Entries in wind farm property value (24)
11/9/11 More photos of field fragmentation in We Energies Columbia County wind project AND Notes on Big Wind votes from around the country.
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: These recent photos of the We Energies wind project in Columbia county were taken by Jim Bembinster. They show how the siting of wind turbines has resulted in field fragmentation. What is not visible in the photos is the severe soil compaction that will affect crops.
THREE RECALLED IN JOYFIELD TOWNSHIP
TRAVERSE CITY — Voters have recalled three Joyfield Township officials they believe are too closely tied to a controversial wind project.
Supervisor Larry Lathwell, Clerk Gary Lathwell, and Treasurer Debra Lindgren have been recalled leaving just two members left on the board.
The trio signed leases with Duke Energy to have turbines placed on their property. and some residents say its a conflict of interest.
The Benzie County Election Commission, which is made up of the county’s clerk, probate judge, and treasurer will now chose an interim board member for the township. That will give them enough officials to vote for new members.
Whoever is chosen will serve until the next election in February 2012.
Wind Turbine Opponents score victories in two township elections.
In Riga Township, residents voted 440 to 236 to uphold an ordinance that wind turbine supporters say effectively bans turbines in the township.
The vote means that the turbine ordinance enacted July 6 by the township board will stay in effect. That ordinance requires turbines to be no less than four times their own height from non-participating properties and also limits noise levels to 40 decibels between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. and 45 decibels between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
In Ogden Township, the candidates backed by wind turbine opponents won the races for township supervisor and township clerk.
Continue reading... Daily Telegram
Ban on large wind turbines approved in Brooksville:
BROOKSVILLE, Maine — Residents here voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to approve a wind power ordinance that likely means the Hancock County town will be off-limits to commercial wind energy facilities....
Additionally, the ordinance adopts noise standards for wind turbines that are stricter than those currently required by the state. Turbines will be prohibited from generating in excess of 35 decibels for any continuous, 5-minute period — except during unusual weather events — as measured from neighboring properties. That standard is also more stringent than new, 42-decibel standards proposed by the Maine Board of Environmental Protection.
Continue reading... bangordailynews.com
Cushing approves new wind turbine ordinance
Cushing — Cushing residents voted Nov. 8 to enact a new town Wind Turbine Ordinance, limiting wind turbines to a maximum of 80 feet tall.
Residents supported the proposed ordinance by a vote of 273 to 181.
Under the ordinance wind turbines that meet the height requirement will be required to meet sound limits at the property lines. These limits will not support large commercial wind turbine installations.
Continue Reading.....Herald Gazette, knox.villagesoup.com
Rumford wind ordinance OK'd
RUMFORD — Third time’s a charm proved true Tuesday when a majority of voters overwhelmingly approved the third proposed wind ordinance in two years.
The tally was 1,137 “yes” to 465 “no,” Town Manager Carlo Puiia said. Fifty ballots were blank, meaning those voters didn’t select either answer.
The vote essentially kills any wind farms coming to Rumford until technology improves or the ordinance gets amended, he said.
Continue reading.....Sun Journal, www.sunjournal.com
New York State:
Hirschey defeats White in Cape Vincent; victory for anti-wind group
Regarding Mr. Hirschey’s plan to pass a moratorium on wind development to create a wind zoning law, Mr. White said that plan would “backfire” on the new town board because wind farm developers are likely to submit another application for the state to consider under the state-controlled Article X, essentially stripping Cape Vincent of home rule.
“I’m not upset,” said Mr. White, who as co-owner of White Farm holds contracts with both the St. Lawrence Wind Farm and the Cape Vincent Wind Farm projects. “I think the people of Cape Vincent will regret this later.”
Continue reading: watertowndailytimes.com
7/4/11 Wind developer brings the community a big surprise: and it's a very bad one AND Battle of Britain: residents driven from their home by turbine noise fight back AND Laying it out Hawaiian style: Why wind power has no Aloha Spirit AND Don't need it, can't use it, don't want it? Too bad, take it we'll sue you.
A TRANSMISSION PROBLEM
READ THE ENTIRE STORY AT THE SOURCE Salina Journal, www.salina.co
By MICHAEL STRAND
“Most of us found out about it when we started seeing stakes in our front yards,”
ELLSWORTH — The first time many property owners heard of plans to build a high-voltage transmission line along their street was when the marker flags and stakes showed up.
And by then, the decision had already been made.
“Most of us found out about it when we started seeing stakes in our front yards,” said Caleb Schultz, one of about 100 people who live along 10th and 11th roads in western Ellsworth County, where Wind Capital Group is planning to build a line to connect a wind farm in the northern part of the county to a power substation in Rice County. Construction is scheduled to start in September.
The 134 turbines will generate 201 megawatts of power, and “one of the necessary parts of the project is getting the power to market,” explained Dean Baumgardner, executive vice president of Wind Capital.
Baumgardner said the 31-mile route was chosen as the most direct route between the wind farm and the substation.
“Given federal regulatory agencies, environmental concerns and the effect on landowners, we want as direct a route as possible,” he said. “Fish and wildlife and the Corps of Engineers prefer we use areas that are already developed — rather than go through pristine areas.”
