Entries in wind power (141)

9/9/11 Farmer Regrets signing on with wind company ANDDown Under or Up Over turbine troubles are the same


By Sue McGinn, 

SOURCE: www.saukvalley.com

September 9, 2011

When you sign a 20- to 30-year contract to have a wind turbine on your property, you may be signing away many rights you’re unaware of. A confidentiality agreement in the contract may mean legal action can be taken against you if you complain publicly. A Fond du Lac, Wis., farmer signed away his rights.

These are excerpts from a full-page ad in the Chilton (Wis.) Times-Journal, Oct. 25, 2007, as told to Don Bangart, who wrote the following on behalf of the farmer.

“As I view this year’s crops, my eyes feast on a most bountiful supply of corn and soybeans. And then my eyes focus again on the trenches and road scars leading to the turbine foundations. What have I done?”

In 2003, the energy company made first contact with a $2,000 “incentive.” In 2004 or 2005, he signed a $4,000 turbine contract allowing them to lease his land for their needs. The lease favored the company, but he didn’t realize it.

He watched them tear 22-foot-wide roads into his fields. Later, a 4-foot-deep-by-2-foot wide trench was started diagonally across his field, eventually making what was one large field into four smaller, irregularly shaped plots. The company placed roads and trenches where they would benefit it most, not the landowner. Costly tiling installed to improve drainage was cut into pieces.

The farmers were told to stay away from the work sites. Once, when he approached a crew putting in lines where they promised they would not go, a representative told him he could not be there.

There are now huge divisions between old friends and, yes, relatives. He and others tried to get out of the contracts, but they were binding.

[He] said, “Please do not do what I have done.”


From Australia


By Alexandra Weaver

SOURCE: The Standard, www.standard.net.au 

September 9, 2011

“When you have people that could feel that they’re locked in, that their whole entity is signed up — their house and their business — they may feel that they don’t have places to go, and they may feel that they can’t speak out because they’re in these agreements".

Turbines appear a few kilometres from Glenthompson, rising among paddocks stocked with fat lambs.

These modern windmills are a new feature of the local landscape.

On a day when grey, rain-filled clouds sweep through the area their white blades look particularly bright, each one’s rhythmic spinning commanding attention.

Late last month AGL began commissioning its 32-turbine Oaklands Hill wind farm, a project capable of producing 63 megawatts of power each year. Just four days later, Adrian and Helen Lyon began to notice a change.

The Lyons are wool producers whose home is about 1670 metres from one of the development’s turbines.

Both have reported a feeling of sustained pressure in their ears, a sensation that has disturbed their sleep.

The couple believe the problem is worst when the wind is blowing from the north, and say it disappears when the wind direction changes or they leave the 430-hectare property.

Mr Lyon said his initial worry when plans for the wind farm were unveiled in 2006 was the audible noise it could produce, adding that inaudible low-frequency noise had since become an equal concern.

“To me, and I’m pretty sure it will be for most people, if you expose yourself (to turbines) for quite some time and then go away, you will notice there is a difference,” he said.

“Exactly what we’re experiencing now, you don’t appreciate it, even after visiting Waubra.”

There are 15 turbines within about three kilometres of the Lyons’ home, though none on their land. They were invited to host generators but were concerned that doing so would restrict the number of trees they could plant.

The pair have not approached their GP to discuss the ear pressure complaint but are looking for a rental home within 50 kilometres of Glenthompson so Mr Lyon can continue running the farm.

“We’ve tried to seek answers and clarifications because if we’re being affected, other people are as well,” Mrs Lyon said.

“Some people may think that we’re just being whingers (but) we have a genuine concern for our own health and for the wellbeing that’s associated with wind farms.

“When you have people that could feel that they’re locked in, that their whole entity is signed up — their house and their business — they may feel that they don’t have places to go, and they may feel that they can’t speak out because they’re in these agreements.

“We’re an example of our home and our livelihood being affected, and impacts have begun.

“We are fortunate that we are able to speak out.”

The Waubra Foundation was formed last year to foster independent research into the health consequences of wind farms.

The organisation’s medical director, Sarah Laurie, said those living near turbines were increasingly dealing with a raft of complaints.

“I think there’s two reasons for that: one is that turbines are being placed closer to more homes, and the other issue is that the turbines are getting bigger,” she said.

“I believe, and so do other people working in the field, that it’s predominantly the low-frequency noise that’s impacting adversely on people’s health.”

Some argue it is anxiety over turbines that leads nearby residents to experience problems such as sleep deprivation, nausea, depression and headaches, a theory Dr Laurie disputes.

“My experience is that people hope — they desperately hope — that they’re going to not be affected,” she said.

“Nobody wants to have to leave their home.

“For some people (symptoms) start the minute the turbines go on, and it depends on the individual susceptibility, but it also depends on wind direction and it depends on topography.

“Anxiety is not the primary thing that’s driving this, because people are very clear that it only happens with certain wind directions.”

Dr Laurie said she routinely met residents who could identify wind direction and whether turbines were running without looking outside, such was the variation in their physical state.

Last month Planning Minister Matthew Guy approved amendment VC82, which included key parts of the Coalition’s pre-election wind farm policy.

Perhaps the most significant of these was a two-kilometre buffer between turbines and homes that will apply unless the developer receives written consent from the property owner.

The amendment also introduced no-go areas for wind farms in areas including land along the Great Ocean Road, and prevents projects being built within five kilometres of regional cities such as Warrnambool, Hamilton and Portland.

“I think (the two-kilometre setback) will help — there’s no doubt that (with) close proximity people’s symptoms are bad,” Dr Laurie said.

“We well know that the symptoms actually extend way beyond the two-kilometre mark.

“Low-frequency noise travels much further than the higher frequencies and it’s more penetrating, so as the turbines get higher and increase their power-generating capacity, what we’re going to see is people impacted over a greater distance.”

The Waubra Foundation has called for a 10-kilometre setback between turbines and homes, a figure that represents the furthest point at which residents near wind farms have reported problems.

