Wednesday, June 30, 2010

NYPA seeks federal license for offshore wind farm

The New York Power Authority on Wednesday said it would apply with federal regulators for a lease to build one of the nation's first offshore wind power
projects in the Atlantic Ocean, off Long Island.

The wind group wants to build a 350 to 700 megawatt wind farm by 2016, the NYPA, which would hold the lease, said in a release.

NYPA said the proposed wind farm would help the city and state meet tough renewable energy goals and reduce carbon emissions in its fight against global warming, but could not say how much the project would cost.

The company estimated the cost just to upgrade the transmission system to support a wind farm alone would cost about $415 million for a 350-MW project, or $821 million for a 700-MW project, NYPA spokeswoman Connie Cullen told Reuters in an email.

There are currently no offshore wind farms in the United States in part because it costs about twice as much to build offshore than on land. There are however several U.S. offshore wind farms under development, see FACTBOX [ID:nN30249210]

The Long Island Power Authority, one of the members of the wind group, killed plans to build a 140-MW offshore wind farm in 2007 because the project's cost estimates soared to about $811 million from an initial bid of about $356 million.

Industry sources estimate it would cost about $4 million per megawatt to build wind turbines offshore versus less than $2 million a megawatt on shore.

In addition to the state-owned NYPA and LIPA, the wind group includes New York City's power company Consolidated Edison Inc (ED.N), the City of New York, and other state and city government agencies.

NYPA said it will apply with the Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOE), formerly known as the Minerals Management Service (MMS), for a 25-year lease on 64,500 acres of land beneath the Atlantic Ocean about 13 to 15 miles off the Long Island coast.

Offshore property within the first three miles of the coast falls within a state's jurisdiction. Federal jurisdiction extends from three miles to 200 miles offshore. BOE is the bureau within the U.S. Department of Interior responsible for granting leases for offshore facilities on the Outer Continental Shelf.

NYPA said the wind group would negotiate with BOE over annual rent for the project during development and construction, expected to be about $3 an acre, or about $200,000 a year. Once the project is operating, NYPA said BOE would receive a portion of the revenue generated from energy sales as payment for the lease.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid

No Action Taken On Moratorium Hollisters Erupt At Public Hearing

HAMMOND - While the Hammond Town Board tabled action on the proposed one-year wind moratorium, Robert G. and Kent Hollister provided plenty of it following a public hearing held Tuesday at Hammond Central School.

"Another illegal meeting," yelled Robert G., husband of former town supervisor, Janie G. Hollister, as he exited the gymnasium at the hearing's closure.

"You called the last board illegal, but this is another god**** illegal meeting," he said, brandishing a fist at another member of the public as he left.

Mr. Hollister's son, Kent, then joined his father in leaving, adding a middle finger to his profanity laced departure. Kent Hollister also challenged others in attendance to settle things outside.

The Hollisters felt the meeting was illegal because it had been advertised as a public hearing only, they said.

"Some people just don't understand that any public hearing is also a town board meeting," said Supervisor Ronald W. Bertram following the distasteful display by the Hollister men.

The proposed one-year moratorium was the topic as 21 citizens spoke before a crowd of about 75 to 100.

Only three speakers, including Robert Hollister, Mary Lu Sequin and Larry Sequin, spoke in opposition to the moratorium.

Mr. Hollister presented the board with a petition that he said had been signed by 176 citizens also opposed to the board-proposed moratorium.

"We're sick and tired of the games. We're sick and tired of the lies. And we're sick and tired of the CROHs. This is discrimination against the mass land owners in Hammond," Mr. Hollister said.

Eighteen other speakers, including Susan Wood, Sid Quarrier, David B. Duff, James Boyle, Valerie Johnson, Brooke Stark, Pamela Winchester, Mary D. Hamilton, Rosemary Demick, Howard W. Demick, Kathy Stevenson, Peter Mills, Thomas Chapman, Erica Demick, Del Hamilton, Jay Benton, Robert Pandina, and Mike Stock, voiced their support.

Mr. Bertram then read an additional 16 letters that had been sent to the board prior to the hearing, with 15 of those also being in support of the moratorium.

The supervisor also reported that a pile of form letters, in opposition to the moratorium, had been dropped on the town board's table as the public hearing began. Mr. Bertram said that unofficially, 146 signatures were contained within the letters in opposition.

Following the conclusion of the hearing and the antics from the Hollisters, four remaining members of the town board unanimously voted to table a vote on the wind moratorium until the next regular board meeting, which is to occur at 7:15 p.m. in the town hall on July 12.

"The actual vote will take place at that meeting," Mr. Bertram said.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The company behind Deepwater Wind

A recurring question that has dogged the proposed Block Island wind farm is: where did Deepwater Wind come from?

Deepwater’s origins stretch back to 2005, when Bryan Martin and David Hang, then with the financial giant JP Morgan, purchased a small wind company called Winergy, which at the time was developing a small offshore wind installation off of Plum Island.

When Martin and Hang made the move to the investment firm the D. E. Shaw group in 2005 and 2007, respectively, they led the purchase of Winergy.

Martin is now a managing director at the D. E. Shaw group, and Hang is a senior vice president; as of April, the firm had $22 billion in investment and committed capital.

In April 2008, Winergy became Deepwater Wind.

Speaking to the Block Island Times this week, Martin said he became aware of the need for supplemental energy in 2000 and 2001 when New York City and Long Island suffered a series of brownouts; the cost of new onshore capacity in the form of power plants or even nuclear plants was exorbitant, yet there was the potential for up to 1,000 megawatts of capacity just miles offshore, ideally beyond the horizon.

When putting together the Deepwater management team, Martin identified three distinct, and somewhat disparate, sets of skills required for the team: experience with traditional energy, utility, transmission and regulatory matters; offshore expertise and experience in the specialized and esoteric field of utility financing.

Having owned oil and gas companies, as well as offshore oil rigs, Martin says the team has “serious respect” for “how challenging it is to take it offshore.” The rest of the world is learning the same hard lesson, he points out, with the tragic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

So far the D. E. Shaw group has invested “tens of millions of dollars” into building Deepwater.

Martin points out that in the realm of private equity, spending nine years working toward the creation a viable business is almost unheard of — and it speaks to their commitment to wind energy as the future.

Martin “strongly believes” that offshore wind will become an established competitive supplemental power source in the near future.

There has been much deliberation in public hearings and information sessions about what Deepwater stands to make from the Block Island wind farm. One consultant for the state Division of Public Utilities and Carriers offered that it was possible for Deepwater to enjoy a 98 percent rate of return.

“Just bad math — and bad assumptions,” says Martin. He said the company stood to make less than 18 percent on the Block Island farm. The project “needs to be profitable to satisfy and attract investors, but the goal is not to retire off of this first demonstration farm,” Martin adds with emphasis. “It’s to make wind energy cheaper in order to grow the industry.”

“We’re trying to drive down costs,” says Martin. “We view that as in our best interest…to make [wind power] more pervasive.”

Hang points to the new wind farm legislation that puts a “governor on the rate of return” — if it costs the company less to build the farm, then the savings would be passed on to ratepayers.

The price for onshore wind technology has dropped as much as 80 percent in the last 15 years, and that “is happening offshore” too, says Martin.

The D. E. Shaw group made a sizable investment in Boston, Mass.-based First Wind in 2006. That company has installed, or is in the process of installing, a series of utility-scale projects: three land-based farms in Hawaii, three in Maine with a fourth underway, three in New York, two in Utah, and one nearing construction in Vermont, for a grand total of 770 megawatts.

If the Block Island Farm comes to fruition, it may be possible to utilize new state-of-the-art turbines that are capable of generating 5 megawatts of electricity; that would mean the farm off Block Island could be comprised of six rather than eight turbines.

The cost of the Block Island farm is estimated to be in the $200-250 million range, with an additional $45 million for the cable. While Martin concedes Deepwater does not officially have the exclusive right to build all larger wind farms in the ocean off Rhode Island, the Joint Development Agreement it signed with the state will hopefully mean, “if we do a good job and prove that the economics work” then the company is well positioned for the further contract as well.

A Deepwater subsidiary is also the lead developer for New Jersey, where it gained permission to erect a Met tower.

However, Martin says, “Rhode Island is the right place to start.” This is so, he says, because of the confluence of “so many assets.” These include a ready and willing labor pool and the state’s rare “access to terrific Real Estate in Quonset.” The former air station in Quonset provides a deepwater port with direct access to the ocean, railways, air and an interstate

If it is established first, it could service the wind industry on the entire east coast.

“Do we need power? That’s at the heart of this whole exercise,” says Martin.

There’s no question offshore wind is much more expensive than existing power sources, Martin concedes, but he says comparing them to the Block Island project seems unfair.

He points to Cape Wind, which came in at a similar price — in the 20 cents per kilowatt-hour range. He thinks that it will soon be possible to bring the number down below 20 cents per kWh.

The new legislation caps the Block Island wind farm electricity price at 24.4 cents per kWh.

Martin thinks in the end an energy mix from all sources would be the ideal.

“At some point renewable energy can’t be subsidized, it has to stand on its own,” says Martin.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Concerned Residents of Hammond Dropping Article 78

The Concerned Residents of Hammond announced today they will petition the St. Lawrence County Supreme Court to discontinue their Article 78 proceeding that was filed last December 8th, 2009 challenging the legality of the the Hammond Town Wind Law Ordinance. This action was originally filed the day after the lame duck board, including the then Town Supervisor and a sitting Councilman who had been soundly defeated in last November's election, chose to enact the law without adhering to proper procedure or good judgment. "This was the only thing we could do at that time to protect the best interests of all of Hammond's citizens." stated Mary Hamilton, President of the Concerned Residents community group. She further said, "The law was critically flawed and without our action, it could have permitted nearly unrestricted construction of fifty-story tall wind turbines in Hammond. Our effort prevented any permits from being issued by the town before the new board took office in January." On January 4th, 2010, Ron Bertram, Supervisor, along with Councilmen Doug Delosh and Dr. Jim Tague, took office and immediately set in motion several initiatives directed at better analyzing and improving the wind law. They instituted a six-month moratorium, clarified the town approval process and created a Citizens Wind Advisory Board. Ten volunteer Hammond citizens were appointed in March and have been meeting regularly over the past few months in publicly scheduled, open meetings where the law has been discussed and educated, professional presentations have been made. Detailed copies of the minutes have been made available to the public and all Hammond citizens have been encouraged to attend the meetings and/or to read the minutes. While a great deal of work is yet to be done by the committee before it makes its final recommendations, it appears that the committee is taking an open, serious look at the many issues involved to reach a conclusion that will be in the best interest of the entire community.

