Cohocton Wind Watch: March 2009
Cohocton Wind Watch is a community citizen organization dedicated to preserve the public safety, property values, economic viability, environmental integrity and quality of life in Cohocton, NY and in surrounding townships. Neighbors committed to public service in order to achieve a reasonable vision for a Finger Lakes region worthy of future generations.

READ about the FIRST WIND Connection to the Obama Administration

Industrial Wind and the Wall Street Cap and Trade Fraud


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Not all Town of Eagle residents are happy with wind farms

Although there is no doubt that the Noble Environmental Power wind farm projects have been an economic boom to the townships of Eagle and Wethersfield, some Eagle residents are not altogether happy with the turbines.

Complaints by some regarding noise issues with the turbines have been brought to the town board's attention, most recently at the board's March 20 meeting.

At least one resident reports that the noise is interrupting his sleep, which in turn is affecting his health.

Paul Zawadski of Wing Street says the noise is worse from 10:00 p.m. to midnight and prevents him from sleeping a full night. Although Noble conducted a sound test as per its licensing agreement with the town, Zawadski believes it was not done properly.

He says he is also unhappy with the town board's response to his concerns. "I spoke with [Councilmen] Butch Keem and Will Herrick," he says. "Will [Herrick] tried, and met with [Project Manager Brett] Hastings at the Eagle office, but Noble would not do anything."

Zawadski said that Councilman Herrick suggested he have his own independent sound test done. "I'm holding off until spring," Zawadski said. "May is the worst time for the noise."

Several other residents of Wing Street have also voiced complaints about noise.

ANOTHER CONCERN some residents living near the turbines had was interrupted television reception.

A Route 362 resident, Glen O'Connor, lives within a mile of 27 of the turbines. "I have no television right now," he told the board. "Noble agrees there is a problem with TV reception."

He also cited noise and "shadow flicker" problems.

O'Connor, who attended the March meeting along with a neighbor, said that the company that did the study, Hessler Associates, is closely connected with Noble. "I had it reviewed by another guy," he said. O'Connor told the board that he videotapes the turbines and uses a sound meter to back up his claims. "My metering is honest and legitimate," he said, reporting that the sound level reaches over 50 decibels at times.

Adding his attorney fees were already very costly, O'Connor asked the board, "Will you help me with this. Pay my attorneys? What do you want me to do?"

O'Connor told the board that Noble's attorneys wanted him to sign a confidentially agreement, a stipulation he objects to.

When Supervisor Joseph Kushner asked Hastings why the confidentiality, he replied that the clause is in the town's agreement.

WHEN ZAWADSKI asked what could be done if his noise study found Noble was in violation, Kushner said," I'll talk to the attorney and see what we can do, legally. If we breach the contract we will be sued, and lose. We may have grounds, we may not."

He said that because of the host agreement with Noble, "We are limited as to what we can do." He explained the town chose the 50-decibel level for noise because it is the limit that other towns use.

Kushner agreed to look into the television reception matter and said, "I want the television thing settled tomorrow." He later explained that just five residents had reported television reception interference. Of these problems, three had been solved with new antennas. He said the two homes left were located in a valley.

"They [Noble] were not prepared for the change to digital TV," Kushner said, "but they know they have to fix it. They'll have to work it out contractually with the individuals."

Hastings told the board and the residents, "I'll be glad to go to Noble with whatever you plan to do."

"Noble will be doing another noise study north of Route 39 [the Wethersfield project]," Kushner later told the Herald, "and we'll see how that one goes."

"As far as O'Connor asking us to have Noble 'shut them down' we have a contract we have to abide by. The project is here to stay," Kushner said.

Wobbly wind sector sets sights on stimulus

SAN FRANCISCO -- Wind power developers have long relied on complex tax-equity financing to bring most of their projects to market, but that system, once hailed as innovative, has collapsed over the last year, leaving the wind sector flailing for the cash it needs to make generation projects a reality.

This is how it worked: Large financial institutions like AIG, Wachovia, J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo, Lehman Brothers and others would buy federal tax benefits from renewable energy startups that did not have enough taxable income to use the credits on their own.

In other words, big financial firms traded financing to offset tax liability. So-called tax-equity investors would bankroll a solar or wind project in exchange for a tax shelter, which was effectively pinned to profits. The system worked as long as Congress renewed the federal investment and production tax credits that granted developers a range of incentives, and it was widely viewed as a essential avenue within the renewable energy development community.

No more. The system, like other schemes crafted by insiders, has crumbled as AIG, Lehman and others have collapsed. The big boys no longer have cash to bankroll projects or the means to pull the profits to get credits, so the tax-equity space has turned into a financial dead zone.

According to figures from Hudson Clean Energy Partners, about 25 of the largest financial firms were active in tax equity for alternative energy in 2007. But at least 16 of them left the field last year (Greenwire, March 20).

That means an industry that had consolidated behind a handful of major players was left vulnerable to their demise. Wind in particular had banked on tax equity, financing 95 percent of its projects through this system in 2007 and following the same track in 2008 until the crash, according to numbers from J.P. Morgan.

So what now? Experts at a cleantech conference last week offered a simple fix: Figure out how to tap the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the economic stimulus law.

(Click to read entire article)

“Liens R Us” by Calvin Luther Martin

Timothy Chase lives in Chateaugay in a house with big fat liens on it. And I warn you right now this is going to be a sad story and if you don’t like sad stories stop reading right now.

I seem to remember Tim Chase writing numerous letters to the Telegram, singing loud hosannas to wind energy—to wind turbines in everyone’s backyard—to Noble Environmental Power—to the whole nine yards.

No one in Franklin County was more “clean green renewable” than Turbine Tim.

Then the Noble Power Bomb dropped.

This past week Tim had another letter in the Telegram. Quarreling with the news that Noble hadn’t paid a contractor’s bill, whereupon the contractor slapped a beefy lien on two or three farms in Chateaugay. (Alas, this was only the beginning of the “rain of liens.”)

Tim gird his loins once more, took up his righteous clean green renewable pen, and began squirting ink. Ridiculous, he pronounced it. A “joke,” he called it. Attorney General Cuomo’s “wind ethics task force”? Joke. And the Telegram’s entire report? Another joke.

Don’t worry, he reassured, “these liens are obviously the result of a dispute between Noble Power and the contractor over work that was completed or not completed.” In other words, Noble had a beef with the work that was done (more likely, not done), and told these bozos to stuff it.

Joke joke joke. End of story. (He even posted the letter twice, just in case we didn’t hear him the first time.)

(We pause for a suspenseful moment. In fact, let’s go outside for a smoke. Let me say—mind if I bum a cigarette?—that for years I’ve been convinced irony is one of the immutable and basic ingredients of the universe, along with gravity and space-time. The Greeks seemed to think so, too. They called it hubris, and were certain the gods took a dim view of it.)

Even as the ink was drying on Tim’s letter, an attorney named Cynthia Ludwig was sealing with a kiss three liens against Tim Chase’s properties.

The liens total $38,439.34. And this is no joke, Tim.

“Our vision is to be a leading supplier of clean, renewable energy from environmentally responsible facilities that will be a source of pride and benefits to the communities in which they are located.” That’s from Noble’s mission statement.

A source of pride and benefits to the communities in which they are located. Really? Looks to me more like this:

Life is hard.

It’s not just Tim and Ellen Chase. And it’s not just the 2 or 3 people named in the first Telegram article. As the Telegram pointed out yesterday, there are 45 of these unfortunates. Click here to see all 45 liens—and see if you’re included.

It doesn’t end with Franklin County, where liens now total $3.7 million and counting. Click here to see $6.4 million in Clinton County. Then click here to see Noble’s liens, to date, in Wyoming County (NY).

(Note to leaseholders in Franklin County: Forty-four of the 45 liens posted, above, arrived in the County Clerk’s office Tuesday 3/24/09 en masse. As a block. Figure this is merely the first wave. Contractors have, by law, till sometime this summer to file liens. You might want to check at the courthouse from time to time, to see how big is that ball and chain bolted to your house.)

Anyone wanna find Noble? Just follow the trail of liens.

(A note to Connie Jenkins at the Telegram, whom I suspect would pin Noble’s misfortunes on the bad economy, just as she blames cash-strapped Frank Cositore’s Flanagan problems on the bum economy. No, Connie, you’re wrong; these people are the bad economy. They are the reason the economy crashed and burned.)

It’s called gambling. Noble found eager gambling partners in big deregulated Wall Street banks, and between them they began “chasing phantom fortunes at the Wall Street card tables, like a dissolute nobleman gambling away the family estate in the waning days of the British Empire” (Rolling Stone Magazine).

