Entries in wind power (141)

8/26/11 Turbines too loud? Too bad, homeowner ! Those 'noise limits' are there for decorative purposes only AND It's not just the Dems who love Big Wind, GOP Pres-Candidate Rick Perry says thumbs up to spending billions on transmission lines for wind farms


SOURCE: East Oregonian, www.eastoregonian.com

August 25, 2011


Invenergy claims there is no “bright line” noise standard, that it can generate 36 decibels at nearby homes or 10 decibels above the ambient, whichever is higher, up to 50 decibels.

At a planning commission meeting last year, Invenergy’s acoustical expert, Michael Theriault of Portland, Maine, admitted the project violates the standard even by its own, looser definition.

The Morrow County Court stunned a crowd Wednesday when it refused to enforce an Oregon law that limits the noise a wind project can make at nearby homes.

The court voted 2-1 that, although noise from the Willow Creek wind project exceeds state standards at a few homes, the violations did not warrant enforcement action.

At one home, for example, the noise level exceeded limits 10 percent of the time the turbines were running, according to the project’s own acoustical expert.

County Judge Terry Tallman voted against the motion, only because he was against the vote itself.

“We don’t have the funds to force compliance,” he said. “The state of Oregon says it doesn’t have to do it, because it doesn’t have the funds. Why are we being forced to live by a higher standard than the state of Oregon?”

Tallman was referring to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, which wrote and, for a time, enforced the state’s industrial noise control regulations. The laws still are on the books, but the DEQ terminated its noise control program in 1991 because of budget cuts. That left enforcement up to local agencies.

Morrow County adopted the state’s noise control rules and asks wind projects to comply as part of the site certification process.

Wind projects less than 105 megawatts may seek a conditional use permit from the county; larger projects must go through the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council.

Morrow County granted the 48-turbine Willow Creek project, north of Ione, a permit in 2005.

However, after neighbors of the project began to complain about noise, county officials began to realize Oregon’s noise law is not exactly crystal clear. And a parade of lawyers and acoustical experts, for the neighbors and Invenergy, the Chicago-based company that developed the Willow Creek project, further muddied the waters.

The law says a wind project may not increase noise at adjacent homes by more than 10 decibels. If a wind developer does not conduct a study to determine the ambient noise at a site, it may use an assumed background of 26 decibels, for a total of 36 decibels.

Willow Creek’s neighbors believe a wind developer must choose, before it builds, whether to conduct an ambient noise study or go with the assumed level of 26 decibels. If it goes with 26 decibels, it cannot break the 36-decibel limit by even one decibel.

Invenergy claims there is no “bright line” noise standard, that it can generate 36 decibels at nearby homes or 10 decibels above the ambient, whichever is higher, up to 50 decibels.

At a planning commission meeting last year, Invenergy’s acoustical expert, Michael Theriault of Portland, Maine, admitted the project violates the standard even by its own, looser definition.

But because the violations are so minimal, by only a few decibels a small percentage of the time, he said, they qualify as “infrequent and unusual events” and therefore exempt from the law.

An acoustical expert for the project’s neighbors came to different conclusions.

Kerrie Standlee, who has helped complete site certificates for the Oregon Department of Energy, said the wind farm consistently broke the noise rule at precisely the time when Theriault decided not to use the study data, when wind speeds exceeded 9 meters per second.

Standlee said the wind project broke the noise rule by more decibels, and more frequently, than Invenergy claimed.

In its decision Wednesday, as in previous deliberations, however, the Morrow County Court disregarded Standlee’s testimony and relied on Invenergy’s conclusions.

“There might be some violations,” Commissioner Ken Grieb said, “but we don’t think they’re significant enough to take action.”

The ruling is a reversal of a previous, January decision, in which the court agreed the project violates the wind rule at Dan Williams’ house. His home is the one at which the violation appears to occur most frequently.

That decision modified a Morrow County Planning Commission decision, which found Invenergy out of compliance at four nearby homes.

All parties appealed the county court’s decision to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals. The board returned the decision to the county, asking the court to clarify its decision.

“I’m flabbergasted,” said Jim McCandlish, a lawyer for three of the neighbors, after the vote. He said his clients’ constitutional right to due process was being denied. He said they intend to appeal the decision to the board of appeals.

“The county court has an obligation to protect the health and welfare of its citizens,” he said.

Irene Gilbert, an anti-wind activist from Union County, called the vote ridiculous.

“I think it sets a really bad precedent when a group of county commissioners say, in spite of the data that says there is a violation, we are choosing not to act on it.”



SOURCE The Texas Tribune, www.texastribune.org

August 24, 2011

By Kate Galbraith,

Gov. Rick Perry, who appoints the three Public Utility Commissioners, has strongly backed the build-out, which will result in several thousand miles of new transmission lines carrying wind power from West Texas to large cities hundreds of miles across the state.

The cost of building thousands of miles of transmission lines to carry wind power across Texas is now estimated at $6.79 billion, a 38 percent increase from the initial projection three years ago.

