Friday, April 30, 2010

Wind-turbine project on hold causes concern in Allegany

An EverPower Renewables wind-turbine project that has been put on hold in the community of Howard has caused concern for town of Allegany officials where a similar EverPower wind-turbine farm has been proposed.

An article printed earlier this month in The Evening Tribune in Hornell said EverPower was notified April 1 by the New York State Energy and Research Agency that Howard Wind LLC’s proposal for Renewable Energy Credits from the project was not accepted by the state agency. Consequently, EverPower officials have to consider other options for the sale of credits and power from the project, stated Kevin Sheen, senior director for EverPower.

Mr. Sheen was further quoted in the article stating that the company “had to make the difficult decision to temporarily delay the commencement of construction while we review alternative strategies.” The 25-turbine commercial wind farm was to be constructed this month in the town of Howard.

The article stated that Renewable Energy Credits are certificates issued by a government agency to a power company that utilizes environmentally friendly methods to generate electricity. The certificates can in turn be traded and sold on the open market, providing an incentive to companies that produce “green” power.

The publication also stated that the “sudden decision to halt the (Howard) project comes as Terra Firma, which acquired EverPower last August for a reported $350 million, is experiencing financial troubles.

“The British private equity firm bought EMI Group PLC for about $3.8 billion in 2007, according to a report from KPMG. But with CD sales plummeting, funds might not be raised. According to the AP, $165 million will be needed to get through the year, and the company owes $6 billion of debt as of last March, mostly to Citigroup. The company needs to raise money by June 14 according to the AP, or risk defaulting on loans. If that happens, then Citigroup might seize EMI and cause it to be sold or broken up.”

In response to this, Mr. Sheen said Terra Firma invests in a wide variety of businesses on behalf of its clients worldwide.

“It is important to note that the investment made in EverPower is completely independent of the investment in EMI Records,” he said. “Funds committed to the growth of EverPower will not be affected, either positively or negatively, by changes in EMI records.”

Mr. Sheen said he believes the current Renewable Energy Credits program used in New York state needs to be overhauled. He said that of the 31 states that use this system, almost all use a market-based implementation. For example, at a project in Pennsylvania the company is currently in a long-term power-purchase agreement with First Energy in Ohio for the sale of the power and credits for the project.

Mr. Sheen said an overhaul of the current system in New York state “would certainly be very complicated to achieve a significant amendment to the current system.

“We firmly believe, however, that until (New York) improves the current program or adopts a better system, wind-energy companies will continue to deploy resources to other states with better policies,” Mr. Sheen said.

The publication stated that EverPower was established in 2002 and is currently developing seven projects in four states, with two in New York, three in Oregon and one each in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

“Wind projects are operating in communities all over the (United States) and can be a vital part of our energy future and a great contributor to the local and national economy in the future,” Mr. Sheen said. “EverPower is pleased to be working on a project that brings the environmental and economic benefits to Allegany and (New York state.)

The company has also proposed a 29-turbine commercial wind farm for the Chipmonk and Knapp Creek area in the town of Allegany. The proposed wind farm has been opposed by members of Concerned Citizens of Cattaraugus County. The group held a public forum earlier this month that was heavily attended by residents opposed to the wind farm. A public hearing conducted last week by the Allegany Planning Board drew a similar response from a large number of area residents.

“Our decision to delay construction in Howard and our decision to move forward with Allegany is not shaped in any way by other Terra Firma businesses,” Mr. Sheen said. “We will continue to make decisions on our wind portfolio based on the market conditions and the details of each project.”

Pat Eaton, town of Allegany supervisor, said the current issue with the Howard project has caused some concern for town officials.

“Our biggest concern is that EverPower has to pay all the costs” incurred by the town for the ongoing studies and consultant fees stemming from the project, Mr. Eaton said. “We don’t want to get stuck with all these bills.”

According to the town of Allegany comptroller, the town has received $160,000 from EverPower since January 2009, and to date has spent $129,194 of that amount. The comptroller said the town recently received additional funds from EverPower to pay consultant and research fees related to the project.

Mr. Eaton said he has left a message with Dan Spitzer, a Buffalo attorney who has been hired as a consultant on the wind-farm proposal.

“I’m waiting for advice on this from Mr. Spitzer,” Mr. Eaton said. “My main concern is to make sure (EverPower) pays their bills. If they can’t, the research stops.”

Voice opposition to Cape Wind at 2pm ET

I was asked to share this by Save Our Sound and Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. They would like for all to call in and voice their opposition to this project. Please email to those that you think might have time to help.

NPR: Cape Wind Talk Show

CALL IN TODAY 800-989-8255 at 2pm to voice opposition. (They may talk briefly about cars, first).

AWEA's Bode will be on the show.

Thanks in advance!

Cynthia Wadsworth

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Visual and sound impacts from the Wolfe Island wind project on residents of Tibbetts Point Road, Cape Vincent, NY

This report outlines the acoustic and visual impacts of the Wolfe Island Wind Project on residents 2 miles (3.2 km) across the St. Lawrence River along the Tibbetts Point Road, Cape Vincent. Sound levels measured in January-February 2010, when the wind farm was operating, were 3 to 4 dBA greater than background sound levels measured in 2008, prior to construction of the wind farm. A mail-questionnaire was sent to 43 residents of the Tibbetts Point Road to assess their reaction to noise and visual impacts from the Wolfe Island Wind Project. Twenty-seven questionnaires were returned for a 63% response rate. Most respondents did not notice wind turbine noise, but at times, 38% were annoyed by the wind turbine sound. For the level of sound increase over background levels, respondents were more annoyed than New York DEC noise policy predicted.

Those respondents that heard the turbines described the noise as a low frequency/low pitched sound that is louder on summer evenings when winds were weak or non-existent. This supports other research linking annoyance with wind turbine noise and atmospheric stability. Far more respondents (88%) were annoyed by the change in landscape view than with noise. Ninety-two percent said these changes were for the worst and the blinking lights at night were especially disturbing; some comparing them with a commercial airport. Policy makers should know that visual and acoustic impacts for non-participating, waterfront residents are likely more negative than they may have initially thought. Furthermore, current NYSDEC noise guidelines may not adequately predict human response to wind turbine sound levels. (Note respondent comments in Appendix A)

Download File(s):
Visual and Sound Impact Final.pdf (356.13 kB)

April 28, 2010 Letter to State of Maine AG Mills regarding Kurt Adams and First Wind

April 28, 2010

Attorney General Janet Mills
6 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

Dear Ms. Mills,

We are writing on behalf of the Citizens Task Force on Wind Power in asking for your office to conduct a full investigation into the matter of Kurt Adams accepting a grant of "units of equity" from his future employer First Wind, while still acting as head of Maine PUC, which was revealed in reporter Naomi Shalit's piece in the Bangor Daily News and the Sun Journal on April 22, 2010 (enclosed). The timing of these grants, apparently a month prior to Adams leaving PUC to go to work for First Wind, raises serious questions about Adam's impartiality in dealing with wind power issues while still employed as a Maine PUC Commissioner. It also raises questions of whether his conduct violated 17-A M.R.S.A. §605 (improper gifts to public servants") or 5 M.R.S.A. §19 (financial disclosure by executive employees).

We are particularly disturbed by the public statements attributed to Mr. Adams purporting to justify the receipt of "units of equity" while serving as PUC Chair on grounds that the stock interest "had no value at all" at the time. The stock interest clearly was a "pecuniary benefit" by any definition of the term, as used in the criminal statute, and, based on the information in the news article, might well qualify as "income" within the meaning of the disclosure statute. The disclaimer by Mr. Adams, at a minimum, shows insensitivity to the clear appearance of a conflict that invites further investigation.

A thorough review of PUC matters related to wind power under Mr. Adams' tenure is warranted, because his conversations with First Wind about employment no doubt preceded the award of stock options. Typically in employment contracts such as Mr. Adams entered into with First Wind there is extensive fine print, with terms of employment, including job description, performance review and potential for promotion and particulars about compensation and bonuses requiring significant time and back and forth, negotiations and review by attorneys, etc.

We believe it is important to know when Mr. Adams began discussing employment opportunities with First Wind, and what, if any PUC matters involving First Wind, such as the approval of an agreement between First Wind at Rollins and CMP for the purchase of future wind generated electricity at rates much higher than current day ahead or real time market rates in Maine, came under review during this time. It is also important to know what other matters involving wind power energy came under his jurisdiction when he had a relationship with First Wind or its predecessor, even if it did not involve First Wind.

We are aware of requests for an investigation of First Wind by Hampton Mitchell and also by attorney Lynne Williams, due to concerns about potential improper dealings with government officials in Maine. We are aware that the Attorney General in New York investigated First Wind (then called UPC Wind), for improper dealings with local officials which resulted in the creation of a special Code of Ethics for wind companies in New York.

The questions raised by Adams' acceptance of stock options while still employed by the state of Maine can only be answered by an impartial and thorough investigation by your office. We hope you agree that this is a potentially serious matter, which at a minimum creates the appearance of conflict of interest and thereby undermines the trust of citizens in the government.

Thank you for your consideration.


Monique Aniel, MD
Steve Thurston
co-chairs, Citizens Task Force on Wind Power.

Citizens Task Force on Wind Power
PO Box 345
Oquossoc, Me 04964

Wind law changes in Clayton rejected

CLAYTON — Proposed wind zoning amendments, which called for stricter regulations on wind development in the town, were rejected by the Town Council Wednesday night with two "no" votes — by Supervisor Justin A. Taylor and Councilman Donald I. Turcotte.