This doesn’t seem right
Kent Janssen said he first found out about the proposed transmission line by reading about it in the minutes of an Ellsworth County Commission meeting.
“But I had no clue about the size, that it was going to be a main transmission line, with 75-foot poles,” he said. “Just to have stakes start showing up, and being told this is going to happen just doesn’t seem right.”
Janssen said the line will run within 100 yards of some homes, and predicts the line will lower property values.
“There’s plenty of room to run this and not get within a quarter or a half-mile of a house,” he said, noting that such transmission lines usually cut cross country, rather than following a road.
Susan Thorton is also “disappointed” with both Wind Capital and the county commission.
“I really was disappointed that we found out through neighbors,” she said. “They should have gotten our opinions before decisions were made. We at least would have felt like we had our say — and if they’d listened to our concerns, it might not have turned out that way.”
It’s out of our hands
Ellsworth County Commissioner Kermit Rush said the discussion now needs to be between Wind Capital and people along the proposed route.
“It’s kind of out of our hands,” he said. “We have an agreement to let them use the right of way.”
Rush said that in the past, the county has worked with two other wind farm projects, “and those were never a problem.”
“As commissioners, we make a lot of decisions,” Rush said. “If we had to call the public each time, I’m not sure we’d get anything done.”
We all like wind power
None of those interviewed said they oppose wind power in general, or the Wind Capital project.
“I have no problem with wind power, or with transmission lines,” Thorton said. “Just not right on top of our homes.”
“I want to stress, I am for wind energy, and I’m for the transmission line,” Janssen said. “I’m happy for the guys up north that are getting the towers — we just want the line run in a responsible way.”
Janssen added that he’d been neutral on wind power up to 2006 — when the first wind company to build in Ellsworth County hosted a meeting with county commissioners to outline its plans to the public.
As for not talking to people along the route first, Baumgardner said he’s been involved in projects like this for years, and “No matter who you talk to first, the other one always thinks you should have talked with them first,” he said. “We approached the county and township people first. We’ve met with every landowner along the route, now — but hadn’t when we first met with the local governments.”
NOISY WIND FARM DROVE COUPLE OUT OF THEIR HOME
READ ENTIRE STORY AT THE SOURCE The Telegraph, www.telegraph.co.uk
July 4, 2011
A couple who say they were driven out of their family farm by the “nightmare” hum of wind turbines have mounted a ground-breaking £2.5 million compensation bid in London’s High Court.
Jane and Julian Davis, moved out of Grays Farm, Deeping St Nicholas, near Spalding, Lincs, four years ago because of the strain of living with the incessant noise.
And now they are taking on a local windfarm and other defendants in a pioneering case which will test the law on whether the sound created by the turbines amounts to a noise nuisance.
Mrs Davis, whose husband’s family cultivated Grays Farm for over 20 years before they were uprooted by the noise, said it had been a “nightmare living there”, and that they had no option but to leave.
Speaking before today’s High Court hearing, she added: “The noise is unpredictable and mainly occurs at night, you can never get to bed with the assurance that you will stay asleep.
“It’s incredibly unpredictable.”
In a bid to recreate the effect, she mimicked a sound she said was “something between a whirr and a hum”, adding that it was the peculiar, insidious “character” of the noise which made it so unsettling.
“You can’t even have a barbeque,” she said.
The couple are suing local landowners – RC Tinsley Ltd and Nicholas Watts, on whose land some of the turbines have been sited – as well as Fenland Windfarms Ltd and Fenland Green Power Cooperative Ltd, who own and operate the turbines.
Their lawyers are seeking either a permanent injunction to shut down the turbines or damages of up to £2.5 million to compensate the couple for the disruptive effects on their lives.
They have not returned to their home since 2007, and are now living in Spalding.
Mrs Davis said before the hearing she had no quarrel with the appearance of the turbines – only with the unsettling effects of the noise.
“We want them to stop the noise so we can move back in,” she said, adding: “We want them to recognise that the noise is a nuisance so we can go back and get some rest and sleep like we did five years ago. ”
The couple’s QC, Peter Harrison, said that, for his clients, windfarms “have emphatically not been the source of trouble-free, green and renewable energy which the firms promoting and profiting from wind energy would have the general public believe”.
The Davis’ had, instead, faced an operator which “has refused to acknowledge the noise their turbines make and the effect that that has had on the lives of these claimants”.
“Their lives have been wholly disrupted by that noise”, he told the court, also alleging that the main operator had tried to “impose a code of silence on those examining or recording the noise that these turbines in this location have caused”.
They had, he claimed, tried to “attack the credibility and reasonableness of the claimants rather than examine what they were actually being told”.
“From the defendants’ witness statements, and the material they wish to put before the court, it seems that those attempts to undermine the claimants, to say they are over-sensitive, that they are exaggerating and over-reacting, will continue during the trial,” the barrister added.
He claimed the defendants had been irked by Mrs Davis’ eagerness to “speak publicly about her experiences” and that she was being attacked for simply refusing to “put up with the noise”.
“To not quietly accept your fate, it appears, is the ultimate provocation,” he said.
The QC said the case was not a test of the Governement’s Green policies, but concerned the Davis’ wish to “get on with their lives and get back into their house”.