Hamilton concluded by saying, “The Concerned Residents were very disappointed to have been placed in this position by the ill conceived actions of the previous Board requiring the initiation of the Article 78 proceeding. The cost to both the town and the Concerned Residents in time and legal expenses could have been better used in other ways. While the wind issue is far from settled to everyone's satisfaction and the Concerned Residents continue to believe that the law passed in December was not properly formulated, we now believe, that based on the actions of the new board, we can safely step back from the confrontational circumstance we find ourselves in and save the town any additional legal expense. That is in everyone's best interest.”

CROH Drops Article 78 Lawsuit Group: We Have Faith In What Board Has Accomplished

HAMMOND - Concerned Residents of Hammond (CROH) has announced that the Article 78 lawsuit brought by the grassroots group in answer to the passage of the local wind ordinance last December has been dropped.

"We believe things are beginning to move in a better direction," said CROH President Mary D. Hamilton on Saturday. "We have faith in what this board has accomplished."

According to a press release provided to the Advance News by Mrs. Hamilton, "The Concerned Residents of Hammond will petition the St. Lawrence County Court to discontinue their Article 78 proceeding that was filed last December 8th, 2009 challenging the legality of the Hammond Town Wind Law Ordinance.

"This action was originally filed the day after the lame duck board, including the then Town Supervisor (Janie G. Hollister) and a sitting Councilman (Ronald Tully II) who had been soundly defeated in last November's election, chose to enact the law without adhering to proper procedure or good judgment," the release says.

"This was the only thing we could do at that time to protect the best interests of all of Hammond's citizens," Mrs. Hamilton. "The law was critically flawed and without our action, it could have permitted nearly unrestricted construction of fifty-story tall wind turbines in Hammond.

"Our efforts prevented any permits from being issued by the town before the new board took office in January."

On Jan. 4, 2010, Supervisor Ron W. Bertram, along with Councilmen Douglas E. Delosh and Dr. James R. Tague, took office and set in motion several initiatives, including the appointment of a 10-member wind committee, directed at better analyzing and improving the wind power law.

Along with remaining board members, James Langtry and James Pitcher, the lone member who has a signed wind lease with Iberdrola Renewables Inc., the new board originally instituted a six-month moratorium, clarified the town approval process and created the wind committee.

Ten volunteer Hammond citizens, including Leonard Bickelhaupt, Allan P. Newell, Frederick A. Proven, Dr. Stephen D. Sarfaty, Michele McQueer, Richard Champney, Donald A. Ceresoli Jr., Merritt V. Young, Ronald Papke, and Rudolph Schneider, with David B. Duff as facilitator, were appointed in March and have been meeting regularly over the past few months in publicly scheduled meetings where the law has been discussed and professional presentations have been made.

"The wind committee is looking at both sides and collecting information from the right sources," Mrs. Hamilton said. "People's eyes are being opened now. As CROH, we did this a long time ago. Others are having an opportunity to do the same.

"Getting these issues out in the open and in public is good for the entire community," she said, adding, "Instead of just from an 'anti-wind' perspective - though, as we've said along, CROH is not anti-wind."

Coupled with the upcoming public hearing - Tuesday at Hammond Central School at 7 p.m. - to discuss the town-board approved, one-year moratorium on the law regulating wind turbine development, the nullification of the CROH lawsuit would seem to leave the town at least moving in a better direction.

"The Concerned Residents were very disappointed to have been placed in the position by the ill conceived actions of the old board requiring the initiation of the Article 78 proceeding," the press release states. "The cost to both the town and the Concerned Residents in time and legal expenses could have been better used in other ways.

"While the wind issue has a long way to go before it is settled to everyone's satisfaction and the Concerned Residents continue to believe that the law passed in December was not properly formulated, we now believe that based on the actions of the new board, we can safely back away from the confrontational circumstance we find ourselves in and save the town any additional legal expense. That is in everyone's best interest," concluded the press release.

Bookkeeping change addresses wind controversy

CAPE VINCENT — To provide more public oversight on how wind developers are spending money on town attorneys and engineers, Supervisor Urban C. Hirschey has opened the books on two escrow accounts.

Those accounts — which total more than $160,000 — were set up by wind-power developers to help the town pay legal fees related to their projects' development. By opening the books, transactions from those accounts would be disclosed to the public.

"We need more oversight and more public oversight," Mr. Hirschey said.

The accounts are win-win, he said, in that the town benefits from not having to pay legal fees from its own pockets, and the developers benefit because having that money available to the town helps ease the state environmental quality review process.

"The developers want them," Mr. Hirschey said. "They have to go through the SEQR process and we should not have to spend town money to protect ourselves."

How money in those accounts would be handled was the source of considerable controversy at the Town Council meeting June 10. At the meeting, Mr. Hirschey declared that the accounts would be handled in the trust and agency fund, the same as other escrow accounts. That followed recommendations from an accountant. But former Supervisor Thomas K. Rienbeck said the move would endanger the two accounts' existence by taking some control away from the developers.

All transactions now will be approved as part of the standard invoice and monthly statement process, as well as balances recorded in annual reports sent to the state comptroller's office.

Acciona Wind Energy USA, developer of St. Lawrence Wind Farm, has contributed $135,000 to one account, according to ledgers obtained through a Freedom of Information request. BP Alternative Energy, developer of Cape Vincent Wind Farm, placed $25,042.95 in one account.

BP's project manager, James H. Madden, said in an e-mail Friday that he didn't think the supervisor's decision would jeopardize the account.

"We deposited funds in an escrow account for the town to pay their consultants who were reviewing our SEQR studies and reports," he said.

Acciona's project manager, Tim Conboy, said in an e-mail that he asked Planning Board Chairman Richard J. Edsall to approve the expenses to ensure the town's attorneys and engineer are working on the project's environmental review. Those charges then would be recognized by the Town Council, which the developers also must approve.

Acciona has had more activity in its escrow account than BP, which hasn't paid anything since 2008.

"All of the recent charges have been for SEQR," Mr. Conboy said.

Acciona's expenses on town consultants from Jan. 12, 2007, through June 4 totaled $133,536.20.

The developer spent $49,237.45 on Bernier, Carr and Associates, the Watertown engineering firm. It also spent $75,181.89 on Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna, an Albany law firm, and $1,493.83 on Hrabchak, Gebo & Langone, a Watertown law firm. But it also paid $605.70 to Virginia W. Edsall, wife of the planning board chairman, and $44 to "miscellaneous."

In BP's account, fees for attorneys and engineers accounted for almost all of the $23,550.30 spent from the account, beginning Jan. 20, 2007, and ending Dec. 15, 2008. Nothing has been spent since. But $149.82 went to Mrs. Edsall and $280.86 to Karen Bourcy.

Mrs. Bourcy is a Planning Board member and she has relatives who have leases with Acciona.

Mr. Hirschey said the payments to Mrs. Edsall and Mrs. Bourcy were for office goods, such as mailing envelopes and postage.

BP paid $14,656.46 to Bernier, Carr and Associates, $4,367.70 to Hrabchak, Gebo & Langone and $5,804.70 to Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna.

Both paid bills from Professional Reporting Services Inc., Syracuse; BP's was $1,867.56 and Acciona's was $4,950.53. The company provides court reporters, who were used at public hearings.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Attorneys argue dismissal of Italy windfarm lawsuit

Penn Yan, N.Y. — Attorneys for the Town of Italy and a grassroots group of Italy residents told Yates County Superior Court Judge John Ark June 17 that a lawsuit filed by Ecogen LLC against the Town of Italy should be dismissed.
Attorneys for Ecogen argued the company that has been working to develop a utility scale wind farm in the town should not be prevented from moving ahead with the project.

Last fall, after several months of back and forth discussions, public hearings and lawsuits, the Italy Town Board denied an application for special use permit to build the wind farm. Board members said the amenities and benefits that were offered by Ecogen did not outweigh the potential damages that would result from the construction of the wind farm.

After the town made that decision, Ecogen filed the lawsuit in an effort to make Italy to accept its application.
During the arguments related to the town's motion to dismiss, Gary Abraham, the attorney for Finger Lakes Preservation Association (FLPA), a group of town residents, told the judge, "Ecogen convinced them (the town board) through a series of lawsuits that they should be in favor (of a wind farm).

He later told the judge, "They (Ecogen) are asking you to do something no one's ever done: give them vested rights."
In his argument for the motion to dismiss, Edward F. Premo, II, attorney for the town, told the judge, "The decision as to whether to allow wind farms, under New York State Law, is up to the town." He said the lawsuit is an attempt to have a court decision essentially order the town to permit the development.

Ecogen's attorney, Laurie Bloom of Nixon Peobody's Buffalo office, responded that the town changed the rules along the way, first writing regulations that created a wind development incentive zone, and then denying the permit application. Later she said, "Ultimately, I believe they kept changing the laws. They kept moving the goalpost, hoping we would go away."

Several interested parties filled seats behind the town attorneys, listening as the lawyers argued the details of the motion to strike certain statements or claims and another to dismiss the suit altogether.
Following more than three hours of arguments related to the 3,000 pages of exhibits and quotes connected to the lawsuit, none of the attorneys could estimate how long Ark would take to make a determination on the motions.

Megan Dorritie, one of the town's attorney's from the Rochester firm of Harter, Secrest & Emery, presented the argument to strike what she called "irrelevant, scurrilous and false claims" made by the company, including allegations of events relating to:
• a separate wind energy facility developer
• previous zoning laws
• a prior, withdrawn Ecogen application
• action taking place in a different municipality
• political activity after the determination challenged by Ecogen.

She said Ecogen manipulated transcripts from town board meetings to support the company's "paranoid theory of political conspiracy."

Bloom responded that Italy's motion to strike, "is a thinly veiled attempt to take out what they don't like."
She said there is a long history — more than eight years — of court actions regarding the proposed development.

