Noise-Con, are both good indications that infrasound could be more problematic than generally assumed."
Falmouth Selectman Mary Pat Flynn, chairman of the board, said the study is one of many the board has received about wind turbines. Others show little or no harm caused by turbines, she said.
"We've had a number of studies sent to us, and they all have different points of view, and they all have different outcomes," Flynn said.
Ambrose and Rand's study comes as the state Department of Environmental Protection prepares itself for a sound study of the Falmouth-owned Wind 1 turbine. Environmental regulators agreed in September to conduct the study after Falmouth selectmen reached out to the department in September.
"It's still in the works, still under review," said Ed Coletta, a DEP spokesman. "We're hoping to get it done soon."
Last month selectmen announced the town would shut down the 1.64-megawatt Wind 1 — except during the tests — until April's town meeting. The town also plans to start up the Wind 2 turbine for 60 days, during which time officials plan to log complaints from residents.
The announcement came as a compromise after Wind 1 abutters filed a nonbinding town meeting article that asked selectmen to keep both turbines off until "mitigation options are fully explored and the existence of injurious conditions upon nearby residents can be qualified."
Wind 2, which has sat idle for about a year, could begin spinning for its trial period before mid-January, said Gerald Potamis, Falmouth's wastewater superintendent, who oversees the two municipal turbines.
Next month, Falmouth selectmen will choose a consultant to help advise the town on minimizing the impact of wind turbines on neighbors, Flynn said. Four firms were presented to selectmen during a meeting Dec. 19. The board will accept suggestions from residents until Jan. 4 and plans to choose one Jan. 9, Flynn said.
GROUP TARGETS WIND FARMS: ADVOCATES WANT STRICTER RULES TO PREVENT BIRD DEATHS
by Cody Winchester,
December 26, 2011
“Developers typically build at the site they’ve chosen, regardless of wildlife concerns,” she said. “We’ve written letters stating the proposed location is likely to have high wildlife impacts … but the projects were constructed (anyway).”
As the Obama administration moves on a plan to speed permitting of wind projects in the Great Plains, a major bird conservation group is asking the government to enact stricter standards for wind energy development.
The American Bird Conservancy has formally petitioned the Department of the Interior to develop mandatory siting rules for wind projects, claiming that existing guidelines, which are voluntary, constitute a “counterproductive and almost certainly unlawful approach” to enforcing the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
“Most wind energy projects that are already in operation are in ongoing violation” of the act, since most birds killed at wind farms are protected, the petition says. The conservancy group alleges a “systemic failure” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to enforce the law.
The conflict highlights an ongoing tension between conservationists and a rapidly expanding industry seen as the linchpin of a clean energy future – although the petitioners also note that climate change driven by the combustion of fossil fuels “indisputably poses an unprecedented threat to species and ecosystems.”
Fueling the conflict is territory overlap: Windy corridors that are prime candidates for energy projects also tend to be migratory flyways. With the growth of the industry in wind-rich states such as South Dakota, conservationists are worried not only about collisions with turbines and power lines but further fragmentation of a habitat already under pressure from urban and agricultural expansion.
“There are impacts beyond the towers sticking up out there,” said K.C. Jensen, an associate professor of wildlife management at South Dakota State University.
Federal officials have worked for years to develop siting standards for wind projects and earlier this year released a set of draft guidelines. As the guidelines evolved, the American Wind Energy Association, a trade group, accused Fish and Wildlife of trying to “impose new guidelines that are not based on sound science.” But the American Bird Conservancy says the guidelines were in fact crippled by pressure from a federal advisory board dominated by industry.
“At first we were optimistic,” said Kelly Fuller, the conservancy’s wind campaign coordinator. “But over the last year, our view has changed. We have seen drafts of the guidelines repeatedly weakened under industry pressure. We’ve seen Fish and Wildlife Service abandon much of what its own scientific experts wrote, and so we felt that we now have to respond to this worsening situation.”
The group wants the rules strengthened and made mandatory, so wind developers would have to obtain a permit that specifically considers the project’s effects on migratory birds before beginning construction.
Such a permitting scheme would give the industry greater certainty, since wind developers are technically in violation of federal law every time a migratory bird is killed at a wind installation, said Shruti Sharesh, an environmental lawyer who filed the petition on behalf of the conservancy.
“On the one hand, we have the federal government promoting wind industry,” Sharesh said. “And on the other hand, we have a situation where both the government and the industry is well aware … (of) widespread violation of federal wildlife law.”
But Ron Rebenitsch, executive director of the South Dakota Wind Energy Association, argued that the opposite is true. He said new regulations would create greater uncertainty and make it more difficult to plan wind projects, which already require significant up-front financing and can take years to approve.
“This is not a good thing for wind,” he said. “I would be very cautious about how the rules are developed.”
The industry takes pains to minimize harm to wildlife, Rebenitsch said, adding that concerns about bird strikes are overblown.
“There has never been a recorded instance of a whooping crane impacting a turbine,” he said. “A whooping crane could fly into a building. … Do you shut down the industry (for the sake of birds)? That’s a very real concern.”
Rebenitsch said the number of birds killed at wind farms is inconsequential compared with the number killed by cats, windows and other causes related to human activity.
Fish and Wildlife already has a mechanism for permitting “take” of threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act and other federal laws, but not for migratory birds.
The conservancy group says this “legal anomaly,” coupled with the lack of enforcement by Fish and Wildlife, is unfair: Oil companies are prosecuted under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act when birds fly into oil sump pits and die, the group argues. Why should wind energy be exempt?
Developers ‘build where they want’
On its website, the South Dakota Wind Energy Association urges developers to “consult the environmental and cultural offices in the state as early as possible” and provides contact information for each office.
But this doesn’t always happen, said Natalie Gates, a biologist in the migratory bird program at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife ecological services field office in Pierre.
Sometimes, developers contact Gates about a new wind project as a courtesy. Most of the time, however, she hears about proposals from other federal agencies that need input on how the project would affect endangered species.
“Some developers are more conscientious than others,” she said. “Some work with us a little and some ignore us entirely. All tend to build where they want.”