It is also keen to see independent, peer-reviewed research on wind farms’ health effects completed in Australia as a matter of urgency.

The Lyons are adamant that those with an interest or stake in wind energy should visit their farm to gauge potential problems for themselves.

“(We want) to get people here when there is an acute problem, so that they know that there’s a problem.

“It’s no good doing tests if those tests aren’t covering what the problem is,” Mr Lyon said.

“I think we’ve got to try and get people here whether it’s in the house or down in the paddock. I haven’t worked out which one will affect people quicker.”

An AGL spokeswoman said pre-commissioning of turbines at Oaklands Hill began on August 19 and was slowly ramped up, with all generators available for commissioning on the evening of August 28.

“The commissioning process ensures that the turbines are operating within their design criteria and in accordance with the permit requirements,” she said.

“It involves testing of the turbines under normal operational conditions, assessing noise levels, electricity generation, testing of electrical and control components, reliability testing.”

The wind farm’s 32 turbines are expected to come online at some stage during the first quarter of next year.

The AGL spokeswoman said the company took all issues associated with its projects seriously and was investigating concerns about noise levels raised by the Lyons.

“The couple involved have been contacted directly by an AGL representative and a written acknowledgment of the complaint has also been provided,” she told The Standard yesterday.

“Post-construction noise compliance monitoring has already been planned and is scheduled to be commenced before the end of September 2011.

“The Department of Planning and Community Development and Southern Grampians Shire Council (have been) advised accordingly.”


From Ontario



Source: Owen Sound Sun Times

September 9, 2011

After months of sleepless nights, symptoms began to pile up — nausea, "horrendous" migraines, pressure in her ears and head, vertigo and general malaise.

Norma Schmidt says at first she welcomed the idea of wind turbines being erected near her rural home in southern Bruce County.

"I thought that this was good for the environment. I believed what the Liberal government told us," she said in an interview.

But shortly after the gigantic blades began to spin, in November 2008, Schmidt said she began tossing and turning at night and struggled to sleep.

After months of sleepless nights, symptoms began to pile up — nausea, "horrendous" migraines, pressure in her ears and head, vertigo and general malaise.

"The symptoms became so pervasive over months that I couldn't ignore them any longer," she said.

"Eventually I became extremely ill and was diagnosed with having wind turbine syndrome."

Acting on the advice of doctors and specialists, Schmidt said she and her husband Ron purchased a home in Miller Lake to get away from the 115-turbine Enbridge wind farm.

The decision to move was a difficult one, she said.

The couple has lived on their 13-acre property near Underwood for 32 years and raised three children there. It was the first home Schmidt owned after moving to Canada from Ireland.

"All my memories and life work is there. I can't grow those 6,000 trees again. I can't bring back the memories of my kids again. I can't transplant those 32 years of my life into some other environment."

On top of having to move, Schmidt said she became so ill while living among turbines that she is now unable to work as a registered nurse.

"My life is devastated because of it."

The feisty 55-year-old has become a vocal opponent of the province's Green Energy Act and has vowed to do whatever it takes to prevent the Liberal party from forming a government for a third consecutive time on Oct. 6.

On Wednesday, she staged an anti-wind protest in front of Huron-Bruce Liberal MPP Carol Mitchell's constituency office, after a brief meeting with the provincial cabinet minister. Schmidt said the police were called on her.

Later in the day, Schmidt joined about 70 anti-turbine protesters outside Meaford Hall for a rally to coincide with a fundraiser for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Liberal candidate Kevin Eccles. Provincial Environment Minister John Wilkinson was expected to attend the event, but cancelled due to a scheduling conflict.

Schmidt was front and centre at the rally.

Using a megaphone, she led the crowd in chants like "Hey hey, ho ho, Dalton McGuinty's got to go," "Where's John Wilkinson," and "The winds of change are coming."

She held a large white sign that read "What about our health?"

She said her goal is to put a human face on the suffering caused by industrial wind turbines. She is calling on the province to halt new wind farm projects until an independent epidemiological health study is completed.

The Liberal government says Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health has conducted a review of existing scientific evidence on the possible health impacts of wind turbines and concluded "that while some people living near wind turbines report symptoms like dizziness, headaches and sleep disturbance, the scientific evidence available to date does not demonstrate a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.

"The review also stated that the sound level from wind turbines at common residential setbacks is not sufficient to cause hearing impairment or other direct health effects."

Schmidt said the Liberal government is "denying" the health impacts of turbines and "ignoring" the people who are suffering.

"People just aren't going to sit back and take it anymore," she said.

She told Eccles, after he refused to commit to supporting a moratorium on turbines, that his Liberal government will lose the election because of its stance on the wind issue.

"We're going to have your government so low, so low, so low, you're not going to get elected. It's as simple as that," she said.

9/8/11 Does Wind Industry "Green Halo" give it License to Kill? AND Does your town need a moratorium on building industrial scale wind turbines? If so, here's one! AND Brother can you spare another tax break for Big Wind? ANDGag me with an order: Public Comment shut down by BLM


SOURCE: American Bird Conservancy, www.abcbirds.org  September 7, 2011

"Every year wind turbines kill hundreds of thousands of birds, including eagles, hawks, and songbirds, but the operators are being allowed to get away with it. It looks like a double standard.”

The United States Attorney in North Dakota has charged seven oil companies in seven separate cases with violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for the illegal killing of 28 migratory birds. Yet, American Bird Conservancy – the nation’s leading bird conservation organization – reports that the wind industry, despite killing more than 400,000 birds annually, has yet to face a single charge.

The oil-related bird deaths, which included members of twelve different species, occurred between May 4 and June 20, 2011. The statutory maximum sentence for violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act is six months in federal prison and a $15,000 fine. The date for the initial appearances for the seven companies is set for September 22, 2011, in United States District Court, Bismarck, North Dakota.

