Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Settlement of Howard liens could be in sight

In its court filing, SPE Utility Contractors says it contracted with with O’Connell Electric Co., Inc. to perform professional services, including excavation, backfill, and copper grounding and fiber optic cable installation, for the Howard Wind Farm Project. The company is claiming $1,617,474 in work was completed. SPE Utility said the work was performed between July 6, 2011 and Oct. 20, 2011. Liens were filed against 31 properties.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Legal Trouble For Howard Wind Project

WLEA/WCKR News has learned that over two dozen mechanic liens have been filed against Howard Wind LLC and some Howard landowners, for over a million and a half dollars. Howard Wind is connected to Everpower Wind, a wind company with offices in New York City and Pittsburgh.

Documents from the Steuben County Clerk’s office show that a contractor from Michigan is complaining that his construction company was allegedly not paid by the wind company for helping construct the wind project in Howard between July and October of 2011.

The contractor has filed liens on the land for the project, which includes private landowners involved with the Howard wind project.

Four of those who have liens against them are/were town officials, and one is a sibling of a town official.

Dan Lagiovane, the project communications manager for wind company Everpower sent us the following email statement:

"We are making timely payments to Delaney. We have also met all our obligations to all of our landowners and to the Town. We are solvent and this dispute will have NO impact on the operation of the wind farm and future payments to the landowners and the Town."

12:32pm UPDATE:

Kevin Sheen of Everpower has issued the following statement:

This is an issue involving a dispute between two of the subcontractors for the Howard Wind Project. The two subcontractors are engaged in a disagreement over payments for work completed. They haven’t been able to come to an agreement so one of the subcontractors, SPE Electric, unilaterally decided to begin placing liens on all of the property owners that are part of the Howard Wind Project.

As part of our agreement with our general contractor, Delaney, they are obligated to reach an agreement with this subcontractor and if they cannot reach an agreement, Delaney will have to discharge the liens against the property owners. Delaney has assured Howard Wind that they diligently addressing this issue and will be filing a bond to discharge the liens as soon as possible. Howard Wind is working very hard with Delaney to make sure the liens filed against the landowners are removed as soon as possible and that no other liens are filed.

It is also important to note that Howard Wind is not involved in any way with this dispute. We are making timely payments to Delaney. We have also met all our obligations to all of our landowners and to the Town. We are solvent and this dispute will have NO impact on the operation of the wind farm and future payments to the landowners and the Town.

Windfarms axed as UK loses its taste for turbines

In the first of a three-part series, we look at the political shifts causing investors to doubt Britain's commitment to wind

The government and energy industry have quietly shelved plans for windfarms equivalent to four large traditional coal and nuclear power stations, amid growing public and political anger over the cost and sight of the turbines.

A report by the Electricity Networks Strategy Group (ENSG), which is the most up-to-date view of government officials, the regulator Ofgem, and leading industry investors, estimates that 28.3GW of onshore and offshore wind power may have been built by 2020.

The estimate has fallen by 4GW in the two years since its last forecast. Another 1GW of other renewables such as tidal and wave power have also been removed from the forecast.

There is also a big rise in the expected contribution from nuclear energy, by just over 5GW, allowing the government to still meet its pledge of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by a third by the end of the decade.

In the same report, the officials warn that the cost of linking new power generation to the national distribution network has increased from £4.7bn to £8.8bn in just two years.

Nearly all the extra cost is the money needed to connect wind and marine renewable energy from the Scottish islands to mainland Britain, and to transfer power from generators to consumers via two new undersea cables from Scotland to England and north to south Wales. The remainder is a £450m increase due to inflation.

The figures, published on the website of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) (pdf) in the past few weeks but not publicised, come as political and public pressure grows over the cost of renewable energy through taxpayer subsidies and higher energy bills. In addition, MPs are concerned about opposition from local communities to the blight of onshore turbines.

This month, a letter signed by more than 100 Conservative MPs urged the prime minister to further cut subsidies to onshore windfarms – beyond the planned 10% reduction already announced as the government consulted on the future of the system of Renewable Obligation Certificates, under which some forms of generation are entitled to extra payments to support emerging technologies.

Despite ministers' assurances that the average household will pay less as a result of its policies, the Guardian also revealed this month that Decc's own unpublished analysis shows two out of three bill payers will pay more, while only a third will benefit from the energy savings and other measures which that will make their bills lower than they would have been without the policies.

Decc said it was still committed to meeting the emissions reduction pledge and a separate EU target to produce 15% of the UK's energy from renewable sources by 2020.

A department official also said it did not consider the ENSG report to be the "best or full picture" of future renewable energy, and preferred its own Renewable Energy Roadmap report published last summer. This gave a mid-range prediction of 31GW of installed generating wind power capacity by 2020.

However, the ENSG membership – which includes the National Grid, Decc, generators and trade associations – and the fact that the government described it as a "high-level forum" intended to "address key strategic issues" for distributing renewable energy, will give credibility to its forecasts and cost estimates.

Furthermore, Dr Robert Gross of Imperial College's respected UK Energy Research Centre said the ENSG report should be "pretty balanced" given that the National Grid, as a utility that generates more income from a bigger asset base, also has an interest in increasing investment rather than downplaying it, while Ofgem has a duty to keep prices low.

Responding to the latest cost figures, Chris Heaton-Harris, the Tory MP who co-ordinated the letter to David Cameron, said: "The more the true full cost of wind energy is exposed the more you have to ask why we continue to back such an expensive and intermittent source of energy. All this money ends up coming from consumers at the end of the day and this raises the question: how many people will be forced into fuel poverty because we continue with such a high level of direct and indirect subsidy to the wind industry?"