Underlying the glamorous new world of finance was the process of securitization. Loans no longer stayed with the lender. Instead, they were sold on to others, who sliced, diced and puréed individual debts to synthesize new assets. Subprime mortgages, credit card debts, car loans—all went into the financial system’s juicer. Out the other end, supposedly, came sweet-tasting AAA investments. And financial wizards were lavishly rewarded for overseeing the process.

But the wizards were frauds, whether they knew it or not, and their magic turned out to be no more than a collection of cheap stage tricks. Above all, the key promise of securitization—that it would make the financial system more robust by spreading risk more widely—turned out to be a lie. Banks used securitization to increase their risk, not reduce it, and in the process they made the economy more, not less, vulnerable to financial disruption.

Sooner or later, things were bound to go wrong, and eventually they did. Bear Stearns failed; Lehman failed; but most of all, securitization failed. (Paul Krugman, “The Market Mystique,” NY Times 3/27/09)

A bubble. Noble Environmental’s bubble burst. These liens—a multitude of them—are what’s left. I have no doubt Noble is hoping to reconstitute its bubble under the Obama administration. The success of that gambit remains to be seen.

Tim, my friend, I think you’ll agree this is more than a dispute between Noble and a contractor or two. This is a company systematically stiffing contractors around the country. And you’re left holding the bag.

Ever wonder why Noble sliced and diced itself into an infinity of LLC’s? And what are the assets of each LLC, anyhow?

Chances are the assets of each LLC are close to zero, which of course was the whole point of forming them in the first place.

My guess is that Noble owns essentially nothing, having leased the white trucks, the trailers, the yellow Hummer, the office furniture—the whole shebang.

My guess is Noble doesn’t have the proverbial pot to piss in, and never did.

The contractors at this point don’t care a lot; what they have, Tim, is you. You have become Noble’s default bond. Your property = Noble’s security deposit when Noble skips out on the rent (as it were).

This is one of the 15 reasons why Noble didn’t offer to buy anyone’s land: Why on earth would it want to do that? Much better that you own the land, so you are responsible for Noble’s bills.

Get it?

The contractors know you have land and a house, and they know where that land and house are, and they now have a legal claim to both. That’s what the liens are about. And should you and your wife try to get a loan or, say, second mortgage to send your kid to college, or to buy or pay for whatever—you’re in trouble.

But you know this already. This is one of the reasons why AG Andrew Cuomo set up the statewide wind ethics task force. We are fortunate to have DA Derek Champagne sitting on that committee. I’m sure Derek is keenly aware of these liens.

Tim, I am not your adversary. Nor do I take pleasure in these liens. Yes, I suspected from the start that Noble was less than it claimed to be. Many of us pointed this out to your town board and the IDA’s (see Martin to Clinton County IDA 5/23/06). But I’m not going to flog you over this.

You have believed in renewable energy. I have, too. After all, I’m an intelligent man, as you are. The diabolical thing about renewable energy—any energy source, for that matter—is that it comes with baggage. Sometimes huge & scary baggage.

Wind energy, in my research, comes with more problems than it’s worth. Nuclear used to have huge problems. My understanding of nuclear is that many countries have solved the more egregious problems of nuclear, including recycling of spent uranium (witness France).

Back to Big Wind. I don’t think these turbines belong in people’s backyards. That’s been my position all along. And if your backyard abuts my backyard, and you put ‘em in your backyard, then by definition they’re in mine, as well. I suspect you and I would disagree endlessly on this point, so we’ll just drop it.

Noble’s shameless behavior is an altogether different matter. Whether you’re a fan of Big Wind or not (I am not), it’s clear that systematically ripping off contractors around the country is despicable. I would be despicable, too, if I didn’t pay my bills. There is no reasonable or acceptable excuse for this. Period.

I am sorry for this. I am sorry that a dream and a hope and goodwill held by many people, including you and your wife, should be soiled by Noble’s behavior.

Like you, I hope Noble pays its bills someday. And I hope those liens are removed from your property. And I hope wind energy turns out to be all you wish it would be—and I’m not being sarcastic. I mean this. I am not your critic, Tim. Yes, I am Noble’s critic, but not yours. Like countless other people, you acted in good faith, only to see it scorned. This is not something to gloat over; this is something to break one’s heart.

I share your pain, my friend.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Similar documents filed in Clinton, Wyoming counties

While liens were being filed against Noble Environmental Power and its subsidiaries in Franklin County, similar documents are being filed on landowners in Clinton and Wyoming counties including one filed in Clinton County by a local business owner.

According to documents at the Clinton County Clerk's office, a total of $6.4 million in liens have been filed on various subsidiaries of Noble Environmental Power LLC.

While The Telegram was able to obtain a handful of the lien documents, officials at the Clinton County Clerk's office said she could not say how many liens were filed there, noting "there are too many to count quickly."

One of the liens, filed against Noble Clinton Windpark and Noble Ellenburg Windpark, claims the company owes $3,839.48 to Adirondack Energy, a Malone fuel company. That lien is not filed in connection with a property owner who has an easement agreement with the company. Instead, it's filed on Noble's Clinton Ellenburg Substation.

Also in Clinton County, two electrical contractor labor unions -- International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (I.B.E.W.) Local Union 1249 and I.B.E.W. Local Union 910 -- have filed mechanics liens for work on the substation performed by Kay-R Electrical, now out of business.

One lien in Clinton County, filed by SPE Utility Contractors LLC on Noble Altona Wind Park LLC, says Noble has not yet paid $2.12 million for a "Fiber Optic Under Ground Collector System Package."

Other liens have been filed by Stuart C. Irby Co., an electrical contractor based in Jackson, Miss., and Versatile Office & Storage Inc. of Gansevoort.
In Wyoming County, 19 liens have also been filed on Noble's Wethersfield Wind Park.

Nine liens filed by Stuart C. Irby Co. in relation to the park total $393,621.96. The liens do not name individuals with easement pacts with the wind energy company, but instead name Noble Wethersfield Windpark LLC, Noble Environmental Power and Noble Constructors LLC.

Four separate liens were filed in Wyoming County by Robert Maxwell, an individual who said he performed the "acquisition of land rights and environmental permits, and the facilitation of compliance with local, municipal requirements" on Noble's behalf. The liens total $66,176. Three of the liens name local property owners, including a farm.

A third lienor, AECOM USA Inc., filed six liens totaling $206,698.08. One of the liens names an individual property owner.

Noble Environmental Power Communications Associate Maggie Wisniewski did not return a call for comment Wednesday night.

When reached last week regarding three earlier liens filed in Franklin County, Wisniewski would not respond to questions.

"We can't comment on these matters, so I guess I have to say Ono comment," Wisniewski said.

Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne, who sits on a Wind Ethics Task Force created by state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, said his office has been contacted about the liens.

Champagne said he is not at liberty to speak on the task force's behalf, but he said the group is in the process of scheduling its next meeting.

"It is something that has been brought to my attention," he said. "Several people filed complaints with my office about what's occurred. As a member of that committee, I am obligated to forward any complaints on to the committee as a whole."

Noble Environmental Power LLC currently has six operational wind parks in New York ¬ Noble Altona, Noble Chateaugay, Noble Clinton, Noble Ellenburg, Noble Bliss and Noble Wethersfield windparks.

The company is developing its Noble Bellmont, Noble Allegany and Noble Ball Hill windparks in New York, though Noble officials say the Bellmont project is on hold until the economy turns around.

Noble also has an operational park Noble Great Plains Windpark, in Hansford County, Texas.

The company is also developing windparks in Clay County, Minn., Coos County, N.H., and Rutland County, Vt.

Noble liens hit 43 more properties

Just a week after it was first reported that mechanics liens had been filed on three area property owners on land used by Noble Environmental Power LLC, 43 more such documents were filed in the Franklin County Courthouse including two on the Village of Chateaugay.

On March 11, three liens filed by electrical contractor Stuart C. Irby Company of Jackson, Miss., indicated that Noble has not paid $784,692.88 for "electrical materials and equipment and related services in connection with the construction and installation of a wind turbine project known as ‘Noble
Chateaugay Windpark, LLC' in the State of New York."

Late Tuesday and early Wednesday, the 43 new liens totaling just shy of $3 million were filed in the Franklin County Clerk's office.

While the lien documents are filed as a liability on Noble Chateaugay Windpark LLC and Noble Constructors LLC, they also include the property owners. The liens filed March 11 were on properties owned by Michael Garrow of Chateaugay; another is owned by Alonso Domingo of West Orange, N.J.; and the other is owned by Marjorie Cornell of Pawling, and Gary Cornell of York, Pa.