By rejecting the proposed changes, which were based on the Clayton Wind Committee's recommendations calling for expanded setbacks and a stricter cap on noise levels, the town is keeping its current law — which includes setbacks of 1,250 feet from residences and 500 feet from public roads and nonparticipating property lines. The law would allow 56 turbines to be erected in the wind overlay district. Under the changes, only three or four turbines would have been allowed.

The decision came despite a majority vote in support of amendments to the existing zoning law — by councilmen Robert W. "Bobby" Cantwell III, Lance L. Peterson and George E. Kittle — because a supermajority vote was required to pass the changes because of a protest petition filed by Supporters of Horse Creek Wind Farm.

Mr. Taylor said the town has verified that the petition included signatures from property owners of more than 50 percent of the land in the 11,095-acre overlay district.

Under Town Law Article 16, Section 265, a zoning change must be passed by a supermajority, or four out of five votes, if a petition contains the signatures of the owners of 20 percent of the land affected by the proposed change.

"The visual acceptability of these machines would be something new that we must deal with. But we all must deal with change during our lives," Mr. Taylor said, comparing wind development to the introduction of power lines and cell phone towers to the community which were also contested by the public in the past.

He said a recent review by the Jefferson County Planning Department found that the proposed zoning amendments "would eliminate the entire proposed project."

"Personally, I see more positives than negatives," he said, arguing that the proposed wind farm project would create jobs locally and that it would bring millions of dollars to the town, fire districts, school and county through a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes plan.

The outcome of Wednesday's vote was upsetting to those who have for years opposed wind development in the town.

Cindy L. Grant said she attended numerous town meetings to convince the council that wind development was not right for Clayton and that she was "disappointed" with Mr. Taylor and Mr. Turcotte.

"Maple Ridge isn't getting their money, what makes you think we will?" she said. "Zoning laws are developed for protection of public health, safety and individual property rights. Zoning laws are not intended to provide accommodation or preferential treatment to individuals or businesses."

Mr. Taylor said the town could adopt laws that would require wind companies to reimburse town residents if they are unable to sell their properties at assessed value and additional laws to penalize wind developers for other issues.

Mr. Kittle, who voted in favor of the zoning changes, said he doubts that the town would be able to protect its residents from the acts of international corporations.

"I feel our community and the entire Thousand Islands region would be harmed beyond belief and that the short-term financial gain would not compensate for the negatives generated if we allow a project of this magnitude go through," he said.

The "small wind" zoning law, which deals with non-industrial wind turbines, was unanimously rejected Wednesday. Mr. Kittle said the council should take its time to develop a more comprehensive law that would protect residents who wish to erect personal turbines, as well as their neighbors.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

First U.S. offshore wind farm gets green light

BOSTON (Reuters) - U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar gave the green light for the 130-turbine, 420-megawatt Cape Wind project in Horseshoe Shoal, Nantucket Sound, subject to certain conditions designed to project offshore waters.

"This project fits with the tradition of sustainable development in the area," Salazar said at a news conference in Boston.

German conglomerate Siemens AG will provide the turbines.

The decision to approve Cape Wind is expected to face legal challenges, but Salazar said he was confident that the approval would stand.

Members of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe of Martha's Vineyard have vowed to sue to stop Cape Wind from being built, saying it would interfere with sacred rituals and desecrate tribal burial sites. Others opposed to the project on environmental grounds also have said they'll sue.

Salazar said he understood those concerns but had to weigh them against the nation's need for new renewable sources of energy.

Cape Wind says it can generate power by 2012 and aims to eventually supply three-quarters of the power on Cape Cod, which has about 225,000 residents. Cape Wind officials say it will provide green jobs and a reliable domestic energy source, while offshore wind advocates are hoping it can jump-start the U.S. industry.

America's onshore wind industry is the world's largest, but higher upfront costs, tougher technological challenges and environmental concerns have held back the development of offshore wind farms.

Denmark installed the world's first offshore wind turbine 20 years ago. China has built its first commercial wind farm off Shanghai and plans several other projects.

The U.S. Department of Energy envisions offshore wind farms accounting for 4 percent of the country's electric generating capacity by 2030.

Major U.S. proposals include a project in Texas state waters, but most are concentrated along the East Coast north of Maryland, including projects in Delaware and New Jersey.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has been an enthusiastic backer of Cape Wind, pushing it as key to the state's efforts to increase its use of renewable energy. The lead federal agency reviewing the project, the Minerals Management Service, issued a report last year saying the project posed no major environmental problems.

Critics say the project endangers wildlife and air and sea traffic, while marring historic vistas. The late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy fought Cape Wind, calling it a special interest giveaway. The wind farm would be visible from the Kennedy family compound in Hyannisport.

Democrat U.S. Rep. William Delahunt, who represents Cape Cod, said allowing the project to move forward will open "a new chapter of legal battles and potential setbacks" for the wind power industry.

"Cape Wind is the first offshore wind farm to be built in the wrong place, in the wrong way, stimulating the wrong economies," Delahunt said Wednesday.

Home to some of the best-known beaches in the Northeast, Cape Cod has long been a destination for summer vacations and is famous for its small towns and homes in its namesake architectural style.

The project is about five miles off Cape Cod at its closest proximity to land and 14 miles off Nantucket at the greatest distance. According to visual simulations done for Cape Wind, on a clear day the turbines would be about a half-inch tall on the horizon at the nearest point and appear as specks from Nantucket.

The developers are being required to configure the wind farm to reduce visual effects on the outer cape and Nantucket Island, Salazar said.

Opponents also said the power from the pricey Cape Wind project, estimated to cost at least $2 billion, would be too expensive.

U.S. Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, a Republican, said the project will jeopardize tourism and affect aviation safety and the rights of the Native American tribes.

"Nantucket Sound is a national treasure that should be protected from industrialization." Brown said.

Although small in terms of its total energy production -- the $1 billion facility would produce enough electricity to power about 400,000 houses -- its approval raises hopes that other offshore wind projects will follow.

Several projects that could power hundreds of thousands of customers have already been proposed for the East Coast and the Great Lakes.

Supporters have argued that wind farms represent a giant push for renewable energy efforts in the United States and fit well with the Obama administration's energy strategy.

Cape Wind was subject to years of environmental review and political maneuvering, including adamant opposition from the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, whose six-acre family compound in Hyannis Port overlooks Nantucket Sound.

JCIDA and Upstate NY Power to give briefing to area businesses about proposed Galloo Island Wind Farm

The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency and Upstate NY Power Corporation will present a Contractors, Vendors and Suppliers Informational Briefing on Friday May 7th, 1 pm at the Watertown Elks Club, 728 Bradley Street, Watertown. This event, open to all companies in the region, is being held to encourage local employers—small and large— to learn more about possible participation in one or more of the many aspects of the proposed Galloo Island Wind Farm.

This is not for job seekers but rather a business to business outreach. Job information and job fairs for the project will come at a later time.

The project developer will need to be supplied with everything from food to gasoline, from steel to land and water transportation, from cement to rock crushing, from doors and windows to roofing material. In addition to the wind energy facilities, this project will also be in need of every service and product required to build a small community from scratch, including a 24 unit condominium facility, and related infrastructure for the full time workers.

Companies will be able to register their business with the developer and position themselves to be ready to make competitive bids on services they can offer after the General Contractor is selected. They will be briefed on the scope of the project and the anticipated timing of the construction phase.

For a more comprehensive list of products and services that will be required visit, or call the JCIDA office at 315-782-5865. Reservations are not required.

Cape wind farm ruling coming today

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will today announce his decision on the controversial and much-debated wind farm proposed for Nantucket Sound off Cape Cod.

Salazar will make his announcement at noon today in Boston at the State House along with Gov. Deval Patrick, a supporter of the project, Salazar's office said this morning.

Salazar's plan to announce the decision with Patrick bodes well for advocates of Cape Wind, as the governor has been a supporter of the project. Cape Wind wants to build a 130-turbine wind farm in Nantucket Sound.

A live Webcast of Salazar's press conference will be available here on Cape Cod Online as an embedded video beginning at noon.

Cape Wind has scheduled a 2:15 p.m. press conference at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston. A live broadcast of the press conference may be available at Cape Wind's website:

There is no official word yet on plans today by wind farm foe Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.

Today's announcement also comes as Salazar's boss and Patrick's good friend, President Barack Obama, makes a two-day, three-state Midwestern trip, focusing on his economic and clean-energy programs as job creators. Yesterday, the president toured an Iowa company that makes blades for wind turbines and is set to supply turbines for the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm.

Cape Wind aims to begin generating electricity in 2012 and supply three-quarters of the Cape's power. Cape Wind officials say it will provide green jobs and a reliable domestic energy source, while offshore wind advocates are hoping it can jump-start an industry that's lagging behind Europe and now China.

Opponents wanted the project moved out of Nantucket Sound, saying it would endanger marine life and maritime traffic, while defacing historic vistas, including the view from the Kennedy family compound in Hyannisport.

The late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy fought Cape Wind, calling it a special-interest giveaway, and he also complained that the 400-foot-tall turbines — spread over 25 miles of federal waters — would mar a pristine landscape.

Opponents also say the power from the pricey Cape Wind project, estimated to cost at least $2 billion, would be too expensive.

Cape Wind appeared close to final approval in January 2009 when the lead federal agency reviewing the project, the Minerals Management Service, issued a report saying the project posed no major environmental problems.

But two Wampanoag tribes claimed the project would ruin an ancient ritual that requires an unblocked view of the sunrise, and could disturb long-submerged tribal burial grounds.

Early this month, a federal historic council backed tribal claims and recommended Salazar reject the project, citing its "destructive" effects on views from dozens of historic sites.