"They want to whitewash all that," she said, later asserting that the court cannot make a reasoned decision without the information.

One of the key arguments revolved around whether Ecogen has made a substantial investment to prove the company has a vested interest in the proposed development. Bloom said the company has already spent $13 million on the project.

"These are not unsupported allegations," she said.

During the exchanges by the attorneys, Ark asked questions about the jurisdiction of Steuben County Industrial Development Agency (SCIDA), and asked if the company plans to seek a payment in lieu of taxes agreement with Yates County through the Finger Lakes Economic Development Center (FLEDC). He asked specifically, "Why does the county have to subsidize the company for the use of wind?

After Bloom explained that such a request would be in the context of the purpose of an industrial development agency, the judge observed that if tax incentives are to "benefit Ecogen, the town doesn't get anything."
The judge asked Ecogen's attorneys to send him a summary of what measures the company took in its application for a special use permit, which was later withdrawn by the company.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Breaking News! Pork Lawsuit Appeal Victorious!


A GREAT VICTORY !!! Cohocton Wind Watch is one of the plaintiffs in this suit.

Thanks Much to our friend Jim Ostrowski for his courage and leadership.

James Hall




Jim Ostrowski
(716) 435-8918

Pork Lawsuit Appeal Victorious! Press Conference at 5pm.

Buffalo, NY. June 24, 2010. In a decision that will send shockwaves throughout New York State, the Third Department Appellate Division today revived a citizens' lawsuit that seeks to outlaw billions of dollars in cash grants to private firms for alleged "economic development."

The plaintiffs will hold a press conference to discuss the victory today (Thursday) at 5pm in front of Erie County Hall in downtown Buffalo (92 Franklin St.) and will gather at the Pearl St. Grille at 6pm to celebrate this rare victory of taxpayers over the political class.

The Court agreed with the plaintiffs' main contention that the State may not funnel its funds through public benefit corporations such as Empire State Development Corporation as a means to avoid the Constitution's ban on gifts to private firms.

The case now goes back to Supreme Court, Albany County where the defendants must file an answer. Should the plaintiffs win the case, the current practice of giving billions of dollars of tax money to private firms, many of which then kick back campaign donations to politicians, will abruptly end.

The case also has implications for New York State's chronic budget deficits since eliminating these illegal grants could possibly lead to a balanced budget.

James Ostrowski, a solo practitioner and tea party activist from Buffalo, New York, is counsel for the plaintiffs. Andrew Cuomo is the attorney for the numerous state defendants including Governor Paterson and Speaker Sheldon Silver. Cravath, Swain and Moore represented defendant IBM on appeal.

Ostrowski said his group will now file a class action suit against every municipality in the state that provides cash grants to private firms under a similar but separate clause in the state constitution.

Work begins on Fenner windmills

FENNER -- As early as next month, some wind turbines at the Fenner Wind Farm may be ready to harness wind power again.

The 20-turbine wind farm has been shut down for nearly six months, since the Dec. 27 fall of turbine 18. While Enel North America, the company that owns the wind farm, and a team of engineers investigate the cause of the collapse, the remaining turbines have been assumed to in danger of similar failures.

No substantial answers have been formed to explain the unprecedented fall. The company has ruled out malfunctions in the turbine’s foundation, saying it was built to specifications. Geography and historic load are still in question.

The company —which owns six other wind farms with more than 240 turbines — has begun taking measures to reinforce the foundations of each turbine, erring on the side of caution. Mortenson Construction, a company out of Minneapolis, was hired to perform the initial installation of the turbines’ foundation when the wind farm was constructed 10 years ago and will again be contracted to stabilize all 19 foundations.

Mortenson will employ local subcontractors, Enel Spokesman Hank Sennott said, and as many as 50 workers will be on site completing the work. The existing foundations will be excavated to allow contractors room to install 471 dowels, four to six tons of steel reinforcement and 10 truckloads of concrete to each turbine. The additional concrete will reach the same height as the existing base and will add four feet around.

“For all practical purposes they won’t look any different than they did before,” Sennott said, adding that the underlying structure of the foundation will again be covered in earth once construction is complete.

The process of reinforcing one turbine’s foundation takes about three weeks, Operations Supervisor David Haarman said. Once the foundation is reinforced, the turbine will be powered back up and tested to make sure the machine is still functioning properly after being off so long and after undergoing construction.

Pour weather conditions, like rain and high winds, will stall the project though. Regulations require work be halted if lightening is present within 30 miles of the site. Wind speeds in excess of 18 mph can also stop work, Haarman said.

The turbines will most likely be started and stopped several times before turned on full-time, he said. Every turbine will be turned on by fall Sennott expects.

The orange fencing currently cordoning off 325 feet around the turbine - the height of the structure - will be removed once the wind farm is running again. The company has pledged to compensate property owners for any revenue lost from inaccessible crops.

Enel has also documented the condition of the roads they will use and, according to Sennott and Haarman, will repair the damages they cause, including access roads leased from property owners. Dust control measures have also been put in place in an attempt to minimize the amount of dust stirred up by construction vehicles.

The most intrusive noise turbine neighbors can expect will be from construction vehicles and sandblasting at turbine sites, Haarman said. Compared to the noise levels that accompanied the installation of the park, noise will be minimal, he said. All work will be done during the day, he said and even generators running at each turbine to power essential functions - like safety lights and direction - are impressively quiet, he said.

Clean-up at the site of the fallen turbine was finished at the end of May, Haarman said. Gravel has been put down at the site to allow for additional parking for the influx of workers to the wind farm.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Turbines in Lake Erie pose risk to Western New York

Never has anything divided the environmental community as much as the wind turbines. While we all agree that something has to be done to alleviate our dependence on foreign oil, we can’t agree on the best way to tackle it. The latest plan to put 40 to 120 turbines in Lake Erie has put us all to the test.

There is no “why or where.” Why in the lake? Where will they be? The lake is narrow; you will see them from any point. No one will say where the power will go or how it will get to the grid. What is the total amount?

I have worked for more than 40 years cleaning and preserving our great lake, fighting diversion, invasive species, phosphates and anything else thrown in. Now I wonder about the cause and effect. We know you don’t mess with Mother Nature and have seen her fury. When the boulders from the rapid transit system were dropped on the shore, we had no sand until they were removed. When streams are attempted to be rerouted, they go right back where they were.

What will happen to our water currents when these behemoths are set into our basin? What about the contaminants that have settled after decades and have a sand cap isolating them? What will stop the ice floes from crashing into the 200-foot metal giants? What do you think will happen when a fisherman drags his anchor across the electric cable? What about night? Will they be lit? (Look online to see a turbine deconstruct and watch the lubricating oil explode.)

This project from the New York State Power Authority has never been done in fresh water before. Are we ready to sacrifice our drinking water for power? We can live without electricity; we can’t live without water.

Another concern is the electromagnetic field. Our area has one of the highest incidences of multiple sclerosis and cancer. If we put transfer stations on the shoreline, how will this affect our health?

The proposed Great Lakes Offshore Wind project has no benefit to the residents of Erie County. It will not reduce the carbon dioxide emissions, it will be costly to taxpayers and the potential risks to the environment are great. The towers will have a negative impact on our navigation systems as well as discourage tourism. Wind energy is not green — it is unpredictable and variable. In 10 years, when the incentives and tax subsidies end and the developer moves on, what will we be left with?

Considering how close we are to Niagara Falls, we shouldn’t have to make any tradeoffs. We also might ask why this project was turned down in Long Island — is Buffalo again getting the shaft? The only time we get a nod from Albany is when it is taking our natural resources.

Iberdrola: Wind Noise Not A Problem

HAMMOND - A sound consultant under contract with Iberdrola Renewables told the Hammond Wind Committee Monday that professional studies show that several health concerns involving noise from wind turbines are not scientifically proven.

Mark Bastasch, P.E., a registered acoustical engineer for CH2M Hill, an Oregon-based consulting firm, told those in attendance at the Hammond Village Community Center about the findings of the International Multidiscipline Sound Advisory Panel, a group of professionals that was assembled to research concerns about the health effects of living in proximity to wind turbines.

Mr. Bastasch said that the research group looked at health concerns including infrasound and low-frequency affects, vibroacoustic disease, and Wind Turbine Syndrome.

The consultant said the panel determined that infrasound and low-frequency sounds were "not perceptible and do not exceed levels produced by natural resources."

He said that vibroacoustic disease was most common in "extremely high occupational exposure over 10 years," at sound levels of "100 dB" or greater," and that wind turbine facilities sound levels are commonly "50 to 60 dB" below this level.

As for Wind Turbine Syndrome, a "phenomenon" made popular by Dr. Nina Pierpont, who is scheduled to speak at an upcoming wind committee meeting, Mr. Bastasch questioned its validity and said it was simply "not plausible."

While several sound experts who previously spoke to the wind committee, including Dr. Paul Carr, Clif Schneider, and Charles Ebbing, have suggested taking a hard look at safety and health concerns, Mr. Bastasch said that sound and noise were "not likely an issue" for people who lease their property to the wind turbine company.

He explained that the majority of the noise emitted from turbines was "aerodynamic" in nature and made "by the trailing edge of the blade," or mechanical in nature, and created by generators and motors rotating the turbine.

The aerodynamic noise he said, is intermittent, while the mechanical noise is steady. Most commonly, he said, noise issues are dependent upon proximity to turbines, wind conditions, an opposition to the project in general, and high wind shear - or occassions when the wind is calm at ground level but high speed at higher elevations - such as at the turbine's hub.

If hired by Iberdrola to conduct wind studies in Hammond, Mr. Bastasch explained that he would measure the existing noise levels at five or six locations throughout the community every 10 minutes for two to three weeks. He said if these studies were done in the summer, they should be repeated in the winter - when foilage and tree cover is minimal.

Mr. Bastasch said it was important for any project to "foster a positive outlook" in the community and "coordinate construction times to avoid conflicts" to "ensure that the local community and land owners understand the benefits" of such a project.

Noise issues "depend primarily on personal characteristics as opposed to the intensity of the sound level," he said. The majority of issues stem from "a small propensity of sensitive persons to low-level sounds."

