Entries in wind ordinance (17)
DISPUTE ENDS OVER SETBACK FOR TURBINES IN IROQUOIS COUNTY TOWNSHIP
by Will Brumleve
SOURCE The News-Gazette, www.news-gazette.com
December 3, 2011
Douglas Township’s adoption of the 2,000-foot setback is believed to be the first time a township in Illinois has adopted a wind-turbine setback more restrictive than its county’s, according to Kevin Borgia, executive director of the Illinois Wind Energy Association.
WATSEKA — Iroquois County State’s Attorney Jim Devine has conceded that Douglas Township officials obeyed the state’s sunshine laws — to a “minimally acceptable” standard — when they approved increasing the distance required between wind turbines and homes on properties not being leased for a wind farm.
After a months-long legal dispute, Devine said he drafted an amendment to the county’s ordinance regulating wind farms last week to reflect the increased setback for turbines from “non-participating primary structures” within Douglas Township. A new ordinance, signed by County Board Chairman Ron Schroeder, was filed in the county clerk’s office on Tuesday, and it is now in effect, Devine said.
The county board approved changing the county’s ordinance on July 12 to allow a 2,000-foot setback in Douglas Township — a setback that is 500 feet deeper than required by the county. The county board’s approval came after Douglas Township’s board of supervisors and plan commission both approved the setback in June and then requested the county board approve the change.
But until last week, Devine had refused to draft the ordinance that was approved because he felt township officials did not properly notify the public. In late August, Douglas Township officials and their attorneys threatened litigation to force Devine to draft the ordinance.
Devine said Thursday that his concerns about the township providing proper public notice have been alleviated.
“I consulted a township expert attorney and used his expertise to guide me on this,” Devine said. “The conclusion was what (the Douglas Township board and plan commission) did was minimally acceptable but acceptable nonetheless, so I went ahead and wrote the ordinance that was already approved, and it’s now law.”
Rod Copas, an Iroquois County Board member from rural Onarga who also serves as a Douglas Township supervisor, said he is “glad it’s done,” adding, however, that “it’s unfortunate we’ve had to waste (Iroquois County) taxpayers’ money on things like this instead of finding out first (what is and is not legal).
“I’m just amazed it’s taken this long to get where we’re at.”
Douglas Township’s adoption of the 2,000-foot setback is believed to be the first time a township in Illinois has adopted a wind-turbine setback more restrictive than its county’s, according to Kevin Borgia, executive director of the Illinois Wind Energy Association.
Iroquois County’s setback of 1,500 feet, approved in June, was already the largest countywide setback in the state for wind turbines. But Douglas Township officials did not think that was enough. The township was legally allowed to adopt a larger setback than its county’s because the township has a planning commission.
Some wind farm companies have said a 2,000-foot setback would be so restrictive that it would effectively eliminate the possibility of a wind farm. But Copas noted it is a “waivable setback,” so a landowner can agree to allow a turbine placed closer to his or her home.
Under the county’s ordinance, a turbine can be no closer to a home than 1.1 times the tower’s height. That means that a 400-foot turbine could be placed as close as 440 feet from a home.
Copas said the 2,000-foot setback should be a “benefit to the township” and help protect the quality of life of rural residents who live on small farms not being leased for a wind farm. Copas noted that “63 percent of our residents that are in the rural areas (of Douglas Township) just have small home acreages and need some protection.”
Copas said the setback would also provide protection for the property values of homes around any wind farms that are constructed in the township. The setback would also ensure residential and commercial growth remains an option, Copas said.
“People won’t build new homes near these things,” Copas noted.
Devine had argued in a letter he wrote in August to Douglas Township attorneys that the Illinois Township Code requires a meeting’s agenda and notice be posted at least 10 days before a meeting, as well as in a local newspaper, but “neither of these requirements were done” when the township board and its plan commission held meetings to approve the setback.
Douglas Township attorneys wrote in response that a township board must provide 48 hours’ notice of a meeting, not 10 days. They added that notices and agendas for the township meetings were posted at the building in which the meetings were to be held and in “various prominent places throughout the township.”
However, Linda Dvorak, superintendent of the Iroquois West School District, which includes Douglas Township, expressed concerns last summer that she was never notified of the meeting and subsequently was unable to provide any input on how a 2,000-foot setback could affect the district’s potential for attracting wind farms and increasing its tax base.
7/2/11 Better Plan is Back in the Saddle: What about the TWO MILE setback in Oregon state? AND What's all this noise about turbine noise in Michigan?
From Oregon State:
THE FUTURE OF WIND DEVLOPMENT
READ ENTIRE STORY AT SOURCE East Oregonian, www.eastoregonian.com
July 1, 2011
By Samantha Tipler,
In the minutes after Umatilla County commissioners made their decision to approve tougher requirements for wind turbines, some people celebrated.
