Entries in wind farm contract (66)
WINDFALL" DIRECTOR LAURA ISRAEL UNCOVERS THE DARK SIDE OF ALTERNATIVE ENERGY
September 10, 2010
By Katey Rich
Laura Israel had been working for as a film editor for decades when the subject that inspired her to direct her first film quite literally showed up on her doorstep.
The New York-based filmmaker had spent years going up to a cabin in remote Meredith, New York without getting to know her neighbors, but when several people in town signed contracts allowing an industrial company to place wind turbines on their property, and several others opposed it, Israel found herself caught in a local political issue that resonated across the country.
The resulting documentary is Windfall, which premieres this week at the Toronto International Film Festival.
In telling the story of Meredith Israel explores the largely hidden downside of allowing wind energy corporations to stake out land in American communities, installing 400-foot high wind turbines so near peoples' homes that residents complain of headaches and respiratory problems, not to mention the diminished property values and general noise of a giant turbine so near one's home.
As the residents in Meredith duke out their concerns at town hall meetings, Israel and her crew also take us to neighboring Tug Hill, where dozens of wind turbines have already changed that small town forever.
Israel doesn't claim to have all the answers about alternative energy and how to reduce our dependence on oil, but says that with Windfall she wants to inspire people to ask questions and look beyond the easy equation that "wind energy= clean energy= good."
I talked to Israel about what inspired her to tell the story, how she's been in touch with other communities also looking for more answers about wind energy, and how making this film got her more involved with her neighbors than she previously expected. Windfall premieres this Friday, September 10th at TIFF. [Toronto Interational Film Festival]
How did this story wind up coming to you? It's obvious you feel passionately about it.
I actually own a little cabin in the woods up in Meredith. I started reading little articles in the local paper there, just mentioning "when the wind energy comes," or "when we get turbines."
I decided, oh, I would love to have a wind turbine. I started looking into it a little further, and I was really taken aback by what I found.
Because of the complexities of the issues, I thought it would make a good topic for a short film. When we started filming I realized it was much bigger topic than I thought.
Did you know most of the people we see in this movie before you started making the film?
No. I had this cabin and I went there to just be alone. When they started to raise concerns, I thought "They seem like perfectly reasonable people. "
If that's the case, and they're also raising concerns about it, there must be more of the story. Once we start looking into it, wind energy has so many different facets-- the financial, the political, the engineering. The film started to get longer.
When you start making the film, you can't participate in the issue the way you would have. How did you adjust to that?
The thing is, the issue really changed a lot. I really tried to keep the whole film from the town's point of view. We find out about things as they find out about things. That's how it happened.
The people speaking in favor of wind energy are all people based on the local level, and you don't have anyone from the wind companies themselves. Was that a deliberate choice?
Because I did it from the town's point of view, if you notice, there are no wind companies at the meetings answering questions.
That's one of the reasons why the wind people aren't in the film. They get contracts, and all of a sudden they are really scarce, and I wanted to represent that in the film, their absence.
The film isn't an expose about wind, it's more like the experience of the town. People who live among turbines are trying to get the word out about problems they're having, and I wanted to give voice to them, rather than the wind companies.
It looks like you've been in touch with a lot of people in other cities dealing with wind.
Yeah, even after we just put up the website and the trailer, I started to get a lot of requests for the film. I felt really motivated to get the film out to Toronto, and out to communities that want more information. I have been approached by quite a few people. People have been telling me their stories, and it's very moving.
Do you have a particular favorite alternative energy solution, as a viable solution that isn't industrial wind power?
I don't think the answer is going to be simple. It's something that we as a larger community have to work out the same way that Meredith did, which is really sitting down and trying to figure out, well, how are we going to negotiate something like that.
A lot of people would like to think that this is the answer, let's just do this. I think it's going to be a lot more difficult than that.
Communities being able to decide their future, and decide how they can get power instead of centralizing it among all these really big international corporations-- personally I would rather see that. I think it's something that we all have to decide and try and work toward.
Is it valid to say that wind is the lesser of the evils for energy sources?
I don't want to lull people into thinking that I have all the answers, or that the film is going to give them all the answers. I'm just trying to ask people to look closer at it. Gordon says in the film, "Ask questions, do your homework."
I also think there's a bit of corporate accountability that should be brought up here. If people are having trouble living near these things, do some studies.
There are lot of people having trouble living near the low-frequency sound, and I think they're being ignored.
And if wind turbines are killing bats in really large numbers, then let's study that.
In towns, residents shouldn't be intimidated by these corporations when they want to come in and do the development.
Public officials who have a financial interest should not be making decisions on turbines. People should have unbiased information available to them so they can be part of the process of the future of their communities.
9/2/10 Show me the safety net: PSC commissioner Lauren Azar's letter to legislators AND Show me the green jobs: Wisconsin wind employment figures wither under scrutiny AND What to expect when you're expecting 497 foot tall turbines: Construction begins on Wind Siting Council Member Bill Rakocy's new wind farm AND a letter from Maine that could be from Wisconsin
Wind turbines on a Wisconsin Farm
While I support the overall rule because it will promote the development of wind in Wisconsin, the rule fails to provide a much-needed safety net for people whose health declines because of a Wind Turbine located near their home.
