Cohocton Wind Watch: November 2008
Cohocton Wind Watch is a community citizen organization dedicated to preserve the public safety, property values, economic viability, environmental integrity and quality of life in Cohocton, NY and in surrounding townships. Neighbors committed to public service in order to achieve a reasonable vision for a Finger Lakes region worthy of future generations.

READ about the FIRST WIND Connection to the Obama Administration

Industrial Wind and the Wall Street Cap and Trade Fraud


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Low-frequency noise linked to heart attacks

In an Oct. 9 letter to the Watertown Daily Times, I presented an article from the European Heart Journal authored by Dr. Stefan Willich et al. that suggested low-frequency noise may be related to heart attacks and that women seemed disproportionately at risk.

Dawn M. Munk of Three Mile Bay responded to my letter by bringing to our attention a critique by Dr. Wolfgang Babish (Oct. 25). Dr. Babish found fault with the way Dr. Willich's group had managed their data and took issue with the suggestion that noise affected women to a greater extent than men. In the meantime, Dr. Babish published a study suggesting men are at greater risk of heart attacks related to noise than women (Epidemiology, volume 16, 33-44, 2005).

So the respective research teams agree that there is evidence linking low-frequency noise and heart attacks. Dr. Babish concludes his critical letter (cited by Ms. Munk) with: "This supports the hypothesis that chronic exposure to traffic noise increases the risk for cardiovascular disorder, particularly myocardial infarction (heart attack)." So the important message is: They quibbled about some details, but largely agree with one another that low-frequency noise may have implications for our health.

Dr. Babish also participated in the World Health Organization conference in Stuttgart, Germany, June 23-24, 2005. Quoting from the Cardiovascular Section which Dr. Babish led, page 21: "There is sufficient evidence of an association between road traffic noise and ischemic heart diseases."

Ms. Munk furthermore criticizes my letter with, "There has never been a single peer-reviewed study linking wind turbines to ill health effects in those living nearby." This statement is at odds with our National Institutes of Health (NIH), since its representatives have stated, "Wind energy will undoubtedly create noise, which increases stress, which in turn increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer." (Environmental Health Perspectives, volume 116, pages A237-238, 2008.) The NIH is not known to make strong statements without sufficient evidence.

There are valuable lessons to be learned from the WHO and our NIH. But we need to keep an open mind. And the complexity and importance of the issues before us underscore the need for a comprehensive review by an impartial medical consulting firm. The last word on this issue should not be a few letters to the editor of the WDT, mine included.

Dr. Ralph H. Janicki

Cape Vincent

Dr. Janicki, M.D., Ph.D., is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Who could object to wind power?

On Toronto's waterfront stands a mighty wind turbine, its blades rotating lazily in the breeze (at least sometimes). It's a monument to good intentions and civic virtue. The Mayor loves it. The Premier loves it. All governments love wind power, because it makes them look so green. David Suzuki, the patron saint of environmentalism, compares wind turbines to medieval cathedrals - the highest expressions of human achievement. Wind is clean, sustainable, renewable, free. Who could possibly object?

The citizens. Last night in Toronto, hundreds of anxious folks jammed a meeting called to discuss plans for a massive wind farm along the shore of Lake Ontario. They fear the 90-metre turbines will chop up birds, disrupt migration routes, destroy views, lower property values, even make them sick.

NIMBYs? No doubt. But they have a lot of company. Across Canada, Britain and Europe, a growing protest movement is arguing that wind farms are no good for the environment.

Here's another reason not to like them. Wind power can't survive without massive subsidies, courtesy of you and me. "If these hidden subsidies were taken away, there would not be a single wind turbine built in Britain," says David Bellamy, a well-known environmentalist who has been tramping the Scottish countryside to oppose a massive wind project there.

Subsidies might be okay if wind could help replace conventional energy one day. It can't. "If the whole of Wales was covered with wind turbines, the nation would generate only a sixth of the U.K.'s energy needs," says Prof. David MacKay, a physicist at Cambridge. He's all in favour of clean, renewable energy. But he's done the math.

The biggest problem with wind is that it doesn't always blow. There are lots of days when Toronto's monument to civic virtue couldn't even power my toaster. Inconveniently, these times of low production tend to coincide with times of high demand. So no matter how many turbines you put up, you always need backup power. Usually that means fossil fuel, or, in Ontario's case, nuclear.

The biggest advertisements for wind power are Germany and Denmark. Germany has more wind turbines than any other country in the world, and Chancellor Angela Merkel has draped herself in green. But wind energy can't replace conventional power there either, so Germany is also building dozens of new coal-fired power plants. Denmark, with the largest offshore wind farm in the world, brags that 20 per cent of the electricity it generates comes from wind. But more than half its wind power is exported, because that's the only way the system can work.

Here at home, wind companies have been scrambling to get their share of $1.5-billion in federal subsidies for clean energy. On top of that, they get a premium when they sell the power. Ontario pays them 11 to 14 cents per kilowatt hour. Conventional energy goes for about half that price.

"Ontario is turning to wind turbines to help create jobs and power a green energy future," brags a government press release. But wind companies are chasing another green. The biggest wind project in the world, on the Thames Estuary, nearly collapsed last spring when a major backer, Shell, pulled out. Shell said the "incentives" were better in the United States.

Fortunately, a lot of wind companies won't survive the recession. One big Canadian firm, EarthFirst, is under court protection. Wind companies need a huge amount of credit, which has dried up. Expensive wind power makes a lot less sense with oil back around $50. And the global slump will do more to cut greenhouse gas emissions than all the wind turbines and solar panels David Suzuki can dream of.

When will we stop pouring billions into wind? I have no idea. Politicians really love their turbines. Meantime, that soft whooshing sound you hear is your friendly green government, vacuuming money out of your pockets.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wind Power Exposed

This is not what President-elect Barack Obama's energy and climate strategists would want to hear. It would be anathema to Al Gore and other assorted luminaries touting renewable energy sources which in one giant swoop will save the world from the “tyranny” of fossil fuels and mitigate global warming. And as if these were not big enough issues, oilman T. Boone Pickens’ grandiose plan for wind farms from Texas to Canada is supposed to bring about a replacement for the natural gas now used for power generation. That move will then lead to energy independence from foreign oil.

Too good to be true? Yes, and, in fact, it is a lot worse.

Wind has been the cornerstone of almost all environmentalist and social engineering proclamations for more than three decades and has accelerated to a crescendo the last few years in both the United States and the European Union.

But Europe, getting a head start, has had to cope with the reality borne by experience, and it is a pretty ugly picture.

Independent reports have consistently revealed an industry plagued by high construction and maintenance costs, highly volatile reliability and a voracious appetite for taxpayer subsidies. Such is the economic strain on taxpayer funds being poured into wind power by Europe's early pioneers -- Denmark, Germany and Spain -- that all have recently been forced to scale back their investments.

As a result this summer, the U.K., under pressure to meet an ambitious E.U. climate target of 20 percent carbon dioxide cuts by 2020, assumed the mantle of world leader in wind power production. It did so as a direct consequence of the U.K. Government's Renewables Obligations Certificate, a financial incentive scheme for power companies to build wind farms. Thus the U.K.'s wind operation provides the ideal case study -- and one that provides the most complete conclusions..

The U.K. has all the natural advantages. It is the windiest country in Europe. It has one of the continent's longest coastlines for the more productive (and less obtrusive) offshore farms. It has a long-established national power grid. In short, if wind power is less than successful in the U.K., its success is not guaranteed anywhere.

But wind infrastructure has come at a steep price. In fiscal year 2007-08, U.K. electricity customers were forced to pay a total of over $1 billion to the owners of wind turbines. That figure is due to rise to over $6 billion a year by 2020 given the government's unprecedented plan to build a nationwide infrastructure with some 25 gigawatts of wind capacity, in a bid to shift away from fossil fuel use.

Ofgem, which regulates the U.K.'s electricity and gas markets, has already expressed its concern at the burgeoning tab being picked up by the British taxpayer which, they claim, is “grossly distorting the market” while hiding the real cost of wind power. In the past year alone, prices for electricity and natural gas in the U.K. have risen twice as fast as the European Union average according to figures released in November by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. While 15 percent energy price rises were experienced across the E.U., in the U.K. gas and electricity prices rose by a staggering 29.7 percent. Ofgem believes wind subsidy has been a prime factor and questions the logic when, for all the public investment, wind produces a mere 1.3 percent of the U.K.'s energy needs.

In May 2008, a report from Cambridge Energy Research Associates warned that an over-reliance on offshore wind farms to meet European renewable energy targets would further create supply problems and drive up investor costs. No taxpayer respite there. But worse news was to come.

In June, the most in-depth independent assessment yet of Britain's expanding wind turbine industry was published. In the journal Energy Policy, gas turbine expert Jim Oswald and his co-authors came up with a series of damning conclusions: not only is wind power far more expensive and unreliable than previously thought, it cannot avoid using high levels of natural gas, which not only will increase costs but will also mean far less of a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions than has been claimed.

Oswald's report highlights the key issue of load factor, the actual power generated compared to the theoretical maximum, and how critical it is to the viability of the wind power industry. In 2006, according to U.K. government statistics, the average load factor for wind turbines across the U.K. was 27.4 percent. Thus a typical 2 megawatt turbine actually produced only 0.54 MW of power on an average day. The worst performing U.K. turbine had a load factor of just 7 percent. These figures reflect a poor return on investment. But this poor return is often obscured by the subsidy system that allows turbine operators and supporters to claim they can make a profit even when turbines operate at a very low load factors. So what’s the bottom line? British consumers are paying twice over for their electricity, funding its means of production, and paying for its use as end users.

