Monday, August 31, 2009

Tax Assessment Lowered 60% due to Adjacent Wind Turbine Site

My house and land is in Prattsburgh, across from turbine sites for the Ecogen wind project, and my wife owns adjacent property in Naples. I've heard some people say "what's happening in the hills with the wind turbines won't affect me". What these folks may not yet realize is that, if these turbines are allowed to damage the value of adjacent properties, THEIR taxes will go up. And the first step in this one-two process has just started.

Last month, I appealed the property assessment for a 25-acre parcel owned by my wife in Naples. This property is located close to Ecogen turbine sites, across the line in Steuben County. This appeal for a lower assessment was based upon a re-appraisal, which considered the proximity of the proposed wind turbines, impact on the selling price of comparable properties across from turbine sites in Cohocton, and our resulting inability to build on the property. Last week the Naples assessor lowered the assessment by 60%.

Why did we get 60% lopped off our tax bill? The reason is starkly clear: the value was sucked out of the property. When wind turbines are built and sited near this property, the land will be bathed in constant industrial noise. It is not only unwise to build there, it would be virtually impossible for any sensible bank to give us a mortgage were we foolish enough to do so. I believe the Naples assessor did a fair and honest job. And while lowering taxes is good, this victory is like ashes in our mouths. What do we really want? Give us back the higher taxes, along with the ability to build on our property!

There are two issues which the citizens of Prattsburgh – and any town considering wind turbines – need to consider. Yes, adjacent non-participating landowners will be ruined, hosed by the developers big-time. The 60% lowering of our assessment is peanuts compared to what will happen to the value of homes in the shadow of noise-making, health-threatening industrial wind turbines. What the rest of our fellow property owners in town need to realize is this: they will have to help foot the bill.

Let's think it through. Assume our Town's budget stays the same. When the many negatively-impacted property and home owners have their assessments justifiably LOWERED, all the other taxpayers will have to take up the slack – and pay HIGHER taxes. Welcome to the new reality of life in Prattsburgh.

Welcome to the "benefits" of hosting a wind project with horrendous, damagingly-short setbacks. And this doesn't even begin to address an even more immediate impact on the Town – that these negatively-impacted landowners will be forced to sue their Town for the damage the Town Board majority decided to stick to us for some perverted vision of "the greater good". The only ones who make out in this mess are the developer, their foreign financiers, and whoever helped "grease the wheels of progress" – leaving Prattsburgh to sort out the damage and find a way to pay for it.

John Servo

Camera tries to keep the record straight at Cape meetings

By now many people have seen the You Tube video of Cape Vincent Town Supervisor Tom Rienbeck attempting to have John Byrne arrested for video-recording a town meeting. People have weighed in on both sides. Bob Chapman in a recent Watertown Times letter criticized a Cape resident for a personal attack and outburst directed at Mr. Rienbeck during the meeting. I agree with Mr. Chapman. He also has called for the resident to apologize.

However, let's have some perspective. A day later at town offices in front of a TV reporter Mr. Rienbeck, the top representative of the town of Cape Vincent, shouted at John Byrne and me, calling us "scumbags." So there's plenty of blame to go around. I guess we should call for an apology as well. But with all hoopla, the important question has been lost. Let's not lose focus. Why is the camera at the meetings?

First, you have the fact that Mr. Rienbeck and Mr. Edsall, the planning board chairman, have tried to blame the Wind Power Ethics Group (WPEG) along with former Town Councilman Clif Schneider for defeating the 2006 wind law. Let's just say, that would not be telling the truth. Mr. Rienbeck called for and voted yes on a resolution to kill the 2006 wind law. It's all in town records. And Mr. Edsall wrote a letter to the town board telling them to abandon their 2006 wind zoning law efforts, and that is in town records also. Edsall is not telling the truth as well. They also tried to blame WPEG for the fact that wind turbines were declared utilities by the town Zoning Board of Appeals — another thing that can be disproven in town records.

But most importantly, six town officers, including Mr. Edsall, have some type of conflict of interest with the wind companies which they didn't disclose as required by law until four or five years after the fact.

You have conflicts of interest, and a repeated stretching of the truth to smear any opposition and distort the record. You can see why a camera in their meetings makes them uncomfortable and they are willing to violate someone's rights by having them arrested for trying to keep the record straight.

So through all the name calling let's not lose focus on what's actually important here, and why the camera is there in the first place.

Art Pundt
Cape Vincent

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cohocton Wind Watch Face Book Site and RSS Address

Visit the Cohocton Wind Watch Face Book site and if you use or want to join Face Book, become a friend of CWW.

The URL address is:;=100000120465004.546090221..1

For those who would like to subscribe to the Cohocton Wind Watch Face Book site a link have been created to use with RSS feeds.

The address url is:;=054a93cb466370fab90ee9a4-100000120465004

Lewis County Struggles With Big Budget Woes

You can add Lewis County to the list of New York counties that are having big budget problems.

Not only is Lewis County dealing with a decrease in sales tax revenue and a lack of information about how much state aid it will receive, it's also dealing with the loss of a major money maker.

The Maple Ridge Wind Farm has paid the county up to $2.1 million annually.

However, Maple Ridge recently lost its certification as part of the state's Empire Development Zone, which means it lost critical tax breaks and other business incentives.

The state saved $9.2 million by yanking the wind farm's certification.

Now Lewis County is expected to receive only $500,000 from Maple Ridge instead of $2.1 million.

While Maple Ridge appeals the loss of certification, the county is trying to figure out how to balance its budget.

"When I said we're in a quandary, that's exactly what we are. This is the very, very preliminary start of the budget," said County Legislature Chair Jack Bush.

County officials say the wind farm makes up 20 percent of its tax levy.

(Click to save the video link)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A thumping headache, like someone belted me over the head with a plank of wood

“‘When the wind is blowing north I got a thumping headache, like someone belted me over the head with a plank of wood and I didn’t know whether to go to the hospital or what to do. You couldn’t really work.’ It was only after the 57-year-old couple travelled to their other property, in Donald, in northern Victoria, and instantly felt well again, that they wondered whether the turbines were churning away at their health.”

Clayton accepts wind report

DEPAUVILLE — The Clayton Town Council agreed to keep the sound limitations and most of the setback recommendations from the Wind Committee and forward them to the town attorney to begin writing a new zoning law for wind power development.

The council, meeting Wednesday night, held voice votes on all 16 recommendations forwarded from the committee. The only point dropped by the council was a recommendation to site turbines so there would be no flicker effect falling at road intersections.

"We asked the committee to do a job and they did it," Councilman George E. Kittle said. "If we ignored their recommendations, we'd be hard-pressed to ever get another committee to do anything for us again."

Council members disagreed on the setback from wetlands. The committee recommended 500feet from state-registered wetlands.

"The federal government and state government make setbacks for any development from wetlands," Supervisor Justin A. Taylor said. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has a 100-foot setback from state-registered wetlands.

Mr. Taylor said DEC is very involved in the environmental review process for proposed developments.

"If they want more than the regulation, they'll weigh in on that," he said.

Committee member Duane C. Hazelton said, "The 400-foot towers should not be 100 feet from the wetlands."

Councilman Lance L. Peterson said, "I find it surprising that DEC's regulation is only 100 feet."

He, along with Mr. Kittle and Councilman Donald I. Turcotte, supported the wind committee's recommendation.

The council agreed to strike language creating setbacks from the St. Lawrence River and village of Clayton, because the northern part of the town is not included in the overlay district where wind development is allowed.

In a setback recommendation from roads, the committee had set it at 3.5 times the height of the turbine or 500 feet, whichever is greater. Additional language, deleted by the council, allowed for guidance by physics on the distance ice or debris could be thrown.

The council kept setbacks of 4,500 feet from the hamlet of Depuaville and the Chaumont River downstream of the hamlet. The council also kept setbacks of 21/2 times the height of the turbine from participating residents' homes and 31/2 times the height from nonparticipating residents' property lines.

The council did not touch noise requirements, which rule that turbines should produce no more than 5 decibels above ambient levels of audible and low-frequency noise for nonparticipating residents at their property lines. Participating residents can have up to 50 decibels of noise at their homes.

For both noise and setbacks, nonparticipating residents would be allowed to sign easements, lowering the requirements to those of participating residents.

"We thought that was an innovation compared to other communities," committee member Edward A. Oliver said, "Maybe these companies should be addressing both parties and get the whole community behind a project."

The recommendations, after being crafted into a law, will go through the public hearing process. Mr. Taylor said the council will wait until another committee completes work zoning for private renewable energy development.

Before the council discussed the recommendations, more than 20 members of the public commented on the recommendations. There were more than 50 people in the audience.

Charles E. Ebbing, a retired acoustic engineer for Carrier Corp., said both Clayton's and Orleans's current laws are flawed.

"The initial laws were not based on scientific facts carefully reviewed by the town boards," he said. "All of the recommendations were based on scientific reasoning."

Jenny L. Burke, Iberdrola's business developer, reminded the council of the developer's May 20 letter.

"Iberdrola does not believe you should adopt these recommendations," she said. "Maple Ridge was sited responsibly and your current zoning law allowed us to do that here."

At the council's May 27 meeting, she told the council that zoning based on the recommendations would eliminate the proposed Horse Creek Wind Farm.