“I commend the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Justice Department for enforcing the law in these cases. Oil pits are a known hazard to birds and the solutions to prevent these bird deaths are straightforward to implement,” said American Bird Conservancy President George Fenwick. “It is perplexing that similar prosecutions have yet to be brought against the operators of wind farms. Every year wind turbines kill hundreds of thousands of birds, including eagles, hawks, and songbirds, but the operators are being allowed to get away with it. It looks like a double standard.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) estimated in 2009 that about 440,000 birds were being killed by wind turbines. With an anticipated twelve-fold wind energy build-out by the year 2030, bird mortality is expected to dramatically increase in the coming years, absent significant changes in the way wind farms are sited and operated. Based on studies, one wind farm in California is estimated to have killed more than 2,000 eagles, plus thousands of other birds, yet no prosecution has been initiated for violations of federal laws protecting birds. The FWS is presently contemplating enacting voluntary – not mandatory – guidelines for the siting and operation of wind farms.

According to the Associated Press (AP), the birds died after landing in oil waste pits associated with the companies’ oil and gas extraction facilities in North Dakota. The birds land in the pits believing they are ponds and become contaminated with the oil. Birds can become poisoned and drown as a result. Court records show that all seven companies have previously been charged with similar violations.

The birds killed in the oil pits were mostly waterfowl, including Mallards, Gadwall, Northern Pintails, a Northern Shoveler, Blue-winged Teal, Common Goldeneye, Redhead and a Ring-necked Duck, but also included a Solitary Sandpiper, and Says Phoebe.

In Bismarck, United States Attorney Tim Purdon said, “These allegations of violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by companies operating in North Dakota’s oil patch should be troubling to those interested in preserving North Dakota’s rich heritage of hunting and fishing and to the many oil companies who work hard to follow the laws protecting our wildlife. At the North Dakota U.S. Attorney’s Office, we are committed to enforcing laws that protect North Dakota’s outdoors and to providing companies who follow the law with a level economic playing field.”


Does your Township need to enact wind energy systems moratorium while an ordinance is being created? Here's one to look at....

SOURCE: Town of Holland, Brown County, Wisconsin


ORDINANCE NO. 3-1-2010-B

An Ordinance To Impose a Temporary Stay On Construction Of Large
Wind Energy Systems In The Town Of Holland.


1. A “wind energy system” is an electricity generating facility consisting of one or more wind turbines
under common ownership or operating control, and includes substations, MET Towers, cables/wires and
other buildings accessory to such facility, whose main purpose is to supply electricity to off-site
customer(s). A “wind turbine” is a wind energy conversion system which converts wind energy into
electricity through the use of a wind turbine generator. A “large wind energy system” is a wind energy
system with turbines exceeding 170 feet in height and 100 kilowatts in nameplate capacity.

2. There is an interest in establishing wind energy systems in the Town of Holland.

3. There exist potential health and safety issues related to the construction of large wind energy systems
including, but not limited to, electrical connections, electric and magnetic fields, tower failure (falling
turbines), tower climbing, falling ice, blade thrower, flicker or shadow flicker, and noise.

4. The Town currently has an Ordinance regarding wind energy systems but Town residents have
informed the Town Board at a public hearing that the current ordinance is inadequate to protect the public
health and safety of the Town residents and that particularly the present setback requirements are
insufficient to provide reasonable protection from health effects including health effects from noise and
shadow flicker associated with wind energy systems.

5. The Town Board has been authorized under Wis. Stat. 60.10(2) ( c ) to exercise powers conferred on
Village Boards, and also has the authority to adopt zoning regulations under Wis. Stat. 60.61 and 60.62
and 61.35.

6. The Town is beginning the process of reviewing its present ordinance and adopting an ordinance that
will provide a review and permitting process and ensure the health and safety standards for large wind
energy systems, and to adopt an ordinance that complies with Wis. Stat. 66.040( m ) ( a ) to ( c ) and
which complies with Wis. Stat. 196.378( 4g ).

7. On February 1, 2010, the Town Plan Commission conducted a public hearing preceded by publication
of a notice, regarding what process the Town should use to study and develop a large wind energy system
ordinance, and whether the Town should impose a temporary stay on the construction of large wind
energy systems while the Town is considering amendment and changes to its present ordinance. The
Town Plan Commission did recommend passing an amendment to its ordinance by creating a setback of
2,640 feet from inhabited structures for wind energy turbines and a moratorium on the construction of
said facilities be placed for one year so that the Town can study the health and safety issues associated
with wind energy systems.

8. That the Town Board on February 1, 2010 Board Meeting discussed the recommendations of the Town
Plan Commission. The Town Board proceeded to direct the attorney for the Town to draft an amendment
to the present ordinance regarding the setback from inhabited structures for wind energy turbines to be
2,640 feet from an inhabited structure and draft a moratorium for one year on the construction of said
wind energy systems, and to appoint a committee to study the wind energy ordinance and to make
suggested recommendations with regard to appropriate amendments. The Town Board has appointed a
committee to advice with regard to changes in its present ordinance regarding large wind energy facilities
to protect the health and safety of the residences of the Town and to gather information and
documentation with regard to the operation of the facilities.

9. That the State of Wisconsin has enacted 2009 Wisconsin Act 40 amending Wis. Stat. 66.0401(1m) and
other statutes regarding regulation of wind energy systems and granting rule making authority to the
Public Service Commission with advice of the wind siting council to promulgate rules that specify the
restrictions a political subdivision may impose on the installation or use of wind energy systems consistent
with the conditions specified in 66.0401(1m) (a) to ©. The subject matter of the rule shall include setback
requirements that provide reasonable protection from any health effects from noise and shadow flicker,
associated with energy systems. Such rules should also include decommissioning which may include
visual appearance, lighting, electrical connections to power grid, setback distance, maximum audio sound
levels, shadow flicker, proper means of measuring noise, interference with radio, telephone, television
signals, or other matters. A political subdivision may not place restrictions on installation or use of wind
energy systems that is more restrictive that these rules. To date, no such rules have been promulgated by
the commission therefore a stay or moratorium would protect the health and safety of the residents of the
Town until Town has amended its ordinance to adequately protect the health and safety of the Town

10. As the Public Service Commission has not yet promulgated rules that specify the restrictions that the
Town may impose on the installation or use of a wind energy system pursuant to S.S. 196.379( 4g ) of the
Wisconsin Statutes, created by Act 40, and as it is uncertain when the rules specifying such restrictions
will be promulgated by the Public Service Commission, a moratorium is necessary for the protection of the
health and safety of the residents of the Town until such rules are promulgated or until the Town has
amended its present ordinance in a manner sufficient to protect the health and safety of the public.