A Decc spokesman said: "Estimates for future generation will vary over time, but Decc's renewable energy roadmap sets out the best view of the ranges of possible mixes for meeting our 2020 target.

"That said, [this] scenario has been compared to the renewable energy roadmap central range and, to quote ENSG, 'lies at the upper end of that range for all renewable generation sources'.

"We specifically don't dictate to the market exactly what the share of each technology will be. But in any future scenario, whatever the level of demand, we intend to meet the UK commitment to meet 15% of overall energy consumption from renewable sources."

The pledge to supply 15% of energy from renewables can be met despite building less generating capacity partly because since the last analysis, aviation emissions – which would have to be offset by renewable electricity in the short term at least because of the difficulty of finding affordable alternatives to kerosene – have been removed from the calculations.

The ENSG report also assumes 12% of heat and 10% of transport will be powered by renewables by 2020.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Wind power is waste of money, resources

I get furious at the waste of our money and resources on the Steel Winds project. First Wind’s claim that it can generate enough power for 9,000 homes is total nonsense. Wind is intermittent, variable and out of phase with demand. To describe the nameplate capability as capacity is an outright lie. Industrial-scale wind turbines have no capacity value because they have no capacity to generate power on demand. Wind turbines can produce only intermittent power; they must be backed 100 percent by conventional sources. The term capacity in regard to electric power is defined as the ability to produce power on demand. Wind energy cannot promise to deliver.

Power is another loosely used term when discussing wind energy. Just because the turbine has the nameplate capability to produce 2.5 megawatts does not mean that over time it will. Wind energy is notorious worldwide for coming up well short of nameplate capability. Wind produces in the neighborhood of 25 percent of the time.

The tax breaks that First Wind is getting and the tax revenues to the county and towns are nothing more than a shell game with our money. We paid out a lot more to get this token tax returned. The power Steel Winds does generate is uncompetitive on the open market so the New York Power Authority buys it regardless of the cost to us. We pay higher electric rates and subsidize wind energy by the RPS charge on every electric bill. If the wind zealots are serious about stopping global climate change, then develop energy sources that do not waste our money, resources or time.

Thomas Marks
Executive Director

Great Lakes Wind Truth, Derby

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Donald Trump to fight wind turbine proposals near golf resort with campaign using his own cash

DONALD TRUMP will bankroll an anti-wind farm campaign in his fight against an off-shore development near his luxury golf resort.

US tycoon Trump wrote to First Minister Alex Salmond earlier this month, telling him he seems "hell-bent on destroying Scotland's coastline" with wind turbines.

A planning application for an 11-turbine wind farm off Aberdeen Bay, near Mr Trump's Menie resort, was submitted to Marine Scotland last summer. A decision is expected to be made later this year.

He said turbines are "ugly monstrosities" and "horrendous machines" and has halted work on his development until the decision is made by the Scottish Government.

Communities Against Turbines Scotland (Cats) contacted the Trump Organisation after the letter to Mr Salmond was published and they have now joined forces.

Speaking to a national broadsheet, George Sorial, vice-president of the Trump Organisation, insisted Mr Trump will use all resources at his disposal and do "whatever it takes" to prevent the turbines being erected.

He said: "We have agreed to provide financial support to Cats. We have agreed to assist them with marketing and PR.

"We have agreed to provide them with staff, with some of our team at our New York office working with them on a daily basis. But the details will be worked out over the coming week."

Cats chairman Susan Crossthwaite said representatives from the Trump Organisation will attend a meeting of the campaign group in St Andrews next week.

She said: "We are continuing to negotiate with Donald Trump but he has pledged his support.

"We are an umbrella group and represent local groups and people who have campaigned against turbines across Scotland. It's better to have one voice to speak on behalf of us and to give us some real standing.

"We are trying to wake Scotland up to the devastation this is causing."

Mrs Crossthwaite, who lives in the south of Scotland, claimed there is "huge despair within the rural community" at decisions to build more wind farms.

Mr Trump said in his letter to the First Minister that he would never be "on board" with a project he described as "insanity", adding: "With the reckless installation of these monsters, you will single-handedly have done more damage to Scotland than virtually any event in Scottish history."

Mrs Crossthwaite said Cats has no particular interest in Mr Trump's luxury golf course and is more concerned with a general trend for building wind turbines.

She said: "We don't support everything Donald Trump does by any means but on this issue we are singing from the same hymn sheet."

Environmental charity WWF Scotland said it is disappointed with the financial support pledged to the anti-wind farm campaign.

Head of policy Dan Barlow said: "Given the urgent need to tackle climate change, it is deeply depressing to hear in detail how Donald Trump intends using his vast wealth to try to kill off one of the clean, green solutions available to the people of Scotland.

"Along with energy-efficiency and other forms of renewables, wind power is helping to reduce emissions, create jobs and export opportunities.

"Donald Trump's efforts to undermine Scotland's renewables ambitions are misguided."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Wind farm on former NY brownfield site expands

A wind farm constructed at the site of a former Buffalo-area steel plant is expanding.

Boston-based First Wind says it's installed six additional turbines at its Steel Winds site in Lackawanna, on the Lake Erie shoreline.

