Entries in wind project (9)

3/15/12 Farmers seeing the truth about wind developers:The lunch was free, but the contract you signed afterwards tied your land up for 50 years

From Five Questions to Ask Before Signing a Wind-Energy Lease

Source: Corn and Soybean Digest

March 15, 2012

1. How will the lease affect my farming operation?

A commercial wind project needs about 60 acres of land per megawatt (MW). But only 3% of that area — roughly three acres — is occupied by turbines, substations and access roads. The rest is a buffer zone to preserve wind flow. The lease should clearly state your rights to use the land for farming, grazing, development of subsurface minerals, hunting or other uses, Jambor-Delgado says.

Despite a relatively small footprint, a wind project can significantly affect farm operations, efficiency and production, says Dwight Aakre, North Dakota State University Extension farm management specialist.

Turbines and access roads can change field configurations, disrupting row orientation and creating inconvenient end rows or land fragments inaccessible to large equipment.

Field-drainage patterns may be altered. Center-pivot irrigation systems can be blocked. On grazing land, fences, gates and cattle guards may have to be changed.

“Aerial crop spraying is often an issue,” Aakre says. In the north, snow plowing can cause headaches for growers. “Those access roads have to be kept open, and if the snow piles up in the field it can take a long time to melt in the spring, delaying or preventing planting.”

Farmers should raise agricultural-production issues in the initial contract talks, says Dean Retherford of Halderman Farm Management, Lafayette, IN. Retherford has helped negotiate leases for several wind projects in northwest and west-central Indiana, involving 39 wind turbines on farms he manages.

“We learned to request input on the location of roads,” Retherford says. “And the wind companies found that landowners were more of a help than a hindrance” in site decisions, he says.

The lease should clearly state how you will be compensated if land is taken out of production or crops, livestock, soil or other property are damaged during construction or operation. On one of the farms Retherford manages, for instance, a crane crushed half a mile of brand new 12-in. tile.

2. How long will the lease tie up my land?

Wind-power leases often last 50 years. The long lease period is necessary to give the developer time to earn a return on the huge up-front investment needed to build a wind farm.

The initial lease term is usually 25 years — the expected life of a turbine. Wind-power leases also include a renewal provision, extending the contract for another 20 or 25 years. The decision on whether to renew the lease is almost always the tenant’s exclusively, Ferrell says. “Landowners don’t have any say.” However, some leases may allow landowners to renegotiate the commercial terms at renewal time. “This is where collective bargaining is a very helpful tool.”

Wind leases will probably affect your estate plans, too, he adds, so it’s a good idea to include your heirs in the discussions.

3. What are my obligations under the lease?

The lease will prohibit you from doing anything that obstructs the flow of wind over the surface of your property.

This includes restrictions on the height and location of structures such as barns, grain bins, cell towers, even houses and trees. In some cases, Ferrell says, the lease may prevent you from improving your property without permission from the wind company. “If you have improvements planned for the property, get approval for them” before you sign the lease, he says.

That goes for drainage upgrades, too, says Retherford, the Indiana farm manager. Wind farms often include underground power lines. “If you’re thinking of installing pattern tile in the next 10 years or so, do it before the turbines come.” After the project is built, you will need advance permission to maintain or repair tile, he adds.

You must also avoid damaging the wind-power structures. Vehicular accidents, fires or other mishaps can result in big losses, which may not be covered by your personal and farm-liability policies, Aakre says.

You will probably need to buy additional insurance to satisfy your indemnification obligations, Ferrell says. “This is especially important if you lease the property to hunters.” He adds: Increased insurance requirements for the landowner should be factored into compensation negotiations.

 Likewise, the developer should indemnify you from damage claims arising from the tenant’s use of your land, Jambor-Delgado says.

Wind-power leases may also affect your obligations under other land agreements, she says. If the property has a mortgage, for example, you may need your lender’s consent to enter into a wind-company lease.

The lease should address the payment of debts secured by the land as well as placement of new liens on the property, she says.

Be wary of lease provisions that require you to personally obtain subordination agreements from your creditors, or that prevent you from using your land to secure future credit, Ferrell says.

A wind lease may also affect your eligibility for government farm programs, Jambor-Delgado says, so don’t sign a lease before checking with the appropriate agencies.

4. How will I be compensated?

Lease payments can be structured in many ways, including:

            •fixed payments based on acreage, towers or megawatt capacity;

            •royalty payments based on a percent of gross revenue;

            •or some combination.

All the wind-lease payments that Dean Retherfordhas negotiated are based on gross revenue per turbine. Each 1.5- or 3-MW turbine earns an annual royalty payment of $5,000 and $8,000, he says. The wind companies pay property taxes on the commercial facility, but not on the leased land.

Most wind-power leases today provide for similar royalties based on revenue, Ferrell says — typically 3-5% of gross earnings. The contract should clearly spell out how your payment will be calculated.

For example, if your royalty is 4% of gross revenue, how will gross revenue be defined? Does it include only the sale of electricity, or does it also include revenue from the sale of tax credits or renewable energy credits? Will your payment be based on revenue from the turbines on your land alone, or on average revenue for the entire wind farm? What can be subtracted from gross revenue? Can the wind-power company deduct for power lost during transmission or for periodic curtailments?

Leases that include a royalty should also set a minimum rent that will be paid whether or not the turbines are generating power for sale, Ferrell says. In addition, many royalty leases now include an “escalator” provision raising the royalty percentage at specified intervals. This arrangement can be a good deal for both the developer and the landowner, he says. During the early years of the project, the company can recover its initial costs faster. In later years, the landowner shares in a greater percentage of profits.