Others proclaimed it would be the end of the wind power business in Umatilla County.
Even the commissioners themselves were split, with Commissioner Bill Hansell voting against the two-mile setback requirement.
Exactly how these changes will affect wind power development has yet to be seen, but wind power advocates say it means the end to development in the county.
John Audley, deputy director from Renewable Northwest Project, a group advocating renewable energy, said he watched Umatilla County’s lawmaking process closely. He was disappointed in the result.
“I read this as the county saying go someplace else,” he said.
He was particularly taken by a map with two-mile setback circles around homes in a portion of Umatilla County. Those circles covered almost all the space on the map.
“There’s no opportunity for development,” Audley said. “My sense is that’s what the county wanted to say. They felt it was important to just say no.”
Elaine Albrich, with Stoel Rives of Portland, said likewise. She was personally at the meetings the county held, advocating for wind companies.
“While we understand the board had a difficult decision to make, we are disappointed in the outcomes and the process,” she said. “The impacts of the code amendment will vary from project to project but overall I can anticipate less economic development in the county from renewable energy development.”
Umatilla County Planning Director Tamra Mabbott said from her perspective, the changes to the laws will not close the door to wind development.
“We have clear objective standards designed to balance the interest of the developers and the interests of folks who will live near the development,” she said. “It’s not at all intended to foreclose development opportunities.”
In the past 15 years, Umatilla County has seen nine wind power operations sited in the county. That doesn’t necessarily mean they have been built, they’ve just passed the paperwork to be allowed to build.
There were three in 2009, two in 2002 and one each in 1997,2001, 2008 and 2011.
The 2011 wind farm — a roughly 100 megawatt project from a company called WKN Chopin LLC — started its paperwork in February, so it will not be subject to the new laws. It is still going through its permitting process, Mabbott said.
Any wind power companies applying after the commissioners made their decision Tuesday would have to go through the new process.
The biggest procedural change, she said, will be in the pre-application process. Rather than just consulting with other agencies, the county, the company and those agencies will have a meeting.
“With the pre-application meeting we get those comments right up front” Mabbott said. “That’s helpful for everybody involved, particularly with a real big project.”
The county regulations only apply to operations 105 megawatts and smaller. Larger operations are sited through the state.
Then it goes through the Energy Facility Siting Council.
Bryan Wolfe, of Hermiston, is chairman of that council, and he and his colleagues have been keeping an eye on the changes happening in Umatilla County.
“I know Umatilla County has done what they feel is necessary for them,” Wolfe said.
The siting council, too, has seen a need to revamp rules at the state level.
The council’s last two meetings bled with frustration over the inadequacy of the current rules.
The last two meetings have dealt with the Helix Wind Power Facility site amendment, doubling the size of the project. Though several members expressed dissatisfaction with that jump in size, the wind company met all the regulations, and the council approved it.
But even as the council members did so, they said things need to change. They’ve been waiting for the Legislature to wrap up before it begins that review.
Those state rules, set by the Legislature, haven’t changed in about a decade, Wolfe said.
“We should, in light of the knowledge we have, we should start updating things,” Wolfe said. “Yes, we are very aware of what the county is doing.”
When the state permits a wind farm application that would be placed in Umatilla County it considers local rules.
“When we site a project within a county,” Wolfe said, “the county has to sign off on their rules. And if the rules are more stringent than ours, then that will come into play in our decision for a state certificate.”
Wolfe was unsure if Umatilla County’s tougher standards, like the two-mile setback or the protection of the Walla Walla Watershed, would set a precedent in other counties.
Planing offices in Morrow, Union and Gilliam Counties said yes, they were aware of what Umatilla County was doing, but they did not know if it would affect them. Gilliam County — which, along with Morrow County, is where the largest wind farm in the world, Shepherds Flat, is planned — said it likely wouldn’t be affected because it is farther away from Umatilla County.
GROUP RECOMMENDS STRICTER NOISE LEVELS FOR MICHIGAN WIND FARMS
SOURCE: MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY NEWS
June 30, 2011
We believe wind turbines will benefit our state by offering a viable source of alternative energy, but the public must be protected from risks to safety and health."
Specifically, the new report calls for noise levels not to exceed 40 decibels, much lower than the 55 decibels the state recommends now in its 2008 guideline.
EAST LANSING, Mich. — As the call for alternative energy grows louder in Michigan and more communities consider wind farms, a group led by a pair of Michigan State University professors has issued a report calling for stricter regulations on noise levels and providing zoning guidelines for local municipalities.
MSU's Ken Rosenman and Jerry Punch, along with retired Consumers Energy engineer William MacMillan, tackle four main issues in their report on wind turbines: physical safety, shadow flicker (caused by shadows cast when sunlight hits a turbine's turning blades), conflict resolution and the most contentious issue related to turbines: noise levels.