At the end of the meeting, Mr. Taylor said, "I don't know if wind power is at an end in the town of Clayton or if wind power will be reconfigured in the town of Clayton."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Guy Hands in Talks for Wind-Farm Deal

Private-equity investor Guy Hands is in advanced talks to invest up to $350 million for a controlling stake in EverPower Wind Holdings Inc., a New York-based developer of wind farms, according to a person familiar with the situation.

EverPower, which is developing wind farms in Oregon, Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania, will use the money in part to expand and also refinance a loan. The company has one completed project in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Mr. Hands already owns Infinis, a U.K. renewable energy company that has made a push into wind power.

The American Wind Energy Association estimates the U.S. will add 5,000 megawatts of new capacity this year, down from 8,500 last year. The U.S. last year surpassed Germany as the leading producer of wind-power, with 25,300 megawatts -- enough to power seven million homes.

Because of the large amounts of capital required to build wind-turbine projects, large public utilities largely dominate the business. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Corp., through its MidAmerica Energy Holdings Co., is one of the largest wind-power players.

Private-equity investment in the sector has been limited. First Wind Holdings of Newton, Mass., and Noble Environmental Power LLC, both backed by private-equity firms, filed initial public offerings last year that stalled amid the financial crisis.

Some alternative-energy projects have been scaled back in recent months as developers have struggled to secure financing. Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens delayed his much publicized wind farm in Texas until at least 2010.

But investors are taking a renewed interest in the sector as the Obama administration's stimulus package includes wind- energy incentives. The price of wind turbines has also fallen as demand has dropped.

An investment by Mr. Hands in EverPower, through his Terra Firma Capital Partners private-equity firm, would cash out minority owner Good Energies, an investment fund owned by Dutch retailing family Brenninkmeijer. The company is 55%-owned by existing managers who are expected to remain.

Mr. Hands runs Terra Firma, which was spun out from Nomura Holdings in 2002. The London-based buyout firm has struggled with its investment in record company EMI Group Ltd. Since that 2007 acquisition, Mr. Hands has done only one other deal, purchasing cattle ranches from Australia's Packer family.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Orleans wind panel urges stricter rules

LAFARGEVILLE — The Orleans Wind Committee is calling on the Town Council to adopt stricter noise and setback regulations for wind power development.

The committee submitted the first part of its recommendations, covering noise and setbacks, to council members at the end of July and publicly during the council's meeting last week. The second part, including recommendations on stray voltage, fire risks, water and aquifer effects, turbine lighting, radon and security, are still being finalized. Co-chairman Stephen Bingeman said that should be done this fall.

The recommendations could imperil the eight wind turbines proposed in the town for the Horse Creek Wind Farm.

"While many of the suggested modifications to the local law may make the proposed Horse Creek wind facility impossible to implement fully, this committee believe the changes are necessary to protect the residents of our town," the recommendations said.

The recommendations, applicable to any wind-energy system over 100 kilowatts, include:

■ A preconstruction noise study for projects within one mile of a residence, public building or public park.

■ Turbine noise not to exceed 5 decibels above ambient noise level in both the audible and low-frequency noise ranges, tested at the property lines of nonparticipating parcels.

■ Average low-frequency noise not to exceed 20 decibels above the measured level of all audible background noise to avoid low-frequency annoyance.

■ An absolute limit of 50 decibels for low-frequency noise for properties one mile or farther from state highways or major roads or 55 decibels for properties within one mile of major roads.

■ An absolute limit of 35 decibels of audible noise in 10-minute averages, measured 100 feet from any occupied structure.

■ A post-construction noise study within one year after the project begins operation to check compliance with pre-construction models.

■ Setbacks of the greater of 3,000 feet or 10 times the diameter of the turbine's rotor from property lines or roads to protect from shadow flicker, ice throw and turbine collapse.

The recommendations make both noise levels and setbacks stricter than the current zoning law in the town. The current town law allows up to 50 decibels of audible noise and setbacks of 1,250 feet from homes.

The recommendations do not include specific setbacks from hamlets or the waterline of the St. Lawrence River, which had been a point of discussion at meetings.

"We truly believe that the noise levels will put it back from any property, including along the river," committee member Patty A. Booras-Miller said.

To check compliance with the zoning law, the committee recommended the council create a seven-member board to handle complaints of violations by the project. The council would send the complaints to the board. The board would have $100,000 available in an escrow account paid for by wind developers for consulting experts and would decide on mitigation measures and penalties if the turbine is found to be in violation.

"From what we had read, there were so many different areas where people said they had filed complaints and they could only go to the wind companies," co-chairwoman Judy E. Tubolino said. "And I thought, 'If we're going to do this, let's have real people that people can talk to that aren't wind people.'"

In the 81-page recommendation document, the committee provided reasoning for its recommendations. As a town document, the recommendations can be seen at the town office.

The committee also weighed in on the current wind overlay district, which allows wind development in just the western portion of the town, asking that the overlay district be expanded, moved or eliminated to open wind development to the entire town. In meetings, committee members had said that the small overlay district where wind energy development is allowed leads to crowding turbines into one part of the town.

"As long as the modifications we are suggesting are incorporated into our local law, residents will be protected regardless of what area of the town a wind facility is proposed," the recommendations said.

The council will host a work session with the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals and Wind Committee at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 16 at the municipal building, 20558 Sunrise Ave.

Wind turbines take a heavy toll on habitat, ecosystems and views

Those trying to promote wind turbines on Lake Erie do so for their own benefit, at great expense to taxpayers, with little regard for the residents of Northeast Ohio, whose views will be forever destroyed.

Wind power poses a threat to all life through degradation of habitat and disruption of ecosystems that maintain life on Earth. Wind turbines on Lake Erie will disturb marine life and winged creatures by invading their environment, possibly compromising the source of 17 percent of the world's fresh water.

Bats lungs are exploding from the change in air pressure as they approach the turbines, and livestock exposed to turbine noise are perishing from lack of sleep. On land or on water, these industrial machines have the capability to drive all creatures, human and otherwise, from their living space.

Since it takes 450 wind turbines fragmenting four acres each to equal one nuclear power plant, how is this environmentally sound? Wind power is inefficient, producing electricity only about 25 percent of the time. This source of power can never be relied upon and will do nothing to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

Ask yourself if the wind is blowing today. At best, Cleveland has marginal wind. Yet those invested in this technology continue to focus on promoting their self-interest while trying to turn the lakefront into their own private industrial site.

Search the Internet for Cape Wind or visit for letters from people around the globe who are trying to protect the world from this environmentally invasive technology. For a very good article on the effects of wind, see Instead of sustainability, they should call it smoke and mirrors. Wind . . . leave my state alone.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Further wind turbine health impacts study needed

Re: "Incredulity raised by wind farm concerns", Aug. 13, 2009

The writer sounds convinced of the immediate need for a comprehensive epidemiological study on the impacts of industrial wind turbines, for the writer states, "As to health studies: yes, studies should be done".

In giving her reasons why some people might speak out against the proposed industrial wind turbines, I believe the writer has completely misunderstood the seriousness of the impacts of low frequency noise emitted by industrial wind turbines on humans when the writer implies industrial wind turbines do little more than "…cause a hum…".

The writer mentions she "…lived next to several airports…". Unlike most airports, where arrivals and departures do not take place around the clock, presuming the wind speed falls within a certain range, the proposed industrial wind turbines — once commissioned — would operate 24-hours a day.

The writer states certain health symptoms "…may be attributed to a loss of sleep". I would recommend the writer (and other interested parties) take time to read, "Sleep disturbance and wind turbine noise", a report by Dr. C. Hanning (June 2009).

On page 17 of his report, Dr. Hanning states, "In my expert opinion, from my knowledge of sleep physiology and a review of the available research, I have no doubt that wind turbine noise emissions cause sleep disturbance and ill health." He also states, "The only mitigation of sleep disturbance from industrial wind turbine noise is a setback of at least 1.5 km and probably greater."

Let’s hope the provincial government will move quickly to have a comprehensive epidemiological study on the impacts of industrial wind turbines conducted prior to having any other industrial wind turbines installed anywhere in Ontario.

I guess that makes me a member of Ann Barlow's NIABYs ("Wind farm NIABYism: Not In Anyone's Back Yard", Aug. 14).

Debbie Lynch

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Steuben County Wind Comment Audio


First Wind Project - Workman Hanging By A Line - Is This Safe?

Where is OSHA ??? Dangle A Painter From A Line. Blade Marks Still Evident On Tower #4 Pine Hill Road, Cohocton, NY

First Wind Project - NO PERMIT - Illegal Crane Move on Pine Hill Road

Now you see them, now you don't, now you see them

How many times can a man turn his head, and pretend that he just doesn't see, The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind, Tanswer is blowing in the wind.

AUG. 21, 2009: Like Brigadoon, they suddenly appear out of nowhere. Well, actually they appear out of Canada. And it’s not just once a year -- it is several times a week.

The wind turbines on Wolfe Island in the St. Lawrence River are 27 to 32 miles away from Thompson Park in Watertown. But there they are, big as life when the sun goes down and the air is clear.

While the turbines have been there for months, they had a coming out party July 6 during the Syracuse Symphony and fireworks show at Thompson Park. Thousands of people sat on the hill enjoying the music and watching the sun go down when -- ta da -- there they were.