Although the case will hinge on technical arguments about measuring the “Amplitude Modulation” (AM) given off by the turbines, there are also vexed issues about the extent to which the defendants were given a fair opportunity to monitor the noise levels.
The hearing before Mr Justice Hickinbottom continues.
BIG WIND PROJECT HAS TO BE KILLED BEFORE IT KILLS OUR POCKETBOOKS
READ ENTIRE STORY AT THE SOURCE: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, www.staradvertiser.com
July 3, 2011
By Mike Bond,
Like some bizarre weapon of the former Soviet Union, Big Wind is finally being revealed for what it is: an engineering and financial tsunami that will enrich its backers and leave the rest of us far worse than before.
Its promised 400 mega-watts (MW), at the outrageous cost of $3 billion to $4 billion, makes no economic sense, but the full story is even worse.
Because wind is so inconsistent, Big Wind will produce only about 20 percent of that fictional 400 MW, or 80 MW (the Bonneville Power Administration, with 12 percent of America’s wind generation in one of its windiest locations, gets only 19 percent of its installed capacity).
And because most wind power is produced in non-peak hours when it can’t be used, turbines must then be shut down (curtailed). This “curtailment factor” lowers Big Wind’s potential 80 MW to about 48 MW. An additional 2-3 MW will be lost across the cable, bringing Big Wind down to 45 MW.
Moreover, wind requires backup fossil generation to run parallel offline for when the wind fluctuates or stops.
Called spinning reserve, this backup generation wastes millions of kilowatts and brings the Big Wind’s net generation down to about 40 MW.
And it’s why countries with extensive wind power like the United Kingdom, Denmark and Germany are finding wind power doesn’t reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.
Hawaiian Electric Co. could build a new 40 MW power plant on 30 acres of Oahu rather than 22,000 acres of Molokai and Lanai, and with no billion-dollar cable, for a fraction of Big Wind’s costs and carbon dioxide emissions. Or for Big Wind’s $3 billion, HECO could install rooftop solar on 165,000 homes, generate more power than Big Wind, and create 1,000 Hawaiian jobs, whereas Big Wind will create only a handful.
With rooftop solar, customers need only HECO for load-balancing and low-demand night use, thereby depriving HECO of its cash cow, the captive consumer. That’s why HECO has limited rooftop solar to 15 percent on its circuits. It’s as if we’re told we can’t grow vegetables in our own gardens; we have to buy Mexican vegetables from a supermarket chain.
Conservation is even easier, since 2008 state agencies have cut electricity use 8.6 percent at almost no cost. This could easily be implemented throughout Oahu, twice Big Wind’s net generation and saving $3 billion to $4 billion.
In fact, no developer will even touch Big Wind unless the entire $1 billion for the undersea cable can be charged to HECO customers, raising our electricity bills by 30 percent.
Contrary to the governor and HECO et al., Big Wind should be in public scrutiny. This is known as democracy.
And they should admit other potential tragic costs of this project, including the desecration of 35 square miles of beautiful coastal wilderness, possible damage to archaeological sites and endangered birds, a reduction in neighboring property values, and dynamiting in America’s finest coral reef and the Hawaiian National Whale Sanctuary.
No wonder that opposition to Big Wind is 98 percent on Molokai and nearly that on Lanai.
And when our nation is suffering the worst financial crisis in its history, a pork-barrel project adding billions more to our deficits seems nearly treasonous.
“The truth shall make us free” is a maxim of democracy. The opposite is also true: Cover-ups steal our freedom.
The governor, HECO et al. should realize that Maui, Lanai and Molokai are not colonies, nor part of the former Soviet Union. It’s time we were given the truth about Big Wind, so this ridiculous project can be quickly killed before it eats us all out of house and home.
Molokai resident Mike Bond is a former CEO of an international energy company, adviser to more than 70 utilities and energy companies, and author of studies on electricity transmission, cable operations and power generation alternatives.
When Water Overpowers, Wind Farms Get Steamed.
SOURCE: National Public Radio, www.npr.org
July 3, 2011
by Martin Kaste
The Pacific Northwest is suffering from too much of a good thing — electricity. It was a snowy winter and a wet spring, and there’s lots of water behind the dams on the Columbia River, creating an oversupply of hydropower. As a result, the region’s new wind farms are being ordered to throttle back — and they’re not happy.
It seems like a simple problem to fix: if there’s too much water behind the dams, why not just dump some of it? Just bypass the power generators and spill it? Would that we could, says Doug Johnson, spokesman for the Bonneville Power Authority. When you spill water over a dam, he says, it gets mixed with nitrogen from the air — and that’s not good for the salmon.
“What it can do is give the juvenile fish a condition similar to the bends, similar to what scuba divers experience,” he says.
So Bonneville — a federal agency that runs the power transmission system in the region — has been ordering wind farms offline, usually in the middle of the night when demand is lowest. Wind farm companies are crying foul.
“This is not about fish protection, this is strictly about economics,” says Jan Johnson, a spokeswoman for Iberdrola Renewables, which has 722 wind turbines in the Pacific Northwest.
“There’s options,” she says. “In other parts of the country — in fact in every other region — these types of transmission providers will just go into a negative pricing situation.”