Variability is one of the chief criticisms levelled at wind power. When the wind drops or blows too hard, turbines stop spinning, and you get no power. Wind turbine advocates have claimed that this can be avoided by the geographical spread of wind farms, perhaps by creating an international “supergrid.” But, as Oswald's report makes clear, calm conditions not only prevail on a fairly regular basis, they often extend across the country with the same conditions being experienced as far away as France and Germany. Worse still, says Oswald, long periods of calm over recent decades occurred in the dead of winter when electricity demand is highest.

Periods of low wind means a need for pumped storage and essential back-up facilities. Oswald told The Register online news service that a realistically feasible U.K. pumped-storage base would only cope with one or two days of low winds at best. As regards back-up facilities, Oswald states the only feasible systems for the planned 25 gigawatt wind system would be one that relied equally on old-style natural gas turbines. As Oswald says, however, the expense of a threefold wind, pump storage and gas turbine back-up solution "would be ridiculous."

The problems don’t end there. The British report highlights what more and more wind farms would mean when it came to installing gas turbine back-ups. "Electricity operators will respond by installing lower-cost plant ($/kW) as high capital plant is not justified under low utilisation regimes."

But cheap gas turbines are far less efficient than big, properly sized base-load turbines and will not be as resilient in coping with the heavy load cycling they would experience. Cheaper, less resilient plants will mean high maintenance costs and spare back-up gas turbines to replace broken ones that would suffer regular thermal stress cracking. And, of course, the increasing use of gas for the turbines would have a detrimental effect on reducing carbon dioxide emission -- always one of the chief factors behind the wind revolution.

Oswald's report concludes also that all this wear and tear will further stress the gas pipeline network and gas storage system. "High-efficiency base load plant is not designed or developed for load cycling," says Oswald. Critically, most of the issues raised in the independent report have not been factored into the cost of wind calculations. With typical British understatement, Oswald concludes that claims for wind power are "unduly optimistic."

We think they've been blown away.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hammond anti-wind-law group growing

HAMMOND — A group in Hammond aimed at overturning the recent wind farm law has been growing steadily in numbers and influence.

Concerned Residents of Hammond, which began in late October after the town enacted a law regarding the creation of wind farms, has grown from 25 to 70 members.

"In a town the size of Hammond, that's considerable," spokesman William A. Rogers said.

The original goal of the group was to have the town enact a moratorium on further development of wind turbines and test towers. The first few meetings were mostly educational, Mr. Rogers said. The group watched videos and brought in local speakers on the subject.

However, recently empowered by a wind turbine law in Centerville that was overturned this month, the meetings have become increasingly geared for legal actions.

The group has formed a bank account from money donated by members. The money will be used primarily for legal fees, Mr. Rogers said.

Attorney David P. Antonucci, Watertown, attended the most recent meeting to discuss the possibility of overturning the law.

With growing numbers and finances, CROH recently appointed an interim president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. The positions are interim because the group will hold elections next month to choose officers, Mr. Rogers said.

For the past three years, wind turbines have been hotly discussed in Hammond.

In 2005, a test tower from PPM Energy of Portland, Ore., which is part of the Spanish company Iberdrola SA, went up along the St. Lawrence River on County Route 6.

After the company expressed interest in building more towers, a moratorium on further development went into effect in February and lasted until the town board passed the wind law Oct. 27.

The law set standards for noise levels, setbacks and tax programs, among other things, but many in the community felt the board did not listen to their concerns about safety and health. Some also questioned the environmental standards and possible conflicts of interest.

"Citizens were shocked at how quickly the law went through," Mr. Rogers said. "We just want openness from the town and citizens' input to see if it's the best thing for the town or not."

Wind farm road controversy: Slag concerns Ag and Markets

Although the DEC has cleared the use of slag on wind farm access roads, the state Department of Agriculture and Markets has concerns.

In a Sept. 8 letter to Invenergy regarding the High Sheldon Wind Farm, Agriculture Specialist Michael J. Saviola said his department is against the practice.

The letter was written in response to a July 15 letter from the DEC to Invenergy, regarding such use of slag on the project. Work on the roads had already proceeded by the time of the September mailing.

"It appears that the use of this industrial byproduct may be acceptable as "structural fill" in an urban or industrial setting, however, the Department does not support the use of any adulterated industrial byproduct material (such as steel slag) as road base on, or adjacent to, structural lands used for the production of food and/or forage crops," Saviola wrote.

That's contrary to a Department of Environmental Conservation finding which says such use is within state guidelines. A copy of Saviola's letter was received Wednesday, in response to an inquiry last week from The Daily News.

The Ag & Markets review found it's "not unreasonable" to conclude that soil pH will vary greatly in locations where the material is used as a road base, with the potential to leach trace metals into farmland soils.

That could affect the availability of plant nutrients and other elements which could be toxic to higher plants and microorganisms.

The higher plants and microorganisms may be affected by rapid changes in pH, Saviola writes. Trace metals may lead to phytotoxic conditions at certain pH levels.

That means it could be harmful to plants.

Ag and Markets recommends each affected landowner be notified and testing completed when slag is used near crops. Soil should be remediated -- including shipping in new topsoil if necessary -- if crop loss, stunting or "burning" occur.

The developer would be responsible for such corrective actions.

At the same time, the use of slag in the wind farm's access roads is within state guidelines that DEC has found.

Representatives last Friday said Tecumseh Redevelopment, which now owns the former Bethlehem site, has a Beneficial Use Determination.

Materials are no longer considered solid waste once a BUD is issued, as long as they're used for the prescribed purpose.

Slag is a byproduct of steel production, and has been used in road based construction throughout Western New York for several decades. A DEC spokeswoman said thorough testing hasn't indicated any significant environmental impacts, and leachate into adjacent cornfields isn't a concern.

Slag is also used as railroad ballast, a cement ingredient, and as a limestone substitute in agriculture. Project Manager Eric Miller of Invenergy said last week that the company hasn't received any complaints from landowners about the quality or construction of access roads on their properties.

Seventy-five turbines area planned for the High Sheldon Wind Farm. A total of 39 turbines had their rotors attached as of Tuesday.

Construction is scheduled to be complete by the end of the year, weather permitting. The wind farm is slated to start operations in January or February once it substation is complete.

Wind development in New York has hit a bit of turbulence

The nationwide financial crisis has put the brakes on a wind farm under construction in northern New York and another developer has aborted possible projects in eastern and central New York after trouble securing land. And wind energy companies are now being asked to abide by a code of ethics by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo _ the upshot of his investigation into allegations of corrupt practices by developers.

Wind is still alive in New York and new turbines are still being planned for blustery parts of the state. But the last few tumultuous months have been tough for the industry nationwide and New York in particular.

"Obviously, it doesn't make it easy for the wind industry, like every other industry, to get financing," said Carol Murphy, executive director of Alliance for Clean Energy New York, which represents renewable energy companies. "But I have not heard of any of my members who've run into a brick wall ... There are still a lot of hedge funds and folks who are investing in green energy."

There are 10 wind projects running in New York with a combined potential to generate more than 700 megawatts of electricity. The largest, Maple Ridge along northern New York's Tug Hill, includes 195 turbines. But wind remains a relatively small player in New York, where all the wind farms combined generate less power than a large nuclear reactor.

That could change next year.

The Cohocton Wind project in the Finger Lakes region could be finished by the end of this year, according to a spokesman for First Wind of Newton, Mass. The High Sheldon Wind Farm in Wyoming County could be running by January, according to an Invenergy spokeswoman. And Essex, Conn.-based Noble Environmental Power has made progress on two projects in northern New York, according to supervisors of the local towns.

But there have been questions about Noble's projects amid its financial problems. The company announced plans this year to raise money through an initial public offering with underwriting from Lehman Brothers, which became the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history.

Noble officials did not respond to repeated calls and an e-mail seeking comment from The Associated Press.

However, Noble officials blamed financing problems when they suspended work on 14 towers in the northern Adirondack town of Bellmont, said town supervisor Bruce Russell. The company told Russell it could not start work again before the second half of 2009. Meanwhile, work is nearing completion on Noble wind farms in the neighboring towns of Chateaugay and Altona, said supervisors from those towns.

Noble and First Wind were investigated by Cuomo earlier this year amid allegations that developers were bribing local officials to push through wind projects. No charges were ever filed. Noble and First Wind last month became the first signatories of Cuomo's voluntary "Wind Industry Ethics Code," which is designed to make sure developers deal with local officials in a fair and transparent manner.

Siting 400-foot-high wind towers in heavily settled states like New York is difficult in the best of times. Developers operate under strict regulations and quite often face organized local opposition. Iberdrola Renewables is still trying to develop a project in Jordanville, southeast of Utica, five years after being granted a permit for a test tower. Project opponents have already sued once.

Shell WindEnergy recently ran into trouble securing enough land for potential projects on the Helderberg Escarpment west of Albany and in the Finger Lakes and shelved the projects, said company spokesman Timothy O'Leary.

But there also are national factors working against wind. Aside from the credit crunch, the plummeting price of oil has lessened the urgency for renewable fuels. Even oilman-turned-wind advocate T. Boone Pickens has dialed back spending on his wind and natural gas campaign.

While Congress recently renewed crucial production tax credits for wind production, the extension lasts only a year. Murphy said producers are looking for cues from the incoming Obama administration to see if they can plan for the extension long term.

"I think we'll know more as we get into a new presidency and a new year," Murphy said.

New York offers its own financial incentives for wind projects under a long-standing goal to rely on renewable resources for 25 percent of the state's electricity by 2013. State regulators only signed off this year on a deal allowed Iberdrola to buy out Energy East after the Spanish company promised to spend $200 million to develop wind projects in New York.