Much will be made about this picture, and not all of it good. We occasionally are accused by anonymous bloggers on fly-by-night Web sites of doctoring photos showing wind turbines. So the following is a public service announcement for those who know what an f-stop is:

This image was taken by our staff photographer Colleen White at approximately 7:45 p.m., just seconds after sunset on Wednesday. She shot it using a Nikon D2H with a 300mm lens. Aperture at 2.8, shutter 1/1500 at ISO 200.

The fact that you can see turbines from 30 miles away is no reason to support or oppose such utilities, or whatever they are being called in Cape Vincent these days.

Instead, it should be a reminder that the issue isn’t one that should be decided by as few people as possible.

The scene from Thompson Park can’t be any clearer: we are all in this together.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Perry Town Board urged to vote 'no' on Dairy Hills project

I am writing in regard to the 8/11/09 Daily News article, "Dairy Hills issues aired, pro and con." Unfortunately, the article's opening line, "Numbers fought philosophy...", read as if the proponents of the project outnumbered the opponents at the public hearing, when in fact, exactly the opposite was true. The Perry Town Board was overwhelmingly urged to vote no on the Dairy Hills Project by a hefty margin of 3 to 1.

Thirty-six speakers at Perry's Public Hearing on Horizon's Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement offered vast amounts of well-documented research related specifically to the numerous inaccuracies in Horizon's SDEIS. This in contrast to the scant dozen pro-wind speakers who said they "supported the project and the SDEIS," but provided absolutely no independent, scientific information to back up their positions. The only thing the pro-wind group did cite were names from a biased "survey" they've collected over the past two years. Worth noting is the fact that their "survey" was made up of less than 10 percent of Perry's total population of 6,654. (See:

The recurring theme of the 36 people who spoke against the project was that Horizon's SDEIS still contained the same inaccuracies and shortcomings as it did two years ago. Their resounding plea to Perry's Town Board members was to serve and protect the health, safety and welfare of all residents by voting no. "People first -- not money!"

Contrary to The Daily News report that Horizon's owner, Energias de Portugal Renovveis (EDPR), is a $1 billion company, Dick Green correctly cited the fact that evening that EDPR is worth in excess of $36 billion -- thus, the truly objectionable nature of allowing a mega, multi-billion dollar corporation a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes program. As Green said, "And Horizon asks the town of Perry for a PILOT program? That's not greedy. That's obscene!"

To name just a few of the many other contradictions and inaccuracies of Horizon's SDEIS:

Phil McBride of Lake LaGrange presented pictures of eagles that are residing in the vicinity of the lake (despite the fact that the SDEIS states that there are no eagles in the area). McBride said he has many ideas for further development of his property, including a possible camping area, but will not pursue any plans while the threat of industrial turbines is still looming.

Hans Kunze, well-known birder and professional in the financial field, said that "turbines are already obsolete." He said we'll be stuck holding the bag when these Limited Liability Corporations leave, and that the "piddly amount people think they will be getting is nothing compared to what we will be losing."

Robert Firestine, an economist who resides at Silver Lake, said that any money the town "might" get, especially when you figure in inflation a few years down the road, will probably only be about 1 percent, which he said, "is nothing" when looking at the big picture.

Steve Moultrup, former mayor of Perry, said, "This isn't just a Town of Perry issue. The aesthetic impact is county-wide."

Despite all the expert testimony, and well-researched and documented information presented throughout the evening, some of the most powerful comments came from one of the folks who is experiencing first-hand, the very negative effects of living too close to industrial wind turbines -- Glenn O'Connor of Bliss.

Mr. O'Connor prefaced his comments by saying, "If you want to know what life is going to be like with turbines, I'm your guy." He went on to describe his family's loss of TV reception, hours and hours of flicker, inability to sleep (54 dBA inside his home), months and months of unsuccessfully trying to get the Industrial Wind LLC to do something to help them, and the exorbitant costs associated with finally having to hire an attorney. He said, "Once your Town Board signs an agreement with the wind company, they are no longer going to be able to help you." Mr. O'Connor summed up his ongoing dreadful experience by saying, "You better think long and hard before you sign up for this mess!"

Ford Eberstein summed it up perfectly, "Do your own research. Take a short drive down Route 39 to Bliss/Eagle. Then tour Route 362 between the Village of Bliss and Route 78. Imagine our landscape littered with a foreign-owned mega industrial project of this scope. No impact? Get real! Let's send these Portuguese propeller proponents packing! I urge our Town Board to seize hold of the rapidly diminishing treasure of common sense that still exists in our country today, and vote no on the turbine project!"

Mary Kay Barton lives at Silver Lake.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Farmers flee as turbines trigger despair

FOR 35 years, Noel and Janine Dean lived on a small western Victorian farm, where they raised crops, cattle and three children.

They planned to spend the rest of their lives on that lush, green plot of land, but that would change three years ago, when an executive driving a red BMW approached the gates of their property, wound down his window and asked: "You got anything against wind farms?"

"As long as they're not noisy I don't," replied Mr Dean, who had no objection to his Waubra neighbours -- most of them struggling farmers -- earning tens of thousands of dollars a year leasing their pastures to Spanish-based renewable energy company Acciona.

Three months ago the first of 128 turbines started turning and almost instantly Mr Dean became sick. He started waking with headaches, initially dull but, over time, sharp and debilitating.

"I was waking up two days in a row with headaches, I'd have to take Panadol but they'd be gone by dinner time," he said. "When the wind is blowing north I got a thumping headache, like someone belted me over the head with a plank of wood and I didn't know whether to go to the hospital or what to do. You couldn't really work."

His wife also began experiencing an inexplicable malaise. At first she put her nausea, sleeplessness and uneasiness down to a new diet. Then she thought it might be menopause. It was only after the 57-year-old couple travelled to their other property, in Donald, in northern Victoria, and instantly felt well again, that they wondered whether the turbines were churning away at their health.

Now the couple have packed up and moved permanently to nearby Ballarat. They want the energy companies and policy-makers to stop and consider the possible health effects of wind farms before meandering lines of turbines start popping up across the countryside to meet the government's 2020 renewable energy target endorsed by the Senate this week. In Waubra alone, a further 60 turbines are flagged for instalment.

US doctor Nina Pierpont has coined the term "wind-turbine syndrome" for a raft of symptoms, including insomnia, headaches, dizziness, nausea and depression, experienced by people living in close proximity to wind farms. The problems are said to be caused by constant exposure to low-frequency vibrations and inaudible sound pressure, as well as the constant flicker of light generated by the spinning blades.

To better understand the noises and vibrations being generated by the wind farm, Mr Dean purchased a decibel, or sound pressure, reader. In consultation with Graeme Hood, an engineer with the University of Ballarat, Mr Dean conducted tests over several days in his bedroom.

When he measured the sound pressure for audible noise the wind turbines registered a mere 20 decibels, equivalent to the sound of a whisper or the rustle of leaves. But when Mr Dean set the reader on another frequency, measuring audible and inaudible noises, he said the sound pressure from the turbines registered between 70 and 80 decibels, akin to being within proximity of a vacuum cleaner or power drill.

Now Mr Hood is undertaking a series of control tests of his own to determine more clearly how much sound pressure the wind turbines are creating in Waubra. "There is a possibility they (the turbines) are generating frequencies below audible tones," Mr Hood said. "Many people say that if you can't hear it, you're not affected by it, but other people say things like infrasound -- or inaudible noise -- can resonate in body cavities and cause other types of problems."

It is a notion that Acciona, the energy company behind the Waubra wind farm, firmly rejects. In a statement to The Weekend Australian, a spokesman said: "There is no clear, consistent scientific data, nor a peer-reviewed expert scientific consensus, to confirm a causal association between modern wind turbines, low-frequency noise and health concerns. That is the position of Acciona Energy in response to a resident's allegation of ill health said to be associated with claimed low-frequency noise, or infrasound, generated by the company's Waubra wind farm."

Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett last month released a wind farm policy statement to help energy companies navigate the layers of state and federal legislation relating to energy levels. As chair of the Environment Protection and Heritage Council, Mr Garrett will also work with state and territory governments to develop a set of guidelines for wind farms for consideration next year. His office was not able to say yesterday whether the council has considered regulating the level of low-frequency, sub-audible noise generated by wind farms as well as the audible noise.

In Waubra, it is not just the Deans who are experiencing worrying symptoms since the turbines began spinning. Chef Trish Godfrey ploughed her superannuation into a 4ha block at Waubra nine years ago. Like the Deans, she was paid a visit by the same executive who asked her if she would oppose a wind farm.

"We anticipated that there would be about 15 turbines around us, and that we could plant trees to screen them. All of the farmers around us wanted the wind farm and we didn't want to argue," she said.

Now, as Ms Godfrey prepares food for delivery from her kitchen inside her dream home, she looks out on 65 turbines that surround her on all flanks. She is convinced her health is suffering. "It feels like I have a head-cold coming the whole time. It's like motion sickness that never goes away. Some days it's worse than others. I am a very energetic person and by mid-afternoon all I want to do is sleep," she said.

Ms Godfrey is devastated that the value of her property -- now, as she describes, in the eye of an industrial estate -- would have dropped through the floor. "We have no quality of life and who would want to buy our house now? What was to be our superannuation has now gone," she said, sobbing.

