Entries in wind farm shadow flicker (109)
10/1/10 Save the date! Senate hearing on Wind Siting Rules set for October 13th AND Coming to your county soon? How many 400-500 foot tall turbines will it take to satisfy wind developers in Wisconsin? AND How does eminent domain fit into the wind development picture?
Committee on Commerce, Utilities, Energy, and Rail
The Senate Committee on Utilities, Energy and Rail will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, October 13, 2010 11:00 AM, 411 South at the State Capitol in Madison relating to Clearinghouse Rule 10-057 siting of wind energy systems.
Senator Jeffry Plale, Chair
Correction: The Butler Ridge wind project is in Dodge County, south of the Fond du Lac County line.
Midwest must almost double wind power production to meet 2025 goal
SOURCE: Wisconsin State Journal:
By JUDY NEWMAN
September 30, 2010
Wisconsin and four other Upper Midwest states will need 15,000 megawatts of wind energy by 2025 — or about 8,600 megawatts more than already available — to fulfill their renewable energy goals, a study says.
In addition, it will cost an estimated $3 billion to build the transmission lines that will hook the wind power into the electric transmission grid.
The 15-page report, issued Thursday by a committee representing Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and North and South Dakota, identifies 20 renewable energy zones within the five states, windy enough to serve as a power resource.
It also suggests six transmission corridors “that would efficiently move energy from these wind zones to customers, and serve as a backbone for a variety of future development needs in the region, and potentially further east.”
Two of the possible corridors for the high-voltage transmission lines extend into Wisconsin, including one that would run from Iowa to Madison.
The committee, called the Upper Midwest Transmission Development Initiative, will continue to meet to talk about potential cost allocation and other factors. No specific routes for the new transmission lines have been proposed yet.
However, at least three transmission companies have outlined possible projects with similar goals.
WIND TURBINES IN THE NEWS:
WYOMING WIND TASK FORCE FAVORS EMINENT DOMAIN LIMITS
Source: Bloomberg Business Week
September 30, 2010
By Bob Moen
"If we can restrict eminent domain in any way I think our landowners support that because we believe these issues should be addressed through private negotiations and agreement, not through holding a gun to somebody's head and threatening eminent domain, which basically forces the landowner to take whatever the condemner is offering because they have the greater power,"
Private companies that want to string small power lines from wind turbines to the main power grid wouldn't be able to seize land from Wyoming landowners under a recommendation made by a task force Thursday.
The Wind Energy Task Force voted 5-4 to deny the power of eminent domain to private companies building so-called collector lines for wind projects in the state. Eminent domain is the forced acquisition of private property for public use and has been used to build railroads, pipelines and other projects.
At the same time, the panel recommends that regulated public utilities retain the power of eminent domain. Public utilities are subjected to more scrutiny from state Public Service Commission regulations and oversight.
Task force chairman Rep. Kermit Brown, R-Laramie, said the panel's eminent domain recommendation seeks fairness for landowners whose land is needed only for small collector lines.
"All he gets is one lump sum payment for the fair market value of what little property they need and he never sees another dime," Brown said.
Landowners with the wind turbines on their land pocket monthly checks from the wind producer, Brown said.
The task force's recommendations go the Legislature, which would have to approve any change in state eminent domain law.
Wyoming imposed a moratorium on the use of eminent domain for collector lines that went into effect in March and will last through June 30, 2011. It's meant to buy some time for Wyoming citizens and policymakers to examine the issue.
The Legislature last made changes to the state's eminent domain law in 2007 mainly because of complaints from landowners who felt run over by booming oil and gas development. The process proved contentious.
Brown still refers to the 2007 debate as the "eminent domain wars."
"They're just tough, tough issues every time they come up," he said.
Jill Morrison, an organizer with the Powder River Basin Resource Council, which advocates for private landowners, applauded the panel's decision.
"If we can restrict eminent domain in any way I think our landowners support that because we believe these issues should be addressed through private negotiations and agreement, not through holding a gun to somebody's head and threatening eminent domain, which basically forces the landowner to take whatever the condemner is offering because they have the greater power," Morrison said.