Company executives and elected officials, including Congressman Brian Higgins, will be at the site Tuesday to mark completion of the expansion.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Developer wants to put 36 windmills in central NY

A wind farm developer is floating a plan to build 36 turbines on 7,500 acres in Madison County.

The Syracuse Post-Standard reports ( ) that Rolling Upland Wind Farm would be built in the town of Madison, which welcomed the state's first seven windmills in 2000. The town has a special planning board meeting scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday to discuss the project.

Developers of the $110 million project don't anticipate starting construction until 2015.

The project is proposed by EDP Renewables North America. It has 20 wind farms in the United States, including a 195-turbine project 75 miles northeast of Syracuse in Lewis County.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Alexander Opposes Production Tax Credit, Wind Industry Subsidy

In a speech Wednesday on the floor of the United States Senate, Senator Lamar Alexander called on Congress to reject any efforts to “put in the payroll tax agreement a four-year extension of the so-called production tax credit,” calling it “a big loophole for the rich and for the investment bankers.”

Senator Alexander said: “Let's not even think about putting this tax break for the rich in the middle of an extension of a tax deduction for working Americans this week. Let's focus on reducing the debt, increasing expenditure for research, and getting rid of the subsidies.

Twenty years is long enough for a wind production tax credit for what our distinguished Nobel prize-winning Secretary of Energy says is a ‘mature technology.’”

The full transcript follows: “Madam President, there are reports in some of the newspapers this morning that there is an effort to try to slip into the negotiation about extending the payroll tax break for the next year a big loophole for the rich and for the investment bankers and for most of the people President Obama keeps talking about as people whose taxes he would like to raise. What I mean by this is I have heard there may be an effort to put into the payroll tax agreement a four-year extension of the so-called production tax credit, which is a big tax break for wind developers. I cannot think of anything that would derail more rapidly the consensus that is developing about extending the payroll tax deduction than to do such a thing. We are supposed to be talking about reducing taxes for working people. This would maintain a big loophole for investment bankers, for the very wealthy, and for big corporations. “We hear a lot of talk about federal subsidies for Big Oil. I would like to take a moment to talk about federal subsidies for Big Wind -- $27 billion over 10 years. That is the amount of Federal taxpayer dollars between 2007 and 2016, according to the Joint Tax Committee, that taxpayers will have given to wind developers across our country. This subsidy comes in the form of a production tax credit, renewable energy bonds, investment tax credits, federal grants, and accelerated appreciation. These are huge subsidies. The production tax credit itself has been there for 20 years. It was a temporary tax break put in the law in 1992.

"And what do we get in return for these billions of dollars of subsidies? We get a puny amount of unreliable electricity that arrives disproportionately at night when we don't need it. “Residents in community after community across America are finding out that these are not your grandma's windmills. These gigantic turbines, which look so pleasant on the television ads -- paid for by the people who are getting all the tax breaks -- look like an elephant when they are in your backyard. In fact, they are much bigger than an elephant. They are three times as tall as the sky boxes at Neyland Stadium, the University of Tennessee football stadium in Knoxville. They are taller than the Statue of Liberty. The blades are as wide as a football field is long, and you can see the blinking lights that are on top of these windmills for 20 miles. “In town after town, Americans are complaining about the noise and disturbance that come from these giant wind turbines in their backyards. There is a new movie that was reviewed in the New York Times in the last few days called "Windfall" about residents in upstate New York who are upset and have left their homes because of the arrival of these big wind turbines. “The great American West, which conservationists for a century have sought to protect, has become littered with these giant towers. Boone Pickens, an advocate of wind power, says he doesn't want them on his own ranch because they are ugly. Senators Kerry, Kennedy, Warner, and Scott Brown have all complained about the new Manhattan Island-sized wind development which will forever change the landscape off the coast of Nantucket Island.

“On top of all that, these giant turbines have become a Cuisinart in the sky for birds. Federal law protects the American Eagle and migratory birds. In 2009, Exxon had to pay $600,000 in fines when oil developments harmed these protected birds. But the federal government so far has refused to apply the same federal law to Big Wind that applies to Big Oil, even though chopping up an eagle in a wind turbine couldn't be any better than its landing and dying on an oil slick. And wind turbines kill over 400,000 birds every year. “We have had some experience with the reliability of this kind of wind power in the Tennessee Valley Authority region. A few years ago TVA built 30 big wind turbines on top of Buffalo Mountain. In the eastern United States, onshore wind power only works when the wind turbines are placed on the ridge lines of Americas most scenic mountains. So you will see them along the areas near the Appalachian Trail through the mountains of scenic views we prize in our State. But there they are, 30 big wind turbines to see whether they would work. “Here is what happened: The wind blows 19 percent of the time. According to TVA's own estimates, it is reliable 12 percent of the time. So TVA signed a contract to spend $60 million to produce 6 megawatts of wind -- actual production of wind -- over that 10-year period of time. It was a commercial failure. “There are obviously better alternatives to this. First, there is nuclear power. We wouldn't think of going to war in sailboats if nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers were available. The energy equivalent of going to war in sailboats is trying to produce enough clean energy for the United States of America with windmills. “The United States uses 25 percent of all the electricity in the world. It needs to be clean, reliable electricity that we can afford. Twenty percent of the electricity that we use today is nuclear power. Nearly 70 percent of the clean electricity, the pollution-free electricity that we use today is nuclear power. It comes from 104 reactors located at 65 sites. Each reactor consumes about one square-mile of land. “To produce the same amount of electricity by windmills would mean we would have to have 186,000 of these wind turbines; it would cover an area the size of West Virginia; we would need 19,000 miles of transmission lines through backyards and scenic areas; so 100 reactors on 100 square miles or 186,000 wind turbines on 25,000 square miles. “Think about it another way. Four reactors on four square miles is equal to a row of 50-story tall wind turbines along the entire 2,178-mile Appalachian Trail. Of course, if we had the turbines, we would still need the nuclear plants or the gas plants or the coal plants because we would like our computers to work and our lights to be on when the wind doesn't blow, and we can't store the electricity. “Then, of course, there is natural gas, which has no sulfur pollution, very little nitrogen pollution, half as much carbon as coal. Gas is very cheap today. A Chicago-based utility analyst said: Wind on its own without incentives is far from economic unless gas is north of $6.50 per unit. The Wall Street Journal says that wind power is facing a make-or-break moment in Congress, while we debate to extend these subsidies. So that is why the wind power companies are on pins and needles waiting to see what Congress decides to do about its subsidy.