Yesterday, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry said he would support the project if Salazar gives his approval.

"I have said this is the first siting of anywhere in the country, (so it's) very important for the process to work its way forward," Kerry said. "I favor a wind project somewhere in Massachusetts, and I've said, again and again, if the process decides that this is the one that it should be, I support moving forward."

Obama has pushed renewable energy, and his recent decision to expand offshore drilling indicates a willingness to tap ocean-based energy sources. But Obama, who was close to Kennedy, has never spoken publicly about Cape Wind.

The president is also close to Patrick and recently urged his re-election this fall.

First Wind flap casts breeze on Ken Salazar

Only days away from making a historic decision on the Cape Wind project in Massachusetts, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar earlier this week was palling around with executives from another Boston wind firm at the center of a controversy over the hiring of one of its key managers.

Salazar, who is expected to make a decision this week on the Cape Wind project, was in Utah inspecting a separate wind farm built by Boston’s First Wind.

Executives at First Wind gave Salazar and other Interior officials a tour of the Milford Wind Corridor, according to a company press release.

The Bangor Daily News reported late last week that one of First Wind’s new executives had accepted an ownership stake while he was still the state of Maine’s chief utilities regulator. Kurt Adams, former head of the Maine Public Utilities Commission, was awarded about $1.2 million in shares of First Wind just prior to quitting his Maine job to join the firm in May 2008, according to the Daily News and SEC filings reviewed by the Herald.

“We take this issue extremely seriously and are reviewing matters to confirm our understanding that Kurt’s hiring was proper,” First Wind said in a statement.

Adams, who could not be reached for comment, and First Wind have said they had previously disclosed, to Maine’s governor, Adams’ intent to join the firm and that he had recursed himself from all regulatory duties associated with the firm. He said he was awarded the shares after his disclosures, the Daily News reported.

First Wind has built two wind farms in Maine and has two more in development.

A spokeswoman for Salazar declined comment.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Town Of Italy Prohibits Industrial Wind Turbines

This May Prevent Prattsburgh From Having An Ecogen Wind Project

Brad Jones, the Town of Italy Town Supervisor says that the Town of Italy Board adopted by a 3 to 2 roll-call vote resolution that deletes two Wind Energy Incentive Zones from the Zoning Law and restores in the Zoning Law and Comprehensive Plan strict prohibitions against industrial wind turbines in all districts within the Town.

This latest move may prevent the neighboring Steuben County Town of Prattsburgh from going forward with their Ecogen wind project. Prattsburgh is near Italy, and Ecogen was going to be using the Italy sub-station for the Prattsburgh project.

Jones also says that The Town of Italy continues to fight the lawsuit that was filed by Ecogen last November after the Board rejected their Application for an industrial-scale wind project, and that Italy will be filing a Motion For Dismissal on April 28.

Energy consumption in wind facilities

Large wind turbines require a large amount of energy to operate. Other electricity plants generally use their own electricity, and the difference between the amount they generate and the amount delivered to the grid is readily determined. Wind plants, however, use electricity from the grid, which does not appear to be accounted for in their output figures. At the facility in Searsburg, Vermont, for example, it is apparently not even metered and is completely unknown [click here].* The manufacturers of large turbines -- for example, Vestas, GE, and NEG Micon -- do not include electricity consumption in the specifications they provide.

Among the wind turbine functions that use electricity are the following:†s

* yaw mechanism (to keep the blade assembly perpendicular to the wind; also to untwist the electrical cables in the tower when necessary) -- the nacelle (turbine housing) and blades together weigh 92 tons on a GE 1.5-MW turbine

* blade-pitch control (to keep the rotors spinning at a regular rate)

* lights, controllers, communication, sensors, metering, data collection, etc.

* heating the blades -- this may require 10%-20% of the turbine's nominal (rated) power

* heating and dehumidifying the nacelle -- according to Danish manufacturer Vestas, "power consumption for heating and dehumidification of the nacelle must be expected during periods with increased humidity, low temperatures and low wind speeds"

* oil heater, pump, cooler, and filtering system in gearbox

* hydraulic brake (to lock the blades in very high wind)

* thyristors (to graduate the connection and disconnection between generator and grid) -- 1%-2% of the energy passing through is lost

* magnetizing the stator -- the induction generators used in most large grid-connected turbines require a "large" amount of continuous electricity from the grid to actively power the magnetic coils around the asynchronous "cage rotor" that encloses the generator shaft; at the rated wind speeds, it helps keep the rotor speed constant, and as the wind starts blowing it helps start the rotor turning (see next item); in the rated wind speeds, the stator may use power equal to 10% of the turbine's rated capacity, in slower winds possibly much more

* using the generator as a motor (to help the blades start to turn when the wind speed is low or, as many suspect, to maintain the illusion that the facility is producing electricity when it is not,‡ particularly during important site tours) -- it seems possible that the grid-magnetized stator must work to help keep the 40-ton blade assembly spinning, along with the gears that increase the blade rpm some 50 times for the generator, not just at cut-in (or for show in even less wind) but at least some of the way up towards the full rated wind speed; it may also be spinning the blades and rotor shaft to prevent warping when there is no wind§

It may be that each turbine consumes more than 50% of its rated capacity in its own operation. If so, the plant as a whole -- which may produce only 25% of its rated capacity annually -- would be using (for free!) twice as much electricity as it produces and sells. An unlikely situation perhaps, but the industry doesn't publicize any data that proves otherwise; incoming power is apparently not normally recorded.

Is there some vast conspiracy spanning the worldwide industry from manufacturers and developers to utilities and operators? There doesn't have to be, if engineers all share an assumption that wind turbines don't use a significant amount of power compared to their output and thus it is not worth noting, much less metering. Such an assumption could be based on the experience decades ago with small DC-generating turbines, simply carried over to AC generators that continue to metastasize. However errant such an assumption might now be, it stands as long as no one questions it. No conspiracy is necessary -- self-serving laziness is enough.

Whatever the actual amount of consumption, it could seriously diminish any claim of providing a significant amount of energy. Instead, it looks like industrial wind power could turn out to be a laundering scheme: "Dirty" energy goes in, "clean" energy comes out. That would explain why developers demand legislation to create a market for "green credits" -- tokens of "clean" energy like the indulgences sold by the medieval church. Ego te absolvo.

(One need only ask utilities to show how much less "dirty" electricity they purchase because of wind-generated power to see that something is amiss in the wind industry's claims. If wind worked and were not mere window dressing, the industry would trot out some real numbers. But they don't. One begins to suspect that they can't.)

*There is also the matter of reactive power (VAR). As wind facilities are typically built in remote areas, they are often called upon to provide VAR to maintain line voltage. Thus much of their production may go to providing only this "energy-less" power.

†Much of this information comes from a Swedish graduate student specializing in hydrogen and wind power, as posted in a Yes2Wind discussion. Also see the Danish Wind Industry Association's guide to the technology. The rest comes from personal correspondence with other experts and from industry spec sheets.

‡An observer in Toronto, Ontario, points out that the blades of the turbines installed at the Pickering nuclear plant and Exhibition Place turn 90% of the time, even when there is barely a breeze and when the blades are not properly pitched -- in a region acknowledged to have low wind resource.

§"In large rotating power trains such as this, if allowed to stand motionless for any period of time, the unit will experience "bowing" of shafts and rotors under the tremendous weight. Therefore, frequent rotating of the unit is necessary to prevent this. As an example, even in port Navy ships keep their propeller shafts and turbine power trains slowly rotating. It is referred to as "jacking the shaft" to prevent any tendency to bow. Any bowing would throw the whole train out of balance with potentially very serious damage when bringing the power train back on line.

"In addition to just protecting the gear box and generator shafts and bearings, the blades on a large wind turbine would offer a special challenge with respect to preventing warping and bowing when not in use. For example, on a sunny, windless day, idle wind turbine blades would experience uneven heating from the sun, something that would certainly cause bowing and warping. The only way to prevent this would be to keep the blades moving to even out the sun exposure to all parts of the blade.

"So, the point that major amounts of incoming electrical power is used to turn the power train and blades when the wind is not blowing is very accurate, and it is not something the operators of large wind turbines can avoid.

"[In addition, there is] the likely need for a hefty, forced-feed lubricating system for the shaft and turbine blade assembly bearings. This would be a major hotel load. I can't imagine passive lubrication (as for the wheel bearings on your car) for an application like this. Maybe so, but I would be very surprised. Assuming they have to have a forced-feed lubrication system, given the weight on those bearings (40 tons on the bearing for the rotor and blades alone) a very robust (energy sucking) lubricating oil system would be required. It would also have to include cooling for the oil and an energy-sucking lube oil purification system too."

--Lawrence E. Miller, Gerrardstown, WV, an engineer with over 40 years of professional experience with large power train machinery associated with Navy ships.

Major wind project put 'on hold'

RUTLAND – Vermont Community Wind Farm announced Monday it had "no current plans to proceed" with building what would have been the state's largest wind farm in and around the small town of Ira in southeastern Vermont.

Spokesman Jeffrey Wennberg said the company was too uncertain about certain aspects of the permitting process to go forward, but that developer Per White-Hansen would hold onto leases associated with the project.

"There's a potential to bring the project back, but circumstances would have to change," Wennberg said. "He's not selling the leases."

Wennberg said the company was concerned with the way stormwater issues with other proposed projects in the state remained unresolved and with questions over habitat protection at Herrick Mountain, the site of the bulk of the project.

Wennberg said the habitat issue was not something that had been identified at the start of the process.