"We strongly recommend the state of Michigan consider our recommendations in revising its 2008 guideline on the placement of onshore wind turbines," said Rosenman, the chief of MSU's Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in the College of Human Medicine.
"We believe wind turbines will benefit our state by offering a viable source of alternative energy, but the public must be protected from risks to safety and health."
Specifically, the new report calls for noise levels not to exceed 40 decibels, much lower than the 55 decibels the state recommends now in its 2008 guideline.
"A level of 55 decibels or higher presents unacceptable health risks," said Rosenman, citing research from the World Health Organization that found repeated exposures to a level of 40 decibels at night lead to long-term adverse health effects such as cardiovascular disease, while shorter-term exposures are associated with sleep disturbances.
While the report says published evidence directly linking noise from wind turbines to adverse health effects is based on studies of airport and road traffic noise, "there is no reason to suspect wind turbine noise will have less of a harmful effect than noise from road traffic or airplanes," Rosenman said.
The report also sets guidelines on how to best measure noise levels and includes information on zoning waivers for municipalities.
Additionally, the report calls for a minimum distance from each turbine to the nearest residence or residential property line to provide adequate safety in the event of falling towers, blade failure or ice throw.
"But it can't be assumed that distances that protect against physical safety are adequate to protect against annoyance and sleep disturbance from noise," said Punch, a retired professor of audiology in the MSU's Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders.
The report also sets out the process for municipalities to measure and predict shadow flicker, as well as ways to mitigate the problem.
Finally, Punch said, the report recommends several ways for municipalities to minimize complaints and disputes regarding wind turbines, including a mediation process as an alternative to litigation and "good-neighbor" payments to residents within pre-determined distances of wind turbines.
There currently are only a handful of wind farms operating in the state, but several municipalities are considering adding wind farms in the near future. Rosenman and Punch said they hope municipalities use the group's report as a guideline for zoning issues that arise when turbines are built. The report can be found at http://www.oem.msu.edu/userfiles/file/Resources/WindandHealthReport.pdf.
Friday, March 18, 9:20 PM
Film review by Ann Hornaday
"[A]n alarming portrait of small, economically vulnerable towns being cynically targeted by Big Wind — slick, savvy energy companies less interested in the public good than in profits, which are virtually ensured thanks to generous federal and state tax breaks, as well as the deep pockets of investment banks. “It’s not green energy,” notes one observer. “It’s greed.”
Faucets don’t spit fire in “Windfall,” making its local premiere Saturday at the Environmental Film Festival. But incendiary water may be the only side effect not associated with wind power in Laura Israel’s absorbing, sobering documentary about the lures and perils of green technology.
With the Oscar-nominated “Gasland” (and its flame-throwing plumbing) enlightening viewers on the environmental and public health implications of natural gas drilling, and with nuclear power’s reputation in meltdown as a global community turns an anxious gaze toward Japan, some hardy souls may see hope in wind power. After seeing “Windfall,” those optimists will probably emerge with their faith, if not shaken, at least blown strongly off course.
“Windfall” takes place in Meredith, N.Y., a once-thriving dairy-farming community of fewer than 2,000 tucked into a bucolic Catskills valley that is teetering between post-agricultural poverty and hip gentrification. When Irish energy company Airtricity offers leases to build windmills on some residents’ properties, the deals initially seem like a win-win. A little extra money in the pockets of struggling farmers, an environmentally sound technology, those graceful white wings languorously slicing the afternoon sky — what’s not to like?
Plenty, as the concerned residents in “Windfall” find out. Not only do the 400-foot, 600,000-pound turbines look much less benign up close, but research has suggested that their constant low-frequency noise and the flickering shadows they cast affect public health; what’s more, they’ve been known to fall, catch fire and throw off potentially lethal chunks of snow and ice.
Soon Meredith succumbs to drastic divisions between boosters, who see Airtricity’s offers as a godsend for the economically strapped community, and skeptics, who see the leases as little more than green-washed carpetbaggery. “Windfall” chronicles the ensuing, agonizing fight, which largely splits lifelong residents and the relatively new “downstaters,” who’ve moved in from Manhattan and want to keep their views and property values pristine.
Using artful collages of maps and signage, a rootsy soundtrack and crisp digital cinematography, Israel provides a vivid backdrop to “Windfall’s” most gripping story, the emotionally charged human conflict that results in a genuine cliffhanger of a third act. Wisely letting Meredith’s residents speak for themselves, the filmmaker avoids simple good-guy-bad-guy schematics, instead enabling each side to state its case.
Israel, a film editor making her feature debut here, has owned a cabin in Meredith for more than 20 years, a fact never made clear in “Windfall,” which is, nonetheless, filmed with careful, dispassionate distance. In large part, the documentary follows Israel’s process of discovery. Although she wasn’t approached for a lease, she initially supported wind power in the community, she said in an interview. “I wanted a turbine on my property, which motivated me to learn more about it,” she explained. “A lot of the people in the film are illustrating the process I went through, from initial excitement to having it unravel as you find out more about the subject.”