11. The Town Board agreed with the Town Plan Commission’s recommendation regarding the process
that should be followed to amend the present ordinance and determined that the adoption of a temporary
stay or moratorium will promote public health and safety of the people in the Town.
NOW THEREFORE, based on the above recitals and pursuant to Article XI, Section 1 of the Wisconsin
Constitution, Sections 60.22( 3 ), 61.34, 60.61 and 60.62 of the Wisconsin Statutes, and any and all other
sources of authority that authorize the adoption of this ordinance, the Town Board of Holland, Brown
County, Wisconsin, dose hereby ordain as follows:

Section 1. Temporary Wind Energy System Stay (Moratorium)
There is hereby established a temporary stay (moratorium) on the construction of large wind energy
systems in the Town. During the temporary stay provided by this ordinance it shall be unlawful to install
or construct any large wind energy system or part thereof, and the Town shall not accept or process any
applications relating to the proposed construction of any large wind energy system.

Section 2. Duration
One year from the date hereof.

Section 3. Inconsistent Ordinance Voided
All ordinances or provisions of ordinances inconsistent with or contravening the provisions of this
Ordinance are hereby temporarily voided and shall have no legal force or effect during the period that this
Ordinance is in effect.

Section 4. Scope
The temporary stay provided by this Ordinance shall apply throughout the Town.

Section 5. Severability
If any section or part of this Ordinance is adjudged to be unconstitutional, unlawful, or invalid by a
court of competent jurisdiction, the remainder of the Ordinance shall not be affected thereby.

Section 6 Effective Date
This Ordinance shall become effective upon adoption and publication or posting, as provided by law.
The above and foregoing Ordinance was duly adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Holland at a
meeting held on March 1, 2010 by a vote of 3 in favor, 0 opposed and 0 not voting.

From North Dakota



SOURCE: American News Correspondent, www.aberdeennews.com

September 7, 2011

Company officials for Iberdrola Renewables asked for a complete repeal of state sales and use taxes and state contractor excise taxes instead.

PIERRE — Representatives from several large utility companies that run wind farms in South Dakota called for tax reductions Wednesday as one of the steps to encourage more wind-electricity projects in the state.

They made their suggestions to a special task force created by the Legislature to study South Dakota’s competitiveness in wind energy.

The panel plans to meet a final time Oct. 5 to develop recommendations that will be delivered to the governor and the Legislature.

“We will be here with our sleeves rolled up,” said Rep. Roger Solum, R-Watertown. He is the task force chairman.

South Dakota’s program that provides tax rebates for large construction projects expires Dec. 31, 2012.

Wind-energy projects have been some of the biggest recipients of the rebates.

The possible replacement is a discretionary grant program that takes effect in 2013 if voters statewide approve it the November 2012 general election.

Company officials for Iberdrola Renewables asked for a complete repeal of state sales and use taxes and state contractor excise taxes instead, noting there isn’t any guarantee under the grant approach.

Iberdrola’s Ben Hach said that without changes a 200-megawatt wind farm in South Dakota will face $25 million more in taxes over its lifetimethan it would in neighboring states.

One of the task force members is Pierre lawyer Brett Koenecke, whose clients include Iberdrola.

NextEra Energy Resources proposed a “back to the future” approach.

Jason Utton, a project director, suggested South Dakota restore the large-project rebate program and the tax incentives for wind projects that were in place before 2010.

He said NextEra has invested more in neighboring states than in South Dakota.

Accione Energy’s Rick Murphy highlighted some of the same points.

All three discussed transmission as a barrier too. The task force was assigned by the Legislature to look at tax policy.

Basin Electric’s Ron Rebenitsch listed taxes as No. 8 in his presentation, just ahead of regulatory environment.

His top seven were transmission, federal incentives, power markets, renewable mandates, ability to access the MISO transmission grid that serves the Midwest’s urban areas, environmental regulations and local ownership.

Much of rural South Dakota where wind farms can be located is served by the Western Area Power Administration’s grid rather than the MISO grid, and electricity producers must pay access fees twice to put their power on WAPA in order to get onto MISO to reach consumer centers such as Minneapolis-St. Paul.

“It’s transmission, transmission, transmission,” Rebenitsch said.

From California


by Chris Clarke

SOURCE www.kcet.org

September 7, 2011

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has laid down the law. No Interior employee will act in opposition to public lands renewable energy development, even if opposing said development could be construed as within the person’s job description: a Park Service analyst objecting to development on the boundary of a National Park, for instance.

Faced with a storm of protest over the Interior Department’s push for renewable energy development on public land in California, the Bureau of Land Management has taken a novel approach to managing public comment on controversial projects: don’t allow any.

That was the conclusion of members of the public who attended a pair of public meetings in California in the last week. In Ocotillo on August 25, the project at issue was the Ocotillo Express wind project, which would site 155 wind turbines on 12,500 acres of mainly public land. The 465-megawatt project has stoked controversy in western Imperial County over its likely impact on bird and bat populations, as well as on the unparalleled viewscape of the Peninsular Ranges and the health of nearby residents.

But little of that controversy was expressed at the August 25 meeting. According to coverage in the Imperial Valley Press, locals in attendance found that their opportunity to comment on the project was severely limited. There was no public comment period scheduled. In order to comment on the project, attendees had to write their thoughts on a few lines on one side of a pre-printed letter-sized form, which would likely have allowed most people only about 75 words of comment. (The form did provide an email address for those who wished to make longer comments.)

Though the meeting largely proceeded as planned, there was disgruntlement among those in attendance over the apparent squelching of spoken public input. As local environmental activist Donna Tisdale told the Imperial Valley Press,

It’s like they’re trying to suppress public comment. People want to speak. They want to ask questions.