Royalty leases should always include an audit provision, Aakre says, which allows access to the company’s financial records “to verify the revenues produced by the wind farm.”

5. What happens when the project ends?

“A frequent fear of landowners is that the developer will default or dissolve, and the landowner will be left with huge, inoperable machines” littering the property, Ferrell says.

Such fears are not unfounded, Aakre says. “It’s a real risk.” North Dakota’s relatively weak reclamation law, for example, “permits turbines to stand idle so long that the company could be long gone.”

Your lease should provide for the removal of the wind farm structures and roads when the project is finished and restoration of the soils, Aakre says. The lease should outline your rights if the wind company doesn’t fulfill its obligation. Some agreements require a performance bond from the developer to ensure that money is available to pay for decommissioning.

Land reclamation is one of the most difficult parts of a wind-power lease negotiation, Retherford says. Although the towers have significant metal salvage value, they require specialized cranes to dismantle. And the massive foundations are expensive to remove.

“Each turbine has 40 yards of concrete in the foundation. One company wanted to grind the concrete down to 6 ft., but we negotiated removal down to 8 ft. so you could tile over it.” Benton County, IN, where the project is located, requires wind companies to deposit money in an escrow fund to pay for the reclamation, he adds.

Types of wind-power property agreements

There are several types of legal agreements that give developers access to your land and wind, says Jennifer Jambor-Delgado, a staff attorney at Farmers’ Legal Action Group, which has published a book on wind-power leases (www.flaginc.org). Farmers should keep in mind that “once you have a written agreement with a developer, that agreement controls” the rights and obligations of both parties, she says. “Any verbal agreements can’t be relied on if they are not written into the contract.”

Property agreements used to develop a wind farm include:

  • Option: Gives the developer the right to lease the land at an agreed-upon price, subject to agreed-upon terms.
  • Access Easement:Allows the developer to travel across your property and construct roads to reach turbine areas.
  • Construction Easement: Gives access for construction of turbines and support equipment, as well as temporary “lay-down” areas for equipment and machinery storage.
  • Transmission Easement: Allows developer to construct and operate underground and above-ground transmission lines and substations.
  • Wind Non-obstruction Easement: You agree not to construct any improvements that could interfere with wind speed or direction.
  • Overhang or Encroachment Easement: You agree to allow turbine blades to overhang your property, even if the turbine is not on your land.
  • Noise Easement: You agree to allow a certain level of noise from the turbine.
  • Covenant:Binds later purchasers of the land to abide by certain restrictions.
  • Lease:Creates a landlord-tenant relationship for a set period of time allowing tenant the exclusive right to use the property. If the landowner wants to retain rights to use the land, such rights must be specifically stated.

Sources: Shannon Ferrell, Oklahoma State University; Windustry; Farmers’ Legal Action Group, Inc.

2/17/12 Sleepless Fond Du Lac County wind project residents suffer and abandon their homes because of wind turbine noise and vibration, Madison lobbyist dismisses their problems and $ings $ame old $ong for his $upper AND More from wind project residents


Bret Lemoine,

Source: WFRV, wearegreenbay.com

February 16, 2012

Brown County will be asking for state aid to relocate residents who say they’re becoming ill because of wind turbines. That was decided at a board meeting Wednesday night.

Those residents say they’ve had to leave their homes after getting sick from low frequency noises. Now, the state legislature can either approve or deny the request for funding.

Residents living near an 88 turbine wind farm in Fond du Lac County are hopeful the decision will mean relief is also on the way, or at least a possibility. Many residents are complaining about similar problems. They claim there is constant noise generated from the turbines that keeps them up at night and even builds up pressure, giving them severe headaches.

We’re told several people have moved out of their homes. They hope similar action can be taken to help them.

“It’s about time somebody starts looking into this, finding out what they really do to people,” says resident Joan Brusoe, who lives 1400 ft. from a turbine. Her neighbor, Larry Lamont, is 1100 ft. away from one: “They could mediate some of the problems these things are creating, that would help. I don’t know if there is a total solution.”

We spoke with representatives from RENEW Wisconsin. They are a non-profit group that promotes environmentally sustainable energy policies in our state. They tell Local 5 health concerns are untrue and undocumented.

Director Michael Vickerman says, “Very few people object to wind projects. It’s just an organized group of people who don’t like these developments.”

He calls Brown County’s decision a move to step up pressure on legislators, stopping wind development in Wisconsin.

Next Feature: From Massachusetts


By Patrick Cassidy,

Source Cape Cod Times,www.capecodonline.com 

February 17, 2012 

BOURNE — One after another, residents from towns across the southeastern part of the state stood up in Bourne High School Thursday night and said they didn’t buy a state-sponsored report that found no direct health effects from the operation of wind turbines.

“Please do not tell us that turbines do not make us sick,” said Neil Anderson, one of several Falmouth residents who spoke at the public hearing on the state report released in January.

Others in the crowd of more than 50 people came from Nantucket, Fairhaven and Duxbury. The majority voiced their disbelief that the report’s authors found that wind turbines did not affect the health of people who live near them.

“I can’t find where you’ve interviewed a single victim of ill health effects or where you’ve interviewed a doctor who treated them,” said Bruce Mandel of Nantucket. “The victims shouldn’t have to prove that they’re sick.”

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell told the audience that state officials have not made up their mind on the question of whether there are health effects from the operation of turbines, such as the two at the Falmouth wastewater treatment facility and a third private turbine built nearby.