Neighbour Maggie Reid, whose blood pressure has soared in the past three months, said the wind farm has been a sorely divisive venture for the community.

"It's split the community into the haves and the have-nots. You try to raise your concerns and all you hear is, 'You're just jealous you don't have them'," Ms Reid said.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mars Hill windmills prompt civil lawsuit

MARS HILL, Maine — Wendy Todd acknowledged Tuesday afternoon that she and her husband, Perrin Todd, knew that wind towers likely would be erected behind their property before they started building their home on the east side of Mars Hill in late 2005.

“We knew it was likely,” she said. “But we had educated ourselves about the project. We attended at least two informational meetings before the project began and another meeting before the permit for the project was approved.

“During all of these meetings,” she continued, “We were told that noise would not be an issue, that the windmills were ‘gentle giants.’ We were told that you would have to be within 500 feet to hear anything, and that the visual aspect of the project would be the hardest thing to get over. We felt that we could get past that, so we believed we were all set.”

That, Todd said Tuesday, was wrong. And now the Todds are joining with others who live near the windmills to try to rectify the situation.

The family and 16 neighbors have recently filed a civil suit in Aroostook County Superior Court in Caribou against First Wind, two construction firms and the town of Mars Hill.

Peter Kelley, the attorney for the group, said Tuesday that his clients have seen the quality of life they experienced before the windmills were constructed slip from their grasp. He said his clients are alleging that they were not properly notified about all that the construction process entailed.

Noise, which Wendy Todd said Tuesday was not supposed to be an issue, continues to reverberate from the wind farm. Headaches and frayed nerves are now a problem, according to Todd, and property values among the homes allegedly affected by the project have diminished.

Kelley said his clients want compensation for their alleged loss of peace, enjoyment and quality of life, the reported drop in their property values, and the emotional and physical stresses they are dealing with since the wind farm became operational.

Massachusetts-based First Wind also goes by the name Evergreen Wind Power in Maine. The 28 turbines in Mars Hill began spinning late in 2006. First Wind also operates industrial wind energy facilities on Stetson Mountain in northern Washington County and has several other projects in the pipeline.

Todd said she and her husband were initially in favor of the project because of the economic benefits and the positive environmental effects of renewable energy. At all of the meetings she and her family attended, Todd stressed, they were told by those involved that noise “would not be an issue.”

“As soon as they turned on the first windmill, I knew they were wrong,” she recalled. “People here were just flabbergasted. We had already dealt with the noise of them blasting and clearing land, and then we heard the windmills. We knew we had made a mistake.”

The Todds described hearing a “phfoop ... phfoop ... phfoop” noise when the first windmill was turned on. Noise issues were taken to town officials in January 2007.

“The noise has gotten worse,” said Todd. “Our neighbors have complained of having headaches and having trouble sleeping.”

The couple has taken steps to protect their three children.

“They live in rooms that are farthest away from the noise,” she said. “They have never shown any physical symptoms, but they have complained that the noise scares them.”

Todd said one of the biggest problems is that no one “realized the depth of the project.” She added that residents in the town had no idea what the sounds and size of the towers and the visual effects of them would be like because they had nothing to compare them to.

“Nothing like it had ever happened here,” she added.

Before the lawsuit, the Todds talked with officials from the town and First Wind, and met with legislators at home and in Augusta. They also attended legislative committee meetings in Augusta.

“But nothing seemed to happen,” said Todd.

The Mars Hill resident said she and others have contemplated moving, and the Todds have talked to noise experts about soundproofing the home.

“But even then, I do not think it would be mitigated,” she added.

First Wind spokesman John Lamontagne said Tuesday afternoon that he could not comment on pending litigation. He stressed, however, that others in Mars Hill are happy with the project and that the company completed all the necessary steps in order to construct the wind farm. The Mars Hill project underwent a detailed process with the state Department of Environmental Protection. He added that the windmills also brought jobs and environmental and financial benefits to the town.

Mars Hill town officials could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

Todd said she wants stricter rules in place for the establishment of wind farms in the state as well as a way to improve the situation in Mars Hill.

In the meantime, she said Tuesday, “our lives are on hold.”

“Do we leave a home we love?” she asked. “And what will the long-term effects of exposure to the windmills be? There are so many questions.”

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wind law stalls at Prattsburgh meeting

Prattsburgh, N.Y.

The Prattsburgh town board took no action on a draft wind utilities law Tuesday, instead opting to review two draft laws, including one with changes approved by the board 4-0 in July.

Councilwoman Stacey Bottoni objected to the July version saying it contained language she didn’t like. But Councilman Steve Kula said the version contained chang-es Bottoni approved before leaving the meeting last month. Bottoni left the July meeting early to attend a Town of Italy board meeting with wind farm representatives where she voiced her personal support for the 34-turbine Ecogen project.

Ecogen plans to put 16 turbines in the town of Prattsburgh and 18 in Italy, in Yates County.
Bottoni said the board should review the July version and a different draft containing her preferences and decide at their Sept. 22 meeting in the hamlet of Ingleside.

In another wind-related matter, board members approved setting up an escrow account to handle funds set aside by Ecogen to hire engineers, consultants and attorneys for the project. The account will range from a minimum of $50,000 to a maximum of $100,000, although “reasonable” expenses above the maximum will also be paid by Ecogen.

Board members approved 4-1 setting up a limited development corporation (LDC) separate from town finances to handle funds donated by organizations for projects within the town. The LDC was proposed in June by Ecogen to receive incentive money for special projects such as the fire department or school.

Ecogen attorney Robert Burgdorf told the board Tuesday night Ecogen would use the LDC to fund the lease of a used ambulance from the town of Cazenovia. The ambulance would assure emergency care in the event of a mishap during the construction of the Ecogen project, Burgdorf said.

Councilman Chuck Shick opposed the LDC, but Kula said the special fund was not specifically tied to Ecogen.

However, Kula and Burgdorf clashed later when Burgdorf said he would not answer any questions posed by Kula.

Burgdorf said Ecogen went to considerable time and expense to answer Kula’s questions at a May informational meeting. Kula left the May meeting, saying the format had been changed from what had been originally promised.

When Burgdorf said Tuesday he would only answer Kula’s questions if presented by the board, Shick repeated the questions as motions.

The board agreed 3-0 to Kula and Shick’s request that Ecogen make current maps and other details available, with Bottoni and Councilwoman Sharon Quigley abstaining.

The board then approved 4-1 the second Kula-Shick request that Ecogen identify its Web site listing leaseholders, in accordance with the new state Code of Ethics requirement. Bottoni voted against it, saying she didn’t understand the requirement cited by Kula.

While the interchange led to some laughter from those attending the meeting, Bottoni said she wished to read a statement she had prepared earlier charging attendees are rude and abusive. She claimed she represents the vast majority of people in the town of Prattsburgh and complained she is misquoted in the press.

“What do we owe you?” she asked the residents at the meeting. “What have you done for me? Or Sharon? Or Harold (Town Supervisor McConnell)?"

Kula said he represents hundreds of residents unable to leave Prattsburgh if the turbines make living in the town intolerable. A number of people, including himself, opposed to the current project have the financial means to move if necessary, Kula said.

“I’m not here for the 15 people sitting in this room,” he said. “I’m here for the people who can’t move if they want to.”

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Enron's ghost, carried on the wind

As I read about the American Wind Energy Association's four-day annual conference this week in Houston, I was reminded of a conversation I had over lunch a few weeks ago with Robert Bradley.

Bradley is a 16-year veteran of Enron, seven of which he spent as a speech writer for Ken Lay. He now heads the Institute for Energy Research, which is affiliated with Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo.

As Bradley sees it, most of the "green energy" programs that are all the rage now date to initiatives supported by Enron.

Lay, he said, jumped on the global warming bandwagon in the late 1980s because it played into Enron's natural gas business. Likewise, he championed electricity deregulation and other alternative fuels such as wind power.

Lay's strategy, Bradley said, was to get government to create lucrative markets that Enron could dominate, while dressing them up with a combination of environmentalism and capitalism.

He sees the same thing happening with the clamor for wind power.

We find the idea of wind power appealing. It seems natural and clean. Windmills, after all, are part of our pastoral vision of Americana -- power, nostalgia and patriotism all rolled into one. What's not to like?

Only the economics. If the government didn't intervene, more economical strategies for reducing emissions would develop, Bradley argues. Coal plants would be retrofitted with devices to capture carbon or we'd reduce the number of older model cars on the road, for example.

Instead, thanks to state-sponsored initiatives for alternative energy, backed by Enron in the late 1990s, Texas consumers who are already paying some of the nation's highest electric bills are being asked to pony up billions for transmission lines to bring wind-generated power eastward.

You can read more about Bradley's views on how Enron got the government to further its wind agenda in this paper.

This week's conference is "an astounding example of what government intervention can do -- create a whole, parasitic industry," Bradley said. "Wind technologies actually predate fossil fuels and have been experimental and uncompetitive in electricity generation for over a century."

Is wind power a viable alternative? Or is it just the greening of corporate welfare?

Bring on solar power; wind turbines are noisy and blot the horizon

The British Wind Energy Association says: “Well-designed wind turbines are, generally, quiet in operation and, compared [with] the noise of road traffic, trains, aircraft and construction activities . . . the sound of a wind turbine generating electricity is likely to be the same level as noise from a flowing stream 50 m to 100 m away or the noise of leaves rustling in a gentle breeze.”

