Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Takeover is in the wind for turbine maker Clipper

Britain's only listed wind turbine manufacturer today revealed it could be taken over by the end of the year.

Shares in Clipper Windpower, a US company that is listed on AIM and is building a turbine at Blyth on the Northumbrian coast, rose 141⁄2p to 172p. Having more than doubled in value this year, Clipper now has a market worth of £225 million despite losses running in to hundreds of millions of pounds.

In a statement to the Stock Exchange, it said: “The company is in advanced negotiations with a number of multinational industrial companies and financial investors to provide capital to strengthen its balance sheet and to position the company for renewed growth as industry conditions improve.

“The company began a comprehensive capital-raising process during 2009 and has also been approached by a number of strategic investors. We are presently in active negotiations with a number of industrial multinational and financial investors intended to result in a significant investment into the company.

“Based on transaction size and structure, the new capital provider could range from owning a substantial minority position to acquiring the entire company.

“The process has accelerated in recent months as capital markets improved and could potentially lead to a transaction before year-end.”

Clipper has already made fortune for investors including original backer and former chairman Colin Moynihan, the former Tory minister.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Newsmaker Kevin Doran WLEA interview with Carmen Krogh and Dr. Robert McMurtry

Excellent interview on the risks of industrial wind turbines.

Wind Concerns Ontario


Naples takes turbine beef to state

Naples, N.Y.

With wind turbines literally on the horizon, Naples officials are again calling on state leaders to make sure the power-generating machines are farther away from the town’s borders.

While prior requests have led to several meetings with representatives from the state Attorney General’s Office, so far no action has been taken.

Turbines on the hills near Naples became operational earlier this year. Plans for more turbines in Prattsburgh in Steuben County and Italy in Yates County give new urgency to the call for re-siting, said Naples Supervisor Frank Duserick.

“The issue has now become critical,” Duserick wrote last month in a letter to the state Public Service Commission in which he asks for a meeting to discuss the town’s concerns. “Time is running out.”

Duserick maintains the Town Board is not against wind power, but wants to be sure turbines in neighboring towns are sited appropriately. His concerns range from health and safety to the rights of Naples property owners.

“I don’t care how it looks or what materials they use,” he said of neighboring wind developments. “I care about the impact to the quality of life for people living near wind turbines.”

Duserick and town officials have some new ammunition at their disposal: European studies that led to increased setback requirements for turbines.

Duserick’s letter, among other things, references a study from Portuguese acoustical engineer Mariana Alves-Pereira that prompted the French National Academy of Medicine to recommend that turbines be placed at least 1 1/4 kilometers from homes because of possible health hazards from low-frequency sound waves that can be emitted by the turbines.

“Europe realized the health issues,” Duserick said. “Setback requirements are increasing in developed countries.”

One wind energy company in the area, First Wind, began operating 50 turbines — most clustered on Pine and Lent hills in Cohocton — early this year. The company’s plans to erect more than 40 additional turbines for a project in Prattsburgh are currently on hold due to financing issues.
Another company, Ecogen, plans to start work this fall on 33 turbines across Prattsburgh and Italy

if a needed permit is secured from Italy. Ecogen’s development partner, Pattern Energy Group — which bought out former investor Babcock and Brown after they filed for bankruptcy — will own and operate the project once it enters the construction phase.

The Naples Town Board’s main focus has centered on five turbines that Ecogen’s original plans sited on Knapp Hill in Prattsburgh. One would be within 250 of the Naples town line, said Duserick, and less than 500 feet from a Naples landowner’s property line.

Going to court?

In his letter to the Public Service Commission, Duserick cites not only European studies but also the research of an American pediatrician, Dr. Nina Pierpont, who advocates turbines with setbacks of at least 1 1/2 miles from homes. She claims to have found a link between the way the inner ear senses low-frequency sound waves to a range of symptoms like dizziness, racing heartbeat, and memory and concentration problems.

Because low-frequency sound waves are inaudible, they aren’t addressed by local ordinances capping noise at a set decibel level.

Noise is proving to be a concern locally. Although turbines operated by First Wind in Cohocton have not been measured to see if they exceed the permitted sound level of 50 decibels, complaints from Cohocton residents that turbine noise was keeping them awake at night prompted the company to set up a hotline earlier this year to handle calls reporting noise problems.

A representative from Clipper, the manufacturer of the turbines, has said the company is continuing to evaluate additional measures to dampen sound levels.

Duserick said he has gotten calls and letters from homeowners along Lawyer and County Line roads complaining that they too are disturbed by noise from the turbines. “The noise doesn’t stop at the town line, or the county line,” he said.

Duserick and the Town Board believe the placement of turbines within a few hundred feet of the town line would infringe upon Naples landowners’ property rights.

“If Naples landowners adjacent to (Pattern Energy Group’s) project want to build homes on their property, they should have the freedom to do so,” he wrote.

“The issue to me is, our people are not even being compensated for using their properties for safety zones,” Duserick added. “They have not had a say so far. No one in our town or county has had any say in or influence over these projects, even though we tried to provide input.”

If turbine foes find no relief from the state, the fight could end up in a courtroom. Rochester attorney Marino Fernandez said he has taken on a number of clients in Cohocton and Naples who are troubled with the turbines’ proximity, and he plans to file a number of civil lawsuits on their behalf, seeking compensation for personal, property, and environmental injuries due to wind developments.

“The process is scary, and sometimes people don’t want to be the first one to take action,” he said. “That’s why there’s going to be a thousand people who are going to be the first one. I’m not doing this for the money, and I want to help.”

Fernandez said legal challenges may prove the most effective way to bring concerns over property rights and health to the forefront.

“A lot of people moved here because they liked the natural beauty,” he said of the rural hills south of the Finger Lakes. “If you build a million-dollar home to have a view of the hills, and now you look out your window and see 50 of these things — they’re not nice to look at.”

“Like every big cause in the world, many of these issues don’t come to light unless it is litigated,” he added. “There’s more evidence being introduced, and it will come out.”

Watching the market

Duserick is angry his town wasn’t notified in advance of project reviews for multiple wind developments in neighboring towns. In at least one case, he said, the village was notified but not the Town Board.

But Beth O’Brien, spokesperson for Pattern Energy, said the town could have participated in the public comment process before setbacks for the Ecogen project were finalized. What’s more, she said, “It’s incorrect to assume that Naples residents receive no benefit from the neighboring project.”

While town government will not receive any direct revenue, the Naples Central School District will benefit from an annual payment-in-lieu-of taxes (PILOT) agreement, and residents may benefit from an “economic ripple effect” as money is spent locally during construction of the wind towers, O’Brien said.

And she pointed to long-term benefits to state residents, like lower electricity prices and a reduction in pollution.

While the distance from the town line itself may be smaller, O’Brien said the nearest Ecogen turbine would be 1,422 feet from the nearest residence in Naples. That distance exceeds the setback requirements of 1,200 to 1,375 feet set for non-participating residences — homes where owners do not have a lease agreement allowing a tower on their land — in Steuben or Yates counties. Those setbacks were established during project review using safety studies that analyzed the risk of scenarios like ice throw, blade throw and tower collapse.

Based on those studies, said O’Brien, “We believe 1,422 feet from the nearest Naples (residence) is more than sufficient to protect the safety and property rights of Naples landowners.”

Duserick has echoed concerns raised by residents that Naples property values will be affected by neighboring wind projects, although wind developers have said that may not be the case.

After receiving numerous calls and questions on the subject, Naples Assessor Kathleen Davis recently reported “so far, at least the town hasn’t lowered any assessments because of existing or planned wind towers.”

Davis said most questions have centered on an assessment reduced during the town’s recent revaluation on a property bordering Ecogen’s project area owned by John Servo, president of local anti-windmill group Advocates for Prattsburgh. Servo has published statements saying that an independent appraisal of the undeveloped property supported a 60-percent reduction in the tax assessment, since the property will no longer being suitable for building once neighboring turbines go up.

Davis said the assessment was dropped due to a change in use — since the property was not being marketed or prepared for development, it did not need to remain on file as a prime building lot. But, she said, tax assessments are reactive, and neighboring wind development hasn’t yet shown that it’s affecting Naples’ housing market.

“As assessors, we’re never looking ahead to future market conditions,” she said. “We’re always studying sales that have already taken place. In Naples, home sale prices have continued to rise. Our market has not shown a decrease — not with the current economic conditions, not with wind development. Until sales show a decrease, assessments will not go down.”

Meanwhile, Public Service Commission spokesman James Denn earlier this month said the agency was still reviewing the town’s letter and planned to set up a call to discuss the board’s concerns.

O’Brien said that currently only four of the five towers originally planned for Knapp Hill still figure in Ecogen’s plans. The overall number of turbines has been adjusted slightly as construction draws closer, and project maps on file with the towns of Italy and Prattsburgh may continue to undergo minor changes in the next few weeks.

“We are still evaluating the turbine closest to Naples, and it is possible it will not be in the final project layout,” said O’Brien.

Duserick said he has also heard from one of Ecogen’s attorneys who agreed to talk with town officials about their concerns and take a look at the land in question.