“We are glad to be here,” Kimmell said. “We have an open mind and open ears.”

The DEP and the state Department of Public Health commissioned a group of experts last year to study existing scientific literature about the effect of wind turbines on health after dozens of residents living around the Falmouth turbines complained the spinning blades disrupted their sleep, and caused ailments that include high blood pressure, migraine headaches and nausea.

Town officials have restricted the operation of the first turbine installed at the town wastewater treatment facility for the time being. The second turbine there is undergoing a test run to gauge its effect on neighbors.

The seven-member panel commissioned to look at health issues associated with the technology included health professionals and academics from Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston University, the University of Massachusetts and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Thursday’s meeting was the second of three being held across the state to accept comments on the report and what should be done with it. The state will accept written comments until March 19.

The report found that noise from turbines could disrupt sleep and cause annoyance. The report’s authors found that there is evidence “that sleep disruption can adversely affect mood, cognitive functioning, and overall sense of health and well being.”

Despite this, they concluded that there is no evidence that turbines were directly causing health problems.

Several speakers took issue with the authors’ seemingly contradictory line of reasoning.

“How can you have it both ways?” said Todd Drummey of Blacksmith Shop Road in Falmouth. “That’s like saying cigarettes don’t cause health impacts if you don’t smoke them.”

Others in the audience questioned the independence of panel members who co-authored the report, pointing to previous work done by panelists on the subject, including one member who consulted on wind energy projects.

Colin Murphy of Falmouth said that he has to deal with “pounding” in his yard from the turbines near his home.

“There’s definitely annoyance and what does annoyance lead to?” he said. “I would say stress and anxiety.”

He didn’t understand why the authors of the report didn’t come to Falmouth to talk to people who lived near the turbines, Murphy said.

“I don’t understand why there wasn’t a lab section to that study,” he said.

After he puts his kids to bed and closes his eyes at night, he thinks about what the turbines could do to the value of his property, Murphy said.

“When you close your eyes and say your prayers, I hope you really believe that you’re doing the best for the people of Massachusetts,” Murphy told Kimmell and the other state officials at the meeting.

While most of the speakers blasted the report, a small minority praised the state for its work.

Thousands of people die each year from asthma and other diseases caused by the burning of fossil fuels, said Richard Elrick, vice president of Cape and Islands Self Reliance and energy coordinator for the towns of Barnstable and Bourne.

Elrick, who said he was speaking only for himself, said there were thousands of turbines around the world where there were no problems such as those reported in Falmouth.

Everyone has an obligation to do something to try and address the problems associated with climate change, Elrick said.

“Every energy source requires sacrifices of one kind or another,” he said.

12/21/11 Wind Industry push for tax credits and cash grants continues AND Wait.... HOW much does it cost to take a wind turbine down? Town tangled by turbine trouble AND They never met a wind farm they didn't say yes to: PSC announces 102.5 MW wind project application in St. Croix County


By Robert Bryce,

Via www.foxnews.com 

December 20, 2011

A review of the $9.8 billion in cash grants provided under section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (also known as the federal stimulus bill) for renewable energy projects shows that the wind energy sector has corralled over $7.6 billion of that money. And the biggest winners in the 1603 sweepstakes: the companies represented on AWEA’s board of directors.

The American Wind Energy Association has begun a major lobbying effort in Congress to extend some soon-to-expire renewable-energy tax credits. And to bolster that effort, the lobby group’s CEO, Denise Bode, is calling the wind industry “a tremendous American success story.”

But the wind lobby’s success has largely been the result of its ability to garner subsidies. And those subsidies are coming with a big price tag for American taxpayers. Since 2009, AWEA’s largest and most influential member companies have garnered billions of dollars in direct cash payments and loan guarantees from the US government. And while the lobby group claims to be promoting “clean” energy, AWEA’s biggest member companies are also among the world’s biggest users and/or producers of fossil fuels.

A review of the $9.8 billion in cash grants provided under section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (also known as the federal stimulus bill) for renewable energy projects shows that the wind energy sector has corralled over $7.6 billion of that money. And the biggest winners in the 1603 sweepstakes: the companies represented on AWEA’s board of directors.

An analysis of the 4,256 projects that have won grants from the Treasury Department under section 1603 over the past two years shows that $3.37 billion in grants went to just nine companies — all of them are members of AWEA’s board. To put that $3.37 billion in perspective, consider that in 2010, according to the Energy Information Administration, the total of all “energy specific subsidies and support” provided to the oil and gas sector totaled $2.84 billion. And that $2.84 billion in oil and gas subsidies is being divided among thousands of entities. The Independent Petroleum Association of America estimates the US now has over 14,000 oil and gas companies.

The renewable energy lobby likes to portray itself as an upstart industry, one that is grappling with big business and the entrenched interests of the hydrocarbon sector. But billions of dollars in 1603 grants – all of it exempt from federal corporate income taxes – is being used to fatten the profits of some of the world’s biggest companies. Indeed, the combined market capitalization of the 11 biggest corporations on AWEA’s board – a group that includes General Electric and Siemens — is about $450 billion.

Nevertheless, the clock is ticking on renewable-energy subsidies. The 1603 grants end on December 31 and the renewable-energy production tax credit expires on January 1, 2013. On Monday, AWEA issued a report which predicted that some 37,000 wind-related jobs in the US could be lost by 2013 if the production tax credit is not extended.