Negative pricing means paying people to take your surplus power. The wind farm companies say the dams could run at full tilt and Bonneville could pay customers in other regions — like California or British Columbia — to take the surplus.
Five wind power companies have filed a complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to force Bonneville to start doing so. Bonneville would prefer not to have to pay to get rid of power, Johnson says, because that cost would be a burden to power customers in the Northwest.
“What we’ve said is no. We’re willing to give away energy — we give away energy to a whole lot of people when we’re faced with the situation — but if we were going to just pay negative prices, and incorporate that into our wholesale power rate, and this is the only set of customers that are affected, we just aren’t prepared to do that,” he says.
A Challenge For Wind Power
Complicating matters is the fact that wind farm generators make much of their income from federal tax credits. The government pays them per megawatt hour, so they really don’t like it when those blades stop turning.
They also say Bonneville is forcing them to break contracts with utilities in places like California, which are required to buy a certain amount of renewable energy. Wind farms have encountered similar problems around the country. Mark Bolinger studies renewable energy markets for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
“Transmission is probably one of the largest issues facing wind development in the U.S.,” he says. “In 2010, roughly 5 percent of all wind generation that could have happened was actually curtailed due to transmission constraints.”
Sometimes the reason is infrastructure — lack of room in the grid — and sometimes it’s financial, as in the case of Bonneville’s reluctance to pay other regions to take the surplus. Finally, there’s the economy. Until customer demand for power picks up some more, the tricky problem of too much power isn’t likely to go away.
5/24/11 LIFE IN A WIND PROJECT: From open arms to balled up fists: Nightmare on Vinalhavan AND From Up Over to Down Under, wind turbines are causing trouble AND Who ya gonna call? Putting a face on the folks the wind industry calls NIMBYs
WIND POWER NOISE DISPUTE ON TRANQUIL MAINE ISLAND INTENSIFIES
READ ENTIRE STORY AT THE SOURCE: HUFFINGTON POST
May 24, 2011
By Tom Zeller Jr.
While thousands of wind power enthusiasts and industry representatives gather in Anaheim Calif. for Windpower 2011, the American Wind Power Association's popular annual conference and exhibition, some 3,300 miles due east, wind power is tearing a tiny island community asunder.
In the latest turn, an attorney representing several homeowners living closest to a three-turbine wind installation on the tiny island of Vinalhaven in Maine's Penobscot Bay filed a formal complaint with the Maine Public Utilities Commission on Monday.
The complaint charges that the Fox Island Electric Cooperative, the local utility, and Fox Island Wind, the developer of the wind installation which is owned by the utility, have engaged in repeated harassment of the homeowners, who have argued since shortly after the turbines came online in late 2009 that the machines have been in violation of state noise ordinances. That assertion was subsequently supported by the state Department of Environmental Protection.
The developer has repeatedly disputed those findings, and the majority of the island's residents support the wind farm, which is seen as a source of eco-pride and sensible thrift, ostensibly saving the island from the need to import pricier power from the mainland.
But Monday's complaint states that the residents nearest the turbines have legitimate concerns that have long gone unheeded, despite multiple attempts to resolve the issue through negotiation, and that instead the local utility has recently upped the rhetorical ante by placing two separate "inserts" inside all islanders' utility bills. The inserts claim that legal expenses associated with the neighbors' noise complaints were costing the cooperative hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that as a result, a 5 percent increase in utility rates was needed.
The announcement caused the neighbors, perhaps not surprisingly, to suffer "retribution, harassment and hostility" from fellow Vinalhaven residents who are not within earshot of the turbines, according to the complaint. The utility's tactic also amounted to what the complaint called "intimidation and an abuse of the powers of a utility."
Vinalhaven became a flashpoint last year for a small but persistent backlash against industrial wind power, as residents living nearest the spinning behemoths became vocal about their experiences.
Like nearly all residents of the island, they supported the idea of a wind farm at first. Yet the Fox Island Wind Neighbors, as the loosely knit group of a dozen or so residents dubbed themselves, said they soon began to worry about the noise, being within a one-mile radius of the project site.
Representatives of Fox Island Wind assured them the noise would be minimal. But as Art Lindgren, one of the neighbors, told this reporter last year, their worst fears were confirmed once the turbines were switched on.
“In the first 10 minutes, our jaws dropped to the ground,” he said. “Nobody in the area could believe it. They were so loud.”
Lindgren's lament has been echoed in jurisdictions across the land, as an increasing number of communities come to weigh the innumerable collective benefits of wind power -- clean, non-toxic, no emissions, climate-friendly, water-friendly, renewable, sustainable -- against some of the downsides experienced by those living nearby.
Indeed, proximate residents around the country have cited everything from the throbbing, low-frequency drone to mind-numbing strobe effects as the rising or setting sun slices through the spinning blades:
Others have gone so far as to describe something called "wind turbine syndrome," arising from turbine-generated low-frequency noise and "infrasound," and causing all manner of symptoms -- from headache and dizziness to ear pressure, nausea, visual blurring, racing heartbeat, and panic episodes -- though the science on these claims is still thin.
And there are still lingering and long-standing concerns over hazards presented by turbines to migrating birds and bats.