-PSC Commissioner Lauren Azar
SOURCE: PSC DOCKET # 1-AC-231
From PSC commissioner Lauren Azar
To The Honorable Fred Risser The Honorable Michael Sheridan
The State Senate The State Assembly
State Capitol, Room 220 South State Capitol, Room 211 West
Madison, WI 53702 Madison, WI 53702
Re:Wind Siting Rules, Clearinghouse Rule 10-057
Dear Senate President Risser and Speaker Sheridan:
I write to explain my concurrence with the Commission’s rule on the siting of certain wind energy systems (Wind Turbines) in Wisconsin.
While I support the overall rule because it will promote the development of wind in Wisconsin, the rule fails to provide a much-needed safety net for people whose health declines because of a Wind Turbine located near their home.
The safety net I propose would be a minimal burden to wind developers while simultaneously protecting Wisconsin citizens who are sensitive to the noise emitted from Wind Turbines.
Among other things, 2009 Wisconsin Act 40 requires the Commission to develop rules that “provide reasonable protection from any health affects” associated with Wind Turbines. Wis. Stat. § 196.378(4g)(b).
There is substantial evidence that noise from Wind Turbines could negatively impact the health of a small percentage of the population.
To better ensure compliance with Act 40’s mandate, I proposed the following safety net: under limited circumstances, the owner of a Wind Turbine must purchase, at fair market value, the home of someone who can prove that a nearby Wind Turbine is directly causing a significant adverse health outcome. 
Unfortunately, at this time, we cannot accurately identify the precise line between safe levels of noise from Wind Turbines and those levels that will negatively affect human health.
Nor do we know why a small percentage of the population is affected more negatively by Wind Turbines than the rest of the population.
As new information becomes available, the Commission can revise this rule.
While more study is needed to better understand the full health impacts of Wind Turbines, it is important that we establish some remedy for the people who can prove that their health is being compromised by nearby Wind Turbines before the Commission has an opportunity to revise this rule.
To be clear, this safety net does not include awarding damages to the injured party; instead, it allows the injured party to move quickly from the area, thereby abating health concerns.
The safety net would be limited to landowners who provide evidence (in the form of a certification) from a licensed Wisconsin medical doctor that one or more Wind Turbines have directly caused a significant adverse health outcome on the injured party.
The only impact to the owner of the Wind Turbine(s) would be the need to resell the house.
Hence, the proposed safety net would not be an onerous requirement on the Wind Turbine owner and should not hamper wind development in Wisconsin.
The safety net could be structured as follows:
“PSC 128.XX Individual Hardships. If the owner of a nonparticipating residence experiences adverse health outcomes that are shown to be the direct result of the operation of a wind energy system, the owner of the nonparticipating residence may petition the political subdivision for mitigation of the adverse health outcomes.
The petition for mitigation shall be referred to the Commission, which may order mitigation of the adverse health outcomes.
A medical doctor licensed in the State of Wisconsin shall attest that that one or more wind turbine(s) have caused a significant adverse health outcome on the injured party before any relief may be granted under this section.
Mitigation may include requiring the owner of the wind energy system to purchase the nonparticipating residence at fair market value.
Note: The Wind Siting Council may make recommendations with respect to the form and type of information that is required to show that adverse health outcomes are the direct result of the operation of a wind energy system.
Absent a safety net provision like this, it is unclear how an injured party could obtain mitigation of adverse health outcomes from a Wind Turbine owner.
If they are unable to sell their property for fair market value, injured parties would be forced to file suit against the owner of a Wind Turbine.
This could require the injured party to incur significant legal costs that are not recoverable in a lawsuit and may dwarf the value of the home.
The State of Wisconsin should not place its citizens in this position.
In conclusion, while I concur with the rule as a package, I remain concerned that this rule fails to protect the most vulnerable of our community and, therefore, I must qualify my support of this important rule. When this rule is referred to the appropriate standing committees, please forward a copy of this letter with the rule.
 The operation of this safety net proposal is not unprecedented. The Commission recently identified that the purchase of property at fair market value was a potential remedy for two landowners affected by a large wind energy development. Because the two landowners had a significant number of Wind Turbines within view from their homes, the Commission required mitigation, including the possibility that the utility purchase the properties at fair market value. The utility did not object to this potential remedy and has since purchased the properties.
In Wisconsin, Facts About ‘Green Job’ Creation Elusive as the Wind
SOURCE MacIver News Service | September 1, 2010
By Bill Osmulski
MacIver News Service Investigative Reporter
[Madison, Wisc...] Although they are touted and promoted by policy makers and opinion leaders across the state, accurately defining and keeping track of ‘green jobs’ has proven nearly impossible in Wisconsin.