"It arose, very unexpectedly, late in the game," he said. "We said all along we did not want to proceed without (Vermont Agency of Natural Resources) support."

ANR Secretary Jonathan Wood said he was surprised to hear the news from a reporter late Monday afternoon.

"Our expectation was to be working with them for a while on these issues," he said.

Utility projects are exempt from Act 250, the state's land use development law, but go though a permit process before the Vermont Public Service Board in which ANR is a statutory party. Wood said ANR looks at specific animal habitats as well as "natural communities" — collections of interdependent species.

An ecologist from the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife notified VCWF late last year that the department found "rare and irreplaceable natural areas" in the project zone.

"What they are is unique habitats, unique types of communities, that occur in the forest," Wood said. "We have evaluated other projects in terms of these types of concerns and not found any issues. … You don't have much concern when there are one or two of these areas a developer can go around. Here, you have a number of them."

However, Wood said those concerns were not necessarily enough to scuttle the project, and that the agency generally works with developers to reconfigure projects in a way that would minimize impacts.

Wood also said that ANR has issued stormwater permits to two wind projects, though one of those is under appeal.

Since the project was announced just over a year ago, it has faced increasing public opposition in Ira. Complaints have included the destruction of scenic views, potential environmental impacts and supposed health effects of noise generated by spinning turbines.

Ira rewrote its town plan to discourage utility-scale wind turbines on ridgelines — the PSB is not bound by town plans but must give them "due consideration" — and voted at town meeting to support renewable energy development within those guidelines.

"I'm taking off my clothes right now," said Peter Cosgrove, one of the organizers of the opposition in Ira, upon hearing the news. "I'm going to run outside in the rain naked."

Cosgrove said he was delighted to hear the broad pressure brought by the community appeared to have paid off.

Word of the project traveled ahead of a formal announcement after residents in Middletown Springs stumbled into VCWF's webste last year. The project originally included potential sites in Ira, Middletown Springs, Poultney, Clarendon, Tinmouth and West Rutland, all located south of Rutland, though it was pared down repeatedly.

Clarendon's Selectsboard came out officially against the project. Though sites in Clarendon were eliminated one of the times the proposal was reconfigured, Chairman Michael Klopchin greeted the news favorably Monday.

"As far as I'm concerned, let them go up by Montpelier with all this green energy," he said. "Let them try it up there. … It seems like the little guy, the little communities in this state, have finally won one. It makes me happy."

Wind Turbine Radio Interview - Carmen Krogh

From Goldhawk Fights Back: Carmen Krogh, of The Society for Wind Vigilance & a retired pharmacist talks about the ill effects of wind turbines.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Wind power is not needed

Due to the recession, conservation and efficiency, and people using less to save money, there is lower demand and an oversupply of electrical generation.

In March GMP and CVPS and Hydro Quebec announced agreement on new 26-year contracts to provide Vermont with clean renewable hydroelectric power.

TransCanada is asking for a reappraisal of its hydro dams on the Connecticut River. Cleve Kapala of TransCanada said, "I mean the plants are obviously worth less today than they were pre-recession and pre-oversupply of electricity."

Even without Vermont Yankee there is a glut of power in New England. The price of natural gas and wholesale price of electricity are lower than they've been in years and are predicted to remain low for the foreseeable future. So why destroy Vermont's mountains with inefficient, unreliable wind turbines?

To fulfill arbitrary renewable energy use mandates, unachievable without reclassifying hydro as renewable.

And to allow wind developers to collect subsidies, tax credits, accelerated depreciation, RECs and direct grants, paid with our grandchildren's tax dollars.

Without these mandates and incentives, no one would consider building these useless monuments to gullibility and greed.

Wind turbines are unreliable and intermittent and nowhere have they have resulted in the decommissioning of an existing fossil fuel facility.

Wind projects divide communities, lower property values, will harm Vermonters' health, wildlife, tourist and second-home economy, and kill birds and now endangered bats.

Vermont has always promoted itself as a place to enjoy the beauty and serenity of our Green Mountains and clear night sky. A place people live and visit to escape urbanized sprawl.

We don't need to industrialize our mountains with 430 to 500 foot, loud, strobe-lit, environmentally destructive, quality of life-destroying industrial scale wind turbines.

How many of you would buy property or live near an industrial wind facility?



Sunday, April 25, 2010

Revolving door the norm in D.C. but rare in Maine

It's nice to see a guy get a raise, but the compensation package offered to Maine's former Public Utilities Commission chairman by a wind developer raises a number of red flags.

According to a story Thursday by Naomi Schalit, of the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, former PUC Chairman Kurt Adams negotiated a pretty sweet deal for himself about a month before leaving the state's employ.

Adams accepted a vice-president's position at the Boston-based First Wind, a company seeking to develop a wind energy project in Maine.

A Securities and Exchange Commission filing says his first-year compensation at the firm totaled $1.3 million, which included $315,000 in salary, $658,000 in stock, $29,000 in "other" compensation and $315,000 in "non-equity compensation."

That's certainly a step up from his former position, which pays the current PUC chair, Sharon Reishus, a measly $164,278 per year. In fact, it's an eight-fold increase if the value of his stock is included.

And this is at a firm that has yet to turn a profit, according to a March 30 Boston Globe story.

The company had revenues of $47.1 million in 2009, but still had an operating loss of $57.1 million.

What's more, first wind is not a big company. According to the Globe, it has a total of 70 employees. And, according to the company's website, 10 of them are either chairmen, CEO, CFO or a vice president of one thing or another.

Compare that to some of Maine's top hospital CEOs, who also make about $1 million per year, but who supervise thousands of employees and produce hundreds of millions in revenue.

So, what does a company get when it pays $1.3 million for a former regulator from Maine?

Contacts. Knowledge of the regulatory process. Friends in high places. A big Rolodex — make that a deep Blackberry "contacts" list.

This is, of course, the kind of strategic hire that happens 100 times a day in Washington, but which we seldom see in Maine.

It's not illegal, but it's the familiar "revolving door" of politicians, soldiers and regulators moving seamlessly between government and industry that we've come to mistrust and despise about Washington.

But here's what should really concern us — the example Adams' hiring sets for other highly placed state employees.

Across Augusta, people buried in regulatory agencies must be asking themselves, "If he can do it, why can't I?"

Which raises an even more disturbing prospect called "regulatory capture."

It's a theory developed by Chicago School of Economics Professor George Joseph Stigler that regulators eventually identify with and aspire to join the well-heeled people they regulate.

And a regulator thinking about soon joining private industry probably isn't interested in offending prospective employers.

Of course, people do leave government. Adams' reason, a conflict of interest posed by Central Maine Power's efforts to expand transmission lines near his home, is a good one.

Still, we hope his example remains the exception rather than the rule for Maine.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Observations of a Town Divided

Dear Editor,

The "divide & conquer" techniques that Big Wind salesmen have successfully used time and time again in their financially-motivated exploitation of our beautiful state and its citizens, were evident once again at Orangeville's 3/25/10 Public Hearing on Invenergy's Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed "Stoney Creek" industrial wind installation.

The story's the same in every town - Camp Wyomoco was filled for the hearing, and citizens who used to be friends, sat divided. There is no doubt, complete and utter civil discord is the only thing reliably-generated by this Enronesque Ponzi scheme - its' only beneficiaries, a few wealthy investors (primarily multi-national mega-corporations in search of increased bottom lines) in bed with our state & federal governments.

Comments made by the 13 proponents that evening - 5 of whom were Invenergy employees, and 7 who were signed leaseholders, had nothing to do with the DEIS. The proponents' statements made clear, once again, "It's all about the money!" Who cares if it actually works or not? If industrial wind will reduce a tax bill, or bring a personal 'windfall' - bring it on!

So who in NYS wouldn't like a tax reduction?!? But is selling out one's town and neighbors for a few bucks really what this country has come to???

Invenergy salesmen and others referred to typical wind industry propaganda (aka: hogwash) the wind industry has spent tons of money brainwashing the American public to believe, i.e. - "emissions reductions" and "energy independence". The fact is, that with over 100,000 industrial wind turbines in the world today, there is still NO proof of emissions reductions. (See: The Wind Farm Scam, by Dr. John Etherington, and Power Hungry, by Robert Bryce)

At least 22 Orangeville citizens made comments targeting many specific inaccuracies and inadequacies in Invenergy's DEIS, including: inadequate setbacks which fail to protect the health, safety, and welfare of all citizens; wind-industry-set sound levels which exceed World Health Organization and DEC recommendations; lack of studies and safeguards to assure protection of wells and aquifers; lack of a property value protection plan; etc.

Jim Nevinger, who asked why Invenergy had not done an extensive listing of Alternatives for the project, as is required by SEQRA, asked why the town couldn't consider a smaller Town-owned project. Harold Hopkins asked why the County had not pursued the Wind Tamer industry, which had been proposed by it's owner for development here in Wyoming County, and would have created over 1,000 permanent local jobs.

Pete & Sally Humphrey both cited numerous requests to the Town Board over the past year requesting pertinent information, including a Visual Impact Study and Industrial Wind safety manuals. The Town Board has totally ignored these requests to date, "failing to fulfill their fiduciary duties."

Mike Burgio, 25-year professional in the electric field as a safety specialist, stated that "turbine developers require greater setbacks for safety for their workers than Orangeville's Town Board is requesting for their residents." (Supervisor May's opening statement, "The Board will continue to work to protect the town, and its residents," certainly doesn't jive with this sad reality!)

The most heart-rendering testimonies of the evening however, the likes of which I always wonder how the financially-motivated proponents can ignore, were those of Joseph Fugle and Eric Daniels.