Comparing the situation in Meredith with similar ones in other New York communities, Israel conveys an alarming portrait of small, economically vulnerable towns being cynically targeted by Big Wind — slick, savvy energy companies less interested in the public good than in profits, which are virtually ensured thanks to generous federal and state tax breaks, as well as the deep pockets of investment banks. “It’s not green energy,” notes one observer. “It’s greed.”
Meanwhile, in Meredith, a handful of earnest, common-sense heroes try to separate fact from hype, do the right thing and navigate thorny questions of civic progress by way of small-town democracy. The latter isn’t always pretty, as anyone who has attended a town hall or school board meeting knows. But “Windfall” makes it look exciting, inspiring and, most important, stubbornly enduring. Last year, the Environmental Film Festival helped launch “Gasland’s” grass-roots tour, during which the film pulled the veil from an otherwise opaque subject. With luck, “Windfall” will soon embark on a similar eye-opening journey. Catch it if you can.
2/2/11 Baby it's SNOW outside. Why not make some popcorn and sit back and watch these SHORT videos of how the Wind Siting Council helped create the rules that will go into effect on March 1st unless Walker's bill is passed. . For some it's like watching paint dry! For others it's like watching businessmen driven by profit hold your future in their hands.
CLICK on the image below to see how the PSC came up the number of hours of wind turbine shadow flicker a household must endure before they can complain to the wind company
Click on the image below to hear a PSC Wind Siting Council member suggest the setback around a wind turbine be called a 'courtesy setback' rather than a 'safety setback' because she does not believe safety is an issue
Click on the image below to hear why the Wind Siting Council would allow local government to reduce the setbacks and make them less than the PSC's saftey guidelines
Click on the image below to hear why wind developers don't want to tell people in a community that they are planning a project in their community
CLICK here to watch the PSC's Wind Siting Council unable to answer the most basic of questions. How much louder is the 25 decibel increase they have recommended?
EXTRA CREDIT READING:
“I saw those flames go out the door with no smoke and I said: ‘The barn’s on fire!’ And I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
ABOVE: A barn at the Nelson farm in Lowell burned down in August. State police couldn't determine a cause. Don Nelson thinks the barn was torched because of his opposition to the Lowell wind project.
By John Dillon
Vermont Public Radio News, www.vpr.net
February 1, 2011
(Host) This week, the Public Service Board opens hearings on Vermont’s largest wind development – a proposal for 21 wind turbines that would stand 440 feet tall on a ridgeline in Lowell.
Developers hoped to avoid some of the controversy that other projects have faced by asking for, and winning, Lowell voters’ support last Town Meeting Day. But it hasn’t been that easy.
In the first part of our series on wind’s future in Vermont, VPR’s John Dillon explains how passionate, and personal, the debate still is in Lowell.
(Dillon) Don Nelson is a retired dairy farmer. He’s a slight, wiry guy with white hair and a bad back from years milking cows.
The farm where Nelson and his wife, Shirley, live is far up a dirt road, snug up against the Lowell Mountains. They’ve fought wind turbine development here for almost ten years. The first company eventually called it quits.
But the project was revived by Green Mountain Power. The Nelsons continued to fight and they wonder whether they’ve been targeted as a result. Don Nelson remembers Friday the 13th of August last year.
(Nelson) “I saw those flames go out the door with no smoke and I said: ‘The barn’s on fire!’ And I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
(Dillon) Nelson had slept past his normal dawn rising. Soon after he poured coffee, he saw his red barn erupt in flames.
(Nelson) “It didn’t go bang. It went ‘woooom!’ And then ‘wooom!’ like that. And the first one, it forced the flames right through the cracks in the roofing.”
(Dillon) Balls of flame leveled the barn within 30 minutes. State police couldn’t determine a cause. Nelson thinks his barn was torched. And he thinks his opposition to the wind project might have been why.
(Nelson) “All I know is that it’s a $160 million project and the town of Lowell is going to get $400,000-$500,000 a year. Money changes people. I don’t know. How do I know? All I know is: I know the barn was set, and I know that we didn’t set it.”
(Dillon) The embers of the barn fire cooled last August. But tensions in Lowell and other communities remain high over wind development and the future of Vermont’s ridgelines.
On one side are people like the Nelsons. They argue the projects will hurt tourism and damage fragile mountain habitat.
But many others see economic and environmental value. Alden Warner is a selectman in Lowell. He says Vermont has to take responsibility for generating some of its own electricity.
(Warner) “Our earth’s supply of energy sources is going to be depleted. The millions of gallons that are being burned every day – we’ve got to do something to start getting prepared for our energy.”
(Dillon) Warner is also the Lowell fire chief. He thinks the Nelson fire probably was intentionally set, but who did it and why remains a mystery.