Cheryl Riley, executive director of the Wyoming Power Producers Coalition, declined immediate comment on the task force's action until she can study its recommendation.
Brown said he couldn't say how the task force's recommendations might affect the growing wind industry in Wyoming.
The dozens of wind farms that have been built or are being proposed in the state so far have hugged the main power transmission lines that cross the state. Building wind farms farther away from the grid will mean erecting many more of the collector lines.
Wyoming is one of the most reliably windy inland areas of the United States, and its wind energy potential has attracted wide interest in recent years.
Note from the BPWI Research Nerd: The story below outlines a problem that comes with wind development everywhere, including Wisconsin, where wind projects have been approved and permitted by members of local government who stood to gain financially from the project or had family members who would.
Although some members of the Wind Siting Council saw the conflict of interest issue as a problem that should be directly addressed in the wind siting rules, the majority of the council-- most of whom happen to have a direct or indirect financial interest in the outcome of the rules-- decided against including it.
Records show area officials profit
from leases with turbine firms
SOURCE: Observer-Dispatch, www.uticaod.com
By JENNIFER BOGDAN,
Twelve public officials who sat on county and town boards in Lewis County stand to make a combined $7.5 million from the region’s largest wind-turbine project, government disclosure forms show.
And numerous other officials in Herkimer County stand to profit as well from new projects there, although not to the same extent, records show.
The lease arrangements have raised questions among local residents and good-government experts about potential conflicts of interest as wind-turbine farms are approved.
One person who feels that way is Gordon Yancey of the town of Lowville, who used to have a clear view of the Adirondacks stretching as far as the eye could see from his property on the edge of the Tug Hill plateau.
But in 2006, the sprawling Lewis County landscape became home to the Maple Ridge wind farm – a group of 195 wind turbines towering 400 feet high over the once undeveloped landscape in Lowville, Martinsburg and Harrisburg. Those communities are located along state Route 12 about one hour north of Utica.
Now, Yancey said all he sees are the massive white towers obstructing his view. He blames lease agreements between wind developers and public officials, one of whom is his brother, Edward Yancey, who sat on the Harrisburg Zoning Board of Appeals.
Edward Yancey stands to benefit to the tune of up to $1 million over the lifetime of the agreement, according to disclosure forms filed with the state by Iberdrola Renewables and Horizon Wind Energy, which co-own the project.
“They made their sweetheart, backdoor deals long before anything was made public,” Gordon Yancey said. “Of course, the boards pushed everything through.”
Edward Yancey could not be reached.
Disclose or face fine
A 2008 mandate from the state Attorney General’s Office requires wind companies to disclose the nature and scope of any municipal officer’s financial interest in a wind project or risk facing fines of as much as $100,000.
No companies have been penalized to date, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.
“In order to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, we publically disclose any relationship with a municipal officer or their relative,” Iberdrola spokesman Paul Copleman said.
Lise Bang-Jensen, senior policy analyst for the Empire Center for New York State Policy, said any move towards increased government transparency is admirable, but making sense of conflicts is more complex than writing them down.
“If you have a role on both sides of a project, that’s a clear conflict of interest,” Bang-Jensen said. “Putting it on a piece of paper and disclosing it, doesn’t make it legal.”
Many of the officials listed on the disclosure forms – including Harrisburg Town Supervisor Stephen Bernet, who stands to make $1 million – did not return calls last week.
One of those listed on the disclosure forms is Roger Grace, a Planning Board member in Pinckney. Maple Ridge wind farm spreads across Lowville, Harrisburg and Martinsburg, but Grace, who stands to make as much as $20,000 from the project, still is required to disclose his role in a neighboring town.
He said his role isn’t a concern, and he believes those involved have acted appropriately.
“I think everyone’s done a phenomenal job,” Grace said. “It’s always a battle, though. People that got money love them, and people that didn’t get money hate them. That’s all.”
‘Not acting objectively’
The issue of lease agreements between public officials and wind developers is burgeoning in Herkimer County, where the Hardscrabble wind farm is slowly rising.