“What he said was ‘I’d like to build a dialogue,’ and we think that’s appropriate,” Duserick said. “That’s all we’re looking for, is communication.”

wind turbines destroying lives

Monday, September 28, 2009

CWW Slide Share Playlist

Bert Bowers September 28, 2009 Letter to Don Alexander


Thank you for your comments on my letter. You seem to feel my comments are misdirected, so I will attempt to explain more fully the issue I have with JCIDA. In your comments, you use the phrase "If, on the other hand, (communities) choose to take advantage of wind development, we provide a mechanism---carefully developed and crafted within the law---that they can take advantage of." Your idea -- that wind development is something positive, that communities may choose to take advantage of -- indicates that you may be unaware of the reality of how this development takes place. The fact is that the wind developers, who are backed by some of the worlds most powerful energy and financial corporations have decided that they intend to take advantage of our small communities in New York State. They do this solely for their own profit, which comes principally through tax credits and surcharges on our electric utility bills. By making available "a mechanism" you are effectively aiding and abetting the takeover of our communities by these powerful interests. The existence of your "mechanism" provides de-facto support to the false idea that wind turbine installations provide meaningful local employment and economic activity, thereby qualifying for a reduction in local taxes by means of a PILOT. It is very difficult for our small communities to resist these politically and financially powerful developers.

By providing a standard PILOT agreement for the towns to use, it seems to me that the JCIDA is endorsing the idea that industrial wind turbine developments are worthy of property tax relief. This is not an acceptable idea to any but those who expect to lease their land to developers and others who have not looked beyond the wind industry propaganda. As I pointed out in my letter to Urban, the likely impact on local jobs of wind development is a negative one. Why, when our misguided politicians at the state and federal level have already heaped undeserved tax credits on the wind developers, does this qualify them for further tax relief at the local level? This is a valid reason for local control. We do not have to be sheep and follow our national and state officials down the wrong path. The fact that something is "carefully developed and crafted within the law" does not necessarily mean it is the right thing to do.

The wind developers have, without exception, acted in a most unethical manner. They first approach large land owners and negotiate secret land lease agreements. They bring in their PR firms to organize these leaseholders into a potent political force. All of this is done before the towns are officially approached by the developer. The rest of us are then under pressure to come up with an appropriate zoning law to protect citizens from the effects of the wind turbines, while the carefully organized leaseholders favor giving our towns over to the wind developers without any restrictions on the placement of wind facilities. Wind development is unlike other businesses that locate in a town do do manufacturing or distribute goods or services. Uniquely in the case of wind development, the entire town is converted to an industrial zone, with effects such as noise, shadow flicker, and strobe lights that adversely affect the entire community. This type of development results in significant loss of property values, leading to a loss of tax revenue for the towns.

As an engineer and economist who has been involved in the energy and transportation businesses for more than 45 years, I know that wind energy will never meaningfully reduce our use of fossil fuels or emissions of greenhouse gases. The shortcoming is not in the wind turbines, which are actually quite efficient but in the natural variability of wind itself. In ten years, it will be common knowledge that wind turbines are not the answer to our problems. What will the towns then do to remove these 400 foot plus monsters from our landscape after the developers have gone?

Bert Bowers

Steuben ranks unlucky 13 in national tax bills

Bath, N.Y.

Steuben County received an onerous title this week from a national taxpayer watchdog group.

The Tax Foundation, a Washington-based non-profit, ranked Steuben County as the 13th-highest taxes in the country based on how much a home is taxed compared to how much it is worth.

The highest total tax bills come from downstate and New Jersey, where tax bills for the median home top $8,000 a year. The highest median tax bill comes from Westchester County, where the median tax bill is $8,890 a year. Four of the top 10 tax bills go to taxpayers in downstate counties, and the other top six are from New Jersey.

However, when comparing how much counties pay out in property taxes compared to how much their properties are worth — only one of the top 15 counties are not in upstate New York.

The average Steuben County taxpayer pays $1,928 in taxes annually, while the median home value is $84,000. That means taxpayers pay 2.3-percent of their home’s value in taxes, the 13th-highest nationally.

That overall tax bill is not as high as others across the country, being only $31 over the national median tax bill. The county ranks 335 out of the 783 counties in the report based on that figure.
Other figures were provided in the report, like ranking the counties on how much is paid in taxes compared to how much home owners earn.

The median homeowners’ income in Steuben County is $51,248, which amounts to 3.8-percent of the median homeowners’ income is paid in property taxes. A comparison with other counties nationwide puts Steuben at 178th place.

Along with Steuben County, other counties in upstate have seen the amount paid in for taxes per dollar of property value increase to national highs.

The highest paying county is Niagara County, which pays 2.89 percent of the median home value in taxes each year. Almost all of the highest-paying counties nationally are from upstate New York, including Cattaraugus County in 6th place with 2.52 percent of the value of a home, Chemung County in 10th place with 2.38 percent, and Ontario County, with 2.27 percent.

The data, registered for counties with populations higher than 65,000, do not include figures from Allegany or Livingston counties. Of the 3,077 counties in the nation, the report states, only 783 are listed in the report.

Figures from Allegany County can be calculated from data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau — where the Tax Foundation received its information — and the county falls within the trends set by other upstate counties.

The average Allegany County taxpayer pays $1,398 in taxes annually, while the median home value is $51,300. That means taxpayers pay 2.73 percent of their home’s value in taxes.

Mark Alger, Steuben County administrator, said many at the county level are frustrated by a lack of control.

“Obviously, it isn’t an honor,” he said of the ranking. “That ranking is representative of all property taxes, not just county taxes.”

County taxes are a major source of concern, Alger said, because there is a large burden placed on them by the state requiring counties to pay a portion of the Medicaid bill for the state.

“We pay roughly 18-20 percent of the Medicaid money for the state out of the county taxes,” Alger said, adding other programs required by the state, including a health department, help for the Office of the Aging, and a jail are major costs the county has to pay out. “In most cases, the programs we operate for the state are not at our discretions.”

And it’s not looking good for the future, either.

“Obviously, it’s crystal balling, but I would think the economic pressures are unlike anything we have experienced in the past,” Alger said, adding state funds are still not looking good despite calls from the governor's office to cut spending across the board.

Some problems include hikes in pension payments — expected to double in 2011, according to the Office of State Comptroller — as well as rising unemployment insurance rates due to rising claims.

Another problem, Alger cited, will be when the funding given to the state via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will run dry in 2011, meaning funds now used to shore up the state budget will have to be cut out of the budget or more costs will be shifted to the county and local government taxes.

At the national level, U.S. Rep. Eric Massa, D-29, said Thursday the federal government has to do more to keep costs off the state level, thus reducing the amount pushed onto the counties.

“The use of stimulus dollars to to return our fair share is vital,” Massa said, adding the state often pays in more taxes than it gets back from aid, but with the stimulus package, that situation has reversed.

While funding for infrastructure project have helped, Massa said, the biggest boost comes from spending for Medicaid and education, including Title 1 and Individuals With Disabilities Education Act programs.

“What we can do is insure the federal portion is fully funded,” Massa said.

In New York, unlike other states, the state passes on half of its burden for Medicaid — 25 percent of the total cost of the program — directly to the individual counties.

“It’s largely driven by the relationship between New York City and the state,” Massa said, adding the costs would be significantly higher for all state taxpayers if the sheer total cost of Medicaid payments needed for downstate were passed on to all.

Prattsburgh wind farm: Board seeks review of road use agreement

Prattsburgh, N.Y.

The Prattsburgh Town Board appears to be in no hurry to act on a road use agreement with wind farm developer Ecogen, despite a written request by the firm to pass it this month.

Board members decided last week to instead rely on the advice of town Highway Superintendent Chris Jensen, who told the board he wanted the agreement to be reviewed by Hunt Engineering before any formal action is taken.

The road use agreement with the town is required in order for Ecogen to transport machinery and equipment to build 16 turbines planned for the town.

Jensen said he has a number of issues with the new plan, including proposed routes. Typically, highway superintendents have the right to approve road-related matters without the approval of their municipal boards.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

First Wind Paul Gaynor Interview - IPO

Does this mean that the First Wind Prattsburgh is back on? Listen to hear about their IPO filing.

Wind SCIDA Melody


Listen to the latest tune that is breaking all wind records.

Low Frequency Noise and Infrasound – Animals


Wind farm revenue may take major hit

LOWVILLE — While hopeful that the Maple Ridge Wind Farm will retain Empire Zone benefits, local leaders are preparing for the worst-case scenario: a $6.3 million drop in combined wind-farm revenue for area governments.

While Lewis County projected $2.16 million from the wind farm in this year's budget, the proposed 2010 budget likely will include only about $600,000, the amount the county would receive if Empire Zone benefits are revoked, County Manager David H. Pendergast said. That's nearly a $1.6 million reduction.

"I have no other options at this time," Mr. Pendergast said. "It's the only prudent thing to do."

Based on a 15-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes plan, the wind farm in December made $8.6 million in payments to local taxing jurisdictions. Without Empire Zone benefits, taxing jurisdictions would receive a fall-back amount of about $2.3 million this year, according to county projections.

Wind-farm payments are divided among the county, the towns of Martinsburg, Harrisburg, Lowville and Watson, and the Lowville, South Lewis and Copenhagen central school districts through a revenue-sharing agreement based on 2004 and 2005 tax rates.

Since most of the wind farm's 195 turbines are in the county's Empire Zone, about $7 million of last year's payment was covered by the state tax-incentive program.