But the subsidies are running out at the very same time that a cash-strapped Congress is turning a hard eye on the renewable sector. The collapse of federally backed companies like solar-panel-maker Solyndra and biofuel producer Range Fuels, are providing critics of renewable subsidies with plenty of ammunition. And if critics need more bullets, they need only look at AWEA’s board to see how big business is grabbing every available dollar from US taxpayers all in the name of “clean” energy. Indeed, AWEA represents a host of fossil-fuel companies who are eagerly taking advantage of the renewable-energy subsidies.

Consider NRG Energy, which has a seat on AWEA’s board. Last month, the New York Times reported that New Jersey-based NRG and its partners have secured $5.2 billion in federal loan guarantees to build solar-energy projects. NRG’s market capitalization: $4.3 billion.

But NRG is not a renewable energy company. The company currently has about 26,000 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity. Of that, 450 MW is wind capacity, another 65 MW is solar, and 1,175 MW comes from nuclear. So why is NRG expanding into renewables? The answer is simple: profits. Last month, David Crane, the CEO of NRG, told the Times that “I have never seen anything that I have had to do in my 20 years in the power industry that involved less risk than these projects.”

Or look at E.On, the giant German electricity and natural gas company, which also has a seat on AWEA’s board of directors. In 2010, the company emitted 116 million metric tons of carbon dioxide an amount approximately equal to that of the Czech Republic, a country of 10.5 million people. And last year, the company – which has about 2,000 MW of wind-generation capacity in the US — produced about 14 times as much electricity by burning hydrocarbons as it did from wind.

Despite its role as a major fossil-fuel utility, E.On has been awarded $542.5 million in section 1603 cash so that it can build wind projects. And the company is getting that money even though it is the world’s largest investor-owned utility with a market capitalization of $45 billion.

Another foreign company with a seat on AWEA’s board: Spanish utility Iberdrola, the second-largest domestic wind operator. But in 2010, Iberdrola produced about 3 times as much electricity from hydrocarbons as it did from wind. Nevertheless, the company has collected $1 billion in section 1603 money. To put that $1 billion in context, consider that in 2010, Iberdrola’s net profit was about 2.8 billion Euros, or around $3.9 billion. Thus, US taxpayers have recently provided cash grants to Iberdrola that amount to about one-fourth of the company’s 2010 profits. And again, none of that grant money is subject to US corporate income taxes. Iberdrola currently sports a market cap of $39 billion.

Another big winner on AWEA’s board of directors: NextEra Energy (formerly Florida Power & Light) which has garnered some $610.6 million in 1603 grants for various wind projects. NextEra’s market capitalization is $23 billion. The subsidies being garnered by NextEra are helping the company drastically cut its taxes. A look at the company’s 2010 annual report shows that it cut its federal tax bill by more than $200 million last year thanks to various federal tax credits. And the company’s latest annual report shows that it has another $1.8 billion of “tax credit carryforwards” that will help it slash its taxes over the coming years.

The biggest fossil-fuel-focused company on AWEA’s board is General Electric, which had revenues last year of $150 billion. Of that sum, about 25 percent came from what the company calls “energy infrastructure.” While some of that revenue comes from GE’s wind business, the majority comes from building generators, jet engines, and other machinery that burn hydrocarbons. The company is also rapidly growing GE Oil & Gas, which had 2010 revenues of $7.2 billion. GE Oil & Gas has more than 20,000 employees and provides a myriad of products and services to the oil and gas industry.

GE has a starring role in one of the most egregious examples of renewable-energy corporate welfare: the Shepherds Flat wind project in Oregon. The majority of the funding for the $1.9 billion, 845-megawatt project is coming from federal taxpayers. Not only is the Energy Department providing GE and its partners – who include Caithness Energy, Google, and Sumitomo — a $1.06 billion loan guarantee, as soon as GE’s 338 turbines start turning at Shepherds Flat, the Treasury Department will send the project developers a cash grant of $490 million.

On December 9, the American Council on Renewable Energy issued a press release urging Congress to quickly extend the 1603 program and the renewable-energy production tax credit, because they will “bolster renewable energy’s success and American competitiveness.”

But time is running short. Backers of the renewable-energy credits say that to assure continuity on various projects, a bill must be passed into law by March 2012. If that doesn’t happen, they are predicting domestic investment in renewable energy could fall by 50 percent. A bill now pending in the House would extend the production tax credit for four additional years, through 2017. The bill has 40 sponsors, 9 are Republicans. The bill is awaiting a hearing by the House Ways and Means Committee.

Robert Bryce is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. His latest book is Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future.

From Massachusetts



Source: Falmouth Enterprise,

December 20, 2011 

In the Weston & Sampson report the cost for decommissioning the turbines and taking them down is estimated to be $700,000, with on-site storage adding $30,000 to that figure. The monthly maintenance fee for the turbines would be $4,500 a month.

The town could, under the proposal, possibly realize as much as $600,000 for the two turbines, if it were to resell them. If a buyer cannot be found, salvage value of the machines would provide the town with much less revenue, an estimated $102,000.

Earlier this year Falmouth hired a consultant to determine if the town could reach consensus with residents on how to deal with the problems of the town-owned wind turbines at the Wastewater Treatment Facility. That consultant, Edith M. Netter of Waltham, concluded that, despite the acrimony over the turbines, a consensus was achievable.

Last night selectmen moved forward with that approach by accepting advice from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, which is recommending four firms to facilitate that next step. Those firms, which the state agency selected after issuing a Request for Qualifications, are CLF Ventures of Boston; the Consensus Building Institute of Cambridge; the Meister Consulting Group of Boston; and Raab Associates of Boston.