The Herkimer County towns of Fairfield and Norway will soon be home to 37 turbines – seven of which are already standing.
In that project, five officials stand to make as much as $85,000 from the turbines that are expected to be up and running by the end of the year.
“For any municipal officers or their relatives with whom we have a relationship, we specifically request that the officers recuse themselves from a decision or vote that would in any way affect the development of a project or affect how the municipality treats wind power,” said Copleman, the Iberdrola spokesman.
Yet six years ago, when the Hardscrabble project was nothing more than a vague concept, questions arose as to why Fairfield Planning Board member Harold Robinson was voting on wind issues while he had an agreement with the wind company aiming to come to town, according to O-D archives.
“The Town Board is not acting objectively,” Fairfield Planning Board Chairman Peter Fishbein complained in 2004. “The board needs to acknowledge there are people who are worried about this and at least hear their concerns.”
Robinson, who stands to make as much as $20,000 from a lease agreement, did not return calls last week.
‘Won’t like the looks of things’
Other wind projects are brewing across the Mohawk Valley, including a plan from NorthWind and Power to build a farm of eight to 12 turbines on Dry Hill in Litchfield.
In that development, some residents have questioned the role played in the process by Litchfield Supervisor Wayne Casler, He is a regional controller at Barrett Paving Materials, which owns more than 100 acres of land on the southern end of Dry Hill.
Wind developers have said the paving company’s land won’t be considered, but the company could be chosen to supply materials for the project if it’s approved.
From time to time in Lowville, Gordon Yancey hears rumblings of other wind farm in the works – like the one in Litchfield.
Each time, he said, he thinks back to the days before his business was surrounded by turbines. Oftentimes, the curious come knocking on his door to ask what his experience was like years before.
“What I tell people is ‘Educate yourselves because you can’t trust where anywhere else is coming from,’” Yancey said. “Ask every question you can. And when you do, you won’t like the looks of things either.”
9/15/10 Why are there so many complaints about living with wind turbine noise? AND What's going on with the wind siting rules? AND Can I get some maintenance for this turbine? What do you mean you're bankrupt? AND Mafia discovers a clean, green, dirty money laundering machine
Wisconsin small business owner, Jim Bembinster, knows a lot about the complicated subject of wind turbine noise.
He spent 14 months focusing on noise issues as a member of the Large Turbine Wind Study Committee for the Town of Union (Rock County). He also helped author the Town of Union Large Wind Ordinance, considered by many to be the best in the state.
This ordinance has been adopted by local governments throughout Wisconsin, including five contiguous Towns in Rock County. Local governments from other states have used it for a model in creating their own ordinances.
The Town of Union Ordinance calls for a turbine noise limit of five decibels over the existing noise levels in the community.
The wind siting rules approved by the Public Service Commission, which preempt ordinances like the Town of Union’s, allow a nighttime noise level of 45dba—or an approximate increase of 20 decibels over normal rural noise limits.
Here, Mr. Bembinster explains how a 20 decibel increase will impact a rural community, and why masking turbine noise is so difficult.
The general rule for additional noise is this:
Adding 5dB is barely noticeable.
Adding 10dB is clearly heard— as it’s twice again as loud.
Adding 15 dB is very loud and this will become the dominant sound.
If ambient [existing] noise levels in a rural community are 25dB and turbine noise levels are at 45dB, there will be a problem.
The reason is the turbine, at 20dB louder, will be the dominant sound.
Although developers say noise from the turbine will be masked by other environmental sound, such as the wind blowing through the trees, a noise loud enough to cover the turbine must also be similar in character and at least 15 decibels louder, which puts it at least 60dB. This would be something like a the noise from a large truck going by or a Harley.
Also, in order to mask the sound, the character of the two types of sound must be the same.
Take the example of a baby crying.
If you were in a room with people who were all having a conversation at say 50dB and a baby started to cry at 40dB, the baby’s cry would be clearly heard over the conversation because of the difference of character and the tone of the noise it makes.