(Warner) “I would really be disappointed if I found out that if somebody that was pro wind turbines would actually take something to the degree of actually destroying somebody’s property just to get even.”
(Dillon) Warner says deep divisions remain in town. He’s a big booster of the project – but one of his brothers is involved in the opposition group.
Still, GMP won Lowell’s support on Town Meeting Day. The town will be rewarded with annual payments that could cut property taxes by a third or more.
Opponents say the impacts go far beyond Lowell.
Steve Wright is a former state Fish and Wildlife Commissioner and member of the Conservation Commission in Craftsbury. Many areas in Craftsbury overlook the Lowell range. Wright said he thought ridgeline wind generation was benign until he started reading the 1,300 page application GMP filed with the Public Service Board.
(Wright) “I read one segment in there that flipped me over completely and that was the segment on the amount of road building and alteration of the 450 million year old Cretaceous era ridgeline which currently basically has no roads there. That’s what turned me around.”
(Dillon) Trees would have to be cleared for four miles of new road. State biologists warn about damage to critical bear habitat. Wright says the mountain will have to be blasted and leveled as much as 40 feet in places. And he believes the beauty of the area will be damaged.
(Wright) “People come to many towns in Vermont, I believe, for the way these towns look. And we get some push back often on the view not meaning anything. I contest that: why have we worked for years to create a body of legislation that essentially protects the view?”
(Dillon) Wright refers to Act 250, the billboard law, and other efforts to preserve the state’s iconic character. But another land ethic runs fiercely through Vermont – and the Northeast Kingdom in particular – protection of property rights.
(Pion) “Everybody wants to have a say in everybody else’s land. And I have a problem with that.”
(Dillon) Richard Pion is chairman of the Lowell selectboard. He says landowners have the right to do what they want with their property. A neighbor steers his tractor away from Pion’s front yard, where Pion points out a few of the turbines will be visible. But he’s not worried about the view.
(Pion) “Once these are built for six months people won’t pay any attention to them. Won’t be any worse that looking at the ski resort.”
(Dillon) Back in Don and Shirley Nelson’s living room, a clock chimes the hour as they reflect on the personal toll of their opposition. Shirley Nelson says the barn fire put many on edge. Don Nelson worries about the future.
(Nelson) Some people couldn’t stand to live here. Some people think this is heaven, but it won’t be when this is done. It’s going to change the character of the Northeast Kingdom forever.
(Dillon) The Nelsons and others fighting the project will be at the Public Service Board this week. But they’re not hopeful. They point out that the state agency that represents electric consumers recently reversed itself and endorsed the Lowell wind project.
For VPR News, I’m John Dillon.
(Host) Tomorrow, we take a look at the science behind wind energy, and how much wind development is needed to effectively reduce greenhouse gas pollution.
OPINIONS DIFFER ON WIND POWER'S POLLUTION REDUCTION
Source: Vermont Public Radio News, www.vpr.net
(Host) Supporters and opponents of commercial-scale wind energy projects on Vermont’s ridgelines use a lot of statistics and facts to argue their very different sides of the debate.
So it’s difficult to sort out how much carbon pollution might be cut if there were big wind turbines in the mountains. Or whether the wind generators could replace bigger electric plants, such as Vermont Yankee.
As part of a series on the future of wind energy in Vermont, VPR’s John Dillon explains the complexities.
(Dillon) Leading environmental groups say Vermont has a “moral obligation” to combat climate change. And they say developing wind projects on the state’s ridgelines is the way to make progress.
Brian Shupe of the Vermont Natural Resources Council says all that’s needed is some planning.
(Shupe) “The lack of a coherent energy plan in the state has not allowed Vermont to adequately prepare for the closing of Vermont Yankee, or to address climate change in a meaningful way.”
(Dillon) Those are the twin goals of many Vermont environmentalists: Shut down Yankee and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
But can industrial-scale wind do the job? Can it replace Yankee? To answer that, we need to step back for a moment for a lesson on how the electricity grid works.
Yankee is what’s known as a “baseload” plant. That means – barring an unexpected shutdown – it cranks 620 megawatts into the New England grid all day, every day, all year.
But the wind doesn’t blow every day, so wind power can’t be baseload. It’s known as intermittent.
ISO New England, which oversees the regional energy market, says more wind will not replace nuclear reactors like Yankee, or the big greenhouse gas polluters – coal-fired plants.
(Luce) “I’m Ben Luce. I’m a professor at Lyndon State College.”
(Dillon) Now, let’s pause for a moment for a lesson in a science lab.
Professor Luce has sandy hair and round glasses. He speaks in the measured, analytical tones of a physics professor, which is what he is. In his lab, Luce tinkers with a shiny chrome device. It’s a heat pump, kind of a reverse refrigerator.
(Luce) “Well, we try to teach about the principals of clean energy technology so people really understand them. And this geothermal heat pump unit is one we’re evaluating.”