The Clean Energy Center has provided a review of the firms to selectmen, noting which were best suited for facilitating the process of building consensus on how to deal with the town’s two wind turbines. Selectmen will not make a decision on those firms until their next meeting on Monday, January 9.

Chairman of the Falmouth Board of Selectmen Mary (Pat) Flynn asked for public input on the four finalists to help in choosing the one that will be responsible for facilitating the process of how to select the mitigation option most suitable for the town. The options before selectmen are: to decommission the two turbines; to relocate the turbines elsewhere in town; to make specific changes to the operation of the turbines; or to mitigate the homes impacted by the machines. Weston & Sampson has concluded its analysis of these options, and that report will be posted on the town’s website, under the selectmen’s section, later today.

Residents can also find information related to the four firms the Clean Energy Center is recommending for facilitation here, as well. Nancy A. Hayward of Chase Road, West Falmouth, later asked that a copy of the report also be made available to residents in the Falmouth Public Library’s reference department. The board agreed to her request.

In the Weston & Sampson report the cost for decommissioning the turbines and taking them down is estimated to be $700,000, with on-site storage adding $30,000 to that figure. The monthly maintenance fee for the turbines would be $4,500 a month.

The town could, under the proposal, possibly realize as much as $600,000 for the two turbines, if it were to resell them. If a buyer cannot be found, salvage value of the machines would provide the town with much less revenue, an estimated $102,000.

In addition, Weston & Sampson predicted the town would be responsible for repaying the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust the roughly $1 million it received in Renewable Energy Credits for the energy produced by the turbines from 2015 to 2029.

Falmouth would have to cover its debt obligations for the pur- chase of the wind turbines. In the report the town would pay $6.88 million in debt for Wind 1. With relocation Weston & Sampson has estimated the town would require an additional $4.48 million investment. Of that amount roughly $1.5 million would go toward decommissioning of the turbines as well as permitting and site preparation. The remaining money would be needed to cover actual construction costs.

If the town elects to keep the turbines in their current location, it could elect to modify a handful of abutters’ homes. Weston & Sampson mentioned nine homes—four on Blacksmith Shop Road, four on Ambleside Drive and West Falmouth Highway—that were closest to Wind 1 and Wind 2 as ones that should be strongly considered, based upon inspection last month by Harris Miller Miller and Hanson. With proper sound insulation and, in six cases, installation of central air-conditioning, the town would pay roughly $360,000 to modify those nine homes. To extend that strategy to the 25 closest homes would cost Falmouth roughly $1 million.

Another option could be noise barriers, although Weston & Sampson noted that these are not only rare, but also expensive and would require the removal of a number of trees in the area.

As an example of the significant cost of the noise barriers Weston & Sampson estimated that to construct a 41-foot high one to protect the four closest homes to Wind 1 would cost anywhere between $1 million and $2 million. Some of the modfications to the turbine include making operational changes to limit shadow flicker, which is estimated to cost $15,000 per turbine.

Once a facilitator is selected by the board, Ms. Flynn said the neutral consultant would meet with groups of 20 to 40 citizens in confidential interviews or focus groups during the month of January. The purpose of those meetings, Ms. Flynn said, will be to clarify community views on the proposed options in the Weston & Sampson report.

And it would help determine what process, if any, would work to bring people together to discuss mitigation strategies for the wind turbine. If such a process is feasible, selectmen would be apprised of that in the beginning of February by whatever firm is selected to facilitate the consensus-building approach. Over the next two months the board would then work with the public before making a recommendation to Town Meeting in April about how to proceed with the town-owned wind turbines.


December 19, 2011

[Download a copy of this document by clicking here]

Highland Wind Farm, LLC Files CPCN Application with Public Service Commission

Madison, WI—The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (Commission) has received an application from Highland Wind Farm, LLC to build a 102.5 megawatt wind project located in the townships of Forest and Cylon, St. Croix County, Wisconsin.

When the application is deemed complete, the Commission will have up to 360 days to make a decision on the application.

An electric generation project of 100 megawatts (MW) or greater requires a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the Commission.

The Commission has siting jurisdiction over all wind energy systems 100 MW or larger and over utility-owned wind energy systems, regardless of size.

A political subdivision (city, town, village, or county) has siting jurisdiction over non-utility wind energy systems smaller than 100 megawatts.

2009 Wisconsin Act 40 made several changes to the state statutes regarding the siting of wind energy systems.

The law retained the jurisdictional split between the Commission and political subdivisions; directed the Commission to write wind siting rules; and stated that a political subdivision may not impose requirements that are more restrictive than those in the Commission’s wind siting rules.

In response, final Wind Siting Rules promulgated by the Commission (PSC 128) were published in the Wisconsin Administrative Register on February 28, 2011, to be effective March 1, 2011.

Currently the rules are not in effect due to legislative suspension.

The Commission and interested parties are currently working to resolve concerns regarding wind siting for non-utility projects under 100 MW.

Because Highland Wind Farm, LLC has planned a project surpassing the 100 MW threshold, the project application will be treated like any other CPCN application received by the Commission; however, the Commission is also statutorily required to “consider whether installation or use of the facility is consistent with the standards specified in the rules promulgated by the commission under Wis. Stats. §196.378 (4g) (b),” meaning the Commission will need to at least consider whether the application is consistent with
the standards in the promulgated, yet suspended, PSC 128 rules.

Once the Commission receives all pieces of an application, the Commission has 30 days to determine whether the application is complete. After a CPCN application is deemed complete, the Commission urges the public to take advantage of the many opportunities to weigh in.