Once her office knows where the company intends to build the project, Gates sends a comment letter outlining the agency’s concerns about habitat and wildlife populations, and typically she requests that the company undertake a baseline study of birds and bats in the area.
“Sometimes when I write a letter like that, I never hear back from the company,” she said.
Some companies hire consultants to collect pre- and postconstruction figures on bird and bat mortality, and this data can be helpful to wildlife agencies, Gates said. But a suggestion to avoid sensitive habitat “seems to get no traction with developers,” she said.
“Developers typically build at the site they’ve chosen, regardless of wildlife concerns,” she said. “We’ve written letters stating the proposed location is likely to have high wildlife impacts … but the projects were constructed (anyway).”
South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks also has guidelines for wind projects, and the agency’s wildlife biologists have provided expert testimony at hearings before the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, which issues siting permits for wind projects.
The commission carefully considers the input of wildlife experts when issuing rulings and crafting permit conditions, PUC Chairman Gary Hanson said.
Hanson, who has served on the governing board of the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative, is concerned about whooping crane numbers and would not necessarily oppose stricter federal guidelines for siting.
Fed’s plan would fast-track projects
The Interior Department, meanwhile, is developing a plan to fast-track wind projects in the Great Plains by allowing developers to go through the federal permitting process en masse.
The 200-mile-wide development corridor would follow the central flyway of the endangered whooping crane, which has a wild population in the low hundreds, from Canada to the Texas coast.
A consortium of wind energy companies, including Iberdrola Renewables and NextEra Energy Resources, which operate wind farms in South Dakota, would be granted incidental take permits in exchange for offsetting the losses with conservation efforts elsewhere. Fish and Wildlife still is hammering out the details.
Determining bird kill numbers a tough task
Estimates of birds killed at wind installations vary, and federal field agents face numerous obstacles in gathering accurate numbers.
“The (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) has no way of obtaining on a regular basis crucial information about birds and bats being killed at these projects,” said Shruti Sharesh, a lawyer at Meyer, Glitzenstein and Crystal, an environmental law firm .
The conservancy group partly blames this problem on confidentiality agreements between wind developers and private wildlife consultants, which can can make data sharing problematic.
In September, the Argus Leader submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to U.S. Fish and Wildlife asking for records of migratory birds killed by power lines or wind energy projects in South Dakota.
The agency returned a packet of investigative reports detailing 15 bird kills in North and South Dakota since 2008, all of them power line strikes.
This doesn’t mean there were no bird strikes or electrocutions prior to 2008, just that they weren’t necessarily entered into the agency’s computer system, said Rich Grosz, the resident agent in charge of the Office of Law Enforcement for the Dakotas.
Until recently, South Dakota had only one or two field agents, and Grosz said the agency is “completely dependent on the public” to notify it of bird electrocutions. In any case, further investigation may show that the bird died from other means, in which case the agency would not pursue an investigation.
10/27/11 Wind developers Eco-Energy/ Acciona caught red-handed AND turbines shut down at night to protect bats.That's a good start, but what about protecting people?
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: Folks in Rock County are quite familiar with the wind developers mentioned in the article below. They had big plans for a major wind project in the Towns of Magnolia, Spring Valley and Union. They began by signing up landowners to long term contracts and working the community to pit neighbor against neighbor.
The project that was the subject of this audit is located just a few miles south of the Wisconsin-Illinois border.
CLEAN-ENERGY DEVELOPERS REAPED EXCESS U.S. AID, AUDITORS SAY
By Jim Efstathiou Jr. - Oct 26, 2011
The Obama administration overpaid renewable power developers in a federal grant program, including $2.08 million distributed to a unit of Acciona SA (ANA), a Spanish maker of wind turbines, according to government investigators.
The excess payment to EcoGrove Wind LLC, a unit of Acciona, was uncovered in an audit by the U.S. Treasury Department’s inspector general. EcoGrove received a $67.9 million grant in October 2009 for a wind farm in Illinois through a program to promote clean power created in the economic stimulus bill that year.
President Barack Obama’s administration already faces congressional inquiries over the Energy Department’s $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra LLC, a maker of solar panels that filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 6. The audits raise questions about the Treasury’s management of a separate grant program that has awarded $9.2 billion to wind, solar and geothermal projects as of Sept. 11.
“A significant number of them no doubt have inflated costs,” William Short, an industry consultant and former investment banker with Kidder Peabody & Co., said in an interview. “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. This one’s a superhighway.”
The grants, covering 30 percent of a project’s cost, are based on what companies claim as the expense of developing a power source. Inspectors found overpayments in four of the five grants they have audited so far. Aside from Acciona, the discrepancies totaled $43,137. The excessive payments may climb as the inspector general investigates more of the 19,875 grants awarded.
The Treasury grants offer a benefit that leads some project developers to “engage in abusive action,” according to George Schutzer, a partner specializing in tax law with Patton Boggs LLP in Washington. Schutzer said he has advised clients seeking grants against being overly aggressive in their claims.
“It’s on the list of the things the Treasury Department is clearly looking at,” Schutzer said in an interview.
The audits by Eric Thorson, the Treasury’s inspector general, have focused on whether projects were eligible for the grants they received and whether the amounts awarded were appropriate, Richard Delmar, counsel to Thorson, said in an e- mail. The office plans to issue reports on nine additional grants next year, Delmar said.
The audits, which began in February 2010, involve visits to the headquarters of companies that received the so-called 1603 grants, and to project sites, Delmar said.
“We do plan to assess common and/or pervasive issues identified through these individual audits in the aggregate as part of a planned report on Treasury’s administration of the 1603 Program and make recommendations as necessary,” Delmar said.
There isn’t a deadline for completion of the “overall program assessment,” he said.
In Acciona’s EcoGrove project, investigators questioned five items including $5.3 million for interest on a late payment related to a turbine supply agreement with another unit of the company. Ineligible costs totaling $6.93 million led to the government overpayment of $2.08 million, Marla Freedman, assistant inspector general, said in a Sept. 19 report.
“People want to make sure they don’t leave money on the table, but you’ve got to strike that balance between what is permissible and what goes too far,” Jeffrey Davis, a tax partner with Mayer Brown LLP in Washington, said in an interview.