(Dillon) Because he advocates for renewable energy, Luce has high hopes for devices like this. It can convert the cold temperatures from the ground into heat that can be used to warm buildings. But despite his environmentalist credentials, Luce is skeptical about wind in Vermont. He encouraged it in New Mexico when he worked there. But he says there’s just not enough wind potential here to make much of a difference in global climate change.
(Luce) “On the scale of U.S. energy usage, it’s quite small. If you were to develop all the so-called developable wind resources in the eastern United States they would only be able to reduce U.S. CO2 emissions by about 1 percent.”
(Dillon) Notice he said if you were to develop all the wind resources. That means turbines on many, many ridgelines and extensive offshore wind projects. Even if you did all that, says Luce, you wouldn’t make much of a dent in climate change.
(Luce) “It really is a minor resource. At the same time developing it in my opinion would have an incredibly adverse effect on the ecology and the economy and the character of the state.”
(Dillon) Yet Green Mountain Power says the 21 turbines the company hopes to build on Lowell Mountain will cut greenhouse gases. Robert Dostis is a company vice president.
(Dostis) “Every kilowatt of electricity that’s produced from Lowell is power we don’t have to buy from some other resource. And if that other resource is a fossil fuel, then that’s carbon we’re not putting into the atmosphere.”
(Dillon) But how much less on carbon? GMP says it’s difficult to say because different fuels create different emissions.
(Dostis) “The bottom line is, any development of this size obviously is going to have impacts, and it’s about the trade-offs.”
(Dillon) Even if environmental concerns weren’t part of the wind equation, there’s another piece of the energy system that critics say has to be considered.
It’s the question of “spinning reserve.” Here’s what that is: A spare power source, ready to kick in whenever it’s needed. Think of spinning reserve like this. When you’re sitting in your car waiting at a stop light, you want to be able to go as soon as the light turns green. It’ll take longer to get rolling if you have to restart the engine after every stop.
The electricity system is much more vast than a single car, though. So it also needs another reserve, one that could be powered up within 10 minutes.
New England needs 1,200 megawatts of both kinds of reserve electricity on hand. It usually comes from baseload hydro, nuclear or fossil fuel. Experts say if wind were a more significant part of the mix, there would be an even greater need for reserve because wind is intermittent.
Despite wind’s limitations, environmental groups argue that Vermont has to do something to move away from nuclear and fossil fuels. James Moore of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group says five or six wind projects would make a significant impact.
(Moore) “We’re talking about 8 percent of the state’s annual electricity demand already being met by local resources just in the next couple of years.”
(Dillon) But Physics professor Ben Luce has a different idea: solar. He says it’s getting cheaper and produces electricity when it’s most needed.
Luce says he wants the debate to be driven by science not hope.
(Luce) “So when people say we have to do something, my response to that is to say we really need to do something serious, not something that is just effectively symbolic.”
(Dillon) Most of Vermont’s greenhouse gases come from vehicles and heating fuels. Luce says that’s where the state could focus.
For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.
(Host) Tomorrow our series concludes with a look at how wind projects are financed.
8/26/10 Gone with the wind developer: Family lets the PSC know why they regret signing on with Invenergy AND a resident who has been living in the Invenergy Forward wind project for over two years lets the PSC know he and his family are having trouble.
MORE FROM THE DOCKET: What Wisconsin residents are saying to the PSC about recent wind siting discussions
FROM BROWN COUNTY
Dear PSC Members,
My name is Marilyn Nies.
We signed a contract with Invenergy in Brown County.
Boy what a scam this all is. It was like the snake oil salesman in the movies. After two years so much more
information came out concerning turbines.
We also for some dumb reason never put two and two together concerning our daughter. Our youngest child has three separate heart issues. One of them being WPW, which is an electrical impulse disorder.
I am afraid stray voltage and the low frequency noise will harm her. Needless to say we want out of
our contract. They will not let us out.
They outright lied and lied by omission. People do not vacate their houses that they have put their whole adult lives into fixing up for no reason. There is a problem here and no studies have been done. They just keep saying there is no evidence, because nothing has been done!
You are putting the cart before the horse. I and many others feel studies should be done before this goes any further. In addition, in Brown County especially, each turbine should be looked at individually or not at all due to the karst rock features.
My final point is money...... I don't want any money from them.
I don't think many of the other people not signed up want money either. I tried to send the money back that we received direct deposit, they would not cash the check. Since then I have closed the account. Invenergy now mails the checks and I burn them. We want to live here without our land value decreasing and without
It is called being responsible. Even 1300 feet is not much if you get a storm like we had Friday. There was a section 1 mile wide by 4 miles long where we had 75 mile an hour winds, come to find out it was a tornado. There are buildings and silos down and damaged all over. How far could a turbine blade or a section of one go? Especially if there was mechanical failure combine with an act of God? Just something to think about.