However, Empire State Development Corp. in May chose to "decertify" numerous businesses, including Flat Rock Wind Power LLC, the name under which Maple Ridge Wind Farm was incorporated. Iberdrola Renewables, the Spanish company that operates Maple Ridge, is appealing that decision.

Companies were tapped for decertification either because they didn't match dollar-for-dollar wages and capital investments with the tax breaks they received or they were deemed "shirt-changers," companies reincorporated as different entities that claimed they created jobs when they actually just transferred employees from one entity to the other.

"We believe they were unjustifiably swept under shirt-changing," County Attorney Richard J. Graham said.

While Flat Rock Wind Power doesn't seem to fit that shirt-changer definition, officials said it was apparently lumped into the category based on the company's response to a question in its 2006 financial report to Empire State Development, Mr. Graham said.

The company, in its appeal, cannot challenge the shirt-changer designation, but must instead show there are "extraordinary circumstances" that would warrant continued Empire Zone designation, he said. Those circumstances could include the wind farm's nearly $500 million capital investment, its impact on local municipal budgets, the reliance on the Empire Zone program for its development and the number of jobs created, Mr. Graham said. While the wind farm can claim only a handful of employees on its Empire State Development reports, it also has 60 to 100 people working here through contracts with other companies such as turbine manufacturer Vestas, he said.

The Maple Ridge Wind Farm project was made possible only after the state Legislature and governor approved legislation allowing wind farms to enter PILOT agreements, and officials from Empire State Development and the state Department of Taxation and Finance signed off on it, Mr. Graham said.

"All of them were saying, 'We want this program to come to New York state and be supported by the Empire Zone program,'" he said.

The state's plan to decertify companies retroactive to the 2008 tax year is particularly troubling, Mr. Graham said.

"Payments have been made," he said. "Companies have relied on it. Across the state, that's a huge problem."

"We're hopeful that the state will make the right decision," Mr. Pendergast said. "And, in this case, the right decision is to recertify Maple Ridge Phase I."

A schedule for handling the Empire Zone decertification appeals won't be set until a final list of companies is compiled, possibly sometime next week, Empire State Development spokeswoman Katie Krawczyk said via e-mail.

As of Friday, 546 companies — including 375 alleged shirt-changers — have been decertified, and 363 of them have filed appeals.

Like the county, Lowville school officials said they included only the lesser fall-back amount of $1 million in their 2009-10 budget. The district had received about $3.8 million from the wind-farm PILOT.

Martinsburg Town Supervisor Terry J. Thisse said he is developing two proposed budgets: one anticipating another $1.1 million wind payment and the other using the $270,000 fall-back figure.

While the town's windfall has fostered increased spending on items such as equipment, recreational development and support for local fire departments, reserve funds could be used to avoid heavy spending cuts or tax increases for a few years, Mr. Thisse said.

However, town officials have been forced to scrap — at least temporarily — plans to build a new $2.4 million town office and garage, since it would not be feasible without Empire Zone funding, he said.

"It's frustrating," Mr. Thisse said. "We worked so hard to get to where we were."

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Wind turbine memorial. Illustration: Rob Biddulph

Another view on wind energy

We hear a lot about “wind farms.” To me the word “farm” invokes a sense of nurturing and growth, rebirth and serenity. A “wind farm” is a location for very large industrial electrical generating devices. The impact on the environment is extensive and irreversible. It is not benign or “free.”

“Wind farm” ads on TV always show large, open plains with no trees. These are excellent locations for turbines. There are no forests or extensive, diverse wildlife habitats to be destroyed forever. Forest fragmentation does not exist without trees. TV will probably never show us an aerial view of a wind turbine installation in our forests.

Mountains in the ridge and valley topography were formed by the violent upfolding of the earth’s crust. As we proceed up the side of our mountains, the soil becomes thinner and the percentage of organic matter increases. On ridge tops the soil is often so thin that we wonder how anything can grow. Yet trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses do grow. The organic matter formed from dead leaves and woody plant parts act like a great sponge that absorbs and holds water, slowly releasing it to the fissures in the rock and soil. These fissures act as conduits for water to reach underground aquifers that feed our wells, springs, creeks, and rivers. Remove the trees and shrubs, expose the ground surface to increased sunlight, and the organic matter decomposes at a rapid rate. The sponge is lost.

Remove the organic matter from the top of our ridges, break-up and/or cut away at the turned-up layers of rock and soil and you destroy the conduits to the aquifers. Soil percolation is decreased. Surface run-off is increased. Water available to wells and springs diminishes and flooding of streams and rivers is increased along with soil erosion and sedimentation.

A G87 two megawatt turbine stands 404 feet high. That is as high as a forty-story building. The tower base is tubular in shape and more than thirteen feet in diameter. The base anchor is fifty-two feet in diameter and eight feet deep and uses 330 cubic yards of steel re-enforced concrete.

The National Pollution Discharge Elimination System is NOT a saving grace in its protection of upland wetlands, springs, streams, and the watersheds they charge. It is a very broad guideline that has entirely too few personnel to adequately police. It is ultimately up to supervisors in each and every township within the commonwealth to formulate regulations and guidelines needed to adequately protect their own resources. In many jurisdictions, township and county regulations do not exist either because of apathy (it won’t happen here), the lack of guidance from the state, or pressure from advocates of the “wind” industry.

It is generally true that in the U.S. private landowners have the right to hold and develop land as they choose. However, there is NO right to adversely affect the property, safety or well being of others. We live in a society; not alone on an island.

For decades, professional foresters have been preaching the ills of forest fragmentation. It destroys deep woods habitat, interferes with wildlife corridors, and exposes sensitive forest litter and humus to decomposition from increased sunlight. The loss of shade increases the rate of soil moisture evaporation. The creation of “forest edge” increases the likelihood invasive plants like mile-a-minute weed, Ailanthus, and Japanese barberry.

To assemble a G87 tower, a minimum of one acre of land must be completely cleared. In most terrains, more area is required. Some companies use as much as five acres for each tower.

The companies tell us the finished roadway is fifteen feet wide (thirty feet on curves). They don’t often tell us they must clear fifty to sixty feet to get their equipment to each site and bury the wires. In many cases, avoiding wetlands, making cuts and fill require a much wider right-of-way. Although the extra area is seeded, in most cases, grass establishment is slow and spotty due to extreme soil compaction At the very best, grasses will never capture and hold as much water in the soil as tree and shrub roots. Nor will the green foliage of grass create as much oxygen as the same land area in trees and leafy shrubs.

The industry says it must install ten turbines to be cost efficient. This will destroy at least thirteen acres. Every ten generators require a sub-station covering two acres. Then, too, there is the roadway system required to get to the location. A one-inch rain on fifteen acres will produce a run-off of 407,314 gallons of water. What happens to that run-off?

Alternative energy has its place. Turbines on our wooded mountain tops are not it.

As a professional Forester, I prefer to follow the example of Fernow, Pinchot, and Rothrock and be an advocate for the forest and its wise stewardship rather than succumb to popular fads, inefficient, unproven technology, and political initiatives whose effect is not reversible in our lifetime.

By Benjamin G. Tresselt, Jr., Consulting Forester

Forest Leaves
Volume 18, Number 2
Autumn 2008

[Published by School of Forest Resources, The Pennsylania State University}

Friday, September 25, 2009

Massa’s Weekly Radio Townhall

HORNELL – U.S. Congressman Eric Massa will kick off his weekly radio townhall meeting on WLEA 1480 in Hornell Friday.

This new radio show will take place every Friday from 4-5pm.

Massa says he is continuing his effort to be available to the constituents of the 29th Congressional District and this new weekly radio townhall is the latest step in this ongoing effort.

Massa encourages all constituents to call or email any and all of their questions.

Callers can dial in at 607-324-1480 or email questions to

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Changes irk wind farm backers

DEPAUVILLE — Vocal opposition to changing a wind power development zoning law in Clayton and Orleans has begun to solidify.

Those who support the proposed Horse Creek Wind Farm, including many leaseholders, have balked at the changes that, according to developer Iberdrola Renewables, would eliminate the project. Iberdrola's 126-megawatt project would raise 56 turbines in Clayton and eight in Orleans.

Kevin J. Forkey, who has risen to de facto leadership in the past few weeks in Clayton, lives at and owns Forkey Auto Sales on Route 12. Under the Horse Creek plan, he would have three turbines on his property.

"There is scientific data to support wind farms," he said. "The question is why a committee came up with new recommendations to supersede our zoning law."

Clayton's Town Council accepted nearly all of the 10-member committee's recommendations Aug. 26, sending them to the town's attorney to be drafted into a proposed law. Supervisor Justin A. Taylor told the public then that the council would wait to take action until recommendations for personal wind towers and other renewable energy devices were forwarded from another committee.

Under the wind farm recommendations, the setbacks from roads and nonparticipating residents' property lines would be 31/2 times the height of the turbines, which Iberdrola said will be about 400 feet.

The committee collected studies and research to back up its recommendations, but Mr. Forkey said the setbacks are overly conservative. He cited a study done by Marc P. LeBlanc of Garrad Hassan Canada, Ottawa, for the Canadian Wind Energy Association, called "Recommendations for Risk Assessments of Ice Throw and Blade Failure in Ontario."