At Vinalhaven, for example, a 28-month study conducted by ornithologist Richard Podolsky, who was hired by Fox Island Wind, the project's developer, recently declared the turbines' impacts on local eagle and osprey populations to be negligible.
But in March, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sent a letter to attorneys representing the Fox Island Wind project, lambasting those conclusions. The letter questioned the study's methodologies for studying eagle, bat and bird collision assessment and mortality, suggesting that they needed to be more rigorous and better-defined and described.
The wildlife regulators asked that new studies be conducted before a permit necessary to allow the project to proceed -- despite the potential for incidental harm to bald and golden eagle species in the area -- is issued. Both are protected by federal legislation.
Meanwhile, the complaint filed on Monday asks the Maine Public Utility Commission to sanction the Vinalhaven utility and Fox Island Wind for the utility bill inserts, and urges them to prevent any similar communications with ratepayers in the future.
It also asks that the state commission prevent the island utility from attempting to raise rates to cover expenses from its dispute with the affected homeowners going forward -- characterizing such expenses as "the product of mismanagement, and reckless conduct."
Queries sent to officials at Fox Island Wind and the Vinalhaven electric cooperative were not immediately returned Tuesday morning. This report will be updated if they respond.
From New York State
HEALTH CONCERNS RISE FOR PROPOSED WIND FARM
READ ENTIRE STORY AT THE SOURCE: The Daily News Online
May 20, 2011
By Sally Ross
Horizon, sponsor of the proposed Alabama Ledge Wind Farm, held an open meeting on March 17 at the Alabama Town Hall to respond to environmental concerns raised by the impact of industrial wind turbines. Surprisingly, their collective effect upon local residents’ health was unexplored. Therefore, this overview will attempt to summarize a recent inquiry into the impact of wind turbines upon persons and animals.
Preston G. Ribnick and Lilli-Ann Green, from Wellfleet (Cape Cod), Mass., own a medical consulting agency, advising hospitals and clinics throughout the United States. They have spent almost a year trying to understand the complexities of wind energy. Two foci of their attention have been the wind farms in Falmouth, Mass., and Vinalhaven, Maine. Early this year, Ribnick and Green were the guests of Sarah Laurie, M.D., of Waubra, Australia. Dr. Laurie and her medical colleagues have been compiling files on dozens of persons whose health has been seriously compromised by the Waubra Wind Farm. Ribnick and Green interviewed a sample of the patients.
Waubra, 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Melbourne, is primarily an agricultural community of growers who raise livestock — cattle, poultry and sheep — as well as a variety of crops. It isn’t uncommon for farms to have been in families for two or more generations, and like much of Australia, drought conditions have prevailed for nearly a decade. Wind turbines seemed like a godsend; a stable source of rental income to accompany the precarious economy.
The Waubra Wind Farm is an installation of 128 turbines in as many miles; one turbine to one mile. After the industrial wind turbine complex was up and running in 2009, dozens of previously healthy persons reported serious health issues with themselves and their animals. Here are some common complaints. They are not age-specific. They occur in children as well as in mature adults.
People — dangerously high rates in blood pressure, racing heartbeats, stroke, heart attack, sleep disturbance, involuntary neurological “upper lip quiver,” ringing in ears, inability to concentrate, severe headache, eye pain, and dizziness.
Animals — chickens laying eggs without shells, nearly one-half of the lambs expiring shortly after birth, disoriented sheep, dogs as well as birds displaying extremely agitated and abnormal behavior, and the virtual disappearance of bats.
Conditions inside of homes were worse than those outside, because houses vibrated. As a result, some people have left hearth and home and now consider themselves to be “industrial refugees.” How far away were these physiological complaints reported? Up to 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) distance from the wind turbine installations. By inference, these data should raise our local concern for those residents in Genesee, and nearby counties, who live well beyond the proposed sites for turbine installations in the town of Alabama.
The results of Ribnick, Green and Laurie’s work is widely available. A hard copy of the article upon which this summary [can be downloaded by CLICKING HERE]. Anyone opting for an electronic link, as well as additional scientific information, place contact me.
Sally Ross, Ph.D., lives in Oakfield. Write her via e-mail at email@example.com.
From Malone, Wisconsin
LIFE IN A WIND FARM
Thank you for the information about wind farms. We live in one and life has changed. Quite frankly, it has been somewhat of a nightmare. We have to deal with bad tv reception, flicker and loud swoshing noises at times. We could have been part of this project as they approached us about using our land but we declined because we didn't feel educated enough. They went up anyway.
FALMOUTH DREAMS TURNED NIGHTMARE
READ ENTIRE STORY AT THE SOURCE: Cape Cod Times, www.capecodonline.com
May 24, 2011
By ELIZABETH ANDERSEN
"The 7½-ton, 135-foot-long blades of the turbine slice through the air every second, creating a sound pressure that feels like the pounding of a bass instrument coming through the walls day and night. Just try to imagine that sound always there in your yard and in every room in your house, with no opportunity to turn it off. You go insane!"
"What we have so painfully learned this year is that there has been no place to go for help. Not our town hall, nor state representatives; not the police, not the DEP, nor the Department of Public Health. What is happening wasn’t supposed to happen. So we wait and suffer while it is “figured out.”