“Taxpayers should be the ones on pins and needles. This $27 billion over 10 years is a waste of money. It could be used for energy research. It could be used to reduce the debt. Let's start with the $12 billion over that 10 years that went for the production tax credit. That tax credit was supposed to be temporary in 1992. “Today, according to Secretary Chu, wind is a mature technology. Why does it need a credit? The credit is worth about 3 cents per kilowatt hour, if we take into account the corporate tax rate of 35 percent. That has caused some energy officials to say they have never found an easier way to make money. Well, of course not. “So we do not need to extend the production tax credit for wind at a time when we are borrowing 40 cents out of every dollar, at a time when natural gas is cheap and nuclear power is clean and more reliable and less expensive. “I would like to see us put some of that money on energy research. We only spend $5 billion or $6 billion a year on energy research: clean energy research, carbon recapture, making solar cheaper, making electric batteries that go further. I am ready to reduce the subsidies for Big Oil as long as we reduce the subsidies for Big Wind at the same time.“So let's not even think about putting this tax break for the rich in the middle of an extension of a tax deduction for working Americans this week. Let's focus on reducing the debt, increasing expenditure for research, and getting rid of the subsidies. “Twenty years is long enough for a wind production tax credit for what our distinguished Nobel Prize-winning Secretary of Energy says is a mature technology."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

PTC Extension For Wind Energy Not Included In Payroll Tax Bill

Hopes that a near-term extension of the production tax credit (PTC) for wind power would be included in legislation to extend the payroll tax cuts through the remainder of this year are nearly extinguished, as NAW has learned that congressional leaders have reached a tentative framework agreement on the payroll tax cut - but it does not contain a PTC extension.

A House-Senate conference committee is expected to approve the deal, which will then go to the House and Senate as soon as today. Sources, who wished to remain anonymous, told NAW that both legislative bodies are expected to quickly sign the measure before congressional leaders depart for the President's Day recess that begins Feb. 20.

The omnibus bill extends the payroll-tax holiday and unemployment insurance through the end of the year and allows doctors to fully claim Medicare reimbursements - a measure that addresses the so-called “doc-fix.” Those provisions would be paid for with reductions elsewhere in the budget.

However, the bill does not include tax extenders such as the PTC, which, for wind power, expires at the end of this year.

The conference committee, which comprises party leaders and representatives from the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, had been meeting for more than two weeks to reconcile the key components of a payroll tax extension, which expires Feb. 29.

According to sources familiar with the negotiations, Democrats attempted to include the PTC in the negotiations, but talks broke down when Republicans tried to get Democrats to soften their stance on reducing hazardous air pollutant emissions from existing and new boilers and commercial and industrial solid-waste incinerators.

The news dealt a crushing blow to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), which had hoped that near-term legislative action connected to extending the payroll tax cut was the best vehicle to quickly pass the PTC extension.

According to AWEA, PTC action is urgent, because once the presidential campaign begins in earnest, the focus will be on campaigning, rather than on legislative matters.

Now that a near-term strategy is severely weakened, the wind industry must look to other ways that a PTC extension could be passed this year, such as in a lame-duck Congress following the November general election.

Peter Kelley, AWEA's vice president of public affairs, said the situation is still developing.

"There are a number of options, and nothing is final yet," he told NAW, noting that a bipartisan group in Congress is continuing to provide leadership in extending the PTC for wind energy.

Several options are under discussion, Kelley said, and both Democrat and Republican congressional leaders are working on legislation.

However, "It's too soon to say what they'll come up with,” he added. “They're looking at every opportunity to get this done in the first quarter, because they realize the urgency of keeping the tens of thousands of U.S. manufacturing jobs that are on the line.”

In an interview with NAW last month, AWEA’s vice president of public policy, Robert Gramlich, said that any fallback position would be far less effective.

"History shows us that it is hard to move policy in the summer and fall of an election year," he said.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Big Wind’s Inconvenient Truth

The installation of wind turbines too close to houses and personal property is a major headache for the wind power industry, but headache scarcely begins to describe their impact to nearby property owners and neighbors. My property and home are scarcely three quarters of a mile from a three 1.5 megawatt turbine wind farm that went online in November 2009 with blades stretching nearly 400 feet into the air.

Large scale wind turbines represent a tiny and lucrative—thanks to federal tax incentives—corner of the electric power industry. By siting large turbine facilities close to population centers, the industry hopes to minimize the cost of expensive new transmission lines, but it faces a whirlwind of resistance from citizens objecting to the destruction of mountains, seascapes, wilderness areas, and natural quiet.