Addressing some safety concerns regarding ice on the spinning blades, the study found that a chunk of ice being thrown from a turbine and hitting a person inside a small house almost 1,000 feet away is likely to happen no more than once in 500,000 years. And a chunk of ice being thrown from a turbine and hitting one of 100 cars traveling on a road more than 600 feet away during the right atmospheric conditions is likely to happen no more than once every 260,000 years.

"I compare it to traveling along the highway at 55 miles per hour," Mr. Forkey said. "Highways allow commerce and movement at an acceptable risk. If we were to lower the speed limit to 15 mph, we would be safer, but we would have given everything up for that safety."

And, since the setbacks from participating residents' dwellings are set at 21/2 times the height of the turbine, he said, the safety of a leaseholder and a nonparticipating neighbor are being given different weight.

"If we're basing it on height, why is my setback 21/2 times the height, but they're saying that's not safe?" he said. "Is my life worth less than his?"

Mr. Forkey said he knows many leaseholders are part of the project because of the money, but said that's not his motivation.

"My inspiration here is a legacy to leave behind," he said.

He said that goal started with planting more than 80,000 trees on his property, which used to be a dairy farm.

"Given our alternatives, I feel this is the best path to go down," he said. "It's better than a coal plant or a nuclear plant."

Mr. Forkey said he plans to give his lease payments to the town and Thousand Islands Central School District.

He said public opinion supports wind farms in communities where they have been built. Mr. Forkey cited a survey of Lewis County residents by the Center for Community Studies at Jefferson Community College.

In 2008, 79 percent of residents who took part in the survey supported wind farm expansion, up slightly from 77 percent in 2007. Overall, 70.7 percent of respondents said they felt Maple Ridge Wind Farm has had a positive impact on the county, 19.4 percent said it had no impact and 5.8 percent said it had a negative impact.

That should be a sign, Mr. Forkey said, that Iberdrola, which developed Maple Ridge, is a responsible developer and Horse Creek won't have the noise, health or safety issues that have been asserted by its critics.

Iberdrola spokeswoman Jan Johnson said the company will use Maple Ridge as the example of responsible development when asking town officials not to adopt the new, tougher regulations in Clayton. The zoning law currently in place in Clayton would allow development much as it was done in Martinsburg, Lowville and Harrisburg for Maple Ridge.

"We look forward to presenting the success of the project in Maple Ridge," she said. "It's the actual experience of development in New York."

According to maps from Iberdrola, the proposed road setbacks of 31/2 times the height of the turbine being considered by Clayton would force them to eliminate 37 of the proposed 62 turbines. And the setbacks from nonparticipating residents' property lines of 31/2 times the height of the turbine proposed in Clayton would eliminate all but three.

Clayton and Orleans are considering similar noise standards, which would allow sound from turbines to be only five decibels louder than ambient noise, both in the audible and low-frequency noise ranges. The current regulations allow for up to 50 decibels of noise at residences, but critics say that is dangerously loud when compared to nighttime ambient levels in the 24 to 28 decibel range.

Orleans is also considering more stringent setbacks. The setbacks would be the greater of 3,000 feet or 10 times the turbine's rotor diameter from nonparticipating residents' property lines and roads.

In both towns that are part of the proposed project, the leaseholders and other supporters are beginning to take action.

In Orleans, the landowners turned in a petition with about 100 signatures Wednesday night after the Town Council talked with the committee about the recommendations there.

Mr. Forkey said in Clayton, he's part of a drive to collect signatures from 20 percent of the landowners for what's called a zoning law protest petition. Under state law, if a petition contains the signatures of the owners of 20 percent of the land affected by the proposed zoning change, the change must be passed by a supermajority of the council — in Clayton's case that means four of five members.

In the past, most of the recommendations from the wind committee were accepted unanimously by the Clayton Town Council.

Mr. Forkey said many leaseholders, including himself, saw early support from the town government for the project and thought it was a lock to go in. But after the council accepted the wind committee's recommendations, Horse Creek supporters fear the project will slip away.

"The past is not ours to recover," he said. "The future is ours to win or lose."

Cattaraugus County IDA should not endorse wind development


Despite the political pressure from their handlers in the Cattaraugus County Legislature, the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) should not endorse industrial wind development in the county, since they were crated to stimulate economic development for industries which create permanent jobs and financially benefit the area. Industrial wind will do neither, and is actually contrary to the IDA mission.

At the final IDA public hearing in Little Valley on September 10, I provided the IDA with three reports documenting the decrease of property values after the construction of industrial wind plants. Included was research by a state of Washington realtor who determined land sales near a wind plant averaged only $66,000, versus the county-wide average sale price of $126,000.

The second report, from McCann Appraisals, Chicago, Ill., reviewed the sale data for 46 transactions in Lee County, Ill. after turbines were erected in 2003. The analysis determined the average sales price near the project was only $74.63 per square foot, versus $102 per square foot further removed from the project.

In addition to the loss of property value, industrial wind creates very few permanent jobs. The industry average is one full time employee per 12 to 15 turbines. When applied to the estimates 60 turbines proposed for Machias, Ashford and Yorkshire, this formula results in only four permanent jobs. This number is in stark contrast to the 16-32 jobs predicted by the IDA’s high-priced attorney at their informational meeting in Machias on June 1.

The alleged financial windfall created by lease payments to the leaseholders is also voodoo economics. Of the 57 recorded leaseholders in Machias recorded by Horizon Wind Energy as of June 1, 25 are absentee landowners, 20 of which do not even live in Cattaraugus County. How will their lease payments contribute to the economic growth of our immediate area when they live hither and yon?

The IDA is eager to pick the approximate $700,000 administrative fee from the money tree, yet they cowardly hide behind the trunk by refusing to acknowledge the adverse health and environmental impacts of industrial wind. They deftly dodge behind the towns, putting the onus on them for the turbine siting and noise requirements, while murmuring “those are local issues.”

The unethical behavior of industrial wind throughout New York state, however, is not “local issue.”

In Wyoming County, Horizon Wind Energy hired a former Perry town supervisor after she carefully crafted a pro-wind law. More disturbing, Machias recently appointed a Horizon leaseholder as their code enforcement officer and constable. Such political hubris was after the board was informed he was a leaseholder, and yet their draft wind law relies on him to issue the turbine permits!

Despite the IDA’s attempts to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the negative consequences of industrial wind, the stench from conflicts of interest will linger in their nose.

Based upon figures provided by the IDA, if the turbines were fully taxed at the rate of approximately $30,000 per megawatt, the 100 megawatt project proposed for Machias, Ashford and Yorkshire would yield $3,000,000 per year for the school districts, county and towns, totaling $45,000,000 over 15 years.

Conversely, the IDA’s proposed payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) financially aids the foreign wind developer by asking for only $5,000 per megawatt, or $500,000 per year for the taxing jurisdictions, totaling $7,500,000 over 15 years.

In June, IDA’s attorney slyly described the PILOT as “having to give up a little to get some in return.” The math speaks otherwise. Over the course of 15 years, the IDA’s proposed PILOT would result in a $37,500,000 loss of revenue to the three taxing entities, far more than “a little.”

Shame on the Cattaraugus County Legislature and the IDA for selling us all out, for so very little.

Bradley L. Parker


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Energy executives offer ideas on stimulus

Executives from two local clean energy companies say federal stimulus money will help them create about 2,000 jobs across the country, though few in Massachusetts.

They were among the representatives from nine firms who met yesterday in Washington, D.C., with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and Energy Secretary Steven Chu to discuss how more than $500 million in stimulus funds awarded to clean energy companies nationwide this month is being spent. The treasury and energy departments distributed the money jointly under a program that provides cash assistance to energy producers, instead of more common tax credits.

First Wind, a wind energy developer based in Newton, and Ameresco, a Framingham company that oversees energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, participated in yesterday’s roundtable session, during which company representatives also told federal officials how the stimulus program for clean energy could be improved.

“The idea was to find out if these recovery act dollars were working and the answer was an overwhelming and emphatic yes,’’ said First Wind’s chief executive, Paul Gaynor. His company received $115 million to build wind farms in Cohocton, N.Y., and outside Danforth, Maine. They are expected to generate enough electricity to power roughly 73,000 homes. Gaynor said that First Wind’s stimulus award will allow it to “recycle’’ resources it had already earmarked for the New York and Maine projects. That means other projects - including wind farms planned for Vermont and Utah - will probably be completed sooner, Gaynor said.

He said the federal program could benefit from streamlining, especially when it comes to the paperwork involved in applying for stimulus money.

“If they could build more efficiency into the process, that would go a long way,’’ Gaynor said.

Still, the money is making a difference, he said. The Maine wind farm created about 350 temporary construction jobs and several permanent full-time jobs, according to First Wind. By the end of next year, Gaynor estimated, stimulus funding “will have provided over 1,000 jobs on First Wind projects.’’

During yesterday’s roundtable, Chu and Geithner also unveiled a new set of awards: about $550 million for 25 projects nationwide. Ameresco is set to receive $11.7 million from that amount to finance three projects, two in California and one in Missouri. Those projects will convert landfill gas into usable energy.

Ameresco’s founder, George Sakellaris, said the benefits of the funding will extend beyond the projects, allowing the company to accelerate development of seven other projects, including a solar installation on the North Shore. Eventually, the work will generate about 1,000 jobs, he said.