My husband and I met in 1976 and bonded over a shared love of nature. We have long considered ourselves conservationists, not only because our wonderful Depression-era parents taught us to use things up and wear them out, but because we learned our lesson from the oil embargo of the ’70s.
This awareness of the Earth’s declining natural resources led my husband, some 30 years ago, to start one of the first alternative energy construction companies on the Cape. And when we built our home on Blacksmith Shop Road 20 years ago, we designed it to be an energy-efficient system in itself. We also recycle, compost, drive small cars, use fluorescent bulbs, turn off lights when not in use, unplug appliances using phantom electricity, keep our heat down to 60 degrees in the winter and repurpose many things that would otherwise be thrown away.
Yet we, and our neighbors, have been criticized and made to feel guilty for complaining about ill health effects directly related to the size and proximity of utility-size wind turbines to our homes.
My husband and I were aware that the town Falmouth had been exploring the use of turbines for years, and we thought this was a good idea. However, when two turbines, already turned down by two other towns, became available, Falmouth officials chose to ignore the Falmouth windmill bylaw already on the books and erected two 400-foot mechanical machines, one 1,320 feet directly north of our home.
We, and our neighbors, were intentionally shut out of a special permitting process so that we would not hold up financing or construction in any way. Consequently, we have been living a nightmare ever since the turbine went online last year.
The 7½-ton, 135-foot-long blades of the turbine slice through the air every second, creating a sound pressure that feels like the pounding of a bass instrument coming through the walls day and night. Just try to imagine that sound always there in your yard and in every room in your house, with no opportunity to turn it off. You go insane!
At first we naively thought our Falmouth administrators would be concerned for us when informed of our health problems. Since April 2010, we and our neighbors have continually called, written, emailed or spoken in person to our town officials and begged them for some relief. The response we got for one year: no response. We contacted our building commissioner, zoning board of appeals, selectmen, and especially our board of health: no response.
Unfortunately for us, town administrators, in their haste to be “green,” did not research the negative impacts of utility-scale turbines near residential areas, and were taken by surprise by all of our complaints. Because the town of Falmouth owns the turbine, the administrators, again, chose to shut us out. We finally were forced to go to court just to get them to acknowledge us.
We wish we could list all the details of the cruel indifference we have been subjected to for a year, but the log we keep is pages too long. It was not until my husband and I were so exhausted from the ill treatment of turbine and town that we had to be civilly disobedient at a town meeting to plead for some relief. The Falmouth selectmen finally helped by way of a temporary shutoff when wind speeds reach 23 mph.
What we have so painfully learned this year is that there has been no place to go for help. Not our town hall, nor state representatives; not the police, not the DEP, nor the Department of Public Health. What is happening wasn’t supposed to happen. So we wait and suffer while it is “figured out.”
My husband and I still wholeheartedly embrace the movement toward alternative energy, but, once again, both the Massachusetts government and our town government put the cart before the horse and did not do all they could have done to protect the people. And from the looks of things going on in other towns, it is going to be up to the townspeople to fight for responsible turbine siting, to protect the health of their fellow man.
Elizabeth Andersen lives in Falmouth.
5/21/11 Did the farmer at least get a kiss before he signed that wind lease? AND O, Canada, the turbines there are as bad as the turbines here
THIS FROM MICHIGAN:
WIND DEVELOPERS BEHAVING BADLY, CHAPTER 723: How to buy a 76 year land lease from a 73 year old man for just $150.00
"Some of the lease agreements Balance 4 Earth has signed with residents allow the company to operate for up to 70 years on a property, with an initial six year period to be followed by a 30 year period and two 20-year extensions, at the company’s discretion[...]
Bernard Keiser, 73, of Bliss Township, said he signed the lease agreement with Balance 4 Earth to help join his 15 acre lot with a 79-acre lot owned by his brother, who is in a nursing home. Bernard signed the lease agreement for $150."
THE GREAT DIVIDE OVER WIND POWER; WHERE WINDS BLOW, STORMS FOLLOW
READ THE ENTIRE STORY AT THE SOURCE: The Ottawa Citizen, www.ottawacitizen.com
May 21, 2011
By Don Butler
“The noise is, at times, huge.” Sometimes it sounds like a pulsing jet engine. At other times, it’s a constant rumble, like an endless freight train passing. Neighbours tell her it’s like living near an airport.
“The range of noise is unbelievable, and it’s all so completely different from what you’re used to that you just stop whatever you’re doing,” Elmes says. “I used to love my neighbourhood. I don’t anymore.”
When Monica Elmes and her husband Neil bought their 35-hectare farm near Ridgetown in southwestern Ontario 15 years ago, the rural peace and serenity was the main attraction. “It was like heaven,” she says.
They put their hearts and souls into renovating the old farmhouse. “We did that thinking we’d never have to consider leaving.”
But that was before a 100-megawatt wind farm began operating next door in December. Forty-four turbines, each more than 400 feet tall, now surround her paradisical farm on three sides. The nearest is about 1.5 kilometres from her house.
“It sucks,” says Elmes. “The noise is, at times, huge.” Sometimes it sounds like a pulsing jet engine. At other times, it’s a constant rumble, like an endless freight train passing. Neighbours tell her it’s like living near an airport.