The public is encouraged to read the Commission’s public notification letter, verify interested parties are included on the Commission mailing lists, review the application posted online, ask questions of the Commission staff, submit comments, and testify at hearings.

Information can be found at the Commission’s web site, http://psc.wi.gov, and at local libraries, government offices, clerks’ offices, and within the environmental review documents that will be prepared for the project.

Wis. Stats. § 196.491 describes the procedures related to the issuance of a CPCN. The general application requirements for the CPCN are described in Wis. Admin. Code ch. PSC 111.

An overview of a typical application review process can be found at: http://psc.wi.gov/thelibrary/publications/electric/electric03.pdf.

Documents associated with the Highland Wind Farm application can be viewed on the PSC’s Electronic Regulatory Filing System at http://psc.wi.gov/. Type case numbers 2535-CE-100 in the boxes provided on the PSC homepage, or click on the Electronic Regulatory Filing System button.

3/24/11 Invenergy Doth Protest Too Much: says it's abandoning Ledge wind project due to regulatory uncertainy in Wisconsin but adds it is still planning to develop other wind projects in our state




March 24, 2011

By Thomas Content

Supporters of renewable energy say a We Energies wind farm now under construction might be the last big wind project built in the state in the near future after a Chicago developer canceled a big project near Green Bay.

We Energies is building the $367 million Glacier Hills Wind Park in Columbia County, northeast of Madison.

On Monday, Invenergy LLC canceled its plan to build a wind farm that would have had 100 turbines, 10 more than We Energies is building at Glacier Hills.

The Ledge Wind Energy Center project south of Green Bay would have generated 150 megawatts of electricity, but was the most controversial wind project proposed in the state, as local residents concerned about noise and shadow flicker from wind turbines mobilized in opposition to the project.

Residents in rural Brown County have been the most outspoken group in the state in support of Gov. Scott Walker's property rights bill restricting wind farm development, and in opposition to rules developed last year by state energy regulators for where wind farms can be located.

Alissa Krinsky, an Invenergy spokeswoman, said the local opposition to the project wasn't a factor in the company's decision.

Instead, the company cited uncertainty in Wisconsin over the rules wind power companies must comply with to obtain project permits.

A legislative committee voted along party lines earlier this month to block a new statewide rule governing locations of wind farms from going into effect. The rule was developed by the state PSC in response to a directive from the state Legislature.

In a letter to the PSC, Invenergy said it could not justify further investments in the project "while substantial uncertainty persists regarding relevant project regulations."

The company said it would work with industry and state leaders to forge a regulatory environment that's more conducive to wind development and investment. "At the same time, we'll increase our development efforts outside Wisconsin, in states that offer more regulatory certainty," Invenergy said.

The company has also built natural gas-fired power plants in Wisconsin and the Forward Wind Energy Center near the Horicon Marsh three years ago. It has built wind projects in Canada and across the country, including Illinois, Texas and West Virginia.

In Wisconsin, several smaller wind power developments are still expected to go forward this year, including a seven-turbine project also in southern Brown County.

That project received a building permit last week from the Glenmore Town Board, despite protests from wind power opponents.

Other projects expected to be built include small developments in Monroe and Calumet counties, said Michael Vickerman, executive director of the advocacy group Renew Wisconsin.

But large wind projects are expected to remain stalled as the Legislature and Walker administration shift away from the Doyle administration's support for wind power development.

Vickerman projected that the Ledge Wind project would have provided $600,000 a year in payments to local communities and Brown County. The changing environment surrounding wind energy in Wisconsin is likely to affect companies beyond wind power developers.

At a recent energy conference in Milwaukee, Tom Boldt, chief executive of Boldt Construction, said his firm planned to remain active in wind power development in other states, as prospects for such projects appear to be diminishing in Wisconsin.

Boldt has built several large wind farms and is one of the state contractors hired by We Energies to work on the Glacier Hills development.

Uncertainty about the state's wind power situation comes as the Legislature and Walker administration may consider bills to relax the state's renewable electricity mandate.

Under state law passed with bipartisan support more than five years ago, 10% of Wisconsin's electricity must come from renewable sources - including wind, solar and landfill gas-to-electricity projects - by 2015.

3/7/11 Why Wind Siting Council Vice-Chair wants setbacks increased AND Like a bad neighbor, Acciona is there and not listening to this farming couple or their doctor about what life is like living in one of their wind projects


"I served as vice chairman of the [Public Service Commission's] Wind Siting Council. The majority of that council had a direct financial interest in the outcome of the rules, resulting in guidelines that protected those interests instead of protecting Wisconsin residents.

I helped author a minority report to the commission, detailing how the majority’s guidelines failed to address the realities of the effects of large wind turbines on people living nearby."

SOURCE: The Telegraph Herald, www.thonline.com

March 6, 2011

by Doug Zweizig

Why would Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker propose to increase the setbacks between wind turbines and property lines to 1,800 feet? Because the newest industrial wind turbines in our state are 50 stories tall.

It’s hard enough to imagine living next to a structure that big. Now include spinning blades that weigh 18 tons with a span wider than a 747 and a tip speed of about 170 miles per hour, operating 24/7 just 1,250 feet from your door.

Imagine living with turbine noise that is twice as loud as the World Health Organization’s limit for healthful sleep. Imagine 700 feet of your land used by a wind company without your permission and without compensation. Imagine a loss of your property’s value as high as 40 percent.

The new Public Service Commission’s Wind Siting Rules, which would have made this situation a reality, were to go into effect March 1. However, the state Legislature’s Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules set aside the commission’s rules, allowing a reconsideration of the governor’s proposal.