Makes you want to weep, dunnit ? However, Dr Nina Pierpont, of the US, writes: “Industrial wind turbines produce significant amounts of audible and low-frequency noise. Dr Oguz A Soysal, professor and chairperson of the Department of Physics and Engineering at Frostburg State University, in Maryland, mea- sured sound levels over half a mile away from the Meyersdale, PA, 20-turbine wind farm. Typical audible (A-weighted) decibel (dB) levels were in the 50 to 60 range, and audible plus low-frequency (C-weighted) dB were in the 65 to 70 range. A level of 65 dB to 70 dB is the loudness of a washing machine, vacuum cleaner or hair dryer.”

Well, can we believe Pierpont and Whatsit? Well, he’s not wrong: we (staff from my practice, with nothing to do after hours) measured industry noise at night under low and medium wind conditions. We found, in front of the boundary fence of an industrial plant we measured, a sound pressure level of 52 dBA. Then, 1 500 m away, we measured the same noise at the same value (52 dBA), implying that the noise is hardly attenuated by distance. This is an extraordinary result and it took calculations for us to appreciate that the combination of a temperature inver- sion (where the ground is colder than the air) and the wind had caused the plant noise to travel significantly further than usual.

We further discovered that our findings were actually quite well known – the phenomena is not new. So we can certainly accept that Dr Whatsit took measurements which are correct. (On the other had, we could have inferred this – he has a BSc, an MSc and a PhD).

A report by Frits van den Berg, of Amsterdam, indicates that residents are more disturbed by wind turbine noise than by road, rail and indus- try noise. Specifically, wind turbine noises of about 50 dBA cause severe annoyance to about 14% of the exposed residents, who do not benefit economically from the turbine. Only 6% are disturbed by 50-dBA noise associated with road, rail and industry. This may be because residents are upset by the turbine itself or it may have some other cause – the modulation depth of the blade noise or the variation in sound level which may occur at a blade passing frequency of about 1 Hz.

There is another matter. For any fan, the blades spin at a certain number of revolutions each minute. If the fan has, say, three blades and spins at 20 rev/min, then the noise from the fan can be expected to peak at 3 × 20/60 = 1 Hz. Now consider the fan blade: a 1 500-kW wind turbine has a ratio of tip speed to wind speed of about 5. This means that the blade tips will be doing about 300 km/h in a fair wind (say, 30 knots). Common sense tells us that this is noisy and so do manufacturers – the sound power level of a 1 500-kW wind turbine at 30 km/h (say, 15 knots) is 104 dBA.

The situation certainly seems to be that wind turbines can be disturbing in terms of noise. However, there is the factor that those who “love the planet and all upon it” are not disturbed by the noise they hear. Those who hate the visual intrusion resent the aural intrusion with equal ferocity. The point is: Should we just put up with it? I argue not, or at least not in South Africa. We are not particularly wind rich, certainly not at all inland. We are very sun rich – even if we can’t use the full 1 000 W/m2 which is available from sunlight, it is still a far cry from wind, which can give us only about 250 W/m2 on average. Bring on solar power, I say. It doesn’t blot the horizon, and it’s quiet, real quiet . . .

Prattsburgh Town Board

To the Editor,

Let's take a few moments to look back at some of the events in Prattsburgh. Over 5 years ago the Prattsburgh Town Board was presented with a petition of over 500 signatures requesting a 6 month moratorium for the purpose of gaining facts regarding proposed wind farms in the community. The Board refused to accept the petition.

When the Cohocton wind project began Prattsburgh residents asked the Board to wait and see if any possible problem might develop. This fell on deaf ears and the Board moved ahead. Anyone living in the community is aware of the many problems the residents of Cohocton have now confronted, ranging from excessive noise to vibrations in people's homes.

As a result of the noise and vibration problems in Cohocton some Town Board members in Prattsburgh suggested the town develop a sound law. To do this initially the Board agreed to let a private citizen hire a sound consultant. The sound consultant felt the setbacks were inadequate and stated that "if you do this correctly it will be fine, if done wrong you will need to live with it." Board members Quigley, Bottoni, and Town Supervisor McConnell disregarded the advice.

At the same time Town counsel, John Leydon recommended that the Board sign off on the Ecogen (now Pattern Wind) project stating it was the best they (the town would get) So the Board signed the pilot agreement. The concern over a potential wind and noise law continued to grow but the Board was told by Mr. Leydon that if they enacted a law they would open themselves up to law suits because they signed the pilot agreement. Remember this was the same agreement he directed the Board to sign.

It should be noted that during much of the town's negotiations with wind developers Mr. Leydon was serving as counsel to both SCIDA and the Town of Prattsburgh. Talk about potential conflict of interests or at least questionable ethics, but that's material for a future letter.

Next we go to the special meeting of the Prattsburgh Town Board/Ecogen question and answer festival. Those of you who attended this "meeting" recall no one was allowed to speak and if you asked any questions deemed out of line you heard the pounding of a gavel and were told to sit down and be quiet. At this meeting Ecogen had their own wind expert who stated that everything was fine and there would be no problems. Come to find out this same expert testified under oath at the Vermont Environment Court and contradicted his statements given at the Ecogen meeting in Prattsburgh. Even after his credibility was diminished McConnell, Quigley, and Bottoni moved on with no real concern about the health and well being of the citizens of Prattsburgh.

After much discussion at regular and special Town Board meetings the Board invited an independent sound expert to discuss wind turbine noise issues. In fact it was Supervisor Mc- Connell who contacted him. He told the Board that the setbacks were inadequate numerous times throughout his presentation and that he would work up a cost estimate to conduct a study. After he left Supervisor Mc- Connell stated the the town had no funds to hire him. One would think that if Ecogen was as altruistic as they portray themselves they would come up with funds which are slightly over eleven thousand dollars. At the most recent Board meeting Councilman Kula asked if the town would be able to secure the funds and was told no. He then stated that two anonymous citizens had agreed to pay for the consultant's study. Even with this offer Councilwomen Bottoni, Quigley, and Supervisor McConnell voted no stating the information provided by SCIDA was fine. Remember this is after two consultants said the setbacks and noise levels would create problems and the other "expert" was discredited by his statements in the Vermont court system. One can only ask why these Board members voted the way they did. If only they had listened and respected the initial petition for a moratorium to get facts we might not be in the situation we are in today.

Carl M. Wahlstrom


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Expert: resident can tape meetings

CAPE VINCENT — Keep that camera rolling.

John L. Byrne, a town resident who was almost arrested for videotaping a Town Council meeting Thursday, should be allowed to tape the meetings, according to Robert J. Freeman, executive director of the state Committee on Open Government.

"Anybody can videotape or audio record an open meeting so long as the device is not disruptive or obtrusive," Mr. Freeman said.

There is nothing in the Open Meetings Law to address the issue, he said. However, there are judicial precedents allowing the use of tape recorders at open meetings, and those would apply to the use of video recorders, Mr. Freeman said.

Town Supervisor Thomas K. Rienbeck called police to arrest Mr. Byrne shortly after the meeting started Thursday night.

Deputy Sheriff Shaun D. Cuddeback, who was called into the meeting along with village Police Chief Thomas S. Strejlau, took the Town Council members outside to advise them that they could face a civil suit if an arrest was made.

No arrest was made, and Mr. Byrne was allowed to tape the meeting.

"The camera is disruptive of the meeting," Councilman Joseph H. Wood said.

Mr. Rienbeck said he wanted to stop Mr. Byrne from taping the meeting because, he said, the footage would be edited for the sole purpose of humiliating the town officials.

"They are just trying to degrade the town board," Mr. Rienbeck said. "They're waiting for somebody, like me or the Planning Board chairman, Richard Edsall, to lose temper."

For several years, the Town Council has been in conflict with the Wind Power Ethics Group, which opposes unregulated wind development in Cape Vincent, over the proposed wind development projects in the town.

Mr. Byrne is a member of WPEG.

There are two wind projects proposed in Cape Vincent: the Cape Vincent Wind Farm in the southern part of the town's agricultural district and the St. Lawrence Wind Farm planned for the northern agricultural district.

Jefferson County Legislator Michael J. Docteur, R-Cape Vincent, said the town should allow the public to videotape its meetings regardless of how the content is used.

"Any one of you can sit home, you can cut that and paste it to a blog and make all the derogatory remarks you want. It's free press," he said. "That's the 21st-century medium."

Mr. Byrne said he started attending town meetings four years ago and filmed about a dozen town meetings to share with people who were unable to attend.

His footage of the first eight minutes of Thursday's council meeting was posted on YouTube and was viewed more than 1,000 times by Friday afternoon.

Mr. Byrne said he will continue to record the town meetings despite the criticism from the town officials.

"If it's a constitutional right given to us, I will exercise that right," he said.

Arkwright board holds on wind waiver

ARKWRIGHT - The Arkwright Town Board spoke with one voice Monday when it unanimously voted to table a Horizon Wind Energy waiver request.

This request involved granting an easement on property Horizon has an option to purchase on Meadows Road that abuts the county owned Earl Cardot Overland Hiking Trail.

Horizon project manager Tom Stebbins explained that he had met with the Chautauqua County Parks Department in November 2008 about a situation that arose with the location of a wind turbine on the Meadows Road property.