Fugle told the crowd he has a condition called "Carhart Notch", which makes him especially sound sensitive. He retorted to undertones in the audience in a choked-up voice, "It's NOT funny! You may think it's funny -- but it's NOT funny, and it really scares me!" He said he can tell if the existing turbines are on or not when he calls his wife on the phone, and he doesn't know what he'll do if they put more of these things up around him.

Life-long resident, Eric Daniels, also spoke in an extremely emotional voice as he requested that flicker studies not in the DEIS be done before any project is approved. Daniels fears for the health and well-being of his children - one who has congenital heart disease, and one who has epilepsy. Daniels elaborated, "I drive back and forth to Buffalo for work, and there are days when I come over the hill that the turbines [flicker effect] on top of Buffalo Hill scares me to death!"

Harold Hopkins added his closing, "I totally respect that the Board won the election. However, my guy didn't win the Presidency either, and now we're going to Supreme Court. So, I guess we'll be seeing you in court, too."

It is so sad that this kind of division is what it has come down to in our towns - all over over a few bucks, the duration of which will be short-lived at best.

As I sit and watch these scenarios play themselves out in our rural townships, I can't help but wonder --- What happened to mutual respect? The Golden Rule? Treating other people the way you want to be treated?

I can't help but think that if we all heeded what Jesus told us was His second greatest commandment, "Love your neighbor as yourself," we wouldn't even be dealing with this mess.

Mary Kay Barton

P.O. Box 69
Silver Lake, NY 14549

Wind-turbine hearing draws wide-ranging audience

ALLEGANY - Of the 39 people who spoke during Tuesday’s public hearing for the proposed wind-turbine farm in Allegany, 38 spoke out against the project.

The two-hour hearing, held at the Allegany Senior Center on Birch Run Road, was attended by a large number of people from Allegany as well as communities that included Olean, Hinsdale, Humphrey, Limestone and the Bradford, Pa., area.

The event was conducted by the Allegany Planning Board to gather comments from the community regarding the draft environmental-impact statement for the Allegany Wind LLC Project. A 29-turbine commercial wind farm has been proposed for the Chipmonk and Knapp Creek area by EverPower Renewables of New York City.

In opening the meeting, planning-board chairman Bob Phillips reminded the speakers that they had a three-minute time limit to speak. He also told the audience that written comments about the wind farm will be accepted by the planning board until May 3.

Dan Spitzer, a Buffalo attorney who is advising the town board on wind-turbine issues, said the next step after the public hearing is for the planning board to answer the public’s questions and make determinations about the impacts from the wind farm. He said the consulting firm, Conestoga-Rovers and Associates (CRA) of Waterloo, Ontario, also will review comments from the public as well as EverPower’s response to the questions.

“There are two approvals required from this town to construct the project,” Mr. Spitzer said in referring to the planning board and town board’s role in the matter. The town board, however, will make the final decision on whether the project is given the go-ahead to construct.

Those commenting during the meeting included Erick Laine, a resident of Olean and chairman of CUTCO Cutlery Corp. Mr. Laine described himself as an engineer by training and an environmentalist by heart and said the more he has read about the issue, the less certain he is about the wind-turbine farm’s appropriateness in Allegany. Mr. Laine questioned what other energy options may be available in Allegany.

“As these other (energy) options develop and mature ... the people who have wind-turbine technology standing in their yard will be unable to make the shift and will be locked into the huge, noisy and unsightly wind turbines,” Mr. Laine said. “I would be personally opposed to this project and urge the town of Allegany to be extremely cautious in its evaluation of it.”

Ron DeMattio of Allegany was the lone individual who spoke in favor of the wind farm.

Mr. DeMattio said he has studied environmental law and believes a lot of the information provided on the noise and environmental impacts of wind farms is false.

“There is a lot of really bad information being spread around the Web,” Mr. DeMattio said. “I would hope the board would stick with all the effort and energy they put into this, and all the money that has been spent on the studies. And base their decision on that studied information and not hearsay and hysteria.”

Also commenting was Phil Winger, associate vice president of facilities at St. Bonaventure University. Mr. Winger asked that the visual-impact assessment of the project be expanded to include the Four Mile Creek area that can be viewed from campus.

“Arguably, the visual impact here is one of the most publicly significant in the entire region,” Mr. Winger said. “From the campus, there is a direct view of the ridge line and of several turbines from base to tip.”

Alan Henderson of Chipmonk asked the board how it was going to guarantee “the property values, the health and safety and also the noise issues” that might be created by the wind-turbine farm.

Karen Mosman of Chipmonk said her home will have wind turbines built on both sides of the property.

“The health risks from noise, vibration and pollution that have been noticed by people dealing with wind turbines will exist here no matter what EverPower is promising,” Mrs. Mosman said. “Never did I think the officials of Allegany would sell our souls for money.”

Kathy Premo, a fourth-generation resident of Chipmonk, told the board that earlier this week she awoke at 3 a.m. hearing the sounds of a train and whistle located 2 miles from her home. She said the wind turbines will be much closer than that to her home.

“If this goes through, will I be lying in bed listening to wind turbines” during the early morning hours, Ms. Premo asked.

Others who spoke during the evening listed health issues that included post traumatic stress syndrome, and their concerns of how the noise from the turbines could affect them. The planning board also was presented a petition with signatures from Knapp Creek residents who opposed the project.

David and Kathy Koebelin of Allegany both spoke and said they believe the dream home they built on Hawthorne Lane will cease to exist if the wind-turbine farm is built.

“The construction of our home was completed in 2008. Kathy and I spent 25 years trying to get ahead with a goal to eventually build a new home,” Mr. Koebelin said. “Unfortunately, our pursuit of the American dream has lead us straight into the Allegany nightmare.

“We bought into the idea of a development named Woods Edge, not Turbine View,” Mr. Koebelin said.

Jose Sanchez of Chipmonk also spoke and told the board that about a year ago he and his wife received a letter from EverPower questioning them about their well and the need to test the water.

“My question is, ‘Why did they send me this letter?’ Obviously they’re expecting problems to happen to my water,” Mr. Sanchez said. “Who is going to be responsible when there are problems with my water?”

Gus Napoleon of Allegany said he lives in the West Branch area and has a clear view of the ridge line that would host wind turbines. Prior to Mr. Napoleon taking the microphone, his daughter-in-law, Melanie Napoleon, taped 29 paper wind turbines to the back wall of the room, which is a mural depicting the hills of Allegany.

“What disturbs me is, if there is a majority vote on the board, will it be a decisive vote?” Mr. Napoleon said. “Out of five on the board, three (could vote) ‘yes’ against the feelings we heard this evening of 100 or so people here. I mean, we are the people, and the people speak.”

Dr. Bill Jaremko and his teenage daughter, Elizabeth, also spoke during the hearing.

“We have a beautiful area. I didn’t come here by accident. I raised my kids here and it’s a great place,” Dr. Jaremko said. He questioned whether the company building the wind farm will someday go bankrupt, and how the project will deface the rural beauty of the area.

Elizabeth Jaremko told the board that she represents the future of Allegany.

“I hope to raise a family here ... and I hope for many generations to come they will be able to view the beauty,” Elizabeth said.

David McCann, a resident of Pennsylvania, told the board that his area is the “forgotten sector” of the issue. Mr. McCann said he lives on the Pennsylvania side of the Knapp Creek area in question and believes he and his neighbors will be impacted by the wind turbines.

“I’m going to get all that noise coming my way,” Mr. McCann said. “I just hope these people don’t (expletive) on their citizens who oppose this. They can be voted out of office, but they still have to face these people years down the road.”

Marcia Storch, an Olean resident, said she was at the meeting to support her Allegany neighbors.

“I’m here to say to you that it is time for you to listen to your constituents,” Mrs. Storch said. “In our community, and our whole country, people are feeling like they’re not being heard.

“You have moral obligation to listen to (the community) and do as they say,” Mrs. Storch said.

Dr. Steinberg, Friends of Lakes, Maine

The Wind Scam in Maine is as despicable and underhanded as Bayroot.

In Lincoln,Maine it was based on deception and secretive, non-democratic processes. It is still under appeal in the Supreme Court there because of the process used by First Wind to obtain permits. It was sprung on the citizens there as a surprise , with little time to respond. The process used to site Wind Turbines in Maine has not been a democratic, or scientific one .Basics of civic process are breached, broken. No vote allowed for the Rollins Project. Corporate conniving and financial finageling the rule. Breaching of basic Citizen Rights the game..

The basis for this , the Expedited Process in Maine ,was developed by the Governor's Task Force on Wind Power with the aide of low characters like ex-governor Angus King, and other self-serving politicians and lobby forces in Maine. The destruction at Kibby Mtn.and Stetson Mtn. is breath taking mountain devastation. All this for Harvard, and other subsidy sucking secretive endowment investments like Bayroot of Yale.

The Cat is out of the Bag!

The groupthink , brain twisted, socially marketed comments here are a wonderful example of the imbecilic mental forces driving the Wind Scam.

Lacking science, lacking economic reasoning, lacking facts, but having strong financial leverage from the likes of DE SHAW and other investment bankers to create a TAX and Scam Market.

I would wager a bet this student has never seen or heard 50 , 400 foot GE 1.5 MW monster turbines at 20 knots wind generating DbC and other noise components.

Undergrad, do you even know what DbC is? Do you even know what the difference between plate and capacity value power produced by these feckless monsters?