Take, for example, ‘green jobs’ associated with the wind industry.
Wisc. Governor JimDoyle (D)
“Clean energy technology and high-end manufacturing are Wisconsin’s future,” Governor Jim Doyle said in his final State of the State address. “We have more than 300 companies and thousands of jobs in the wind industry.”
That statistic is impossible to verify.
The State of Wisconsin does not track those companies nor the jobs within the industry.
When contacted, the Office of Energy Independence (an agency created by Governor Doyle in 2007) directed MacIver News to Wisconsin Wind Works, a self-described “consortium of manufacturers representing the wind manufacturing supply chain within Wisconsin.”
The advocacy group maintains an online wind energy-related supply chain database, although a routine examination of the data proved just how unreliable the figures are.
When the online, searchable database was utilized earlier this summer, it listed 340 companies in Wisconsin connected to the wind industry, a fact which, without additional investigation would appear to be in line with the Governor’s statement.
However, further examination showed many of those companies were not currently serving the wind industry and were only listed because they someday could serve the wind industry.
For example, the database listed 38 manufacturers, but only 24 of them have anything to actually do with the wind energy sector presently.
Of those 24 Wisconsin manufacturers, only eight were categorized as primary suppliers.
Another four companies were listed as both primary and secondary suppliers. A MacIver News Service reporter contacted all eight primary suppliers and the four companies listed as primary/secondary suppliers in our initial query and what we found further eroded the credibility of Governor Doyle’s claims.
When contacted, the companies listed as both primary and secondary suppliers all described themselves merely as secondary suppliers. That means they produce products that are not exclusive to the wind energy.
For example, Bushman Equipment manufactures lifts that move heavy pieces of equipment, which, among many other uses, can be used to handle wind turbines.
Wisconsin Wind Works’ database is not only generous with the number of companies within their supply chain it associates as being primary suppliers, there are issues with the actual job numbers listed for each company as well.
Many of the figures are either inflated, the jobs are not located in Wisconsin, or they cannot be tied to wind energy.
For example, Rexnord Industries was one of the eight Wisconsin manufacturers listed in our query as directly serving the wind energy industry. The database shows the company has 6,000 employees.
Yet a Rexnord official told the MacIver News Service that the company only has 1,500 employees in Wisconsin, and only five of those have jobs which are directly tied to the wind industry.
Wisconsin Wind Works’ database says Orchid International has 600 employees, but a company spokesperson told MacIver it only has 150.
Amsoil Inc. in Superior has 236 employees listed in the Wisconsin Wind Works database, but a company representative told the MacIver News Service that only 6 of them work on wind energy-related products.
In all, at the time of our search, the database claimed 7,632 jobs among the eight manufacturers that were current primary suppliers to the wind industry. Yet, the MacIver News Service was only able to identify 31 jobs at those companies which were specifically tied to wind energy related products.
Manufacturers told MacIver News that other employees might work on wind-related products occasionally, but it does not represent the bulk of their workload.
Another 1,077 workers are listed among the secondary suppliers and we did not investigate that claim.
VAL-FAB, one of the companies listed as both a primary and secondary supplier, explained to MacIver News that it initially had high hopes for the wind energy industry that never materialized. The company specializes in fabrication for the energy sector.
William Capelle, Director of Business Development at VAL-FAB, said “At first we thought we might be able to manufacture the actual towers, but it turns out 90 percent of those are imported from Spain.”
Since the MacIver News Service first examined the Wisconsin Wind Works database, the number of companies listed has increased to 360.
A reporter attempted to contact the organization for comment about the veracity of their data, but Wisconsin wind Works, which solicits members by selling itself as the
“preferred partner of wind energy professionals,” did not respond.
They are, however, holding a Wind Energy Symposium in Milwaukee on October 13th.
Meanwhile the Office of Energy Independence continues to pursue the Doyle Administration’s green energy policies.
As Doyle said during his final State of the State address, “anyone who says there aren’t jobs in the clean energy economy had better open their eyes.”
There is no doubt that some jobs in the wind industry exist in Wisconsin. The accurate number of these ‘green jobs’ is proving to be, at best, elusive
Representatives of Doyle’s office did not respond to repeated request for comments regarding the information contained within this article.
What to expect when you're expecting wind turbines close to 500 feet tall:
Photos from the Town of Glenmore in Brown County Wisconsin
Construction underway on Brown Co. wind farm
8 turbines in Town of Glenmore
TOWN OF GLENMORE - Construction is underway on Brown County's first industrial wind farm. Eight wind turbines are being built in the Town of Glenmore in southern Brown County.
The developer, Wisconsin-based CH Shirley Wind, LLC, says construction is to be completed by the end of the year. The 8 wind turbines are expected to generate enough power to supply approximately 8,000 homes per year.
The wind turbines will stand 492 feet tall.
"We are hoping to generate power by the end of September on at least one turbine. Hopefully all 8 by the end of October," said John Roberts, the construction manager for the project.