If the baby ramps up the crying to 50dB --the same sound level as the conversation in the room, the baby’s cry will become the dominant sound in the room even though both the crying and the conversation are at the same decibel level.
This is why people trapped in wind farms have trouble with the noise even though the turbine is within its noise limits of 45dB. Ambient sounds in a rural area can’t mask the sound of a turbine because the quality of the noise is so different, much like difference between a baby crying and adult conversation.
Another way to look at is how loud it would need to be inside your home so that a Harley could pass by unnoticed. That would be really loud, and not the best circumstance for sleeping.
There is nothing in a rural community that makes a sound similar enough to a wind turbine to mask it, except perhaps a jet or helicopter passing overhead, which is exactly what wind turbine noise is often compared to by those now living in wind projects.
WIND TURBINE RULE CAN BE REVISED, PANEL SAYS;
CHANGE WOULD ADDRESS POSSIBLE HEALTH EFFECTS
SOURCE: Green Bay Press Gazette, www.greenbaypressgazette.com
September 16 2010
By Tony Walter
One of the three members of the Public Service Commission who voted for the wind turbine siting rules last month noted in a letter to two top state lawmakers that the panel can revise the rules to address the potentially harmful health effects of the turbines.
“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,” Commissioner Lauren Azar wrote to legislative officials in an Aug. 31 letter.
“As new information becomes available, the Commission can revise this rule.”
Azar wasn’t available this week to comment on her proposal that would require wind turbine owners to purchase the home of anyone who can prove that the turbine has a significant adverse health outcome. An aide in her office said Azar’s letter speaks for itself.
Invenergy LLC wants to build a 100-turbine wind farm in the towns of Morrison, Glenmore, Wrightstown and Holland with turbines that produce more than 100-megawatts of energy. CH Shirley Wind LLC is erecting eight 20-megawatt turbines in Glenmore.
An Invenergy spokesman said last month that the company plans to resubmit its application for the Ledge Wind Farm project, noting that the health issue has been studied by numerous groups that concluded there is insufficient evidence to prove the turbines put people and animals at risk.
That proposal has prompted the creation of a Brown County citizens group speaking out against the wind turbine industry, arguing there hasn’t been sufficient study on health impacts.
Carl Kuehne, a member of the board of directors of the Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy, said the absence of definitive evidence on the health impact of wind turbines is reason enough to conduct more studies.
“No. 1, there is no need to move ahead today with more wind turbines in Wisconsin,” Kuehne said.
“The utilities are currently meeting the energy mandates set by the state government. So let’s study the situation. There’s certainly enough ad hoc evidence that wind turbines do have an impact on people and animals. Let’s study it and find out before we create more destruction on people. We have the opportunity.”
Last month, the PSC adopted rules for projects less than 100 megawatts. The rules can be altered by the state Legislature and lawmakers can ask the PSC to make changes. The issue has been assigned to the Assembly’s Committee on Energy and Utilities, which is led by Jim Soletski, D-Ashwaubenon, but no meeting date has been set.
BANKRUPTCY RAISES WIND TURBINE ISSUES
September 16, 2010
By Bruce Burdett
PORTSMOUTH — With its wind turbine supplier bankrupt, Portsmouth is looking for a new company to provide the service it had believed was covered under the equipment’s original warranty.
Bankruptcy proceedings for Canadian firm AAER were completed in July. Pioneer Power Solutions bought some of AAER’s assets ”but appears unwilling to provide warranty coverage or operations and maintenance support,” Finance Director David Faucher wrote in a Sept. 8 memo to the town council.
Mr. Faucher and Assistant Town Planner Gary Crosby, who has overseen much of the town’s wind turbine effort, said they have met with representatives of Templeton Power and Light which has commissioned an AAER wind turbine generator similar to Portsmouth’s in hopes of partnering with the Massachusetts utility for a long term maintenance services contract.
But Mr. Faucher said Templeton is not yet at a point that it can enter into such a partnership.
