Wednesday, December 30, 2009

German Industrial Wind Turbine Fire

‘Windkraftanlage defekt – Leuchtfeuer in 130 Meter Höhe’
[Wind turbine fault — Fire at 130 meters]

Fallen turbine

More information needed on collapses

New Yorkers need to understand why a 300-foot tall wind turbine weighing 187 tons collapsed in a Madison County cornfield.

The collapse is not an isolated incident. However just because such a failure is uncommon provides no excuse not to aggressively pursue the reasons why. All across the state communities are facing pressure to site wind turbines. As these local governments proceed they must know why the turbine fell.

The turbine near Fenner in northern Madison County came crashing to the ground Sunday before sunrise. Less than 10 years old, the structure fell more than 1,000 feet away from a house or road. That is fortunate.

The owners of the 20-turbine wind farm, Canastota Windpower LLC., a subsidiary of Enel North America Inc. based in Andover, Mass., were investigating the circumstances earlier this week. Such an investigation by the owner is certainly necessary but is not adequate.

Besides the Fenner site, which can produce as much as 30 megawatts of electricity, the company operates a 6.6 megawatt facility in Gainesville, Wyoming County, and owns wind farms in Minnesota, Kansas, Texas and Newfoundland.

Another industrial turbine toppled in New York earlier this year — in Altona, Franklin County. There the blades of a 392-foot-tall turbine spun out of control after the braking system malfunctioned, causing a fire and a partial collapse of the structure.

The collapses and malfunctions of wind turbines do not disqualify the technology from being used. But wind turbines are like any evolving technology — knowledge and higher degrees of safety are developed by a thorough analysis of the causes of every failure.

Independent engineers need to determine whether soil conditions, design flaws, construction short cuts, poor manufacturing or lack of maintenance contributed to the failure.

Given the vast economic and political interest in exploiting the wind to create electricity, New York state should immediately take control of this investigation with a goal of providing improved building code standards for any turbine built in New York. The investigation should also include rigorous inspection criteria for existing wind turbines to determine any potential flaws.

Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo's office is well suited to execute this independent appraisal. It has the expertise, the authority and the credibility to deliver a report and recommend new design and construction requirements, which will assure New Yorkers that the burgeoning wind generation business is not a threat to their safety. Mr. Cuomo should take control and initiate the required investigation immediately.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Local residents fear dangers of more turbines after one collapses

FENNER, N.Y. (WKTV) - Local residents are wondering if one wind turbine could collapse in Madison County, then it is very possible for a turbine to fall anywhere.

Fairfield resident Jim Salamone thinks why couldn't it happen in his back yard.

Salamone, who is opposed to the proposed wind turbine projects in Fairfield says he was not surprised when he woke up to find out a wind turbine had collapsed in Fenner. He says the meteorological tower that used to be right across from his home already collapsed because of wind and ice.

Meteorological towers are used to measure wind in areas where developers want to put turbines. Salamone says the meteorological tower that collapsed near his home was the third one to do so in as many years.

Salamone says he wonders if those towers can collapse so easily, and if a tall turbine can also collapse how safe is his property living so close to a proposed site.

"They must be 1250 feet from your house, 500 feet from the road. So if a 476 foot wind turbine comes down 500 feet from the road that is only going to leave you, what 24 feet (that) if the blade breaks that is has to travel before it could go through your car." said Salamone.

Salamone says he is not opposed to a wind turbine project if they are put in the right place, but he says the rolling hills near most homes in Fairfield, is not the right location for large turbines.

In response to the proposed Fairfield project, Paul Copleman Communications Manager for Iberdrola Renewables says the company has no higher priority than safety.

"With over 3,500 megawatts of wind projects operating in 17 states, and a number of projects under development all over the country, Iberdrola Renewables requires strict safety guidelines during wind farm development, construction and operation, and designs all projects with appropriate setbacks and community input." said Copleman.

Speaking about the Fairfield project, Copleman says the company is currently awaiting permits for environmental and wetlands portion of the project. He says they are hopeful to start construction in Fairfield in 2010.

Legislators, reject Galloo Wind PILOT

The Jefferson County Board of Legislators should not approve the Galloo Island Wind Farm PILOT. This project is just the first step of a large scheme to develop offshore wind farms in lakes Ontario and Erie. Commissioner Richard Kessel of the New York Power Authority announced that the authority will be taking bids for offshore wind turbine farms this spring. The state's Environmental Quality Review Law requires that there be a review of the combined projects, but so far this has not occurred. Don't expect a review as DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis is willing to work with the developers. The DEC rarely stops a project. At the Nov. 24 hearing by the Jefferson County legislators, the board passed a resolution asking the transmission line from Galloo Island be laid underwater down to Scriba near Oswego so as not to impact valuable farmland. The wind farm developer never batted an eye and was not concerned with the cost. They knew about the proposed offshore wind farms because of a meeting held by NYPA at Oswego on Nov. 13. At that meeting NYPA showed maps of the proposed offshore wind farms and the Galloo Island underwater transmission line would go right through the proposed sites.

Once these wind farms are established, they will forever change the Great Lakes, and not for the better. The minimal amount of power produced will go downstate, or haven't you noticed all the major power lines go south. The millions of taxpayer stimulus money will go to foreign investors like Iberdola. There is excess hydropower already in NNY, and more research should be done to improve existing hydro. We should be looking at all other types of renewable energy.

Denying the Galloo Island Wind PILOT might be the last chance the Jefferson County legislators will ever have to change the course of events. They should remember that this fall local elections in communities along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River were won by wind turbine opponents.

Joseph E. Lamendola

Safety oversight lacking at turbine collapse site by JENNIFER BOGDAN

N.Y. says it doesn't regulate smaller wind farms

FENNER — As officials continue to investigate what could have caused a 200-foot-tall wind turbine to collapse in Madison County, it was not at all clear Monday what agency, if any, is responsible for overseeing turbine safety issues at Fenner Wind Farm in this town northeast of Cazenovia.

State officials said the farm does not produce 80 megawatts of energy annually, and therefore, is not large enough to fall under their jurisdiction. Madison County officials also don’t believe they’re responsible for regulation and pointed to town officials for oversight.

However, officials in this rural town of about 1,600 residents said while they played a role in awarding permits for the project before it was completed in 2001, they thought that Enel North America, the company that operates the farm, was responsible for regulating the structures manufactured by General Electric.

“I think they’re pretty conscientious,” Fenner Supervisor Russell Cary said of Enel North America. “They don’t want this to happen again.”

The turbine, which weighed close to 190 tons, toppled over in a cornfield at about 4 a.m. Sunday, shutting down the wind farm’s 19 other turbines. No one was injured.

The collapse on Buyea Road in Fenner followed a power outage recorded at about 3:30 a.m., Enel North America spokesman Hank Sennott said. The cause remains under investigation by the company.

While it was the first time the company saw one of its turbines fall over, collapses of the structures are not unprecedented.

In March, another General Electric turbine split in half at the Noble Altona Windpark, northwest of Plattsburgh in Northern New York. That incident also followed a power outage.

Noble Environmental Power, the company operating the turbine, declared a wiring anomaly was to blame for the incident. General Electric wind turbines are equipped with a system that should shut them down when a loss of power occurs. Without the system working property, the turbine will spin faster than its design allows, the company said in a news release.

However, the collapse at Noble Altona Windpark remains under investigation by the state Public Service Commission because the operation produces enough energy to fall under that agency’s jurisdiction, said Anne Dalton, a spokesperson for the state commission.

“As I understand it, this one owned by Enel North America would be investigated locally,” Dalton said. “All I know is it’s not subject to our jurisdiction.”

The collapse that occurred in Altona on March 6 created a small fire and flung Fiberglass debris as far as 345 feet from the base of the turbine, the company said. No one was injured in the incident.

But Milissa Rocker, a spokesperson for General Electric, said the company’s windmills are safe. Just five of General Electric’s 13,000 turbines operating globally have collapsed since 2002 when General Electric took over the wind power operation from Enron, she said.

“It’s important to understand this is a very rare occurrence,” Rocker said. “This turbine is one of the most reliable in service.”

Despite the apparent resemblance between the incidents in Altona and Fenner, officials from both General Electric and Enel North America said there is no way to draw a parallel until an investigation is complete.

“What’s similar is that a turbine collapsed,” Rocker said. “That’s about as far as the similarities go right now.”

Wind turbines are an increasingly common part of the regional landscape, particularly along U.S. Route 20 and near Lowville.

There are no wind farms in Oneida or Herkimer counties, but three projects are pending in Herkimer County, according to data from New York Independent System Operator, a nonprofit organization that operates New York’s electrical grid. One plan for the Herkimer County town of Litchfield has raised the ire of residents near Sauquoit in Oneida County; they say turbines would mar the landscape and pose possible risks to home values and health.

Members of Save Sauquoit Valley Views -- a group opposing the Litchfield windmills - said theFenner tower collapse sparks concern over the Litchfield project.