The turbines will also provide some extra income for the four families hosting them on their properties.
"They're not just doing it for the money. They like the idea of being green and using their farm for something like this," said Roberts.
Though, like most wind developments, a number of neighbors aren't too happy with the project.
"The projects right now, with the setback rules we have, are just too close for people to live in that proximity to an electrical generator of that size," said Jamie Fletcher, who lives in the Town of Glenmore.
Fletcher has been working to stop all large-scale wind development in southern Brown County. She believes wind turbines cause health problems, mainly from all the noise they make.
"Insomnia, shadow flickers, causing everything from nauseasness to epileptic seizures and I don't want to put my family through that or my animals," said Fletcher.
However, a state committee that studied the issue recently found no health effects from the turbines. Those working on the project in Glenmore also say the turbines being built there have new technology that make them less noisy.
"They're a little bit higher and they turn a little bit slower and because they turn slower, there is actually less noise," said Roberts.
The Shirley Wind project is not part of a highly publicized proposal to build 100 wind turbines in several Brown County communities. That proposal, known as the Ledge Wind Energy Project, has not been voted on yet by the state Public Service Commission. It is being developed by a Chicago-based company called Invenergy.
Opponents, like Jamie Fletcher, say the 8 turbine project in Glenmore will be an example of why other projects should be stopped.
"Whatever happens out here, I pray it's a wake-up call for the rest of the state," she said.
Both sides will continue to debate whether wind development is what is best for Wisconsin.
THIRD FEATURE: A LETTER FROM MAINE:
Note: Like Wisconsin, Maine also passed law that streamlines wind siting for developers by removing local control and relaxing restrictions. Here is what Maine residents are saying two years later:
Though I’d suspected the news would eventually arrive, I still wasn’t ready when I got it.
Word came recently that a wind speed test tower, the harbinger of a future wind turbine development, would soon be erected just north of my property in Lexington Township.
Two more associated towers are to be located in Concord, the next township to the east.
My town is now among the unfortunate that have been infected with the virus of wind-energy sprawl. Industry activity, lately, has been substantial in our area and our town lies within the new expedited permitting zone. It was bound to happen.
I’ve been working to stop wind-sprawl on Maine’s rural landscape for almost a year.
However, until now, I’ve not known the full complement of the frustration, indignation and betrayal felt by so many Mainers seeing their lives turned upside down by the reckless and uncaring intrusion of this industry on their homes and property — all with the complicity of our state government.
I have worked beside many of these people for months, but only now do I fully understand their perspective.
My wife and I believed we’d spend the rest of our days in Lexington, living simply, and feeling fortunate to be surrounded by Maine’s unique beauty and the increasingly rare silence of a rural land.
The governor and Legislature, however, sealed our fate in 2008 when they gifted the wind industry with easy permitting terms for a scheme that is unlikely to produce benefits greater than what will be stolen from present and future generations.
Under the new laws, property owners have been left with little power to protect themselves. I will, nevertheless, continue to fight this industry’s assault on rural Maine, perhaps, with a keener awareness of what we stand to lose.
9/1/10 Sow the wind turbine, reap the crop damage AND...Wind Action Asks the hard Question: How compatible are wind farms and agriculture? AND Wind Turbines in the News AND A new understanding about wind turbine noise AND A letter from a participating wind project landowner from Columbia County to landowners in Brown County
Construction begins on what will be the tallest wind turbines in the state. Town of Glenmore, Brown County Wisconsin. More photos throughout this post.
Below is A letter from a participating landowner in the Glacier Hills project which is under construction in Columbia County. He address it to Brown County landowners in an area where Invenergy wants to site a large project called "Ledge Wind"
To the landowners in the Ledge Wind Project:
If you believe wind turbines are a good fit for a farm operation, a free source of clean energy, and a benefit to your community, I invite you to come to the Glacier Hills Project and witness the total devastation occuring during construction.
Seeing firsthand what is happening here would turn any responsible landowner's stomach.
Heavy rains have created erosion that will take years to repair.
The number of huge construction equipment and trucks burning fuel is staggering.
Good productive farmland is being ripped apart, and will never be the same.
The level of disgust is even affecting the most loyal supporters of this project.
Hatred of this project is growing worse as each day passes, and we will be forced to live with this for the rest of our lives, all because a few irresponsible landowners, myself included, were taken in by wind developers lies.
All this for chump change.
Is wind "farming" compatible with agriculture?