The new number, which amounts to roughly $270 for every Texan, comes from the latest update on the project prepared for the Public Utility Commission (see page six). Ratepayers will ultimately be on the hook for the cost, but no one has begun to see the charges appear on their electric bills yet because the transmission companies building the lines must first get approval from the commission before passing on the costs to customers.

A commission spokesman, Terry Hadley, says that the first of these “rate recovery” applications may be filed before the end of the year. Ultimately, the commission says, the charges could amount to $4 to $5 per month on Texas electric bills, for years.

In 2008, when the Public Utility Commission approved the project, it was estimated at $4.93 billion. Gov. Rick Perry, who appoints the three Public Utility Commissioners, has strongly backed the build-out, which will result in several thousand miles of new transmission lines carrying wind power from West Texas to large cities hundreds of miles across the state. This is expected to spark a further boom in wind farm development, particularly in the Panhandle. Texas already leads the nation, by far, in wind power production. Electricity generated by other sources, like natural gas, coal or solar, can also use the lines.

However, deciding the routes for the lines — a painstaking process that played out in the hearing room of the Public Utility Commission — stirred controversy, as landowners in the Hill Country and other parts of the state tried to prevent them from going through their property. The transmission companies pay a one-time sum to the landowner for an easement to build the lines across his or her property, but ultimately the companies have the power of eminent domain if the landowner resists. Hill Country landowners did succeed in stopping one line and a portion of a second, after grid officials determined that it was possible to upgrade existing infrastructure, but serve the same purpose, more cheaply.

The new lines are all expected to be completed by December 2013, although delays could still occur. Construction of the lines is at various stages; one company, Wind Energy Transmission Texas, plans to begin building 378 miles of lines next month, for example.

Among the reasons for the increased costs, according to the new report, are that the original 2008 estimate used straight-line distances to calculate the cost of the lines. However, as the process played out, the Public Utility Commission often requested that the lines follow fences or roads in order to minimize the intrusion. So the distances will probably be 10 percent to 50 percent longer than the original planners allowed for, the report says. Inflation also boosts the price tag.

The new estimate, of $6.79 billion, is also subject to change.

“It is likely that costs may fluctuate and change over the next year,” states the report, which was prepared by an engineering services company called RS&H and published in July.

8/24/11 What is Wind Turbine Shadow Flicker, and how many hours of it should you have to endure? AND Turbine related Bat Kills making the news everywhere BUT Wisconsin where the bat kill rate is more than TEN TIMES the national average. Why have no Wisconsin environmental groups stepped up to say something?


SOURCE: The Rock River Times, rockrivertimes.com

August 24, 2011

By Barbara Draper,

When we first experienced this, we thought something was wrong with our lights, but as our eyes kept moving to find the source — we just couldn’t figure it out. I then walked into the kitchen, and it was coming through the closed venetian blind — then we knew. That flicker lasted an hour. It made my husband feel ill, like motion sickness. The brighter the sun, the more intense the flicker.

I live 1 mile from the city limits of Ohio, Ill., in Bureau County on the Big Sky Wind farm, which covers approximately 13 square miles, more or less. In that area, there are at least 56 turbines, and 30 are on land owned by absentee landowners who do not have the negative effects of shadow flicker, poor TV reception or noise.

In that same 13-square-mile area, there are 47 homes, excluding those in the Village of Ohio. Ten of those homes belong to and are lived in by people who have turbines on their farm. The other 37 homes are owned and occupied by residents who are not participating in the wind farm.

We are among those 36 nonparticipating homes because we chose not to have a turbine on our farm, as did two other farmers in our area. However, most of those 36 homes are on small rural estates, and they had no choice for a turbine.

We have 12 turbines located around our house that vary in distance from less than a quarter-of-a-mile to three located less than a mile. There is no window in our home to look out without seeing turbine blades going round and round. I have taken pictures from my windows, if anyone is interested in looking at them.

As we sit on our patio, we are looking at 31 turbines spinning. The sound is a monotonous sound of whish, whish that can vary in intensity and, at times, has sounded like a train rumbling down a track. I refer to it as irritating, like a dripping faucet. It just never stops, unless the turbine is not running.

The beautiful countryside in our area has disappeared, along with the quiet and peaceful county living we once had.

We have shadow flicker many months of the year, from 15 minutes to more than an hour a day, whenever the sun is shining and turbines are running.

At a meeting before Big Sky was built, I asked about shadow flicker. The developer said I would have flicker for maybe two to three seconds a year. I should have had him write his statement down and sign it. My suggestion is that if a developer tells you something, have him sign a written statement to that effect.

Some mornings, we don’t need an alarm, because the flicker wakes us up. This fall, we will again have the most intense flicker starting in October and until the end of February. This comes from a turbine 1,620 feet (according to Big Sky measurements) southwest of our house.

The flicker is in every room in our house­ — we can’t get away from it. When we first experienced this, we thought something was wrong with our lights, but as our eyes kept moving to find the source — we just couldn’t figure it out. I then walked into the kitchen, and it was coming through the closed venetian blind — then we knew. That flicker lasted an hour. It made my husband feel ill, like motion sickness. The brighter the sun, the more intense the flicker.