Furniture, Spare Parts
The Treasury Department agreed with the inspector general that Madrid-based Acciona should return $35,479 for costs associated with transmission lines, office furniture and expendable spare parts, according to the report. The Treasury hasn’t determined whether the interest penalty is eligible for the grant.
The company said including the interest payment in the cost of the project is “common industry practice” in construction of wind farms, according to the report.
“I don’t think there’s any padding” of costs, Amy Berry, a spokeswoman for Acciona, said in an interview. “You’re talking about companies that have a lot more on the line than a couple million back from U.S. Treasury. Obviously the consequences are huge if we don’t do it right.”
Six months after Obama signed the stimulus measure, the inspector general said managers at the Treasury Department had failed to explain what staffing would be needed to evaluate “the potentially thousands of applications of varying complexity for awards under this program,” according to an Aug. 5, 2009, report.
The Treasury Department responded that “the current team of four is adequate.”
“Just for just practical matters, we have a program to administer,” Ellen Neubauer, grants program manager for the Treasury, said in a Sept. 21 interview. “We have a large number of applications, a relatively small staff. We sort of have to set some parameters on what we’re going to examine more closely and what we’re not.”
The program has led to $31.1 billion in public and private investment in clean-energy projects that have the capacity to generate 13.6 gigawatts of electricity, about the same amount as 13 nuclear reactors, according to the Treasury.
“Treasury’s team works closely with a larger team of reviewers to carefully evaluate each application to ensure that the amount of money awarded is correct,” Sandra Salstrom, a department spokeswoman, said today in an e-mail. “In all instances where funds are found to be paid improperly, Treasury will work aggressively to recoup them.”
In the first five audits, investigators questioned $2.12 million of $306.4 million awarded in grants, or 0.69 percent. In the case of two wind farms developed by EON AG, inspectors reversed initial decisions questioning $1 million in grant awards related to spare parts after Treasury Department officials said the costs were eligible under tax law.
“The auditors that come out aren’t always the subject- matter experts when it comes to tax policy,” Matt Tulis, a spokesman for EON, said in an interview.
Credits Turned Grants
The incentives began under President George W. Bush as a tax credit companies could use to offset profit by investing in renewable energy projects. The 2008 financial crisis dried up company profits and opportunities to use the tax credit, resulting in the move to convert the benefit to grants.
“Our experience shows that it’s difficult getting financing for the projects,” Schutzer, the tax lawyer, said. “That makes the grant or the credit upfront so valuable. I would bet that the rate of mis-claimed charitable deductions is a good bit higher than the rate of abuse you’d find with the grants.”
The grant program, which was set to expire last year, received a one-year extension in December. A second continuation is unlikely, Bill Wicker, a spokesman for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a Sept. 12 e-mail.
“Given the considerable fiscal challenges confronting Congress, renewing this program seems to be a steep hill to climb,” he said.
BAT FATALITIES AT WIND FARMS: CURTAILMENT A MORE COMMON PRACTICE
by Bill Opalka,
October 26, 2011
The recent discovery of a dead endangered bat at a Pennsylvania wind site led to the immediate shutdown of night-time operations of a wind facility. The practice has become more widespread I recent years.
Unlike a few years ago, the wind industry has been armed with studies and procedures that lead to immediate actions to prevent further fatalities, which have been deployed in sensitive areas populate by migrating birds and bats.
On September 27, Duke Energy Corporation notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that a dead Indiana bat, a state and federally protected species, had been found at its 35-turbine, North Allegheny Wind facility.
The facility, located in Cambria and Blair Counties in Pennsylvania, has been in operation since September 2009, and the bat carcass was located during voluntary post-construction mortality monitoring, FWS said.
Duke Energy stopped operating the wind farm at night “to prevent additional mortalities of Indiana bats,” spokesman Greg Efthimiou said.
Efthimiou said the company will continue to switch off the farm a half hour before sunset and a half hour after sunrise until mid-November, when the migration season of the endangered Indiana bat generally ends.
The ridge is in the section of the Appalachian Mountains that extends into West Virginia, where the issue of bat mortality first gained prominence a few years ago.
The bat carcass was discovered by a contracted technician and brought to the office at the end of the day per Duke standard procedures.
Duke immediately curtailed night-time operations of the turbines at the North Allegheny facility, and reported the incident to the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Service. The FWS said it is currently reviewing the incident.
A project in West Virginia was itself endangered when the Beech Ridge project avoided denial of its permit when wind developer Invenergy and the Animal Welfare Institute reached a proposed settlement in federal court. The developers sought an “incidental take permit” from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, recognition that some fatalities will occur from an otherwise lawful activity.
The actual settlement that was agreed upon allows the turbines to be in 24 hour operation between mid-November and April 1 when the bats are hibernating. For the remaining months the turbines may only operate in the daylight hours.
In other locations, bat and bird monitoring has led to wind curtailment. Not the most lucrative solution, as curtailment cuts into wind plant revenue, but it helps avoid a PR disaster-in-the making.
ENERGY IN AMERICA: SACRIFICE OF PROTECTED BIRDS UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCE OF WIND POWER DEVELOPMENT
17 August 2011
As California attempts to divorce itself from fossil-fueled electricity, it may be trading one environmental sin for another — although you don’t hear state officials admitting it.
Wind power is the fastest growing component in the state’s green energy portfolio, but wildlife advocates say the marriage has an unintended consequence: dead birds, including protected species of eagles, hawks and owls.
“The cumulative impacts are huge,” said Shawn Smallwood, one of the few recognized experts studying the impact of wind farms on migratory birds. “It is not inconceivable to me that we could reduce golden eagle populations by a great deal, if not wipe them out.”
California supports roughly 2,500 golden eagles. The state’s largest wind farms kill, on average, more than 80 eagles per year. But the state is set to triple wind capacity in the coming years as it tries to become the first state in the nation to generate 33 percent of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2020.
“We would like to have no bird deaths and no bird injuries. But, once again, we have to balance all the needs of society. All the people who want to flip their switch and have electricity in their homes,” said Lorelei Oviatt, Kern County planning commissioner.