So for now, Mr. Faucher recommended that the town council enter into an emergency one-year maintenance and service agreement with Solaya, a division of Lumus Constrictoon Inc. of Woburn, Mass. The council was scheduled to discuss and possibly vote on the agreement at its meeting on Wednesday this week (after the Times went to press).
The agreement would include two 6-month scheduled maintenance sessions (the first being this month), around-the-clock monitoring and unscheduled maintenance. At the end of the year, Mr. Faucher said he would ask the council to award a competitively bid contract for a three-year period.
The agreement with Solaya is “very detailed and describes the monitoring , warranty protction and maintenance services we have been seeking.”
Cost of the year’s basic service is $33,000, and the town would be charged additional fees for extra work.
SOURCE: The Independent, www.independent.co.uk
MAFIA'S DIRTY MONEY LINKED TO CLEAN ENERGY
September 16 2010
By Michael Day in Milan,
After decades of drug-running, extortion and prostitution, the Mafia appears to have found a rather more ecological way of laundering their money: green power.
And if the assets of the Italian police’s latest target are any indication, the Mafia is embracing the renewable energy business with an enthusiasm that would make Al Gore look like a dilettante. The surprising revelation of organised crime’s new green streak came as Italian police said yesterday they had made the largest recorded seizure of mob assets – worth €1.5bn (£1.25bn) – from the Mafia-linked Sicilian businessman Vito Nicastri, who had vast holdings in alternative energy concerns, including wind farms.
Organised crime in Italy has previously been notorious for trading in environmental destruction – principally earning billions of euros by illegally dumping toxic waste. But most of the newly seized assets are in the form of land, property and bank accounts in Sicily, the home of Cosa Nostra, and in the neighbouring region of Calabria, the base of the rival ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate.
Police said the operation was based on a 2,400-page investigative report and followed 54-year-old Mr Nicastri’s arrest last year. He has since been released without charge, and has denied wrongdoing. But General Antonio Girone, the head of the national anti-Mafia agency DIA, said that Mr Nicastri, known as “lord of the winds”, was linked to Matteo Messina Denaro, the fugitive believed to be the Sicilian Mafia’s “boss of bosses”.
Senator Costantino Garraffa, of the parliamentary anti-Mafia committee, said the Mafia was trying to break into the “new economy” of alternative energy as it sought to launder money earned from crime. The seizure of Mr Nicastri’s assets “confirms the interest that organised crime has in renewable energy, which several annual reports on environmental issues have already stressed,” added Beppe Ruggiero, an official with the anti-Mafia association Libera.
Generous subsidies have led to rapid growth in wind power in Italy in recent years. Mr Ruggiero said: “It is very important for this sector to stay far from Mafia activities.” However, he stressed the need for renewable energy to develop in Italy’s poorer South. “Investment in renewable energy should not be discouraged,” he said, adding that the nuclear alternative would be “a losing choice”.
Recent estimates suggest the total annual turnover of Italy’s main organised crime groups is around €100bn (£83bn), or 7 per cent of GDP. Officials, including the Bank of Italy governor, Mario Draghi, have argued that organised crime has perpetuated poverty in the south of the country.
10/14/10 On being a red square in a yellow circle: A wind siting council member weighs in on the real cost of Wisconsin wind farms AND Wind Turbines Too Loud? Sorry Charlie, ain't a lot we can do for you now.
HOW MANY RESIDENTS WILL BE AFFECTED BY THE NEW WIND SITING RULES?
The red squares in the yellow circles on the map above represent non-participating homes in the WeEnergies Glacier Hills wind project currently under construction in Columbia County.
The larger red dots are the turbine locations. [Scroll down to see more detailed maps.]
The new wind rules adopted by the Public Service Commission have the same setbacks from homes as were used for this project.
One difference is the PSC required WeEnergies to offer to buy two homes in the project because seven turbines were to be located within half a mile.
The new rules do not include this sort of protection. Chairman Eric Callisto said by law homeowners have the right to sue the wind developer/owner and he felt that was all the protection they needed.
Although Wisconsin wind farm residents who have been forced to try to sell their homes because of turbine noise and shadow flicker have found no buyers, local wind developers say 400 to 500 foot tall wind turbines located less than 1500 feet a home have no impact on property values.