This flicker is hard to explain to people. Flickering fluorescent lights in every room might be similar; however, they would not cast moving light on the walls and furniture.

This flicker comes through trees, blinds or lined drapes. Light-blocking shades would have to be sealed to the sides of the window.

The shadows are on our buildings, our lawn and across our field. Last fall, I covered the tops of my south windows with wide aluminum foil. I did this so I could look outside a few windows without seeing rotating blades. It didn’t keep out the flicker. I have now replaced the foil with pleated shades.

The Bureau County Zoning Board was told by a wind farm representative that 20 to 30 hours of shadow flicker a year was acceptable. It is not acceptable. I asked the representative if he lived on a wind farm. He answered, “No.”

Residents, especially nonparticipating residents, should not have any flicker in their house or any shadow from turbines on their lawn, outbuildings or farm land. I have read that this is a trespass.

An executive of Big Sky told us on the phone that we had a serious shadow flicker problem. The next time we talked with her, she denied saying it — another reason to get their statements in writing and signed.

A person has to live on a wind farm 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to really know what it is like. You cannot get the whole effect by just driving through it and stopping by a turbine for a short time. The conditions vary, hour by hour, day by day, and even season to season.

When Big Sky first started erecting the turbines, my husband and daughter drove to one — they couldn’t hear a thing. We thought, “Oh, this won’t be so bad.” One trip does not tell the story.

I realize wind farms are big money for participating farmers and tax-supported institutions. However, more consideration needs to be given in the placement of the turbines to eliminate what we are having in Big Sky.

We don’t live in the quiet rural county anymore. It has been replaced with an industrial wind park. They call it a wind farm — wrong — it produces no food. It just eliminates many food-producing acres.

These counties need to realize the impact of turbines and make their ordinances to protect the people. Shadow flicker should not have to be tolerated by rural residents. It is disturbing and has health consequences. I have been told that someone with seizures could not live in our home because of that intense flicker we have in the fall.

I also strongly believe no shadows from turbines should be cast across highways, as they are in Big Sky. Several drivers have told me they have been startled by them — slammed on their brakes, and some nearly ran off the road. I called the Illinois Department of Transportation, but was told they could do nothing as long as the turbine was not in their right of way — it was a county issue.

All of these problems are disturbing and serious problems, and there are health problems involved. I sometimes think this country has its priorities mixed up. I love nature and animals, but when a conservation area was given a farther setback from turbines in Lee County than we were given from our homes in Bureau County, I got disturbed.

I believe there needs to be much more study done on wind turbines before filling this nation’s countryside with them. In making your ordinances, please make sure your residents are protected from the negative effects of turbines.

Barbara Draper is a resident of Ohio, Ill., in Bureau County, about 75 miles southwest of Rockford.

NOTE: The video below is from DeKalb Illinois.




According to post construction mortality studies submitted to the DNR and the Public Service Commision, turbine related bat kill rates in Wisconsin are the highest in North America and more than ten times the national average.

More than 10,000 bats per year are killed in Wisconsin each year by wind turbines. When the Glacier Hills project goes on line later this year, over 4000 more bat kills per year will take place. These figures are from documents provided by the wind companies themselves and confirmed by the DNR and they are unsustainable.

Yet no Wisconsin environmental organization has stepped in to help, and the story that makes head lines in other states with half the mortality rate continues to be ignored in our state.

If you are a member of a Wisconsin environmental organization, Better Plan urges you to contact them and ask that they look into this.

Renewable energy sources should not get a pass on killing wildlife, especially bats, animals critical to an agricultural state like ours.

In Missouri, they're already talking about it....


SOURCE: www.publicbroadcasting.net

August 22, 2011

Tim Lloyd,

Farmer Shelly Cox and her husband rely on the mainstays of Midwest agriculture: John Deere tractor, genetically modified seeds and rich soil.

They also get extra help from what you might call nature’s pest control crew – migrating bats.

“They’re huge at insect control,” Cox said while walking toward a small wetland where bats cluster during the summer months.”How much money do you want to spend on pesticides? Or do you want to be saving money and using what Mother Nature gives us?”

Cox credits the bats that visit her family’s 86-acre farm outside Savannah, Mo. as a big reason why they’ve only used pesticides twice in the last 15 years.
But that could change soon.

Wildlife experts in the heartland are preparing for a serious one-two punch to the bat population: a mysterious fungus spreading from the northeast, and the proliferation of wind power.

“There are large bat populations in the Midwest,” said Thomas Kunz, a Boston University bat researcher. “There’s going to be some pretty massive die offs there in I would say three years.”
The conservative estimate of economic impact is $3.7 billion a year but could reach as high as $53 billion, according to research Kunz published in the Journal Science.

“Farmers would have to spend that much more on pesticides,” he said.

Kunz found that just one colony of 150 big brown bats can gobble up 1.3 million pests a year.

Fungus spreads westward

There’s not much Kunz and other researchers can do about what’s projected to contribute most to the demise of cave-dwelling bats in the Midwest, a nasty fungus that ultimately spawns into something dubbed White Nose Syndrome.