“The range of noise is unbelievable, and it’s all so completely different from what you’re used to that you just stop whatever you’re doing,” Elmes says. “I used to love my neighbourhood. I don’t anymore.”
Elmes is not alone. Fertilized by generous subsidies in the Ontario government’s Green Energy Act, industrial wind turbines are sprouting like dandelions across the province’s rural landscape, finding willing hosts in farmers and other property owners eager to earn some money by leasing their land.
There are 914 turbines provincewide, theoretically capable of generating up to 1,636 megawatts of electricity.
The province already has signed contracts with wind companies that will roughly double that number. And it has received applications for a further 3,000 or so turbines, with an installed capacity of 6,672 megawatts, according to the Canadian Wind Energy Association.
Within the foreseeable future, in short, close to 5,000 wind turbines could blanket rural Ontario.
Urban residents, who largely regard wind power as an unbridled virtue, might cheer that news. But in rural areas, the turbine invasion has generated anger, alarm and corrosive social division, pitting those who welcome wind power as an economic boon against those horrified by what they view as a threat to their health, wealth and enjoyment of life.
“There are families in Ontario who no longer speak to each other because of this issue,” says John Laforet, head of Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of 57 mostly rural anti-wind groups whose website has attracted nearly 1.5 million views. “It’s perceived that some are prepared to destroy the community in exchange for a few thousand dollars.”
“It’s terrible,” moans Wayne Fitzgerald, mayor of the rural municipality of Grey Highlands, where a wind developer is poised to start construction on an 11-turbine project. “We’re torn on council, we’re torn in the community. The people who are opposed to it are very, very vocal. They feel quite strongly.”
The issue will have a “profound impact” on the outcome of this October’s provincial election, predicts Laforet, whose group is actively preparing to organize against the governing Liberals.
“It’s going to be a real problem for the Liberals because we can mobilize in somewhere between 24 and 26 Liberal ridings in rural areas,” he says. “I’m quite confident that wind-concerns groups can move the bar enough in enough ridings to defeat the government.”
Wind turbines were a lively issue in last fall’s municipal election in pastoral Prince Edward County near Belleville, where a nine-turbine project along a major path for migratory birds is close to proceeding and numerous others are in various stages of development.
Voters responded by electing Peter Mertens, who campaigned against wind development, as mayor. They also transformed what had been a pro-wind council into one that passed a motion in January calling for a moratorium on wind development. About 80 municipalities have passed similar resolutions.
“It became an extremely divisive issue, and it has probably gotten worse, if anything,” Mertens says. Urbanites who fled to the county to enjoy its scenic beauty have found themselves at odds with longtime farm residents who see the turbines as a way to generate needed cash.
Most wind farms are in central or southwestern Ontario. There are 162 turbines in Bruce County alone, with nearly 480 more proposed. Chatham-Kent has 203 turbines, with about 430 more in the works.
Wolfe Island, across the harbour from Kingston, is home to the only wind project in Eastern Ontario. Operating for two years with 86 turbines, it’s the second-largest in Canada. But Kemptville-based Prowind Canada has proposed smaller projects near North Gower, Spencerville, Carleton Place and Winchester.
Opponents have mobilized. The North Gower Wind Action group, formed to fight a proposed eight-to-10-turbine project near the village, has about 300 supporters. “These are industrial structures,” says Jane Wilson, the group’s chair. “They’re not little windmills. These ones are about 190 metres tall. That’s twice the height of the Peace Tower.”
For opponents, the sheer scale of the turbines is only part of it. There are also concerns about their impact on health and property values.
Opponents say studies have found that those living adjacent to turbines have lost between 20 and 40 per cent of their property value. In some cases, properties have become virtually unsellable.
When prospective buyers come to Prince Edward County — a mecca for former urbanites seeking a bucolic alternative —the first thing they ask real-estate agents is whether a property is near an area that may get turbines, says Mertens. If so, they aren’t interested.
Mertens had an e-mail recently from a property owner who’s been trying to sell a lot near one of the proposed projects for two years, without success. “He told me he’s walking away from the lot now. He no longer wants to pay taxes on it.”
Energy consultant Tom Adams, a critic of the Green Energy Act, spoke at a conference last month organized by an anti-wind group in Meaford, near Georgian Bay. Astonishingly, more than 250 people showed up on a sunny spring Saturday to hear Adams and other speakers.
“It was a huge eye-opener for me,” Adams says. “They are so pissed off about this. We’re talking about something really deep here — the protection of people’s land value. People get emotional about that subject.”
A tax assessment hearing now under way could help provide some clarity on the issue. Gail and Edward Kenney are arguing that the 28 turbines they can see from their home on Wolfe Island have devalued their property.
While they can’t always hear the turbines, when the wind is blowing the right way, “it completely fills the atmosphere,” says Gail Kenney. “This is not like the noise of anything I know.” The turbines pollute the night sky, she says, with red lights that flash every three seconds.
The island’s natural heritage has taken a beating as well, Kenney says. The once-abundant deer she used to enjoy seeing have fled. The short-eared owl, a species of special concern in Canada, has all but disappeared from the island’s west end.