Kern County has identified some 225,000 acres just north of Los Angeles as a prime wind resource area. Unfortunately, the area’s rolling hills and mountains are prime hunting grounds for raptors and a layover spot for migratory birds traveling between Canada and Mexico. The updrafts enjoyed by birds of prey are ideal for generating power.
“I’m not against wind power — it is a viable form of energy generation — but it needs to be developed more carefully,” Smallwood said.
Case in point: In the Bay Area, when activists in the 1980s demanded a cleaner planet, the state responded with the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area. The state-approved wind farm, built with federal tax credits, kills 4,700 birds annually, including 1,300 raptors, among them 70 golden eagles, according to biological reports generated on behalf of the owners.
Smallwood said replacing the small, older turbines with larger blades has cut some species fatalities roughly in half.
Oviatt said Kern County is trying to learn from Altamont’s mistakes.
“We’re requiring full environmental impact reports, which take at least 12 to 18 months,” Oviatt said. “Can I promise that a bird will never be injured or killed? I can’t. But again, we have this tradeoff in society, between the things we need to function as an economy and the fact that we wanna make sure we have an environment for future generations.”
Pine Tree is one of the wind farms in Kern County and is operated by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. According to an internal DWP bird and bat mortality report for the year ending June 2010, bird fatality rates were “relatively high” at Pine Tree compared to 45 other wind facilities nationwide. The facility’s annual death rate per turbine is three times higher for golden eagles than at Altamont.
“Politics plays a huge role here,” Smallwood said. “Our leaders want this power source so they’re giving, for a time being, a pass to the wind industry. If you or I killed an eagle, we’re looking at major consequences.”
Smallwood and others say it is almost inconceivable the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which enforces the U.S. Endangered Species Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, hasn’t acted.
“There’s a big, big hypocrisy here,” Sue Hammer of Tehachapi Wildlife Rehab in Kern County said. “If I shoot an eagle, it’s a $10,000 fine and/or a vacation of one to five years in a federal pen of my choice.”
She’s not far off from the reality.
In 2009, Exxon pleaded guilty to causing the deaths of about 85 migratory birds in five states that came into contact with crude oil in uncovered waste tanks. The fine for this was $600,000.
Likewise, PacifiCorp, an Oregon utility, owed $10.5 million in fines, restitution and improvements to their equipment after 232 eagles were killed by running into power lines in Wyoming.
And in 2005, the owner of a fish hatchery was ordered to serve six months in a federal halfway house and pay a $65,000 fine for shooting an eagle that was feeding at his uncovered hatchery.
Wind power in the U.S. generates 41,400 megawatts of electricity. California represents just a fraction of that total, suggesting the number of raptor kills is considerably higher nationwide. Yet according to records, USFWS has not prosecuted a single company for violating one of the many statutes protecting threatened and endangered birds.
8/16/11 New Evidence of adverse health effects from poorly sited wind turbines AND Shhh! Don't tell them what we know about turbine noise levels AND bat population in the wind developer's crosshairs, more pesticide in our future
A Summary of new evidence:
Adverse health effects and industrial wind turbines
DOWNLOAD ENTIRE DOCUMENT BY CLICKING HERE: Summary of New Evidence on Adverse health effects and industrial wind turbines - August 2011
by Carmen M.E. Krogh, BScPharm and Brett S. Horner, BA, CMA
Any errors or omissions contained within this document are unintentional.
To whom it may concern
In previous communications, evidence has been provided regarding the risk of adverse health effects and industrial wind turbines (IWTs). Up to now, the siting of IWTs in Ontario is based on predictive computer modelling.
While there is ample evidence regarding adverse health effects, the conduct of human health studies to determine regulations for setbacks and noise levels that protect health is still lacking.
The purpose of this document is to inform authorities and decision makers of new evidence, including articles published in peer reviewed scientific journals which advance knowledge on the topic of adverse health effects of IWTs.
Based on the evidence compiled in this document, no further IWT projects should be approved in proximity to humans until human health studies are conducted to determine setbacks and noise levels that will ensure the health and welfare of all exposed individuals.
Furthermore where there are reports of adverse health and/or noise complaints IWTs should be decommissioned until the human health studies have been conducted to determine regulations for setbacks and noise levels that protect health.
This summary may be used and submitted by other individuals.
No financial compensation has been requested nor received for this summary.
Denial of adverse health effects
For years now, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) has denied that wind turbines can cause adverse health effects. However, based on previously known and recent information, this denial is incorrect.
A 2008 CanWEA media release informs the world “Scientists conclude that there is no evidence that wind turbines have an adverse impact on human health.”
1. None of references included in this CanWEA media release state “there is no evidence that windturbines have an adverse impact on human health.”
An April 2009 CanWEA fact sheet states “Findings clearly show that there is no peer-reviewed scientific evidence indicating that wind turbines have an adverse impact on human health.”
2. The fact sheet contains eight references, none of which state “there is no peer-reviewed scientific evidence indicating that wind turbines have an adverse impact on human health.”
A 2009 CanWEA convened literature review concludes “Sound from wind turbines does not pose a risk of hearing loss or any other adverse health effect in humans.”
3. However, the contents of the literature review contradict this conclusion by acknowledging IWT noise may cause annoyance, stress and sleep disturbance and as a result people may experience adverse physiological and psychological symptoms.
The literature review acknowledges possible symptoms include distraction, dizziness, eye strain, fatigue, feeling vibration, headache, insomnia, muscle spasm, nausea, nose bleeds, palpitations, pressure in the ears or head, skin burns, stress, and tension.
The above CanWEA sponsored statements which deny risk of adverse health effects are scientifically incorrect.
Assertions that IWTs do not pose a risk to human health only serve to confuse authorities and the public on the issue wind turbines and health effects. For example, Ontario Minister of Health Matthews reportedly stated “There is no evidence, whatsoever, that there is an issue related to turbines,”
4. This statement is scientifically incorrect. July 2011 Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) Decision, Ontario
As noted above, the CanWEA sponsored Colby et al. (2009) literature review stated “Sound from wind turbines does not pose a risk of hearing loss or any other adverse health effect in humans.”