The syndrome gets its name from the white face it gives infected bats and takes around three years to develop. In parts of the northeastern U.S., bats have been decimated by White Nose and have all but disappeared in some areas, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

“That fungus manifests itself in several ways: Loss of body fat in mid-winter, abnormal winter behavior, suppressed immune system,” Kunz said.
Once White Nose Syndrome is full blown, the fungus grows down into the hair follicles on their faces.

Itchy and irritated from the discomfort, hibernating bats wake up often, fly around and burn up their fat reserves. Deaths are mostly caused by simple exhaustion, but White Nose also can lead to fatal dehydration because it scars the thin membrane of wings where bats absorb moisture.

The fungus has been spotted as far west as Oklahoma. Though experts are keeping their fingers crossed that somehow in the Midwest the fungus won’t turn into the syndrome, Kunz isn’t optimistic.

“Mass mortality wasn’t observed until the third year,” he said. “This is the third year it’s appeared in Pennsylvania we have a massive mortality going on.”

To date, there is no cure for the syndrome and conservationists are hustling to slow its spread. Further complicating the problem is head scratching nature of the fungus itself, which grows on living tissue.

“I really have not seen anything of this magnitude,” said Sunni Carr, wildlife diversity coordinator with the Kentucky Department of Wildlife Resources. In addition to her day-to-day work in Kentucky, she also works with federal and state agencies to coordinate a national response to White Nose.

“I am confident that this is the most significant and dire wildlife issue that I will deal with in my career,” Carr said.

Geomyces destructans, the scientific name for the fungus, primarily affects cave bats and is suspected to be transmitted on the clothing of spelunkers.
In June, Missouri’s Mark Twain National Forest went so far as to close its caves through 2016. Similar efforts have been taken at other state parks in the Midwest.

Wind turbines rise up

As bad as White Nose Syndrome is for cave-dwelling bats, to a lesser extent the proliferation of wind power across the Midwest poses a danger to their counterparts, tree bats.

For reasons that remain unknown, bats are attracted to turbines that tower above tree lines. Once the migratory species is close, the pressure drop can crush their fragile lungs or they can simply get smacked by the spinning blades.

While no nationwide programs track how many bats are killed by wind energy each year, estimates have the number reaching as high as 111,000 annually by 2020.

That’s based on the premise that wind turbines will continue spouting across the country at a rapid clip.

In the second quarter of 2011 alone, the U.S. wind industry installed 1,033 megawatts, according to a report by the American Wind Energy Association. And Iowa, an epicenter for corn and soybean production, comes in second in the nation for the number of megawatts produced by wind power and has 3,675 facilities, according to the report.

That’s good news for wind proponents but has bat experts feeling anxious because federal protections only cover the endangered Indiana bat. To avoid killing that species, wind companies hire experts like Lynn Robbins, a bat researcher from Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo.

On a recent summer day, Robbins stood next to a creek in northwest Missouri while a team of student workers hung nets and placed bat detectors just miles from the first town in nation to be completely powered by wind energy, Rockford, Mo.

“What the student workers are doing today is doing a survey to determine if the endangered Indiana Bat is present in area that’s slated to become a wind energy facility,” Robbins said.

Robbins couldn’t give the exact location of the proposed wind facility or the name of the company due to contractual obligations.

“If they’re here then the wind company must take the next step in being more careful as to where they put the turbines, or determine even if they’re going to put the turbines in the area,” he said.

Though finding an Indiana bat might slam the brakes on a proposed wind farm, the presence of other bat species isn’t likely to impede development.

“There’s a gradient of contribution and acceptance of wildlife impacts and what companies are doing about it,” said Ed Arnett, a researcher participating in the Bats Wind Energy Cooperative.

The cooperative, founded in 2003, brings together the American Wind Energy Association, Bat Conservation International and federal agencies for the purpose of researching how bat fatalities can be prevented. (It’s not just bats, either; wind power has also been shown to kill migratory birds.)

Tech solutions?

Most wind companies, Arnett said, have at least some level of interest in minimizing the negative impacts a facility has on bats, but currently the best way to avoid fatalities takes a chip out of company profits.

“Many bat species don’t fly at higher wind speeds,” Robbins said.

So, the idea is to set the turbines so they won’t spin at lower wind speeds when bats are more likely to be flying around.

“It would typically cost a company about 1 percent of its revenue,” said John Anderson, director of sitting policy for the American Wind Energy Association.

“But it depends on the location and the company.”

The best technological solution, placing devices on the top of wind towers that jam bats internal radar, works great in the lab, but not so great in the field.

With that in mind, Arnett pegs his hopes on generating the kind of research wind companies can use on future projects.

“Proactively, in planning to the future, there’s no reason why those costs can’t be factored into the implementation and operations plan of a project,” Arnett said.

And every little effort helps.

Bats are long lived, some species routinely make it to 30 years, and they don’t reproduce quickly. All of that adds up and makes them particularly susceptible to dramatic population declines.