“Despite the industry’s assurances, large turbines are intrinsically unsafe,” Liz Waszkiewicz said in a statement e-mailed on behalf of the organization. “Since the Fenner incident wasn’t related to high winds or other conditions that should have led to collapse, should a landowner take that chance?”

Sennot said the company does not believe strong winds or foul play were involved in the incident, but declined to discuss other possible causes until an investigation is complete, which likely won’t be until the end of January.

“Generally speaking, turbines are a far enough distance away that -- should something like this happen -- homes wouldn’t be hit,” Sennott said. The company is not concerned about additional turbines collapsing, he said.

The other 19 turbines at Fenner Wind Farm, which produces enough electricity to serve at least 10,000 homes, have been temporarily shut down as a safety precaution, he said.

Wind Turbine Accidents List

Wind Turbine Accidents

Enel hires consultant to help probe Fenner turbine collapse

Fenner, NY -- Enel North America has hired a forensic engineer to look into why a 187-ton turbine at the company’s Fenner Wind Farm fell over early Sunday.

The engineer is expected to be joined by a team being put together by General Electric Co., the turbine’s manufacturer, to look into the cause of the collapse, Enel spokesman Hank Sennott said.

A security firm also is expected to be hired to take over from company officials who have been taking turns keeping the site safe from curiosity seekers, Sennott said.

Meanwhile, officials are working to stabilize pieces of the fallen giant so they don’t hurt investigators probing the wreckage, said Steve Pike, Fenner Wind Farm’s project manager.

Turbine 18, one of 20 erected in farm fields atop a ridge five miles northeast of Cazenovia, fell with a thunderous boom between 3 and 4 a.m. Sunday, neighbors said. What once stood 329 feet tall to the tip of a blade at the highest point of its arc lay sprawled across the mud and stubble of a harvested cornfield on Buyea Road.

(Click to read the entire article)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Taxpayer-Funded Wind Farms Prompt Concern from Democrats and Republicans; Jobs for China?

( – Wind-power projects funded in part by the $787-billion Recovery Act (stimulus law) are coming under scrutiny at a time when President Obama and other Democrats have promoted alternative forms of energy production.

Two New York Democrats – Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Eric Massa – are among the lawmakers criticizing specific wind-power projects that are getting hundreds of millions in taxpayer subsidies.

A “definitive agreement” was reached on one of those projects two weeks ago, according to a Dec. 20 news release from the Austin, Texas-based Cielo Wind Power. The deal is between Cielo, U.S. Renewable Energy Group and China-based Shenyang Power Group.

The $1.5 billion project – which is getting $450 million in stimulus funds – is supposed to create 2,000 to 3,000 jobs. The problem is, most of those jobs will be in China, Sen. Schumer said, because that’s where the wind turbines will be constructed. Another 300 temporary jobs will be created in Texas.

“I’m all for investing in clean energy, but we should be investing in the United States, not China,” Schumer wrote in a Nov. 5 letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “The goal of the stimulus was to spur job creation here, not overseas. This project should not receive a dime of stimulus funds unless it relies on U.S.-manufactured products,” the senator wrote.

The Cielo wind farm in West Texas is supposed to cover 36,000 acres and generate enough electricity to power up to 180,000 American homes each year.

Cielo Wind Power President Walt Hornaday, in a Nov. 10 statement, insisted that the project will grow the U.S. economy and would not be possible without federal assistance.

“A project of this scale will not only create hundreds of on-site construction and operational jobs, but it will also benefit a network of engineers, suppliers, and contractors all around the U.S. who will see hundreds of millions of dollars in additional work,” Hornaday said.

“Cielo plans to draw on the same American contractors from North Dakota to New York and New Mexico to California who have contributed to its past 10 wind projects. This planned project is an economic development lifeline to the wind industry during tough economic times.”

Hornaday did not deny Schumer’s assertions that most of the jobs would be created in China. However, a Cielo staff member told last week that none of the stimulus funds (taxpayer money) would be used to pay workers in China. However, the spokesman declined to say any more about the project than has already been discussed in news releases.

Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond (R-Mo.) also wrote a letter to Energy Secretary Chu: “There is bipartisan concern that the Obama administration is using U.S. taxpayer dollars to fund green jobs in China and other foreign countries,” Bond wrote on Nov. 12. “As U.S. unemployment tops 10% during this time of economic distress for America’s families and workers, we must ensure that our government is not using American taxpayer dollars to create more green jobs in China than in the U.S.”

On another front, a Newton, Mass.-based company called First Wind reportedly is getting $115 million in stimulus funds to build wind farms in Cohocton, N.Y. and near Danforth, Maine.

Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) whose district includes Cohocton, had problems with U.S. tax dollars going to what he called “shell companies” for First Wind.

In a September letter to President Obama, Massa noted that First Wind is under investigation by the New York Attorney General’s office for alleged corruption. The actual appropriation is going to Canandaigua Power Partners and Canandaigua Power Partners II, subsidiaries of First Wind.

“This is one of the most volatile issues in Western New York, and the award of $74.6 million dollars to corrupt companies that have changed names time and again, forming new LLCs and new Inc.s but maintaining their business model of lie, cheat, and corrupt at the expense of taxpayers, has stirred great unrest in New York’s 29th Congressional District,” Massa wrote to the president.

Massa spokesman Jared Smith did not return phone calls last week.

On July 15, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced an investigation into the wind power industry. He cited First Wind as one of the two companies from which he had subpoenaed documents.

The other was the Essex, Conn.-based Noble Environmental Power. The investigation was to determine “whether companies developing wind farms improperly sought or obtained land-use agreements with citizens and public officials; whether improper benefits were given to public officials to influence their actions, and whether they entered into anti-competitive agreements or practices.”

“The use of wind power, like all renewable energy sources, should be encouraged to help clean our air and end our reliance on fossil fuels,” Cuomo said when he announced the probe. “However, public integrity remains a top priority of my office and if dirty tricks are used to facilitate even clean-energy projects, my office will put a stop to it.”

The First Wind projects already are up and running. The Cohocton plant began operating in late January, and by the end of September it had produced 133,370 megawatt hours of electricity for the region, First Wind Chief Executive Officer Paul Gaynor said in October.

Gaynor also said the New York attorney general is not currently investigating the company. “In fact, we have been advised by the attorney general’s office that we are not under investigation,” Gaynor wrote. “First Wind is proud to be one of the first two companies in New York to have signed a code of conduct with the New York Attorney General that establishes for the first time an industry-wide framework for wind development in New York.”

In October, Cuomo announced a new “Wind Industry Ethics Code” and established a multi-agency task force to enforce the rules.

An Oct. 30 release from Cuomo’s office said, “Both Noble and First Wind fully cooperated in the inquiry, and their assistance was instrumental in developing the Code of Conduct that is being announced today.”

187-ton windmill topples in Madison County by JENNIFER BOGDAN


A wind turbine weighing nearly 190 tons collapsed early Sunday morning in rural Madison County , leaving experts stumped as to what could have brought down the towering structure.

The windmill, located on Buyea Road in Fenner, northeast of Cazenovia and several miles south of Canastota, fell into a cornfield at about 4 a.m., shutting down the 19 other turbines in the wind farm operated by Enel North America, officials said.

No one was injured.

It was the first time the company had seen one of its turbines topple.

“This is just not an everyday occurrence,” Enel North America spokesman Hank Sennott said. “I'd rather wait until we have a chance to investigate rather than speculating as to what could have happened.”

However, Sennott said he doesn't believe sabotage occurred. He also said he doesn't believe the force of the wind could have knocked over the turbine, which soared more than 200 feet above the town's rolling countryside. But he would not answer questions about what possibilities the company is considering for the cause of the collapse.

Buyea Road resident David Kalenak said the crumpled remains of the wind turbine attracted hundreds of onlookers throughout the day on the rural road, which usually sees just one or two cars each hour.

“I think a couple of my neighbors are a little nervous,” said Kalenak, who didn't hear the crash. “This one was in a field, but others are in the line of homes.”

The turbine was one of 20 erected at Fenner Wind Farm in 2001. The farm's turbines produce enough electricity to serve at least 10,000 homes, Sennott said.

Wind turbines have become an increasingly common feature of the Central New York landscape. In Lewis and Madison counties, there are five established projects, most along U.S. Route 20 or in the Lowville area.

There are no wind farms in Oneida or Herkimer counties, but three projects are pending in Herkimer County, according to data from New York Independent System Operator, a nonprofit organization that operates New York's electrical grid. One plan for the Herkimer County town of Litchfield has raised the ire of residents near Sauquoit in Oneida County; they say turbines would mar the landscape and pose possible risks to home values and health.

Fenner town Supervisor Russell Cary he was shocked by the incident, but didn't think it should spark cause for concern.

“I think it's a freak thing,” said Cary, who noted he fielded calls from concerned residents throughout the day.

“This isn't something that normally happens,” he said. “It's been an exciting day.”

Sennott said the company is not concerned about the possibility of another turbine collapsing. Instead, he said, the company's efforts will be directed toward securing the site of the crash and discovering what caused it.