Boone says it well.” In contrast to wind proponents’ alluring but empty promises of closed coal plants and reduced carbon emissions is this reality: wind energy is impotent while its environmental footprint is massive and malignant. It can’t dent a grape in the energy scheme of things; it’s a sideshow technology with great potential for mainline environmental harm. In some ways, it’s almost the perfect enterprise for our era, as it produces no meaningful product or service but is subsidized up to 80 percent by rate and taxpayers. Like many “celebrities,” it is famous for being famous, not for its actual performance.”

The Groupthink and lack of facts of “Undergrad” is a sign of our Subsidized Times. The bubble will break on “THE WIND SCAM”.

One of the great Deceptions and Tax Subsidy Pigs of our time. (along with BAYROOT et al.).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Orangeville anti-wind lawsuit dismissed

ORANGEVILLE — The lawsuit filed by a group opposing the proposed Stony Creek Wind Farm has been dismissed, town officials said.

State Supreme Court Justice Patrick NeMoyer dismissed the lawsuit Tuesday during a hearing in Buffalo, said Supervisor Susan May in a news release issued by the town.

She said NeMoyer found the Town Board acted responsibly and justly in passing the zoning ordinance, and rejected the assertion any of the voting town councilmen had conflicts of interest.

"Although we are pleased with the court's decision, the town board was very confident that the legal process would prove that we acted properly, ethically and in full accordance with New York State law when approving our zoning code, especially as it relates to wind energy systems," May said in a prepared statement.

"We owe a debt of gratitude to Wendel Duchscherer for their detailed and independent review of the zoning ordinance and to our town attorneys, David DiMatteo, David Roach, and Wendy Marsh, for assisting us with the passage of the zoning ordinance and in defending the town board against this frivolous lawsuit that needlessly expended taxpayer money," she continued.

Gary Abraham, the attorney for Clear Skies Over Orangeville, said Wednesday the group will appeal.

"Towns cannot be allowed to elevate noise levels in rural residential areas by up to 25 decibels, a change NYSDEC classifies as 'intolerable,'" he said. "Wind farms are appropriate only where they do less harm."

Clear Skies Over Orangeville filed suit against the Town Board in January. The group sought to invalidate the town's 2009 zoning amendments.

The suit also asked the court to declare the Town Board lacked jurisdiction to vote for the zoning; award attorney fees and similar costs; and any other relief the court deemed proper.

The town argued the suit was invalid and represented "a frontal assault on wind energy development in the Town of Orangeville, the Town of Orangeville's entire zoning scheme, and its comprehensive plan."

The Town Board spent more than two years researching and performing its due diligence in adopting a zoning code that adequately protected the interests of Orangeville and its residents, May said.

"We look forward to continuing to work with the entire community in completing a thorough and full review of the proposed wind farm without further delay or unnecessary litigation," she continued.

The Chicago-based Invenergy has applied to build the 59-turbine wind farm in the town.

Ex-PUC head enriched by utility company by Naomi Schalit

Published in the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting

Some criticize timing of Adams' 'equity' deal with First Wind

AUGUSTA, Maine — While he was Maine's chief utilities regulator, Kurt Adams accepted an ownership interest in a leading wind energy company.

One month later, in May 2008, he went to work for that company, First Wind, as a senior vice president.

Adams was chairman of the Maine Public Utilities Commission for three years beginning in April 2005. Before that, he was the in-house counsel for Gov. John Baldacci, who appointed him to the commission.

It’s not clear how much the ownership interest — described as 1.2 million units of equity — that Adams received while still at the commission is worth, since First Wind has not put a value on the equity units in its Securities and Exchange Commission filings. The company said the units of equity are not the same as stock options.

A recent First Wind filing with the federal SEC for 2009 shows Adams’ $1.3 million compensation included $315,000 in salary, $658,000 in stock awards, $29,000 of “other” compensation and $315,000 in “nonequity incentives.”

First Wind constructs, operates and owns wind turbines across the country, including farms at Mars Hill and at Stetson Mountain. Two other projects are in the works for Maine in Oakfield and Rollins Mountain in Lincoln.

Adams said that at the time they were awarded to him, the equity units — which he called “stock” in an interview with the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting — had “no value at all” and therefore shouldn’t fall under any state laws that bar improper gifts to public officials.

Under state law it is a criminal violation if a “public servant … solicits, accepts or agrees to accept any pecuniary benefit from a person if the public servant knows or reasonably should know that the purpose of the donor in making the gift is to influence the public servant in the performance of the public servant’s official duties or vote, or is intended as a reward for action on the part of the public servant.” The statute also applies to anyone who “knowingly gives, offers, or promises any pecuniary benefit” for the purposes of influencing a public official.

Adams said he avoided any conflict of interest. “I recused myself from anything related to First Wind from when I accepted employment to when I left. I followed the statute by the book, told my employer and my colleagues.” Adams said he faced no conflicts in the period before his departure announcement, when he was negotiating his contract with First Wind. Those negotiations, he said, were conducted over a very short period of time.

“There was no property interest granted while I was at the commission that I received,” said Adams, adding that he never did First Wind any favors while he was at the commission. “Those stock options, the grant date is on [April] the 16th, but there’s no value at all that accrues to you until one year after you work.”

First Wind’s attorney, Paul Wilson, said that the award to Adams “had a prospective value that was unrealizable until after it had vested, which was about a year.”

“If he had never started work,” said Wilson, “he would have had something of no value, period.”

First Wind spokesman John Lamontagne said, “At no time did First Wind seek benefits from Mr. Adams when he was chairman of the PUC. First Wind did have interactions with the PUC in the regular course of our business.”

But at least one government watchdog group says the equity units awarded to Adams while he worked at the commission pose a problem.

“This is sort of like a lawyer coming into a courtroom, saying, ‘Hey, here’s a bunch of stock in my firm’ and a judge taking it,” said David Lavinthal, spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C. “That judge can recuse himself all he wants from the trial in which that lawyer is a party, but the question is, is that an appropriate transaction?

“These things that are being given, they would at some point have value; is there any question in anyone’s mind at some point they will have value?” Lavinthal said.

On page 140 of First Wind’s March 26, 2010, SEC filing, the company sets Adams’ “vesting commencement date” for the equity units at April 16, 2008, the date Adams said he signed an employment contract with First Wind — while he was still PUC chairman. In the interview with the Maine Center for Public Interest Re-porting, Adams also described the equity units as part of the “overall compensation package” included in his employment contract with First Wind.

Adams said he signed the contract and got the equity units while he was still at the commission. But in a 2008 First Wind “S-1” filing with the SEC, the company states twice that Adams signed that employment contract a month later, on May 19, 2008 — after he left the commission.

“I can’t tell you why it was dated then,” said Adams. “The S-1 is not something I’m in charge of at First Wind. The securities filings are the province of the legal department.”

Wilson, head of the legal department at First Wind, said the May date “is just a clerical error. It was before my time. I don’t know how it got in there.”

First Wind’s interests

While First Wind was not a state-regulated utility, its interests came before the PUC in a variety of ways.

Construction of transmission lines with the capacity to connect wind energy from Maine’s rural reaches to densely populated regions to the south can happen only with PUC approval. And that’s a matter of crucial importance to First Wind, which makes clear in its 2008 press release announcing Adams’ hiring that it valued his PUC experience as a way to get the company what it needs.

“We are very excited to welcome Kurt to our team, and we know that his immense experience will help advance the transmission efforts for our projects across North America,” said Paul Gaynor, president and CEO of First Wind. “Through his most recent work as chairman of the Maine Public Utilities Commission, Kurt has a great working knowledge of the issues facing the wind industry.”

First Wind’s press release pointed out the qualifications Adams brought from his work at the PUC. “He also sited and approved infrastructure including electricity delivery and transmission.” Adams, First Wind wrote, “will primarily be responsible for the oversight and implementation of transmission planning for all of First Wind’s operating and development projects.”

Adams’ tenure as PUC chairman coincided with a major initiative by the state to develop alternative energy resources, especially wind. Along with other New England states, Maine set an ambitious goal for alternative energy production over the next two decades and established economic incentives for that production. That has led both to accelerated growth in Maine’s wind energy sector and bottlenecks in a transmission system designed to carry far less energy than wind power producers hope to generate.

In December 2007 — four months before Adams signed on for the First Wind job — the PUC intervened in a case that directly involved First Wind.

ISO-New England, the regional transmission organization that moves electricity from producers to consumers in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, had disqualified First Wind’s Stetson Mountain project in Washington County from selling its power in an ISO-administered auction that held the promise of hefty financial returns for participating power generators. ISO officials had determined that the power being offered by Stetson would encounter a transmission problem in an overloaded transmission system and was therefore not a reliable source for inclusion in the auction.

The PUC tried to come to Stetson’s rescue and filed an after-deadline protest of ISO’s disqualification of Stetson. The PUC’s protest with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission declared ISO’s ruling to be “inconsistent with Maine’s policy to promote renewable generation and reduce greenhouse gases. Further, the dis-qualification may discourage other renewable generators that may be seeking to locate in Maine.”

It was a strange move for the PUC, said Greg Williams, a Washington, D.C., attorney who has worked for FERC and represents the interests of utilities — including Maine power generator the Houlton Water District — before the commission.

“In a word, it is quite unusual to see the PUC step in on behalf of a single entity,” said Williams. “The PUC weighed in, filed a late intervention, pretty unusual, said it was real important that the New England ISO essentially give these guys a break and let them participate in that forward auction.”

The PUC’s protest filing — which was rejected by the federal agency — was written by a staff attorney who works under Adams.

Adams said he doesn’t remember the Stetson filing. “It’s not ringing a bell,” he said.