Iberdrola has a list of 10 wind projects in various stages of development, including the Jordanville project. It's not a sure thing all the projects will be approved.

There is still plenty of room for growth in New York, at least theoretically.

Bruce Bailey, a principal for the wind-mapping company AWS Truewind, said New York could potentially produce from 5,000 to 7,000 megawatts _ or up to 10 times its current production. The richest potential is in wind-blown areas of the state like northern New York, the Southern Tier and west of the Catskills.

Bailey's estimate is based on wind potential and leaves aside issues like available grid connections, political concerns, available credit and the future energy market. Still, he said: "Getting halfway there is realistic in the next 10 years."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Financial concerns may threaten wind farm projects

FARMERSVILLE — Noble Environmental Power’s wind-energy projects in Cattaraugus and Allegany communities face an uncertain future both because of the global financial crisis and a legal snag.

During a meeting of the Farmersville Town Board meeting Monday night, Town Supervisor Joe Brodka announced he had been advised that the area’s development director for Noble was no longer employed and that the local energy projects may be shelved or assets sold, due to financing difficulties.

A key Noble official responded Wednesday that efforts continue in Farmersville but several town officials this week said wind power projects in Farmersville and Freedom are in jeopardy and that a project in Centerville and Rushford could also be affected. They also said Noble’s development director in the region, Bob Maxwell, is no longer working for the company, which is beset by financial problems.

Calls seeking comment from Noble’s staff at offices in Arcade, Bliss and Fredonia were returned by John Quirke, the company’s executive vice president of development in Essex, Conn., who said he has taken over Maxwell’s responsibilities. He said the company’s efforts in Farmersville will continue but should be expected to take a long time to mature.

“We expect the market to improve,” said Quirke, who declined to provide further details about the company’s financial condition or the future of its various projects.

Noble representatives have met frequently with town officials in Farmersville and Freedom over the past two years and began negotiating a host benefit agreement with Freedom before filing an application in either town for an array of wind towers that would connect to a larger array in Farmersville. That project was to follow a Noble wind farm development spanning Centerville and Rushford in Allegany County, where applications have been filed for a targeted 2010 start-up. The Bliss Windpark in Wyoming County began generating power this year and the nearby Wethersfield wind farm is due to go online within a matter of weeks.

Last week, a citizen opposition group in Centerville won a Rochester appeals court ruling nullifying the town’s local wind farm permitting law because the town did not follow procedures required by the State Environmental Quality Review Act. The town should have filed a long environmental assessment form with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which is required for large-scale land-use changes, the court said. Also, on Monday, the Town of Farmersville — in an unrelated move — repealed a nearly identical wind-energy permitting law and enacted a new one without filing either a long or short environmental assessment form.

Dan Spitzer, the attorney who wrote the laws for both Centerville and Farmersville, said he is awaiting some direction from the Centerville Town Board.

He added that he believes the project will go forward with or without financing at this time, but remarked, “Wind farms are capital-intensive projects and all are feeling effects of the turmoil in the capital markets.”

Hamlin wind regs to get scrutiny

Things are about to get interesting out in Hamlin.

During his community forum in Irondequoit last night, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo told a group of Hamlin residents that he'd send an environmental attorney to look into the town's wind tower regulations and the circumstances under which they were passed. He was responding to repeated requests from a group of town residents, all members of the Hamlin Preservation Group.

To be clear - Cuomo did not say that his office would take any action, just that he's sending a lawyer to take a look at the situation.

The Hamlin Preservation Group, which is suing the town over the regulations, has a couple of concerns. The first is with the regulations themselves: they allow the towers to be built too close to homes and roads, they say. The second is a perceived conflict of interest: one of the Town Board members has a lease agreement with Iberdrola - the company interested in building turbines in Hamlin - though he abstained from voting on the regulations.

Neither concern is unique to Hamlin.

"It's a big issue all across the state," Cuomo said.

Earlier this year, the AG's office issued a code of conduct for wind developers to help prevent improper relationships with town officials. Noble and First Wind have signed on, but Iberdrola has not. Among those that helped develop the code is Monroe County District Attorney Mike Green.

The Hamlin situation brings a larger problem into sharp relief: there are no uniform regulations for wind farm placement in New York. As Hamlin residents pointed out, that leaves the decision in the town's hands.

Cuomo says that his office has put together a task force to address issues like standardizing setbacks.

Court knocks down town’s law regulating wind farms

CENTERVILLE - A law in the town of Centerville regulating wind farms was annulled by the state Supreme Court’s Appellate Division because the town failed to comply with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR).

The decision, which was made on Nov. 14, was prompted by a lawsuit from the Centerville Concerned Citizens (CCC), a group of landowners in the town who claimed that the Centerville Town Board worked along with the Noble Environmental Power to craft a local law that accommodates Noble’s proposed Centerville Windpark without fully looking at the environmental impacts.

The project would add 55 wind turbines, each about 50 stories high, to Noble’s Bliss Windpark in the town of Eagle.

The Centerville Town Board and Noble agreed to keep 1,000-foot distances from homes, and limit noise levels to 50 decibels, but that volume is far too loud, according to CCC head Dennis Gaffin.

“We told the town such noise levels would change life here dramatically, but they said there was no need to consider that issue because Noble would address it later,” Mr. Gaffin said in a press release.

CCC attorney Gary Abraham said the town broke the law by not considering the environmental impact of the project until Noble submitted its wind farm application.

“They said they would defer any of those things until applying for the project under the law,” Mr. Abraham said. “Once the law is in place, all Noble would have to say is ‘we complied with the law.’”

According to Mr. Abraham, under the SEQR, when a town takes on a project like a wind farm, the project is classified by its environmental impact as either a type one, type two, or unlisted action.

The court determined that the Centerville wind park project is a type one action, since it will affect more than 25 acres of the town. Centerville had pursued the project as an unlisted action, Mr. Abraham said.

“The town board, at their own peril, thought (they) weren’t going to lose this lawsuit and treated us as if we didn’t exist,” Mr. Abraham said.

However, the CCC’s lawsuit may have had some unintended consequences, according to Daniel Spitzer, lead legal representative for the town of Centerville in its discussions with Noble.

Since the court’s decision annulled the laws regulating wind farms in Centerville, there are essentially no regulations until the town enacts new laws.

“This doesn’t stop the project one bit,” Mr. Spitzer said. “Frankly, if the town does nothing, it means Noble can put (wind turbine) towers wherever they want.”

Mr. Spitzer expects the town board will take action swiftly, and that the project will continue to move forward.

“The petitioners did not get what they wanted either, so in that regard, we are pleased,” Mr. Spitzer said.

Centerville attorney David Pullen said the town will consider appealing the court’s decision.

“Hopefully, a decision will be made in the next few weeks,” he said.

“I question what (the CCC) thought they were achieving by bringing this lawsuit and invalidating the law, which leaves us with no law.

“That doesn’t mean their standards that they argued for are in place, it means there are no standards in place,” Mr. Pullen said.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Town Board revises wind farm regulations

FARMERSVILLE — The Farmersville Town Board voted Monday to replace its 2007 town law regulating wind farm projects with a shorter and more general version, while also lifting last month’s temporary moratorium against wind energy facilities.

“The old law had stuff that should have been in a host community agreement [between the town and the wind farm developer] and not in the law itself,” said Town Supervisor Joe Brodka.

The town has been approached about the possibility of a 67-turbine wind farm by Noble Environmental Power, which this year started up a new wind farm in the Wyoming County community of Bliss and has applied for a permit in the Town of Centerville in Allegany County.

That project may see a delay because of last week’s ruling by an appeals court that granted a citizen group’s request to nullify Centerville’s wind farm regulatory law because of the town’s inadequate state Environmental Quality Review.

The Centerville law was nearly identical to the 2007 Farmersville law, but Brodka said that the board was not informed about the court’s decision and that the ruling had no bearing on the move to update the Farmersville wind farm law.

The new Wind Energy Conversion Facilities Law requires the Farmersville Town Board to consider the aesthetic, physical, economic and sociopolitical impacts, as well as impacts on general health and welfare, and requires the developer to apply for a license from the town and pay a fee of $300 for each megawatt of generating capacity.

The applicant must also undergo a site plan review, while paying the town’s expenses and completing a state Environmental Quality Review. The developer will also be required to present studies on noise and visual impacts and assess impacts on birds and bats. Height limits of 450 feet are unchanged, but the Town Board may relax a 1,000-foot minimum distance to adjacent residential walls for good cause. Distance of wind tower placement from public roads or nonwind farm structures must be at least 1.2 times the tower height.

There were no statements from residents during a brief public hearing, and the law was adopted in a 4-0 vote.

The board also voted unanimously to accept a 2009 budget that appropriates $241,040 for general fund expenditures and $347,493 for highway costs. Another $4,200 will pay for a light district in Farmersville Station, and $57,938 is earmarked for the Farmersville Fire District.

Spending will increase by 5.8 percent for the general and highway funds, in addition to a 2.2 percent hike in the fire district expenses.

Brodka confirmed that the town tax rate is likely to be lower because of a townwide revaluation. The Cattaraugus County Legislature last week released a tentative tax rate for the town of $12.12, a 29 percent decrease from the amount levied in 2008.

Carteret County Tall Structures Ordinance

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Are turbines on the horizon for Alfred?

Alfred, N.Y.

Alfred residents found that where there is wind, there is a window of opportunity in a special Monday night meeting at the Alfred Station Fire Hall.

Keith Pitman, president and chief executive officer of Empire State Wind Energy from Oneida, gave an hour-long presentation to Alfred residents to gauge how interested the community is in developing a wind project.