Opponents argue that wind power is a bad deal for everyone but shareholders who use subsidies to prop up an industry that is otherwise not economically viable. But on Vinalhaven, a small island in Penobscot Bay—where only three turbines are in operation—neighbors have opened up the industry’s Achilles heel: excessive noise.

New permit applications in towns across New England are raising hackles of anyone who pays attention to the way citizen dissent has been throttled in Maine where wind warriors mobilized to breach protective legislative barriers erected by the wind industry.

Vinalhaven is a small port town of only a few thousand residents whose primary business is lobstering. During the project’s planning phase in the early 2000’s I understood that my viewscape would change. My neighbors and I wanted to believe the promise of the promoters that our lives would otherwise be unaffected.

As an environmentalist who has often been on the receiving end of the NIMBY argument—opposing ill-advised developments that threaten the Everglades and water quality in Florida—I didn’t want to be part of a movement against wind. Environmentalists can’t wait to jettison hydrocarbons driving our economy, but the lessons of the past three years have tempered my perspective. Wind power is the easiest to seize the popular imagination. It is also the breeziest. There are massive obstacles to bring wind power technology to useful grid scale. Wind is intermittent. Storage of electricity when winds fall is highly problematic. Homeowners and businesses skeptical about noise impacts of wind turbines should revisit sitting on the proverbial fence: if the Maine experience is any guide, NIMBY means that the “next idiot might be you.”

The wind power industry and its local advocates on Vinalhaven insist that turbine noise is an inevitable cost supported by the public. On Vinalhaven, they trumpet that the vote to approve wind turbines was 380 in favor and only 5 against.

Neighbors have spent three years trying to get the State of Maine to enforce its own inadequate noise standards. As a veteran of wars against water pollution, I never expected that a place of solace and respite would prove the point that government can be its own worst scofflaw. It would be one thing if the small size of our community, fad or preference for local control over state or federal mandates, brought closer to resolution a problem that needs to be fixed. Instead of equity and fairness, neighbors are buried in procedural curliques tied to proving violations of state noise standards. We might as well be hog-tied to those spinning wind turbine blades.

Proving noise pollution is no trivial matter. On Vinalhaven, George Baker, a former Harvard Business School professor and executive of the local wind power facility, claims that the noise of the wind turbines is masked by the wind in the trees.

On a summer morning, there is scarcely a whisper of wind in the trees. The sky is blue and the early morning light casts long shadows in anticipation of day. Twenty five years ago I bought my property for its peace and quiet. In the background, the turbines churn like a rotating drum powered by Blakean bellows. What is so distracting is that the quality of sound varies from moment to moment. This is not the noise of a highway, a factory, an airport, or even the noise scape of a city. Turbine noise is as variable as the shifting wind, cementing one’s attention to intermittency like the rotating lights on a police cruiser. That is on the good days.

Neighbors can be woken in the middle of the night with an unidentifiable pounding; it is either in one’s head or chest or the walls of one’s house. From aural flickering to a constant disturbance: either way; having to spend significant time, energy and money to prove the point compounds the despair.

The worst are the hours shrouded in fog that I treasured. They now pulse with turbine noise. The Maine fog associates with a weather pattern—wind shear– that the wind turbine promoters knew about but ignored. They knew because in 2008 their experts told them so. It can be dead still on the ground and hundreds of feet in the air, the wind is howling. Not only did the project supporters omit informing neighbors of wind shear during the permitting phase of the Vinalhaven project, they obstructed discovery of the consultant report and, now, are spending ratepayer resources to contest a legal challenge in state superior court. Their objection: that neighbors do not have a judicial line of appeal. It is incorporated, they say, in a 2008 state energy law that few legislators read much less questioned before passing.

If wind power isn’t economically viable because wind is intermittent by nature, the costs to my life and property are continuous. There is not a single regulation against excessive noise– at the state, local or federal level– to enforce and protect. Given the level of controversy and impact, one would think that industrial wind turbine noise is a public threat where the nation’s environmental agency, the US EPA, ought to engage. But the sole staffer of the EPA’s Office of Noise Abatement retired years ago.

A 2010 petition to the EPA by Maine residents —triggered by the Vinalhaven controversy—implored the agency to involve itself in regulating wind turbine noise. It was rejected by EPA and an administrator who referred petitioners back to the same state regulator in Maine who subsequently resigned after the regulatory effort to tame turbine noise was thwarted by political meddling.

Dead still. So quiet that a conversation can carry a mile. Hundreds of feet above the island, wind shear picks up the turbine blades and hurls them around (The sardonic anthem of turbine advocates on Vinalhaven is “Spin, baby, spin”.) casting sound pulses through moisture heavy air. At other times, sound from the turbines skips like a rock on the surface of a cove.

Think of the sounds from a wind turbine as of a thunderstorm. The noise metric, called the dbA scale, captures the peal of thunderbolts. It fails to capture the low rumble of the storm; the vibration and hum of the turbines. Most wind noise controversies are framed around the dbA level because that is how the industry established the metric for sound in the 1990’s. At nighttime in Maine, for instance, the upper limit is set at 45dbA. For ordinary homeowners, though, to prove 45dbA is more complicated than pointing an acoustic measurement instrument and registering its results. Our neighbor group has chased in the middle of the night, in the middle of the freezing cold, pointing microphones and instrumentation at the pitch black sky in an effort to provide statistics and samples that state-hired consultants will accept. You can’t pick up the phone and complain. You have to pay for tests to prove your complaint. On that playing field, ie. what constitutes a verifiable and legitimate complaint, the goal posts keep moving. So far as low frequency noise is concerned, the goal posts that citizens are trying to reach might as well be on the other side of the world.