NY and First Wind

First Wind has faced questions about its ethics before. On July 15, 2008, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced an investigation into First Wind and Connecticut-based wind energy company Noble Environmental Power LLC.

Cuomo’s press release stated: “Subpoenas were served on Newton, Massachusetts-based First Wind (formerly known as UPC Wind) and Essex, Connecticut-based Noble Environmental Power, LLC. They are part of an investigation into whether companies developing wind farms improperly sought or obtained land-use agree-ments 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.”

Cuomo said the investigation was a response to “numerous complaints regarding the two companies from citizens, groups and public officials in eight counties alleging improper relations between the companies and local officials and other improper practices.”

The investigation did not result in charges against the companies. Instead, Cuomo used it as leverage to establish a code of conduct for wind energy companies operating in New York. That code, adopted three months later and signed by the two companies, prohibits conflicts of interest between municipal officials and wind companies.

Adams said there were no improper relations between him and First Wind while he was head of the PUC. He said he was the one who called First Wind about going to work with them because he had a conflict as the head of the PUC. The commission was set to deliberate over the massive power line expansion proposed by Central Maine Power — and that power line, said Adams, “is literally going to be built behind my house.”

David Farmer, Gov. Baldacci’s deputy chief of staff, said, “The governor believes that Kurt took appropriate precautions during his final days at the PUC to make sure that no conflict developed concerning First Wind. If First Wind had had business before the PUC, the governor believes Kurt would have appropriately removed himself from the matter.”

Tom Welch, a private attorney in Portland who was chairman of the PUC from 1993 to 2005, said that in the commission’s work, “the issue of transparency is pretty important.”

“The way I thought about it is that certainly you don’t want to create a situation in which there is an actual conflict between your own financial interests or those of your family and the public interest you’re supposed to be serving. One of the important things about being in a position like chairman of the Maine commission is that it is not necessarily enough for your decisions to be fair; they need to be perceived as fair — avoiding situations where there could be a perception of conflict, whether or not there is an actuality of conflict.”

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Can Wind Power Survive the NIMBY Syndrome?

President Obama's energy policy has been a pretty tough slog. His $36 billion proposal for nuclear power plant construction took heat from both environmentalists and conservatives. Ditto his decision to open coastal areas for offshore oil drilling.

We are about to learn if there's lift beneath a crucial third pillar of the president's plan: wind power. Safer and more eco-friendly than nuclear plants and offshore drilling, wind turbines might seem to be an easy political sell. But at the end of 2009, wind power accounted for a mere 1.9% of the electricity production in the United States, and the vast majority of wind turbines are onshore.

Now, the uphill battle for energy reform has reached a turning point with the impending administration ruling on Massachusetts' long-delayed Cape Wind project, the nation's largest proposed offshore wind farm and a primer on what can go wrong with the politics of wind energy.

The Boston developer who has sunk millions into a proposed 130-turbine farm on shallow shoals of Nantucket Sound claims it will offset 75 percent of the gas and coal-based electricity use on Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha's Vineyard. Polls show the project has broad public support. Nonetheless, nine years after its initial proposal, progress on Cape Wind is stalled. A ruling that could break the stalemate is expected in the coming weeks from Interior Sec. Ken Salazar. And the administration's willingness to use the same muscle it's been flexing on health care and education reform could have political ramifications well beyond Cape Cod.

The politics of Cape Wind extend far beyond environmental issues, in part because the project's green credentials have survived all assault. Early claims of irrevocable damage to wildlife habitats were refuted in 2006 by the Massachusetts Audubon Society, which deemed Cape Wind a minimal risk to the delicate ecology of Nantucket Sound.

Economic complaints fared no better. Multiple reports by the U.S. Minerals Management Service found Cape Wind would have a negligible effect on oceanography, commercial fisheries and tourism. But those failures haven't stopped Cape Wind's opponents. Salazar's final deliberations have included an eleventh-hour claim by a local Native American tribe, the Wampanoags, who say the wind farm violates historic preservation laws by impeding on sunrise views and desecrating burial grounds.

This part of the Cape Wind story can be seen as good news for wind energy's future. Rulings in the case have set important precedents for future research, planning, and construction of wind turbines. And the Wampanoag roadblock may be more the exception than the rule. The Economist noted recently that some Native American tribes have sought out investments in wind farms on tribal lands, anticipating significant local development.

But the underlying political principles of the anti-Cape Wind movement speak to tougher challenges facing Obama's energy agenda, starting with NIMBY.

The American Wind Energy Association says opposition to wind power arises most commonly when "some people perceive that the development will spoil the view that they are used to," and Cape Wind is exhibit A. "The right project in the wrong place," sums up the view of key Cape Wind opponents, most notably, members of the Kennedy family, whose famous Hyannisport compound overlooks Nantucket Sound. The late Senator Edward Kennedy twice nearly killed the project with legislative sleight-of-hand. Eco-activist Robert Kennedy Jr. has railed against the wind farm, rationalizing his logic in a strained op-ed in the New York Times.

The fallout from this project transcends just a few powerful opponents. Waves of litigation surrounding Cape Wind have prompted some wind farm developers to seek plots farther offshore and in deeper waters. The need to address visual-impact complaints adds to the technical complexity and cost of offshore wind power, potentially deterring large-scale investment. As Karen Ferenbacher puts it on the website earth2tech, the litigation surrounding Cape Wind is "representative of how NIMBY-ism and political interests can crush clean power projects."

While Americans were reminded after Scott Brown's surprise Senate victory exactly how complex the politics of Massachusetts can be, the long struggle of Cape Wind underscores how opposition to wind power, apart from state-by-state preservation issues, will come down to local preferences and the concerns of citizens, rather than major policy points.

If the future of offshore wind farming looks like the Cape Wind story, efforts to expand the industry through national policymaking seem headed for guerilla warfare at the local level. And obstacles to offshore wind farms at the local level provide fodder for opposition to Obama's national energy reform package. Wind energy sounds fantastic on the national level, but no number of tax credits, economic incentives, and inspirational speeches touted by President Obama can trump local concerns over the erosion of majestic scenery or a much-loved vacation spot. Local NIMBY-ism, while a marginal issue in the grand scheme of national public policy, lends itself to influence from outside interests. Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones outlined the role of William Koch -- president of the Oxbow Group, where he "made his fortune off mining and marketing coal, natural gas, petroleum, and petroleum coke products," and Cape Cod property-owner -- in bankrolling the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the major Cape Wind opposition group. It's a clinic on how a handful of well-placed local interests can undermine a national wind power initiative

This is the danger for the Obama administration: a local failure may sow the seeds for a national one. As we've seen in the healthcare debate, a handful of politicians could be enough to grind policy work to a halt. After all, if wind power can be stymied in one of the nation's most liberal states, where can it succeed?

In a recent interview with David Roberts of, former Special Advisor on Green Jobs Van Jones declared clean energy to be a politically safe issue in November's midterm elections. With the Cape Wind climax at hand, politically volatile might be more like it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Italy revises plan and zoning law

Penn Yan, N.Y.

Town officials have started the process to change the town’s comprehensive plan and zoning law to repeal the creation of wind incentive zones and prohibit industrial wind turbine towers throughout the Town of Italy.

The board held a public hearing on April 10 and the proposed changes will be reviewed by the Yates County Planning Board on Thursday, April 22.

The proposed zoning law will be amended to include a statement that any facility which exceeds 140 feet in height and all down-wind design wind turbines are prohibited in the town of Italy.

The law will also contain a statement that the town board has determined that industrial wind turbine towers and their associated energy facilities would have a detrimental impact on the health, safety and welfare of the town and its citizens.

The town board will hold a special meeting about the revisions to the comprehensive plan and zoning law at 7 p.m. Monday, April 26 a the Italy Town Hall, 6060 Italy Valley Road, Naples.

Industrial Wind and the Wall Street Cap and Trade Fraud

Read the entire essay on First Wind and their connection to the Obama administration and Cap and Trade on the Citizen Power Alliance permanent page.

Workers electrocuted on 'cracked blade' wind farm

A worker on a wind farm, which incurred a number of cracked blades during a recent storm, was airlifted from the development after receiving an electrical shock.

According to a report in the San Diego Union Tribune, the worker at the Kumeyaay wind farm, which features 25 Gamesa 2MW turbines, was one of three people hurt in the incident. One of the other two was taken to hospital by ambulance.

It is unknown exactly how the incident occured. A spokesman for BluArc, which manages the wind farm, said an investigation had begun into the cause. The wind farm has been temporarily shut down.

The Kumeyaay wind farm, which is owned by Australia's Infigen Energy, came under the spotlight in December last year after a large number of blades cracked during a storm.

No blades were blown from the turbines, however a large number were replaced. According to sources close to the project, a row blew up between Games and Infigen over the cause.

Infigen said the blades should not have cracked in high winds, while Gamesa argued they were set at an improper pitch. Neither company were prepared to comment on the incident.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Offshore turbines on the horizon

Suddenly, the Great Lakes are awash in plans for offshore wind farms.

The New York Power Authority wants developers to place electricity-generating turbines a few miles off the shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. In five years, officials say, the waters off Rochester or Wayne County could be home to dozens of turbines.

Two similar projects are proposed on the Canadian side of the lake, a sprawling 500-turbine project in western Lake Erie has been announced, and twin wind farms are being promoted in Lake Michigan.

All these proposals, and more, stem from the same reality: The five inland lakes, along with near-shore waters of the Atlantic, are the most productive wind regions east of the Mississippi River.

Yet neither the Great Lakes nor the Atlantic coastline have wind turbines, despite initiatives to build them that date back years.