I sincerely hope you take your time on this issue and get some INDEPENDENT studies done. We
have to live with these the rest of our lives. What is the big deal if it sits another year until we know
Greenleaf, WI 54126
FROM FOND DU LAC COUNTY:
Heilman, Alice - PSC
From: Gerry Meyer
Sent: Tuesday, August 24, 2010 12:51 PM
Cc: Jones, Krystal - PSC; Paske, Sandra - PSC
Subject: Comments per Commissioners meeting of 8-23-10
Dear Public Service Commissioners Azar, Meyer and Callisto,
My comments are in response to Monday’s meeting concerning the draft rules for wind turbine siting.
I live in the Forward Energy project by Invenergy so I have first hand knowledge of what life in a wind farm it truly like. My statements are not third party or from listening to others.
I have many thoughts based on listening to your meetings last Thursday (August 19) and yesterday (August 23).
Commissioner Azar, you seemed to be concerned for residents living near large industrial wind turbines in that you were looking at sound pressure reading of 40 Dba and a set back that would equal 2200 feet.
Yesterday you relented on your original thoughts.
At 6:55 this morning I went out with my sound meter to take a reading. The wind was from the SW which in my case is the worst sound. I had a Dba of 42 and a Dbc of 58. The sound was bouncing higher, however I tried to go to the low side with a slight feeling for an average sound pressure reading. The sound was bordering on the sound of a jet to a loud whooshing sound.
I talk to people that are having issues with the sound, however do not pay close attention to wind direction. As I mentioned generally the loudest sound is when the wind is from a westerly direction, however when the wind is from the E, SE and NE I get the least sleep.
I believe even a 40 Dba sound pressure is too loud and the commission needs to lower the sound to 5 Dba above ambient or at the very least 40 Dba. I have found that I do get pretty good sleep when the turbines are turning at 11 rpms or less which I would say is slightly above cut in speed.
Often we do not necessarily hear the wind turbines, yet sleep deprivation is present. The wind energy industry is dismissing the affects of low frequency noise and possibly infra sounds. That is why l listed the Dbc level above.
The commission needs to look at low frequency sound. I must strongly suggest you can not compare airplanes, trains or traffic sounds to large industrial wind turbines. The turbines are in a class by themselves as far as the effects they cause.
I do not receive shadow flicker. Well I do get flicker just briefly only several days a year, however in our case the many trees block out any serious effect it may have. I do know a number of friends and now acquaintances that have a horrendous time with shadow flicker.
One of those affected is siting council member Larry Wunsch. If the commission OK’s 30 hours of flicker a year before curtailment they may not understand that could mean 52 days or more of flicker.
Some of the council members felt that a non participant’s property should not be invaded by shadow flicker (the minority). I would tend to agree with that thought. Turn your lights on and off once per second for 40
minutes to see if that would be more than just annoying or a disturbance.
I am the one that submitted my cortisol levels to the docket. Briefly I was gaining weight in 6 to 7 pound increments while trying to eat less. I consulted with a Dr. who suggested I have my cortisol checked. During the time of high sleep deprivation from the 5 turbines with 5/8 of a mile of our house I had it checked. My cortisol level was 254.
After the Forward project was shut down for 21 days last October I found I had lost 17 pounds of the 30+ pounds I had gained. I had my cortisol level checked that very next day after the turbines began turning and the level was 35. It should be less than 100.
Yes, everyone seems to have stress, but I feel the high level was due to the turbines being irresponsibly placed too close to our home.
In my case I have one (turbine) 1560 feet away, one 2480 feet, and three at 3300 feet away. The first two are measured the later three are estimates based on maps. Even a half a mile set back would be a very conservative compromise. One of those at 3300 feet away are as loud as those 1560 and 2480 feet away
I feel the commission needs to enact a property value guarantee. I have seen properties list
for $219,000 and sell for $129,000. I have seen one property be abandoned, I have seen houses go
up for sale and never sell.
I know of homes that have been for sale since the project went up and have failed to sell. I feel prior to large wind turbine constructions my property of 6+ acres, a large farm house completely remodeled, the former dairy barn of 40’ X 92’ and a new 26’ X60’ garage/shop was worth $500,000. I would now estimate it to be worth about $200,000. Those estimates are based on being a carpenter in a previous life.
Wind energy companies constantly state that there is no loss in property value. If so why not be willing to guarantee that statement with a property value protection.
I do not trust modeling as a way to avoid shadow flicker and noise. An example would be mileage standards for cars. Do you get the mileage that is on the window sticker? Industrial turbine manufacturers can manipulate statistics to meet the needs of buyers and builders. Shadow flicker modeling takes into account variables that may not be there. Those models should take in to account the worst case scenario not the least case scenario.
I am offended by I believe Commissioner Meyer’s comment that some of these issues are needed for the good of the whole. Those may not be the exact words, but close.