Back at Cox’s family farm, tucked in the rolling hills of northwest Missouri, she’s noticed a change.

“Maybe in a given evening we were seeing a dozen or so swooping around the light, and now, last year we were seeing maybe four or five,” she said.

She’s not ready to push the panic button, at the same time she can’t help feeling a little uneasy.

“If you don’t really know what’s going on you hate to kind of be a catastrofier,” Cox said. “But, yes, I have notice a difference in the number that we would typically see around the lights at night.”

[audio available]


8/20/11 Rick Perry and George W. Bush have company: meet the right-wing fans of Big Wind: Gingrich, Romney, Pawlenty, Ron Paul autograph turbine blade AND Golden Eagles And Bats VS Wind's Cash Cow

August 18, 2011,  

A Republican Shout-Out for Wind Energy


Newt Gingrich, who supports a tax credit for wind energy, signing a turbine blade in Iowa.
Newt Gingrich, who supports a tax credit for wind energy, signing a turbine blade in Iowa.

In The New York Times on Thursday, John M. Broder writes about a blood sport that has become quite popular among the field of Republican presidential candidates: attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency. Yet the candidates recently found time to rally behind clean wind energy, a topic some voters identify with a somewhat more liberal agenda.

At the Saturday straw poll in Iowa, the G.O.P. contenders Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Thaddeus McCotter autographed a giant 130-foot wind turbine blade to show their support for Iowa’s burgeoning wind industry as a source of home-grown job creation.

TPI Composites, based in Newton, Iowa, manufactured the blade and currently employs 700 workers at a former Maytag plant, according to its chief executive, Steve Lockard. The American Wind Energy Association, a trade association and lobbying group, sponsored the event on Saturday.

It was one of about 30 such displays set up by organizations and political action committees on the Iowa State University campus.

Michele Bachman, the top vote-getter in the straw poll, was not present at the signing, although according to Peter Kelley, the wind energy association’s vice president for public affairs, her staff members had conveyed her interest in attending.

Texas is the leading state in installed wind capacity with 10,085 megawatts, while Iowa is second with 3,675 megawatts, accounting for almost 20 percent of the state’s electricity generation in the first quarter of 2011.

Over 200 companies are now involved in Iowa’s wind industry. Since the state adopted a renewable energy standard in 1983, the industry has generated almost $5 billion in investment, according to estimates from the wind energy association.

Iowa’s wind generation capacity will soon get a boost when the MidAmerican Energy Company, one of the country’s largest wind project developers, completes the 444-megawatt Rolling Hills site this year in southwestern Iowa.

But while Mr. Lockard expects demand for his wind turbines to remain strong through 2012, he expressed concern during Saturday’s event about 2013 and beyond because of the impending expiration of the so-called production tax credit. This incentive provides a per-kilowatt-hour tax credit for companies generating electricity from renewable sources.

The credit has faced expiration before but has then been renewed and expanded several times since its enactment in 1992 as part of the Energy Policy Act. In 2009, the Recovery Act sweetened the incentive by allowing developers to receive a grant from the Treasury Department in lieu of the tax credit, meaning the government would finance 30 percent of the project cost.

According to Mr. Kelley of the wind energy association, the production tax credit has been the single most important piece of legislation allowing wind to compete with other sources of energy like coal.

At Saturday’s event, Mr. Pawlenty, who has since withdrawn from the race, and Mr. Gingrich spoke in favor of extending tax incentives in the form of production tax credits. Where the other candidates stand on the issue is less clear as the topic was not discussed during the debate preceding the straw poll .

Mr. Romney does not specifically address the issue on his Web site. Ron Paul is generally opposed to tax breaks for any energy producer. Both he and Ms. Bachmann have previously voted against tax incentives for renewable energy production.

“Uncertainty over whether the P.T.C. will be extended has already caused layoffs and bankruptcies in the wind energy supply chain,” Mr. Kelley said. Ensuring that the credit is renewed “will be our top legislative priority in Congress this session,” he said.


Below: Why bats and wind turbine don't mix



Bat Fatalities at Wind Turbines: Investigating the Causes and Consequences:

"Dead bats are turning up beneath wind turbines all over the world. Bat fatalities have now been documented at nearly every wind facility in North America where adequate surveys for bats have been conducted, and several of these sites are estimated to cause the deaths of thousands of bats per year.'

Overview of issues related to bats and wind energy

arrow Wind energy: A scare for bats and birds [audio podcast]

 Economic importance of bats in agriculture

8/19/11 Breaking it down in Indiana: wind info presentation draws hundreds AND Sleeplessness, high blood pressure, earaches and other delights AND Another doctor speaks out about the problem the wind industry says does not exist

From Indiana


Between 300 and 400 people filled the Culver Elementary School gymnasium Saturday morning for what was billed as an informational meeting sponsored by Concerned Property Owners of Southern Marshall County, Indiana.

The topic of the day has become a hot one in recent weeks and months in the area: the proposed placement of more than 60 400-plus foot wind turbines across several thousand acres in parts of Marshall and Fulton Counties by Florida based energy company Nextera.