August 25, 2010
Wind Turbines in the News
For the latest national and international wind news visit
This motion, in calling for a study on the human health effects of wind turbines, would create a new policy and could potentially call into question some of the party's policies on significantly increasing the amount of energy produced through wind turbines.Motion Preamble:
WHEREAS the Green Party of Canada recognizes the vast potential for wind energy in Canada;
WHEREAS the Green Party of Canada with the Canadian Wind Energy Association has set goals for Canadian wind energy generation;
WHEREAS many citizens in communities with wind turbines claim to be experiencing sleep deprivation, headaches, and heart complications related to wind turbines;
WHEREAS one of the largest obstacles preventing accelerated wind energy development is resistance from citizens near planned turbine sites;
WHEREAS the largest investment Canadians make, their home, is affected as much by real health risks as perceived ones;
WHEREAS many provincial governments have compromised their objectivity with respect to wind energy development;
WHEREAS the Green Party of Canada considers healthy people and healthy communities as necessary for a strong Canada;Motion Operative:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Green Party of Canada seeks to have Health Canada initiate an epidemiological study on the human health effects of wind turbines in the interests of public health and safety.
Dong giving up on land-based turbines
Mass protests mean the
energy firm will look offshore
September 1, 2010
State-owned energy firm Dong Energy has given up building more wind farms on Danish land, following protests from residents complaining about the noise the turbines make.
It had been Dong and the government’s plan that 500 large turbines be built on land over the coming 10 years, as part of a large-scale national energy plan. This plan has hit a serious stumbling block, though, due to many protests, and the firm has now given up building any more wind farms on land.
SOURCE, ” On the Level: Quarterly Newsletter of the Vestibular Disorders Association (Summer 2010, p. 9)“Wind Turbines Can Affect Inner Ear Function,
Scientists have determined how infrasound from wind turbines may influence inner ear function.
An increasing number of people living near wind turbines report a group of symptoms termed “wind turbine syndrome” that include sleeplessness, dizziness, fatigue, ear pain and pressure, difficulty concentrating, and headache.
Up until now, many scientists who study hearing claimed that noise from wind turbines couldn’t be harmful because it occurred at a frequency too low for most people to hear.
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri successfully challenged this conventional wisdom that “what you can’t hear won’t hurt you.” They noted that one type of inner-ear sensory cell behaves differently when encountering infrasound.
Usually these cells respond to sound by contracting and expanding proteins within their walls, amplifying vibrations, which in turn stimulate other sensory cells to send electrical signals about sound to the brain. However, the proteins do not respond in the same way to infrasound and instead actively prevent stimulation of the cells that transmit sound signals.
So, while the brain may not receive information about sound, a physiological response to infrasound has occurred in both the cochlea and the other sensory structures in the inner ear such as the saccule, possibly explaining the unfamiliar sensations experienced by some people.
8/31/10 ESCAPE FROM WISCONSIN: New PSC wind rules: Non participating homeowners setback: Forty story turbine 1240 feet from your house, 440 feet from property line, 50/45 dbA allowable noise, 30 hours allowable shadow flicker. Hope you like it!
Bucky can you hear me?
New PSC wind rules: Non participating homeowners setback: Forty story turbine 1240 feet from your house, 440 feet from property line, 50/45 dbA allowable noise, 30 hours allowable shadow flicker, hush money option for those living within half mile.
SOURCE: PSC PRESS RELEASE at wisbusiness.com
PSC: Finalizes wind siting rules
Contact: Teresa Weidemann-Smith, (608) 266-9600
Uniform Standards Head to the Legislature
MADISON - The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (Commission) today finished its work on administrative rules governing the siting of wind turbines in Wisconsin. The rules were drafted in response to 2009 Wisconsin Act 40, recently-enacted legislation directing the Commission to promulgate rules that specify the restrictions local units of government may impose on the installation or use of wind energy systems.
“I am happy to have these rules completed,” said Commission Chairperson Eric Callisto. “Establishing clear and consistent siting standards is critical to removing the confusion that currently surrounds non-utility wind projects in Wisconsin.”
The Commission’s rules will function as a uniform ceiling of standards to guide the local regulation of wind siting, operation, and decommissioning for projects less than 100 megawatts in generating capacity. The rules specify how a political subdivision can establish setback requirements, noise and shadow flicker standards, and mechanisms that give non-participating landowners a stake in wind energy projects sited in their area. The rules include the following provisions:
Notice Requirements. At least 90 days before filing an application, the wind energy system owner must give notice to landowners within one mile of proposed wind turbine locations.
Noise Performance Standards. A political subdivision can require wind energy systems to be sited and operated in a manner that does not exceed 45 dBA during nighttime hours and 50 dBA during daytime hours. Noise limits will be measured from the outside wall of non-participating residences and occupied community buildings.
Shadow Flicker Performance Standards. A political subdivision can require wind energy systems to be sited and operated in a manner that does not cause more than 30 hours per year of shadow flicker for non-participating residences or occupied community buildings. If a wind energy system causes more than 20 hours per year of shadow flicker, a political subdivision can require the wind energy system owner to install mitigation measures for affected landowners, at the expense of the wind turbine owner.
Setbacks. A political subdivision can impose minimum safety setbacks of 1.1 times the maximum blade tip height of a wind turbine for participating residences, non-participating property lines, public road rights-of-way, and overhead communication and electric transmission or distribution lines. Setbacks of up to 3.1 times the maximum blade tip height of a wind turbine may be established for nonparticipating residences and occupied community buildings.