Safety fencing was erected around the site of the crash Sunday night, and company workers planned to stand guard to ensure no one would be able to remove debris from the site. The company plans to hire security officers in the coming days to protect the site.

Replacing the turbine would likely cost between $2 million and $3 million, but it's not likely a replacement turbine would be installed immediately, Sennott said.

“It's not like we have an extra one of these things sitting in the backyard,” Sennott said.

Windmill falls in Madison County by ROBERT BRAUCHLE

FENNER — A more than 300-foot-tall wind turbine installed less than 10 years ago crashed to the ground Sunday before sunrise along Buyea Road.

This small town of about 1,680 people in northern Madison County is home to a 20-turbine wind farm that can produce as much as 30 megawatts. Construction of the facility began in 1998 and its turbines became operational in 2001.

Marvin DeKing lives across Buyea Road and said he heard a loud bang about 3 or 4 a.m. Sunday. He said it wasn't until daylight that he learned the windmill had toppled over.

"We were notified by the owners of the wind farm this morning," said town Supervisor Russell L. Cary, from his home Sunday night. "They detected it and were out there looking at it. They don't know what happened. They're basically investigating what happened."

Mr. Cary said the 187-ton turbine is located on private land leased by the wind farm's owners, Canastota Windpower LLC., a subsidiary of Enel North America Inc. The turbine crashed to the ground in a cornfield more than 1,000 feet from the nearest road or home.

The company, based in Andover, Mass., operates a pair of wind farms in New York — a 6.6 megawatt facility in Gainesville, Wyoming County, and the Fenner wind farm. The company also owns wind farms in Minnesota, Kansas, Texas and Newfoundland.

Mr. Cary said the importance of the town board's discussion to regulate where the turbines can be placed didn't hit home until Sunday morning, when he saw the mangled tower laying in the field.

"We'd always said we wanted to learn about its impacts," Mr. Cary said.

Enel spokesman Hank Sennott said the company is investigating, but doesn't believe the collapse was caused by sabotage. He estimates the cost to replace the turbine at $2 million to $3 million.

This is the second industrial turbine to collapse in New York this year.

In March, the blades of a 392-foot-tall turbine in Altona, Franklin County, reportedly "ran away," spinning uncontrollably after the unit's braking system failed. The turbine caught fire and partially collapsed, forcing emergency crews to douse flames in the turbine's base.

At the time, area residents heard what sounded like an explosion, and then a repetitive booming noise lasting a few minutes, the Plattsburgh Press-Republican reported.

Turbines similar to the size of the one that fell Sunday are expected to have a 20 to 30-year life span, according to information provided by Minnesota-based wind developer National Wind.

Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties are home to a single wind farm, a 195-turbine facility in Lewis County named Maple Ridge Wind Farm. A number of other wind farms, of various sizes, are being proposed for Galloo Island, the town of Martinsburg, Clayton, Orleans and Cape Vincent.

Remember this story from 2008? - Helicopter crashes, 4 suffer minor injuries

ENNER — Four people suffered minor injuries when their company helicopter crashed Tuesday in foggy conditions near a windmill farm in Central New York, state police said.

Initial reports were that all four people were able to walk away from the downed aircraft, said Trooper Jim Simpson, a state police spokesman.

The private helicopter was owned by Canastota Windpower, a wholly owned subsidiary of Enel North America Inc. The helicopter crew was doing routine maintenance when the pilot became disoriented in the heavy fog.

“It appears it was more of a hard landing, but we’re still investigating. We were expecting the worse when the call first came in,” Simpson said.

The Fenner wind farm consists of 20 wind turbines. Located about 30 miles east of Syracuse, it began producing power in 2001.

Associated Press

The Ithaca Journal

15 January 2008

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Windmill Hits the Ground by Karen Lee

FENNER, N.Y. -- A windmill that stretched more than 300 feet into the sky, crashed to the ground early Sunday morning.

"There was no wind or nothing, just calm and quiet out. I just heard a noise and it was just like thunder and lighting. It went boom," said Marvin Deking, who lives across the street.

"It's just amazing to see it down like that. We've seen them when they were first putting them up but not like this," said Vickie Roberts, a Perryville resident.

The windmill is located near Buyea Road and is part of the Fenner Wind Farm, operated by Enel North America.

Buyea Road is about a quarter to half-a-mile from where the windmill stood, and with nothing else in its vicinity, there was no real danger to the people who live here.

"Nobody was hurt. It's well-designed, there's plenty of safety built into the farm," said Russell Cary, the Fenner town supervisor.

Crews secured the scene throughout the day as they waited for Enel officials to arrive and begin the investigation.

"This is a lesson we're going to learn and hopefully make the whole process better and I'm sure they'll be checking other ones also, once they realize what really happened," said Carey.

Nineteen other turbines generate electricity for the wind farm. It'll cost approximately $2 million to $3 million to repair the windmill.

Enel officials arrived on scene Sunday evening to begin their investigation. They don't expect to find out what caused the collapse until at least until Monday.

The remaining turbines on the wind farm have been turned off for the time-being.

Concerns in light of the Fenner turbine collapse

The following letter was received by us and is addressed to people who have signed a lease option with Ecogen. If the option is due to expire, you may want to consider the following information before you put your land back under Ecogen's control.

You may want to take another look at the real estate tax part of the agreement. The company is supposed to pay all taxes attributable to the wind towers. The wind towers are exempt from taxation for 15 years in New York. At the Fenner, NY project the wind towers were listed as improvements on the tax parcel owned by the landowners. Could the same thing happen here? Keep in mind that you will be addressing this issue 15 years in the future. What is the likelihood that you will be dealing with the same company you signed with? 15 years seems like a long time and you received your annual lease payment in that time but what do you suppose the taxes are on a commercial power generating wind tower? And let's not overlook what the tax consequences would be if the wind company went bankrupt. You may want to look into Ecogen's history of wind project construction and management or the lack thereof.

Ecogen has publicly stated that many of its towers will be interconnected with ABOVE ground transmission lines. The lease says under the "use" clause that the tenant (Ecogen) has the right to use the property for constructing transmission lines. It does not say they will be underground. Ecogen told me and other landowners that the lines would be underground but it is not in writing.

You may want to look at the right of first refusal clause. My lawyer said that to sign this agreement would take away my right to sell my property to whom I wanted. The clause says that Ecogen has the right of first refusal if the land owners desires to sell or to "effect any other form of transfer with respect to the land". How does this effect parents who may want to give the land to their children? How does this effect the landowner's will/estate? How does this effect land with multiple owners who may want to buy each other out at some point? What happens in cases of divorce? Why does a wind tower lease even need to include this clause?

The scope of construction necessary to erect the wind towers should also be reconsidered. The South Bristol Views website says that "Ecogen has already stated that they would have to clear-cut at least a 350' circle for each turbine just to assemble the blades". The New York State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA) describes the following in "A Guide for Local Authorities in New York": Access roads to each turbine location are typically 18-20' wide. Crane pads are installed along access roads and adjacent to the tower foundations. Foundation excavation is additional to the area described. All this area needs to be clear cut in wooded areas. NYSERDA's guide also says that each turbine may require up to twenty cement trucks. The turbines themselves come in 10-20 tractor trailers with additional tractor trailers needed to bring in other tools and construction materials. Does your lease agreement say anything about Ecogen restoring the area to pre-construction condition? Does your lease say anything about tower removal if they are no longer in use? Consider this along with the real estate tax implications above.

Lastly, people should consider the liability they may be taking on by allowing wind towers to be constructed on their property. Ecogen plans on putting towers as close as 120' from my lot line. Blade and ice throws, tower collapse, fire, noise, soil erosion/disruption of natural drainage, and the potential to negatively effect ground water sources and wells are all concerns that have been voiced and debated. What landowners need to consider is in the event that a wind tower somehow damages a neighbor's land, who is responsible to pay for damages? You can argue about the likelihood of any of above concerns, but are you prepared for the consequences if they do occur? I doubt if your homeowners insurance is going to cover the potential damages a 400' power generating wind tower may cause. Did your agreement say that Ecogen will be responsible for any and all damages that the construction or operation of the wind towers may cause? Mine didn't. Be aware that NYSERDA lists distance as the factor which will mitigate the above listed effects on neighboring properties. Here there are virtually no setbacks. I have found no other wind project in the U.S. which puts wind towers right on top of neighbors lot lines as is proposed here. Do you really want to be pioneers into the uncharted waters this project poses? Make sure any reassurances given by the sponsoring wind companies are given in writing.

Officials investigating why 187 ton windmill collapsed in Fenner by John Mariani

Fenner, NY -- Marvin DeKing already was up and awake between 3 and 4 a.m. when he heard a loud bang.

"It sounded like thunder and lightning," said DeKing, of 5206 Buyea Road in this rural town east of Cazenovia. But it wasn't until daylight that DeKing learned what had caused the noise: The 187 ton windmill across the road from his house had fallen over and lay sprawled in the cornfield in which it stood.

The 200-foot-plus structure is one of 20 windmills that generate electricity at the Fenner Wind Farm operated by Enel North America.