So how did the Alfred community react to the possibilities of wind power?

Compared to some other communities looking at wind, very peaceful.

“I was kind of surprised that there was not more objections, but I think a lot of them were answered before they got a chance to be addressed,” said Alfred resident Alex Clare.

There was no shortage of residents at the meeting. Pitman spoke at previous meetings and only brought out a handful of residents, but at this meeting 130 residents turned out. The event was large enough that it had to be moved from the meeting area in the fire hall to the garage after firemen moved the company’s three trucks to make space.

Pitman positioned himself as a small-town businessman interested in transparent relationships with communities willing to use their resources for cleaner energy solutions.

“I sincerely believe in local control of a local investment,” said Pitman, adding his company would share a larger percentage of profit than other wind companies — twenty times the industry standard.

Pitman said Empire State Wind Energy has an openness policy that discloses financial numbers, including profits. According to Pitman, the company would would turn over between 50 to 75 percent of the net project revenue to the host community and give Alfred an option to purchase the development in its contract.

He said his company has not decided how many turbines would be constructed if a project is started, but his personal opinion is that 25 or 30 looks like a good number. Pitman asked for the community’s help in answering this question.

Pitman’s company has been conducting wind tests in the area, reviewing power market access, evaluating public acceptance and working with local government officials to see if Alfred would be a good choice for development.

“We haven’t found any red flags that say forget it,” said Pitman.

Pitman gave presentations to the village and town boards during the summer and both boards passed resolutions in May that supported wind project studies to be conducted.

Halfway through the meeting, Pitman asked the residents to raise their hands if they wanted his company to continue researching wind capabilites in the Alfred area. Two thirds or more of the people raised their hands.

“I was very impressed with the turnout tonight,” said Jeanne Cartwright, Alfred town supervisor. “I personally support wind power, but I only want to go through with this if the community thinks it’s the right thing to do.”

Pittman said he will leave it up to local officials to hold more meetings and feels they are a good way to share ideas and answer questions.

“I thought it was an interesting presentation, but there are questions and issues that arise from a project like this and you can’t answer them all in one meeting, but it was a good start,” said Meredith Johns, of Alfred.

If the meeting was an indication of what kind of support the community has for a wind farm, then wind power seems probable in Alfred’s future.

“I’m idly impressed with the turnout here, given the local population. It tells me there is an interest in learning and participating in the community, and from our point of view, as a developer, that is a very good sign,” said Pitman.

“It was a very interested and community-minded group of people here tonight ... Alfred State College, the town and the village all have been very supportive, cooperative and reasonable. They are the kind of organizations we like to deal with and when you are dealing with that many entities that is not always an easy thing to find,” said Pitman

“The meeting made me more relaxed about having a wind farm and I’m kind of looking forward to the idea now,” said Clare.

Empire State Wind Energy was co-founded by Alfred State College alumnus Tom Golisano, who currently chairs the company.

Pitman made the following points:

Annual revenue per turbine is estimated at between $400,000 to $550,000.

Cautioned meeting attendees to be skeptical about information they find on the internet. He said information on the internet can be biased and misleading when it comes to wind power and asked residents to be careful when choosing a source of information.

His company is looking for long term property rights for wind turbine locations. According to Pitman, a wind turbine takes between seven to 11 years to pay for itself.

A wind project would take between 2 to 5 years to be cleared for construction, so nothing would be constructed immediately.

He expects the wind project to be operational for 25 to 50 years after completion.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lowville finishing work on turbine law

LOWVILLE — While satisfied with existing wind turbines, town officials are looking to better regulate any future wind projects, both large and small.

"We just want to make sure they are done to manufacturers' specs," Lowville Town Supervisor Arleigh D. Rice said.

The Town Council earlier this month held a public hearing on a proposed wind power zoning law but is awaiting review by the Lewis County Planning Board before adopting it, Mr. Rice said.

The idea for crafting the regulations did not stem from any problems or concerns about the 15 Maple Ridge Wind Farm turbines already located within the town, the supervisor said. "I think it turned out very well here," he said.

However, current zoning law, which doesn't address wind turbines, would require setbacks of only 250 feet for the 400-foot-tall towers, Mr. Rice said.

Under the proposed law, any new wind turbines or wind measurement towers would have to be sited at least 11/2 times their height from the nearest property line, public road or other above-ground utility, unless the utility company would offer a waiver. Towers also would have to be at least 1,000 feet from any off-site residences and 2,000 feet from schools, churches, hospitals, nursing homes, active cemeteries, government offices and buildings used for public assembly .

Turbine noise would be restricted to 55 decibels at the nearest residence or public building.

Large wind turbines would be allowed in agricultural and conservation zones but not in residential or commercial ones. However, small, roof-mounted turbines would be allowed in all zones as long as they are not more than 10 feet tall on residences or 20 feet tall on commercial or industrial buildings.

An exemption is included for non-electrical windmills "used for pumping water for agricultural purposes," like those erected by the Amish. However, they still would have to be sited so that "any tipover will be harmless to others."

The proposed law also includes a section on small wind energy conversion systems for home, farm or commercial use.

Such systems would need to be on at least one acre of land, although that requirement could be met through a joint application by multiple neighboring landowners.

The proposed law suggests that small turbines are to be used only "to reduce on-site consumption of electricity," not to produce power for an electric utility or commercial wind farm. However, residents could apply for a waiver to connect the turbine to the electrical grid, allowing them to sell power when more is being produced than needed on site.

Anyone interested in erecting a wind system would have to apply for a wind energy permit from the Town Council. Proposed fees are $50 per megawatt for large turbines, $200 for a wind measurement tower and $100 for a small wind tower.


Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department
CA 08-00282





Appeal from a judgment (denominated order) of the Supreme Court, Allegany County (Michael L. Nenno, A.J.), entered May 9, 2007 in a declaratory judgment action. The judgment dismissed the complaint (denominated petition and complaint).

It is hereby ORDERED that the judgment so appealed from is unanimously reversed on the law without costs, the complaint is reinstated and judgment is granted in favor of plaintiff as follows:

It is ADJUDGED and DECLARED that Local Law No. 1 (2006) of the Town of Centerville is invalid.

Memorandum: Plaintiff commenced this hybrid CPLR article 78 proceeding and declaratory judgment action seeking to annul Town of Centerville Local Law No. 1 of 2006 (Local Law) based on, inter alia, the alleged failure of defendant to comply with the procedural and substantive requirements of ECL article 8 (State Environmental Quality Review Act [SEQRA]) in enacting the Local Law. We note at the outset that this is properly only a declaratory judgment action. “The gravamen of the plaintiff’s challenge here is . . . that the local law itself is an invalid legislative enactment . . .[, and i]t is well established that an article 78 proceeding is not the proper vehicle to test the validity of a legislative enactment” (Kamhi v Town of Yorktown, 141 AD2d 607, 608, affd 74 NY2d 423). We agree with plaintiff, however, that Supreme Court erred in dismissing the complaint (improperly denominated petition and complaint) and instead should have granted judgment in favor of plaintiff declaring that the Local Law is invalid.

Defendant declared itself the lead agency for the proposed Local Law under SEQRA, concluded that this was an “Unlisted action” (6 NYCRR 617.6 [a] [3]), and prepared a “Short Environmental Assessment Form” (short EAF) used for such actions (see 6 NYCRR 617.20, Appendix C).

The short EAF contained a negative declaration of environmental significance and, based upon that declaration, no environmental impact statement was prepared (see ECL 8-0109 [4]; 6 NYCRR 617.7 [a] [2]).

It is well settled that SEQRA applies to the “adoption of . . . local laws . . . that may affect the environment” (6 NYCRR 617.2 [b] [3]; see ECL 8-0105 [4]; State of New York v Town of Horicon, 46 AD3d 1287, 1288). In addition, “[t]he mandate that agencies implement SEQRA’s procedural mechanisms to the ‘fullest extent possible’ reflects the Legislature’s view that the substance of SEQRA cannot be achieved without its procedure, and that departures from SEQRA’s procedural mechanisms thwart the purposes of the statute. Thus it is clear that strict, not substantial, compliance is required” (Matter of King v Saratoga County Bd. of Supervisors, 89 NY2d 341, 347).

We agree with plaintiff that defendant failed to comply with the procedural requirements of SEQRA and, “where a lead agency has failed to comply with SEQRA’s mandates, the negative declaration must be nullified” (Matter of New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning v Vallone, 100 NY2d 337, 348). The use of a short EAF is permitted only in the event that the proposed action, here, the enactment of the Local Law, is properly classified as an Unlisted action (see 6 NYCRR 617.6 [a] [3]). Unlisted actions are defined as those actions not identified as either Type I or Type II actions (see 6 NYCRR 617.2 [ak]), and Type I actions include “the adoption of changes in the allowable uses within any zoning district, affecting 25 or more acres of the district” (6 NYCRR 617.4 [b] [2]). The action at issue herein would change the allowable use within the entire Town and thus is properly classified as a Type I action (see generally Matter of Gernatt Asphalt Prods. v Town of Sardinia, 87 NY2d 668, 689-690; Patterson Materials Corp. v Town of Pawling, 264 AD2d 510, lv denied 95 NY2d 754). “For Type I actions, a full EAF . . . must be used to determine the significance of such actions” (6 NYCRR 617.6 [a] [2]). Thus, “[w]e agree with [plaintiff] that the failure of [defendant] to complete . . . the full EAF
nullifies its SEQRA negative declaration” (Matter of Citizens Against Sprawl-Mart v Planning Bd. of City of Niagara Falls, 8 AD3d 1052, 1053).