John Servo September 19, 2009 Email on the Recent Town of Italy Public Hearing

Brad Jones, who is running for Italy Town Supervisor on the Republican ticket, indicated the following count of speakers at the Italy Town Board hearing on the Application for Ecogen's windfarm project. Of 121 speakers at the hearing:

• 21 people spoke for the project
• 91 people were opposed to the project, representing 81% of the speakers

Pattern Energy and Ecogen should be commended for an extraordinary turn-out of 20 speakers in favor of their dangerously-flawed Project Application. They "pulled out the stops". Their free chicken dinner, free breakfast, and an aggressive campaign to bring supporters to the meeting resulted in far more than the 3 to 6 people who typically speak in support of their project (versus 60 or more typically speaking against).

Now we'll have to see if the Italy Town Board listens to the citizens, or listens to Ecogen's threats to sue the town yet again if Italy doesn't "comply". After all, Ecogen's sued the town twice already. And even though Ecogen lost both lawsuits, threats and intimidation are what they know best. We'll see how this all shakes out, and whether democracy is still alive and well in the Town of Italy and Yates County.

This evening's Prattsburgh Town Board meeting should be very interesting. My guess is that Stacey Bottoni's arrest last Tuesday at Wegman's in Hornell (for I assume, shoplifting) will be "fixed" at the court hearing this morning – this is, after all, Steuben County – and at the Town Board meeting she will indignantly deny any wrong-doing. Which brings us to an interesting point. When she was busy perpetrating, then being hauled away by the officers, she was still "on the clock" for her school bus job, leaving the children in the lurch, then lying about her absence. Will the School District be billed for her time spent perpetrating and in police custody? Or can this too be "fixed"? Will she – as would be typical for the rest of us if caught in a similar compromised situation – be disciplined by her employer, the school bus company? (Probably not. Her family runs this bus service.)

By the way, as part of his election campaign, Prattsburgh Supervisor Harold McConnell is sending his resume to prospective voters, mentioning his proud years of service a while back at the local branch of Central Trust Company. Conspicuously absent is any mention of his felony prosecution for misappropriation of funds while he worked at the bank. (The transcript of the trial is very interesting.) I'd never mentioned this to you (or for that matter, to anyone who didn't already know) before, as I felt Harold McConnell had "paid his debt to society", we should forgive him, and move on. Still, it takes a lot of brass to put his "service" to the bank on his resume (absent this more than minor "detail"). If, during privilege of the floor, I request that the Town Board investigate Stacey Bottoni for ethics violations, I wonder what Harold's response will be. After all, Stacey is key to holding together their tenuous majority in favor of the Ecogen dangerously-flawed wind project. Like they say, you just can't make this stuff up.

Hope to see you at the Prattsburgh Town Board meeting this evening. As you may recall, Stacey is a bit "anger management challenged", so we should have some fine works tonight.

Best regards,

John Servo
Advocates for Prattsburgh

Italy wind farm debates blow

Italy, N.Y.

The arguments for and against Yates County’s first proposed wind farm are getting more vigorous as the application process moves forward. The next stage for the process is set for Thursday’s Yates County Planning Board meeting, set for 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Yates County Office Building 417 Liberty St., Penn Yan.

There, the county planning board will review the application for a special use permit and variances to construct and operate a wind-powered electric generation project in the town of Italy.
The members of the Italy Town Board listened to 116 people comment at a public hearing about the application on Sept. 19.

The crowd filled the Italy highway barn to capacity, with some overflowing into the parking lot, where they listened through the open garage bay doors. And once the parking area at the barn and neighboring church were filled, dozens of vehicles were parked on both sides of the highway.

Organizations on both sides of the issue distributed t-shirts outside the barn, and hand-lettered protest signs were propped against the exterior of the building after Town Supervisor Margaret Dunn announced they would not be permitted inside the building.

During the first two hours of the session, at least, the majority of those who spoke said they opposed the project.

If the town board approves the application, Pattern Energy (formerly Ecogen LLC) will construct 19 wind turbines in an area the town has identified as a wind incentive zone

Opposition to the application ranged from concerns about technical and engineering issues to aesthetics and the turbine’s impact on public health.

Supporters said they want the project to be built so local property taxes will be reduced and the town won’t be embroiled in lawsuits filed by the energy company.

Still others encouraged the board to negotiate more favorable terms for the town. As it stands, the energy company is offering the town some amenities, including the purchase of equipment, new structures, improvements to existing structures, possible jobs and cash, all valued at more than $1.6 million, according to a July 6 letter to town residents.

Most speakers were from the area, but a few travelled from Wyoming County and Cohocton to describe problems they feel have been created by wind farms in their communities.

One Italy woman became tearful as she described her fear that her autistic son would be adversely affected by the turbines. She said her family moved to Italy from New Jersey to get away from lights and other disturbances that bother her son.

“The green in green energy is money,” said one woman in her brief statement against the project.

Jim Taylor, owner of Taylor Farm Bed & Breakfast, said he is in favor of the project, and has had guests say they want to return when the turbines are installed.

Encouraging the board to go forward with the project, Leo Tricky said, “On the whole, the project is better than the negatives, which are exaggerated.”

A property owner from the Prattsburgh portion of the farm said the engineers from the new company, Pattern Energy, have been more flexible when working with property owners, and he said Italy can and should get a better deal.

Valerie Sahrle of Perry, in Wyoming County, said she has organized a group called Citizens for a Healthy Rural Neighborhood which supports the Finger Lakes Preservation Association. That organization recently filed a lawsuit against Italy.

In the most confrontational portion of the meeting, Leonard Amato, wearing a white shirt with bold red letters spelling out the message: “Margaret gets a town hall,” demanded the town board’s resignation and that Dunn recuse herself. He drew a sharp response from the supervisor, who said, “You don’t even know me.”

After the exchange, Dunn asked for a break. Following a brief recess, she asked the audience to limit their comments to the application. “If anyone has any more attacks on me personally, save it for after the meeting,” she said.

Much of the zone lies along Emerson Road, where the company purchased property earlier this year, spending nearly $2 million on real estate, and where Yates County owns land the company has expressed a desire to purchase.

Town Attorney Ed Brockman says the town must make a decision about the application within 62 days of closing the public comment period. The period remains open for the time being, mainly because Pattern Energy (Ecogen) officials have not made all the up-to-date application information available as promised in the legal notifications about the public hearing.

That was something Dunn learned during the public comments on Saturday.
“This will be the second time they did not have the paperwork ready,” she said, adding, “If they can’t do something that simple, how can I trust them to do all the other things they claim to do?”

The company has created a website where the application information is available:

In legal advertisements about the application, the company has said all the documents are also available at public libraries in Penn Yan, Branchport, Naples and Prattsburgh. But one of the speakers on Saturday informed Dunn and the board that not all the documents are available in the libraries. Many town residents internet access is limited to dial-up service, making it difficult to download large files for review.

The wind farm project is also in the development stages in the neighboring Steuben County town of Prattsburgh. Because most of the project is located in Steuben County, the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency (SCIDA) is the lead agency for the entire project, which will consist of around 34 turbines.

Pattern Energy seeks tax break from Yates County

Italy, N.Y.

John Hood of Nixon and Peabody Law Firm and Andy Hunt, a principal with Pattern Energy (formerly Ecogen LLC) attended the Sept.16 meeting of the Finger Lakes Economic Development Center (FLEDC) at the request of CEO Steve Griffin.

After receiving phone calls from the law firm, asking for incentives, Griffin asked them to come to explain to the board what they are seeking — an agreement similar to the payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) negotiated with Steuben County.

The wind energy company has been involved with a controversial battle with the Town of Italy over the construction and use of 19 wind turbines on Emerson and Clute Roads.

“A project like this is not without controversy. We are looking to bring energy to the state. The cable is all underground and our development team here has a vast experience in such projects through-out the United States,” Hunt explained.

Most of the project, which will ultimately include around 34 turbines, is in the town of Prattsburgh in Steuben County. Steuben County Industrial Development Agency (SCIDA) is the lead agency and the paperwork there was completed in January for a PILOT. Steuben did the entire State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR), even the Yates County portion, which Hood said is not unusual for a project of this scope.

When asked why they had not come before, Hood replied that Ecogen was waiting until Italy approvals were in place (See related story). He said an exemption is standard procedure. “Any wind project in New York State has a PILOT,” Hood said. Much of the construction is already exempt from sales tax, according to Hood.

“Financing is complex in order to satisfy many interests administratively. It is important to have it in place,” Hunt said.

According to the presenters the project in Yates County will cost $78 million. An estimated 75-100 construction workers will be involved and 4-8 local employees will be needed to maintain the turbines.

The company is requesting to pay $8373 per megawatt produced to Yates County instead of paying regular real property taxes for 20 years. Hunt said it is hard to figure what part of the project is subject to property tax. After 20 years the payments would progress. When questioned, Hood said the $8373 would be paid even if the company was not selling power or if the turbine was out of service.

A controversy in Steuben County evolved over how the PILOT payments would be split. Hunt said the payments are usually divided between the county, schools and towns. He said he thought this had finally been worked out in Steuben.