I don’t believe my family or I or many others that are victims of wind energy should have to make this sacrifice. I know this is not part of the issue, yet on the other hand it is. Wind energy and the electricity it produces is very costly and wind energy is very inefficient. It is not causing any reduction on traditional energy use and is doubtful if it is reducing any carbon dioxide emissions after all the considerations are
Part of the draft rule addresses allowing political subdivisions to allow compensation for adjacent land owners up to the amount the hosting farmer is receiving. (Page 36 of 44 128.33 sub 3) Wind energy is not accepted currently because of being improperly sited and the effects it causes.
If there is to be an increased acceptance of the wind industry this would be a great way to achieve it. I have often thought about if I had property value protection and receive the same compensation as my hosting neighbor I might be able to accept some of the disadvantages of this project.
In Monday’s meeting consideration was given to farm animals, domestic animals and wildlife.
My first reaction to that statement is “What about people” “Don’t we have some value?”. We should be at the top of the list.
We used to see deer at least once a week and 16 to 20 turkeys every few days from our house. Since construction of the turbines began (winter of 2007) we have not seen even one deer and only 2 turkeys.
Signal interference was touched on. We do have a satellite dish however we still have our old fashioned TV antenna. We need that to get Green Bay stations. If the wind is in a certain direction we can not get Green Bay.
There are people that rely on TV antennas that need protection from wind turbine interference with out having to fill out a W9 and receive a 1099 at the end of the year. For my internet I have a private company with a free standing tower 5 miles from my home. It is not affected; however other residents may be and need protection from losing their service. There needs to be set backs from emergency frequency beams.
I am concerned about community wind. Community wind needs to be treated the same as regular or large wind. If not what would happen is a community wind project of up to 15 MB would bebuilt. Let’s go 5 miles away and build another community wind project.. Now let’s connect the two and soon there could be 50 turbines that were intended to be a community wind project.
Don’t say that won’t happen. It did in Washington or Oregon.
If you read and research you know that world wide wherever there are large industrial wind turbines there are concerns and complaints about health issues.
Also of concern is decommissioning. Wind energy companies can sell the project, go bankrupt or flee the country. The money needs to be upfront. I believe the wind energy company representatives on the wind siting council grossly underestimated the decommissioning costs.
Standing turbines or even disassembled turbines lying on the ground are not in recyclable condition. They would need to be cut up in small pieces. I doubt that round 1” steel can be conveniently sheered.
I read over and over that Wisconsin’s past laws were a “patchwork” of rules and discouraged wind development in Wisconsin. Let’s leave wind out of this next statement.
If you take my township’s (Byron) building ordinance and compare it to Town of Fond du Lac’s or the Town of Union (Rock County) those building ordinances would be different. Does that curtail building or barns, silos or
homes? Should all building codes be controlled by the state?
There are town and county wind ordinances that are good with months or even over a year of research before their enactment. Those ordinances were never even discussed by the wind siting council.
That needs to be looked in to and the value of those existing ordinances evaluated. The Town of Union, Magnolia and Trempealeau Counties are great ordinances.
Commissioner Azar, it was me that got your attention at the wind siting council meeting asking for a brief conversation after the meeting when Jevon McFadden was giving his presentation. I later talked with Crystal Jones attempting to set up an appointment with you.
I did later receive a call from possibly Brian letting me know a visit together was not going to be possible. My thoughts at the time were for you to visit so that I could give my first hand account of the effects on my family from actually seeing my property for yourself.
I would have showed you around the project pointing our the many others with issues shadow flicker, noise, health issues and homes that are not selling or selling much below their market value.
I based my thought on the fact that in a previous meeting (May 14?) you expressed a concern about shadow flicker. I am disappointed this visit did not seem necessary.
As a tax paying citizen of the great state of Wisconsin I am not in favor of the subsidies, production credits and other incentives to wind energy companies and utilities for wind development.
Enough incentives have been paid over the years to develop wind. I don’t believe those incentives have worked to prove wind energy a viable source of electricity generation. If it was a feasible source of electricity it would have proved itself. I would rather see my tax dollars go to the state buying a house in a wind project and for the commissioners to spend a few weeks at a time living in that house and commuting to Madison so that they can learn for themselves what life in a wind project is really like.
I don’t believe Wisconsin should be promoting the financial interests of wind energy companies and utilities. I strongly believe the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin and the State Health Department should be most concerned about the health affects large wind turbines cause that are irresponsibly placed too close to the residents of Wisconsin citizens.
In summary 50 dba is too high. 45 dba is too high. I believe 40 dba can be too high. 5 dba above ambient should be the standard. Why should a non participant put up with any shadow flicker? Set backs need to be ½ mile or more. Property value protection is a must. Signal interference needs
to be corrected and for the life of the project.
Thank you for considering my comments,