Various terms have been used to describe the low frequency sound output of wind turbines: a droning noise or the dreaded thump that alternates or morphs into and out of a woosh. Sometimes, it is like the low sonic end of a spinning dryer. Depending on the wind and direction, the thrum quickens or slows. It can change from the whine of a jet engine to a pulse in the space of seconds. For unfortunate homeowners who live even closer to wind turbines, the effects are mind-blowing. Those who live closest—within half a mile– report their entire dwelling can throb and pulse in time with the swoosh of the turbine blades.

For neighbors in Vinalhaven, learning how to provide data deemed valid by state regulators, including its own consultant, to prove violations by the wind turbine operator (whose shareholders are soundly sleeping, tucked away in their quiet quarters) required learning, spending and acquiring a level of acoustic expertise no homeowner should be required to produce under any circumstances simply to protect themselves. But that is not how it works with industrial pollution.

All neighbors wanted was peace and quiet, and all neighbors have are data files of acoustics measuring turbine noise in the gigabytes. All neighbors wanted was quiet, and all neighbors have is the enmity, indifference, or silence of those who know an injustice was done on Vinalhaven but feel powerless to solve it. The fact that local electric rates on Vinalhaven have significantly increased in recent years while the cost of merchant power in the region has remained stable is an embarrassment of someone else’s riches.

The industry understands that chasing citizens around the dbA scale is a fool’s errand. The Vinalhaven neighbors pursued Maine state regulators up the regulatory ladder from the bottom only to find at the top, that lobbyists pressured the governor’s office to intervene against neighbors on their behalf. There ought to be a law, and indeed there should. It is not exactly an insight to point out that polluters are expert at erecting high legal hurdles to keep citizens at bay. It is a good regulation, in other words, so long as it is one they wrote. The wind industry spends in states where those “should’s” are likely to change the playing field.

Every large law firm in the state is under restrictive agreements with the wind industry. Well-placed lobbyists and shareholders rotate in and out of government office and appointments. The state environmental agency’s top regulator, Patty Aho, is a former lobbyist for the law firm representing the wind turbine utility on Vinalhaven. Aho “did what she was told” by throttling provisions that might have offered hope to Vinalhaven neighbors in future compliance measurement and enforcement. At a July 2011 public hearing at the state capitol on revisions to the state noise regulation—ostensibly to stiffen them to protect people—Aho affirmed that the purpose of regulatory review was to assist industry.

A former governor, Angus King, is a large shareholder of a wind turbine company, First Wind. He wrote in a Maine business publication that he spent last July 4th on Vinalhaven and didn’t meet a single opponent of the wind turbines. He also didn’t seek the neighbors out. A recent single-question poll by First Wind claimed to measure public support for wind power. A similar poll question, limited to a single question, might solicit the opinion of neighbors who live within three miles of industrial scale wind turbines.

The public is ill-informed about wind turbine noise for a variety of reasons. Usually, a gag order accompanies payment when homeowners are bought out—often after a exhausting, protracted struggle. The industry counters with arguments; wind noise disturbs different people in different ways. The inference is that if you object to noise, you are a complainer in the great scheme of freeing energy tied to oil. In small communities like Vinalhaven, these formulas can be used to great effect, dividing the local population.

In the early phase of permitting the Vinalhaven project, a sound consultant to the project developers wrote tellingly that the site chosen for the wind turbines was likely to generate noise complaints from nearby homeowners and residents. Instead of dealing with property owners up front as the consultant recommended, the wind turbine operator buried the report and hired another consultant. In doing so, Mr. Baker, the former Harvard Business School professor and chief executive of the Vinalhaven turbine operation, made an implicit decision that pit islanders against each other. The result imposed a significant cost on the turbine neighbors; let them fight the state.

Divide and conquer is not the last refuge of polluters but it certainly is a popular one. At a public hearing last July when citizens battled industry on the outline of regulatory reform, a neighbor of a wind turbine installation in another part of the state despaired to me privately– she would not be quoted– that her livestock fences had been cut and garbage dumped in her rural driveway when she spoke out against the turbines in the permitting phase. Now that the turbines roar, her children can’t play in their backyard. The noise is so relentless in her home, another mother testified, that when her children go to bed she asks every night: “Did you brush your teeth, say your prayers, and take your sleeping pills?”

On Vinalhaven, supporters of the wind farm project—goaded by the local utility board and executives—posted a drawing of goat heads in a bucket of blood on a Facebook page, wishing the worst for neighbors who subsequently moved—for health and safety reasons. There are nights when the lobsterman Arthur Farnham, whose home is only seven hundred feet from the nearest turbine, turns his television volume to high, the fans on, and still can’t drown out the noise. It is worst in the winter. But the Harvard Business School professor and turbine operator insisted and the state acquiesced so that wind noise for compliance would only be measured in summer months on Vinalhaven.

Unless you have had something of deep value stripped from you, you don’t understand what the noise does to a fine summer morning on Long Cove or a deep winter night when the noise is roaring in your head or in your house.