Wind-power experts cite several reasons: building towers in water 100 feet deep or more is very costly; concerns are raised about impact on fish, birds and other wildlife; and boaters voice fears they couldn't navigate freely.

But the experts say the biggest impediment may be the intrusiveness of a series of huge white structures, perhaps almost as tall as Rochester's tallest building (Xerox Square, at 440 feet tall), in the middle of an otherwise empty blue lake.

"The aesthetic or the visual parts of this are the most intractable or confounding of the issues, I think," said Terry Yonker, a Niagara County marine consultant who co-chairs the Great Lakes Wind Collaborative.

"You have people in one area of the Great Lakes who think that wind turbines are the most beautiful things they've seen, and 50 miles away you have a community that can't stand the sight of them."

That dichotomy is evident locally.

"I think there's a lot more facts that have to come out on the pros and cons of it. But if they're two to four miles out visually, I don't think it would bother people. It probably won't bother me," said Dan Barletta, who lives on the lake in Greece and spoke for shoreline property owners as a member of an international panel that studied lake levels. "If they can create some electricity and not cause too many bad situations with the birds or the fish, I don't see why it would be a problem."

Thirty-five miles to the east, the verdict is different. "I don't know anyone who lives on the lakeshore that's in favor of it," said Jack Steinkamp, who heads the Lake Ontario Riparian Alliance, which advocates for shoreline property owners on erosion and lake-level issues.

"Based on what we know, we're going to have their eyesore ... and we get no benefit from it," said Steinkamp, who lives on the lake in Sodus Point, Wayne County. "There's just a lot of unanswered questions. There probably are some positive benefits. But is it really worth it? Does it make any financial sense at all?"

Power Authority president and chief executive Richard M. Kessel acknowledged last week that visual impact is a legitimate issue. But he prefers to look on the positive side.

"They're a lot nicer to look at than (traditional) generating plants," he said. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

The developments

Kessel went public with the idea of wind farms in the New York waters of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie last April. He had headed the authority for only six months, having previously served as head of the Long Island Power Authority, where he championed a wind farm off the south shore of Long Island. That proposal died in late 2007. High costs were blamed, though fierce public opposition contributed.

The current proposal would have private companies build one or more wind farms, with dozens of turbines each and a total capacity of up to 500 megawatts. That's the same capacity as the Ginna nuclear power station in Wayne County, and enough electricity to meet the average demand of 615,000 New York homes. Kessel has said the farms could be in service by 2015, though others say that timetable is overly optimistic.

Authority consultants have roughed out areas in both lakes that they deem technically suitable for wind farms (see map on this page) — meaning they have sufficient wind, are in water from 50 to 150 feet deep, are near onshore electric transmission lines and do not conflict with shipping lanes.

Most of the New York waters of Lake Erie, off Erie and Chautauqua counties, are shown, as are four areas along the Lake Ontario shoreline.

One is in the Rochester area, roughly from the Parma-Greece line eastward to the town of Ontario, Wayne County. One is off the eastern half of Wayne County, and one off Niagara County. The fourth and largest area is in the lake's east end.

Judging by a Power Authority map, the consultants believed there to be room for 50 to 100 turbines off the Monroe County shoreline. They would be about 2½ to five miles from shore.

But Power Authority officials say developers are free to propose other locations. The authority expects, but doesn't insist, that turbines be offshore at least two nautical miles, or 2.3 statute miles, to provide a visual buffer and protect birds that live or migrate along the shoreline. Developers also would have to avoid shipwrecks and dumping grounds for dredged material.

The turbines would be painted white to increase visibility and have navigation lights near the water line to warn away boaters at night. Some towers would have flashing red or white lights at the top to warn aviators. Whether fog horns would be required isn't clear.

The state owns the land under the lake and would lease it to turbine builders for an undetermined fee.

What the Power Authority has in mind would be large by current standards.

The largest offshore wind farm today, a Danish facility in the North Sea, has 91 turbines and generates 209 MW of electricity. A few offshore farms approaching 500 MW are under construction in Europe, and larger ones are still being planned.

Today, the largest offshore turbines can generate 3 MW each and stand 350 to more than 400 feet high. But behemoths that can generate 5 to 10 MW and may tower 550 feet or more above the water may be available if and when the New York farms are being built.

Kessel said 11 firms have expressed interest in submitting offshore wind-farm proposals, which are due June 1. He hopes the authority can select one or more developers by early next year.

Boating and fishing

One of the biggest uncertainties is what restrictions will be placed on boating and fishing near turbine towers, which typically are placed one-third to one-half mile apart on the water and laid out in a rectangle.

In Europe, there are few prohibitions against boating near offshore turbines, experts say, but the U.S. Coast Guard hasn't developed rules yet.

"The agencies are just sorting out their language and their regulations and stipulations around what can happen near the turbines themselves," said Steve Warner, president of Scandia Wind, a Minnesota firm seeking to build two 500-MW farms on Lake Michigan. "Based on what has happened in Europe, there's no reason to think that they will be more restrictive here."

But several anxious boaters have noted the existence of sizable security zones around nuclear plants on the lake. The zone around the Ginna nuclear plant extends almost 4,000 feet from the shore and is more than a half-mile wide. There are no similar restrictions on non-nuclear plants.

The matter is of concern to sailors, who cruise and stage races a few miles offshore, and to anglers. "That's some of our prime fishing grounds, especially when salmon are migrating," said Sam Zucco, president of the Genesee Charter Boat Association.

The extent to which fishing would be affected by placement of the turbines remains unclear. The Great Lakes Fishery Commission has said care would have to be taken so that turbine towers and underwater transmission lines didn't disrupt habitat and breeding grounds.

Some fish may like the towers. "If anything, there's a positive effect from the artificial reef phenomenon," said Jeremy Firestone, a professor at the University of Delaware, which has an offshore wind study program. "In general, they would be an attraction."

Local charter captains said that might be so for perch, bass and pike. But they said that doesn't apply to the most prized sport fish in Lake Ontario, trout and salmon, which the charter captains said are drawn to water of certain temperatures, not to structures.

"They don't need any kind of reef," said Sam Dattilo, a member of the charter association's board.

Impact on birds and bats is a concern as well. Some bird species migrate along the shoreline, away from the turbines. But Yonker, whose consulting firm specializes in bird migration, said he has seen thousands of birds flying over the middle of the lake.

"Most birds, and almost all of the small birds, migrate at night and they do migrate across large bodies of water," he said. They typically fly high enough to avoid turbines, but he said they can be forced lower by certain weather conditions and fly into blades that they can't see in the dark.

Some on-shore operators have been encouraged to monitor weather and shut down turbines when conditions threaten birds. Yonker said offshore operators should do the same.

Jim Howe, head of the western and central New York chapter of the Nature Conservancy, said the group is urging that before sites are chosen, agencies conduct lake studies to identify areas that are critical to birds, fish and other wildlife.

A 2008 study by the University at Buffalo Law School, which the Power Authority used as a blueprint for its offshore planning, also recommended doing environmental and other studies, and engaging in plentiful public participation before developers were brought in.

Neither of those things has happened. Kessel said the site-screening analysis done for the authority did involve looking at environmental issues, though detailed studies of wildlife and other environmental impacts would be left up to developers once they've decided where they want to put turbines. "Ultimately, you can't do the studies until you have the sites," Kessel said.

Officials said they also have met with local leaders in numerous lakeshore locations.

But while Kessel believes "misinformation is huge out there," the authority has called no public meetings.

"It's up to the public. They're going to have to get that information," he said.

Getting plugged in

The attraction of offshore turbines is superior wind, which experts say should translate into capacity factors greater than 40 percent — meaning they generate 40 percent of total potential power. On-shore turbines often have capacity factors below 30 percent.

The downside is offshore turbines cost more to build — at least half again as much as onshore turbines, Warner said.

Wind power generally is considered cheap power — but only because electricity and the turbines that generate it are subsidized in various ways. Both Albany and Washington contribute grants or tax credits. Other forms of power generation benefit from lesser subsidies.

Kessel said the authority is prepared to sign a 20-year agreement with offshore developers to buy their electricity, and likely would pay a premium for it.

He predicted the extra cost wouldn't be noticeable to ratepayers. Another possibility is the authority could assume ownership of the wind farms, officials said.

The authority generates power at hydroelectric and other facilities, and also buys it on the open market. Its customers include businesses, government agencies, nonprofit institutions and municipal electric companies. Utilities such as Rochester Gas and Electric Corp. acquire some of the authority's low-cost hydro power and distribute it to residential customers.

Won't be forced

In his visit to Rochester last week, Kessel repeatedly stressed that the offshore turbine project could lead to large numbers of construction and manufacturing jobs, and a smaller number of jobs maintaining the farms. "The economic development potential of this project is enormous," he said.

Political leaders in the Buffalo area seem to agree, as a number of them have endorsed the project. Their counterparts in the Rochester area have been noncommittal. Many elected officials in counties east of Rochester are opposed.

Kessel has said repeatedly that the authority won't allow turbines where communities don't want them.

That approach has been applied in west Michigan, where Scandia Wind reconfigured its project, which is as far along as any of the offshore projects in the Great Lakes. That project is expected to cost at least $2 billion, and the company believes it will take at least two years to obtain 14 required federal and state permits.

After some shoreline residents raised aesthetic complaints, Warner said, the company split the project and moved half of it to another region. The turbines, which Scandia proposes to place four to six miles offshore, can't go any farther out due to cost constraints.

"We've been very upfront about the visual impact. You can see them from shore. There's no doubt about that," he said. "We respect the people who object to that, and then we begin to balance it against other impacts and issues."