Garrow, the Cornells and Domingo are also named in the new liens, filed by Aristeo Construction Company of Livonia, Mich., for "excavation and backfill of soil, installation of steel and concrete foundation systems for placement of turbines, and erection and installation of turbine components." Also named in liens some property owners having liens filed on multiple easement properties are the Village of Chateaugay, Harrigan Brothers Dairy Farm, Timothy and Ellen Chase, John and Pamela Carroll, Kenneth and Bernice Dumont, Daniel Boadway, Clement and Jodene Lavoie, Edward Prechtl, Trainer Real Estate, William and Mary Jones, Peter and Linda Neveu, Kurt Peets, Thomas and Brenda Rabideau, John and Francois Cutting, Eugene and Kathy Lavoie, John Beckett, Shari Spaulding, Harry Otis, Ronald and Sandra Weaver, Bruce and Debra Bennett, St. Lawrence Valley Dairy Inc., Douglas and Sharon Malette, and Lloyd and Luciella Gillette. The individual liens range from $12,813 to $128,439.

Aristeo, in the documents it filed, said it performed a total of $26.63 million in work for Noble.

Having a lien on a property in addition to potentially damaging credit scores renders the owner unable to obtain a clear title to the property. It can also impact the owners' ability to obtain loans and lines of credit.

Every individual reached for comment Wednesday night said they had not been made aware of the liens.

"This is the first I've heard of it," said Sharon Malette. "We don't know anything about it. We have no comment."

Chateaugay Village Trustee Pat Dragon said the Village had not been notified of the liens placed on properties it owns on Sancomb Road. The liens on the village-owned property total $85,626.16.

"I don't know that there's a lot that we can do," Dragon said. "We need to get some answers. A lien is a lien, and we can't just make it go away. I can't see us paying the lien it's definitely more than we¹re making off the windmills."

When asked if the village had any projects that it hoped to fund with borrowed funds, Dragon said the village had been considering loans for a sewer system upgrade.

"This could affect the sewer project," she said. "It's definitely not something we can blow off."

Shari Spaulding said she and her husband were also not aware that the liens had been filed.

"I saw the article last week, but I wasn't aware that there was (a lien) put on our property," she said. "I'm not sure where this loophole was or how they could have put liens on my property. Things don't add up.

"It's something we saw coming. We saw the other liens. It could be that (the contractors) are just trying to get people to push Noble. I guess I can't blame the contractors for their wanting money."

Spaulding said she and her husband "haven't heard anything from Noble" regarding the liens or regarding any financial difficulties.

Noble Environmental Power entered into easement agreements with more than 50 area landowners in Franklin County for use of land for wind turbine development. The agreements specific to the liens were entered into by property owners and Noble Chateaugay Windpark LLC one of many Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) operated under Noble¹s umbrella.

Documents on file in the county clerk's office show at least 12 different LLCs under Noble's umbrella: Noble Bellmont Windpark LLC, Noble Burke Windpark LLC, Noble Chateaugay Windpark LLC, Noble Chateaugay II Windpark LLC, Noble Chateaugay LLC, Noble Chateaugay Windpark II LLC, Noble Cherry Hill Windpark LLC, Noble Clinton Windpark I LLC, Noble Development LLC, Noble Environmental Power LLC, Noble Constructors LLC, and Noble Environmental Power 2008 LLC. The LLCs are based in Delaware.

Prattsburgh Town Board Meeting Tuesday, 24 March, 2009

The Prattsburgh Town Board met at 7:30 PM this past Tuesday with the avowed intention of considering whether it should enact an up to six (6) month moratorium on wind turbines. Supervisor Harold McConnell defined a moratorium as a period in which no wind turbine physical activity, i.e. – construction of any sort, would take place. Harold advised those attending that no comments would be accepted other than from the Board members and the town attorney.

Beyond a particularly acrimonious and contentious flavor where those for and against a moratorium did everything but wear opposing jerseys, this particular meeting had three (3) decidedly unusual aspects.

The first was the presence of a representative from the Ontario County Sheriff’s Department who ‘wanded’ everyone who came in the door for weapons. (While I’m sure his intentions were good, he wasn’t; he missed the folder I’ve carried since I was a boy.) In response to my question as to what prompted searching all attendees, or at least those in the ‘audience’, a second officer said that it was his understanding “threats had been made” against Tom Hagner who was there with an Ecogen attorney.

The second unusual aspect was the presence of a woman with a state-of-the-art legal courtroom stenography outfit seated next to the Town attorney. While those of us who are not members of the Board and/or ‘seated at the table’ have often asked why a full, formal transcript is not made of every session, the interesting part was that no one I asked, including 2 Board members, knew for whom the transcript was being taken.

The third fascinating aspect was that the newly hired, outside, wind-knowledgeable attorney, Mr. Abraham was asked a series of extremely detailed and specific questions by Staci Bottoni but prevented by Harold from saying a word. Staci, who was the prime mover at the March 3rd Board meeting in her adamant insistence that an attorney with specific experience representing NYS communities on both sides of the issue should be hired, then attacked the poor fellow such that he undoubtedly wondered why he had not spent the evening home with his family.

Following Harold’s announcement that two (2) Board members – Staci Bottoni and Sharon Quigley - had met directly with Ecogen, Staci was asked to report on that meeting - a meeting which was not attended by the remainder of the Board.

Staci, with input and clear support from Sharon, then read a several page ‘statement’ which centered on six (6) issues:

1. That “all this” had been going on now for eight (8) years and that she, for one, simply wanted to get on with the process of putting up wind turbines.

2. She suggested a period of effort of working toward a “settlement” rather than taking steps which would “undoubtedly” lead to litigation, i.e. – a moratorium.

3. The Town should move forward in recognition of the fact that people in Cohocton were unhappy with the noise being generated but not to delay the project just because “some people” were unhappy with the noise level. Staci also reiterated that she and Sharon had been assured by Ecogen that the noise in Cohocton was the result of a design flaw in the ‘Clipper’ turbine which the manufacturer had committed to address and would not be an issue with the Siemens 2.3 MGW turbines Ecogen plans to use, the fact that particular turbine had been designed for off-shore rather than populated area deployments notwithstanding. Staci wants to accept Ecogen’s invitation to visit a wind farm outside Detroit to see firsthand what noise levels were being generated by the Siemens 2.3 MGW turbine. Chuck Shick pointed out that, now that winter had, for all intents and purposes, passed, a Detroit visit would not merit much return because the spring/summer wind level was less but Staci wasn’t buying. (It would be interesting to see a map of the turbine locations in Ecogen project with the homes of the Board members called out.)

4. Ecogen should offer a response to how the Town would be protected from potential liability issues connected with tower collapses such as the recent event in N. NY.

5. Ecogen must guarantee local jobs.

6. The Board why understand why Italy is getting a better deal.

Much of Staci’s statement was framed in the form of specific questions to Mr. Abraham who, while present - for whatever reasons - was not allowed to respond. Staci spoke glowingly of the Town’s “long term” attorney whose advice she said she was far more inclined to follow than Abraham’s which – at least as this meeting – was not presented.

After Staci finished her statement, Steve Kula and Chuck Shick attempted to ask questions and clarify aspects of the issues Staci raised but were prevented from doing so by Harold.

Harold asked then for and got a motion for a vote on a period to work toward a settlement rather than to consider a moratorium. Only Steve and Chuck voted Nay. The meeting lasted about 20 minutes.

The meeting was definitely short but not sweet.

PS: While the Prattsburgh legislative process is one-man-one-vote with non-resident taxpayers entirely exempted, it would be interesting to understand the ratio of taxes paid by each of the ‘audience’ as compared that paid by each of the Board members as a barometer of whether the fiscal interests of the Town’s residents at large are being adequately represented.

Charges against wind companies upheld

HOLLIDAYSBURG - A Blair County judge has upheld all but two civil charges brought against two wind companies by a Juniata Township couple, who have complained that 40 wind turbines on Blue Knob Mountain are noisy and cause light to flicker in their home.

Unlike Don Quixote de la Mancha, Dr. Todd Stull and his wife, Jill, are not simply "titling at windmills" in their ongoing lawsuit against Gamesa Energy USA and Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm, Judge Daniel Milliron said.

In a lengthy opinion, Milliron dismissed negligence and conspiracy claims against Gamesa, the Spanish company that produced the windmills installed two years ago in Juniata and Greenfield townships in Blair County and Portage Township in Cambria County.

Milliron refused to strike a charge of fraudulent misrepresentation against Gamesa and a similar charge, plus others, against Allegheny Ridge.

One of the Stulls' attorneys, Bradley S. Tupi of Pittsburgh, said the charges that were dismissed will not prevent the Stulls from presenting their case.

The next step will be for Allegheny Ridge and Gamesa to answer the Stull lawsuit.

Milliron ruled the crux of the Stulls' civil case is against Allegheny Ridge because it involves the operation of the wind farm as opposed to the construction of the wind turbines.

Allegheny Ridge once was va subsidiary of Gamesa, but in 2007, Allegheny Ridge was sold to Babcock & Brown, an international investment group.