In light of our determination, we have not considered plaintiff’s
remaining contentions.

Entered: November 14, 2008 JoAnn M. Wahl
Clerk of the Court


Public hearing Comments Ecogen wind Project

To: SCIDA Board
RE: Financial Assistance to the Ecogen LLC project
FROM: Ruth Matilsky
Date: November 16, 2008

This letter is being written in response to the public hearing which was held at 10:00 A.M. on November 13 at the Prattsburgh Town Hall. The result of the public hearing will impact two towns, and it is unfortunate that the SCIDA chose to hold the hearing at a time when most people would be at work. It is not the first time that the SCIDA has held a meeting of this nature in the morning, and it appears it was not held at a convenient time for the SCIDA Board members, since not a single one attended the meeting. A copy of this memorandum is being sent to the recently established Attorney General’s Task Force, which was set up to ensure compliance with the Wind Industry Ethics Code.

It is approximately five years since the SCIDA became lead agent for the Ecogen project. Since that time much new information has emerged concerning the environmental impact of wind towers – The SCIDA has systematically ignored any and all evidence of harm, in its embrace of this and other wind projects.

The Ecogen project should not receive financial assistance from SCIDA in the form of a PILOT (or in any form for that matter) for the following reasons:

1. The SCIDA, as was mentioned numerous times in response to the DGEIS, does not have a legal right to be involved in financing for a project that is outside of Steuben County. More than half of the towers are proposed to be built in the Town of Italy, which is in Yates County.

2. In addition, by acting as lead agent as well as the instrument for arranging financial assistance, the SCIDA has a conflict of interest, since the SCIDA stands to gain $275,000 by arranging the PILOT. The Board of SCIDA knew that if they had rejected the GEIS that the SCIDA would have received no payment because there would have been no PILOT to arrange. Perhaps this is why the Board of SCIDA rubber stamped this project as well as the Windfarm Prattsburgh project. I personally sat at meetings when the SCIDA accepted 3000 page documents pertaining to the GEIS without hearing one SCIDA Board Member raise a single question.

3. Never once has the Ecogen project proved its cost benefit. Many times in the GEIS, the project sponsors referred to the Renewable Portfolio Standard, but never have the project sponsors revealed the results of their meteorological studies. The wind maps produced by AWS Truewind (referred to by the project sponsor) clearly show that the wind conditions in Prattsburgh and Italy are either less than or barely in line with NYSERDA guidelines.

4. It was announced at the public hearing that the Ecogen project will use 2.3 mw turbines instead of the GE 1.5’s they originally proposed in the GEIS. This alone should call for a new SEQR. The original studies based on 1.5s were not sufficient, comprised as they were of missing data and other flaws. The setbacks for the 1.5s were not sufficient. Now Ecogen is going to use more powerful turbines and SCIDA is rubber stamping that decision.

5. Ecogen does not have the leases it requires to make a contiguous path from the turbines to the substation or for a delivery path. The company has hired surveyors and directed them to trespass on the land of non participating landowners. People have been pressured, bullied and told that their land will be condemned, and still many of them have not signed. Yet SCIDA is about to grant financial assistance to a project whose plans were supposed to be completed during the SEQR and are, in fact, not yet complete.

6. Once again it must be pointed out that it was completely inappropriate for the SCIDA to allow Ecogen to carry out a generic EIS in the first place. Because each wind site varies so much, it is absolutely impossible to make models that will be accurate unless each and every turbine site is studied for noise impact and ice throw, not to mention visual impact and shadow flicker. The impact to well water has never been taken seriously by Ecogen or by the SCIDA.

7. Six to eight full time jobs have been projected by the project sponsor and not once have these jobs been defined. It is not known whether local people will qualify for these jobs and whether they will be jobs with benefits, etc. Surely a project that is going to reap windfall profits because of financial assistance, should be providing many more jobs than that.

Respectfully submitted
Ruth Matilsky, 6724 Baker Road, Prattsburgh, NY 14873

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wind farms: is there a hidden health hazard?

MORROW COUNTY, Ore. - It's their slice of heaven.

"When you get out here, everything kind of drains away from you," Sherry Eaton says as surveys her 10-acre rural home. "It's quiet, peaceful."

At least, it was.

"It looks like something prehistoric, something in the movies," Sherry’s husband Mike Eaton says about the more than a dozen towering wind turbines that have appeared above a ridge near their home.

Wind energy is the latest rage in going green and in shifting the United States away from fossil-based energy supplies. And more wind turbines are coming to Oregon. It is even required by law.

But with giant wind turbines now looming nearby, the Eaton’s fear the rapid move to clean energy will come at the expense of their health.

The problem is something called "Wind Turbine Syndrome."

"I pulled in the driveway after they started putting the towers up and there they are, I was just flabbergasted," Sherry said about the turbines, which reach nearly 400 feet into the sky.

But the view is not the half of it.

"My health concern is because I have a motion disorder, the research we've been researching has a possibility linked to having problems with [the turbines]," said Mike Eaton, who was an artillery man in Vietnam and has inner ear damage from all the blasts. He suffers from debilitating vertigo, which is similar to being seasick. He walks with a limp and a cane for assistance.

"In other words, I don't know what [the turbines] will do to me," he says. "To be honest with you… I don't want to be the guinea pig to find out."

Certain noises set off his vertigo, and he wonders if the sounds made by the whirling blades and churning turbine motors will be constant triggers.

That's why a soon-to-be-published book has them so alarmed. It’s called "Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on a Natural Experiment."

It's the work of New York physician and ecologist, Dr. Nina Pierpont.

Among the problems associated with Wind Turbine Syndrome are "a debilitating, complex of symptoms" including sleep disturbance, headache, dizziness, vertigo, nausea and panic episodes "associated with sensations of internal pulsation or quivering which arise while awake or asleep."

Dr. Pierpont began seeing patients in her clinic suffering from many of those symptoms and found a common thread among them: all lived near a new wind farm.

Dr. Owen Black is one of the experts asked to critique the research in the book. He is an expert in disorders of the inner ear.

He's also the Director of Neurology Research for the Legacy Research and Technology Center in Portland.

"Judging from the studies done, particularly by the Navy on low frequency sound pressure levels and given the symptom patterns that are described here, I definitely think it needs to be investigated," Dr. Black told KATU News. "What the cause is, I have no idea."

Dr. Pierpont's hypothesis says wind turbines produce vibration, low frequency noise and their moving shadows create visual stimulation known as "flicker."

All of those things that can affect the body, especially if you're someone with a "pre-existing migraine disorder, motion sensitivity, and inner ear damage" like Mike Eaton.

KATU News attempted to talk to the company building the wind farm next to the Eaton’s home about their concerns, but Susan Dennison of Invenergy, LLC, told KATU News "there hasn't been any conclusive evidence that turbines cause health problems."

Near the Eaton’s home, another company was cutting the ribbon on a newly-built wind farm.

Arlo Corwin, director of development for the Northwest region for Horizon Wind Energy said "we have definitely heard of these theories and we do think they are theories and we've never seen any credible source cited that substantiates this or scientific study that says this happens."

Horizon just commenced operation of the large new wind farm near Arlington.

Dr. Black concedes that "this area is very difficult because very few people have expertise in the areas that need to be studied" when it comes to the health affects of wind turbines.

He said that proving Wind Turbine Syndrome would require a comprehensive and very expensive study.

Meanwhile, The Eaton’s keep on eye on the nearest wind turbines, which are within a half-mile of their home.

Dr. Pierpont’s book says there should be a buffer of at least a mile and a quarter - maybe more - to protect the public.

"It's sickening, the pit of your stomach, you're whole life is going to change, and you have no control over it," Sherry Eaton says as she looks toward the temporarily still turbines.

Health concerns have not been part of the permitting process for wind farms in the Northwest. In fact, the state of Oregon touts it has "adopted an expedited siting processes for wind farms".

To learn about more Wind Turbine Syndrome, click here and here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Reduced Jordanville Wind Project Fine, Iberdrola Tells Packed House

Spanish multi-national Iberdrola unveiled a slimmer version of the Jordanville Wind Project before a packed town-hall meeting Monday, Nov. 10.

It was unclear, though, if anyone has changed his or her mind on an issue that divided the townspeople of Warren and Stark, where the wind project is planned, and Herkimer from Otsego counties; the northern county gets the benefits, and two counties share the impacts.

And while the prospective wind project has a new owner, some of the faces remained the same. For instance, Iberdrola’s vice president in charge of the 40-turbine project is Skip Brennan, the same Skip Brennan who was promoting the original wind farm for Community Energy as it shrank from 75 turbines to 68 to 49.

The current project, which was described as achieving a “suitable balance” between those pro and con in the community, also happens to top out at 80 megawatts; if it were a watt higher, it would fall under the review of the state Public Service Commission, which has issues strongly worded opinions about the shortcomings.
Since it escapes PSC review, the hearing the other night was to solicit public comment on Iberdrola’s revised filings required under SEQRA, the State Environmental Quality Review Act.

The company’s revised arguments, detailed by Brennan and emphasized on poster board across one wall, state:

• The project has gone though an exhaustive environmental review, dramatized by a pile of bound volumes a table long and three feet high, although it turned out those documents were actually for the Maple Ridge Farm near Lowville, the biggest in the state and now home to almost 200 turbines.
• The 28 eliminated turbines (from the 68-turbine version) is a 41 percent reduction, (although only an 18 percent reduction from the 49-turbine level set by state Supreme Court Judge Donald Greenwood in response to an Article 78 challenge.)
• Eight turbines were removed to the south, creating a five-mile buffer strip between the project and the Glimmerglass National Historic District.
• Four turbines were removed north of Holy Trinity Monastery, creating a one-mile buffer.
• A PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) has been negotiated, which will generate $640,000 in local revenue annually, half of which would go to the Owen D. Young Central School District. Landowners would share $240,000 a year.