Officials from Enel's headquarters in Massachusetts began arriving in Fenner around 3 p.m. to begin investigating the incident.

“I don’t think we have any idea what happened at this point,” company spokesman Hank Sennott said.

The company will conduct a thorough investigation into the “highly unusual occurrence,” he said. He said he does not think there’s any possibility sabotage caused the windmill to topple.

Sennott said he believes this is the only one of Enel's 260 turbines in the United States and Canada to fall. He estimated the replacement cost at $2 million to $3 million.

It's unlikely that high winds knocked over the windmill. Winds gust up to 31 mph were recorded at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in nearby Hamilton, about 17 miles away, but then died down, said Dave Nicosia, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Binghamton. By 3 a.m., the winds in Hamilton were 10 mph, with gusts up to 17 mph.

“The winds certainly are going to be stronger higher up. I don’t know what it takes to knock one of them (windmills) down. Probably not 40 mph winds. That’s not a terribly unusual wind,” Nicosia said.

Fenner Supervisor Rusell Cary said he was informed about the collapse this morning by Steve Pike, Enel's project manager for the site.

Pike said when the tower fell it activated an alarm at a substation on Peterboro Road. Workers came to Buyea Road and discovered the windmill down.

By midday, officials had set up a wooden barracade at the foot of the gravel road that leads from Buyea Road to the disabled mill. Curiosity seekers drove past and some snapped photos of the downed tower and its now mangled vanes.

The 20 windmills in the Fenner wind farm were erected in 2001 atop a majestic hill. The project cost $34 million. At the time, it was the largest wind-energy facility in the Eastern United States. It no longer is the largest, but when all the blades are spinning, the farm's turbines provide enough electricity for 10,000 homes.

The windmills are the biggest landmarks, and a tourist attraction, in Fenner, a town with about 2,000 residents where farming remains the main occupation.

The toppled windmill stood 212 feet from the ground to the center hub, 329 feet to the tip of a blade at its full height. By comparison, the 23-story State Tower Building, the tallest in downtown Syracuse, is 315 feet high. The windmill's tower is made of steel and the blades of fiberglass.

Sennott said Enel shut down its 19 other windmills in Fenner after discovering Turbine 18 on the ground. Enel’s other windmill farms remain in operation today in Minnesota, Kansas, Texas and Newfoundland. Officials at those operations were made aware of the problem in Fenner, Sennott said.

"I wouldn't speculate on anything," Cary said when asked why he thought the windmill went down. "We don't know what the issue is. I'm just hoping we can learn from it."

Bob Stinson, a resident of South Road near Fenner, said it sounded like "a sonic boom" when the windmill toppled.

"I felt it. It shook the house. It woke me up," Stinson said

Windmill Hits the Ground by Martha E. Conway

A windmill on Buyea Road in the Fenner Wind Farm Project hit the ground Sunday morning. The collapsed equipment was discovered Dec. 27 by staff of Enel North America, the Andover, Mass., company that owns the project, while doing routine monitoring of their equipment.

Town of Fenner Supervisor Russell Cary said he doesn’t know whether the problem was discovered through the wind farm’s extensive computer monitoring system or by physical rounds, but he said nobody was injured in the collapse.

“This is an example of something that went right,” Cary said of the lack of casualties in the incident. “You can have all the experts in the world conduct all the studies in a lab, but the real learning happens in the field.”

Cary said planning precautions implemented prior to the construction of the wind farm in 2001 required certain setbacks and “collapse distances” to prevent damage to surrounding structures and town infrastructure in the event of an equipment failure.

“They will learn something from this,” Cary said. “And you want to learn as much as you can so there is no impact if something goes wrong.”

He said the windmill fell within the anticipated zone and about a half-mile from any roadway.

“Once it started to fall, gravity took over,” Cary said, explaining that fears of windmill debris scattering to the four winds and injuring property or people are unfounded. “There’s a big dent in the cornfield. That’s the extent of the damage.”

As of press time, Cary said Enel crews were en route to conduct a full investigation.

About the Fenner Wind Farm

The Fenner Windpower Project consists of 20 wind turbines, each with a capacity of 1.5 megawatts for a total installed capacity of 30 megawatts. Each wind turbine generator consists of a concrete foundation, a 213-foot-tall tubular steel tower, a 231-foot diameter, three-bladed rotor connected to a gearbox and generator, and an electrical control center to automatically operate the system.

The towers are 13.5 feet in diameter at the base and 8.5 feet at the top. The total height of each tower with blade extended is 328 feet; each blade is 113 feet long.

Each turbine weighs 380,000 pounds; the concrete foundation for each tower weighs more than 610,000 pounds. Access to the top of the tower is made by use of a vertical ladder located inside each tower.

The project is located in the town of Fenner, about 20 miles east of Syracuse in Madison County. The project encompasses about 2,000 acres of leased land running from the intersection of Mile Strip and Bellinger Roads in the North to the intersection of Buyea and East Roads in the south.

Two additional wind turbines and the electrical substation are located south of the intersection of Peterboro and Rouses roads, east of the main project site. Electricity produced by the windmills is transmitted to the National Grid power grid.

Construction began in June 2001 and was completed in November of that year.

The Fenner Wind Farm will be featured again on the History Channel’s Modern Marvels: Renewable Energy, replaying Jan. 24 at 9 p.m.

Fenner Collapse Turbine Photos

Turbine falls at Fenner wind farm

Fenner, Madison County (WSYR-TV) – A turbine at the Fenner wind farm has toppled, and engineers are on the scene trying to figure out how it happened.

The tower, which is more than 200 feet long, is located just off Buyea Road, and is one of 20 generating electricity.

"I was turning over in bed and it sounded like a big clap of thunder" said Jill Van Allen, who lives across the street. "I was waiting to see the lightning through my bedroom window (but didn't)".

Fenner Town Supervisor Russ Cary was notified by company officials at Enel North America, which owns the farm. He tells us Enel did not have any answers as to how it happened, but adds, the towers were built a distance away from homes for this very reason-that if they collapse, they won't do any harm.

(Click to view video)

(Click to view second video)

Windmill falls at Fenner wind farm

Fenner, Madison County (WSYR-TV) – A windmill at the Fenner wind farm has toppled over, Town Supervisor Russell Cary confirmed Sunday morning.

The wind farm is owned by Enel North America, based in Massachusetts, and includes 20 windmills. The farm is serviced by a local team based in Cazenovia.

NewsChannel 9 has a crew preparing to travel to Fenner and we will bring you updates as soon as they become available.

Wind tower neighbor bought out for health reasons by Chris Braithwaite


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Positive Declaration and Public Scoping

Wyoming County - The Town of Orangeville, as lead agency, has determined that the proposed Stony Creek Wind Farm Project may have a significant adverse impact on the environment and a Draft Environmental Impact Statement must be prepared. Written comments on the draft scope will be accepted by the contact listed below until 12:00 p.m. on January 5, 2010. The action involves a proposal by the applicant, Stony Creek Energy, LLC, to construct a wind-powered generating facility consisting of up to 59 General Electric 1.5xle or equivalent, wind turbine generators (WTGs) each with a maximum height of nearly 400 feet. The project will also include an operation and maintenance (O & M) facility, a system of gravel access roads, a 34.5 KV electrical collection system of buried electrical cable from the 59 WTGs to a substation and one 262 foot permanent meteorological tower. The project is located in the Town of Orangeville, New York.

Contact: Susan May, Town of Orangeville, 3529 Route 20A, Warsaw, NY 14569, Phone: (585) 786-2883, E-mail:

Wind turbines affect public health

In a presentation to the New York State Legislature's Energy Committee in March 2006, titled "Wind Turbine Syndrome," Dr. Nina Pierpont cited numerous public health issues associated with siting wind turbines too close to homes, hospitals and schools. Dr. Pierpont graduated from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1991. She holds a Ph.D. in population biology from Princeton University, conferred in 1985, as well as a B.A. in biology from Yale University, conferred in 1977. Dr. Pierpont is also a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She can be reached at

In the opening paragraph she stated, "current (wind turbine) [siting] practices disregard public health." In the balance of her presentation, she addresses various maladies suffered by all citizens, including the rural, old, ill and very young when residing too close to wind turbines that have come to be called wind turbine syndrome. In the final paragraphs of her presentation, she stated that, based on all of the studies she has made, had access to, and correspondence with academia in New Zealand and Europe, "… there is in fact a consistent cluster of symptoms, the wind turbine syndrome, which occurs in a significant number of people in the vicinity of industrial wind turbines. There are specific risk factors for this syndrome, and people with these risk factors include a substantial portion of the population. A setback of 1.5 miles from homes, schools, hospitals and similar institutions will probably be adequate in most N.Y. State terrain, to protect people from the adverse health effects of industrial wind turbines."