Stebbins said this involved a 30 foot difference in the town's local wind law requirement for a 1200 setback.

"We want to place the turbine at a 1170 foot setback and the Parks Department had no problem with that, they consented to the waiver we are asking for," he told the town board Monday

He said he also has talked with the town's Zoning Board of Appeals chairman Fred Bretl about the waiver who told him (Stebbins) he believed "that was the way to go" rather than follow the zoning board of appeal process.

"This way, the waiver request can be considered by the town board which has the authority to grant it," Stebbins said.

Councilman Larry Ball said he wasn't sure Arkwright residents wanted the board to say yes right away to the waiver.

"We don't want to appear to be in Horizon's pocket; we have to determine if this waiver is in the town's best interest," Ball said.

"I think we should hold off at least one more month before making a decision," he said, adding "We fought long and hard to establish this (wind) ordinance. I don't think the board should willy nilly hand off a waiver."

After a series of questions asked by Councilmen Roger Cardot,, Jeff Deitrich and Ball and Councilwoman Linda Fairbanks, the board members unanimously decided to table the waiver request and refer it to the town's wind energy council, Daniel Spitzer, and engineer Robert Adams for review and possible recommendations.

The town council believes these opinions would provide the board with the best options in this matter.

In response to the comments made by the board, Stebbins said he thinks it boils down to a matter of trust.

He said he believed it was in the best interest of the town and the Arkwright wind farm lease holders to okay the waiver.

"The wind tower we are seeking the waiver for is one of 43 that are planned for the Arkwright wind farm and according to data we've collected it will be the second highest producing one.

"This means the revenues it generates will increase the amount shared by the town and the leaseholders," he said.

Fairbanks said she felt Horizon's advantage in this involved having access to the property when it wasn't available to anyone who may have been interested in it.

"If we approve this waiver, will Horizon drop another site and affect the property owner this move will involve?" she asked.

She went on to say Horizon had the advantage of knowing the property, currently owned by the Holy Family Roman Catholic Church, was available for sale.

"I believe if this were known to the public, there would have been others who would be interested in purchasing it," she said.

Horizon is currently dealing with the Buffalo Diocese which owns the property once used as a camp and retreat.

Supervisor Fred Norton said he thinks Horizon has four options: continue to seek a waiver; apply for a variance; ask the county to move the hiking trail or drop the request.

After the meeting, Dietrich said he was pleased with his fellow board members reaction to this request.

"I have been working all along to protect the residents of Arkwright with regard to this wind farm project and I was glad to see the board's decision Monday," he said.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

First Wind Turbine #4 Damaged for the Second Time on Pine Hill Road, Cohocton, NY

First Wind spokesperson states that the original damage was caused by a chain. So what caused the second marks on the tower? ASK FIRST WIND

Bath town board votes in favor of temporary ban

BATH - A six-month moratorium on commercial wind development is now in place in the town of Bath, after the town council voted Monday night in favor of the temporary ban.

The moratorium was one of a number of items before the board, including an update on the joint salt barn project between the town and village of Bath.

The moratorium may also be extended up to an additional six months if needed, said Bath Town Supervisor Frederick Muller.

The vote by the town board followed a public hearing during which two town residents presented opposing views on the potential of noisy wind turbines.

Clesson Cook told the board one of his relatives supervises a wind project. The unidentified relative assured Cook the turbines are not capable of producing any noise louder than a slight "swish, swish," he said.

In response to Cook's comments, James Arthur said he has attended meetings in other towns and heard many complaints and reports about noise problems.

The ban is precautionary since there are no known plans by an energy company to build a commercial wind farm in the town.

The moratorium prevents the construction of "industrial" wind towers or related facilities until a local wind law is adopted by the board. Smaller, residential wind turbines may be constructed during the ban, at the request of Councilman William Glossick.

The ban allows a three-person committee time to study what other municipalities have done to regulate electricity generating wind turbines. The committee will eventually propose guidelines for Bath.

Any construction regulations proposed by the committee also would be subject to a public hearing, before being passed into law.

A number of industrial wind projects are in various stages of development in the western portion of Steuben County and one wind farm is currently operating in the town of Cohocton.

Wind-related issues in Cohocton and Prattsburgh this year led the Bath town board to look at enacting regulations in the event the town is considered as a possible site for a wind farm in the future, according to Muller.

Muller, Glossick and council members Albert Burns and Robin Lattimer voted for the moratorium. Councilman Dean Kropp was absent.

Wind turbines and health, an interview with Dr. Nissenbaum (Part 2 of 2)

Produced by WLEA Brian O'Neil

Wind turbines and health, an interview with Dr. Nissenbaum (Part 1 of 2)

This two-part radio interview features Dr. Michael Nissenbaum of Fort Kent Maine discussing his findings after meeting with the residents of Mars Hill Maine who live within 3600-feet industrial-scale towers.

Cash for windmills: NH's own clunker program

Before there was "cash for clunkers," New Hampshire had credits for windmills.

Legislators have required that 25 percent of the state's power be "renewable" by 2025. Utilities get credits for "green" power they produce, or they can buy the credits from companies that create power from "renewable" sources. If they do neither, they have to pay a fine to the state. Proceeds from the fines subsidize energy conservation projects.

Sounds great. But like "cash for clunkers," there are problems. For example, the program already raised electric utility rates by $10.7 million earlier this year. Green power is more expensive. And then there are the windmills.

Noble Environmental Power's wind park in Coos County will put 33 wind turbines atop ridge lines. The turbines are 410 feet tall. There goes the view.

"Noble would not be building if they didn't have this scheme -- and I use scheme in the positive sense -- in place," Martin Murray, PSNH spokesman, told Union Leader reporter Paula Tracy. "Just from the sale of energy alone, (the Coos project) would not have been able to be built because the costs are too high. But with this, (the law) they have two products, the energy itself and the credits."

Granite Staters who hate the idea of windmills replacing pristine mountain ridges are being forced by their government to subsidize the project, and they are paying higher energy prices for the privilege.

Politicians often think it's easy to make the world as they wish it to be. Just pass a law! But mandates always have unintended consequences. In this case, higher energy costs were an intentional consequence. Legislators knew prices would rise. But scarring New Hampshire's mountaintops with gigantic wind farms? Few saw that coming. But now it's here, and it's only going to get worse in the next 16 years.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Massa against current wind farm growth

PRATTSBURGH - The 29th Congressional District is ground zero for wind farm development with more than 1,200 turbines ultimately planned for the region, according to U.S. Rep. Eric Massa, D-Corning.

Massa was in town Monday night to discuss his opposition to the federal health reform act, during a 1.5-hour long town hall meeting, saying the act would impose a higher surcharge on New Yorkers and undermine Medicare.

He told residents his opposition to the health care plan has not endeared him to his fellow Democrats.

Massa, in his first term in the House, then turned to a hot-button local issue of wind energy - another area where he differs with his colleagues on Capitol Hill.

"The last thing you want to do is get between a wind turbine and a politician," Massa said, adding later that wind turbines have become a false "iconic vision" of renewable energy.

Massa told residents he opposes current development in the area largely because wind developers are "predatory and nontransparent."

He recommended leaseholders receive the same rights offered to property owners with mineral rights, in order to get equitable payments from wind companies.

An engineer and environmental advocate, Massa said his ability to change the current situation at the federal level is limited, but added he will meet with the state Independent System Operator in two weeks. NYISO operates the state's bulk electricity grid and administers its wholesale prices.

Massa said government should be more responsive to residents' concerns, adding state AttorneyGeneralAndrewCuomo's recent code of ethics for wind developers "doesn't cut it."

In response, a spokesman for the Attorney General referred to Cuomo's press release on the code of ethics, which states it will "facilitate the development of renewable energy while helping assure that the industry is acting properly and within the law."

Town boards also should listen and respond to the residents' concerns Massa said.

In Prattsburgh, a number of meetings requested by board members and residents - including one set for Monday night on a draft wind utilities law — have been canceled without comment by Town Supervisor Harold Mc- Connell.

McConnell claims he cancels the meetings, a violation of the Open Meetings Law, under the advice of town Attorney John Leyden.

"I'm here to get your input on health care," Massa said. "Why can't your town boards do the same?"

Howard wind developer hoping for full 2010 construction season

Howard, N.Y.

Despite a lack of credit, a wind farm developer still believes turbines can start going up in Howard in 2010.

Wind energy developer EverPower Renewables officials still hope to get some ground work completed before winter, but there are several hurdles left, according to project manager Kevin Sheen.

“We’re still hoping to be able to get some kind of work started this year,” Sheen said.

EverPower is planning to build 25 2.5-megawatt turbines in the southern part of the Town of Howard. The projected locations are along Turnpike Road and along the ridge above Stephens Creek and County Route 27. The electricity generated by the project is to be sold to the Steuben Rural Electric Co-op.

The problem now, Sheen said, is a lack of financing — which has been hard for wind companies to get since the Wall Street meltdown in late 2008.

“We have things to work out still,” Sheen said, adding the company needs to finalize a host community agreement with the Town of Howard, as well as a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement with the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency.

The timeline for credit also affects how soon tower construction can start.

“We need to order the turbines,” Sheen said, adding if some work can be started this year, it will push up the need for turbines.

Initially, EverPower officials were unsure what turbines to use on the project. The two choices mentioned by EverPower officials in the past were the Clipper Liberty turbines and Nordex turbines.