5. Three of the co-authors of this statement, Drs. Colby, Leventhall, and McCunney testified on behalf of the Respondents (Ministry of Environment, Suncor Energy Services Inc.) during an Ontarian Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT). Evidence provided at the ERT demonstrated the above statement authored by the
CanWEA sponsored panel experts is incorrect.
The July 2011 ERT decision for an IWT project in Ontario 6 confirmed IWTs can harm humans:
“While the Appellants were not successful in their appeals, the Tribunal notes that their involvement and that of the Respondents, has served to advance the state of the debate about wind turbines and human health.
This case has successfully shown that the debate should not be simplified to one about whether wind turbines can cause harm to humans. The evidence presented to the Tribunal demonstrates that they can, if facilities are placed too close to residents. The debate has now evolved to one of degree.” (p. 207)
Evidence and testimony provided to the ERT by witnesses called by the Appellants served to advance understanding of IWT induced health impacts.
It is now acknowledged that IWTs do pose a risk of adverse health effect in humans if they are improperly sited.
All ten of the witnesses called upon by the Appellants were qualified as expert witnesses. The expert witnesses called upon by the Appellants have been involved in original research on the health effects of IWTs and/or have had related articles accepted in peer reviewed scientific journals.
During the ERT expert witnesses for both the Respondents and the Appellants provided evidence and/or testimony which acknowledged IWTs sound is perceived to be more annoying than transportation noise or industrial noise at comparable sound pressure levels.
Peer reviewed articles and other references acknowledge annoyance to be an adverse health effect. (Pedersen & Persson Waye, 2007 7; Michaud et al. 2005 8; Health Canada, 2005 9; Suter, 1991 10)
During the ERT expert witnesses for both the Respondents [11, 12 , 13 , 14] and the Appellants provided evidence and/or testimony which acknowledge annoyance to be a health effect.
Research confirms for chronically strong annoyance a causal chain exists between the three steps health–strong annoyance–increased morbidity  and must be classified as a serious health risk. 
During the ERT expert witnesses for both the Respondents and the Appellants provided evidence and/or testimony which acknowledged IWTs “will” cause annoyance, which can result in stress related health impacts including sleep disturbance, headache, tinnitus, ear pressure, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, visual blurring, tachycardia, irritability, problems with concentration and memory, and panic episodes associated with sensations of internal pulsation or quivering when awake or asleep, and depression.
During the ERT witnesses for both the Respondents and/or the Appellants provided evidence and/or testimony which indicate plausible causes of these health effects include: IWT amplitude modulation, audible low frequency sound, infrasound, tonality, lack of nighttime abatement, shadow flicker, visual impact, economic impacts or a combination thereof.
It is acknowledged Ontario regulations and/or noise guidelines will not protect all individuals from these health impacts.
A 2010 final draft report prepared for the Ontario Ministry of Environment (MOE) states: “The audible sound from wind turbines, at the levels experienced at typical receptor distances in Ontario, is nonetheless expected to result in a non-trivial percentage of persons being highly annoyed.
As with sounds from many sources, research has shown that annoyance associated with sound from wind turbines can be expected to contribute to stress related health impacts in some persons.” 
MOE documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request confirm current Ontario IWT guidelines will cause adverse effects. One 2010 MOE internal memorandum states:
“It appears compliance with the minimum setbacks and the noise study approach currently being used to approve the siting of WTGs will result or likely result in adverse effects contrary to subsection 14(1) of the EPA” 
Another MOE reference documents Ontario families that have abandoned their homes due to sleep disturbance caused by exposure to wind farms.  Sleep disturbance is an adverse health effect.
MOE correspondence also documents families that have moved out of their homes and have made financial settlements with the respective IWT developer. 
Based on original research in Ontario, and elsewhere, a peer reviewed article states: “It is acknowledged that IWTs, if not sited properly, can adversely affect the health of exposed individuals. In addition to physiological and psychological symptoms there are individuals reporting adverse impacts, including reduced well-being, degraded living conditions, and adverse societal and economic impacts. These adverse impacts culminate in expressions of a loss of fairness and social justice.
The above impacts represent a serious degradation of health in accordance with commonly accepted definitions of health as defined by the WHO and the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion.” 
August 2011 peer reviewed articles published in a scientific journal
Subsequent to the July Ontario ERT decision nine peer reviewed articles have been published in a special August, 2011 edition of the scientific journal, Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society (BSTS). These articles explore health and social impacts of IWT installations. [22 , 23 , 24 , 25 , 26 , 27 , 28 , 29 , 30]
The Special Edition is entitled Windfarms, Communities and Ecosystems. Included in the special edition, is a commentary by the editor, Willem H. Vanderburg. 
The SAGE website states: “The goal of the Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society is to provide a means
of communication within as wide of a spectrum of the STS community as possible. This includes faculty and students from sciences, engineering, the humanities, and social science in the newly emerging groups on university and college campuses, and in the high school systems, all of which teach integrative STS subject matters. It also includes professionals in government, industry and universities, ranging from philosophers and historians of science to social scientists concerned with the effects of science and technology, scientists and engineers involved with the study and policy-making of their own craft, and the concerned general leader. A third category of readers represents "society": all journalists dealing with the impacts of science
and technology in their respected fields, the public interest groups and the attentive public.” 
One article presents the result of WindVOiCe, an Ontario self reporting health survey that follows the principles of Health Canada for vigilance monitoring of pharmaceuticals and other products. 
Another article documents social justice impacts when people cannot obtain mitigation or resolution and in some cases, have abandoned their homes due to IWT exposure. 
An article authored by Dr. Bob Thorne documents his research on IWT noise and correlates this with reported IWT adverse health impacts. Based this field work Dr. Thorne concludes a sound level of LAeq 32 dB outside the residence is required to avoid serious harm to human health. 
Ontario MOE documents obtained from a Freedom of Information request support a 32 dBA sound limit for IWTs. Based on real world field investigations MOE field officers advised the Ministry about IWT adverse effects and stated “… the setback distances should be calculated using a sound level limit of 30 to 32 dBA at the receptor, instead of the 40 dBA sound level limit.” 