According to the lawsuit, Gamesa and Allegheny Ridge made assurances during the planning stages for the wind farm that the turbines would not be noisy and that a 2,000-foot setback requirement would be enough to protect home owners against intrusion.

The Stulls say the resulting noise, vibrations and flicker have caused them to lose sleep and to suffer anxiety and emotional distress.

Allegheny Ridge denies the noise from the wind farm is excessive.

The civil case is important because state and federal energy programs emphasize the development of wind energy, but wind energy brings with it environmental damage to streams, and wetlands and animals, Tupi said.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Lawsuits, Altona accident end wind power in Beekmantown

BEEKMANTOWN — It's over.

Windhorse Power LLC proposed a 13-turbine wind-power facility in the Town of Beekmantown three years ago, and the Town Council shot it down at their regular meeting Monday night.

Windhorse's project was approved Feb. 1, 2007, by the Beekmantown Zoning Board of Appeals.

Beekmantown residents have spent more than $70,000 in lawsuits against the town Zoning Board and Windhorse.

As a late item on the agenda, Town Councilwoman Sydney Sue Garrant proposed that the conditional-use permit be revoked and the company be subject to the new Wind Facilities Law, passed by the town in September 2008.

Her resolution won three to two, ending the issue with a heated conversation.

"So you have a prepared statement," asked Town Supervisor Dennis Relation in front of a crowd of about 20 people. "I was just unaware."

"I frequently use these late items to bring up things," Garrant said.

Relation asserted that she tried to catch the council unprepared.

"I don't work that way," said Garrant, even toned.

"It sure looks like it," he said.

"You told me once, Dennis, that this was all about dollars and cents," Councilman Samuel Dyer chimed in.

He added that he checked the math with Town Accountant William VanStockum.

"We've spent a hell of a lot more money than we're ever going to receive. I was in favor of the windmills, but the way this was done, I'm not happy," Dyer said, referring to Windhorse Power not acting on their permit for more than two years. Two other companies were looking to cash in on the conditional-use permit March 25 under the names of Duer's Patent LLC and Penn Energy Trust LLC at a Zoning Board meeting.

The Noble Environmental Power accident last week was also a concern.

"Excuse my language, but that thing in Altona scared the s—- out of me," Dyer said, adding that it had changed his mind.

"We all blessed 'em (Windhorse), and we all sent them to Rand Hill," he said.

Relation disagreed, saying he just followed the policy of subjecting it to the Zoning Board for approval or disapproval.

"I think I told you it was a Zoning Board issue," Relation said.

VanStockum tried coming into the conversation, when Garrant cut him off.

"This is a board discussion," she said.

Relation harked back to the lawyers recommendations.

"I just think that we are wasting taxpayer's money," he said. "We scrimp and save here every week, and it's going to come back to the Zoning Board anyway."

Just one hour before, the public had asked for this very thing.

"I respectfully ask that someone stand up and say something," said Gary Peacock. "It may be a legal battle. Fight that battle."

Members of the West Beekmantown Neighborhood Association, the group that has fought Windhorse and the Zoning Board in court unsuccessfully two times, issued many written statements.

Bill Klock submitted a letter with 128 signatures that questioned why the town hadn't already revoked the permit, especially when there was a law banning industrial wind turbines.

He said there had been a prevailing belief by the Town Council that since Windhorse had been approved before the law was enacted, it wasn't subject to the measure.

"If a developer is not under the law now, it is unclear when they will be," Klock read. "It erodes public confidence in the local government."

Russ Hartung continued his presentation of case law supporting his belief that the council could oust Windhorse.

"Windhorse doesn't have a building permit, and they haven't completed substantial construction," he said, refuting a claim of vested interest.

"In fact, they have not completed any construction at all."

Cindy Root Baker said, "There is a time for everything, and this is the time to stop this project."

Each presenter commented on the Altona wind-turbine collapse.

Beekmantown resident Dan Jerry said he'd thought the Neighborhood Association members were too emotional when they fought the facility.

"Recently I was watching TV, and I thought that my neighbor's house exploded. I'm not kidding," he said, alluding to the Altona accident.

"This has become emotional. So I can understand."

At the close, Relation said he wasn't expecting the arguments, and he would rather think about the submitted information and case law.

When questioned, he relied on his expert council.

"(Attorneys C. J. Madonna and Matthew Fuller) specialized in the law," he said.

"The permit has to go before the Zoning Board. If they feel that the time has expired, that they have not made (progress), it will be their decision."

He added that under the attorneys' suggestion, revoking the permit would mean a lawsuit they couldn't win.

"This town has invested a lot of money in this. I know it's an emotional issue," Relation said. "This has not been easy for you. It hasn't been easy for me either."

At the end of meeting, when councilors Dyer, Garrant and Sharron Garden had voted to accept the resolution, Relation panned the audience with a quick gaze.

He and Councilman Rufus "Joe" Deyo alone refused it.

"Well orchestrated," he said, looking at the audience. "Well orchestrated."

Prattsburgh puts hold on moratorium

Prattsburgh, N.Y.

The Prattsburgh town board agreed 3-2 Tuesday night to delay a decision on a moratorium on wind farm construction, giving developer EcoGen until April 3 to answer questions.

The board’s vote came after a lengthy written statement and motion read by town Councilman Stacey Bottoni, outlining concerns and reasons to delay the temporary ban.

Bottoni and Quigley met with EcoGen representatives last week in order to question the project, Bottoni said.

EcoGen plans to set up 16 turbines in the town and claims it must go forward in order to secure the project’s financing.

Bottoni said town Supervisor Harold McConnell and Councilman Sharon Quigley were in agreement with her statement. They voted in favor of the proposal.

Their concerns included noise levels reported at the nearby First Wind wind farm, liability in the event of a tower collapse and financial incentives for the town, Bottoni said.

Bottoni said the town should take the time to resolve its issues with EcoGen before considering legal action. She said the town should aggressively pursue answers and consider a moratorium if it is not “fully satisfied” with EcoGen’s response.

The motion also dismissed environmental attorney Gary Abraham as special counsel, in favor of town Attorney John Leyden.

Councilmen Chuck Shick and Steve Kula, who voted against the plan, tried, but failed to add to the motion issues they have raised in the past regarding the project, in particular the current setback of 800 feet from a residence.

Abraham’s request to comment was denied because he was no longer the town’s special counsel.

Kula objected to the swift adjournment of the meeting, which immediately followed the 3-2 vote in favor of the delay.

He said later it made no sense to cut short the meeting when representatives from all sides, including EcoGen, were present at the meeting.

“We weren’t allowed to discuss anything,” Kula said.

EcoGen officials declined to comment after the meeting.

The board’s action follows nearly a month of confusion regarding the EcoGen project.

Matters reached a head March 3 when wind developer EcoGen notified town officials it would sue the board if their decision on building permits was delayed.

The board declined to act, citing the need to study new concerns on health and safety associated with turbines. However, on March 10 the code enforcement officer was directed to send EcoGen a letter indicating no permits were required.

Last week, board members hired environmental attorney Abraham as their special wind counsel and agreed to draft a 6-month moratorium. A day later, EcoGen representatives met with Quigley and Bottoni.

After EcoGen presents its information to the board and the public April 3, the board will set a date to determine further action.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Prattsburgh to draft wind farm moratorium

Prattsburgh, N.Y.

Prattsburgh town officials are set to draft a moratorium on wind project construction at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, and face a number of pros and cons associated with the action.

Officials say the moratorium will allow them to determine how to best protect the interests of the town’s residents. Wind developer EcoGen, which plans to erect 16 turbines in the town, says it needs to move forward quickly to secure the project’s financing.

Matters reached a head March 3 when EcoGen notified town officials it would sue the board if its decision on granting permits for the proposed wind farm was delayed.

The board declined to act, citing the need to study health and safety concerns associated with turbines.

However, on March 10, Prattsburgh Town Attorney John Leyden directed the town’s code enforcement officer to send EcoGen a letter indicating no permits were required.

Then, last Tuesday, board members hired environmental lawyer Gary Abraham as their special wind counsel and agreed to draft a six-month moratorium. Following Tuesday’s action, EcoGen representatives arranged to meet with some members of the town board.

An EcoGen spokesman has not returned repeated calls from The Leader asking for comment.

A neighboring town official with experience with moratoriums and EcoGen said enacting the temporary ban is scary.

“It borders between courage and insanity,” said Italy Town Supervisor Margaret Dunn. “But you need to protect the town.”

Italy, which borders Prattsburgh, is the site of 18 EcoGen turbines.

Dunn said EcoGen threatened her town with lawsuits almost from the beginning of the proposed development. Italy responded by initiating the first of several moratoriums, during which town officials enacted wind development regulations.