“We think we’re going to go with the Nordex machines,” Sheen said.

Clipper Liberty turbines have not been well-received, with many issues affecting their performance. The First Wind project in Lackawanna, where eight Liberty turbines are installed, have needed to be dismantled twice for repairs. The 50 turbines in service in First Wind’s project in Cohocton also have needed to be serviced just months after the project went online, as more than a dozen turbines showed the possibility of cracking blades.

EverPower first contacted town officials in late 2004 with a preliminary construction date of 2006. Various delays in enacting town laws, acquiring leases and two lawsuits filed by residents have delayed the start of construction.

Probe Wind-Developers Tactics

To the Editor;

On July 29, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo issued a subpoena to Reunion Power “as part of an ongoing investigation of the wind industry.” Allegations of widespread corruption and conflict of interest by town officials in regards to wind power projects all across the state prompted this crackdown.

Shortly after being served, company executives at Reunion decided to sign on to the Attorney General’s Wind Industry Ethics Code, something that they previously elected not to do. I guess they figured better late than never.

The very fact that this course of action is necessary is in itself an indictment of industrial wind and the people who promote it and brings to mind the old adage “buyer beware.”

Although this is a good start, it does not go far enough because it does nothing to mitigate the damages these out-of-control companies have inflicted on many people in Western New York, where folks are being driven out of their homes by excessive noise and low-frequency sounds.

Wind companies, to maximize profits, jam as many turbines into a given area and hope for the best and when things go wrong as they frequently do, the victims of their greed have nowhere to turn.

One solution would be to require every wind developer in this state to issue a “buy out agreement” to all homeowners within a two-mile radius of any project, this would insure honesty an accountability and force this industry to put their money where their mouth is. Another suggestion would be to have a “Bill Of Rights” for all non-participating property owners, who could object to that?

As this investigation moves forward, it will be interesting to see what tactics the developers will use to derail the process.

Will they create subsidiaries that will not sign the code of ethics and continue to do business as usual? Or will they use their army of lobbyists who are swarming around Washington and Albany like flies on a cow pie to apply political pressure on the Attorney General and his staff to get them to back off.

If this investigation goes nowhere, then you will know that the power lies not with the people but with those who subscribe to the golden rule that states: “He who has the gold makes the rules.”

Cherry Valley

Wind turbine fire at Kent Hills

Egin, Salisbury & Riverview Fire respond to a Wind Mill on fire at the Wind Mill Farm in Parkingdale/Caledonia Mountain at 8:48am.

There was nothing the Fire dept could do but watch it burn as they have nothing that goes up that high. This is about 30 kms outside of Riverview, New Brunswick. Damage will be in the millions of dollars. Video aired on CTV , CBC & Global NEWS.

Police were called to the Thursday evening meeting of the Cape Vincent Town Board, an attempt to stop a citizen from videotaping the meeting.

(Click for You Tube Link)

Police were called to the Thursday evening meeting of the Cape Vincent Town Board, an attempt to stop a citizen from videotaping the meeting.

In the video, now posted on YouTube, town supervisor Tom Reinbeck opens the meeting by telling John Byrne to take his video camera out of the room.

"John, I want to ask you to take your camera out of the room. Out," Reinbeck says on the tape.

"It's against the law," says another voice on the tape, believed to be Mr. Byrne.

"I'm not going to argue it. It's been disruptive of the meeting. It's been disruptive of meetings before this. It goes," Reinbeck answered.

Angry protests are heard from others in the audience as Reinbeck gestures to Byrne to leave. When he doesn't, Reinbeck directs someone to call police.

Several minutes pass before police arrive. In the meantime, the angry protests continue, with Reinbeck not commenting.

The police officer then phones the sheriff's department and there's a wait of several more minutes for the sheriff's department to arrive.

The tape ends with an apparent sheriff's deputy arriving, consulting briefly with Reinbeck and the two going outside to discuss the situation.

According to The Watertown Daily Times, Mr. Bryne was allowed to keep his camera in the meeting.

The issue of wind power development has polarized the town of Cape Vincent.

Byrne is said to be a member of the group Wind Power Ethics Group. He has an unpublished phone number and couldn't be reached.

Board to review moratorium petition

CAPE VINCENT — A petition with more than 650 signatures was submitted at the Town Board meeting Thursday asking officials to enact a one-year, townwide moratorium on wind development.

The board is considering a six-month moratorium for the lakefront and riverfront districts, but took no action regarding any moratorium on wind development at a meeting.

"Most people feel that this limited moratorium is not effective," said David LaMora, a town resident who submitted the petition Thursday.

The county Planning Board also recently recommended a townwide moratorium instead of the proposed limited moratorium at its meeting July 28.

"The county Planning Board stepped out of line to make that decision," town Supervisor Thomas K. Rienbeck said Thursday.

Mr. Rienbeck promised the town board will review the petition, but said officials do not plan to enact a townwide moratorium. He said there were no valid reasons for having a townwide wind ban.

"The wind companies are at least a year away from getting any kind of approval," Mr. Rienbeck said. "I can't personally see how it will benefit any of us."

The proposed six-month waterfront moratorium, on the other hand, would prevent town residents from erecting personal wind turbines along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River while the town drafts a law to regulate wind development, he said.

"We've already had four request for personal wind turbines," Mr. Rienbeck said.

The waterfront districts run north of Route 12E east of the village, and to County Route 6 north of Mud Bay west of the village.

Mr. Rienbeck said the town's attorneys at Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna, Albany, are fine-tuning a new wind law, and he hopes to see the law adopted before the end of this year.

Art Pundt, a town resident, said it only took about two to three weeks for about 15 volunteers to gather 665 signatures. He said the volunteers gathered the petitions from a cross-section of town residents, and he believes most of the town residents, and not only the "anti-wind people," want a townwide moratorium.

Mr. LaMora said the town board should schedule a public hearing on a wind moratorium before Labor Day, when the summer residents start to leave. No such hearing is scheduled.

The next town council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 10 at the town office on Route 12E.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Has everyone completely lost their minds?

Editor, Watertown Daily Times, Watertown, NY:

I grew up in rural Wisconsin.and spent my adolescent summers at my aunt’s place on the St. Lawrence. I know and love the people and lifestyle. Not terribly cosmopolitan, sometimes, but peaceful, close to the earth, and very, very human.

I returned home recently for a visit and discovered that huge swaths of rustic Wisconsin countryside had been vandalized by armies of monstrosities the size of the Statue of Liberty, with a Boeing 747 pinned to her nose. Now Wolfe Island has been desecrated the same way, and plans are afoot for Amherst Island and Cape Vincent. Ye Gods, has everyone completely lost their minds?

Their whooshing and low-frequency thub-thub-thub, audible at disturbing volumes for up to five miles in the mountains or over water, prevents people from sleeping, upsets livestock to the point that productivity decreases sharply while miscarriages rise, and drives away all wildlife (who do not have to worry about mortgages or property values) within a three-mile radius. No deer, bear, or even squirrels. Offshore turbines in Great Yarmouth, England, are causing baby seals to be born dead or to be abandoned by their overstressed mothers. The FAA-required strobe lights disfigure the clear night sky. Our beautiful Wolfe Island now most resembles a poster for a low-budget science fiction movie.

But, of course, low-budget they aren’t; the towers cost upwards of $2 million each to erect, and about $1 million each to take down and decommission. (When the various investors and fly-by-night energy companies have taken turns depreciating the things, will they take them down? Or will our grandchildren live in a landscape of rusting 300-foot hulks topped by broken fans, leaking chemicals into our land? Looking now like the B-movie aliens after they lose the war…)

Industrial-grade heavy-duty access roads have to be hacked through the fields or woods. The smallest available industrial turbine is 1.5 MW, the equivalent of a two thousand horsepower electric motor, weighing on the order of 60 tons. The truck carrying it has to be able to get through. The nacelle containing the turbine is the size of a large bus; the armature must be turned regularly — even if there’s no wind — to keep it from sagging under its own weight, like the drivetrain on a battleship. Just to counter the CO2 from producing the tons upon tons of cement needed to anchor the towers, these things would have to operate near full capacity for over six years.

They are not the cute little windmills behind the barn, or the picturesque features of the Dutch countryside. In operation, the tips of the fan blades are moving at around 200 mph; I hope the terns (and the eagles, and the falcons) stay alert in the middle of the night. Not to mention, of course, that each turbine contains well over 60 gallons of chemically-sophisticated motor oil to lubricate its complex gearbox and bearings. When — not if — it starts to leak into your streams, rivers, and pastures as these notoriously unreliable machines age, what effect will that have on your drinking water — and your fishing, since all the game for hunting has cleared out? What effect on your peace of mind will it have when a lightning strike disintegrates a blade — throwing ten tons of carbon fiber, fiberglass, and aluminum, white-hot, in huge fragments, for distances up to half a mile, while igniting the lubricating oil 300 feet above the woods? (This sort of event has occurred several times in Germany, with turbines substantially smaller than those planned for Cape Vincent.) In the Wisconsin winter, the turbine blades regularly throw huge chunks of ice, weighing several hundred pounds, up to a thousand feet from the tower. Would upstate New York be so different? But perhaps this is all worthwhile if we’re saving the planet? Nope. Wind power is so variable that backup fossil plants have to be kept fired up constantly anyway. No carbon dioxide emissions have been reduced.