The scene replayed more fractiously a few days later on August 31, at the Primm Valley Golf Club in Ivanpah Valley, a few miles from the Nevada line and 300 miles north of Ocotillo. The occasion was a scoping meeting to gather public input on the First Solar Stateline Solar Farm, a 300-megawatt photovoltaic facility on about 2,000 acres of public land adjacent to the controversial Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station. The Ivanpah Valley is remote from most places in California: aside from Las Vegas, the nearest town of any size, Barstow, is across 113 miles of desert. People traveled to the meeting from as far away as Long Beach, CA and Beatty, NV to offer their input at this meeting, but were told that as was the case in Ocotillo, there would be no opportunity for public comment at the meeting.

A scoping meeting is generally held as part of the scoping process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the federal law that regulates environmental review of potentially destructive projects. Under NEPA, the scoping process is intended to identify potential issues or alternative plans to be addressed in subsequent Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements. The whole point of a scoping meeting is to assess the wide range of potential issues a project may involve. While there is no legal requirement that an agency include public-hearing-style comment periods in a scoping meeting, such open comment meetings are generally the most efficient way of gauging public opinion on an issue, especially when the issue is controversial.

And if First Solar Stateline is a controversial project, the BLM’s choice of meeting formats proved even more controversial at the Primm Golf Club. There was widespread grumbling among attendees before the meeting even started. One BLM staffer told me somewhat defensively that there was a range of formats allowable for scoping meetings. Attendees looked askance at the unusual police presence, with both BLM rangers and San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies thick on the ground, armed with sidearms and Tasers. After a short presentation by First Solar’s project lead Mike Argentine, Jeff Childers, a BLM staffer from the California Desert District office in Moreno Valley, confirmed to the roomful of people — many of whom were attempting to ask questions — that public comment would not be allowed other than in writing.

The room erupted despite the heavy police presence. Kevin Emmerich from the group Basin and Range Watch stood and announced his group’s alternative proposal, an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) for the Ivanpah Valley. Others loudly confronted Childers on the lack of clarity in BLM communications about the meeting, the inadequacy of avenues for public comment at the meeting, and the trouble and expense to which many attendees had gone in order to attend the meeting, only to find that the BLM didn’t want to hear more than about 75 words of their input, in writing.

Childers alleged that the BLM’s intent was to allow more accurate responses to the public’s input, but then abandoned that line of reasoning within a few sentences, suggesting that another meeting might be scheduled for verbal comments from the public. This didn’t go over well among those who had traveled long distances. The meeting eventually dissolved into a few knots of people having animated discussions.

Though I did attempt to talk to BLM staff to flesh out their reasons for the shift in meeting format, they did not return my phone calls by press time.

It should be said that the scoping process is not the only opportunity for members of the public to comment on projects proposed for public lands. The Environmental Assessment and EIS processes also afford venues for comment. Still, the scoping process is an important chance for public opinion to shape a project in its very early stages. Limiting public comment to a few handwritten sentences (or to potentially longer emailed comments) unnecessarily restricts the democratic rights of people whose disabilities may interfere with writing by hand or typing, people whose written English proficiency is inadequate but who could offer substantive comments in spoken form, and people without access to the internet. In the California Desert those last two groups are heavily Latino and Native, raising troubling implications of racial discrimination.

What’s more, though a public hearing style meeting is prone to people speaking long, grandstanding, and otherwise trying the patience of meeting facilitators, it’s an effective way for interested people to hear the range of opinion and sentiment among others in attendance. The result is a very efficient sharing of ideas — something made impossible if all comments are submitted in writing.

Over the last two years, desert protection activists have heard repeatedly from nervous National Park staff, BLM rangers, and other Interior Department agency staff that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has laid down the law. No Interior employee will act in opposition to public lands renewable energy development, even if opposing said development could be construed as within the person’s job description: a Park Service analyst objecting to development on the boundary of a National Park, for instance.

Attendees at a BLM meeting held to discuss First Solar Stateline earlier this year were informed by staff from the Needles BLM office that an urban rooftop solar alternative had been declared “off the table” by higher-ups in Washington, DC — an attempt, possibly illegal, to restrict the allowable content of public feedback. Clamping down on the age-old American tradition of speaking your piece at a public meeting seems cut from the same cloth as these previous initiatives.

Will this latest move to curtail public input on public lands projects become the California BLM’s new way of holding scoping meetings? It’s hard to say. It depends on how much push-back they get from members of the public, and perhaps from attorneys concerned over the racial or disability discrimination aspects of the new policy. In the meantime, scoping meetings have been scheduled in September for discussion of the McCoy Solar Energy Project in Riverside County, the Tylerhorse Wind Project in Kern County, and the management plan for the Amargosa River. You can exercise your rights as a US resident by attending to voice your concerns. Or trying to voice them, anyway.

Chris Clarke is an environmental writer of two decades standing. Author of Walking With Zeke, he writes regularly at his acclaimed blog Coyote Crossing and comments on desert issues here every Wednesday. He’s also a co-founder of Solar Done Right and thus doesn’t even try to pretend to be an impartial observer of solar development on California’s wildlands. He lives in Palm Springs.

9/7/11 The turbines are up, the noise is too loud, who ya gonna call? Not the wind company AND Long on questions and short on answers: Rural community finds it hard to get information on wind project 

From New York State


Source: LittleFallsTimes.com

September 7, 2011

By Linda Kellett

Fairfield, N.Y. —

“I don’t know how long my wife and I can stand it. It’s on and off. You can never get used to it.

It’s nothing but misery.

That’s the assessment of town of Fairfield resident Monique Consolazio, who lives in the shadow of two of the towering wind turbines making up the Hardscrabble Wind Project.

Hers is a plight shared by many who have lodged complaints against the global giant Iberdrola Renewables, based in Spain.

Davis Road resident James Salamone and his wife, June, are among others calling in complaints about noise, TV interference and light flickers since the turbines came online in late February.