Taylor Fitch, Yates County Legislator from Jerusalem, asked if at the end of 20 years the turbines would go onto the tax rolls. Hunt said they would, but that it is hard to predict what the assessment value would be after that time. Hood agreed it’s hard to predict, but said the company will re-equip and maintain the turbines. He added they will be paying New York State income tax.

In conclusion, Hood said, “We realize you can’t do anything until things are approved by the town.” Hunt told the board they just want to get things started because it takes a long time.

Fitch said, “If you get town approval, I am sure you will get a lawsuit from the other side.”

FLEDC Board Member Jerry Hiller asked about clean-up funds and if they would have a decommissioning reserve. Hunt said it wasn’t required, but they would deal with it. Hood added that he wasn’t familiar with this, but that there would be a bond.

When asked about an amenities package for Italy, Hunt said he was not sure about one. Fitch held up copy and replied, “We have one right here.”

Italy resident Brad Jones spoke for the opposition, saying the wind farm project is greatly opposed in the town. Jones, who is seeking election to the Italy Supervisor’s position, has done a great deal of research and has spoken to groups throughout the state opposing wind farms.

He cited a new 78-page study he had received the previous night on the harmful effects of wind farms in Wisconsin. Homes in these areas suffered a 40 percent loss in value he said.

Griffin said to the board members that Ecogen was asking FLEDC to hold a public hearing. Board members expressed their opinions.

Hiller said, “We don’t want to be embroiled in litigation. Our reputation is valuable.” He also would like more information, including the complete SEQR application.

Fitch said, “I don’t want us to appear to be in charge of the Town of Italy. I would want us to set a public hearing after Italy has their meetings.”

Audience member Vince Johnson, who said he had served on the Italy Planning Board for several years, said the board should be aware that Ecogen might be wanting to push the project along before the November election, because Jones is running for Italy Town Supervisor.

FLEDC Chairman Kevin Bailey said the board would wait for more information before scheduling a public hearing.

Hornell Tribune - Bob Clark/Justin Head September 23, 2009 CWW Letter by James Hall

September 23, 2009

Hornell Tribune
85 Canisteo Street,
Hornell, NY 14843

Messrs Clark and Head,

In the event you have not seen the photos of the Cohocton Crane Collapse, they can be viewed on the Cohocton Wind Watch site.

Note that the statement made by Mr. Bob: “The crane was 500 to 600 feet from the nearest tower,” Bob said, is a deliberate misrepresentation or Joe Bob cannot measure distance. This coming from a code inspection officer who is not qualified for this duty.

I was on site about 30 minutes after the scanner reported the crane collapse. The extent of damage to the crushed cab is total. Previously a crane was hit by lightning at this same spot during the construction of the First Wind project.

The photo that has the Clipper truck in the foreground is clear proof of proximity to the turbine of the downed crane. It should also be noted that this particular turbine is approximately 100 feet from the Chesapeake gas pipeline.

Everyone should be thankful that the crane did not come down and rupture this gas line.

Has it been verified that the crane operator was personally certified and not working off the license of someone who may not have even been onsite? This was a common practice during the construction of the First Wind project.

Also, what is not disclosed by First Wind, Clipper Windpower or Barnhart is that these cranes have been consistently moved on Town of Cohocton and county roads without any closure of the road and required safety procedures. I and my wife have personally witnessed these violations and CWW has a photo of the crane moving down Pine Hill Road in an upright and elevated condition.

The point of this message is to memorialize my warning to the Town of Cohocton and to document that Mr. Bob mislead your reporting.

At the September 21, 2009 Town of Cohocton meeting, Supervisor Zigenfus and the rest of the Town Board were asked to review the liability limits of the town and consider prudent increases where necessary. The Town Board responded that no review was needed and present limits are adequate.

I trust this attitude could be viewed as malfeasance, especially if the injured crane operator was killed or if the active gas line was dislodged. Experts in the field of gas transmission and exploration acknowledged the gas well adjacent to this turbine could blow off the top of the hill if an explosion occurred. CWW has warned the Town of Cohocton, the PSC and project consultants about the inadequate distant location of Turbine #16 to the Chesapeake gas pipeline to no avail. It is especially interesting that Chesapeake did not sign off on the proximity to their working line until after the project was constructed.

On Tuesday September 22, 2009, I posed the same concern and request to the Town Board of Prattsburgh about reviewing their liability coverage in light of the Ecogen industrial wind turbine application in their town. Their response was positive and respectful to take up such a task.

Thanks you for publishing this significant new report. Public health and safety risks and avoidance of reducing real dangers has always been the major purpose of Cohocton Wind Watch.


James Hall for CWW

Crane crash injures one in Cohocton

Cohocton, N.Y.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be investigating a crane collapse at the First Wind project in Cohocton following the Monday afternoon accident that hospitalized the crane’s operator.

Wayland-based state police responded to the project at around 12:30 p.m. Monday at the site of Turbine No. 16, located off of Wheaton Road in the Town of Cohocton. Town officials, troopers and First Wind officials stated a crane, owned by subcontractor Barnhart Crane and Rigging, a Memphis, Tenn.-based firm working on the project, collapsed.

Barnhart company officials confirmed the accident involved one of its cranes and an employee, but forwarded all other questions to First Wind.

Lamontagne said he did not know the name of the crane operator who was injured. Officials said the man was treated at Noyes Memorial Hospital in Dansville for minor injuries and was released.

The crane is one of two being operated in Cohocton for the repair work, according to Lamontagne previously. Work on the blades started in May — less than five months after the project was placed online. Lamontagne previously said 19 of the 50 turbines needed blade reinforcement, but Clipper Wind, the manufacturer of the blades, would reinforce the blades on all of the turbines. Work was expected to be completed this fall.

Joe Bob, code enforcement officer for the Town of Cohocton, said he went to the site with town Supervisor Jack Zigenfus Monday afternoon to inspect the damage.

“They tell us that they were bringing it down. They were getting ready to move it,” Bob said. "Something must have given way. You can see where the whole front of the crane looks like it came down and bounced a couple of times.”

No other injuries were reported, and the turbine closest to the crane was not damaged.

“The crane was 500 to 600 feet from the nearest tower,” Bob said.

Some hydraulic fluid from the crane leaked, Bob said, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation was called in to inspect the site.

This is the second project Clipper and First Wind have had to dismantle and rebuild. The eight-turbine Steel Winds project in Lackawanna was dismantled in 2007 following damage to gearboxes. That project was the first run of Clipper turbines, which are the same Clipper Liberty C-98 model as those used in Cohocton. Work on the site along Lake Erie near Buffalo have been taken down again this year for additional repairs under warranty.


Cohocton Wind Watch is seeking a skilled attorney to represent home and landowners against First Wind (industrial wind project developer), Clipper Windpower, Town of Cohocton, Steuben County Industrial Development Agency, Canandaigua Power Partners I & II, First Wind Leaseholders, and numerous consulting firms who have defrauded area residents, New York State and Federal taxpayers.

This industrial wind development is based upon fraud and false representations to the public and multiple government agencies.

Non-participating landowners and residents have incurred tremendous diminution in property values, severe health damages due to low frequency noise from improper siting of industrial machines and a fundamental loss and ability to continue to reside in their homes. Several homes have already been abandoned and are unable to be sold at any price.

Seek to file a comprehensive legal action for relief and recover damages. Constructive Condemnation can be proved. Personal injury claims are valid. A civil RICO is appropriate based upon the evidence of collusion and ant-trust violations that have been provided to the New York State Attorney General. Attorneys who see the potential and national implications against the predatory practices of industrial wind developers, their Fortune 500 energy partners and financial backers, need to contact Cohocton Wind Watch.

Read - First Wind swindle has just committed another heist by James Hall

Note the familiar names associated with First Wind and their recent $74,600,000 Department of Energy GRANT.

CWW can be reached at: (585) 534-5581 or (202) 239 -1045, (585) 534-5489 FAX

James Hall for CWW

CLICK and Donate NOW

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Require Lower Noise Limits and Greater Setbacks

Require Lower Noise Limits and Greater Setbacks

My name is John Servo, and I live across the town line in Prattsburgh. I'd like to present a 6/9/09 document from the Province of Ontario Ministry of Environment. This government agency is tasked with supporting windfarm development and protecting their citizens. Their new turbine setback guidelines are very specific. If there are one to five 106dBA Sound Power Level turbines – like the 2.3MW Siemens – within 9800 feet [3km, 9842 feet] of your house, the setback should be 3100 feet (1.5km, 3116 feet). For 11 or more turbines, the setback should be 4900 feet [1500m, 4921 feet] – almost a mile. These setbacks are consistent with the Ministry of the Environment’s Noise Guidelines for Wind Farms (October 2008) and the noise level limit they set last year of 40 dBA – not Ecogen's 50dBA – at the Point of Reception, regardless of wind speed. Please note that accepting 40dBA is still a compromise, as it's 15dBA higher then Italy's very quiet (25dBA) night-time background levels.

Well, since Ecogen wants to put 4 turbines on the ridge across from my house, this 3100 foot setback sounded pretty good. So my neighbor Terry Drake and I met twice with Pattern Energy's representative, who was quite agreeable. When we told him about Ecogen's dealings, he laughed and shook his head, telling us Pattern Energy treated people right. On our side, we even compromised to a 3000 foot setback. And when I spoke again two days ago with Pattern's representative, he said their engineers told him that three turbines could be moved like we want, and he's looking into finding a home for the fourth.