Denmark, the most turbine-ridden country in the world for more than a decade, has not been able to shut down a single power plant and, because its small electrical grid can’t absorb the fluctuations, has had to dump most of its hugely expensive wind wattage to the much larger grids of Sweden and Norway at (as we say) fire-sale prices. Denmark, Germany, and Spain — the leading European wind enthusiasts — have all put moratoria on any further wind installations, because of both public outcry and the budget drain of government subsidies. England, Scotland, and Wales are all in an uproar over the destruction of their countryside and coasts. Moreover, after twenty years and $50 million of tax-supported research, the small coterie of UN scientist-bureaucrats trumpeting global warming have been totally unable to come up with any solid evidence that carbon dioxide is the cause of the warming (which has now apparently stopped, or at least paused for 30 years), much less that any additional warming will cause catastrophes.

All the evidence, from increasingly sophisticated satellites and deepdiving ocean buoys, is that climate fluctuates in response to natural cyclic changes in ocean currents and solar activity, and that the worldwide sea level has been rising at about eight inches a century for the last five thousand years or so, and is still doing so. So there is no reason to worry about CO2, a plant fertilizer, a necessary part of all life on this planet, in the first place. All this devastation of the landscape is for nothing. Less than nothing. Wind power is a fraud based on a fraud.

But the story is always the same. The wind promoter comes into a quiet rural area, stages several community presentations, pure Madison Avenue professionalism, promises jobs and a great boost to the local economy, chats up the local leadership, and paints rosy pictures of a prosperous environmentally-correct future in the industry of tomorrow. Landowners are wooed with talk of huge commission checks for the generated power.

If there’s any local resistance, the promoter buys the cooperation of said local leadership to paint it as NIMBY — he, of course, would not live within 50 miles of one of the things — and environmentally irresponsible (hah!). If this doesn’t work, he’ll buy a few county, state, or provincial politicians to simply deprive the local jurisdiction of any authority over turbine siting, as they did for example in Wisconsin. In Oregon, wilderness noise regulations prevented development of a wind installation, so of course in 2004 the wind promoters had their friends in Salem change them. In New York, Attorney General Cuomo’s investigations of wind developers’ bribery is continuing, and you now have an “Ethics Code”. Doesn’t that give you a warm fuzzy feeling?

So the phalanx of giant towers goes up anyway. It’s always the same story — in Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wales, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Sweden, Missouri, Scotland, New York, Germany, Kansas, Hungary, Italy — the modus operandi never varies. The Internet is full of sad little websites put up by local community groups who opposed this vandalism of their countryside and their quality of life; they’ve posted their letters of opposition, their legal pleadings, and finally the horrorinspiring pictures of what happened to their woods and fields — and to their children, who often fall asleep at school because the turbine noise keeps them from sleeping at night. It is excruciating to see this over and over and over.

Jobs? The construction crews and engineers are brought in from outside — the leading turbine manufacturers are all European — and the long-term local jobs amount finally to one or two. The local economy? Politicians love to trumpet hundreds of millions in investment in the area. Now, If these hundreds of millions were to build a steel plant, or a giant amusement park, or a conventional nuclear power plant, it would indeed provide hundreds of long-term, high-paying jobs. Yes, these monsters will generate countless millions in tax breaks, taxpayer subsidies, and “carbon credits”. But not for the local people; they’ll be lucky to get two jobs and maybe a fancy maintenance truck. The money will all flow to the financiers (like Al Gore’s business partners in Goldman-Sachs) in New York City. The turbines produce essentially no useful power and no local jobs, but very efficiently blow our money into fat cats’ coffers. The huge turbine towers will earn their installation cost back in tax breaks and subsidies (subsidies and tax breaks at your expense) in less than three years. Then, of course, shell fly-by-night company A sells the turbines to shell fly-by-night company B, which then gets its years of boodle at taxpayer expense. And so on.

Until finally the turbines stop working. Again, they cost over a million per tower to decommission, and the wind magnates can afford much pricier law firms than landowners — as the landowners already know, having discussed the amazingly small size of their commission checks with the company. Does anyone seriously think these ugly monstrosities will be taken down and the land restored in twenty years?

Is this the legacy you wish to leave your grandchildren? The people of New York must fight against this nightmare takeover by the ecoindustrial complex. You must fight to save your environment from, for God’s sake, the environmentalists. So future generations will not look around and say, “This must have once been so beautiful. I wish I could have seen it then. I wonder why they did it.”

Craig Goodrich , Indianapolis

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Investigators will return to Kent Hills site today to determine cause

One of the 32 wind turbines operating at the Kent Hills wind farm caught fire over the weekend.

Jason Edworthy, a spokesman for the Alberta-based company, said that three TransAlta employees who work on site were alerted by the turbine's sensor that there was a problem.

They went to the scene but saw no fire and returned to their office, only to receive another automated message, which prompted them to return to the turbine again.

Edworthy said a passer-by saw smoke and called the fire department

Officials haven't been able to confirm the cause of the fire yet.

Vestas, the company that supplies the turbines, will have a team on site today to try and determine what happened.

"Apparently, this is the first time this has ever happened on this particular model of turbine, so they're obviously quite concerned," said Edworthy.

Fire Departments from Riverview and Salisbury also responded to the call.

A single turbine is estimated to cost between $4 million and $5 million dollars.

The wind farm was commissioned in Dec. 31, 2008.

The turbine closest to the burned unit will be shut down as a precaution, but the rest of the farm will remain operating, Edworthy said.

No one was injured in the fire.

Discontent Of Mars Hill Residents Leads To Lawsuit Against First Wind

Listen to the radio report from link on this source page

Wendy and Perrin Todd began building their dream house on family land on the east side of Mars Hill back in 2005. Talk of a wind farm development going up just behind their house was already in the air, but Wendy Todd says she and her husband were supportive of the project. "We thought it was fascinating. We thought, 'Wow, what a good idea!' We really did. We thought, the renewable energy, the job creation. I think we bought into the whole they're part of the answer to saving the planet."

But when the clearing and blasting began, soon followed by the erection of 28 turbines, each measuring nearly 400 feet tall, Todd says she began to wonder if she and her neighbors had been misled. "The visual devastation has just been really hard. When the turbines were first talked about I don't think any of us understood how large they were because there's nothing in Aroostook County that even comes close to relating to their size. And the mockups that were done at town meetings were all from three miles or better away. So it didn't give you the perspective of what it was going to be like to live beside them. It gave you a perspective of what they would look like as you were entering Mars Hill and different views from around Mars Hill."

Soon Todd says the intermittent sounds and shadow flicker from the turbines began to wear on her nerves. State regulations say the turbines are not to exceed 50 decibles at the project's property line, but Todd says sometimes the so-called "blade thump" is loud enough to be heard over her dishwasher and three children playing. At the time of this reporter's visit, the turbines were barely moving and could not be heard in or outside of her home. But Todd says turbines are loudest in the winter months.

"Turbine noise sounds like a jet, but it fills the air," Todd explains. "Now if you have anywhere from 24 hours to 3 to 5 days of bad turbine noise, symptoms start to appear. So with sleeplessness and edginess - because it wears on you and gets under your skin and it drives you crazy - so you start to get short with people and angry with people. Stress in the house is the best way to describe it for us."

Todd and 16 of her neighbors have recently filed a civil suit in Superior Court in Caribou against First Wind, two construction firms and the Town of Mars Hill. They allege that they were not properly notified of the construction, blasting, operation and planning of the wind turbines and they want compsensation for what they say is a resulting drop in their property values along with emotional and physical distress.

First Wind Spokesman John Lamontagne says he cannot comment on the suit, but says his company is proud of the development and the clean energy it generates. "It's currently delivering power to about 20,000 homes in New England. It's clean, renewable power. Second, this project in particular delivers half a million dollars to the town of Mars Hill every year. That's a pretty significant chunk of change to a town like Mars Hill and taxpayers have seen their tax bills drop because of this project."

Lamontagne says all First Wind's projects involve a lengthy review process with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and regular meetings with townspeople. "We strive to be a good partner in the communities where we locate. And we have many supporters in Mars Hill. I think there are a lot of folks who are happy with the project and happy with the work that we've done there. We've met several times with neighbors to hear their concerns and work with them. And again, we're proud of the project and we feel that a lot of folks in Mars Hill are very happy with it."

The Mars Hill Town Manager declined to comment on this story.

Most of the plaintiffs live within a half mile of the turbines and while most have filed a single suit as a group, three have filed individual suits. In addition to noise complaints, Wendy Todd says many of her neighbors suffer from insomnia, depression and headaches related to the presence of the wind turbines. She says she'd consider moving, but she says her property value has dropped by 30 percent and she doesn't think anyone would want to buy her house.

"Would we move? Yeah, I guess we'd move but we've lived here all our whole life. Where would we go? How would we start over? And most people at this point are trapped in their homes. I mean, you know you hear stories of other families who have abandoned their homes. I can understand that. And most people roll their eyes. No, it's real. It's true. I can understand why they feel they have no other choice but to pack their bags and abandon their homes."

It's an emotional subject for Todd, but she says she's not opposed to wind projects in general. She just wants the state to set stricter rules with regard to the siting of wind farms, miles from any home.