Some 36 people were scheduled to speak, five minutes each.

Representative of the anti side was Susan Marquardt, who cited low energy usage in the two towns, and called for “a unifying energy alternative” to the wind farm.
Troy Hugick was among the pros, quoting president-elect Barack Obama, “we have a righteous wind at our back.” He concluded, “and I believe we do.”

Brennan encouraged people with questions to visit the project description on Iberdrola’s web site.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Don’t rush to invest in wind, solar power

We have just seen the collapse of the financial Goliath that was built by fast-buck bankers and encouraged by altruistic but shortsighted government policies that required banks to make more loans to those least able to repay them, and encouraged passing on these loans as quality investments.

We are now building a second Goliath in the form of irrational investment in wind and solar-voltaic energy. These are intermittent sources of electric power that our grid has no means to store for use when needed. The rush to invest in such irrational alternative energy schemes is driven by the same fast-buck investment bankers and by more altruistic but shortsighted government policies that require us to subsidize the cost of building such intermittent energy sources, and purchase their power output, whether we can use it or not.

This country needs reliable and affordable electric power for our homes and industries, and we have no more ability to make the wind blow or to move clouds when we need electric power than a farmer has the ability to make it rain on parched crops. We cannot afford another Goliath with feet of clay.

David Amsler


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wind farm moratorium eyed

The Holland Town Board, in the initial stages of writing a law on wind farms in the town, may adopt a moratorium on such entities as early as next month.

Wednesday, the board unanimously approved a public hearing for 8 p. m. Dec. 10 to impose a moratorium on wind farms until a local law regulating them has been adopted.

Eleven months ago, the board organized a subcommittee to investigate the sometimes controversial source of power. Since then, the group has studied various town ordinances to create a law that will suit the town.

Wednesday night, Town Attorney Ronald Bennett was asked by Supervisor Michael Kasprzyk to review the subcommittee’s work for proper legal wording.

Though no projects in the town have been proposed, the supervisor said the committee’s work has been prompted by the proliferation of wind farms in neighboring towns and the controversy they bring with them.

“All of our neighbors to the east — Sheldon, Java, Wethersfield — have projects going on. To the south of us, Sardinia said they don’t want to deal with it. I want us to be prepared, if we’re approached,” Kasprzyk said.

He said the Town of Eagle in Wyoming County has embraced the wind turbines while Farmersville has enacted a moratorium until officials rework their code book.

As the vanguard of the green movement, wind farm proposals are controversial, with some seeing the giant wind turbines as “an abomination of the landscape,” Kasprzyk said.

“So far I haven’t heard anyone against them in Holland, but maybe that’s because there’s no proposal on the table,” he added.

A public hearing on the new law, which will set the terms and conditions under which a wind farm can operate in Holland, is tentatively scheduled for January.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Increased setbacks recommended for Enfield wind law

The setbacks in the proposed Enfield wind law are not large enough, according to a letter from the Tompkins County Planning Department to Town Supervisor Frank Podufalski, but following that advice could kill the wind farm proposal for a site near Connecticut Hill.

The planning department recommends increased setbacks between property lines and the wind towers from 1.1 times the blade radius to 1.5 times the height of the tower. This would increase the setback from property lines from about 100 feet to roughly 600 feet. The height of the turbines is approximately 400 feet.

The size of setbacks has become the focal point of the proposed local law, and if the standards are increased to comply with the county recommendations, wind farm developer John Rancich's proposed wind farm would likely die. The county recommendations contain setbacks that are similar to a local law passed at the end of 2007 that was seen by some wind proponents as a desperate push by an outgoing town board resistant to the wind farm project.

Increased setbacks would kill Rancich's project because long, narrow plots in the vicinity would allow landowners to keep neighbors from having a tower on their own property, Rancich said last year. County Planning Director Ed Marx said the recommendations were solely based on wind laws in other communities and that the department did not consider the specific wind farm proposal.

“We feel like community support for alternative energy will be enhanced if we make sure adjacent property owners are properly protected as much as possible from the adverse impacts. I guess when you're developing a law it shouldn't be developed for a single project. It should be developed for the community and adjacent communities.”

The county recommendations also ask Enfield to increase setbacks from dwellings from 1.1 times the height of the tower to two times the height of the tower.

But Enfield does not have to comply with the county recommendations. If the Enfield Town Board does not adopt the recommendations, it will need a supermajority, which means four votes on the five-member board, to pass the proposal into law.

Marx based the county recommendations on examples of laws compiled by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which vary considerably.

Town attorney Guy Krogh defended the proposed law.

“On setbacks, (NYSERDA) give(s) this ridiculous range of standards from barely anything to two times tower height, and somehow the county says ‘Well 1.1 (times the height of the tower) is at the low end. We think 1.5 (times the height of the tower),' ” Krogh said.

Krogh added that he doesn't see the relationship between community and intercommunity impacts and larger setbacks.

Marx said with greater setbacks there will likely be greater community support for alternative energy projects.

Residents living near the Rancich site have had concerns since wind energy was proposed.

Bruce Varner, a Connecticut Hill resident, wrote Podufalski requesting setbacks larger than proposed by county planning. However, he thinks a compromise could be found by the town board adhering to the county recommendations.

“If (the Enfield board) would alter the setbacks to what (county planning is) specifying and the sound levels to what they're specifying, I would think that's something workable. I would want them farther away,” Varner said

Varner also suggested moving the project across the street where he said a smaller but safer wind farm could be built. Rancich has said that his testing has only been done on the proposed site and that a smaller wind farm would not make the project financially viable.

At a public hearing last week, most attendees voiced strong support for the wind law with setbacks at 1.1 times the height of the tower.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lincoln residents push for wind moratorium

LINCOLN, Maine — A group of residents again pressed the new Town Council on Monday night for a 180-day moratorium on wind farms as their reaction to a Massachusetts developer’s proposal for a $130 million wind farm.

After new Councilor Marcella Ireland and returning Councilor Samuel Clay were sworn in, the council took no action on residents’ claims that First Wind of Massachusetts’ farm would harm health, lower land values and ruin the beauty of Rollins Mountain, the range of hills running from Burlington through Lincoln to Lee and Winn that the proposed farm would be built upon if approved.

“There must be a reason why so many towns in the United States and Europe are holding moratoriums on wind farms,” resident Joan Goodwin said. “A huge chunk of land within our towns will be forever blighted by this.”

About 80 people attended the meeting, held at Mattanawcook Academy to accommodate the crowd.

Councilor Michael Ireland considered seeking a moratorium but did not pursue one Monday because he did not want to impede the planning board’s review of the Rollins Mountain project. First Wind formally applied to the board Friday for permits to build the windmills in Lincoln, listing the total cost of the project at $130 million, $10 million more than town officials previously had estimated.

The board’s review process begins next Monday. It is required to produce a decision in 30 days, planning board chairman Peter Phinney said. The other towns, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also must approve the project, First Wind officials have said. The DEP application is due to be filed within two weeks.

Ireland did not rule out seeking a moratorium. The council is due to review the First Wind farm at Mars Hill on Saturday, he said.

Attorney Timothy Woodcock of Eaton Peabody, the town’s legal counsel, doubted a moratorium could occur. Under state law, moratoriums are limited to 180 days. They must be used only to prevent a shortage or overburdening of public facilities or because existing plans and laws are “inadequate to prevent serious public harm,” the statute states.

The board’s recommendation against a moratorium and opinion that the town’s ordinances were adequate for a review would undercut any moratorium effort, Woodcock said. The council also must pass a moratorium with an agenda listing, public hearing and majority vote.

Several residents spoke for the project, saying they favored clean energy, lower taxes and the increased electricity capacity it promises. They said the project would be a boon to local businesses and that First Winds’ other projects at Stetson Mountain and Mars Hill already have added hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars to the local economy.

First Wind officials, who attended the meeting, listed 30 town businesses as among the nearly 150 statewide that have received new customers and money from the project.

Those town businesses include hardware stores, restaurants, motels, auto dealers, Lincoln Pulp & Paper Co. LLC., W.T. Gardner & Sons, Larry Hamm Construction Co., Chester Forest Products, Hogan Tire and Ramsay Welding and Machinery.

First Wind’s projects have boosted Maine’s economy by $50 million, said Matt Kearns, the company’s vice president of business development for New England.

“I don’t know what the total impact to this town will be from this project, but it seems to be the primary beneficiaries will be the Gardner and HC Haynes companies,” resident Tate Aylward said. “If this benefits them, it does benefit the town to some extent.”

Under all scenarios town officials are considering, at least $400,000 in tax revenues would be generated annually by the project, town Economic Development Director Ruth Birtz said.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Is Noble flipping ownership?

On October 24, 2008, Noble Environmental (there being many versions or layers of Noble, it turns out) applied to the NYS Public Service Commission for permission to do the following:

Pursuant to Part 8 of the New York State Public Service Commission’s (“Commission”) Rules and Regulations, 16 NYCRR Part 8, Noble Altona Windpark, LLC (“Noble Altona”), Noble Chateaugay Windpark, LLC (“Noble Chateaugay”), and Noble Wethersfield Windpark, LLC (“Noble Wethersfield”) (together, the “Noble Wind Companies”), and EFS Noble II LLC (“EFS II” and together with the Noble Wind Companies, “Petitioners”), hereby petition the Commission for a declaratory ruling that the Commission will not review, under Section 70 of the Public Service Law (“PSL”), a proposed transfer of certain membership interests in the Noble Wind Companies’ upstream owner, Noble Environmental Power 2008 Hold Co. LLC (“NEP 2008”) to EFS II.