Cause of wind turbine collapse remains a mystery

FENNER, N.Y. (AP) - Investigators haven't been able to determine why a 187-ton wind turbine toppled over in northern New York last December.

The Fenner Wind Farm's 20 turbines have been turned off since the incident as the owner, Enel North America, investigated the collapse.

Top industry analysts hired by Enel found no problems with the foundation supporting the turbine. Enel Spokesman Hank Sennott said the foundation was built to specifications and no corners were cut on materials or construction.

Sennott anticipates the wind farm will be up and running by fall. No projections have been made on how much money the company has lost in the nearly six months it has gone without harnessing any wind energy.

Sennott says the industry is constantly evolving with new technology, so he's unsure how the collapse will affect future development of wind farms.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Turbines in Lake Erie pose risk to Western New York

Never has anything divided the environmental community as much as the wind turbines. While we all agree that something has to be done to alleviate our dependence on foreign oil, we can’t agree on the best way to tackle it. The latest plan to put 40 to 120 turbines in Lake Erie has put us all to the test.

There is no “why or where.” Why in the lake? Where will they be? The lake is narrow; you will see them from any point. No one will say where the power will go or how it will get to the grid. What is the total amount?

I have worked for more than 40 years cleaning and preserving our great lake, fighting diversion, invasive species, phosphates and anything else thrown in. Now I wonder about the cause and effect. We know you don’t mess with Mother Nature and have seen her fury. When the boulders from the rapid transit system were dropped on the shore, we had no sand until they were removed. When streams are attempted to be rerouted, they go right back where they were.

What will happen to our water currents when these behemoths are set into our basin? What about the contaminants that have settled after decades and have a sand cap isolating them? What will stop the ice floes from crashing into the 200-foot metal giants? What do you think will happen when a fisherman drags his anchor across the electric cable? What about night? Will they be lit? (Look online to see a turbine deconstruct and watch the lubricating oil explode.)

This project from the New York State Power Authority has never been done in fresh water before. Are we ready to sacrifice our drinking water for power? We can live without electricity; we can’t live without water.

Another concern is the electromagnetic field. Our area has one of the highest incidences of multiple sclerosis and cancer. If we put transfer stations on the shoreline, how will this affect our health?

The proposed Great Lakes Offshore Wind project has no benefit to the residents of Erie County. It will not reduce the carbon dioxide emissions, it will be costly to taxpayers and the potential risks to the environment are great. The towers will have a negative impact on our navigation systems as well as discourage tourism. Wind energy is not green — it is unpredictable and variable. In 10 years, when the incentives and tax subsidies end and the developer moves on, what will we be left with?

Considering how close we are to Niagara Falls, we shouldn’t have to make any tradeoffs. We also might ask why this project was turned down in Long Island — is Buffalo again getting the shaft? The only time we get a nod from Albany is when it is taking our natural resources.

"Con With The Wind" Official Trailer

Con with the Wind is a passionate and inspirational look at the myths, facts and lies surrounding big business interests in the Wind Farm Goldrush.

Film maker and director Nigel Spence's gripping documentary, shot in 15 countries over 3 years, exposes the truth and the real human, environmental and subsidy costs of wind turbines; a cost that the youth of today will be paying for the next 25 years.

Visit for more info and to register to watch the full-length documentary.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wind energy bumps into power grid's limits

When the builders of the Maple Ridge Wind farm spent $320 million to put nearly 200 wind turbines in upstate New York, the idea was to get paid for producing electricity. But at times, regional electric lines have been so congested that Maple Ridge has been forced to shut down even with a brisk wind blowing.

That is a symptom of a broad national problem. Expansive dreams about renewable energy, like Al Gore’s hope of replacing all fossil fuels in a decade, are bumping up against the reality of a power grid that cannot handle the new demands.

The dirty secret of clean energy is that while generating it is getting easier, moving it to market is not.

The grid today, according to experts, is a system conceived 100 years ago to let utilities prop each other up, reducing blackouts and sharing power in small regions. It resembles a network of streets, avenues and country roads.

“We need an interstate transmission superhighway system,”� said Suedeen G. Kelly, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

While the United States today gets barely 1 percent of its electricity from wind turbines, many experts are starting to think that figure could hit 20 percent.

Achieving that would require moving large amounts of power over long distances, from the windy, lightly populated plains in the middle of the country to the coasts where many people live. Builders are also contemplating immense solar-power stations in the nation’s deserts that would pose the same transmission problems.

The grid’s limitations are putting a damper on such projects already. Gabriel Alonso, chief development officer of Horizon Wind Energy, the company that operates Maple Ridge, said that in parts of Wyoming, a turbine could make 50 percent more electricity than the identical model built in New York or Texas.

“The windiest sites have not been built, because there is no way to move that electricity from there to the load centers,”� he said.

The basic problem is that many transmission lines, and the connections between them, are simply too small for the amount of power companies would like to squeeze through them. The difficulty is most acute for long-distance transmission, but shows up at times even over distances of a few hundred miles.

Transmission lines carrying power away from the Maple Ridge farm, near Lowville, N.Y., have sometimes become so congested that the company’s only choice is to shut down — or pay fees for the privilege of continuing to pump power into the lines.

Politicians in Washington have long known about the grid’s limitations but have made scant headway in solving them. They are reluctant to trample the prerogatives of state governments, which have traditionally exercised authority over the grid and have little incentive to push improvements that would benefit neighboring states.

In Texas, T. Boone Pickens, the oilman building the world’s largest wind farm, plans to tackle the grid problem by using a right of way he is developing for water pipelines for a 250-mile transmission line from the Panhandle to the Dallas market. He has testified in Congress that Texas policy is especially favorable for such a project and that other wind developers cannot be expected to match his efforts.

“If you want to do it on a national scale, where the transmission line distances will be much longer, and utility regulations are different, Congress must act,”� he said on Capitol Hill.

Enthusiasm for wind energy is running at fever pitch these days, with bold plans on the drawing boards, like Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s notion of dotting New York City with turbines. Companies are even reviving ideas of storing wind-generated energy using compressed air or spinning flywheels.

Yet experts say that without a solution to the grid problem, effective use of wind power on a wide scale is likely to remain a dream.

The power grid is balkanized, with about 200,000 miles of power lines divided among 500 owners. Big transmission upgrades often involve multiple companies, many state governments and numerous permits. Every addition to the grid provokes fights with property owners.

These barriers mean that electrical generation is growing four times faster than transmission, according to federal figures.

In a 2005 energy law, Congress gave the Energy Department the authority to step in to approve transmission if states refused to act. The department designated two areas, one in the Middle Atlantic States and one in the Southwest, as national priorities where it might do so; 14 United States senators then signed a letter saying the department was being too aggressive.

Energy Department leaders say that, however understandable the local concerns, they are getting in the way. “Modernizing the electric infrastructure is an urgent national problem, and one we all share,”� said Kevin M. Kolevar, assistant secretary for electricity delivery and energy reliability, in a speech last year.

Unlike answers to many of the nation’s energy problems, improvements to the grid would require no new technology. An Energy Department plan to source 20 percent of the nation’s electricity from wind calls for a high-voltage backbone spanning the country that would be similar to 2,100 miles of lines already operated by a company called American Electric Power.

The cost would be high, $60 billion or more, but in theory could be spread across many years and tens of millions of electrical customers. However, in most states, rules used by public service commissions to evaluate transmission investments discourage multistate projects of this sort. In some states with low electric rates, elected officials fear that new lines will simply export their cheap power and drive rates up.

Without a clear way of recovering the costs and earning a profit, and with little leadership on the issue from the federal government, no company or organization has offered to fight the political battles necessary to get such a transmission backbone built.

Texas and California have recently made some progress in building transmission lines for wind power, but nationally, the problem seems likely to get worse. Today, New York State has about 1,500 megawatts of wind capacity. A megawatt is an instantaneous measure of power. A large Wal-Mart draws about one megawatt. The state is planning for an additional 8,000 megawatts of capacity.

But those turbines will need to go in remote, windy areas that are far off the beaten path, electrically speaking, and it is not clear enough transmission capacity will be developed. Save for two underwater connections to Long Island, New York State has not built a major new power line in 20 years.

A handful of states like California that have set aggressive goals for renewable energy are being forced to deal with the issue, since the goals cannot be met without additional power lines.

But Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico and a former energy secretary under President Bill Clinton, contends that these piecemeal efforts are not enough to tap the nation’s potential for renewable energy.

Wind advocates say that just two of the windiest states, North Dakota and South Dakota, could in principle generate half the nation’s electricity from turbines. But the way the national grid is configured, half the country would have to move to the Dakotas in order to use the power.

“We still have a third-world grid,”� Mr. Richardson said, repeating a comment he has made several times. “With the federal government not investing, not setting good regulatory mechanisms, and basically taking a back seat on everything except drilling and fossil fuels, the grid has not been modernized, especially for wind energy.”�

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Wind Power Story In Cape Vincent, New York

Group urges county to oppose wind project

Greece, N.Y. — Members of a grass-roots group of Lake Ontario shoreline dwellers attempted to fan opposition to an idea that could bring as many as 166 wind turbines off various locations of the lake’s south shore, although no specific plan or location has been outlined.

They found the right spot.

About 100 like-minded residents crammed into the Lakeview Community Church in Greece last week for a heated meeting on the GLOW project, or Great Lakes Offshore Wind.

The New York Power Authority has identified potential turbine locations off the shores of Greece, Rochester, Irondequoit, and Webster — and other potential wind farm sites on Lake Ontario and Lake Erie — and has received five proposals from unnamed developers.

A selection could be made later this year or early in 2011, although construction of a wind farm anywhere is several years off.

Alan Isselhard, who was one of several speakers from the Great Lakes Concerned Citizens group to speak, urged the Monroe County Legislature to join Wayne, Jefferson and Oswego counties and draw up a resolution opposing the “appalling action.”

To date, the Legislature “has let us down,” Isselhard said.

“We want to see the offshore turbine project defeated,” said Isselhard, who lives in Huron, Wayne County.

Legislator Rick Antelli, R-Greece, whose district includes the shoreline from Payne Beach in Hilton to Charlotte Beach in Rochester, said he is working on such a resolution with other legislators, telling residents he is willing to act on “whatever you like us to do.”

Antelli said he personally sees no benefit of turbines that upset a natural resource like Lake Ontario.