I served as vice chairman of the commission’s Wind Siting Council. The majority of that
council had a direct financial interest in the outcome of the rules, resulting in guidelines that protected those interests instead of protecting Wisconsin residents. I helped author a minority report to the commission, detailing how the majority’s guidelines failed to address the realities of the effects of large wind turbines on people living nearby.

Wisconsin residents have been living with turbines of the 400- to 500-foot variety for only a few years, but the problems with Public Service Commission setbacks once thought to be adequate have become very clear.

Wind project residents from all over the state gave sworn testimony to the Public Service Commission and to our legislators, telling of turbine noise much louder than expected, of sleep deprivation and resulting deterioration of health, of headaches from shadow-flicker, of loss of TV and radio reception, of complaints to wind companies that are ignored, of communities torn apart, and of homes that simply will not sell.

The Public Service Commission rules would have allowed wind companies to put a turbine 440 feet from your property line and claim about 700 feet of your land for use as their safety zone. It’s still your property, but you couldn’t build a structure or plant trees there without the wind company’s permission.

All of these problems can be avoided with greater setbacks.

I agree with increasing the setback between a turbine and your property line to 1,800 feet. If a wind company wants to put a turbine closer, it absolutely can. The difference is it will need your permission to do it, and it may have to compensate you.

A greater setback from the property line ensures that a wind company can’t take your property for their use unless you want them to.

Although this setback does not completely mitigate the very real health concerns associated with living too close to wind turbines, it gives us increased protection from turbine noise and shadow flicker and it protects our property. Most importantly, it gives us some choice.

If we can find a way to site turbines where they do no harm, everyone will be happy.

Zweizig retired as professor emeritus from the University of Wisconsin, where he taught in the School of Library and Information Studies. He is a member of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission’s Wind Siting Council. Zweizig lives outside Evansville, Wis., and has served for five years on the Plan Commission of Union (Rock County) Township when it developed an ordinance for the siting of large wind turbines. His e-mail address is dougzweizig@hotmail.com.



SOURCES :The social and economic impact of rural wind farms

AND windturbinesyndrome.com

The first day the turbines started operating closest to our home, my wife started feeling ear and head pressure. Similar to flying in an aeroplane, she said. About six months after, I started feeling similar effects.

As the weeks went on it has gotten worse and worse.

We now suffer headaches, chest pains, a feeling of heart palpitations, and continuous lack of sleep. Every night we can’t sleep.  We go to sleep, then wake and just never settle into a good night sleep.

Stephen Stepnell

I am a third generation farmer on our Waubra farm.  We farm 4200 acres of high quality farming land, and are currently running 16,000 to 20,000 sheep, 500 acres of crop and 100 acres or irrigated land included.

From the first day we were asked to have wind turbines on our farm, we were very concerned about the impacts of a wind farm in our community. We declined to have 4 wind turbines on our land.

The closest wind turbine is 900 metres from our house, and we have 5 wind turbines within 1500 metres from our family home, where I live with my wife Samantha and three children, Jacob, Courtney and Joshua. There are about another 6 wind turbines within 2000 metres of our land, at another location on our farm. We can see nearly all the wind turbines from most areas of our farm.

The first day the turbines started operating closest to our home, my wife started feeling ear and head pressure. Similar to flying in an aeroplane, she said. About six months after, I started feeling similar effects.

As the weeks went on it has gotten worse and worse.

We now suffer headaches, chest pains, a feeling of heart palpitations, and continuous lack of sleep. Every night we can’t sleep.  We go to sleep, then wake and just never settle into a good night sleep.

I have never seen my wife of 18 years look so tired, stressed and unhealthy. This is a huge concern. My children are also more tired and emotional. We have no other illness or medical conditions that could cause us to feel like this.  We have not changed anything in our lifestyle since we started feeling like this.

We have had talks with the operator of the Waubra wind farm, Acciona Energy, telling them of our concerns of our health effects of living too close to the wind turbines and the effects of the asset values of our land.

Acciona Energy replied that we don’t have any evidence the wind turbines affect our health.  We have large concerns about the lack of any evidence wind turbines don’t affect our health. We have lived near wind turbines for about 14 months and are feeling the worse in regards to our health and the depressed feelings we get from the visual effects of wind turbines day and night, as they have aviation lights at night.

The noise they create and the inaudible noise that I know affects our lives. And the effects in changes to bird life, such as our decreased number of brolgas breeding in our area. The total loss of bats we used to hear nearly every night, and so on.

We have now gone to the desperate measure of moving out of our family home on our farm and into Ballarat, which is 45 kilometres drive away. We will travel daily to our farm. This is a large financial outlay. Our house on the farm is only 10 years old and will remain empty, as we could not rent our house farm employees due to wind turbines being too close and therefore having health effects on them.

In conclusion, we have massive concerns about the health effects of living and working too close to the wind turbines. We are members of the Lexton Land Care group, we have planted thousands and thousands of trees, fenced off creeks and are all for the environment and green energy such as wind power or solar or whatever it takes to help our environment, but to watch myself and family suffer from health effects from living too close to wind turbines is a very big concern.

There has to be a compromise.

Carl Stepnell

Letter from wife Samantha Stepnell:

The day the furniture removals came (4/11/10) was an extremely sad day for my family and me.  To pack up our belongings and leave our family home we built. We brought our three kids home from hospital and we were going to live there forever. But we have been forced to move away because of the Acciona wind farm.

Our family home is about 800 m to 900 m from five turbines that are closely clustered together. Our farm is surrounded by turbines. My bedroom is the closest room to the four turbines.