Most health concerns are related to the noise the turbines make — particularly “infrasound,” a low-frequency vibration below the normal range of human hearing. Some who live near turbines report disrupted sleep, headaches, nausea, tinnitus and dizziness.
That said, the health impact of turbines has yet to be conclusively demonstrated. In a May 2010 report, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Arlene King, found that scientific evidence to date “does not demonstrate a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.”
But Dr. Hazel Lynn, medical officer of health for the Grey Bruce Health Unit, reached a different conclusion in a report in January. It’s clear, she found, that many people have been “dramatically impacted by the noise and proximity of wind farms. To dismiss all these people as eccentric, unusual or hyper-sensitive social outliers does a disservice to constructive public discourse.”
Not all people exposed to wind turbines suffer physical symptoms, Lynn said in an interview. But a certain percentage do. “That’s pretty consistent across the world. It’s the same complaints everywhere. And that’s really rare unless there’s some real reason for it.”
More research is required, says Lynn. But that’s hampered by non-disclosure agreements imposed on leaseholders by wind companies, including clauses that forbid them from talking about problems.
“To me, it’s already suspicious before you start,” she says.
Coupled with the Green Energy Act’s removal of local authority over the siting and approval of turbines, this cone of silence has created “a huge sense of social injustice” in rural Ontario, says Laforet. But the Green Energy Act’s cost and ineffectiveness means urbanites are paying a high price, too, he says.
“We see it as a battle all Ontarians are in, because we all lose. We all have to pay more for this power we don’t need. But in rural Ontario, they lose so much more. They lose their way of life, they lose their property values and, in some cases, they lose their health.”
Elmes says she feels “huge despair” at what’s happening. But this month’s announcement that Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives would scrap the lucrative feed-in tariff (FIT) program for wind power projects if elected this fall gives her hope that things could change.
“That’s about the only thing keeping me going. We all just want our healthy, peaceful lives back.”
THE REALITY OF WIND POWER
One of the inherent limitations of wind power is its unreliability. It produces electricity only when the wind blows. And how much it produces depends on how much oomph nature provides at any given time.
Ontario has wind power with an installed capacity of 1,636 megawatts, an amount expected to rise to 2,200 megawatts by early next year.
But in fact, it produces far less than that. Friday morning between 8 and 9 a.m., for example, wind was generating just 31 megawatts of electricity. Between 11 a.m. and noon on Wednesday, when winds were blowing more lustily, it was cranking out 669 megawatts.
In a recent study, Aegent Energy Advisors evaluated wind data for 2009 and 2010 from the Ontario Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), which measures the output of wind turbines connected to the high voltage distribution grid.
It found that the average “capacity factor” over that time was 27.8 per cent, meaning that for every 1,000 megawatts of installed wind capacity, the average annual output would be 278 megawatts. But that doesn’t account for wind’s variability. That same 1,000 megawatts would produce no electricity at all at if there’s no wind, or as much as 949 megawatts in a stiff gale.
By comparison, nuclear power has an average capacity factor of about 90 per cent. Last year, nuclear reactors produced the equivalent of a continuous, around-the-clock output of 9,452 megawatts.
To replace that nuclear output with wind power, Ontario would require 34,000 megawatts of installed wind capacity, Aegent calculated. The turbines needed for that, it said, would consume 14,200 square kilometres of land -equivalent to a band 14 kilometres wide and 1,000 kilometres long.
Ontario would also need 10,000 megawatts of natural gas generation as a backup for periods when wind power was producing little or nothing, Aegent said.
3/3/11 No spin zone, or rather 23% spin zone: Does it matter? Wind turbines make money for investors regardless of energy produced AND Just when you thought nothing they could do would surprise you: Wind developers behaving badly chapter 3,421: How about we charge residents for every complaint they make about our turbines?
WHO CAN COMPLAIN AND HOW?
PLANNERS STUDY WIND TURBINE ISSUES
March 3, 2011
By Jennifer Linn Hartley
How many complaints a person or a household should be able to lodge cost-free against wind turbines and how those complaints would be dealt with were among the topics the Mason County planning commissioners discussed Wednesday night.
Planning commissioners continued to pore over potential changes to the Mason County Zoning Ordinance in regards to wind turbines Wednesday at the Mason-Lake ISD building, a new location for planning commission meeting due to an anticipated large crowd. More than 75 people attended.
Late last year a group of concerned residents proposed an amendment to the ordinance, requesting more stringent rules for wind turbines in the county.
Consumers Energy has proposed 56 476-foot tall wind turbines in Riverton and Summit townships.
As the Mason County Zoning Ordinance is written now, a complainant must pay for the complaint, and if the wind turbine owner is found to be in violation, then the turbine owner pays and the complainant is reimbursed. The system is designed to guard against nuisance complaints.
Commissioners Wednesday discussed whether the complainant should have to pay to submit a complaint, and, if not, how many complaints each person or household should be allowed.
“The complainant out there shouldn’t have to pay,” said Commissioner Bruce Patterson. “It shouldn’t be up to the person who lives out there in that area to have to pay for the complaint. That’s just wrong.”
Commissioners discussed allowing three complaints from one household before a complainant has to pay. If, on the fourth complaint, the turbine is found to be out of compliance, then the turbine owner pays.