Three presenters detailed concerns raised by some in the area over the project, which was formally denounced by Culver's Parks and Recreation board recently.

Lake Maxinkuckee resident Mark Levett, who added he grew up in the Plymouth area, opened the event by noting the intent was "to represent facts and not get too emotional." He showed a map of the proposed area of some 17,000 acres and explained Nextera is owned by Florida Power and Light, "the largest operator of wind turbines in the U.S."

Levett also described the blades for each turbine as stretching from one end of the gymnasium to the other, and the towers as 45 stories high.

"They're visible for 10 miles," he said. "That's basically (comparable to skyscrapers in) downtown Indianapolis."

Levett said the turbines do not reduce power rates and while they "have a lot of green features...you don't have them unless they're subsidized.

"The average statistic is you need about 30 percent subsidies to make wind turbines viable. The industry has been around for 30 years and you still need a 30 percent subsidy."

He also pointed out two European countries are moving wind turbines offshore to avoid some of the complications they cause near human and animal residences.

"Reported symptoms (of those living near existing turbines) include headaches, blurred vision, nausea sleeplessness, ringing and buzzing in your ears, dizziness vertigo, memory and concentration problems, and depression. For every article that says there are no health effects, there's one that says there are."

Levett said Marshall County's present ordinances call for turbines to be placed 1,000 feet from homes, while he said doctors nationwide are recommending a distance of one and a half miles for safety. The impact on livestock from voltage surrounding the towers has also been controversial, he added, as has bird and bat kills by the blades, though he acknowledged the question of "how many is too many (killed)" is up for debate.

"There's no controversy about this," Levett said. "If you're in sight of a turbine, it causes you to lose land value -- six to 30 percent."

Prior to the meeting, as audience members filed in, a Youtube station video showing "shadow flicker" effects inside and outside a home near an existing turbine was shown in rotation on the gymnasium's screen.

Levett also showed photos taken at Fond du Lac, Wisconsin and nearby Lake Winnebago, where dozens of turbines were clearly visible.

"Those turbines are eight miles away," he said of the photos. He referenced a full-page advertisement published by Nextera in the August 11 Culver Citizen, which noted the company is moving its study area three miles to the east (further away from Lake Maxinkuckee). The move would still leave the turbines highly visible on the Lake Maxinkuckee skyline, according to Levett, who again referred to the Wisconsin photos as examples.

"This will be our new view from the lake," he said. "Get informed -- it's a big decision for Marshall County."

Steve Snyder, an attorney engaged by the event's sponsoring organization, detailed the county's procedures regarding the project, explaining the decision to accept or reject Nextera's proposal will ultimately be made by the Marshall County Board of Zoning Appeals, which he said is required by its own ordinances and state law to consider several factors in its determination.

First, Snyder explained, the project "can't be injurious to the public's health, safety, and welfare."

It must meet development standards in the Marshall County zoning ordinances.

It must not permanently injure property or uses in the vicinity, "which means," he added, "will it reduce property values?

I would suggest the evidence is conclusive that you will see a drop on property values when your property is in visibility of one of these things."

Lastly, the project must be consistent with Marshall County's comprehensive plan, which Snyder said does not anticipate wind farms, and so isn't a serious consideration.

The BZA, he noted, must consider "every aspect of a project at a public hearing," which will take place after an application has been filed, which has not yet occurred in this case.

He emphasized counter-evidence to that presented by the petitioner -- in this case Nextera -- should be presented in that hearing, though Nextera "has the burden of proving those four elements (required for the project's approval) I just discussed."

Setbacks from homes, said Snyder, are one factor to be considered.

"If somebody puts a tower up and you own a building site within a thousand feet,” he said, “you're prevented from building on your own land."

Other factors include security and noise, which is limited here to 55 decibels. Further, he said, a decommissioning plan is required for the project to prevent abandoned wind farms as exist in some parts of the country.

"Essentially you're looking at a minimum of one public hearing at which five members of the county commission will hear from Nextera."

Rounding out Saturday’s program was a detailed presentation from Roger McEowen, a professor in Agricultural Law at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, where he is also the Director of the ISU Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation.

McEowen encouraged the audience to read up on the details of his presentation as well as legal issues for landowners potentially negotiating a lease with wind companies, on the Center's website at www.calt.iastate.edu [3].

He primarily focused on the benefits and drawbacks on wind energy nationally and globally. Currently, he said, wind generates about one percent of the United States' power needs, though some have proposed that by 2020, six percent will be wind-derived.

"However," he added, "the U.S. Energy Administration's annual energy outlook for 2006 concluded that by 2030, wind power would supply no more than 1.2 percent of U.S. energy if current incentives and subsidies stay in place."

McEowen emphasized subsidies are driving the wind energy industry today, and questioned whether -- in light of present budgetary woes on the federal level -- those subsidies will hold out much longer.

Further, states like Iowa, California, Minnesota, Texas, and Kansas, some of the top wind energy production states at present, differ from Indiana in that each has large amounts of open space away from people, he said.