Italy officials are now reviewing EcoGen’s applications and will then negotiate an incentive package reported to be significantly larger than the $3 million Prattsburgh is set to receive.

“We would not be in the position we are now, without the moratoriums,” Dunn said. “We definitely gained.”

EcoGen representatives have told Italy town officials that the project could begin soon, and early work would probably range from drilling soil samples to building access roads.

But any significant construction in Prattsburgh is a long way off, according to Prattsburgh Town Supervisor Harold McConnell.

So far, EcoGen has submitted no applications or environmental data to Finger Lakes Economic Development Center - Yates County’s economic development agency - and there have been no discussions on tax relief, according to Steve Griffin, FLEDC’s CEO.

EcoGen submitted its application for the Prattsburgh sites to the state Department of Environmental Conservation on Jan. 21, setting in motion potentially lengthy reviews by the Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In addition, the EcoGen project has not been approved by the Public Service Commission or met other state requirements.

Abraham, the wind attorney, told the Prattsburgh Town Board on Tuesday that EcoGen stands to take in $130 million in federal funding if it starts the project now. That funding includes as much as $30 million from the federal economic incentive package for “shovel-ready” projects.

The project will also earn EcoGen roughly $1 million annually from the electricity the turbines generate, as well as lucrative state aid, Abraham told the board.

“Their interests are not your interests,” he said.

The town board, which has been divided over the issue, is in unanimous agreement a responsible wind project will boost their economy. But they agree the safety of its residents is the highest priority.

They also believe they should take EcoGen’s threat to sue seriously, however.

But Kula said the cost of defending the lawsuit can be paid out of incentive revenues the town will receive from EcoGen in the unlikely event it loses.

“And either way, we’re looking at getting sued,” he told the board last Tuesday. “If we don’t do something, you know (property owners) will sue us.”

Wind farms have come under closer scrutiny recently, with reports of excessive turbine noise and the recent collapse of a turbine in the Adirondacks region.

Abraham told the board sound studies used by the wind farm industry are flawed and do not take into account surrounding noises.

To draw a comparison, that means a pneumatic drill is less disturbing at a construction site than at the beach, or a normal conversation will be more irritating in a library than in a restaurant.

Another potential concern for property owners with wind farm leases is their personal liability.

According to a recent story in the Malone Telegram, several property owners in the state’s North Country with easement agreements for wind developer Noble Chateaugay Windpark have been served with liens because the company failed to pay an electric bill.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Take time to give wind park proposals thorough scrutiny

As part of the widespread push for wind power, state and local governments are promoting "model ordinances" for siting industrial wind farms which supposedly establish limits for noise and other potential hazards. These are used to determine where wind projects can be located in communities which are predominantly rural and are often extremely quiet during the evening and night, one of the main reasons why people choose to live there.

Complaints about noise from residents living near wind farms are common. This raises serious questions about whether current state and local government siting guidelines for noise are sufficiently protective. Much research is emerging that suggests significant health effects are associated with living too close to nearby residences. This research also shows that the output of the models used by developers to assess noise impacts may not accurately predict sound propagation. The models are used to make decisions about how close a turbine can be to a home or other sensitive property. The errors in the predicted sound levels can easily result in inadequate setback distances thus exposing the property owner to much noise pollution and potential health risks. Current information suggests the models should not be used for siting unless known errors and tolerances are applied to the results.

A growing number of scientific observations and studies suggest that some people living two miles from industrial wind farms are affected at a variety of levels by a variety of symptoms.

The task of crafting a protective ordinance as well as overseeing the construction and long-term operation of wind farms is monumental. Over the past few years, communities across this country have been learning by "trial and error" how to live with wind power. Currently, the two-year-old Invenergy proposal for a wind farm in the town of Orangeville has been, shall we say, "delayed." This gives us an opportunity to learn from other towns, counties and states so we do not have to make the same mistakes. There is no need for us to learn by trial and error.

If wind turbines are going to be proposed in Orangeville the Town Board has, at best, a long, arduous road ahead. The noise limit must be acceptable to all, working hand in hand with the community and the wind turbine companies. Let our ordinance (zoning) be the gold standard of others. If deemed completely safe, then build into the ordinance the flexibility to assess the actual impact of each turbine , address all complaints and remediation steps for those affected.

Tolerance is different for all people and it is possible for us to address this diversity. At the expense of the wind turbine companies, not that of the taxpayers, we need to add to the decision making process people with expertise. This is a highly complex, technical and scientific matter. Let's not put the burden of decision and zoning on the Town Board and our community. Environmental experts and research scientists will be needed to help make the final decisions on the siting of the turbines.

Nothing is to be trivialized here. This is where we live and want to remain. As a homeowner within a stone's throw of proposed wind turbines it makes me nervous at best not knowing how I may be affected. Just what do we know about the long term effects of these massive turbines? As you pass through Sheldon it leads one to wonder why or how they were positioned. One land owner has two; another land owner has five, etc. This is not only unacceptable; it is irresponsible of the Town Board and of the wind turbine companies. Did anyone really think about anything other than the economic value?

The turbine companies are making millions; the land owners are making thousands; and, the town settled for payment of town taxes (the jury is still out on how long those payments will be made to the town). Is it always about money? Does anyone care about the long-term environmental and health effects of these wind farms on this county? Would it not make sense that until there are scientific and comprehensive studies of the potential siting process that we just put a hold on the production of these facilities? Not only are we destroying the beauty of our countryside but also we are destroying families and communities that at one time lived in a peaceful harmony. Until all these questions have sound answers wouldn't it behoove us to just stop the madness? Let's stop and look around and evaluate what we already have. There are hundreds of turbines in Wethersfield, Bliss, Pike and Sheldon. What are their effects?

Currently, there is proposed state legislation to establish a moratorium upon the siting of wind energy production facilities for a period of 18 months. The bill was introduced Jan. 15 of this year by Senator Alesi. It would also establish a state task force on wind generating facilities as well as any siting and permitting policies. During this period no wind energy production facilities would be constructed and/or commence operation in any municipality in the state. This legislation addresses the fact that there are significant problems arising from wind turbines placed in other New York communities.

On Oct. 30, 2008, the NYS Attorney General announced a Code of Ethics for minimizing conflicts of interests among wind power developers and local officials. Although still not signed by Invenergy (the turbine company proposing wind farms in Orangeville) these new regulations are welcome extra protections for the citizens of Orangeville and all around the state. A critical fact to understand is that just because a power source is an alternative or a renewable one, it does not automatically mean that it is better than any conventional or fossil fuel source. In other words, electrical alternatives should not be given a free pass from common sense scrutiny and the use of scientific methodology to objectively evaluate their merits.

Carolyn Dreyer lives in Orangeville.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Eric Massa and Steve Kula appear on WLEA radio

Congressman Eric Massa and prattsburgh town board member Steve Kula will be appearing on Brian O'Neil's "Connections" show on AM 1480 WLEA at 11am Saturday morning, March 21.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Noble liens snare landowners

March 18, 2009 by Darcy Fargo in Malone Telegram

Noble Environmental, the company along with upc/first wind, that was investigated by NY AG Cuomo is being sued for not paying an electrical contractor, who has placed liens on the property owners leasing land to Noble for the Chateaugay Windpark.

Several property owners who entered easement agreements with an arm of Noble Environmental Power now find themselves with mechanic liens on their land after the company reportedly failed to pay a bill to an electrical company.

On March 11, three separate mechanics liens were filed in the Franklin County Clerk¹s office in connection with properties used by Noble for development of the Noble Chateaugay Windpark.

The liens, filed by electrical contractor Stuart C. Irby Company of Jackson, Miss., indicate that Noble has not paid $784,692.88 for electrical materials and equipment and related services in connection with the construction and installation of a wind turbine project known as "Noble Chateaugay Windpark, LLC" in the State of New York.

While the lien documents are filed as a liability on Noble Chateaugay Windpark LLC's interest, they also include the property owners. One property is owned by Michael Garrow of Chateaugay; another is owned by Alonso Domingo of West Orange, N.J.; and the other is owned by Marjorie Cornell of Pawling, and Gary Cornell of York, Pa.

Officials in the county clerk¹s office explained that the liens would be recorded against the property owners, as well as against Noble Chateaugay

Having a lien on a property ­in addition to potentially damaging credit scores ­ renders the owner unable to obtain a clear title to the property.
It can also impact the owners' ability to obtain loans and lines of credit. When reached for comment Tuesday, Gary Cornell said he was not yet familiar with the terms of the lien.

"I don't know enough about it to have an opinion," he said. "The property's not worth $700,000 ­ I can tell you that. If you know someone who's interested in buying it, I think I'd be happy to sell it."

Numbers listed for Garrow and Marjorie Cornell were out of service. Domingo did not return a call for comment Tuesday.