Dr. Robert McMurtry, former Dean of Medicine, University of Western Ontario, and 2011 recipient of Member of Order of Canada, published a case definition to facilitate a clinical diagnosis regarding adverse health effects and IWTs. 
Other articles explore topics including how to properly interpret IWT epidemiological evidence,  the physics of IWT noise,  public health ethics,  potential IWT noise impacts on children,  and potential IWT infrasound sound impacts on the human ear. 
These articles are critical to anyone interested in the safe siting of IWTs. It is recommended that authorities and regulators obtain a copy of each of the nine articles.
Please use this link if you wish to access these articles http://bst.sagepub.com Downloads of these articles can be obtained with an individual subscription for $100. This will allow you to download these and other articles from the BSTS scientific journal.
IWT low frequency noise and infrasound
In the past some commentators have stated low frequency noise from IWTs is not an issue. Other references indicate most available evidence suggests that reported IWT health effects, such as sleeplessness and headache, are related to audible low frequency noise. 
A June 2011 Federal Australian Senate committee investigating IWT and adverse health effects report recommended: “… noise standards adopted by the states and territories for the planning and operation of rural wind farms should include appropriate measures to calculate the impact of low frequency noise and vibrations indoors at impacted dwellings.” 
A June 2011 peer reviewed article on IWT low frequency noise is available. 
The abstract states:
As wind turbines get larger, worries have emerged that the turbine noise would move down in frequency and that the low-frequency noise would cause annoyance for the neighbors. The noise emission from 48 wind turbines with nominal electric power up to 3.6 MW is analyzed and discussed. The relative amount of low-frequency noise is higher for large turbines (2.3–3.6 MW) than for small turbines ( 2 MW), and the
difference is statistically significant. The difference can also be expressed as a downward shift of the spectrum of approximately one-third of an octave. A further shift of similar size is suggested for future turbines in the 10-MW range.
Due to the air absorption, the higher low-frequency content becomes even more pronounced, when sound pressure levels in relevant neighbor distances are considered. Even when A-weighted levels are considered, a substantial part of the noise is at low frequencies, and for several of the investigated large turbines, the one-third-octave band with the highest level is at or below 250 Hz. It is thus beyond any doubt that the lowfrequency part of the spectrum plays an important role in the noise at the neighbors.”
Annoyance from audible low frequency noise is acknowledged to be more severe in general. Low frequency noise does not need to be considered loud for it to cause annoyance and irritation.  Low frequency noise causes immense suffering to those who are unfortunate to be sensitive to it  and chronic psychophysiological damage may result from long-term exposure to low-level low frequency noise. 
Some symptoms associated with exposure to low frequency noise include annoyance, stress, sleep disturbance, headaches, difficulty concentrating, irritability, fatigue, dizziness or vertigo, tinnitus, anxiety, heart ailments and palpitation. [49 , 50, 51]
Møller and Pedersen, (2011) indicate IWT low frequency noise is more of an issue for large turbines of 2.3 MW and up.  However low frequency noise from smaller turbines (ie 1.5MW) can also cause adverse health effects.
Freedom of Information documents obtained from the MOE document low frequency noise issues from smaller IWTs (i.e., 1.5 MW) at Ontario wind farms.
The MOE documents how IWT low frequency noise caused a home to be “uninhabitable” resulting in family members abandoning trying to sleep there.  For further discussion see Krogh (2011)  and Thorne (2011). 
Research on the potential impacts of IWT infrasound has been published in two peer-reviewed scientific journals (Salt and Hullar, 2010 56, Salt and Kaltenbach, 2011 57). These articles conclude that it is scientifically possible that infrasound from IWTs could affect people living nearby and more research is needed.
Wind Turbines Noise, Fourth International Meeting
During the Rome Conference Fourth International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise, Rome Italy 12-14 April 2011, there were a number of presentations documenting IWT noise issues.
The Wind Turbine Noise (2011) post-conference report states:
“The main effect of daytime wind turbine noise is annoyance. The night time effect is sleep disturbance. These may lead to stress related illness in some people. Work is required in understanding why low levels of wind turbine noise may produce affects which are greater than might be expected from their levels.” 
A number of conference papers addressed human health impacts of IWTs. For example one research team conducted a study which demonstrated those living in the immediate vicinity of IWTs scored worse than a matched control group in terms of physical and environmental health related quality of life (HRQOL). 
The Ontario ERT expert witnesses for both the Respondents and the Appellants provided evidence and/or testimony which acknowledged IWT amplitude modulation and/or audible low frequency noise are probable causes of IWT adverse health effects.
Research related to low frequency noise “…confirms the importance of fluctuations as a contributor to annoyance and the limitation of those assessment methods, which do not include fluctuations in the assessment.” 
In addition, the World Health Organization states: “Noise measures based solely on LAeq values do not adequately characterize most noise environments and do not adequately assess the health impacts of noise on human well-being.
It is also important to measure the maximum noise level and the number of noise events when deriving guideline values. If the noise includes a large proportion of low-frequency components, values even lower than the guideline values will be needed, because low-frequency components in noise may increase the adverse effects considerably. When prominent low-frequency components are present, measures based on A-weighting are inappropriate.” 
Consultants for the Ontario MOE, Aercoustics, submitted a paper at the Fourth International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise which states: “Sound emissions from operating wind farms frequently give rise to noise complaints. Most compliance-based noise audits measure hourly “A”-weighted Leq, thereby removing the low-frequency contents of the wind turbine sound.
The metric is also insensitive to amplitude modulation and is unsatisfactory when sensitive receptor are annoyed by the low frequency sound and amplitude modulation.”
Current Ontario guidelines are based on the A-Weighted Leq metric and hence must be considered unsatisfactory to protect individuals from the health impacts of IWT amplitude modulation and/or low frequency noise.
The need for research
The authors of a Canadian Wind Energy Association sponsored report state they do not “advocate for funding further studies.” 
The April 2011 Wind Turbine Noise post–conference report states: “Work is required in understanding why low levels of wind turbine noise may produce affects which are greater than might be expected from their levels.” 