“My gut feeling is, I don’t believe they want to go where they’re not wanted,” Antelli said.

Two representatives of the Power Authority attended the meeting, although there was an unsuccessful attempt to stop Sharon Laudisi, a business development and government and community affairs specialist, from speaking and answering questions.

Laudisi did say the sites identified only mark locations where the wind speed is 17 mph or greater, water depths are 150 feet or less, and are out of shipping lanes, and there is “absolutely no project” until a developer and site are identified.

Laudisi, who said many New Yorkers across the state favor wind power, did criticize several of the speakers.

“There’s opinion, personal beliefs, and actual facts,” Laudisi said.

But many of the residents who are worried about the impact of turbines on their property values, wildlife, and lake views, remained unconvinced a wind project is worth the expense and don’t believe the Power Authority’s claims to the contrary.

Cathey Manley, who lives on Edgemere Drive, favors a proposal to stop a project.

“As a resident, I don’t trust what’s going on,” Manley said.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cape Wind seeks to limit foes’ role before regulatory board

The developer of Cape Wind is trying to blow off critics who want a say in the state’s regulatory review of the offshore project’s power-purchase contract with National Grid.

A lawyer for Cape Wind Associates LLC asked the Department of Public Utilities to deny full “intervenor status” to several groups, claiming they failed to properly explain how they would be affected by the 130-turbine project, and arguing that their input could lead to “protracted proceedings” and “substantial delays.”

Among Cape Wind’s targets are the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a vocal opposition group, and Associated Industries of Massachusetts, which is worried about rate hikes hurting many of the state’s top employers.

“This is unprecedented,” said an outraged Robert Rio, a government affairs executive at the employer group AIM. “These objections show the level that Cape Wind will go to keep ratepayers and their representatives in the dark.”

In a 39-page filing ahead of last night’s public hearing in Bridgewater about the controversial Cape Wind energy contract, the developer asked the DPU to knock the Alliance and AIM down to “limited-participant status.” The lawyer added that their interests “may be marginal at best.”

Cape Wind said the DPU’s staff and the attorney general’s office will “thoroughly and objectively investigate the merits” of the proposed National Grid energy contract, which the Herald has estimated would cost ratepayers about $3 billion over 15 years.

DPU executive director Timothy Shevlin declined comment because the objection by Cape Wind and a similar request filed by National Grid are pending matters before the commissioners.

A Cape Wind spokesman deferred to the DPU when asked about the filing.

AIM responded yesterday with another push for “intervenor” status, saying limited-participation status would deprive the trade group of “the ability to put on witnesses, undertake discovery and cross-examine witnesses.”

Also in its filing, Cape Wind said it had no objections to a request for intervenor status for Clean Power Now, a project supporter. But the developer conceded that the group’s role could also be limited so the DPU could “maintain consistency in its approach.”

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Eric Bibler to The Grassroots: Go for the Jugular, Windpower Simply Does Not Work

In yesterday’s post, Scientists versus Lobbyists: Looking for a Winning Strategy Against Big Wind, I promised to share with readers a citizens’ letter I received from Eric Bibler. Consider his piece, which has been condensed to meet format and space requirements, as Part II of my post. Mr. Bibler is focused on Massachusetts, but his experience and advice apply across the Northeast and across the nation where grassroots opposition to industrial wind turbines is growing apace.


This post summarizes a group discussion about how to counter Massachusetts’s Wind Energy Siting Bill.

Would it be more politically pragmatic (and therefore advisable) to avoid any argument against the fundamental viability of wind energy (which continues to be an article of faith held by many legislators), and instead to focus exclusively on the flaws specific to the bill?

In other words, in order to seem “reasonable” to lawmakers, should we argue against a poor implementation of the technology, rather than to question wind energy’s fundamental value?

The argument was that doing the latter may be too steep a hill to climb, plus it might lead lawmakers to reject opponents as “extremists” whose opinions were not worthy of serious consideration.

Pragmatism or Purity?

In my view, not focusing on the fundamental question of whether wind energy actually holds any promise as a solution to our energy and environmental problems is a terrible mistake for the simple reason that adopting such a “pragmatic” course makes us co-conspirators in the process of enabling a Big Lie.

While congratulating ourselves on our political acumen, we are sacrificing our credibility and our integrity. It is one thing to forgive people who support a bad idea because they don’t know any better – and most supporters of this technology admittedly have no idea what they’re getting themselves into. But our task is to educate and persuade any of those who are willing to keep an open mind.

But we typically reserve our deepest scorn for those who DO know better, or SHOULD know better, but who nonetheless promote wind energy, sometimes quite cynically, without regard for its bad consequences or for its ultimate futility.

We do know better. And I, for one, do not want to be in the second category of knowing better, yet pretending not to, as one of the enablers of a big lie – even if I think it may be expedient for me over the short term.

The pro-wind argument proceeds directly from a host of assumptions that are demonstrably false; all of these projects, therefore, are built upon foundations of sand. That is the truth that needs to be the basis of citizens’ responses.
The implication of choosing to allow any of these faulty assumptions to go unchallenged – particularly the core proposition that wind energy is a technically sound, economically competitive and environmentally beneficial means of producing electrical energy – is that it deprives us of the opportunity to question the fundamental benefits of such projects. Wind proponents are secretly thrilled when citizens avoid focusing on the core issue, as it limits them to just warning of their adverse consequences: a minor consideration in the big picture.

By declining to correct such rosy expectations about the promise of the technology – out of political expediency or for any other reason – we increase the risk that not only hundreds of billions of dollars will be wasted, but that the myriad adverse impacts of industrial wind turbines will be inflicted upon millions of unsuspecting people, and upon large swaths of conservation land and fragile habitat. Surely, this cannot be a winning strategy.

Background: On Becoming a Wind Critic

When I first got involved with the Wellfleet (Cape Cod, MA) situation in November, what I (and others in our community) knew about wind turbines would fit in a thimble. We knew enough, however, to understand that erecting 400 foot, kinetic industrial towers in the middle of a national park was an insane idea.

It seemed like such a sacrilege, that we barely knew where to start arguing with the proponents. What do you say to someone who is so seriously unhinged that they actually think that it’s a great idea to industrialize a national park?

We rapidly grew to appreciate the human health hazards, the profoundly detrimental environmental consequences, the dramatic impact on property values and, most tragically, the despair and ruin that they caused in the lives of decent, well-meaning people who were fated to live in the shadow of these behemoths.

The knowledge that seemed least relevant to me – because the other consequences were so dire – was the efficacy of the technology. Does wind energy actually work? Does it accomplish anything consequential? Those were far down on my list of concerns.

However I knew enough to realize that the proponents had no business erecting the damn things in the National Seashore. But others repeatedly said that it would be crazy – and self-defeating – to address the larger issue with any sort of traditional cost/benefit analysis. And it was deemed especially foolhardy even to suggest to a bunch of Prius driving liberals in Wellfleet who are hell bent on saving the world that wind energy doesn’t actually work.

Furthermore it seemed to me that we had plenty of ammunition in our battle to let sleeping dogs lie – or to let the windmill supporters live with their illusions about the promise of wind energy – as long as they could be convinced that putting them in the park was dangerous and outrageous. So, at the time, I didn’t really do my homework and answer these questions for myself.

Now, however, after repeatedly enduring the sober warnings of the Superintendent of the Cape Cod National Seashore (an unapologetic promoter of the idea of “harnessing the wind resource” within the national park) regarding global warming, his grandiose pronouncements of our need to do our part, and the full repertoire of his vapid rationalizations for jettisoning the conservation mission of the park in favor of this grand new adventure, I am completely of the opposite view.

All of his arguments are completely hollow: they’re consistently meaningless, bloated, irrelevant, inapplicable and false. Even worse, his advocacy of industrializing the park is not only misguided, but morally bankrupt. And while the Superintendent habitually inflates the shell of his argument (the “national mission to promote alternative energy”), he stubbornly refuses to perform the job he was hired to do: “to preserve and protect the natural landscape of the park in its original condition for all future generations.”

We simply must call a spade a spade in order to deny such impostors the opportunity to wrap themselves in the cloak of their presumed authority, or to “frame” the debate as if the “benefits” of wind energy were self-evident, as so many of our elected officials and civil servants have regrettably attempted to do – and with considerable success.

The central argument against wind turbines in this debate is simple and devastating: they don’t work!

— They will not solve our energy issues (e.g. they most certainly do not reduce our dependence on imported oil).

— They are not, and never can be, a viable substitute for conventional energy sources (e.g. because they are not reliable, have no Capacity Value, are much more expensive, etc.).

— They will not solve our environmental problems (e.g. contrary to popular perception, they do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions in any meaningful way, due to their inherent limitations as an energy source).

Should we pursue the path to change the public perception of wind energy and call into question the fundamental viability of it? I say yes.

Why take this as the point of departure in any attempt to block a particular wind project, instead of seeking to elicit sympathy for the very real suffering of folks in other communities already subjected to it?

The reason is simple: to not do so will allow the proponents to retain the “high moral ground.” You will have conceded to them the fictional idea that wind turbines actually accomplish something useful, and that promoters deserve credit for at least trying to do something about global warming, energy independence, etc. Contrast this resident complaining about a bit of noise that is “no louder than a refrigerator.” That’s how you will set yourself up to be characterized: petty and myopic, NIMBY’s and nincompoops. In other words, people whose opinions are not worthy of serious consideration.

—They will come across as virtuous and wise and you as selfish and uninformed.

—They want to change the world with their cutting edge technology, while you are living in the past.

—They care about our grandchildren’s grandchildren, while you are a crybaby because you can’t stand paying a few more cents per KWH on your electric bill.

—They are bold visionaries, which you are the reason we’re facing environmental problems in the first place.

Who do you think is holding the stronger hand here?

But, suppose you turn this around and you first DEMAND that they prove their case: that they provide scientific proof that the technology actually works BEFORE you move on to catalogue all of its adverse consequences. You can do this by asking some probing questions:

— Please show me the independent, objective studies (using real-world data, not models) that show that wind energy actually is technically, economically and environmentally beneficial?