Good Neighbor Payments. The rules allow local units of government to require wind energy system owners to provide monetary compensation to non-participating landowners located within one-half mile of a wind turbine site. A political subdivision may not require these payments for non-participating landowners to exceed 25% of the payments being made to a landowner hosting a wind turbine in the project.
Complaint Resolution. The rules establish complaint resolution requirements for wind energy system owners, and a process for requesting political subdivision review of unresolved complaints. A political subdivision’s decision on review of a complaint is appealable to the Commission.
The Commission’s action today caps off six months of intense work in developing uniform wind siting rules for Wisconsin. As part of its process, the Commission established a 15-member Wind Siting Council, which, after months of deliberations, submitted its recommendations to the Commission earlier this month. The Commission also held public hearings earlier this summer in Fond du Lac, Tomah, and Madison, and accepted over 1800 public comments into the record. The Commission’s rules now head to the Legislature, where the presiding officer of each house will have 10 days to refer the rules to a standing committee for review.
PSC Sets new rules for wind farms
SOURCE: Green Bay Press-Gazette, www.greenbaypressgazette.com
August 31, 2010
By Tony Walter
Wind turbine siting rules approved Monday by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission likely will have little impact on a Chicago-based company’s attempts to build a 100-turbine wind farm in southern Brown County.
The PSC established guidelines for local governments to set restrictions on projects less than 100 megawatts in generating capacity.
However, the Ledge Wind project proposed by Invenergy LLC in the towns of Morrison, Holland, Glenmore and Wrightstown would exceed 100 megawatts. The company submitted its application to the PSC last year but was told to make some changes.
Invenergy officials have said they would wait for the new siting rules before resubmitting their application because they believed the rules might affect their project. Kevin Parzyck, project manager for the Ledge Wind farm, was not available for comment Monday.
The new rules could affect other wind turbine expansion in Brown County.
The rules require wind energy system owners to give 90 days notice about the filing of their turbine proposal to landowners within 1 mile of a proposed location.
The rules would also allow local governments to limit wind farms to not be louder than 45 decibels during nighttime hours and 50 decibels during daytime hours. Normal conversation and background radio noise is rated at 45 decibels. The noise limits will be measured from the outside wall of nonparticipating residences and occupied community buildings.
The rules also let local governments require wind energy system owners to provide monetary compensation to landowners who won’t have turbines on their property but are located within one-half mile of a site. Local officials may not require these payments for nonparticipating landowners to exceed 25 percent of the payments being made to a landowner hosting a wind turbine in the project.
Although the wind farm proposal for southern Brown County wouldn’t be affected by the new rules, Invenergy expects to resubmit its application soon. Invenergy’s efforts to build the wind farm are being opposed by a citizen’s group, Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy, that claims Invenergy’s plan poses a health risk to property owners nearby.
A representative from the group could not be reached for comment on Monday.
The Wisconsin Legislature enacted a law in 2009 that directed the PSC to come up with rules to guide local municipalities in their control projects less than 100 megawatts. A Wind Siting Council was appointed to draft the rules, which the PSC approved on Monday.
The Legislature can send the issue back to the PSC for changes or it can accept the commission’s decision by taking no action.
PSC REGULATORS VOTE TO ADOPT WIND STANDARDS
SOURCE Journal Sentinel, www.jsonline.com
August 30 2010
By Thomas Content
State energy regulators completed work Monday on rules that would restrict the location of wind turbines in Wisconsin.
The Public Service Commission voted 3-0 to adopt standards for noise and shadow flicker, and opted to allow local governments to require “good neighbor payments” to residents who live within one-half mile of a wind turbine but aren’t hosting a turbine on their land.
Commissioners have grappled with details of the rules during a series of meetings over the past few weeks, as the agency scrambled to complete the rules by the end of August. The rules are now being submitted to the state Legislature for review.
At Monday’s meeting, commissioners Mark Meyer and Lauren Azar supported a more stringent safety setback for wind turbines than had been proposed by the commission’s wind siting advisory council. PSC Chairman Eric Callisto said performance standards adopted in the rules meant that a more stringent setback wasn’t required. But Azar argued for a bigger safety setback because it is unclear how well the new performance standards will work.
“What we’re going to see is the loss of some quality land for reasonable projects that, if you followed the (performance) standards, would otherwise be safe,” Callisto said.
In a law passed earlier this year, the Legislature asked the commission to develop the standards that would eliminate a patchwork of regulations and wind-power bans that some counties have passed.
Callisto said in a statement after the meeting that he was pleased the commission has adopted the rules.
“Establishing clear and consistent siting standards is critical to removing the confusion that currently surrounds non-utility wind projects in Wisconsin,” he said.
The rules were controversial because of the tension between wind developers and property owners concerned about shadow flicker, noise and other effects caused by turbines.
The “good neighbor payments” and other restrictions will help address some of the tension, said Dan Ebert, chairman of the wind siting advisory council.