When reached Tuesday at the company's Connecticut headquarters, Noble Environmental Power Communications Associate Maggie Wisniewski would not comment on the liens.

"We can't comment on these matters, so I guess I have to say "no comment," Wisniewski said.

Noble Environmental Power entered into easement agreements with more than 50 area landowners in Franklin County for use of land for wind turbine development. The agreements specific to the liens were entered into by property owners and Noble Chateaugay Windpark LLC ­ one of many Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) operated under Noble¹s umbrella.

Documents on file in the county clerk's office show at least 11 different LLCs under Noble¹s umbrella: Noble Bellmont Windpark LLC, Noble Burke Windpark LLC, Noble Chateaugay Windpark LLC, Noble Chateaugay II Windpark LLC, Noble Chateaugay LLC, Noble Chateaugay Windpark II LLC, Noble Cherry Hill Windpark LLC, Noble Clinton Windpark I LLC, Noble Development LLC, Noble Environmental Power LLC and Noble Environmental Power 2008 LLC. The LLCs are based in Delaware, according to the New York Department of State.

More than a handful of documents transferring easement rights between the different LLCs are signed by the same person on behalf of two different Noble LLCs.

Jim O'Connor, senior counsel of the legal team at Noble Environmental Power's headquarters, did not return a message seeking an explanation for the creation of the numerous LLCs.

Several local attorneys consulted on the matter, but not familiar with Noble specifically, said a company may form multiple LLCs if it has multiple projects and wishes to keep the funding and liability for those projects separate.

One attorney, who asked not to be named, said each LLC would be "insulated from the others in terms of liens and liabilities."

"The Limited Liability Corporation is a form of corporation set up for a specific use or purpose," the attorney said. "Generally, it's meant to isolate and insulate assets and liabilities."

According to documents filed with the state, Noble Environmental Power sells the output of its facilities exclusively at wholesale in the spot markets administered by the New York Independent System Operator, or neighboring control areas. The company also sells environmental attributes or renewable energy credits ­ to purchasers such as green energy marketers, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) or other customers.

According to NYSERDA's procurement contract report filed in spring 2007, the government agency has a contract with Noble to pay the company $65.3 million for the Noble Chateaugay Windpark under the Renewable Portfolio program, which administers the renewable energy credits. Further details about that contract were not immediately available.

Noble earned renewable energy credits, which it could then sell, for the Chateaugay park for the calendar year 2008, though the project wasn't completely online until late December of that year.


March 16, 2009

Cohocton Town Board

Cohocton, NY


First Wind has not given us safe energy, they have placed all of us especially our children and elderly in danger.

There is literature emerging worldwide expressing a multitude of side effects affecting those who live, work or attend school in the vicinity of wind farms. Growing scientific observation and studies suggest that some people living within the 6 to 10 miles of these industrial wind farms are affected by the low and high frequency noise levels not heard by the human ear. Now there is convincing evidence to conclude that the noise induces annoyance, disrupts sleep, impairs children's school performance and negative impacts the cardiovascular health.

This results in a reduction in children's learning, memory and concentration. The evidence is equivocal that chronic exposure affects children's mental health and sleep. Now remember the 6 to 10 mile range was what the studies suggested. This would include all of the Cohocton, Atlanta, N. Cohocton area as well as Wayland, Springwater, Naples, Ingleside and parts of Prattsburgh.

Don't forget that this ZONE includes all the students in the Wayland-Cohocton School district, the Cohocton Elementary School, and the Naples School district. Parents and grand parents you must take action to protect your children.

The noises are often loudest and most disturbing at night due to an increase in atmospheric stability. Studies already completed and currently in progress describe significant health effects associated with living in the vicinity of industrial wind turbines.

I do not have the time tonight to go over the mounting evidence of the dangers of the frequency noise to the human body. All you as Town leaders, need to do is very simply, search on the internet, and you will find volumes of studies done by experts in these fields.

I have been lucky enough to receive a March 7, 2009 pre-publication draft of Dr. Nina Pierpoint’s book the “Wind Turbine Syndrome”, Dr. Pierpoint is one of the leading experts in the world on noise. Check her book out and you will see what a little research will do.

So now what is the recourse? If you do nothing then the health danger is to the children, the elderly and all the citizens. No one would want to move to Cohocton and live here knowing the health risk or continue to live within the noise danger zone.

Also with no action we will continue to see the declining property values. Study’s now show that property values hit rock bottom because of windmills.

Please you must act and act swiftly. Don’t let First Wind kill or destroy us.


Hal E. Graham
5754 Lent Hill Rd
Cohocton NY 14826

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Don't sell your (property's) soul to the company store

3/12/09 Batavia (NY) Daily News
Letter: Don't sell your (property's) soul to the company store
By Joseph A. Zampogna

Thursday, March 12, 2009 10:03 AM EDT

On a crispy clear and bright sunny day last fall, we were visited at our Orangeville home by a young sales representative from The Invenergy Corporation. This individual came to politely explain that our neighbor had signed a land-lease agreement with the Invenergy Wind-Power Company to erect a 400+ foot wind-turbine on their property adjacent to our southern property line. He carried with him a Setback Waiver Agreement that he wanted our family to sign and have notarized. After a pleasant conversation, he departed, leaving the unsigned document with us.

Since that visit, several months have passed and our naivete regarding wind "farms" has been replaced by the sobering reality that the Orangeville landscape and the quality of life that we have taken for granted, as well as the value of our property, will forever be negatively altered by the imposition of this "so called" clean and renewable energy resource.

Our family has arrived at our current understanding of wind-turbines and "wind farms" through research, reading and visitations to areas where these mechanisms are currently in operation. In addition, we are in frequent Internet contact with scientists, agencies and other interested parties that share up-dated information with us regarding this issue.

The nine-page Setback Waiver Agreement that was presented to us contains a project participation fee to be paid to us over a 15-year period if the developer executes the waiver by erecting a wind-turbine within 1,000 feet from our residence or within 150 feet from the boundaries of our property. No participation payment is made to the owner for five years or until the developer begins selling electrical energy to a power company. If and when this is successful, and in exchange for a yearly payment ranging from $2,000 per year to $3,500 per year for 15 years, we are being asked to "submit our property's body, soul and value to the company store."

A careful study and a scrutiny of the language contained in this agreement reveal how skewed it is in favor of the developer. For example, it includes a confidentiality clause which requires the owner(s) not to disclose the terms of the Agreement to any parties other than their attorney or immediate family members. In addition, the Agreement requires that the owner(s) waive enforcement of noise limits and shadow limits that may be required by applicable law. Although payment is offered for 15 years, the noise and shadow limit waiver is in force for 40 years. However, this clause is apparently "superfluous" since the sales representative told us that wind turbines are "as quiet as the hum of our new kitchen refrigerator."

There is also a no interference clause in the Agreement that prohibits the owner from disturbing or interfering with the development, permitting, construction, installation, maintenance, or operation of the wind power facilities. Consequently, an owner who signs such a contract compromises their right to recourse in the event they are not satisfied with any activity by the developer on their property.

The default sections in this contract require that the owner provide a "written" notice of the event of default to the developer or mortgagee including the required remedy to correct the default. The developer has two months and the mortgagee has six months to "begin" to correct the default and to proceed with "commercially reasonable diligence" to correct the default. The expression "commercially reasonable diligence" is subject to interpretation, and therefore to possible litigation. Unfortunately, in signing this Agreement, the owner waives the right "... to institute summary proceedings in connection with the signed Agreement." Simply stated, the owner sacrifices the right to bring a lawsuit in order to correct the default and for possible damages as a result of the default.

In the instance of a monetary default, the developer has two months and a mortgagee has three months to remedy the required obligation. According to the Agreement, this type of default is remedied when the tenant (developer/mortgagee) deposits the amount of money in question into an escrow account. The money in question remains there until a final decision is made by a court or upon a negotiated agreement between the tenant and landlord. The tenant (developer/mortgagee) is not required to pay interest on monies due and, as previously noted, the owner has waived the right to bring legal action. In the interest of "fairness," the developer or mortgagee retains the right to institute legal action for recovery of any payment made to the owner.

Reading and interpreting the "legaleeze" of a complex contract is a challenging task which requires the assistance of an experienced attorney. After so doing, this writer asks why anyone would sign a contract which contains so much protection for the developer and so little protection for the property owner. Perhaps, a property owner would sign a Land-Lease Agreement solely out of concern for the environment, for production of "clean energy," or to protect the value of their neighbors' properties? Or, is it solely about the money? Is anyone so altruistic that they would sign a contract that seriously compromises their lifestyle and the value of their property without receiving some form of monetary return?