— What about the economics? The average residential US customer pays 10¢/KWH for electricity. In Denmark (where they have installed many more wind turbines) the average residential customer pays 35¢/KWH. How will paying this huge 350% increase be beneficial to citizens? How is this consistent with the marketing PR that says wind energy is inexpensive?

—How many conventional fossil-fuel electric plants will this wind project actually replace? If we do a granular real-world analysis of wind energy (not giving credit to useless power that is produced in the middle of the night, when nobody wants it, for example), what is the actual reduction in GHG emissions that we can hope to achieve?

To replace a single medium sized conventional electric power plant we would need over a thousand of these 410 foot behemoths covering well over a hundred of square miles of territory. Exactly how many square miles of land will be needed to reduce coal use by any meaningful amount? Since they aren’t making more land — and since such vast quantities of land are required to implement this concept – why should this be considered a “renewable” or “green” source of energy? Is any resource more fundamental than land and habitat?

— Then ask them: if they are genuinely concerned about the environment, why don’t they care about the effects industrial wind has on bats, birds, wildlife and (most importantly) people? Does it really make sense to “save the world” by destroying its inhabitants?

— Then ask them how many miles of transmission lines we’ll have to construct – at what cost, and what other consequences? And how much power will we lose getting the electricity from the remote, windy spots to the settled areas, hundreds of miles away?

— Then you ask the proponents how many hundreds of billions of dollars they want to spend on this gamble – not for a single project, but the total figure. And who’s going to pay for all of this? — Then you ask them why they keep talking about “energy independence” when virtually all of our electricity currently comes from home-grown sources?

— Then take the opposite tactic and say: OK, Let’s do it! Let’s harness the “wind resource” within the park in the service of all humanity. But let’s not stop there. Since this is such a great idea, let’s REPLICATE this wonderful idea throughout the entire park system. If it’s good enough for the National Seashore, it’s good enough for the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Yellowstone too! We can’t afford to let all of those other “wind resources” go to waste!

Surely, this is not too great a price to pay. Why, if we were just “forward thinking” enough to agree to ruin thousands of pristine habitats similar to Wellfleet – or to convert the entire State of Rhode Island into a wind farm, for example — we could “replace” ONE small power plant, right? Well, no, we couldn’t actually “replace” the power plant, since we would have to keep it running “just in case” the wind didn’t blow (or blew at the wrong time). But who cares? At least we’d be doing something, and we’d surely all feel a lot better about ourselves! No one could say we didn’t do our part!

The Bottom Line

Don’t let the wind turbine proponents reduce the argument to whether or not “we” are willing to make the sacrifice in the service of a noble and necessary cause. Tell them you think that the whole idea is nuts – and make them prove it to using the scientific method.

The soundbite is: Industrial wind energy has very high costs with very low benefits.

Remind me again why this is such a great idea? They are neither virtuous nor wise. The developers are mostly cynical profiteers out to make a buck, who pull the necessary strings and grease the necessary palms to win their approvals. They are opportunists who travel to financially stressed rural areas and entice unsuspecting farmers to sign their lease agreements which neuter their rights to their own property. Most of the others are ill-informed and idealistic, who have no idea what they’re in for once the blades begin to spin. They believe the confident assurances of the snake-oil salesmen, the paid-for “experts,” the energy committees and the town fathers that everything will be fine.

After being in the trenches on this issue I am quite sure that it is a mistake to shoulder the burden of pointing out to wind turbine proponents all of the bad consequences of their “brilliant” idea without initially demanding to see the proof as to WHY are they recommending it in the first place.

What is so inspiring about a stupid idea that doesn’t work – AND one which devastates residents, divides communities and ruins habitat in the process?

I am totally convinced that this is the way to go.

If your community fights this issue primarily on its impacts, you are mimicking the strategy of many prominent environmental groups: frittering on the edges, avoiding confrontation, while promoting a political (not scientific) agenda.

So you, like in the story of the Emperor Without Any Clothes, convince yourself that you must not say what must never be said – that the damn things don’t work. So you concentrate on issues that are tangential. You do this because you know that most of the wind energy advocates – including the majority of know-nothing lawmakers – believe that the wind turbines do work and believe that you are crazy for failing to acknowledge their obvious virtues!

Additionally you believe that this is all about the money anyway, so why bother making an issue about whether they work? Well, the answer to that is to publicly expose the REAL agenda of your opponents. Do you think you have a better chance to win if they are portrayed as saving the world or greedy?

Closing Thought

Here is my closing thought. Before you decide to follow the “pragmatic” path, take a moment to reflect on what you know about every reform movement in the history of our country – our revolution, the abolition of slavery; child labor laws; woman’s suffrage; health and safety standards; environmental protection; the establishment of the National Park System and the land conservation movement; any of them. Can you name a single significant reform in our history that was NOT defined by a series of dispiriting defeats along the entire length of the long, painful road to their ultimate victory?

Are we saying that we don’t want to fight for something worthwhile because we might lose some battles along the way? I don’t think that this sort of inclination to tackle only the battles that are “winnable” – rather than to argue on principle against a fundamentally bad idea – is the way to go.

That seems to me to be a recipe for winning some battles, but losing the war. In fact, in almost every instance I can think of, the reformers have never triumphed until sometime after all hope seemed lost.

That’s just the way it works: you don’t yield on principle and you just keep pushing forward. You are acutely aware that it’s a marathon and not a sprint, and that it’s the cumulative weight of the evidence – and not a single dramatic event – that will ultimately carry the day.

At the very least, after you stand on the shoulders of people like Eric Rosenbloom, Jon Boone, Glenn Schleede, Jesse Ausubel, Peter Lang, Dr. Nina Pierpont, Dr. Calvin Martin, George Kamperman, Rick James and several others like them, and explain the potent and insidious health hazards; or quote the first-hand accounts of people in Vinalhaven or Falmouth or Mars Hill Maine; or call attention to the work of scientists like Dr. Kurt Firetrap at NPS Sounds Program on the devastating impact of “chronic noise” upon the habitat; you should immediately say:

“And the worst thing is, THE DAMN THINGS DON’T WORK, ANYWAY!”

That leaves them nowhere to hide.

Lyme to conduct new survey on wind power views

THREE MILE BAY — It's back to the future for the Lyme Town Council.

While it began reviewing a draft zoning law for wind power development, the council agreed to conduct a new survey of town residents on their attitudes toward allowing such development to occur.

"I don't think we have room for any turbines in the town," Councilwoman Anne M. "Boo" Harris said during the work session Tuesday night. "But I will be glad to abide by a survey. I will abide by what the majority says."

The last survey, conducted in 2007, found that 52 percent of respondents wanted wind power facilities in the town.

"There has been a lot of information given out in the last three years," Supervisor Scott G. Aubertine said.

The council will continue to tweak a zoning law proposal to prepare if the survey shows a majority of residents support wind power development. The council wants the survey done and a law adopted before the wind power moratorium runs out in October.

Two council members opposed conducting another survey.

"My objection to a survey is that the outcome depends on which side knocks on more doors and talks to the most people," Councilman Donald R. Bourquin said.

Councilman Warren A. Johnson agreed. "Only if we can't come to a consensus here should we have another survey," he said.

Councilman Michael P. Countryman said he would have liked to see the wind law discussion concluded before he resigned, which he expects to do after the July council meeting. He voted for the survey, saying he had always wanted to see the question go to a public referendum.

The council will discuss putting a small committee together to agree on the question or questions to be asked and how to conduct the survey at its next regular meeting.

At the beginning of the meeting, Planning Board member Albert H. Bowers III challenged Mr. Bourquin's and Mr. Countryman's participation in the discussion.

"I object to continuing with the work session with people on the council who have conflicts," Mr. Bowers said.

Mr. Aubertine told him that comments from the floor were not allowed during the work session and that he should sit down or leave.

Town Attorney Mark G. Gebo said that under general municipal law, government officers should recuse themselves when they have direct or indirect monetary benefits coming to themselves, spouses or dependents.

"It's up for that board member to determine that there is a conflict," he said. The state attorney general's Wind Industry Ethics Code, which many developers have agreed to, includes disclosures of benefits for relatives of government officers.

"They do not have the force of law and they're not intended to regulate town and village law," he said.

The two councilmen have brothers with leases for a transmission line for projects in Cape Vincent.

"I feel I'm OK," Mr. Countryman said. "With a power line, we have no choice where they put the power line. But I don't want to put the town in jeopardy at all."

Mr. Bourquin said, "Our zoning law would not affect my brother at all."

Mrs. Harris asked if Mr. Gebo would request an opinion from the attorney general's office.

"It's more a matter of public perception than anything else," she said. "This has caused a rift in every community around here."

Mr. Gebo said the attorney general's office spoke to him after Cape Vincent's supervisor asked for an opinion on two councilmen's participation in their zoning discussion.

The council agreed unanimously that the zoning law should not allow industrial wind turbines south of Route 12E. They also agreed to add language that the total height of turbines cannot exceed 425 feet.

The next work session will be at 6:30 p.m. June 29 at the Three Mile Bay Fire Hall on Route 12E.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hammond Extends Wind Moratorium By 3 To 1 Vote

HAMMOND - The Hammond Town Board voted 3-1 during Monday evening's meeting to extend the moratorium on a law regulating wind turbine development for one year.

The current moratorium, according to Supervisor Ron W. Bertram, expires on July 27.

Wind committee facilitator, David B. Duff, told the town board that nine of the 10 committee members said they were in favor of extending the moratorium.

Mr. Bertram said extending the moratorium would give the wind committee ample time to complete its review of the current law.

"I believe we really need to look at extending the moratorium," he said.

"Without a question, what we need to do is extend the moratorium for another year," he said, adding that the town board can rescind the moratorium if the wind committee completes its review before the full year's time.

The supervisor also noted that Iberdrola has indicated that any project would not be started until 2012.

"Which would leave us well within their time frame," he said of the one-year moratorium extension.

Board member James Pitcher recused himself from the wind power discussion because of a conflict of interest he has from signing a lease with Iberdrola to locate wind turbines on his property.

"Both sides need to be heard," said Dr. James R. Tague, who said he felt prior speakers for the wind committee were mostly pro-wind. "I'm in favor of extending the moratorium, but I haven't given time frame much thought."

Douglas E. Delosh agreed, saying he believed the wind committee was beginning to get comfortable with one another and that progress was being made.