The N.J. Department of Environmental Protection, the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders, citizens in nearby communities serviced by the Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority, the Union Beach Council, the Union Beach Board of Education, and the citizens of Union Beach themselves must decide whether or not the people shall be provided with the same protection from the wind turbine syndrome that was recommended for the residents of the state of New York. If they do demand it, the BRSA wind turbine project should be halted. If, in the end, they do not desire this protection, then the project should go forward. My home in Hazlet, is, as is a large portion of the Union Beach population, closer than 1.5 miles and I do want the same protection.

Charles E. Hoffman Jr. Captain U.S. Navy Reserve

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The rich and selfish strike in Houndsfield

So, this lady stands up at a Public Hearing, Monday, about the Galloo Island Wind Factory. She lives near the Watertown border of Houndsfield and she spoke in favor of the wind factory which is 22 miles from her home. She even gave some reasons why she thought wind towers were good. But then, she declared that the outsiders attending and speaking at the hearing had no business coming to her town and telling her town what to do about this issue. She closed her testimony by stating that the resistance to turning Lake Ontario into a wind factory was coming from those rich people. They were selfish.

Geeze, Lady! I sure respect your opinion. In fact, yours was probably the only opinion that your board even listened to. If you recall, your board was not as quick to cut you off under the time rule as they were the speakers who were giving the reasons not to approve the site plan. And for the first time during their meeting, some members of the board perked up. Even the guy who said wind towers were good because he worked for a wind tower company did not get that kind of attention.

But, to tell a citizen he or she has no right to comment at a public hearing when the Galloo project affects them, their home values and their businesses is wrong.

Blame it on the rich?

Call them selfish?

Let me remind you, Lady, that the wind developers who are about to take control over your town are very, very rich. And, that lawyer guy? Wind development has brought him riches you and I will never see.

Let me also remind you that wind developers are outsiders, too. So far outside that they have to cross big oceans to get to Houndsfield. And the next time they come, they will use a bigger plane because they will be bringing many of the wind tower workers with them.

And the lawyer guy? He is from the outside, too. In fact, he has been spending much of his time on the other side of New York filing law suits against towns who don't want to cooperate with his rich outsider wind developer friends from other countries.

And let me remind you that they are the ones that are selfish as hell. There is nothing more selfish than a corporation with carfully laid plans to make as much money as they can before they reorganize, sell out, or go bankrupt and disappear. And if you think these outsider rich guys are here to share significant amounts of their good fortune with you and your town taxpayers, think twice. The real generosity will be showered on the politicians who have made this project possible for the rich- outsider multi-national wind developers and their investors.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Bert Bowers December 12, 2009 Letter to the Town of Hounsfield Planning Board

December 21, 2009

Town of Hounsfield Planning Board
Ms. Kathy Snyder – Chairperson

C/O Ms. Diane Nier – Town Clerk
18774 County Route 66
Watertown, NY 13601

Copy: Honorable Robert F. Hagemann III (
Honorable Robert J. Thomas (
Honorable Barry M. Ormsby (

Honorable Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell
Jefferson County District Office
Dulles State Office Building, Suite 210
317 Washington Street
Watertown, NY 13601

Honorable Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava
93 East Main Street
Gouverneur, NY 13642

Supervisor Scott Aubertine, Town of Lyme

SUBJECT: Public Comments to Town of Hounsfield Planning Board Hearing
Upstate NY Power Corporation – Galloo Island Industrial Wind Project

Madame Chairwoman Snyder:

We thank you for the opportunity to offer public comments during your Planning Board’s deliberation of the subject project. At this time, the NYSDEC has not provided their final decision on the DEIS, as part of their SEQRA process. As we have previously noted the Town of Lyme will be affected due to its proximity to the project on Galloo Island. Citizens of Lyme are concerned about the effects on the viewshed, noise from the turbines impacting residents on Poimt Peninsula and the resulting deterioration in real estate values and assessed valuations.

As a result of our concerns, the developer has had a noise study done by Tech
Environmental, Inc. of Waltham, Massachusetts. To say that this study is inadequate is the kindest thing we are able to say about it. The authors assume a preposterous sound level in the quiet rural area of Point Peninsula of 50.7 decibels and on this basis conclude that noise from turbines will not be a problem.

Looking at the larger issues in this proposed development, we believe this project, as presently constituted, exposes Jefferson County and the affected communities to a great deal of risk for little, if any net benefit. Conversely, the developer, for a minimal amount of risk assumed by an LLC with little capitalization, stands to make huge profits at the expense of residents and communities in Jefferson County.

We advocate that, because the very usefulness of the project is dependent upon a satisfactory transmission of the power to the electrical grid, approvals of the project work on Galloo Island be delayed until the development of a feasible and satisfactory transmission alternative can be worked out to the satisfaction of all parties. It should be noted that the purpose of the transmission line is to carry any electricity generated by the project beyond the boundaries of Jefferson County.

Jefferson County and the affected towns surrounding Galloo or along the power distribution lines are the largest investors in this project The developer and his LLC will suddenly fade into oblivion if anything goes seriously wrong with this project and Jefferson County will be left with the result. The economic success of this project is totally dependent on the willingness of US taxpayers to continue to support an industry that is not economically sound. This is one of the major risks to the profitability of the project.

There are other considerable risks. The proposed turbines are larger than those of other projects and will be operating in a isolated island environment where maintenance and repair of the equipment will be difficult, if not impossible, at certain times during the year.

Above all, we implore the Town of Hounsfield and Jefferson County to realize that we, not the developer, are the major investor in this project and have far more at risk than the developer. We must resist efforts by the developer to speed up the approval process for his benefit. The PILOT, as developed by the JCIDA, is a bad deal for the County and its communities as it does not provide sufficient compensation for the evident risks and downsides to our community. We must take the time to thoroughly analyze this proposed project and its benefits, which as presently constituted are woefully inadequate, and its costs to the people of Jefferson County and the affected communities.

Respectfully submitted,

Albert H. Bowers III, Co-Chair
The Coalition for the Preservation of the Golden Crecent and the Thousand Islands

Voices of Vinalhaven, Maine Part 2 of 2

Voices of Vinalhaven, Maine Part 1 of 2

On December 19, WERU 89.9 FM radio conducted a lengthy interview with residents living near the Fox Island Wind Farm located in Vinalhaven, Maine, an island community about 12 miles off the coastline. The wind facility, consisting of 3 GE 1.5 MW wind turbines, was commissioned on November 17, 2009.

This video (part 1 of 2) was compiled using excerpts of the interview. Those speaking are describing their experience of living with turbine noise. The images appearing in this video are not from Vinalhaven, however, they are actual photos of other locations in North America where towers were sited very closed to homes.

The entire interview can be heard at WERU 89.9 FM .

Sunday, December 20, 2009

JCIDA probe

It was a surprise to learn that the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency has been used as a conduit to provide state retirement benefits to a host of staff serving other development agencies across Jefferson County.

As revealed at a recent meeting of the Watertown Local Development Corp., the longstanding practice has been for various economic development agencies to declare their staff to be employees of the JCIDA. Doing so allows them to qualify for pension benefits through the state retirement system. The JCIDA became an umbrella agency to funnel benefits to workers.

But the state comptroller's office has raised questions about the propriety of the relationship. It sounds much like what some municipalities and school districts across the state were doing by declaring their attorneys to be employees to earn state pension benefits. Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and state Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo put a stop to that.

Comments by JCIDA officials defensive of the arrangement raise many questions.

If, as claimed, staff at other economic development agencies are JCIDA employees, then what oversight does JCIDA perform?

What is the day-to-day working relationship between the JCIDA and the myriad employees, directors, consultants and secretaries who are supposed to be answerable to JCIDA Chief Executive Officer Donald C. Alexander?

In defending the practice, Mr. Alexander borrowed a ploy from former President Clinton ("it depends on what your definition of is is.")

Similarly, Mr. Alexander said, "It's a question of how you define employee."

Just what is the JCIDA definition of employee? Are they employees other than on paper? Are they paid by JCIDA? What control does the JCIDA have over their salaries or work hours? There is certainly more to it than just declaring someone an employee. Who sets the work agenda for these ghost employees?

The practice bears a thorough investigation by Mr. DiNapoli's office to determine its validity and accountability for any improper conduct.

Get a better deal on wind farm PILOT by JOHN P. GAUS

At a recent meeting of the Jefferson County Legislature, our senior executive for the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency and the lawyer for the Galloo Island Wind Farm project developer explained why they want the county to rush to pass a gigantic tax break for the developer before knowing all of the important facts. The developer needs the attractive deal from Jefferson County residents to help his bankers on Wall Street.

Before using rural taxpayer dollars to help Wall Street bankers, the county and JCIDA need to do more work. At a minimum we must ensure 1)that we get the best economic deal possible; 2)that the project complies with the law; 3)that the developer won't use eminent domain to seize our neighbors' property; 4)that we minimize the negative impacts to property values and waterfront communities, and 5)that we consider the alternatives to this type of industrial development.


The project as currently planned is likely a bad deal for Jefferson County. The only way to know for sure is to analyze the developer's detailed project models and review the same information that the developer has provided to its own investors. After all, our community is very much being asked to invest with our tax dollars and resources.