Salamone has compared the loudest noises generated by the turbines to the take-off of a fighter jet. “It’s like living within 50 yards of an Air Force base,” he said recently. “It doesn’t matter if the windows are closed or not.”

He continued, “I don’t know how long my wife and I can stand it. It’s on and off. You can never get used to it.”Consolazio also compared the loudest noises to aircraft. They alleged the sound can be like a “jumbo jet hovering over your house.”

Depending on the weather, the wind speed and the direction in which the turbine is turned, she said the turbines can also sound like an approaching giant, “Shazoom-bang;” a prolonged swooshing sound or nothing at all.

Between the noise issues and the unpleasant lighting effects, some residents have packed up and left town.Salamone’s daughter, who formerly lived with her family in another Davis Road residence, is among them.

In connection with the noise complaints, the company recently completed sound-level monitoring at several targeted locations in the rural community.

As noted in the June 24 study summary issued to Iberdrola company officials Michael Clayton, Neil Habig and Scott McDonald, the testing was conducted by CH2M Hill in order to “assess if the sound levels attributable to the project complied with the project limit of 50 dBA [decibels].”

Engineer Mark Bastasch, who drew up the summary, maintains that while the overall measured level at times exceeded the maximum allowed 50 dBA, those incidents “corresponded to periods of extreme winds and were not attributable to the project.”

He claimed that under extremely windy conditions, “the wind-induced noise and tree rustling is a contributing or dominate factor. As such, these events are not representative of a sound level attributable to the project. Outside of these limited high-wind events, the monitoring results do not indicated that the measured sound-level attributable to the project exceeds 50 dBA.”

Town officials are expected to hold a special public meeting at the Fairfield Community Hall on Thursday, Sept. 15, at 6 p.m., in order to address the company’s study.

Among those expected to be present that evening include an attorney hired by the town to deal with the turbine-related issues, an expert who’s been looking at the company’s sound-study data and town officials, who are expected to proceed with a separate study of their own in order to “make sure [Iberdrola’s] numbers are correct,” said town Supervisor Richard Souza.

He said the meeting date was based, in part, on the availability of the expert to meet with the town council and had nothing to do with the Sept. 13 primary election between Souza and Henry Crofoot. Both are Republicans seeking the town supervisor’s post.

Citing the results of a preliminary sound study, conducted in 2008 before the wind farm project was approved, Salamone questioned the need for a third study.

In his view, the wind turbine operation exceeds allowed sound levels when combined with pre-project ambient noise levels at test sites on Davis Road.

An Iberdrola company spokesperson contacted late last week did not respond with a comment prior to press time.

Souza said the town’s test is needed because the first was based on a model — and projected data.

As noted in the June 5, 2008, cover letter addressed to town of Fairfield officials by URS company official James P. Cowan and dealing with the Hardscrabble Wind Farm noise evaluation for Davis Road, Cowan noted the noise monitoring and modeling was conducted with the goal of “assisting [town officials] in evaluating the potential noise impact of the proposed [wind power] facility” on behalf of a Davis Road resident with noise sensitivities.

Souza said the town’s test would be conducted in November or December after the foliage is gone in order to give all parties concerned a better idea of the problem.

The study recently concluded by Iberdrola and the proposed study to be undertaken for the town would both be based on actual noise-level data.

Neither the Salamones nor Consolazio believe it’s realistic to hope Iberdrola will move the problem turbines from the areas around their homes. Both, however, are hopeful that measures can be taken to mitigate noise levels by taking the turbines out of service during windy conditions, for example.

In the meantime, the wind turbines have pitted neighbor against neighbor: Long-struggling farmers and other property owners generating revenue from the turbines have benefited from the project, and less fortunate residents — those who have reaped neither income, reductions in utility costs or tax relief — feel they’ve been unjustly treated by a company with deep pockets, a lot of legal and political clout, and time to wait them out.


From Michigan



SOURCE:Connect Mid Michigan

September 7, 2011

SAGINAW COUNTY -- The Blumfield Township Planning voted Tuesday night to amend an ordinance banning a company from building a wind turbine within 500 ft. to 1400 ft. of a residential home.

Several wind turbines could be built in Blumfield Township. They are part of $250 million dollar project by NextEra Energy Resources that would span over Bay, Tuscola and Saginaw counties.

Several dozen residents turned out for a 7:00 p.m. meeting at the Blumfield Township Hall.

Many residents told NBC25 they attended the meeting in hopes of finding out more information on the project and to voice their concerns.

"I'm not against wind farm energy but I think the township should study alternatives before they make any decisions," said Emil Muellar, who owns property in Blumfield Township.

"I am concerned about the wind noise. We need to know how safe they are. How does it affect us and if it will affect our property values," said Roseanna DuRussel.

"There's a lot of questions. There's more questions thatn there are answers," said Blumfield Township resident Don Wendland.

Blumfield Township Planning Commission Board Chairman Bruce Landskroener said Tuesday's meeting was just to approve an ordinance amendment banning a company from building a wind turbine within 500 ft. to 1400 ft. of a residential home. They board voted to approve the change. Landskroener said the Planning Commission would recommend to the Blumfield Township board to bring in experts to answer any questions residents have.

"I think they need to do a little more research. I think everyone was disappointed they didn't have any answers, said DuRussel.


9/4/11 Like a bad neighbor, NextEra is there and tearing apart another rural community

From Michigan


SOURCE: www.mlive.com

September 4, 2011

By Andrew Dodson 

“I really don’t like the situation. It’s friends, neighbors and even families against each other. It’s just too bad.”

MERRITT TWP. — A proposed $250 million wind farm project scattered through three counties is tearing one small Bay County farming community apart.

“It’s neighbor against neighbor, some family against family,” said Dave Schabel, Merritt Township supervisor.

“It’s going to alter our landscape here, so we better make sure we do the right thing.”