[CLICK HERE to watch Wisconsin Eye video: During the panel discussion, WPPI vice president Dan Ebert and WeEnergy's head of wind development Andy Hesselbach explain why turbines do not affect property value. ]
Developers also say Wind energy is the cheapest way to get renewable energy and cite surveys which indicate stong public support for wind power.
Wind siting council member and Wisconsin realtor Tom Meyer weighs in on the matter.
This is not a question of whether or not people like, or favor "wind" as the lobbyists try to argue. Everyone likes wind, sun, water, earth.
The issue is this: The total cost of generating energy by the use of 400 and 500 foot tall turbines in Wisconsin’s rural communities.
Developers admit that they cannot get investors, who are primarily foreign investors, to put their money up unless the costs of access to the land are depressed.
To get the biggest area to install the highest number of 400 to 500 foot tall turbines, the developer needs to have the greatest access to the most land and compensate the fewest people with the least dollars.
The developer does not need your land, he needs to get one foot [away] from your land.
Every foot the developer is made to move away from a landowner whom he does not have to compensate, adds cost to the developer and reduces the bottom line to investors.
Every dollar spent to gain access to the right to disturbing the peace of a landowner reduces the bottom line.
For wind turbines to be profitable, the industry could improve the technology or depress the cost of access to the land.
By their actions, they prove they believe depressing land costs is more favorable than investing in improving the technology.
Their answer to improved technology is taller and more intrusive. That's not a real solution.
If the turbine can't produce energy without imposing on neighbors, there is no reason to spoil the earth, and threaten the water, and block the sun, to catch the wind.
Wisconsin Wind Siting Council Member
NOTE: Tom Meyer was one of the authors of the minority report from the wind siting council. The report details why some council members strongly disagree with the recommendations sent forth to the Public Service Commission.
CLICK HERE to read about a Fond du Lac County home (pictured above) in the WeEnergies wind project that appraised for $320,000 just before the turbines went up. The owners were unable to sell the home and abandoned it because of turbine noise and vibration. It was auctioned at a sheriffs sale with an opening bid of $107,000. There were no takers. The home has been empty for nearly a year.
Below, detail maps of non-participating residences in WeEnergies Glacier Hills Project
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD:
The project mentioned below was sited with the same setbacks and noise limits used to site the We Energies Glacier Hills project. (Detail maps above)
NO EASY SOLUTION TO WIND TURBINE PROBLEM
The Associated Press
VINALHAVEN, Maine (AP) -- The CEO of the electric cooperative that installed wind turbines on Maine's Vinalhaven island says there's disagreement over data suggesting they're too noisy. Fox Island Wind CEO George Baker says his experts dispute the findings of a Department of Environmental Protection consultant who says the turbines violate nighttime noise limits. State law sets a 45-decibel limit. Baker says his experts believe it was ambient noise from wind rustling through trees that exceeded 45 decibels, not the turbines themselves. Baker says it'll be a difficult issue to resolve. He told The Associated Press on Tuesday that slowing the turbine blades to lower the noise level by a couple of decibels may not make appease critics. And lowering it further could hurt the economic viability of the project.
VINALHAVEN, Maine (AP) -- The CEO of the electric cooperative that installed wind turbines on Maine's Vinalhaven island says there's disagreement over data suggesting they're too noisy.
Fox Island Wind CEO George Baker says his experts dispute the findings of a Department of Environmental Protection consultant who says the turbines violate nighttime noise limits.
State law sets a 45-decibel limit. Baker says his experts believe it was ambient noise from wind rustling through trees that exceeded 45 decibels, not the turbines themselves.
Baker says it'll be a difficult issue to resolve. He told The Associated Press on Tuesday that slowing the turbine blades to lower the noise level by a couple of decibels may not make appease critics. And lowering it further could hurt the economic viability of the project.