The deal for Jefferson County should be commensurate with the project's value to its other investors. The deal should let Jefferson County taxpayers share in the monetizeable value that the developer receives as a result of our tax break.

The deal should also seek a share of the 30 percent federal incentive in the form of town and county project equity, seek a share of the value of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority incentives, not waive taxes on the sale of the transmission line, and tie increased revenue to our taxpayers to total project revenue and/or sale value of the project instead of to power prices where power is already at an excess.


Eminent domain should only be used when the taking of land is absolutely necessary for the public good. This project is not necessary for our public good. Our region already runs at a power excess. Our region also already produces the vast majority of renewable power in New York state through the St. Lawrence Seaway Power Project, our many small hydro dams and the wind power already in the north country.

This project is a money grab for the developers made available to the developer as a result of massive subsidies. As the project is not required and arguably bad for our environment, we cannot allow it to utilize eminent domain against our neighbors.


There a number of ways that the current environmental impact statement on file for the project is likely not compliant with the law. First, the State Environmental Quality Review must consider the cumulative impact analysis when:

Part 617.7(c)(1)(xii) "two or more related actions undertaken, funded or approved by an agency, none of which has or would have a significant impact on the environment, but when considered cumulatively would meet one or more of the criteria in this subdivision."

A cursory read of the impact statement demonstrates this has not been done with respect to the New York Power Authority plan to put turbines in the water, the other planned projects in the north country or with respect to the planned transmission line which has been separated from the wind power project as a technicality and for convenience. This is wrong.

The environmental impact study is also deficient with respect to its environmental justice analysis, the state Department of Environmental Conservation Open Space Plan, petroleum and chemical bulk storage permitting, and the socioeconomic impact of the planned use of eminent domain which the developer does not acknowledge in the document.


The project as currently planned does not seek to minimize environmental or community impact. The transmission line is planned at over four times its required capacity. Many believe this is to allow for turbines to be placed in the water. We should seek to have the transmission line built only as required and get a written guarantee from the developer that turbines will never be allowed in the water in any future expansion to the Galloo Island project.

Additionally, we should demand the Federal Aviation Administration lighting plan for the project be changed. The plan could forbid towers in the water, minimize towers on the east side of the island, make the area a no-fly zone to do away with need for intrusive lights, or choose lights that point up with a nonintrusive wavelength.

If we do not improve the FAA lighting plan, the eastern end of the lake will look like JFK airport at morning, dusk and night. This will decrease property values, hurt tourism and damage our waterfront community businesses.


There are renewable energy and other economic development alternatives that may be much better than the wind power projects currently planned. Such projects likely require less in subsidy, create more benefit for our community and create more long-term jobs. Examples of these projects include agricultural scale wind for dairies and greenhouses.

Our local dairy industry is in crisis, and we produce little of our own food. If 500 households in Northern New York were able to buy all local food, there would be a greater net cash impact on our community annually than the Galloo Island pilot payments. Other project opportunities include biomass digesters and biomass farming, particularly willow plantations. Such development would produce environmental benefits, more jobs and more base-load power than Galloo Island.

We should investigate positive alternative development for the long-term good of our community. There is no need to rush into industrial wind power. If the planned wind power project are truly good project, they will still be good project 24 months from now. If we do this, we should take our time and do it right. Hasn't Wall Street hurt rural American enough already?

The writer is an owner of Golden Technology Management, a Potsdam firm that invests in commercializing renewable energy technology.

Wind-energy battle heats up in New York by Elizabeth Stull - Daily Record

A proposed wind-energy project in Yates and Steuben counties so far has churned up more legal disputes than clean fuel.

The project motivated voter turnout in November, when residents of two towns elected new board members who oppose the project as proposed.

Following the election, Ecogen Wind LLC filed two legal actions in Monroe County, claiming the towns of Italy and Prattsburgh are intentionally and illegally thwarting a planned wind farm project there. Ecogen v. Town of Italy, Ind. No. 09-15485, and Ecogen v. Town of Prattsburgh, Ind. No. 09-16082.

Although Prattsburgh is poised to vote on a settlement with Ecogen, two minority town board members filed an action requesting separate counsel, claiming the town attorney has a conflict of interest. Kula and Shick, in their official capacities as Members of the Town of Prattsburgh Town Board v. Town of Prattsburgh Town Board, Ind. No. 09-17133.

All three cases currently are assigned to state Supreme Court Justice Stephen Lindley.

This week Justice Lindley will decide whether to transfer the Italy case to Yates County Judge Patrick Falvey, who presided in the FLPA's case challenging the town's wind zoning law.

Justice Lindley also is expected to rule on the Prattsburgh board members' request for counsel by the end of the year.

The project Ecogen seeks to build, respectively, 17 turbines in Italy and 16 turbines in Prattsburgh.

In court papers the company states the selected ridge-top sites are "truly rare and unique wind resource[s]" due to high wind speeds and the site's proximity to an existing transmission line that could supply to electricity to the power grid.

Ecogen's Article 78 action against Italy asks the court to review why its special use application under the town's new wind zoning law was rejected.

The company's action against Prattsburgh claims the town threatened to issue a moratorium and cites disagreements and delays over building and road permits, noise and other issues, including monetary benefits to the town.

Venue Justice Lindley said from the bench Wednesday morning that he will grant a motion to transfer the venue of the Italy case to Yates County.

He did not immediately decide on the town's request to transfer the case to Judge Falvey in Yates County, however. He said he will issue a decision within a week.

Justice Lindley said he is willing to travel to a court more convenient for witnesses and interested observers. He accused both parties of "judge shopping. "

Italy's special counsel, attorney Edward Premo of Harter Secrest & Emery LLP in Rochester, argued the matter should be transferred to Judge Falvey because he already is familiar with the case's hefty record.

Premo also argued Judge Falvey should hear the case "in the interest of judicial consistency" and because the case would have been assigned to him had it been filed in Yates County. Allowing the case to proceed before a Monroe County judge would circumvent the court's assignment system, Premo said.

In the recent case before Judge Falvey, Italy and Ecogen both stood on the same side defending the town's wind zone law, Premo said. Finger Lakes Preservation Association v. Town Board, Town of Italy, et al, Ind. No. 2009-237

Laurie S. Bloom, counsel at Nixon Peabody LLP's Buffalo office, argued Wednesday there is no legal authority for removing a case to a particular judge.

"Judge Falvey never had this case," Bloom said. She argued the only issue argued before Judge Falvey was the town's zoning law.

"We have no beef with the wind zone law or the [environmental impact statement] for the wind zone law," she said. "This is a zoning issue. We followed the procedure, they turned us down. "

On Dec. 11, the Finger Lakes Preservation Association - which previously opposed the Town of Italy's new wind zoning law - sought to intervene as a party on the town's side in the pending case. That motion is returnable Jan. 6.


Early last week Justice Lindley issued a temporary restraining order to prevent Prattsburgh from voting on the proposed Ecogen settlement before it investigated whether its minority board members are entitled to independent counsel.

The board convened Monday and voted 3-2 that the two minority members do not require independent counsel under Local Law No. 1, (similar to Public Officers Law No. 18).

During a telephone hearing late Tuesday afternoon, Justice Lindley lifted the TRO to allow Prattsburgh to vote on the proposed settlement. He did not yet rule on whether the town conducted an adequate investigation of the minority board members' request.

Prattsburgh did not vote on the settlement at its scheduled meeting Tuesday night, however since one of the three pro-settlement board members was absent.

Attorney Edward Hourihan of Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC in Rochester, represents minority board members Steven Kula and Charles Shick and said the next board meeting will be held Friday night.

If the settlement is approved, the town is expected to seek court approval under Town Law §68.

"There's a lot of head scratching by the board and town attorney as to how Judge Lindley's decision is to be acted on," Hourihan said Wednesday morning. "Our contention was that Ecogen and the outgoing board were just attempting to railroad this through before the new board comes in. "

The town attorney for Prattsburgh, John Leyden, did not return calls for comment before press time.

"Ecogen is basically going to court to overturn the election results," said Anthony Carter, a Town of Italy property owner who attended Wednesday's hearing.

Ecogen attorneys Bloom and Robert Burgdorf declined to comment on the case.

Turbine company blows off Kittery

KITTERY, Maine — The town could well be out nearly $200,000 for a wind turbine that never performed up to expectations, now that the Canadian company that manufactured it has declared bankruptcy.

The town was to be repaid $191,028 by Entegrity Wind Systems Inc., beginning in June, when the town announced the turbine at the Kittery transfer station was producing only 15 percent of the electricity expected.

Under the terms of the agreement with Entegrity, the company would make monthly payments starting in July with a balloon payment this month for the remainder of the cost of the turbine.

To date, Kittery hasn't received any money.

"It's unfortunate," said Town Manager Jon Carter. "The energy committee did everything in the right vein, the town did everything in the right vein. Unfortunately, wind levels as far inland as Kittery are not the most efficient for wind turbines."

The 50-kilowatt turbine installed in October 2008 failed significantly, producing less than 11,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. Entegrity had estimated it would generate 70,000 kilowatt hours.