As a result of this transfer, which will occur in connection with an equity contribution from EFS II to NEP 2008, Noble Environmental Power 2008 Hold Co. Prime, LLC (“Noble Holdco”) will hold all of the managing Class B membership interests in NEP 2008, and EFS II will hold all of the passive, non-controlling Class A interests in NEP 2008 (the “Transfer”) and neither any of the Class B interests nor any associated management rights. In addition, Petitioners hereby request that the Commission declare that EFS II and certain of its affiliates will not become electric corporations under the PSL as a result of their ownership of the Class A interests in NEP 2008. (Emphasis added.)

Does this signal that Noble is flipping ownership? Hard to say. RiverCityMalone sent the petition (read the petition, here) to two experts. One an attorney and the other a business analyst.

The attorney noted that the petition seems to be an effort to hand off tax credits to a special tier of investors now going by the name EFS Noble II (which, in turn, is a “wholly owned subsidiary of General Electric,” p. 5 of Petition). One can only guess the reasons. Are some of the EFS II investors in fact big corporations in financial distress, eager to reap the full benefit of tax credits? (Note that the tax credits are none other than your tax dollars being turned over to wealthy corporations.) Is Noble passing along big-bucks tax credits to EFS II investors in return for much-needed cash? (“EFS II will make cash-only capital contributions to Noble Environmental Power 2008 in exchange for 100% of the passive, non-controlling Class A membership units of Noble Environmental Power 2008,” p. 7 of Petition.) Can we go a step further: Might this cash infusion into apparently cash-strapped Noble consist, perchance, of tax dollars turned over to Wall Street investment banks in the recent $700 billion bailout?

The business analyst went even further. He felt the petition did indeed suggest transfer of ownership (witness the phrase, “transfer of certain membership interests”), though not of day-to-day control and operations. Moreover, in his opinion, “the goal of this document is to eliminate legal oversight controls.”

“This is the beginning of the multiple ownership/control transfers that were predicted,” he continues. “There will be more. We can predict that local protections and/or income will be reduced (diluted) at each transfer.”

Read the petition yourself, and you connect the dots.

As I read it I’m struck by the layers and versions of what I thought was simply Noble Environmental Power. A veritable torrent of them. (Am I the only person who thinks “Enron”?)

Then, to ask the PSC please don’t review this transaction. Why not review it, I ask? This is followed by multiple and loud assurances that the EFS II crowd won’t in any way control operations, and they really are not electric corporations—which brings to mind Shakespeare’s famous line, “Methinks the lady protesteth too much.” As in, What are these people hiding?

But I digress. Is Noble flipping ownership? Maybe the better question is: Who is Noble Environmental? How many versions and iterations and layers and incarnations and legal entities are there of this company we all thought was just Plain Jane Noble? “Noble Environmental is, in turn, owned by JPMP Noble Wind Energy, LLC, and certain individuals, trusts and limited liability companies,” p. 4 of Petition. Presumably JPMP stands for something like JP Morgan Bank? Not to mention the certain individuals, trusts and limited liability companies.

Are you confused yet? (Jeez, I always thought it was Chuck, John, Mark and the guys, driving around in little white trucks and that yellow Hummer, which I see vanished. Call me naïve.)

And which LLC within this Yellow Pages of Limited Liability Corporations now has master control of the lease you, dear reader, hold in your hand? Which LLC is ultimately responsible, now, for discharging agreements (legal and “good faith”) made with the Town of Chateaugay, among others? And what does the fine print say about each LLC’s legal and financial obligations to leaseholders and towns and school boards–and are those obligations now, shall we say, mutating?

But the question most relevant to this editorial: Is Noble churning its identities?

Let me be clear, I ask these questions not to impugn Mother Noble’s integrity, but in the pursuit of clarity. (“And now abide faith, hope, and clarity, and the greatest of these is clarity.” ) I consider myself pretty well educated—and I find anything but clarity and reassurance as I read this document (prepared, I see, by two turbocharged law firms).

When I was a professor I often counseled students, “If you read something and find it impenetrable and inscrutable, there’s a good likelihood it’s deliberately so.” I decided long ago that if I read a document in the English language and it makes no sense, there’s something fishy. It’s not me; it’s it. (Let’s call it Martin’s Fishy Principle of English Prose.)

Read this petition and apply Martin’s Fishy Prose Principle. (It’s handing over your tax and electricity-rate dollars, so you’d better be able to understand it.) No, don’t surrender your God-given mental faculties and plead, “Well, Gee, I guess the lawyers understand it, so it must be okay.” Big mistake! If you, my friend, can’t understand this, the problem lies with the document–and the shrewd people who crafted it.

More chaos and confusion

The news today that oil giant BP has dropped plans to build wind farms and other renewable energy projects in Britain should come as a major wake-up call to our guardians in Whitehall – but it won’t.

The company has shelved ideas of building a UK onshore wind farm at the Isle of Grain in Kent and will not bid for any offshore licences, instead focusing on renewables spending on the United States.

With some projects already in trouble, finding difficulty in attracting investors, the withdrawal of a major player like BP drives the government's renewable energy policy further into the land of fantasy, underlining the fact that we are now relying for our future energy supplies on something which is not only unachievable, but demonstrably so.

The fantasy economics of offshore wind power are well illustrated by news from another front, with RWE agreeing to buy 50 percent of the world's biggest planned offshore wind park from Scottish & Southern UK.

This is the development at Greater Gabbard, in the North Sea off the east coast. It is costed at £1.3 billion, yet will only have an installed capacity of about 500 megawatts and a deliverable capacity of about a third of that. Thus, with a price tag about the same as a modern nuclear plant, it will produce only about an eighth of the power. Even with the renewables obligation subsidy, this does not make sense.

To add to the government's discomfort, BP has also decided to pull out of carbon capture, withdrawing from the UK's competition to set up the world's first commercial-scale plant. The company had been one of four groups of companies shortlisted for the competition, along with consortia led by E.ON, Peel Energy and ScottishPower.

With the government pinning its hopes on "clean coal" as one of its energy policy planks, this must reduce significantly any chances of getting carbon capture into play, further increasing our reliance on gas generation. And here also the news is not good. We are told that much needed expansion of gas storage facilities needed to help the UK weather the vagaries of global energy markets have received a blow with the announcement that two projects have suffered serious setbacks.

One is by Portland Gas, under construction in Dorset. This had been expected to open in the second half of 2011, but is being held up by problems securing financing. The facility was now unlikely to open before March 2012.

Andrew Hindle, the Portland Gas chief executive, said: "The global credit crunch has all but closed off the likelihood of achieving [the 2011] target for the time being and this factor, combined with cutbacks in longer-term spend by industry participants in the sector, has meant that halting the current joint venture funding process is in the best interests of all shareholders."

Reflecting the broader turmoil in the energy market, we also hear of the collapse two small suppliers to the business market, Electricity4Business and BizzEnergy – both of which have gone into administration. This reflects the unstable wholesale prices and the increased cost of credit.

And, to add even more to the joy, The Australian notes that the wonderful EU's emission trading scheme is in trouble – the price of "carbon" has collapsed.

This, says the paper, is making a mockery of Europe's stumbling attempts to lead the world with a market-based carbon strategy. It is causing irritation and frustration to the armies of advisers and investors who seek to cajole utilities into big investments in carbon reduction.

James Cameron, the director of Climate Change Capital, a financial adviser and fund manager, said: "The whole purpose of the ETS is to take carbon out. It's not there to benefit funds or to support trading."

On that, you could have fooled us, as the whole scheme has degenerated into a money-making scam.

But then, this simply reinforces the sense of confusion and disarray which seems to pervade the very fabric of government and commerce. And, as always, it will be us that pays, not only in increased costs but also in the very real risk of the lights going out.

Are turbines making some people sick?

Opponents of wind farm developments allege turbines are not just ugly and inefficient, they can also make you sick. There are growing reports of people who live near wind turbines complaining of headaches, nausea, sleeplessness and other symptoms. Sufferers contend the illness is caused by low frequency noise and vibrations released by the turbines, along with the flickering shadows cast when the sunlight is cast through the blades. While wind power proponents contend there is conclusive evidence turbines are safe, Kingston's Medical Officer of Health was concerned enough to say developments need to be monitored. Here, we present four views on so-called "wind turbine syndrome." -- James Cowan, National Post

The Sufferer

"Our home was 423 metres from the nearest turbine. When we first heard about the project, we were trying to be green -- we always recycled more than we threw in the trash -- so I thought it was great. I was in favour of them, even as they were doing the construction around us. But my health did deteriorate immediately when the turbines were on . . . I had ringing in my ears, it felt like there was something crawling in my ears -- I said ‘what in earth is going on?' And then the shadowing effect when the sun is behind the blade, it was so bad, I just thought the top was going to blow off the top of my head. But we went camping in July and it cleared up -- I didn't have a headache, I wasn't going to bathroom as frequently, I had none of the itchy ears. I came back and it immediately started again. When the blades were facing the house, I couldn't concentrate at all, I couldn't sleep, my body would ache . . . so finally I started to clue in that something had to be going on with the turbines. I could tell before I got out of bed, just based on how I felt, whether they were running."

-- Helen Fraser, former neighbour of Melancthon Wind Project in Ontario

The Author

"If people are so disturbed by their headaches, tinnitus, panic, sleeplessness, or disrupted children that they must move or abandon their homes to get away from wind turbine noise and vibration, then that noise and vibration is significant, because the symptoms it causes are significant. The role of an ethical acoustician is to figure out what type and intensity of noise or vibration creates particular symptoms, and to propose effective control measures. My study subjects make it clear that their problems are caused by noise and vibration. Some symptoms in some subjects are also triggered by moving blade shadows."