9/13/10 Same story, different location: Wisconsin or otherwise: Wind turbines too close to homes equals no sleep
WIND FARMS FROM FAR AWAY: The view from an orbiting satellite
WIND FARMS FROM CLOSE UP: The view from someone living with them:
“I’m getting vibrations, and I haven’t slept in I don’t know how long,” Mrs. Garrow said. “But I don’t think anybody’s looking out for our interest.”
TURBINE NOISE CONCERNS RAISED
September 13, 2010
By Michelle Besaw
Vibrations disturbing, some Town of Clinton residents say.
CLINTON — Noise was the big issue during the Wind Facilities Planning Board’s recent public hearing, and it wasn’t the noise coming from the 40-plus people packed into the Town Hall.
The meeting, which was set to address local concerns with variance requests from Horizon’s Marble River wind farm project, focused on noise issues surrounding Noble’s wind farms and the fear that this project will only bring the same problems.
Chad and Rose Garrow shared a complaint that the noise study done on the current turbines was unfair due to reported battery malfunctions.
“I’m getting vibrations, and I haven’t slept in I don’t know how long,” Mrs. Garrow said. “But I don’t think anybody’s looking out for our interest.”
Richard Green of Churubusco said he can feel the sounds from the turbines, citing the low range and the repetitiveness.
“It’s a constant noise that you can feel in your body.”
But Burlington, Vt., resident Martin Lavin, who owns 1,350 acres in Clinton, said he deals with noise from passing cars and loud college students at his home.
In Horizon’s original project proposal, Lavin was to have eight turbines on his property, but “we lost them all” in the scaled-back proposal, which calls for taller, yet fewer turbines.
“But I’m still in support of the project,” he said.
Jennifer Ruggles of Churubusco argued that Lavin’s example of noise was a result of his choices.
“You chose to buy a house in a city. We chose to buy a house in the country. We did not choose to move next to these things. I have 35 acres, and I can still feel (the noise). This noise came to us.”
Green said that of the landowners with turbine contracts, 49 are not town residents and just 24 are.
“The income isn’t going to town residents. They don’t have to live with the windmills.”
The town’s wind lawyer, Daniel Spitzer, suggested that the Wind Board summon a Noble representative and call a special public meeting to respond to residents’ noise complaints and address the enforcement of the noise laws.
Horizon’s variances request that it build turbines exceeding 400 feet, increasing their height to 492 feet, which raises concerns with Customs and Border Protection Supervisor Richard Bowman.
“I’ve flown around the ones that are 400 feet, and those are pretty up there,” he said, adding that the turbines’ proximity to the border is also of concern.
“We fly as low as the tress, depending on what we have to work on.”
Ruggles shared Bowman’s border concern.
“It is getting worse at our border, not better. We really should consider safety of the community before money.”
But Spitzer said the new proposal removes most of the turbines from the wetlands area, which are in the northeast area nearest to the border.
The proposal reduces the number of turbines to be built in the towns of Clinton and Ellenburg from 109 to 74.
In return, they’re replacing them with taller, more powerful turbines, generating 0.9 megawatts more than the originals, going from 2.1 to 3, which allows them to reduce the footprint of the project.
The total electrical output would remain the same as the original proposal.
Janice Padula of Plattsburgh owns land in the town but will not have turbines.
“But I am in very big support of this project,” she said.
Padula is a wind professor at Clinton Community College and supports wind energy, calling the turbines “majestic.”
“When I hung my very first load of laundry, I thought, wow, I’m going to put a turbine up here someday.
“I really know these people are reputable. Don’t throw out the project because of someone else,” she continued, referring to residents’ issues with Noble’s turbines.
“I really believe in the reputation of Horizon.”
Nancy Neubrand, a student of Padula’s, said renewable energy is necessary today.
“Wind is free. We need to get into renewables. We’re using substantial resources.”
Will Rogers of Clinton agreed.
“We need to go to renewable or be at the mercy of the Mideast.”
The Wind Facilities Planning Board will have a public meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20, at the Fire House, 1301 Clinton Mills Road.
They committee will review Horizon’s application for variances.