“For non-participating landowners, it’s this sense of loss of control, the sense of decisions being made without considering them, that has resulted in a lot of controversy,” he said. Giving those landowners “a stake in the project so that they will ultimately see some of the direct benefits will go a long way to reducing the controversy.”
The safety setback established by the commission would be 3.1 times the maximum height of a blade. That would be equivalent to the setbacks imposed by the commission when it endorsed the We Energies Glacier Hills wind farm in Columbia County.
The rules adopted govern smaller wind farms. Utility-scale wind farms remain under review under a separate process.
WANT MORE? WIND TURBINES IN THE NEWS:
After investing one billion dollars, John Deere is quitting wind business:
Deere said in February it was reviewing options for John Deere Renewables. It has invested $1 billion over the past five years in the financing, development and ownership of wind energy projects.
On Tuesday, Deere said the deal will allow it to get back to what it does best, which is manufacturing farm equipment.
8/29/10 A letter from Vinalhaven, the "success story" touted at wind siting council meeting AND Maple Leafs and Badgers face the same policy when it comes to wind farm complaints: Review the existing literature and ignore the people who are suffering
I am one of the neighbors of the Vinalhaven wind turbines, misled by turbine supporters in 2008 and 2009 that "ambient sounds would mask the noise of the turbines." As I write these words, the noise from the wind turbines churns in the background.
My home is 3,000 feet from the turbines, and my experience is contrary to all the assertions that were made during the permitting process a few years ago. At this hour of the morning, it should be peaceful outside, the quiet interrupted only by the calling crows or osprey circling.
Some locals dismiss the noise complaints, saying that Vinalhaven had a diesel power plant for years. But to live near excessive noise is not the reason I chose to own property here. Also, as I have become familiar with wind turbine noise, it is more and more clear that there is a fundamental difference between turbine noise and other forms of industrial disturbances. Here, it is not just the constant noise, but the pulsing drone that makes the noise particularly hostile that is so disturbing. It is inescapable.
At a recent public hearing on Vinalhaven on turbine noise sponsored by the Island Institute, one neighbor - at the point of tears - said that she had been forced from her house when her chest began vibrating at the same syncopation as the turbines outside.
At that hearing I said I supported wind energy so long as the economic advantages to ratepayers were clear and so long as surrounding property values were not affected. The jury is out on the first point, but not on the second. The constant noise from the turbines, even at 3,000 feet, has taken away a valuable part of my investment and a key part of my family's well-being.
I never imagined my first waking thought would be: where is the wind blowing and how much noise are the wind turbines making now? But that is what happens in this formerly quiet, beautiful place.
At the public meeting in Vinalhaven, I asked a question: when would the natural quiet be restored and when would my property values be protected? There was no answer from the project supporters.
Neighbors' complaints about turbine noise rose immediately after the three, 1.5 megawatt GE turbines were turned on, last fall. A year after the Vinalhaven turbines were greeted with wide public acclaim, the turbine neighbors find themselves, through no fault of their own, in an extraordinarily difficult and expensive effort to demonstrate that the wind turbines do exceed state regulations.
The cost of wind turbines has been shifted onto neighbors who never imagined these kinds of burdens when the benefits of wind energy were sold to the public. It is wrong and it is unfair to impose both the noise and the uncertainty of resolution - or if there will ever be resolution - on a few nearby homeowners.
These inequities are predictable. They will multiply wherever wind turbines are placed within a mile-and-a-half of residences, and under the State of Maine's archaic noise regulations.
The State of Maine must provide some relief to neighbors of wind turbines. To start, a fund should be established from a utility fee imposed state-wide that allows citizens to access highly technical and expensive noise and acoustic measurement equipment and data and independent experts.
The collateral damage of wind turbines is the assessment of the noise they make. No one in authority admits this, during the permitting process. They say, "The noise will be minor," or "the sound of the wind blowing in the leaves will cover the sound." That is simply not true.
The Vinalhaven neighbors have already spent tens of thousands of dollars to engage the local utility on the matter of measuring the churning noise. The costs are not trivial, but once turbines are erected in your neighborhood, their noise will be affixed to nearby property.
Note from the BPWI Research Nerd: Yesterday, the Greenbay Press Gazette reported that state health officer and administrator for the state’s Division of Public Health, Seth Foldy concluded there were no health concerns associated with living 1250 feet from wind turbines based on his review available scientific literature.
Would his conclusion be the same if he spoke face to face with wind project residents in our state? Unfortunately he doesn't feel this is necessary.
For the time being this scenario is being played out wherever wind projects are sited near homes. People complain about sleeplessness from the noise and headaches and nausea from the shadow flicker and are repeatedly told there is no evidence in the literature to support their experience.
Since no organized study has been done as a result of the many complaints from wind project residents, it's not surprising the available literature doesn't reflect their experiences. If Health Department officials refuse to speak to those who are suffering, it never will.
North of the border, in Ontario, the story is the same. These letters from a former wind project resident to the director of the Public Health Agency of Canada are very much like ones sent to Seth Foldy at the Wisconsin Division of Public Health, and were met with a similar response.