On a map McEowen showed from the U.S. Department of Energy depicting most and least viable locations to place wind farms, some parts of Indiana were rated "fair" for placement, but the local area designated for placement was blank, ranking it of dubious viability.

When asked why a company would choose to build here under such conditions, McEowen noted Marshall County has "good access to the (energy distribution grid)."

He also suggested the company will profit because of subsidies offered per kilowatt hour for wind generated.
McEowen described motives for the current push for wind energy development nationally, including improvements in the industry's technology, high fuel prices, mandates in 29 states requiring certain amounts of generated energy to be renewable, difficulty in launching new coal-fired power projects, and financial viability of wind projects due to tax credits and other subsidies.

He refuted the claim that wind energy makes the U.S. less dependent on foreign oil. Petroleum, he said, only generates eight tenths of one percent of American electrical power. Instead, most domestic electricity comes from coal, natural gas, and nuclear power.

The wind industry wouldn't exist, McEowen said, without federal incentives, and the income tax credit per kilowatt hour for electricity produced by a qualified wind facility is 2.2 cents.

Many states also subsidize wind energy, he said, alongside reductions or exemptions from state or local property sales and other taxes.

Some states, such as Wyoming, McEowen noted, are taxing wind companies due to the full "social cost" of wind farms to taxpayers, ranging from road construction and repair to police and fire protection related to the farms.

While wind farms do create jobs, McEowen added, since most jobs are due to government subsidies, the net effect is simply a shift from non-subsidized labor to subsidized, rather than creation of genuinely "new" jobs.

"When Spain reduced its alternative energy subsidies," he said, "thousands of jobs were lost."

Also discussed was whether industrial wind farms constitute "the next generation of nuisance lawsuits."

McEowen detailed possible legal claims from neighbors of wind turbine-hosting land, ranging from ice throws when blades -- which can spin at more than 150 miles per hour -- ice up, to malfunction or lightning strike-rooted fires, interference with radio or TV signals, to aforementioned health impacts on adjacent landowners.

He cited several studies on the health effects of the turbines.

Most courts, he emphasized will only recognize nuisance claims after the towers have been installed, rather than in an anticipatory manner. Instead, it was noted the local legislative process is the best manner to address concerns before wind farm placement.

Property values have been shown to be negatively impacted by proximity to the turbines in some studies, McEowen said, by 10 to 30 percent.

"All this is related to how close these are to your home or business," he added. "Does this part of the country have enough open space to get these away from people?"

Among topics discussed in a question and answer session near the close of the program included potential conflict of interest for any members of the county's BZA, something Snyder said is required to be disclosed by county and state statute.

"Typically, (conflict of interest) means there's financial benefit flowing to one who votes that could affect his decision," he added.

Also discussed was the effect of the farms on Doppler radar for weather predictions. One group member said a wind farm near Lafayette, Indiana, causes the appearance of a major storm to be constant on radar-based weather maps, creating "trouble predicting tornadoes."

From Australia


SOURCE The Courier, www.thecourier.com.au

August 19 2011


Shop owner Jan Perry said yesterday she had been seeing a Ballarat doctor for sleep problems following the activation of turbines.

Ms Perry, 57, said her doctor was “surprised and shocked” that she also had high blood pressure.


A third Leonards Hill resident has gone public about alleged health problems caused by living near Hepburn wind farm.

Shop owner Jan Perry said yesterday she had been seeing a Ballarat doctor for sleep problems following the activation of turbines.

Ms Perry, 57, said her doctor was “surprised and shocked” that she also had high blood pressure.

“I’ve always had normal blood pressure and had it taken back in May and it was still normal,” Ms Perry said. “But my doctor took it again on Tuesday and it was up.”

Ms Perry said she had constant earache since the turbines started.

Ms Perry is one of at least two Leonards Hill residents who have made formal complaints to the Environmental Protection Authority about turbine noise.

She said the shire of Hepburn had failed in its duty of care to residents.

“Hepburn Wind and the shire have ruined our lives,” she said. “We can’t sell, we can’t move.”

But another Leonards Hill resident spoke highly of the turbines.

Dianne Watson, 56, a pensioner, rents a cottage with her husband from turbine landholder Ron Liversidge.

“We’re down the hill, below the turbines, and you can’t hear them at all,” Mrs Watson said.

Mayor Rod May said he hadn’t received any correspondence “of late” about problems associated with the wind farm.

“The shire probably needs to be convinced of the causal link between the wind turbines and the syndromes that are being presented,” he said.

Second story:


SOURCE The Courier, www.thecourier.com.au

August 19 2011


“Patients present with a complex array of symptoms. You hear it once, then a second person comes along with something similar. By the third or fourth person, you’re starting to think there’s something here.

A Ballarat doctor yesterday joined the wind turbine debate, comparing the alleged link between health problems associated with turbines to cigarette smoking’s connection to cancer back in the 1950s.

Sleep physician Dr Wayne Spring said he had been treating patients from Waubra and Leonards Hill and he supported a senate inquiry call for a formal health study.