"I'm in favor of the one-year extension. There is a lot of work left to be done," he said.

James Langtry, the sole councilor voting no on the moratorium, expressed his frustration.

"You're way out in left field on this," he told Mr. Bertram. "The committee is dragging its feet already. They've had six months to work on it and haven't done two months of work.

"Let's get it over and done with," he said. "We can't sit around forever."

The town board voted 3-1 to extend the moratorium for another year.

Mr. Bertram asked the wind committee to have its work done by December, allowing time for the town board to review the wind law document and for any public hearings that would need to be held.

A special town board meeting has been called for Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the town hall to give special counsel Joseph Russell time to write up the moratorium ordinance, according to Mr. Bertram.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Environmental concerns ignored in Orangeville

Many residents of Orangeville are concerned for the future of their properties. The article written by Matt Gryta (“Wind farm expansion opposed in Orangeville,” The Buffalo News, June 1) does not however comment on the concerns our residents have for their homes and families. It is well documented in other wind turbine farms, such as Cohocton, that the land and environment suffer hazard brought by turbine construction in a community. Turbines are significantly detrimental to the avian wildlife in our area. It is documented in the Noble Bliss Survey.

The lead agency in Orangeville is the Town Board. In defense of the environment in Orangeville, the Clear Skies Over Orangeville Environmental Committee met with the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the U.S. Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Both agencies responded to Susan May, Orangeville town supervisor. The DEC commented in a 16-page document and the USFWS responded in an eight-page document. The document from DEC stated that the lead agency can be the Town Board, however they must recognize that they are responsible to the comments of the DEC and USFWS as the permitting agencies. The Orangeville Town Board, although an elected body of representatives of the citizens of Orangeville, has not listened to its residents and continues to be disingenuous to the DEC and USFWS.

One of comments raised by the USFWS is that, “Three major watersheds are found in the project area including the Tonawanda Creek, Stony Creek, and East Koy Creek. Several streams protected by New York State Article 15 regulations are found in the project area. However the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) does not adequately describe these resources.” This response came after citizens met with the USFWS. It is not the lead agency of the town of Orangeville that is investigating, it is the residents themselves. The Environmental Committee has done an amazing study of the project area and they continue to inform the DEC and the USFWS of inadequacies, missing information and lack of sufficient detail to the proposed DEIS.

Our bald eagles, raptors and avian population are significantly at risk. The 14,500-acre proposed wind turbine site is a unique and valuable environmental resource for these birds. Turbines are significantly detrimental to the wildlife in our area. It is documented in the Noble Bliss Survey. Our bat population is seriously endangered. Building wind turbines will cause a horrific death to them. It is documented and recorded in the U.S. Geological Survey.

“‘Beware: exploding lungs’ is not a sign one would expect to see at a wind farm. But a new study suggests this is the main reason bats die in large numbers around wind turbines. The risk that wind turbines pose to birds is well known and has dogged debates over wind energy. In fact, several studies have suggested the risk to bats is greater. In May 2007, the U.S. National Research Council published the results of a survey of U.S. wind farms showing that two bat species accounted for 60 percent of winged animals killed. Migrating birds, meanwhile, appear to steer clear of the turbines.” (“New Scientist,” Aug. 26, 2008)

Another question involving the lease agreements needs to be examined. The residents who signed leases with the turbine company need to be aware that this company also has projects for gas and oil. The residents who signed turbine leases, not only will pay taxes for a business and property improvement, but they just might have given away valuable mineral rights. This company could possibly drill for gas and oil and take all the profit. In the “U.S. News and World Report,” April 2010, it stated, “Before he walked away, Pickens was advocating the ‘Pickens plan,’ a broad strategy to promote wind for electricity and natural gas for fuel. The contents of the plan might have been questionable, but it was still a plan.”

The question is, will the turbine companies use these leases, not for wind, but for gas and oil drilling? Will the landowners then see no profit and the town take a huge loss? The landowners are also held liable if these turbines should injure any human life. The question again is, how liable is the wind company?

We have a valuable resource in Wyoming County. It is unlike any other. To play the game of chance and ignore the balance of nature would be so serious it could cost the lives of the wildlife and human health. If we should lose our water source, which is highly possible, it could ruin this community forever. Once our environment is damaged and further destroyed by a proven highly inefficient energy source (wind turbines) we will never see the natural beauty of Orangeville again. All the mitigation you can think of will not restore the natural beauty that is in Wyoming County. The BP oil spill should be a warning to us all. We are tampering with an important source, our water. Do not assist this destruction. It has serious consequences. Is big industrial corporate greed worth our environment?

Lynn Lomanto lives in Orangeville. She is a member of the Clear Skies Environmental Naturalist Committee, which is a part of Clear Skies Over Orangeville.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


The Board of Directors and Members
First Wind Holdings, LLC:

The audit referred to in our report dated July 29, 2008, except for the first paragraph under the caption "Significant New Accounting Policies" in Note 3 to the consolidated financial statements relating to the retrospective change in accounting for noncontrolling interests which is as of December 22, 2009, included the related financial statement schedule for the year ended December 31, 2007, included in the registration statement. This financial statement schedule is the responsibility of the Company's management. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on this financial statement schedule based on our audit. In our opinion, such financial statement schedule, when considered in relation to the basic consolidated financial statements taken as a whole, presents fairly in all material respects the information set forth therein.

Our audit report on the 2007 consolidated financial statements of First Wind Holdings, LLC and subsidiaries referred to above contains an explanatory paragraph that states that the Company has suffered recurring losses from operations and negative operating cash flows, has an accumulated deficit amounting to $116.4 million as of December 31, 2007, and does not have sufficient resources available to meet its funding needs through January 1, 2009. Those conditions raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern. The consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2007, and the related financial statement schedule included in the registration statement do not include any adjustments that might result from the outcome of this uncertainty.

We consent to the use of our report dated July 29, 2008, except for the first paragraph under the caption "Significant New Accounting Policies" in Note 3 to the consolidated financial statements relating to the retrospective change in accounting for noncontrolling interests which is as of December 22, 2009, with respect to the consolidated statements of operations, members capital (deficit) and cash flows of First Wind Holdings, LLC and subsidiaries for the year ended December 31, 2007, and our report set forth above on the related financial statement schedule, and to the reference to our firm under the heading "Experts" in the prospectus. Our report on the 2007 consolidated financial statements refers to a change in the accounting for noncontrolling interests.


Boston, Massachusetts
March 26, 2010

Lake windmill project spurs debate among lawmakers

LOCKPORT — Three months ago, the Niagara County Legislature unanimously demanded fair consideration from the New York Power Authority for a Great Lakes wind power project.

The action was triggered after a Power Authority trustee stated that he looked forward to seeing windmills in Lake Erie. His failure to mention Lake Ontario was explained as an oversight.

But now that the Power Authority has received five proposals from developers willing to build the 166 windmills off the shores of Lake Erie, Lake Ontario or both, some county lawmakers from lakeshore districts are saying, not so fast.

“I support the resolution we set up supporting the project, but we need to pay attention to the environmentals,” said Legislator John Syracuse, R-Newfane. “We’ve got a sensitive resource there.”

“I think you’ll see strong, vocal opposition, not only from the recreational boaters but from the fishing interests as well,” said Legislator Clyde L. Burmaster, RRansomville.

Burmaster said he’s already received negative feedback about the possibility of the $1 billion project coming to Lake Ontario.

Among the critics, he said, were members of the Youngstown Yacht Club.

Burmaster said he’s also heard concerns from Robert Emerson, executive director of Old Fort Niagara. A set of windmills in the lake could spoil the historic vista at the fort.

Burmaster said it’s not just the notion of windmills in the lake that concerns him.

“Somehow you have to get that power inland from the shore to the grid,” he said. That means power line construction.

And there’s the question of the impact on Lake Ontario’s sport fishery. Burmaster worried that vibrations from windmills might scare fish away.

The Chautauqua County Legislature has passed a resolution opposing windmills in Lake Erie, and some members of the Erie County Legislature said last week that they wanted to follow suit.

Along eastern Lake Ontario, resolutions opposing the projects have been passed in Jefferson and Oswego counties.

Syracuse said he has his doubts that the Power Authority really would turn to Lake Ontario.

“We may be hard-pressed to get them anyway because of the depth of Lake Ontario,” he said. A deeper lake would mean higher construction costs to anchor the wind turbines on the lake bottom.

Town of Somerset Supervisor Richard J. Meyers, whose town is planning to take advantage of wind power for its own operations, wasn’t as negative toward the project as the county lawmakers.

“We would support [windmills] as long as we got enough information about what was going out there and the environmental and visual impact,” Meyers said. “To put any restriction on finding knowledge about them is premature.”

Somerset recently received a $150,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to pay for two wind turbines.

Meyers said they are to be installed in September on the grounds of the town’s wastewater treatment plant, and the electricity the turbines generate will power that plant.

No future in industrial wind

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

In March, Green Mountain Power, Central Vermont Public Service Corp and Hydro Quebec announced agreement on new 26-year contracts to provide Vermont with clean renewable hydroelectric power.

Trans Canada is asking for a reappraisal of the hydro dams they own on the Connecticut River. Cleve Kapala of Trans Canada said, "I mean the plants are obviously worth less today than they were prerecession and preoversupply of electricity." In spite of the oversupply and low price of electricity Trans Canada has applied to expand their industrial wind plant on Kibby Mountain in Maine.

Even without Vermont Yankee there is a glut of power in the New England market. 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 do we need to destroy Vermont's mountains with inefficient, unreliable industrial scale wind turbines? The obvious answers are: To attempt to fulfill arbitrary renewable energy use mandates, unachievable without reclassifying hydro as renewable. And to allow First Wind, Iberdrola, Gaz Metro (GMP), Enel, and other wind developers and their investors to collect subsidies, tax credits, double accelerated depreciation, renewable energy certifi- cates, and now direct grants, paid with our and our grandchildren's tax dollars. This is what industrial wind "development" is really all about. Without these mandates and incentives, which we can ill afford, no one would consider building these useless monuments to gullibility and greed.

No matter how much or how little generation we have, industrial scale wind turbines will never make a difference. They are unpredictably intermittent and there has been no circumstance where building wind plants has resulted in the decommissioning of an existing fossil fuel facility.