The health impact from living so close to the wind turbines began the day they began operation near our home are:

  • Chronic sleep deprivation from repeated disturbance during the night from the noise the turbines make.
    • When the noise of the turbines wakes me up, I find it very difficult to go back to sleep. This can happen a number of times a night. When I wake in the morning, I feel as if I have had no sleep at all. I also feel very tired all the time and have no energy and very lethargic.
    • Prior to the turbines being built, I was able to sleep peacefully with our window open (in the summer) and wake up feeling like I have had a great sleep, and ready for the day ahead.
  • Feeling of uneasiness
  • Suffer from pressure in my ears and head. Some days the noise is that bad, the pressure is unbearable.

The only way I can explain how I feel, it is like being in a plane with that pressure in the cabin from flying. Except it does not go away.

Our farm is 4200 acres and it is our business.  My husband and I work on the farm, so we are frequently outside. The noise from the turbines in certain conditions is unbearable and makes our workplace very hard to put up with.  I find it very upsetting and stressful.

I feel very depressed and some days I could just curl up and cry.

All these symptoms—headaches, ear pressure and sleep disruption—have occurred only since the turbines began operation, and they occur only when the turbines are operating.

I feel the longer I am around the wind turbines, it is affecting my health even more. I feel it is taking me longer to get over the health problems I am suffering from.

For example, my family and I just returned from a week’s holiday. I slept all night and when I woke up, I felt like I had a good night sleep. I woke up from my night’s sleep with lots of energy. This is the way I should feel all the time. There was no pressure in my ears and head. I felt like I was back to my old self.

The day I returned from holidays, I began to feel all the symptoms that I have explained, above.  They had returned.

We had no choice but to leave our family home we built nine years ago on our farm. We have moved into Ballarat, and we travel out to the farm to work each day. (Ballarat is 45 kilometres away from Waubra.)

The day the furniture removals came (4/11/10) was an extremely sad day for my family and me.  To pack up our belongings and leave our family home we built. We brought our three kids home from hospital and we were going to live there forever. But we have been forced to move away because of the Acciona wind farm. We thought that we would grow old together in our home on the farm and watch our children grow up and move on with their lives.

No, that is not the case, we have been forced out of our home.

We have nothing against wind farms. I am all for the environment.  We plant thousands of trees for our farm each year. The planning of a wind farm has to be in a better location and not so close to residential areas. Buying a home in Ballarat put huge financial pressure on us, but we had no choice but to leave. Our health is number one and it was really suffering.

The first night we slept in our new home was the first time we have had a full night sleep in 18 months.

I am fine when I am away from the turbines, although, as soon as I return to the farm, the symptoms return. I find it very difficult to enjoy a day’s work on the farm because of the health effects caused by wind turbines.

If you care for the health and well-being of my family and me, could you please take the matter of the health effects from living so close to the Waubra wind turbines very seriously?

You are more than welcome to come and experience what it is like to be so close to the wind turbines, as no letter will ever express exactly what we are feeling. There are no words to describe these feelings and how the turbines are effecting our health.

Thank you for your time, and please take this letter seriously.

Yours sincerely,

Samantha Stepnell

From the Stepnell family doctor:

These turbines have been in operation for the last fourteen months, as I understand, and Carl and Samantha acknowledge they have been aware of a constant sound while the turbines are in operation since this period of time.

However, in the last six months the Stepnells have had increasing problems, including increased feeling of pressure in their head and ears, a feeling of uneasiness and frequent waking at night. This has led to increased lethargy and inevitably a lowered mood.

Acciona Energy

30 September 2010

Dear Sir,

re: Carl and Samantha Stepnell

I saw this couple on 29 September 2010 regarding health problems related to wind turbines which are located nearby in Waubra. They have a 4500 acre farm on which they run sheep and grow grain.

The farm is surrounded by wind turbines, but the ones that they feel are contributing to their current symptoms relate to five turbines, located within 900 metres of their home.

These turbines have been in operation for the last fourteen months, as I understand, and Carl and Samantha acknowledge they have been aware of a constant sound while the turbines are in operation since this period of time.

However, in the last six months the Stepnells have had increasing problems, including increased feeling of pressure in their head and ears, a feeling of uneasiness and frequent waking at night. This has led to increased lethargy and inevitably a lowered mood.

Last May, Carl and Samantha noticed when the turbines were not in operation for two weeks that their symptoms significantly improved, but worsened again when the turbines came back online.

Carl and Samantha have also noticed that they have significantly less problems when away on holidays.

Samantha Stepnell notices that her symptoms are more persistent and severe as she spends more time in the house closest to these five turbines. Her husband, Carl, is also constantly affected but is able to move around the farm doing his usual work and therefore, at times, is further away from the turbines.

Their three children spend most of the day away from the farm, and, as such, have minimal symptoms.

The couple has not had a past history of these symptoms, nor has there been a past history of depression, stress or anxiety. They feel that they can accept the visual impact of the turbines and the red flashing lights at night, but it is the noise from the turbines that is causing their symptoms.

I also confirm that I have one other patient who lives at Waubra on a 10-acre farm, who is distraught with exactly the same symptoms as the Stepnells.

I believe from the circumstantial evidence that there is a strong correlation between their symptoms and the operation of the wind turbines nearby.

I hope therefore that you can take this into consideration in your discussions with Carl and Samantha Stepnell to try and come to an outcome that will resolve these symptoms.

Yours sincerely

Scott Taylor, M.B., B.S.

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