Entegrity Chief Executive Officer James Heath was unavailable for comment Wednesday. However, according to published reports in Prince Edward Island, Canada, and Boulder, Colo. — where Entegrity had a sales office — the company went into bankruptcy in October.

At the time, it owed $3 million to Toronto-based Mercantile Finance Services and more than $6 million to other creditors, the Boulder Daily Camera reported.

Carter said he has been in contact with Heath right up to the present and said the reason for the bankruptcy was "the recession and business practices." He referred further questions to Heath.

Carter said "we had been monitoring the bankruptcy proceedings, but there wasn't too much we could do about it."

He said Heath is trying to form a new company, and "he's still hoping to honor his agreement with us."

The turbine is still in place at the transfer station. According to Carter, Entegrity contracted with a computer company that monitored several hundred turbines, including the one in Kittery. The town also had a card that it could use to regulate the turbine. When the center shut down because of nonpayment from Entegrity, the turbine blade locked and the card was rendered inoperable, he said.

Carter said he is in talks with Cianbro Corporation, which has a wind division. He has also talked with the computer company and determined the town might be able to regain control of the turbine for $1,200 a year. One path he is pursuing is having Cianbro take over maintenance and keep the turbine running.

Asked why the town would want to run a poorly performing turbine, he said, "if the asset is standing still, is that best for it or is it the best idea to get it going again?"

Another possibility might be selling the turbine, which the Town Council has the authority to do.

"There's no rush here," he said. "It is discouraging, but we're going to keep an eye on what's happening and keep our options open."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Towns should be proactive on wind turbine rules

As the cold winter wind whips through the region, there’s one bright spot to think about — the state’s potential to harness that energy into electricity.

But that potential also brings concerns about wind turbines making noise, harming birds and disturbing the bucolic landscape.

That’s why municipalities need to take a proactive stance similar to what the town of Victor did this week.

The town board adopted a law that sets up rules regarding wind turbines. Although there are currently no wind turbines in Victor, the board decided to be proactive after seeing problems elsewhere.

Specifically, town boards in Prattsburgh and Italy have confronted lawsuits from a wind energy company.

Despite the issues, wind power is an alternative energy that belongs in a strategy of reducing this country’s dependence on fossil fuels.

Wind power doesn’t pollute and it’s a way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. And New York’s high electricity rates have long been a concern of businesses.

In terms of wind power, New York state ranks 15th in wind energy potential, according to the American Wind Energy Association. The Lake Ontario region is well suited, and the New York Power Authority is soliciting proposals from developers for lake-based turbines.

Several wind energy companies have cropped up in the region, and there’s potential to grow those, which means more job opportunities.

On Wednesday, the state Public Service Commission gave those efforts a boost when it pledged $200 million to help further develop the production of electricity by wind, water and biomass. The goal now is to have renewable energy providing 30 percent of electricity consumption in the state by 2015.

Town governments are right to be cautious about wind power, while recognizing their responsibility to help diversify energy resources.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on a Natural Experiment - Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD

Executive Summary

The core of the book is a scientific report presenting original, primary research on symptomatic people living near large industrial wind turbines (1.5-3 MW) erected since 2004.

These are the findings:

1) Wind turbines cause wind turbine syndrome. We know this because people have symptoms when they are close to turbines and the symptoms go away when they are away from turbines. The study families themselves figured out that they had to move away from turbines to be rid of their symptoms, and nine out of ten have moved. Some sold and some abandoned their homes.

2) People do not abandon their homes out of “annoyance,” and Wind Turbine Syndrome is not a subset of annoyance.

3) The symptom cluster is consistent from person to person, hence the term “syndrome.”

4) The symptoms are sleep disturbance, headache, tinnitus (ringing in ears), ear pressure, dizziness, vertigo (spinning dizziness), nausea, visual blurring, tachycardia (fast heart rate), irritability, problems with concentration and memory, and panic episodes associated with sensations of movement or quivering inside the body that arise while awake or asleep.

5) Children are affected as well as adults, especially older adults.

6) People with pre-existing migraine disorder, motion sensitivity, or damage to inner ear structures (such as hearing loss from industrial noise exposure) are more susceptible than other people to Wind Turbine Syndrome. These results are statistically significant (p < 0.01).

7) Wind Turbine Syndrome symptoms are not statistically associated with pre-existing anxiety or other mental health disorders.

8) The sample size of 10 families/38 people was large enough for statistical significance with regard to susceptibility or risk factors.

9) The susceptibility factors are clues to the pathophysiology of Wind Turbine Syndrome. The symptom complex resembles syndromes caused by vestibular (inner ear balance organ) "Wind Turbine Syndrome" book Executive Summary dysfunction. The proposed mechanism is disturbance to balance and position sense by noise and/or vibration, especially low frequency components of the noise and vibration.

10) An extensive review of recent medical literature reveals how balance-related neural signals affect a variety of brain areas and functions, including spatial awareness, spatial memory, spatial problem-solving, fear, anxiety, autonomic functions (like digestion and heartbeat), and aversive learning. These known neural relationships provide a robust anatomic and physiologic framework for Wind Turbine Syndrome.

11) Medical and technical literature on resonance of sound or vibration within body cavities (chest, skull, eyes, throat, ears) is reviewed, since study subjects experienced these effects.

12) Published studies of documented low frequency noise exposure (both experimental and environmental) are reviewed. These demonstrate effects on people similar or identical to Wind Turbine Syndrome. Indeed, one published study from Germany in 1996 may indeed be Wind Turbine Syndrome.

13) Recent survey studies of people who live near wind turbines in Sweden and the Netherlands are reviewed. These show that people are severely annoyed at noise from wind turbines at much lower A-weighted noise levels than for traffic, train, or aircraft noise.

14) Recommendations from the World Health Organization on environmental noise with low frequency components are reviewed.

15) Published studies of effects of environmental noise on children’s learning are reviewed.

16) With regard to Wind Turbine Syndrome, further research is needed to prove its physical causes and physiologic mechanisms, determine how many people are affected, and to further explore how it affects special populations, such as children.

17) This study and other studies reviewed in the report indicate that safe setbacks will be at least 2 km (1.24 miles), and longer for larger turbines and in more varied topography.

The book further includes:

A) Full case histories—the words and experiences of all the study subjects (including children), presented in an organized tabular format.

B) The report presented again in non-scientific, layman's language, explaining the medical, technical, and statistical aspects of the study. This section is illustrated.

C) Peer reviews and commentary by scientists and university physicians.

D) Introduction, complete list of scientific and medical references, glossary, and list of abbreviations. "Wind Turbine Syndrome" book Executive Summary


Australian legislators call for 2 km setbacks, minimum (New South Wales)


White House set to increase clean energy tax credits by $5bn

The White House is proposing a $5bn (£3bn) increase in clean energy tax credits as part of a push to spur green collar job growth and expand US renewable energy capacity.

The proposal, unveiled yesterday by vice president Jo Biden, would extend existing tax breaks for manufacturers in the wind, geothermal and solar sectors in the US, raising the current $2.3bn cap on tax credits to $7.3bn.

If Congress approves the initiative, new or expanded factories that make products such as wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles would get a 30 per cent tax credit.

Vice president Biden said the first round of tax credits had proved an " overwhelming success" and that there were more qualified applicants than expected.

"While the public and private sectors are creating a demand for new industries such as wind, solar, high-speed rail and medical IT, we need to do more to ensure that we make these products in America," he said in a statement.

The administration received more than 1,000 applications for the initial $2.3bn round of tax breaks. Of these, 600 were granted tax credits, but a large number of eligible proposals are thought to have been rejected due to the cap on the amount of money available. The successful applicants will be announced early next year.

The White House said the money for the new tax credits would come from $200bn in savings from the bank bailout fund, which the administration has extended until next year.

The plan also calls for increased investment in public works, small business tax cuts and incentives for homeowners who retrofit their houses to be more energy efficient.

In addition to the tax break announcement, Biden's office also released a progress report this week on the US transformation to a clean energy economy.

It stated that by the end of next year the country will be committed to more than 15GW of new wind, solar and geothermal energy capacity, adding that the Department of the Interior has fast-tracked 30 renewable energy projects on federal lands in recent months.

It also said that $16bn of support for the electric car industry will mean three new electric vehicle plants and 30 new battery and other electric vehicle manufacturing plants will be opened in the next six years.

Meanwhile, new efficiency standards on appliances and white goods are being introduced at a rate of six a year and a programme to improve the energy efficiency of the homes of half a million low-income Americans will also be finished by the end of 2010, the vice president's office said.

The announcements are part of a US charm offensive designed to convince countries at the Copenhagen summit this week that the administration is fully committed to delivering cuts in carbon emissions.

The US has faced fierce criticism in recent days for failing to commit to sufficiently ambitious emission reduction targets or table an overall funding pledge to help poorer countries cope with climate change.

In an indication of the growing tensions at the talks, German chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday sided with poorer nations in criticising the US commitment to cut emissions by just four per cent on 1990 levels by 2020, arguing the target was "not ambitious".