“Research needs to be done into the whole concept of wind farms,” Dr Spring said yesterday. “It’s like cigarettes in the 50s; people didn’t believe they caused lung cancer and now we’ve got people living near turbines coming in early with all sorts of conditions. We’ve got to acknowledge the facts.

“Some of these people are called hysterics or it’s psychosomatic or they’re labelled as jumping on the bandwagon. People in industry and government dismiss these people but this is an important issue.”

Dr Spring’s comments follow those this week of Daylesford doctor Andja Mitric-Andjic.

Dr Mitric-Andjic said she had been treating Leonards Hill residents for problems associated with sleep disturbance since turbines began operating in the area earlier this year.

Hepburn Wind chairman Simon Holmes a Court said much of the anxiety from residents living near turbines was created by “misinformation spread by anti-wind activists”.

But Dr Spring said the problem was anecdotal evidence was not regarded as scientific.

“We do not have evidence,” he said. “I can’t be dogmatic but we do not have evidence to refute there is a problem.

“Patients present with a complex array of symptoms. You hear it once, then a second person comes along with something similar. By the third or fourth person, you’re starting to think there’s something here.

“Bad sleep is bad for you, regardless of whether it’s caused by noise or anxiety about a situation.”

8/17/11 License to Kill: Wind developers get a pass from the USFWS


SOURCE www.foxnews.com

17 August 2011

As California attempts to divorce itself from fossil-fueled electricity, it may be trading one environmental sin for another — although you don’t hear state officials admitting it.

Wind power is the fastest growing component in the state’s green energy portfolio, but wildlife advocates say the marriage has an unintended consequence: dead birds, including protected species of eagles, hawks and owls.

“The cumulative impacts are huge,” said Shawn Smallwood, one of the few recognized experts studying the impact of wind farms on migratory birds. “It is not inconceivable to me that we could reduce golden eagle populations by a great deal, if not wipe them out.”

California supports roughly 2,500 golden eagles. The state’s largest wind farms kill, on average, more than 80 eagles per year. But the state is set to triple wind capacity in the coming years as it tries to become the first state in the nation to generate 33 percent of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2020.

“We would like to have no bird deaths and no bird injuries. But, once again, we have to balance all the needs of society. All the people who want to flip their switch and have electricity in their homes,” said Lorelei Oviatt, Kern County planning commissioner.

Kern County has identified some 225,000 acres just north of Los Angeles as a prime wind resource area. Unfortunately, the area’s rolling hills and mountains are prime hunting grounds for raptors and a layover spot for migratory birds traveling between Canada and Mexico. The updrafts enjoyed by birds of prey are ideal for generating power.

“I’m not against wind power — it is a viable form of energy generation — but it needs to be developed more carefully,” Smallwood said.

Case in point: In the Bay Area, when activists in the 1980s demanded a cleaner planet, the state responded with the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area. The state-approved wind farm, built with federal tax credits, kills 4,700 birds annually, including 1,300 raptors, among them 70 golden eagles, according to biological reports generated on behalf of the owners.

Smallwood said replacing the small, older turbines with larger blades has cut some species fatalities roughly in half.

Oviatt said Kern County is trying to learn from Altamont’s mistakes.

“We’re requiring full environmental impact reports, which take at least 12 to 18 months,” Oviatt said. “Can I promise that a bird will never be injured or killed? I can’t. But again, we have this tradeoff in society, between the things we need to function as an economy and the fact that we wanna make sure we have an environment for future generations.”

Pine Tree is one of the wind farms in Kern County and is operated by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. According to an internal DWP bird and bat mortality report for the year ending June 2010, bird fatality rates were “relatively high” at Pine Tree compared to 45 other wind facilities nationwide. The facility’s annual death rate per turbine is three times higher for golden eagles than at Altamont.

“Politics plays a huge role here,” Smallwood said. “Our leaders want this power source so they’re giving, for a time being, a pass to the wind industry. If you or I killed an eagle, we’re looking at major consequences.”

Smallwood and others say it is almost inconceivable the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which enforces the U.S. Endangered Species Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, hasn’t acted.

“There’s a big, big hypocrisy here,” Sue Hammer of Tehachapi Wildlife Rehab in Kern County said. “If I shoot an eagle, it’s a $10,000 fine and/or a vacation of one to five years in a federal pen of my choice.”

She’s not far off from the reality.

In 2009, Exxon pleaded guilty to causing the deaths of about 85 migratory birds in five states that came into contact with crude oil in uncovered waste tanks. The fine for this was $600,000.

Likewise, PacifiCorp, an Oregon utility, owed $10.5 million in fines, restitution and improvements to their equipment after 232 eagles were killed by running into power lines in Wyoming.

And in 2005, the owner of a fish hatchery was ordered to serve six months in a federal halfway house and pay a $65,000 fine for shooting an eagle that was feeding at his uncovered hatchery.

Wind power in the U.S. generates 41,400 megawatts of electricity. California represents just a fraction of that total, suggesting the number of raptor kills is considerably higher nationwide. Yet according to records, USFWS has not prosecuted a single company for violating one of the many statutes protecting threatened and endangered birds.