This past week, officials from Florida-based NextEra Energy and Ann Arbor-based Atwell Anderson Construction, which provides engineering services, met with Merritt Township officials to discuss possible site plans for 15 to 20 wind turbines in the township. The project in total will use 75 wind turbines to produce 120 megawatts of power, or enough to power 30,000 homes, in parts of Bay, Saginaw and Tuscola counties.

Two weeks ago, the Michigan Public Service Commission approved a contract worth $485 million for DTE Energy to buy power from the wind farm.

Schabel said he doesn’t know exact locations of the turbines, adding officials wouldn’t show him blueprints when they met Monday.

But landowners with at least 80 acres of land who were approached by NextEra for land leases said they have a rough idea where the 466-foot turbines would be installed on their property.

Not everyone is happy about it.

A group of about 20 residents, calling themselves the “Concerned Citizens of Merritt Township,” aren’t filing petitions but are going to residents’ homes providing information on what they call the dangers of wind farms.

According to the packet of information circulating through the township, the group’s effort is to “maintain our quality of life, which will be impacted by the establishment of a utility-scale wind turbine farm in our township.”

Brad Histed, a Merritt Township farmer, admits the hot-button issue has not only torn the community in two, but also his family.

He’s concerned about the noise the turbines could potentially create — what he describes as a continuous, low-buzzing sound — and opposes the wind farm.

His brother, Terry Histed, signed off a piece of his property to NextEra, supporting the project.

“It’s at the point now where I don’t even care what he does,” said Brad Histed. “All they see is dollar signs — I feel like my life and my sanity isn’t worth a couple thousand dollars.

“I haven’t talked to him in a while.”

Terry Histed, former president of the Bay County Farm Bureau, said the hostility started when the citizens group started going door-to-door.

“I really don’t like the situation,” he said. “It’s friends, neighbors and even families against each other. It’s just too bad.”

Neither NextEra officials nor other property owners have disclosed how much money property owners would receive if they sign a lease agreement, but one farmer said he wouldn’t have signed onto the project if it wasn’t worth it.

Harold VanDenBoom was one of the first township residents to sign a lease agreement.

“The nation as a whole needs more alternative energy sources,” said the 77-year-old retired farmer who has lived in the area since 1944.

“Listen, there are groups that oppose that (Consumers Energy) coal plant in Hampton Township, there are groups opposing these wind farms — what do people want?”

VanDenBoom said he will receive a lump sum during the installation process of the turbines on his 200 acres of land. During the install, crews will have to build a temporary road. He’ll then receive a monthly check based on the amount of power generated from the turbines.

The $250 million project is expected to bring an economic boost to all three counties. It’s estimated to generate $50 million in lease payments to landowners, $19 million in property taxes and provide $21 million in wages and benefits over a 30-year span. Additionally, up to 120 construction jobs would be created, along with 12 full-time permanent positions to maintain the wind turbines.

“It’s going to generate money for the township, the county and schools,” said VanDenBoom. “There’s no reason not to go for it.”

Still, citizens opposed to the farm are asking for either the establishment of a no-wind zone in the township, or a change to the township’s 2010 ordinance that would increase the minimum distance between a wind turbine and a home from a quarter-mile to a half-mile.

Mary Wells, spokeswoman for NextEra said the company’s standard is 1,400 feet away from any home, about 80 feet more than a quarter-mile.

The citizen’s coalition group also fears home values dropping, the flicker effect — a rhythmic light flicker caused by the blades that could present health issues — and the impact it could make on the farming community.

Trennis Vaughn, of Caro, runs a crop dusting service for farmers in Bay, Saginaw and Tuscola counties. He refuses to fly his plane in the windmill footprint.

“If I hit one of those things, it would be catastrophic,” said Vaughn. “They ain’t gonna pay for it, I’m gonna be dead — it’s not worth it.”

Vaughn said farmers use his services if their fields are too wet to use a tractor or if they don’t want to run over their crops.

“I am out here providing a service making all these farmers a lot of money and they’re gonna lose that,” he said.

NextEra is starting applications for the various permits needed to install the turbines, which is expected to take several months. Wells said if all goes according to plan, crews could begin installation as early as this spring, pending approvals.

On Sept. 6, the Merritt Township Planning Commission meets at 7:30 p.m. at the Township Hall, 48 E. Munger Road. Schabel is unsure if it will draw a big crowd, but said individuals opposed to the project have been regularly attending meetings.

“All I can do right now is look at information and more information,” said Schabel. “We need to listen to everyone and do what’s right.”

NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: In DeKalb County, Illinois, a family living in a NextEra wind project began keeping a web diary about their experiences. CLICK HERE to visit their website.

Below are two recent posts to the web page.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

monday the turbines were mostly off. tuesday they were lightly spinning. last night they ramped up and woke us up. we could feel them and hear the low pulsating drone. so far they have been off all day even with the light breeze.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

wed. and thurs. of this week the turbines were noisy. we sat on our front porch to watch our girls walk down the driveway to the bus, and the noise filled our property and bounced off our home. yesterday (friday) the turbines were off most of the day. tonight we are sleeping in our camper and the noise from the turbines is disturbing. it is a dark/heavy noise that pulsates. we can also hear the blades chopping through the air. how nextera is getting away with siting turbines close to people's homes is disheartening. we were taken advantage of and more people are going to be in our same situation.

8/28/11 Got Turbine Noise? Can't Sleep? Who Ya Gonna Call? AND Town protects itself with ordinance calling for 3,000 foot setbacks from property lines, 35dbA at night, 400 foot turbine height restriction

From Canada

COMPLAINT DEPARTMENT: Wind project resident pleads for help in another useless email to developers

SOURCE: Windyleaks.com- documents obtained through freedom of information request

                    Gary Tomlinson – Provincial Officer, Ministry of the Environment

FROM: (A resident of Amaranth/Melancthon, Ontario)
DATE: March 16, 2009

“It is 1:00 AM.

I can’t take much more of this Scott. The Turbines were down a lot yesterday as I suppose you were testing again. Even with them looking like they weren’t working the vibration / hum in and around our house yesterday was very loud. Again, I cannot fathom what causes that when it appears everything is not running. You would know better than we.