MORE FROM VINALHAVEN:
STATE MUST PROVIDE SOME RELIEF TO NEIGHBORS OF WIND TURBINES
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.
By Alan Farago
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.
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.
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.
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. Silence.
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.
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.
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.
Consultant: Vinalhaven wind turbine noise exceeds limit
“Anybody with a set of ears can come sit on my porch. You can clearly tell the difference between wind in the trees and the sound of the turbines. They don’t cancel each other out.”
SOURCE Bangor Daily News, www.bangordailynews.com
September 12, 2010
by Abigail Curtis
VINALHAVEN, Maine — The three wind turbines that were designed to lower and stabilize the unpredictable electric bills of Vinalhaven and North Haven islands also have brought some sleepless nights to those who live closest to their giant blades and the noises they make.
The controversy over the noise levels between Fox Islands Wind officials and some islanders began soon after the turbines went on line last fall, but last week, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection received a letter from its wind turbine noise consultant that seems to back up the project’s unhappy neighbors.
“There exists a significant body of consistent meteorological and sound data indicating sound levels greater than applicable limits,” Warren L. Brown, who also serves as the University of Maine’s radiation safety officer, wrote Wednesday in a detailed letter. “Substantial changes are recommended for FIW nighttime operations.”
Brown reached his conclusions after reviewing a noise complaint submitted by Fox Islands Wind Neighbors, a loose association of those who are negatively affected by the turbines, and also after reviewing sound and other data from the Fox Islands Wind project.
For Cheryl Lindgren, who lives less than half a mile from the turbines, Brown’s words came as welcome news, though the department has yet to make a decision based on them.
“It’s gratifying, it’s hopeful. It’s also been a lot of work having to do all this to get people to acknowledge that we have a problem,” she said Sunday in a telephone interview. “We’re hoping we can work together now to get some kind of compromise — that we can get some dialogue going, and that they will respond to the needs of the people who are suffering with this.”
But George Baker, the CEO of the Fox Island Wind electric company and vice president for wind at the Island Institute, said Brown’s findings might not be conclusive.
“He’s looked at a bunch of data that our sound consultant has put together. Our sound consultant analyzed exactly the same data and found us to be in compliance,” Baker said Sunday in a telephone interview. “There’s something going on here, and we don’t know exactly what it is, between the experts, and how they are analyzing and interpreting exactly the same data.”
According to Baker, the differences might stem from the way the experts treat ambient sound from various sources, especially the wind in the trees. State sound regulations “have a hard time” dealing with wind turbines, he said.
“If we were an industrial facility, you would turn on the facility on a still, calm day [and measure its noises],” he said. “Unfortunately, our little community wind farm doesn’t operate on still, calm days. It operates on windy days. … When the wind is blowing in the woods, it makes a lot of sound.”
Lindgren, however, says this argument is full of hot air.
“[Baker] keeps talking about the ambient sound. It’s a little disheartening,” she said. “Anybody with a set of ears can come sit on my porch. You can clearly tell the difference between wind in the trees and the sound of the turbines. They don’t cancel each other out.”
Baker said the turbines are turned down by 2 decibels at night in order to meet the state sound requirements.
“If, when experts get through sorting out this question of compliance, and it’s determined that we are out of compliance, we’ll just turn them down a little more at night,” he said. “We’re absolutely committed to compliance.”
But that solution might not sit well with some islanders, he suggested, who have benefited from a 15 to 20 percent reduction in their electricity costs since the turbines starting moving.
A survey completed a month ago by Fox Islands Electric Coop members showed that the majority of respondents were in favor of slowing down the turbines in order to reduce sound no more than state regulations require.
“The project remains very, very widely supported on the islands,” he said.
Lindgren, however, pointed out that electricity costs dipped nationwide last fall, not just on Vinalhaven and North Haven islands. And, after nearly a year of being woken up by the noisy turbines, she’s both frustrated and disappointed.
“We believed in ‘green energy’ as being all good. That’s not always true,” she said. “When corporations get involved, it’s not always from the heart. … I think the whole population could turn off a couple of light bulbs and we’d be in the same place.”