-- from the website of Dr. Nina Pierpont, author of Wind Turbine Syndrome

The Government

"Additional research is still required to make definitive conclusions about wind turbine noise impacts as well as human response to wind farms.

In addition, detailed research on meteorological conditions, and their impact on sound generation needs to be undertaken to realise definitive conclusions."

-- Acoustic Consulting Report prepared for Ontario government by Ramani Ramakrishnan, Acoustician

The Industry

"There have been studies published in all kinds of peer reviewed journals that say there's no link here. Now, all that aside, there are still people who claim to have impacts on their health -- we don't know why. Health is very complicated thing and we don't dismiss their claims. If they're feeling unhealthy, they're feeling unhealthy. But there's nothing in the scientific literature to suggest it is the wind turbines doing this."

Friday, November 07, 2008

Wind turbines have residents seeing green

The proposed Bent Tree Wind Project has many county residents engulfed in a glow of promised “green.” Lucrative offers to landowners for wind turbines sited on their property and annual “wind right” payments have many asking, “where do I sign?” The Freeborn County coffer is also eagerly anticipating the promised wind energy production tax, estimated to be between $350,000 and $450,000 annually, should the entire 400-megawatt project get approved. This green glow of prospective cash amidst hard economic times seems almost too good to be true!

Well, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is. There’s a saying: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” The underlying truth is that someone always has to pay for the cost, one way or another. But so far, I haven’t heard who that someone is.

I’m not talking about cost strictly in financial terms. Anyone familiar with wind energy should understand that power consumers will pay for the project through increased electricity rates, and all taxpayers will also contribute through the government subsidies needed to make the inefficiency of wind power to be perceived as viable. We have our elected officials to thank for determining that these costs were prudent, naturally with the help of special interests.

These costs, however, are only the beginning. The real and significant costs of this project would soon be felt by the residents of Freeborn County alone. After the dust clears from the construction of some 250 wind turbines reaching 400 to 500 feet into the sky, over 32,000 acres of peaceful countryside will have been turned into a massive industrial complex. Only then will the true costs be felt.

So the question becomes, what are those costs and are we willing to pay them? Our elected officials and state agencies appear to have considered this for us as well. One example is by setting standards for setbacks from occupied dwellings. Any tower constructed would have to be at least 500 feet from a home. In addition to this, noise pollution must comply with pollution control limits. Such standards are stated to be “established on the basis of present knowledge for the preservation of public health and safety.”

So where does this “knowledge” come from? Certainly not from the U.S. National Research Council, which recommends a half-mile setback from residences. Not from Germany, the world leader in wind production which has implemented a one-mile setback from residences to protect the health and safety of its citizens. Not from hosts of doctors and citizens who have testified to the negative health affects and dangers of living near turbines. (The list goes on.) If not from numerous qualified individuals, organizations and countries, then where does this “knowledge” come from? Any guesses?

I’m all for progress, as long as it is sustainable and safe. But the fact is if this project moves forward as proposed, residents within miles of the complex will suffer the costly consequences. Property values will plummet and health and safety will be compromised. In this case, ignorance will not be bliss. Either this project should be done right, with proper consideration of consequences, or it should not be done at all.

I encourage ALL Freeborn County residents to better inform themselves on the impact this project would really have to our area. There is an abundance of unbiased and credible information available at numerous Web sites, some of which are listed below.

Residents need to take a step back from the “green” glow and from the thinly veiled propaganda being offered us. Examine the real facts and potential threats to ourselves and our neighbors before jumping on the Bent Tree Bandwagon.

Public hearing on wind law draws residents for, against

ENFIELD — It seems the proposed Enfield wind law — whether it passes or not — is going to leave some residents unhappy.

At a Thursday public hearing, most of the 60 residents on hand spoke in favor of the law, but Ken Donley, a Black Oak Road resident, said those against the law and the wind farm itself weren't out in full force.

“They're not here tonight because for them, being here is a waste of time,” he said

That feeling stems from opinions that the town board is going to pass the law regardless of public comment and that the project itself is “agenda driven,” Donley said.

Dissenters at the meeting complained the proposed law contains setbacks of 450 feet from structures, such as homes, and 100 feet from property lines. The setbacks are reduced from a wind law that was repealed in early 2008, and it had 600-foot setbacks.

Donley, who would live as close as possible to the wind turbines, said he didn't think anybody would be willing to take his place as a resident nearby the wind farm because of possible safety concerns that are exacerbated by the reduced turbine setbacks.

He wasn't alone in feeling that the setbacks will allow towers too close to homes.

Gary Fisher said he thinks the setbacks could endanger residents if a tower were to collapse, and that with such narrow setbacks houses, or people, would be jeopardized by any flying debris.

One resident who wasn't at the meeting was Bruce Varner, a leader in the fight against the wind farm.

Varner has sent at least one letter to the state Attorney General's office, which was obtained by The Journal, questioning wind farm developer John Rancich's conduct. An official from the Attorney General's office said the entire wind industry is being investigated, but he was not specific.

Varner alleges cocktail parties Rancich hosts are unethical along with his relationship with town attorney Guy Krogh and for the amount of property Rancich owns, which Varner considers a monopoly on the wind industry in Enfield.

No more than two town board members have attended those parties at a time in compliance with the state open government law, Rancich said in August.

Dee Murphy, a Connecticut Hill Road resident and bed and breakfast owner, said she had concerns about the noise since many of her customers go to Enfield to get away from the noise.

Many wind-farm supporters, such as Marguerite Wells and Philipp Meyers, said the turbines aren't major noise producers. Jill Swenson, a Deer Run Lane resident, suggested a wind farm in Enfield might be able to draw from the Ithaca agrotourism crowd.

Meyers, a Texas native who said wind farms are more common where he's from, said he fully supports wind power.

Meyer also addressed the safety concerns brought up by Fisher and Donley.

“I realize it's an unknown, but it's not a real risk,” he said.

Rich Teeter, a Black Oak Road resident who will abut the wind farm, said every time he gets in his car he takes a risk, and that some parts of life deal with risk most people have come to accept.

Town Supervisor Frank Podufalski said he appreciated the turnout, and said Enfield “has a golden opportunity to pass a law with the right restrictions.”

Shell pulls local wind farm plans

Shell WindEnergy has abandoned plans to build two 50-megawatt wind farms in the hill towns of Albany County.

The company encountered some resistance from landowners who wanted more financial consideration for land leases. Others were against wind farms altogether.

Residents reported today they received letters from Shell saying the company decided to stop looking at sites that included Renssealerville, Berne and the town of New Scotland.

Shell WindEnergy spokesman Tim O’Leary released this statement to the Times Union:

“We’ve ceased our wind development efforts in Albany County. This decision is based upon a number of considerations, primarily, not securing enough land for a viable project and the time projected to obtain project permitting. We are extremely appreciative of the cooperation and support that we have received from landowners, members of the community and other stakeholders.”The two wind farms would have had 50 turbines in all, producing enough electricity to power 25,000 homes.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Anti-windmill group launches Web site

LINCOLN, Maine — A citizens group that opposes a proposed $120 million wind farm on Rollins Mountain has acquired a headquarters, a Web site and is in talks with an attorney, leading members said Wednesday.

The Friends of Lincoln Lakes hopes to use the Web site,, as a magnet for others statewide and nationwide who oppose or want to learn about wind farms such as those proposed by First Wind of Massachusetts.

“We will be getting information out through the Web site in a fair and direct manner on our concerns,” the group’s public and press coordinator, Gary Steinberg, said Wednesday. “We will have presentations on it and spread information rather quickly, we hope.”

First Wind hopes to build 40 1.5-megawatt windmills, each more than 300 feet tall, in Burlington, Lincoln, Lee and Winn, creating as much as 60 megawatts of electricity through Evergreen Wind Power, a First Wind subsidiary.

The corporation hopes to begin the permitting processes with applications filed to town planning boards, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers within the next month, its spokesman has said.

First Wind is also scouting for a location for its own office in which company workers can monitor all of its state wind farms, interim Lincoln Town Manager Lisa Goodwin said. No location seems to have been chosen.

Companies building power line connections to First Wind’s projects on Mars Hill and Stetson Mountain have already rented a former auto dealership on West Broadway.

The Web site, Steinberg said, will help the group collect information about wind farms, communicate with other wind farm groups, and answer claims made on First Wind’s Web site, The group has about 20 active members and more in southern Maine.

“We are pleased that a citizens group formed less than two months ago has been able to put together an educational and analytical effort culminating in this Web site,” Brad Blake, a spokesman for the group, said in a statement.

“It is our mission to get facts, analyses, and perspectives to the residents of Lincoln area communities that they have not had available up to this point,” Blake said. “A sprawling industrial wind site will change the Lincoln Lakes Region forever.”

A prominent feature of the Web site, found by clicking “presentation,” is a slide show illustrating the wind site, Blake said. This features alternating photos of Rollins Mountain and the industrial wind sites in Mars Hill and Stetson Mountain.

First Wind has displayed at the company’s public meetings digitized photo renderings of Rollins with turbines built on it, but despite several requests, has not yet released them to the news media for publication.

The Friends of Lincoln Lakes is also using a house at 296 Main St., Lincoln, as a headquarters and meeting place. Some members have met with an attorney but the group has not completed any representational agreements, Steinberg said.

Anyone interested in joining the group or attending a meeting is asked to visit the Web site or telephone Steinberg at 794-8174. The site is updated continuously, he said.


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