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

Vermont has always promoted itself as a place to escape from the industrialized world and 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 430-500 foot, loud, strobe-lit, environmentally destructive, quality of life destroying industrial scale wind turbines in Ira, Sheffield, Lowell, Eden, Milton/Georgia, East Haven, Deerfield, Londonderry/Grafton, Manchester, Waitsfield. Or anywhere else in Vermont.

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

Rob Pforzheimer lives in Sutton.

IPOs in a holding pattern

Right now, the forecast isn’t phenomenal for the five Massachusetts companies looking forward to their day in the sun.

Newton’s First Wind Holdings Inc. develops and runs six wind farms in states including Maine and Vermont, and has plans to build others; the company originally filed to go public in the summer of 2008, and it hopes to raise as much as $450 million, using the clever ticker symbol WNDY.

And Ethan Zindler, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said First Wind may also have a tough time.

“The economic downturn has led to a decline in electricity demand,’’ Zindler said, “and that has slackened the demand for new generating capacity, particularly for renewables, which are more expensive on a per-kilowatt-hour basis than fossil fuels.’’

But Zindler added that First Wind may be better positioned than other companies building new wind farms, since “a number of their projects are in the tightest electricity markets, like Hawaii and New England. They’ve been very smart about picking their spots.’’

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I'd rather my wife made land mines than worked in the wind farm industry

If there’s an industry in the world that deserves to be stigmatised more than any other, it’s the despicable, reprehensible, money-grubbing, mendacious, taxpayer-fleecing, bird-mangling, landscape-ruining, economy-blighting wind farm business. At least you could argue that blood diamonds make nice jewellery and that land mine manufacturers are making a valuable contribution to infantry defence. But wind farms are not merely worthless but actively evil – and anyone involved in them deserves to be as pilloried and despised as estate agents were in the Eighties or bankers are now.

For chapter and verse on why they are such an abomination, I must refer you to Dr John Etherington’s definitive The Wind Farm Scam, which explains in comprehensive and unarguable detail precisely why wind farms are one of the most inefficient forms of power generation since the human treadmill and why they can only ever possibly be economically viable with the help of massive (and entirely unjustified) taxpayer subsidy.

And then there’s the recent Spanish experience. From Steve Goreham’s superb book Climatism – about the many disasters that have been caused by the global warming religion – we learn that Spain’s concerted government-funded drive towards wind and solar power has been an utter catastrophe. Electricity costs have risen by 60 per cent while the 50,000 “green jobs” it created cost 571,000 Euros per job via government subsidy, effectively losing 2.2 jobs in the real economy for every one created in the green one.

Now, we learn today, the wife of Britain’s deputy prime minister Nick Clegg is to take a lucrative job in this vibrant, go-ahead industry. Miriam Gonzalez Durantez – as she chooses to call herself, presumably because it sounds a lot classier than Mrs Clegg – will be acting as an independent adviser to Acciona, the world’s largest wind farm supplier.

Apparently, to avoid any “conflict of interest”, she will not be advising it on any of its British projects. Oh, right. And presumably she’ll also be knocking off her salary that portion of Acciona’s profits – courtesy of UK taxpayer subsidy – made from building the four wind farms our economy and landscape need about as much as we need an outbreak of nuclear war or John Prescott or Ebola.

Testimony of Michael McCann on property value impacts in Adams County IL



1. Residential property values are adversely and measurably impacted by close proximity of industrial-scale wind energy turbine projects to the residential properties, with value losses measured up to 2-miles from the nearest turbine(s), in some instances.

2. Impacts are most pronounced within "footprint" of such projects, and many ground-zero homes have been completely unmarketable, thus depriving many homeowners of reasonable market-based liquidity or pre-existing home equity.

3. Noise and sleep disturbance issues are mostly affecting people within 2-miles of the nearest turbines and 1-mile distances are commonplace, with many variables and fluctuating range of results occurring on a household by household basis.

4. Real estate sale data typically reveals a range of 25% to approximately 40% of value loss, with some instances of total loss as measured by abandonment and demolition of homes, some bought out by wind energy developers and others exhibiting nearly complete loss of marketability.

5. Serious impact to the "use & enjoyment" of many homes is an on-going
occurrence, and many people are on record as confirming they have rented other dwellings, either individual families or as a homeowner group-funded mitigation response for use on nights when noise levels are increased well above ambient background noise and render their existing homes untenable.

6. Reports often cited by industry in support of claims that there is no property value, noise or health impacts are often mischaracterized, misquoted and/or are unreliable. The two most recent reports touted by wind developers and completed in December 2009 contain executive summaries that are so thoroughly cross-contingent that they are better described as "disclaimers" of the studies rather than solid, scientifically supported conclusions. Both reports ignore or fail to study very relevant and observable issues and trends.

7. If Adams County approves a setback of 1,000 feet, 1,500 feet, or any distance less than 2-miles, these types of property use and property value impacts are likely to occur to the detriment of Adams County residences and citizens for which the nearest turbines are proposed to be located.

8. The approval of wind energy projects within close proximity to occupied homes is tantamount to an inverse condemnation, or regulatory taking of private property rights, as the noise and impacts are in some respects a physical invasion, an easement in gross over neighboring properties, and the direct impacts reduce property values and the rights of nearby neighbors.

9. A market value reduction of $6.5 million is projected for the residential property located in the footprint and within 2-miles of the pending Prairie Mills project located in east Adams County.


Therefore, if the County Board should choose to adopt the industry requested minimal setbacks, or some other setback of less than 2-miles from residential uses or occupied dwellings or structures such as schools, churches and nursing homes, I have developed a series of recommendations that would at least partially mitigate the widely experienced impacts prevalent with industrial scale wind turbines developments, as follows:

1. A Property Value Guarantee (PVG) should be required of the developer(s), significantly similar to the PVG attached hereto as Appendix A. A County-controlled fund or developer bond should be required to guarantee no undue delay in PVG payment(s) to legitimately affected homeowners, and/or to buy out homeowners located within 2-miles of any turbines if they elect to relocate away from the turbine project(s) and cannot sell for the pre-project market value of their properties. Such a guarantee is nominal in cost, relative to total project costs, and are used to condition high impact land use approvals such as landfills and even limestone quarries, as well as other wind energy developments (i.e. DeKalb County, Illinois, etc.)

2. An alternative to the bonding element of Recommendation # 1 would be to require that the developer(s) obtain a specialized insurance policy from a high risk insurance carrier or legitimate insurer, such as Lloyds of London, if they will even insure against such impacts. If Lloyds was unwilling to provide such insurance, however, that should be compelling to the County that professional risk-management actuaries find such projects too risky for even them to insure. Under those possible circumstances the burden of risk is fairly placed with the developer, rather than the residential occupants who are being surrounded or otherwise directly impacted by close proximity of the projects.

3. If Adams County decides to permit projects, the limited evidence of impacts beyond a 2-mile setback would mitigate against the need for a PVG as cited in recommendation # 1.

4. If Adams County decides to permit projects, I recommend that the County require developer funding and a plan to constantly monitor not only sound levels in McCann Appraisal, LLC decibels, but also in low frequency noise emissions from the turbines utilizing the best available technology, or at least homeowner reports and logs. There is significant evidence and personal accounts confirming that low frequency sound/noise is “felt” by nearby occupants, and, as I understand it, cannot be measured by decibels as audible noise is typically measured. Disclosure of the owner’s actual experience to prospective buyers is necessary from both an ethical perspective and, I believe potentially under the Illinois Real Property
Disclosure Act, as a “known” defect or detrimental condition. Thus, documentation should be created at the cost of the developer(s), to insure that appropriate disclosures can be made to any prospective buyer(s) of homes within the 2-mile zone.

5. Appropriate devices should be installed at the developers expense at all occupied dwellings and property lines within a 2-mile distance of any turbines, and the County should retain the ability to immediately enforce the shut-down of any turbines exceeding a level of 10 decibels or more above ambient background noise levels from any property/home experiencing that exceeded noise level. The proximity of constant or frequent noise sources is an adverse impact to the use and enjoyment of a residential property, and indicates a basis for loss of property value.

6. An alternative to recommendation # 5 would be to place a limit on hours of operation, requiring turbines within 2 miles of any occupied (non-participating) dwelling be shut off during normal sleeping hours (i.e. 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.).

7. If the County finds that the wind energy projects are desirable from a economic development goal or perspective, or for the “public good”, I recommend that “footprint” and 2-mile distant neighboring homeowners (measured to lot line from the furthest span of turbine blades) be afforded the opportunity to sell to either the developer or the County, with possible use of eminent domain powers employed by the County, on behalf of and at the expense of the developer(s).

8. The financial assurance for decommissioning and reclamation of wind turbine pad sites, i.e., a bonding requirement, is also recommended as a County condition. To demonstrate solvency companies should pay the bond requirements before starting construction. It’s basically insurance in case the company goes bankrupt or otherwise abandons the wind project without taking down the turbines and reclaiming the land. Coal mines, quarries, landfills and drilling companies have similar bond or financial assurance requirements.

9. An aesthetic landscaping requirement for wind project developers to plant mature trees or groves to shield the view between residential properties and turbines. Evergreens planted along property lines and/or other types of trees strategically planted between residential windows and turbines would partially alleviate aesthetic impacts from turbines.

10. The County should consider a moratorium on wind energy project development(s) in Adams County, until such time as:

* A thorough and complete Wind Energy Ordinance is developed and adopted by the County, which incorporates all the protection and authority of zoning, building and health codes.

* Appropriate Conditional or Special Use standards are developed and adopted, to insure wind developers carry the burden of their for-profit projects rather than the hosting jurisdiction(s) and/or neighboring property owners.

* The actual experiences of numerous existing turbine neighbors is documented thoroughly by an impartial group of professionals with appropriate qualifications in the various relevant fields of expertise, i.e., acoustic engineers, medical sciences, valuation professionals, etc.

The preceding recommendations are not intended to be all inclusive or to address all wind energy project issues and impacts. They are intended to address issues that affect the public health, safety and welfare of area residents, as well as their property values.

Download File(s):
McCann Appraisal, LLC written testimony re Setbacks & property values June 8 2010.pdf (5.07 MB)