The solutions are expensive to polluters. 1) Require fair market price buy-outs or property value guarantees for property owners within two and a half miles of turbines, 2) apply 35 dbA limits to nighttime operations immediately, 3) require the wind turbine industry to pay for the costs of noise monitoring and make all data available through web sites in real time, and 4) develop metrics that capture and regulations that protect against low frequency noise.

As stories pile up of citizens driven from their homes by turbine noise—sometimes health and property values ruined —the absence of effective wind turbine noise standards reflects the quest of polluters and their shareholders to demonize regulations. Shifting the costs of noise pollution has created a new caste of politically connected entrepreneurs who in turn have hired consultants, attorneys and lobbyists to obscure the wind power industry’s most inconvenient truth.

In its brutal outline, regulating noise from wind turbines illustrates the struggle of our times: whether government regulation can protect public health, or, whether private industry should be left alone to do a better job, whether or not it can demonstrate the results. Industry responds by hiding in the deep weeds of “complexity” and “disagreement with interpreting facts”. They buy time for an industry desperate to keep federal subsidies flowing; subsidies set to expire at the end of 2012. The wind power industry hopes Congress and the White House will ignore the fact that people, property values, and natural quiet are collateral damage to popular enthusiasms whose economics have failed to pan out.

We used to say with pride, “this couldn’t happen in the United States”. But wherever the costs of pollution are unallocated, it happens every day the wind blows.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Professionals should be zealously pursuing answers on wind

Stephen E. Ambrose is a board certified member of the Institute of Noise Control Engineers with over 35 years experience investigating man-made problems in environmental sound and industrial noise control.

Police: man suspected of robbing same North End store twice in one monthSale of Souza-Lagasse Farm is completedFormer mayor Lang rebukes state ed commissionerDEATH NOTICESFoes air concerns at wind forumDianne Y. RuaPatricia A. SantosI am respectfully writing in response to the Guest View letter by Gordon L. Deane; "Misinformation has undue influence in turbine debate" of Feb. 2. I have a question; how did he get himself in such an awkward position? His engineers should have foreseen and advised that there would be an adverse public response to wind turbine noise. There are published documents that would have clearly shown neighbors' seeking relief with appeals for legal action.

My profession as INCE member requires that I honor and obey "Canons of Ethics": 1) Hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public; 2) Provide services only in areas of competence; and 3) Issue public statements in an objective and truthful manner. There are more. These Canons of Ethics are identical to those required by states for licensed professional engineers.

So many public complaints about wind turbines caused me to wonder why my fellow professionals were not following the principal of the first Canon. This apparent omission prompted me to take an active interest in wind turbine noise. Why are so many neighbors complaining about living near industrial wind turbines? Why are government agencies not doing more to protect the public? There should be more professionals seeking answers.

The second Canon requires that I become competent in wind turbine noise. I now have more than two years' experience investigating wind turbines with another acoustic professional, Robert W. Rand, also an INCE member. We each have more than 30 years' experience working in our areas of expertise, and many of those years working in the Boston office for Stone & Webster Engineering. What we learned there working on large power station projects, was to first determine the sensitivity of nearby neighbors to changes to their acoustic environment using published U.S. EPA methods. Then a noise level criterion was developed for the proposed facility and feasibility determined based on cost-effective noise controls. Sometimes the costs were too great or there were no cost-effective solutions.

The third Canon prompted this letter to inform the public with this brief statement. Why have many wind turbine sites produced such visceral noise complaints? Why have my fellow professionals deferred investigating first-hand for themselves: that is, to live as or with a neighbor as we have?

We all should view wind turbine neighbors as representatives of the proverbial canary in the coal mine. Instead, the neighbor is accused of not being truthful, is ignored and thereby isolated from consideration.

This is not working; complaints are constantly increasing, including the abandonment of homes. People near large wind turbines are so debilitated that they have taken extreme measures to save their well-being.

Why have only a few environmental noise and public health professionals recognized there is a serious noise problem? The wind turbine industry has enlisted like-minded experts from academia and government agencies to support their goals. Their research is confined to only peer-reviewed documents and panel discussions. They have dismissed the obvious. The neighbors continue to ask that their destroyed lives be peer-reviewed. This leads back to the first Canon: Hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Ecogen wind subject of Prattsburgh’s board meeting

Prattsburgh, NY — The Ecogen wind farm project in the town of Prattsburgh is the subject of a special town board meeting at 7 p.m. Monday night.

Town officials said the meeting was called at the request of the town’s legal firm, Bond, Schoeneck and King in order to review information on the 16-turbine project.

Little is known about the information to be provided to the board, although Ecogen reportedly unsuccessfully presented an incentive package last week to Prattsburgh’s neighbor, the Town of Italy.

Italy is the anticipated site for 18 turbines and a substation in the total Ecogen project, which was originally proposed 10 years ago.

That project has met stiff resistance in Italy from the start, with opposition gaining strength later in Prattsburgh. The result has been a series of threatened – and real – lawsuits filed by Ecogen against the towns.

The impasse between Prattsburgh and Ecogen appeared to be resolved a year ago.

State Supreme Court Justice John Ark ordered the town to resolve its road use issue with the developer, and gave Ecogen roughly five months to establish vested rights to the project.

The Prattsburgh town board approved the road use agreement shortly after Ark’s ruling, although Ecogen has not moved forward on the project it claimed has been “shovel-ready” for two years.

Ark has not yet ruled in the lawsuit Ecogen filed against the town of Italy.

What may be a factor in the developer’s relationship with the towns is the
resurrected “Article X” – a state regulation setting up a panel to review all wind projects’ environmental impacts. It is unclear what effect the state’s review would have on the Prattsburgh-Italy project, or whether new plans, and a new study would be required for the windfarm.