At dinner last night it was quiet and it was the first time that it felt like the days before these turbines started. I had forgotten what peace was like.

Dennis and I went to bed at 7:20 last night because it was quiet, to try to catch up on our sleep. I prayed that you would leave these things unhooked last night so we could have one full night of rest. By midnight I was awake with the vibration back and very loud. I am so disappointed and back on the couch with the TV on to try to drown it out.

I need an answer and I need to move. I cannot bear this any longer and I will  not put up with this for Dennis and our pets either. My head felt like stew when I left the house yesterday to go shopping because the vibration was so strong. I don’t know what it is doing to us but I have the worst headache in the world right now.

I have to go to school all this week. I want you to call Dennis Monday and tell him what is going on. Gary, I am pleading with you to make this vibration in our house stop. It is absolutely maddening.”

Email to: Ministry of Environment Officials
From: a resident of Amaranth/Melancthon, Ontario
Date: Wednesday March 25, 2009 (18:18 :53)

“To all:

I would like to request a meeting with everyone to solve this ongoing problem at our property. We have vibration in our house virtually every night, some rare nights not.

I have not been lately, and will not email Canadian Hydro anymore as I do not have any faith that they are trying to help us and please note, this lack of correspondence does not suggest that things are any better in our house.

 We have done nothing but try to help them figure this out and it appears that all of our input has been for nothing. Either they are refusing to acknowledge that we have a very big problem or they do not know anything about the business they are in and can’t fix it. This would never be allowed to continue in any industrial or commercial workplace. And even then, at least the employees get to go home to a quiet house to rest. Where in the world are the safety standards for the homeowners that have had this forced upon them? This is just insane.

I do not know at which point the body starts to break down with constant vibration going through it when it is supposed to be resting. I hate for my husband, our pets and myself to be the collection of lab rats that figures that one out for them. I have to ask you what you think we would be doing right now if we had children at home? Think about it.

I cannot put our house up for sale and move. Nobody could live here, and that was echoed by   S_ _    H_ _ _ _ (employee of the developer) as he sat at our table a month or so ago. What are we supposed to do? We need help, Please….”



From New York State


SOURCE  watertowndailytimes.com

 AUGUST 28, 2011


LAFARGEVILLE — The Orleans Town Council is weighing zoning law amendments that will make its rules for wind turbine placement among the most restrictive in the region.

The town of Henderson banned all wind energy towers in November. Orleans would still allow commercial and residential turbines, but the noise and setback rules would make placing turbines in the town very difficult. A public hearing continued from Aug. 11 will be reconvened at 8 p.m. Sept. 8 at the town offices, 20558 Sunrise Ave. Copies of the law are available at the town office.

The law was written and reviewed by the Planning Board after the town’s Wind Committee made zoning recommendations in October 2009 and a Wind Economics Committee made further recommendations in May 2010.

“The Planning Board wrote it, which basically went with what the committee members had suggested — it’s very strict,” town Supervisor Donna J. Chatterton said. “Pretty much, it’s a stop to having any, but they can change it.”

The proposed law would push turbines away from neighboring property lines, roads, the St. Lawrence River, neighboring town lines, state- and federally regulated wetlands and residential, historic, school and wildlife refuge areas by 3,000 feet or 10 times the diameter of a turbine’s blade sweep area, whichever is greater.

The noise regulation sets absolute levels for daytime, evening and nighttime in both the A-weighted, or basically audible spectrum, and C-weighted, or low-frequency, noise levels. If the background noise is greater than five decibels below the standard, the allowed noise level would be five decibels above the background noise level.

For example, the allowed noise level for daytime, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., is 45 decibels on the A-weighted scale and 63 decibels on the C-weighted scale. But if the A-weighted background noise during that period reaches 44 decibels, the allowed limit would be 49 decibels. If the turbines emit a steady pure tone, which sounds like a whine, screech or hum, the allowed noise limit is decreased by five decibels.

During the evening period, 7 to 10 p.m., the law would allow 40 decibels in the A-weighted scale and 58 decibels in the C-weighted scale. And during the nighttime period, from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., the law would allow 35 decibels in the A-weighted scale and 53 decibels in the C-weighted scale.

Residents within two miles of the project would have a property value guarantee, which requires appraisals before turbine construction and when residents try to sell their properties in the first five years after construction of the wind farm. The developer and property owner would agree on an asking price, based on an appraisal, and the developer would pay the difference between the asking price and sale price.

Other regulations include:

■ The Town Council and Variance and Project Oversight Board must approve change of ownership of the project or the project’s controlling entity.

■ Notification of the project’s pending application to the town is required to be sent to all landowners within two miles of the project’s boundaries.

■ Submission of studies are required on the project’s creation of shadow flicker, visual impact, noise, electromagnetic interference, transportation issues, ice and blade throw, stray voltage and wildlife harm as well as an emergency response plan, current property value analysis, operation and maintenance plan, decommissioning plan, earthquake preparedness manual and cultural, historical and archeological resource plan.

■ Submission of an escrow agreement, proof of liability insurance of $20 million per year and wind speed data from a year prior to construction are required.

■ Turbine and blade height are limited to 400 feet.

■ An annual report from the owner or operator on the operation and maintenance activities are required so that the town can compare the project’s plan and its actual results, and its noise projections and actual noise levels.

The proposed law goes into great detail on how sound measurements should be taken. The council has flexibility on applying fines for lack of compliance with the regulations.

The amendments do not substantially change rules for personal wind towers.

Wind power development critics support the amendments and said the town should not fear the state’s placing turbines against the town’s proposed law under the rejuvenated Article X electricity development law.

“The setbacks are great,” said Patricia A. Booras-Miller of the Environmentally-Concerned Citizens Organization. “They were thinking of Article X, too; there’s a lot of documentation to support their reasons.”

The town feels urgency, too, to pass the law before a new slate of council members is elected in November. The council must act on an environmental review of the law, so the law may not pass at the September meeting.

“We want to go the next step so we can get approved before the end of the year, before our board changes,” Ms. Chatterton said.