So, how about that? With 3000 foot setbacks – not the 1500 feet they've offered Italy – Terry and I just maybe won't be ruined. But, just like I wouldn't want to make a deal just for myself where my neighbor was hung out to dry, I thought you should know about it, too. Italy can and should get a better deal. Don't your citizens deserve 3000 feet setbacks, and more? And have stiff penalties for non-compliance. Otherwise, even your current bad deal can go horribly wrong.
• Take amenities. In Prattsburgh, a few months back Ecogen promised a new ambulance. Now that's changed to a one-year lease on a used ambulance another town no longer wants. Just ask yourself, what is Ecogen's word worth?
• Ecogen has sued you, and has threatened to sue Italy again – if you don't let them have their way. So what do you really think the "Wind Energy Incentive Zone" will be for Phase 2 of the project? It's obvious – the whole town.
• And do you really believe the noise levels will be only 50dBA? It's not like you don't have clear warning. Just look at what's happening in Cohocton, where the developer violates 50dBA with impunity. What makes you think that you will have any control over Ecogen's behavior once you hand them the hammer?

The facts are clear. Get those 3000 foot to 4900 foot setbacks. Set noise level limits for the Ecogen Project no greater than 40 dBA. However, if you chose to approve a higher noise limit, you are condemning your fellow citizens to live bathed in industrial noise, their health threatened, their property devalued. And this will be only the beginning. Italy may never recover from the damage.

John Servo, Black Lock Road, Prattsburgh, New York

Britain to Build Giant Wind Turbine Blades

The British government announced plans last week to build what it said would be the world’s largest wind turbine blades with Clipper Windpower. The California-based company has been given a $7.15 million grant from the British government to construct the blades in northeast England.

“The U.K. is consolidating its lead in offshore wind energy,” said Ed Miliband, Britain’s energy and climate secretary, in a published statement. “We already have more offshore wind energy than any other country, we have the biggest wind farm in the world about to start construction, and now we’ll see the biggest turbine blades in the world made here in Britain,” he said.

The 230-foot blades — still under development — are expected to weigh more than 30 metric tons and will be designed for Clipper’s 10 megawatt, 574-foot offshore wind towers. Energy generated from the turbines could displace the use of two million barrels of oil per year, the government suggested, offsetting the need to dispel 724,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

“It’s great news for Britain that the world’s biggest wind turbines will be made here,” said Nick Rau of the environmental group Friends of the Earth. “This is exactly the sort of development that the government should be supporting”

The news comes at a time when the prospects for wind power and other renewable energy projects have begun to falter in Britain. Earlier this year, the turbine manufacturer Vestas closed two operations in Britain, citing a lack of demand in northern Europe. A subsequent study by the British Wind Energy Association found that most regions in England were unlikely to meet the government’s 2010 renewable energy targets.

Mr. Miliband’s department has been frustrated by local councils rejecting applications for wind turbines. Britain has strict planning regulations for offshore and onshore wind turbines, and many proposals have had difficulty obtaining permission.

Potential sites have been blocked by a combination of nimbyism, controversy over health issues, and councils valuing the traditional appearance of towns and cities over clean energy projects.

The $7.16 million grant to Clipper was awarded under the government’s Low Carbon Energy Demonstration project.

Two other companies have also been awarded grants. Artemis Intelligent Power has been given $1.6 million to transfer its existing “digital displacement” technology from automotive applications to wind turbines. And Siemens Wind Power UK – the world leader in offshore wind turbine manufacturing — has been awarded $1.8 million to develop power converters for offshore wind farms.

Crane collapse: Operator at wind farm escapes injury

Cohocton, N.Y. -
A crane operator reportedly escaped injury late Monday morning when the crane he was using to maintain First Wind turbines collapsed.

Wayland State Police reported the work-related accident occurred around noon Monday on South Wheaton Road in the town of Cohocton. The operator – who was not identified – suffered minor injuries and was transported to a local hospital, according to troopers.

In response to the report, First Wind issued a statement saying the crane operator was the only person injured. A subcontractor of Clipper Windpower, which is overseeing the maintenance, was operating the crane, according to First Wind spokesman John Lamontagne.

“First Wind will cooperate completely with the accident investigation,” Lamontagne said. “As the owner and operator of the project, we take safety and this accident very seriously. Most importantly, our thoughts are with the injured crane operator and we wish him a very speedy recovery.”

Troopers said the accident will be investigated by the Occupation Safety and Health Administration.

Vote on this Online Poll - Wellsboro Gazette

Scroll down to the bottom left of the page where you'll find an "On-Line Poll" titled "Are wind farms good for the community?"

Monday, September 21, 2009

PRESS RELEASE - First Wind - Clipper Windpower - Crane Collapse September 21, 2009 - Cohocton, NY - Part VI

PRESS RELEASE - First Wind - Clipper Windpower - Crane Collapse September 21, 2009 - Cohocton, NY - Part V

PRESS RELEASE - First Wind - Clipper Windpower - Crane Collapse September 21, 2009 - Cohocton, NY - Part IV

First Wind - Clipper Windpower - Crane Collaspe September 21, 2009 - Cohocton, NY - Part III

First Wind - Clipper Windpower - Crane Collaspe September 21, 2009 - Cohocton, NY - Part II

First Wind - Clipper Windpower - Crane Collaspe September 21, 2009 - Cohocton, NY - Part I

Hearing set on proposed Yates County wind farm

A public hearing will be held Saturday morning in Italy, Yates County, on a proposed 18-turbine wind energy project now pending before the Town Board.

Ecogen LLC, based in suburban Buffalo, is seeking town approval to erect 415-foot-high turbines, each rated as capable of generating up to 2.3 megawatts of electricity. Most would be off Emerson Road, in the southern part of the town. Ecogen also wants to erect additional turbines in neighboring Prattsburgh, Steuben County.

The public hearing, the second to be held in the town, will begin at 9 a.m. in the Italy town barn, 915 Italy Valley Road. The Town Board still must give final approval to the project.

Opponents are challenging the proposal in state Supreme Court, claiming the town acted improperly when it changed zoning laws to allow wind energy projects. The suit is pending.

Wind Industry Under Scrutiny by Health Canada

Despite overwhelming worldwide evidence and hundreds of health impact statements from victims of wind turbine syndrome, the wind industry likes to tell people that “there is no peer-reviewed scientific evidence indicating wind turbines have an adverse impact on human health” (this statement is taken directly from actual applications for approval to build industrial wind turbines).

Health Canada disagrees. Furthermore, Health Canada provides specific references to these studies. Health Canada also identifies statements in these applications which they deem “misleading.”

Would the wind industry say Health Canada is “making things up?” They instead try to discredit citizen groups with limited resources, such as ours, in an effort to obscure the facts. Yet the information is easily available to anyone willing to do a little research.

It’s easy to discredit people with sweeping but baseless generalizations. This is how the public was deceived about the dangers of cigarette smoking and asbestos contamination. Don’t accept the “greenwashing” of wind proponents at face value. It might seem appealing on the surface but it fails to deliver under scrutiny.

We expect our governments to protect us. It seems the federal government is starting to listen. What about our provincial government? Why do they accept the unsubstantiated claims of the wind industry without asking the hard questions? Premier McGuinty says feebly that “there should be a health study.” Is that the best the province can do to protect our families from harm?

Isn’t it time you asked Ontario MPPs to listen to your concerns? Shouldn’t they be asking some hard questions on your behalf?

We also suggest it’s time you started asking wind proponents to back up their claims with specific sources and references you can check out for yourself. That’s what we do. Because we’re accountable for what we say.

Landowners say turbines have hurt their property values

In the years since the Forward Wind Energy Center came on line, "For Sale" signs have popped up all over Gerry Meyer's rural neighborhood in the town of Byron.

"There's about six homes that are still for sale," said Meyer, who has five towering turbines within three-quarters of a mile of his home on County Trunk Y south of Fond du Lac.

Meyer is convinced that the aesthetically displeasing look of the 400-foot turbines and subsequent ill effects experienced by nearby residents from the noise, vibration and light-flicker has caused housing values to plummet.

A just-released study commissioned by wind-power opponents concurs, saying that property values have fallen at least 19 percent for properties located near the We Energies wind farm in Fond du Lac County and 12 percent for those located near Invenergy's Forward Wind Energy Center in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties.

The study by Appraisal Group One was commissioned by a Calumet County affiliate of the state Coalition for Wisconsin Environmental Steward, a group fighting a We Energies wind farm project in Columbia County.

(Click to read entire article)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Jon Boone Letter on Maryland Conservation Council

To Whom This May Concern:

Three cheers for the Maryland Conservation Council, whose skepticism about a massive wind project off Ocean City's shore is well founded. Highly fluctuating wind technology is one of the silliest modern energy ideas imaginable, enabled by Enronesque tax sheltering schemes for large corporations like General Electric and Florida Power and Light, which together own or operate most of the nation's wind projects--virtually all paid for by taxpayers. There's a good reason we moved away from reliance on wind contraptions 200 years ago.