It is painfully apparent that when money is involved, all other clauses of a contract seem to be of little consequence to the recipient. Nevertheless, it is important to note that in our current world of economic turmoil and financial uncertainty, failure to honor contracts, bankruptcies and foreclosures are commonplace and often subject to the politics of expediency. Therefore, "Caveat Emptor!" (Let the buyer beware!)

Dr. Joseph A. Zampogna lives in Orangeville.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Health Concerns and the Need for Careful Siting of Wind Turbines


Wednesday, March 4, 2009
For Immediate Release:

At its monthly meeting held Tuesday, March 3, 2009, the Medical Staff of Northern Maine Medical Center unanimously approved the release of the following statement:

Health Concerns and the Need for Careful Siting of Wind Turbines

Members of Northern Maine Medical Center’s medical staff endorse the use of alternative energies.

We echo the concerns of the Medical Staff of Rumford Community Hospital as regards an increasing body of literature and reports from Canada, the USA, and particularly from Europe suggesting that the deployment of industrial wind facilities in close proximity to places where people live, work or attend schools results in negative health effects, including and especially sleep deprivation and stress.

We know, as physicians, that sleep deprivation and chronic stress can result in many consequential negative health effects, some of them serious, over the long term.

These effects arise not only from audible noise frequencies but also from persistent inaudible low frequency noise waves of a cyclical nature which are felt, but not heard. There are a growing number of scientific observations and studies suggesting that people living up to 2 miles away from these industrial wind farms may be affected.

Many European nations with more than two decades of experience with industrial wind factories have now implemented regulations stipulating setbacks of 1-1.5 miles.

In light of these growing, serious medical concerns, we propose a moratorium on the building of any such "wind farms" until more research is done on the health impact that such facilities will have on the communities surrounding such technology. These communities and the Maine DEP and Health Services must be allowed time to study and learn from the European and Canadian experiences, as well as from the many affected families in Mars Hill, Maine, and put into place appropriate regulations and ordinances, prior to expanding the wind industry in the State of Maine.

The State of Maine has a vast, unpopulated hinterland. There is little need to site industrial wind developments in proximity to residential communities if there is a risk of negative health effects. Quality of life, quality of place, and a healthful environment should be the right of all residents of Maine, including those of the rural north.

We also encourage the residents of Fort Kent, Maine, to exercise their rights and vote ‘YES’ at the next annual Town Meeting on March 23rd to a proposal to establish a moratorium in Fort Kent on the permitting of industrial wind development until such time as an ordinance to govern their siting is in place.

Medical Staff, Northern Maine Medical Center

Monday, March 09, 2009

Residents shocked by wind-turbine collapse

ALTONA — Many residents were shocked that a massive wind turbine could come tumbling down and officials say it could take months to learn why one collapsed Friday.

Mike Fellion flew over the wreckage Saturday morning and was amazed to see that pieces of the structure appeared to have been thrown "about a quarter-mile away."

"I was surprised," said Fellion, who flew above the wreckage with his father, Victor, a volunteer pilot who runs the Wings of Life program, which provides emergency medical flights for ailing residents.

"I'm just hoping that this was an isolated incident."

Neighbors around the Altona wind park reported hearing loud explosions before the turbine apparently snapped in half around 10 a.m. and then caught fire.

Helen Morales, who lives near the fallen Fisher Way turbine, didn't hear anything, but earlier saw the blades on one turbine "spinning at a high rate of speed" and noted that the air appeared "cloudy" around it.

She doesn't know if the faster-moving blades were attached to the affected turbine, but wonders if her observations were connected to Friday's collapse, which was the first major incident at the Norther Tier wind parks.

Though the push for wind energy has received strong support from many local residents, others, like members of the West Beekmantown Neighborhood Association, feel they pose a danger to public safety and health and have resisted the efforts.

There are zoning regulations in place that restrict how close turbines can be erected near homes, but some wondered Saturday if similar collapses could happen and whether flying debris could extend beyond the protected perimeter.

As word of the collapse spread Friday, Adirondack Council spokesman John Sheehan expressed concern about the risks turbines could pose on elevated and sloped locations if a collapse could happen in flatland parks.

The Altona wind park will remain closed as the investigation continues.

In their latest update, Noble Environmental Power officials said it could take several months to finalize their investigation, which is being conducted jointly with General Electric.

Noble CEO Walt Howard toured the site after the collapse and spoke with employees there.

In a news release, he said: "I am pleased with the quick response of the Noble team. They secured the site and accounted for all Noble employees in a manner that is consistent with our stringent safety policy. I am also grateful to the fire department for its swift response."

Officials said the wind park utilizes General Electric 1.5 megawatt turbines. There are currently more than 12,000 of those turbines across the world and they are the most widely deployed turbines, Noble said.

Altona Town Supervisor Larry Ross was also surprised by the collapse and said he will be updated on the investigation as it progresses.

"They're going to keep me in the loop so I know what's going on," he said from his home Saturday.

"The main thing was that no one was hurt "¦ and now it's a matter of finding out what happened and putting it back together."

E-mail Andrea VanValkenburg at:

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Wind vs. Nuclear Power: Which Is Safer?

Nuclear power is portrayed by the major media and by environmental activists as dangerous and perhaps even sinister. Wind power, on the other hand, is considered benign. But the track records of nuclear power and wind power present a different picture.

Nuclear power has been been used to produce electricity for more than four decades, beginning with the Shippingport nuclear power plant in 1957. Today there are 104 nuclear power plants in the United States generating some 60 billion kilowatt hours per year of electricity. There have been no deaths from radiation in more than 40 years of American nuclear plant operations. Even considering the "catastrophe" at Three Mile Island, there has not been a single case of injury to any member of the public. (There were fatalities at the Russian Chernobyl plant, but that plant was radically different from an American nuclear power plant. It did not even have a containment structured around the nuclear reactor.)

How about wind power? How does it fare compared to the perfect record of the American nuclear power industry? Believe it or not, there is an organization, the Caithness Windfarm Information Forum, that keeps data on wind power-elated accidents and/or design problems. Caithness is based in Great Britain, where homeowners have already grown tired of the noise and other wind turbine generated problems. Their "Summary of Wind Turbine Accident Data to 31 December 2008" reports 41 worker fatalities. Most, not unexpectedly, were from falling as they are typically working on turbines some thirty stories above the ground. In addition, Caithness attributed the deaths of 16 members of the public to wind-turbine accidents.

A summary of accidents includes:

• 139 incidents of blade failure. Failed blades have been known to travel over a quarter mile, and that is from turbines much smaller than those being manufactured today. This type of accident has caused some European countries to require a minimum distance of about one mile (2 km) between occupied housing and wind turbines.

•110 incidents of fire. When a wind turbine fire occurs, the local fire departments (without 30-story ladder trucks) can do little but watch. This isn't a problem unless the wind is blowing sufficiently to scatter the debris into dry fields or woodlands — or maybe onto your roof.

• 60 incidents of structural failure. This includes turbine failure and tower collapse failures. While not now a problem for the public — except having to gaze upon at a bent-over wind turbine — it may well become one as governments, under pressure from environmental activists, encourage marginal- and hastily-sited wind projects in urban areas where such an accident could kill and maim.

• 24 incidents of "ice throw" with human injury. These data may be a small fraction of actual incidences, with 880 icing events reported in a 13-year period for Germany alone.

(Click to read entire article)

Dream Home Taken Away by Industrial Wind Turbines

Dear Editor,

My name is Jessica. I am 27 years old and live in Sheldon, NY. I am writing because the American public needs to understand the harsh impacts industrial wind turbines are having on residents living near these immense machines. As residents in the Town of Sheldon, we are now stuck living with at least ten 420-foot tall spinning industrial wind turbines within 1.5 miles of our home.

My husband and I bought our dream home and horse farm in the summer of 2006. We were married on the property. The home was perfect for us, and we looked forward to raising a family here.

My career as a health care professional is high stress and constant chaos. Although I love my career, I really looked forward to returning to the peace and quiet our country home provided every day. Tragically, our solitude has been shattered, and tranquil days and nights are no longer a reality here.

My husband and I first learned of wind turbines only months after purchasing our home. We didn't worry much about it at the time because wind turbine talk seemed to be only rumors, and we believed no solid plan was in place. We were wrong.

Summer of 2008 was the initial construction phase. The increased traffic began with heavy equipment, and endless stone and cement trucks. Next was the parade of large tractor trailers carrying the bases, blades, and motors, with their accompanying entourage of several flag vehicles each. The construction traffic began in the early morning and continued through dusk every day for months. The continuous daytime noise on the road and in the nearby once-quiet fields became exhausting.

The road noise has quieted, and the workers are gone - just the spinning machines remain. The increased traffic over the summer was an annoyance, but now the ugly sticks on the hill are ruining my life. The turbines began spinning a few weeks back. Since then the light pollution in our night skies is horrible, and the noise is driving me crazy!