A June 2011 Australian Senate committee investigating IWT and adverse health effects report recommended:
“… the Commonwealth Government initiate as a matter of priority thorough, adequately resourced epidemiological and laboratory studies of the possible effects of wind farms on human health. This research must engage across industry and community, and include an advisory process representing the range of interests and concerns.”
The July 2011 Ontario ERT decision also acknowledged that more research is needed.  “Just because the Appellants have not succeeded in their appeals, that is no excuse to close the book on further research. On the contrary, further research should help resolve some of the significant questions that the Appellants have raised." (p. 207)
International experts who have conducted original research and/or published peer reviewed articles in scientific journals confirm that research is required.[67 , 68 , 69 , 70 , 71 , 72 ,73 , 74 , 75, 76]
Inappropriate use of literature reviews
Literature reviews can be useful tools for summarizing existing literature related to a particular topic. In order to be considered reliable a literature review must be complete, accurate, and objective.
In recent years a number of literature reviews have been produced which purport to explore the health effect of IWTs. Some literature reviews which have been relied upon to deny IWTs can adversely affect the health of humans.
These literature reviews include Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit. (2008),  Colby et al, (2009),  Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health, (2010),  and the National Health and Medical Research Council
(Australia) (2010).  None of these literature reviews have been published in a peer reviewed scientific journal.
Reliance on these literature reviews is inappropriate as they contain errors of omission and/or commission and are neither convincing nor authoritative. Many of the conclusions are incomplete, inaccurate, lack objectivity and consequently only serve to confuse the issue of IWT health effects.
For example, these literature reviews limit their discussion to direct effects using qualifiers such as “direct physiopathological effects” or “direct causal links”.
Failure to carefully evaluate the indirect causal pathways and the psychological harm of IWT exposure represent errors of omission. Annoyance, sleep disturbance, cognitive and emotional response, and stress are health effects that occur through the indirect pathway. 
The health outcomes associated with the indirect pathway are significant: “Physiological experiments on humans have shown that noise of a moderate level acts via an indirect pathway and has health outcomes similar to those caused by high noise exposures on the direct pathway. The indirect pathway starts with noise-induced disturbances of activities such as communication or sleep.” 
The Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal expressed concern that the Director for the MOE relied on references which did not address the indirect pathway. 
As a consequence of their weaknesses some literature reviews have been criticized for their poor quality.
In March 2011, the Chief Executive Officer of National Health and Medical Research Council stated regarding their July 2010 literature review: “We regard this as a work in progress. We certainly do not believe that this question has been settled. That is why we are keeping it under constant review. That is why we said in our review that we believe authorities must take a precautionary approach to this.” 
Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit (2008),  Colby et al, December 2009,  Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health (2010), 87 share many of the same weaknesses as National Health and Medical Research Council (2010). 
These literature reviews cannot be relied for Renewable Energy Applications and/or Renewable Energy Approvals to support the contention there is no evidence that IWTs can cause adverse health effects. For detailed analysis of some of these literature reviews visit www.windvigilance.com
Based on the best available evidence the following conclusions can be made
1. The Canadian Wind Energy Association sponsored statements that IWTs do not pose a risk of adverse health effects in humans are scientifically incorrect.
2. Experts who have conducted original research and/or published peer reviewed articles in scientific journals confirm IWTs can harm human health if they not sited properly.
3. Acknowledged adverse health effects include: annoyance, stress, sleep disturbance, headache, tinnitus, ear pressure, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, visual blurring, tachycardia, irritability, problems with concentration and memory, and panic episodes associated with sensations of internal pulsation or quivering when awake or asleep.
Other adverse impacts include reduced well-being, degraded living conditions, and adverse societal and economic impacts. These adverse impacts culminate in expressions of a loss of fairness and social justice.
4. The above impacts in conclusion 3 represent a serious degradation of health in accordance with commonly accepted definitions of health as defined by the WHO and the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion.
5. It is expected that at typical setbacks and with the noise study approach currently being used in Ontario to approve the siting of IWTs, a non trivial percentage of exposed individuals will experience serious degradation of health.
6. Harm to human health can be avoided with science based regulations based on research conducted on human response to IWT exposure.
7. Experts who have conducted original research and/or published peer reviewed articles in scientific journals confirm that research is required to establish scientifically based IWT regulations to protect human health.
8. Until scientifically based research has been conducted IWTs should not sited in proximity to human habitation.
Carmen Krogh, BScPharm
Brett Horner, BA, CMA
NOTE: Full list of numbered references are on the original document: DOWNLOAD IT BY CLICKING HERE: Summary of New Evidence on Adverse health effects and industrial wind turbines - August 2011
MINISTRY MEMO SAYS NOISE LIMIT TOO HIGH FOR ONTARIO TURBINES
SOURCE: Postmedia News, www.windsorstar.com
August 15, 2011
By Don Butler,
OTTAWA — Ontario regulations permit wind turbines to produce too much noise, says an internal memo written by a provincial Ministry of the Environment official who recommended a sharp reduction in allowable levels.
The April 2010 memo, written by Cameron Hall, a senior environmental officer in the ministry’s Guelph district office, was obtained through Freedom of Information and released Monday by Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of 58 grassroots anti-wind groups in Ontario.
The memo concludes that the current limit of 40 decibels should be reduced to 30 to 32 decibels. In the opinion of ministry officers, that level of sound “would not cause or be likely to cause adverse effects” for residents living near turbines, it says.
Reducing noise standards to that level would require the province to significantly increase its current 550-metre minimum setback for turbines from surrounding buildings.
John Laforet, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, said Hall’s conclusions were “based on scientific analysis and fieldwork done by the ministry. This isn’t some wind opponent saying it.”
But Jonathan Rose, a spokesman for Environment Minister John Wilkinson, said the 40 decibel standard is what the World Health Organization suggests to protect human health.
“Our noise limit is tougher than California, Minnesota, New York, France, Denmark and Germany, just to name a few,” Rose said. “All this information was already examined by the Environmental Review Tribunal, an independent, quasi-judicial body which ruled that wind farm projects in Ontario are safe.”
Release of the memo marks the start of what Wind Concerns Ontario is dubbing its “WindyLeaks” campaign, a reference to WikiLeaks, the website that released hundreds of thousands of leaked government documents and e-mails earlier this year.