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"The Wind Farm Scam" by John Etherington

Ladies & Gentlemen:

It may be a bit too late to obtain copies of the new 198-page book by British ecologist, Dr. John Etherington, "The Wind Farm Scam," as Christmas gifts for your friends, but it's well worth getting (and giving) copies of the book as soon as you can secure them.

Stacey (UK) is the publisher. It's available in the US via the Internet from Amazon for $14.00, Books-A-Million for $16.15 and Borders for $17.95. (Barnes & Noble apparently haven't awakened yet.) The ISBN is 9781905299836. It took about 10 days to get the book from Amazon but that time probably will shorten as knowledge of the book gets around and orders flow in.

The book should be required reading for every high school, college, and university student -- especially in those institutions offering energy and environmental programs.

While written in the UK, most of the facts about "wind farms" are applicable worldwide. It explains wind energy and its limitations and environmental insults in easily understood terms It explains why wind will never provide a significant, reliable source of electricity.

As in the US, "wind farms" are being built in the UK primarily because of government fiat and huge government-forced subsidies, not because of their true environmental, economic or energy benefits. Apparently the tax breaks and subsidies in the US are even more attractive than those in the UK since two major oil companies, BP and Shell, have pulled out of UK "renewable" energy programs with the intent of focusing their attention (and renewable rent seeking) on the US and Canada.

Personally, I found Dr. Etherington's well research and clear-headed discussion of wind energy a very welcome relief from the wind energy madness now underway in the US. For example:

a. Decisions by the wizards of the US Department of Treasury and Department of Energy to give hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to firms (mostly foreign) for "wind farms," allegedly to promote job creation and economic activity -- even though many of the "wind farms" had already been built!!! (These wizards also continue to ignore the fact that a huge share of "wind farm" capital investment dollars for turbines, towers and blades -- flow to other countries.)

b. Continued promotion by the US DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (DOE-EERE) and the National Renewable Energy "Laboratory" (NREL) of a fundamentally flawed economic model that allegedly identifies the Job and Economic Development Impact (JEDI) of "wind farms" -- thus misleading local government officials and citizens who are called on to accept the massive, low energy producing, environmentally disruptive facilities.

c. Extraordinary expansion of tax breaks (PTC, ITC, 5-Yr.-200% DB accelerated depreciation, bonus depreciation) and subsidies (direct cash grants in lieu of PTC; more money for DOE-EERE and NREL wind energy "R&D;" and propaganda) for "wind farms" as a part of "stimulus" bills enacted during the past year -- all at the expense of US taxpayers and our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who will be saddled with the massive, rapidly growing national debt resulting from irresponsible actions by Congress and the last and current Administrations.

d. The DOE sponsored "study" that purports to show that 20% of US electricity requirements could be supplied by wind energy by 2030 -- a clear demonstration that most any outrageous, preconceived notion can be "proven" if one makes the "right" assumptions and ignores reality.

e. The recent release of a fundamentally flawed DOE-Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) "study" that defies common sense and real life experience by using large amounts of poorly selected, inapplicable, and inadequate data -- hidden behind seemingly sophisticated statistical techniques -- in an attempt to support a preposterous claim that "wind farms" do not adversely affect the property values of the people who find themselves living in the shadows of the massive, noisy structures. (The LBNL report has numerous "sound bites" that will undoubtedly be used by aggressive "wind farm" developers to confuse local government officials and ordinary citizens who will never have the time to find their way through the report.)

Best wishes and Happy New Year.

Be optimistic. Recognizing the developments we have seen during the last few months, we must be at or near the bottom!

Glenn Schleede
18220 Turnberry Drive
Round Hill, VA 20141-2574

No-show delays wind turbine vote by D & C reporter Steve Orr

Hours after a judge lifted an order blocking a Steuben County town board from voting on a wind-power developer’s lawsuit, the board met to consider settling the controversial case Tuesday night.

But one lame duck Prattsburgh Town Board member was an unexpected no-show at the meeting, and no vote was taken. Another meeting was scheduled for this Friday.

The developments Tuesday were just the latest wrinkles in a pair of lawsuits that Ecogen Wind LLC is using to try to compel Prattsburgh and neighboring Italy in Yates County to accept its proposed 33-turbine wind power project.

The Buffalo-area firm, backed by a larger partner from California, has sought permission for years from the two towns. But after the Italy board nixed that town’s part of the wind farm in October, and after voters chose anti-project majorities for both boards in November, the company filed its lawsuits asking the court to override the elected leaders and allow construction to begin.

After some Prattsburgh officials announced last week that they had arrived at a settlement with Ecogen and wanted to approve it before the board’s pro-wind majority left office on Dec. 31, two other board members asked state Supreme Court Justice Stephen Lindley to bar any vote. They argued that the Town Board had not properly considered their request for an independent lawyer to represent them in the case.

Lindley ruled late Tuesday afternoon that the matter had been properly considered, and said the board was free to vote on a settlement of the lawsuit. Lindley said, though, that he would not approve any lawsuit settlement until he had heard arguments and read legal papers submitted by the parties.

The matter was rendered at least temporarily moot when board member Sharon Quigley, who was expected to support the settlement before she leaves office, did not come to the meeting. Quigley could not be reached for comment this morning.

Town Supervisor Harold McConnell, who also leaves office at month’s end, said this morning that he hopes the board approves the settlement on Friday. He wouldn’t describe details of the proposed settlement but said it would allow the Ecogen project to go forward.

“We’ve supported the program right along and we’d like to see it go through,” he said. “The new regime when they come in … can tweak whatever they want.”

Does Prattsburgh Town Supervisor really have town's best interest at heart?

Prattsburgh, NY

In a letter to primary voters dated September 7, 2009 Prattsburgh Town Supervisor Harold McConnell stressed that “It is also important that you elect the representatives to the town board who have the town’s best interest at heart.” Now that the elections are over and the people have voted, it appears that Harold McConnell does not have the town’s best interest at heart. If he did he would be gracious enough to ensure a smooth transition for incoming supervisor Albert Wordingham, especially in light of the legal action taken against Prattsburgh by Ecogen LLC.

At the end of the November board meeting Harold announced the lawsuit filed by Ecogen and moved to go into executive session to discuss the matter. Councilmen Chuck Shick and Steve Kula moved to include incoming Supervisor Al Wordingham and incoming Councilwoman Anneke Radin-Snaith in the discussion as they would be on the board in less than two months. Mr. McConnell’s stance was that “they are not on the board yet.” True to form, Councilwomen Stacey Bottoni and Sharon Quigley voted with Harold to exclude them. Harold then went on to invite unelected Deputy Supervisor Dave Hall to the executive session, despite the fact that he must recuse himself from any wind farm discussion due to conflicts of interest. Also, as an appointee Mr. Hall is not in any capacity to actually represent the town’s residents so his presence is irrelevant.

At the December 7 special meeting, the board met to discuss a possible settlement with Ecogen. They again went into an executive session to discuss the matter, still excluding the incoming board members. Despite the fact the lawsuit appears to be baseless, the current majority of town board members are still willing to sell out residents and settle with a corporate bully that is largely funded by federal and state taxpayer dollars – our tax dollars.

In that same September letter, Harold made an impassioned plea to voters: “Don’t let them steal our town.” It makes one ask - just who is trying to steal the town and for what reason?

Angela Einwachter

WIND POWER: Don't overrule community wishes

Thank you for your article on industrial wind-energy development in Cohocton and neighboring towns ("Huffing and Puffing Over Wind Power," December 2). With an enormous impact on communities across western New York, this is an issue that deserves much more coverage.

When critics of wind energy say that "wind companies play down potential drawbacks such as noise," all the evidence is on their side. Peer-reviewed, scientific studies show that industrial wind turbines produce high levels of impulsive and low-frequency noise. The effects are commonly worse at night when people are trying to sleep. Not a few neighbors of wind farms have been driven from their homes.

Representatives of Ecogen, the company active in Italy and Prattsburgh, have stated publicly that they cannot find these studies, but if readers send a message to the Finger Lakes Preservation Association will tell them where they are. The literature is not hard to find.

As you note, Ecogen has sued Italy and Prattsburgh, claiming that they are preventing them from moving forward with their project. The facts are rather different. In both communities, the town boards have spent the past few years working very hard to move the Ecogen project forward. The Italy Board, especially, worked untold hours passing an incentive zoning law and reviewing Ecogen's permit application. Only in October of this year did the Board determine that the benefits and amenities offered to the town did not compensate for the negative impacts of the project and reject Ecogen's application.

In the recent election, all the incumbent Italy and Prattsburgh Board members up for re-election were defeated by candidates calling for a closer look at the costs and benefits of industrial wind development in our beautiful rural communities. So what Ecogen is asking the courts to do is set aside the votes of clear majorities of Italy and Prattsburgh citizens.

As Congressman Massa states, these companies "just go in and overrun the ability of the community to defend itself." Is this how we want our country to develop sustainable energy?