Letter #1: From Barbara Ashbee to Dr. King – January 26th, 2010
Dear Dr. King
I am writing to you today on behalf of residents throughout Ontario, who have become victims suffering adverse health effects from industrial wind turbines being placed too close to their homes.
This issue has been routinely ignored by all ministries involved in renewable energy at all levels of government. My focus is on our provincial government as it is their policy that is forcing harm to people in their own homes. Many people have been so horribly affected that they have had to abandon their homes. Our public health department is the last potential department that I can think of that should be helping us and yet there has still been no assistance. I have never in my lifetime seen anything so disturbing as the way these people are being treated. It is unconscionable.
I understand you have been busy with H1N1 and I respect the overload of work you must be wading through, but I tell you these people that are being affected by wind turbines have been suffering longer than this flu outbreak has been in our midst. They have been routinely ignored and called names by our Ministers, the developers and by the Premier himself. We need help Dr. King and we need it now! These people do not have time to wait for another literature review to be done. There is ample evidence that these people are being harmed and I am getting extremely tired of being pushed off and ignored.
We need these turbines decommissioned now and no new turbines erected until there is a proper 3rd party independant health study completed. How can anyone that is supposed to be looking out for us continue to do their job and ignore this?
These victims have been forced to abandon their homes to live with relatives, have been billeted in motels, forced to pay rent for a safe house, forced to move into trailers and tents and sleep in their cars. What more do you need to acknowledge we have an urgent problem here?
These same people have followed every protocol under very debillitating conditions by contributing to the EBR registry, attending and presenting at the standing committee hearings, attending and speaking at green energy workshops held in the province, attending and speaking at green energy act public input meetings across the province, attending and speaking at 2 Grey-Bruce Public Health open houses in Owen Sound and Walkerton in the presence of Dr. Hazel Lynn, Dr. Ray Copes and the MOE officer. They have written countless letters to the Ministers of Environment, Energy and to the Premier himself. As well as 100′s of messages and requests made to, and through their MPPs and local councils.
Nothing has happened.
I do not know what anyone expects of these people. The depth of distress these people feel by being hurt by the very systems and people that should be helping them, has created an overwhelming sense of injustice and they have lost trust in everyone.
I speak with these people almost daily and I am at a loss as to what to tell them Dr. King.
I await your response.
Barbara Ashbee, RR1 Orangeville
Letter #2: From Barbara Ashbee to Dr. David C. Williams, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health – February 28, 2010
Dear Dr. Williams,
Thank you for your letter dated February 16th in response to my letter to Dr. King, regarding the wind turbine health issues. I appreciate your response but am disappointed when you say you are reviewing existing information. Are you speaking of another literature review? I believe there is enough compelling information that a study on people should be in order.
It is very difficult for me to be pleased with the recent appointment of the research chair from our Ontario government. As I understand it, this gentleman is an electrical engineer with experience in renewable energy technology, but with no expertise in wind turbine technology. He is not a health professional and so to hear you suggest he will “provide expert advice on potential health effects of renewable energy technologies” does not provide any degree of comfort.
Are you able to give me a better time frame of how long these residents must continue to suffer in their own homes without any government support while you are reviewing things? Why aren’t these installations being shut down while this ongoing research is being done?
This imbalance of power is overwhelming, and it is bewildering; why the lack of response from government since they received the very first complaints and why the continuing delays? Canadians expect our health ministries to be responsive to people who are experiencing adverse health effects, especially by a policy forced upon them by their government. Please keep in mind these people are powerless to shut these things off and our Ministry of Environment, who governs these projects, has not been able to monitor, control or assist in any way. The fact that Minister of Environment, John Gerretsen uses the term NIMBY to describe victims is befitting of the attitude from this government. The victims and their families have lost faith and trust, and who could blame them?
The quote below is from just one the many victims.
“I am angry, helpless, and disappointed our government would let something like this happen. I am appalled at their ignorance and lack of compassion. It saddens me to watch my family and friends suffer from the same [health] effects of the turbines. “I spend as much time as I can away from my home, away from my son who is also sleep deprived. We are exhausted and miserable. I often seek refuge with friends, often falling asleep minutes after I arrive. I feel like a gypsy.“What was once a beautiful place to live has been destroyed.”
– Tracy Whitworth, schoolteacher (Clear Creek, Ont.)
The victims need these wind installations decommissioned immediately so they can return to living in a healthy environment in their own homes while the various ministries and “experts” do their research.
If you do not agree with that, then a statement explaining your position is requested.
It is astonishing that our provincial government is proceeding with new wind installations with the knowledge of the adverse health effects associated with them. Perhaps sustainable energy resources are their mandate, but your mandate is to protect and prevent harm to our health. With all due respect, so far I have not seen any evidence of protection or prevention, or this would not continue to carry on as long as it has.
Barbara Ashbee, RR 1, Orangeville, Ontario