Laforet said FOI requests by his group have produced “1,200 pages of embarrassment” for the government of Premier Dalton McGuinty. Between now and the Oct. 6 provincial election, the coalition plans to release more damaging memos it has obtained, he said.
“We want Ontarians to know that this multi-billion-dollar program is based on absolute lies,” Laforet said, adding that some of the documents will be released in “vulnerable Liberal ridings” to encourage voters to punish incumbents.
Industrial wind turbines, which have proliferated in Ontario thanks to the government’s green energy agenda, have emerged as a wedge election issue in rural parts of the province. Some who live near wind farms say the turbines are affecting their health, their property values and their enjoyment of their surroundings.
In his memo, Hall says Ontario’s current minimum setback for turbines was based on the assumption that the “sound contamination” they emit does not have a “tonal quality or a cyclic variation quality.”
But that “is not supported by our field observations,” he writes. Ministry officers at the Melancthon Ecopower Centre wind plant have confirmed residents’ complaints that the turbines produce a “blade swoosh” sound.
According to a 2008 ministry guideline, such sounds should trigger a five-decibel “penalty,” the memo notes, reducing the allowable maximum to 35 decibels. To take account of measurement errors, that should be further reduced to between 30 and 32 decibels, it says.
But Rose said the ministry already regularly applies a five-decibel penalty for any project with a transformer.
Hall’s memo also says the sound level limits used to establish the 550-metre setback “fail to recognize the potential quietness of some rural areas. As a consequence, meeting the minimum sound level limits may still result in significant sound contamination levels intruding into the rural environment.”
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: The high number of turbine related bat kills in Pennsylvania continue to make headlines. But here's the real news: according to the most recent post-construction mortality studies, the number of bats being killed by turbines in our state is twice as high as the mortality rate in Pennslyvania. Wisconsin's wind turbine bat kill rate is the highest in North America, over ten times the national average. The numbers are not sustainable. So what is being done about it? As far as Better Plan can tell, the answer is nothing. Nothing at all. No environmental group has stepped in and the media seems to be disinterested.
WIND TURBINES COULD HAVE DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES
SOURCE: The Daily American, www.dailyamerican.com
August 15, 2011
By JACK BUCHAN
In an article published Aug. 3, (The Wind industry is doing all it can to protect birds and bats), Stu Webster of wind turbine developer Iberdrola Renewables shamefully attempts to legitimize the wind industry’s blanket extermination of bat populations across Pennsylvania.
When built on our forested ridge tops, wind turbines attract and kill bats by the tens of thousands. The Pennsylvania Game Commission recently issued a report that found:
o Bats are killed by a condition called barotrauma. Lights on turbines attract insects, which in turn attract bats which fly close to the blades, where they experience a rapid drop in air pressure, causing their lungs to burst.
o 420 wind turbines in Pennsylvania killed more than 10,000 bats last year – an average of 25 bats per turbine. This number is low because only about 30 percent of the carcasses under a turbine are recovered for counting.
o Bats are an extremely important Keystone species, as they control bug populations. As bat populations go down, bug populations go up and farmers must apply more pesticides. One bat will consume as many as 500 insects in one hour, or nearly 3,000 insects in one night. A colony of just 100 bats may consume a quarter of a million mosquitoes and other small insects in a night. If one turbine kills 25 bats in a year, that means one turbine accounted for about 17 million uneaten bugs in 2010.
o If bat populations are reduced, additional chemical pesticides will be dumped into our environment.
These facts are undisputable, yet wind developers persist in trying to build turbines in the middle of prime bat habitat where entire populations will be destroyed. The short-sighted callous disregard and irresponsibility shown by the wind industry is appalling.
Iberdrola’s sidekick, Gamesa, continues with its efforts to build 30 turbines on Shaffer Mountain in the middle of a maternity colony of the critically endangered Indiana bat. This maternity colony will be wiped out should the turbines go in. To show you just how Gamesa is “doing all it can to protect birds and bats,” they have applied for a permit with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to allow them to kill this endangered animal that is protected by the Endangered Species Act.
They are “so concerned” about the Indiana bat that they continue with their attempts to circumvent the Endangered Species Act so they can build turbines that will exterminate this maternity colony of a critically endangered species.
Voluntarily working with state agencies to monitor and study bat mortality from turbines does absolutely nothing to save critically impacted bat populations from decimation. While the Pennsylvania Game Commission requires bat surveys before and after turbines are built and wildlife authorities require mitigation efforts – bats still die.
The typical pattern in Pennsylvania has been for the developer to promise all sorts of mitigation efforts before construction. The Department of Environmental Protection grants permits, the project is built and horrendous bat mortality occurs in spite of the best mitigation efforts of the developer.
Once turbines are built, nothing effective can be done to stop the killing.
The wind industry lives in a world of taxpayer subsidies, government mandates, tax credits and regulatory preferences. It does not have to make money to survive.
Wind turbines generate only about 25 percent of the electricity claimed by developers. As a result, turbines built on the Allegheny Plateau, where winds are light and variable, are not economically viable. Sixty-five percent of the cost of a $3 million wind turbine is eventually paid by taxpayers because wind turbines cannot generate enough electricity to pay for themselves.
In addition, school districts in some of the poorest locales in Pennsylvania are denied tax dollars because wind turbines are exempt from paying school taxes. That’s right, the most expensive real estate in the county pays zero school taxes, while the burden is shifted to individual property owners, many of which are retired or on fixed incomes.
In times like these when school funding is being cut, federal and state governments and school districts are broke, and people are finding it harder to make ends meet – our tax dollars are being wasted to support an industry that can’t make it on its own. And when there are no more tax dollars to hand out, our government borrows, plunging our country deeper into debt to subsidize an industry that may be the greatest scam of our age.
In the end, if wind development is allowed to continue on our forested ridge tops, wasted tax dollars and millions of dead bats will be the least of our worries. Our children and grandchildren will be left the legacy of higher cancer and birth defect rates caused by the dumping of millions of tons of additional chemical pesticides into their environment – pesticides that will be required to produce the food they eat when bat populations are decimated.