Note this statement from energy expert Tom Hewson, taken from his July article in Power magazine ("Calculating Wind Power's Environmental Benefits"):

"[Wind] has no generating capacity value, and ... will not displace building any new coal or natural gas generating capacity. Grid reserve margins require wind back up, and the inefficiency of quickly firing up a natural gas unit to meet erratic wind generation output means any emissions displacement is minimal. Wind is simply an additional capital cost which proves to be more than twice as expensive for the ratepayer."

Contrary to the energy du jour claims from Governor O'Malley and the Maryland Energy Administration, wind is also a ghastly economic scheme, mirroring the subprime mortgage debacle in service to ignorance and greed. Moreover, wind has no environmental benefits that would justify endangering many species of wildlife along the coast, in the Bay, and atop the state's heritage mountains.

Environmentalists who support such nonsense have the knowledge of their good intentions and the courage of their hypocrisies....

Jon Boone
Intervenor in Maryland PSC Wind Hearings
503 East Alder Street
Oakland, MD 21550

Wind power: look beyond money

Whither wind? As the nation staggers toward replacing fossil fuels with alternative energy sources, the north country has become a favored spot for companies looking to develop wind farms. The largest wind farm in the Northeast is up and running in Lewis County, and new projects are proposed in Hounsfield, Cape Vincent, Lyme, Clayton, Orleans and Hammond. Each of those communities is struggling with how to embrace — or not — the 400-foot towers and the transmission lines to carry the power.

The range of reactions is enlightening. The Maple Ridge project was embraced with enthusiasm by the communities on top of the Tug Hill Plateau, where before windmills, the chief enterprises were snowmobile trails, taverns and dying farms. That project has pumped about $8 million a year combined into town, school and county coffers, providing some tax relief and many capital improvements in towns that were far from flush with cash.

Many other municipal leaders now see the Maple Ridge model as potential for an infusion of fresh money into town bank accounts. In Cape Vincent, a significant opposition to wind power has gained no traction with a Town Council and a Planning Board that have unabashedly embraced a project for the town.

In Clayton, where the Town Council appeared to be leaning in the same direction, a citizens committee charged with developing recommended wind farm regulations came back with strong controls on setbacks and noise that town Supervisor Justin Taylor has acknowledged may end any prospect of a wind project in the town. Orleans and Lyme officials seem to be leaning in the same direction, while Hammond's reaction has been much more like Cape Vincent's.

The hallmark of the issue in each town has been the level of discord it has engendered. The Wind Power Ethics Group in Cape Vincent has been the subject of scorn, anger and ridicule by residents who view wind power as saving the town. Needless to say, the anti-wind group sees it as ruining the town's unique site, where Lake Ontario joins the St. Lawrence River, the gateway to the Thousand Islands. The Hammond battle appears to be forming along the same lines.

What is not being addressed in any of these debates is the larger question of what position wind power will take in the national energy production cycle. Because wind power technology has been around for a long time, it is at an advanced stage of development, and it is cheaper than solar power. Thus, it achieved a quick popularity with people seeking a quick alternative to coal and oil.

However, wind power has its own drawbacks. For one, except in off-shore installations, it is intermittent. And it is unpredictably intermittent — the loss of sufficient wind to generate electricity cannot be controlled by system operators. Hence, wind power will always need backup power to step in when the wind dies. And to date, that has been provided primarily by coal-fired plants — our worst choice, given the greenhouse gases it produces.

This flaw creates a false sense of accomplishment for environmentalists — yes, the wind is infinitely renewable and produces no pollution. But at least at this point in its technological development, it is a gallingly unreliable source of electricity that requires standby power to keep a sufficient number of electrons rolling across the thirsty electrical grid.

There is also the issue of cost. Wind power is economically feasible only with significant, multilayered government subsidies. Without the federal tax credit for such facilities, which reduces costs by several cents per kilowatt and allows the power to be competitive, few wind projects would be proposed. And no wind-power projects in New York state are being proposed without significant tax concessions — from Maple Ridge, where Empire Zone status funded by state taxpayers has kept the ball in the air to date, to payment-in-lieu-of-tax agreements being sought by every other wind developer. This spreads the costs of making money to taxpayers everywhere.

Hovering over the deeply divided parties is the Wolfe Island Wind Project, an 86-tower development in Ontario that looms, either wistfully or forebodingly, over the Cape Vincent, Lyme and Clayton combatants. That project is visible on Dry Hill Road in Rodman, 30 miles away, especially at night, when the array of 86 intermittent red lights casts an eerie slash of blinking light on the distant horizon.

Yet the issue here boils down to money. Some people want to make money off the wind farms, and some want to preserve and protect their property values.

And this creates perhaps the most subtle and difficult-to-address question: are those opposed to wind farms because of their fear they will despoil what is unquestionably one of the most beautiful regions in the Northeast carrying the torch for everyone because it is in the state's — and arguably the nation's — interest to protect such an important natural resource? Would the nation be happy if a nuclear power plant was proposed for Crater Lake, for example, or if a hydropower project was proposed for the Grand Canyon? I doubt it.

The north country may be the finest example of the good and the bad of wind power development. On the one hand, Maple Ridge appears to be an exemplary project that meets nearly everyone's needs and harms very few. On the other, the river project proposals may carry too great a cost for the entire region, with very few benefiting and many harmed. And once the towers are up, they are up for a long, long time. This is not a decision that should be rushed. And because the ramifications are so widespread, it is one that should be considered in the broader sense, and not fueled only by money.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Spokeswoman discounts opinions of Perry residents


I found it rather surprising that Horizon salesperson Anne Humphrey's Sept. 8 letter ("Perry urged to vote 'yes' on Dairy Hills"), said she needed to "correct misstatements" in my Aug. 21 account of Perry's public hearing on Horizon's SDEIS, when Ms. Humphrey didn't even stay for that hearing. It's too bad Ms. Humphrey had to run off to Alabama's Town Board meeting that evening, or she may have recognized the truth disproving all her industry's claims in the massive amount of well-documented information that was presented at the hearing.

The fact is that every claim made by the wind industry and its financially motivated promoters results in the very opposite effect in reality. Unfortunately, we have arrived at a point in our legal culture where there is no penalty for deception and outright lies in the energy marketplace.

After five years of researching and writing about this issue, I have not been able to substantiate a single claim developers make for industrial wind energy, including the one justifying its existence -- that massive wind installations will meaningfully reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, shutter any conventional power plants, or reduce meaningful levels of CO2 emissions. Yet, our taxpayer and ratepayer dollars continue to be used to enable the wind industry to exist thanks to corporate lobbyist-driven, government incentives and subsidies.

Ms. Humphrey continually argues that "the majority of residents are in support of a wind farm" because some 600 residents have signed their "petition." However, a little basic math shows otherwise -- 600 is less than 10 percent of Perry's total population of 6,654. (See: )

It must be that Ms. Humphrey missed the Aug. 30 Perry Shopper paid letter from a Town of Perry resident:

"The lists of names used by CWE (Citizens for Wind Energy) of those in favor of the DHWF (Dairy Hills Wind Farm) is old, outdated and no longer provides an accurate representation of those who signed. My daughter and I signed this list over three years ago. My daughter, along with many of her friends, whose names are also included, was 15 years old at the time and motivated to sign because of the free T-shirt offered to her ... I do not support (the) DHWF project and CWE needs to update their inaccurate list of supporters."

Ms. Humphrey goes on to claim that the statements and projections of the local banker and the economist who spoke at the hearing are wrong. Well, anyone that thinks a "bond" put up by a limited liability corporation (LLC), like Horizon Wind LLC (who's had four different owners in five years), is worth anything more than the paper it is written on, is sadly mistaken. Wishful thinking is not the stuff that makes up sound policy decisions.

Recent corporate trends are very clear -- when it is convenient for corporations to shed their responsibilities and legally-binding pacts, they do so with increasing regularity. As attorney Daniel Spitzer admitted at a local government workshop when pressed by an astute Town Board member, "The landowner will be liable."

Most offensive, however, are Ms. Humphrey's continual efforts to further divide our community by working to discount the voices of legitimate taxpaying citizens of our area who have every right to have their voices heard. For your information Ms. Humphrey, my husband and I own property and a small business in the Village of Perry. We pay a substantial amount of taxes into Perry and its school district every year -- as do most of those 36 people who spoke against the project that evening. Many of Perry's businesses depend on the dollars that those who happen to be seasonal residents spend in this community, and Wyoming County every year.

Ms. Humphrey's suggestion that we should just pay our taxes, and shut up, is simply mind-boggling! That's called "taxation without representation" ma'am, and is exactly the kind of tyrannical leadership our forefathers fought to free us from over 200 years ago. The fact that every single New York State and U.S. taxpayer and ratepayer is footing the bill that enables the wind industry to exist, gives all of us the right, and the obligation -- no matter where we live in this state and country -- to speak out against this giant swindle!

Finally, even if wind was the best thing to ever come along, determining the currently proposed totally inadequate setbacks from foundations of peoples' homes instead of their property lines is simply unacceptable. The "back-door eminent domain" that ill-advised zoning laws have created not only put our neighbors in harm's way -- threatening their health, safety and quality of life -- but also violated their Constitutional rights to the peace and quiet enjoyment of their property as taxpaying citizens of New York State. I have yet to hear anyone justify how it is right to steal the use of one person's property so that another can financially gain?

Mary Kay Barton

Silver Lake