The noise is so loud and annoying it is no longer enjoyable to spend time outside. I do not even enjoy riding my horses for any length of time anymore. The loud noise creates anxiety and stress which is resulting in tension headaches, nausea and dizziness.

The negative effects of the noise created by the wind turbines varies depending on the time of day and the speed of the wind. During the day, if the wind is low, a "swishing" noise is heard from three turbines located within 1.5 miles to the west. If the wind is stronger, the "swishing" becomes louder and is accompanied by a jet engine type "roar". The noise can be heard in the house when the windows are closed. I can't imagine what it's going to be like when we want to open our windows this summer!

The night view of the many blinking red lights which now obscure our once serene, star-lit skies is like looking at blinking Christmas tree lights. The lights often catch my attention even when I'm focused on other tasks.

As if the noise and flashing lights wasn't bad enough, the newest addition is the presence of shadow flicker. As the sun gets lower in the sky every evening, a "flicker" is created in our bedroom, the computer room, the living room, and the family room. I am unable to rest, read, or even watch television during this time. The shadow flicker creates headaches and eye pain. I am unable to remain in those rooms (the majority of the house) during shadow flicker hours.

People often will pull over in front of our house and stick their heads out of their car windows. I am sure they do not hear the full effect. I invite anyone to come to our house during a strong wind period and just sit in the yard. Only then will anyone truly feel the full effect. And even then, you can leave. You won't have to try and sleep there at night.

Our dream home has been taken away from us, and we had no power to say no. A feeling of hopelessness continues to consume me. I now pay a mortgage on a "damaged" house. We do not have the option of turning the noise off when it becomes a nuisance, or when we want to go to sleep at night. Our neighbors have taken different sides, and the entire town is divided. Trust in our small town has been destroyed by greed and inconsideration for one's neighbors.

Please listen to my plea! Please don't do what my town has done! Research industrial wind turbines. Talk to others. Remember - wind turbine companies are in it to make a huge profit. The ones getting paid by Big Wind LLC's are the ones saying wind farms are wonderful. Listen to the stories of uncompensated residents, like us, who are now stuck living next to turbines, and whose lives have been ruined by these things.

Sadly submitted by Jessica, Sheldon, NY

Noble Environmental Power Altona, N.Y. Industrial Wind Turbine Collapse

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Noble Environmental Power Confirms Altona Turbine Collapse

ALTONA, N.Y. -- Noble Environmental Power has confirmed that a turbine collapsed at its Altona, N.Y., wind park Friday morning, but said no one was injured in the collapse and ensuing fire.

In a statement released by the company Friday, company spokeswoman Maggy Wisniewski confirmed one turbine had collapsed and that a small fire resulted, but she refused to speak on the record with a NewsChannel 5 reporter.

Local fire departments were notified and are at the scene, according to the statement. The site has been completely secured and all Noble employees have been accounted for, the statement says.

The statement also says the entire Noble wind park has been shut down pending further investigation and there is no danger to the public due to the collapse.

"Noble values the safety of its employees and neighbors above all else. Noble has committed its full resources to understanding the cause of this incident. We will keep you informed as we learn more information," Noble CEO Walt Howard is quoted as saying in the statement.

Residents reported large explosions from the scene at about 9:30 a.m. NewsChannel 5 went to the scene off Purdy Road, which leads to the wind farm, and found Noble trucks blocking the roadway. Noble officials at the scene would not provide access to the area and offered no information about the situation at that time.

Residents in the area told Newschannel 5 they heard what sounded like a large explosion and said the loud noises lasted for several minutes. Others equated the sound to an earthquake and speculated one of the company's large windmills may have thrown a blade. Another local resident told NewsChannel 5 she could see flames coming from Noble.

High winds have been reported throughout the North Country Friday.

NewsChannel 5 will provide more detail on this story as it comes available. Check back here at for the latest on this story.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Wind farm permit on hold

Prattsburgh, N.Y.

Prattsburgh Town Board members refused Tuesday to grant wind farm developer EcoGen a building permit or to waive the requirement for a permit.

The board originally met in special session to consider revisions to the town’s draft building permit law and to attach fees to the permit.

However, recent reports of near-deafening noise created by turbines operating in nearby Cohocton have spurred the Prattsburgh board to seek more information before it will decide on revisions to the permit law.

Cohocton residents told board members last week the turbines sound like jet engines, rattle windows, disturb sleep and upset animals.

Prattsburgh board members have visited the noisy turbine sites.

“There was enough noise to make me realize it’s a problem,” said Councilwoman Sharon Quigley, a wind farm supporter.

Councilman Chuck Schick said there are now three sound studies of the Cohocton projects under way, including one by developer First Wind.

Schick suggested the board enact a moratorium to allow them enough time to look at any new information needed for a decision on the revised law.

His suggestion was followed by a reminder from John Leyden, Prattsburgh’s town attorney, that EcoGen had notified town officials it had to have a permit or a permit waiver immediately following Tuesday’s board meeting.

“They said ‘we want it now or we’re suing,’” he said.

The lawsuit would be based on the company’s claim that the town board has no legal right to delay the project.

Leyden said EcoGen has already submitted an application to the board, and maintains a permit is not really required for the project. The company says the project’s financing depends on a swift decision by the board, according to Leyden.

However, EcoGen’s application was turned down by the Prattsburgh board in December, followed by a resolution early this year saying they would not issue a permit until the law was in place, according to Councilman Steve Kula.

Leyden said the lawsuit from the developer would be difficult to defend, but added the town did have arguments in its favor.

“I’m for whatever you want to do,” he said. “I just want you to know what you’re facing.”

While the board agreed not to take any action on the revised law yet, the moratorium was defeated after Leyden said it could take as long as two months to enact, and would not have an effect on EcoGen.

Schick and Kula voted for the moratorium, saying it represented a public stand on the project.

“We can’t let these guys bully us into making the wrong decision,” Schick said. “A lot of info is available today that wasn’t a year ago, two years ago, or even seven years ago.”

The discussion on the board’s reaction to EcoGen’s ultimatum lasted nearly 2.5 hours, with board members agreeing to seek outside counsel on the matter.

“It just doesn’t make sense to let them run roughshod over us,” Kula said.

Monday, March 02, 2009

In N.Y., local officials shouldn't be handcuffed by restriction

Developing wind power in New York state is the compellingly correct thing to do.

Wayne R. Hunt, member of the Cohocton Town Board idea of ethics and conflict of interest. Seems that Mr. Hunt wants legal protection for corrupt town officials.

If we continue to develop wind power in the United States at the present rate, by 2030 our wind-powered output of electricity will equal our present-day production from nuclear energy.

We probably would not be able to get one new nuclear plant approved, built and commissioned by 2030 let alone enough new plants to double present nuclear production. A worthy goal would be for New York to develop enough wind farms to equal New York's nuclear production by 2030.

I believe the state was wise to put the responsibility for siting and developing wind farms in the hands of town governments. Those governments are directly responsible to their residents.

Typically, wind farms are being proposed and sited in towns with 2,000 residents or less. Typically, every town official attends church, belongs to Rotary or Lions clubs, goes to fire department fundraisers, coaches youth sports, buys magazines from local high school students and so on. We interact with each other on a daily basis.

Typically, from one to four of those small-town board members are the farmers who make up the majority of the business operators in rural New York. These are the very people who have the greatest interest in the welfare of their towns, yet they are immediately disqualified from fulfilling their representative role in their town government if a wind power proposition comes along.

The dilemma is this: Towns have the responsibility to site wind farms while their boards can be compromised or rendered unable to deal with this vital issue because of imposed ethical regulations.

The latest development in this ongoing saga is the Code of Ethics for Wind Farms that was established by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office last fall. It requires that no wind developer may spend more than $10 per year on any town official. Additionally, the regulation requires that no wind developer or operator may hire any town official or any of their relatives before, during or after a wind farm is built.

If we applied those same standards to all other commercial development, we'd be requiring that all potential employees must be imported from far enough away that there could be no connection to our town officials.

I can't believe that this is the intention of state government or the attorney general's office. If we truly want New York state to return to its rightful place as the Empire State, we must find ways to work together to make it happen, not pile more millstone regulations around our necks and make the job nearly impossible.

I'm calling on Gov. David Paterson to appoint a task force to investigate the seven operating wind farms in New York state.

The task force should visit every town that was involved in siting the farms. Every town official who had anything to do with the entire process should be interviewed. At least one, well- publicized, public hearing should be held in every town so all aspects of those developments can be scrutinized.

After this is completed, recommendations should be made to clarify the process. It should be made clear that towns may continue with the responsibility by a means that is above suspicion and able to be forwarded without delays, innuendo or questions about the character of officials.

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First Wind Holdings Inc. 12/22/09 SEC S1/A IPO Filing

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