The Ecogen wind farm project in the town of Prattsburgh is the subject of a special town board meeting at 7 p.m. Monday night.

Town officials said the meeting was called at the request of the town’s legal firm, Bond, Schoeneck and King in order to review information on the 16-turbine project.

Little is known about the information to be provided to the board, although Ecogen reportedly unsuccessfully presented an incentive package last week to Prattsburgh’s neighbor, the Town of Italy.

Italy is the anticipated site for 18 turbines and a substation in the total Ecogen project, which was originally proposed 10 years ago.

That project has met stiff resistance in Italy from the start, with opposition gaining strength later in Prattsburgh. The result has been a series of threatened – and real – lawsuits filed by Ecogen against the towns.

The impasse between Prattsburgh and Ecogen appeared to be resolved a year ago.

State Supreme Court Justice John Ark ordered the town to resolve its road use issue with the developer, and gave Ecogen roughly five months to establish vested rights to the project.

The Prattsburgh town board approved the road use agreement shortly after Ark’s ruling, although Ecogen has not moved forward on the project it claimed has been “shovel-ready” for two years.

Ark has not yet ruled in the lawsuit Ecogen filed against the town of Italy.

What may be a factor in the developer’s relationship with the towns is the resurrected “Article X” – a state regulation setting up a panel to review all wind projects’ environmental impacts. It is unclear what effect the state’s review would have on the Prattsburgh-Italy project, or whether new plans, and a new study would be required for the windfarm.


Driving from Los Angeles to Palm Springs, you pass through a desert terrain in which a new species has taken hold. Wind turbines grow row upon row, their blades turning busily as they generate electricity and pump it into the veins of the national grid. This wind farm is a good thing, yes? I've always assumed so, and driven on without much thought.

A documentary named "Windfall" has taken the wind out of my sails. Assuming it can be trusted (and many of its claims seem self-evident), wind turbines are a blight upon the land and yet another device by which energy corporations and Wall Street, led by the always reliable Goldman Sachs, are picking the pockets of those who can least afford it. There is even some question whether wind energy uses more power than it generates.

Director Laura Israel's film is set almost entirely in Meredith, N.Y., a farming area of some 2,000 people in a beautiful Catskills landscape. A few dairy and beef farms still survive, but many of the residents are now retired people who have come here with their dreams. Most of them were once "of course" in favor of wind power, which offered the hope of clean, cheap energy. When an Irish corporation named Airtricity came around offering land owners $5,000, neighbors $500 apiece and the town a 2 percent cut of the revenue, that was a win-win, right?

So it appeared. But some residents, including a former editor for an encyclopedia and the final photo editor of Life magazine, began doing some research. The town board set up an energy advisory panel, and after a year of study, it recommended the town refuse the Airtricity offer. The town board rejected the panel's finding. One of them recused himself because of his personal holdings in energy. The others saw no conflict.

This generated a furor in Meredith, and we meet people who were best friends for years and now were no longer on speaking terms. We watch board meetings and meet lots of locals; the film bypasses the usual expert talking heads and relies on the personal experiences of these individuals.

I learned that wind turbines are unimaginably larger than I thought. It's not a matter of having a cute little windmill in your backyard. A turbine is 400 feet tall, weighs 600,000 pounds, and is rooted in tons and tons of poured concrete. If one is nearby (and given the necessary density, one is always nearby), it generates a relentless low-frequency thrum-thrum-thrum that seems to emanate from the very walls of your home. The dark revolving shadows of its blades are cast for miles, and cause a rhythmic light-and-shade pulsing inside and outside your house. Living in an area with all that going, many people have developed headaches, nausea, depression and hypertension.

The effect on property values is devastating. The owner of a lovely restored 19th century farmhouse asks — who will buy it now? People don't come to the Catskills to undergo nonstop mental torture. Nor do other living things like wind turbines. Their blades, revolving at 150 miles an hour, slice birds into pieces and create low-pressure areas that cause the lungs of bats to explode.

For the loss of its peace of mind, a community's cut of the profits may be enough to pay for a pickup truck. Tax revenue drops because many of those (who can afford to) flee. Turbines sometimes topple over or catch fire (all firemen can do is stand and watch). And of course the local taxing agencies have been required to take advantage of sweetheart state and federal tax cuts, promoted by the industry's lobbyists.

"Windfall" left me disheartened. I thought wind energy was something I could believe in. This film suggests it's just another corporate flim-flam game. Of course, the documentary could be mistaken, and there are no doubt platoons of lawyers, lobbyists and publicists to say so. How many of them live on wind farms?

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Tilting at windmills

Documentary makers are always hoping that their film will come out at just the right moment, when a favorable news cycle and popular sentiment are converging so that the public is primed for their message.

In 1989, Michael Moore made his career with “Roger & Me,” a documentary that pinned the decline of his hometown — Flint, Mich. — on General Motors. By focusing his fire on GM’s chairman, Roger Smith, Moore tapped into the public’s anger at tone-deaf corporate bosses as well as the growing disenchantment with the American car industry.

Laura Israel’s new film, “Windfall,” has the same sort of fortuitous timing. Her documentary — which focuses on the fight over the siting of wind turbines in the small upstate town of Meredith — premieres at the same time that “green energy” stimulus failures fill the news, and the wind-energy industry faces an unprecedented backlash from angry rural residents.

Consider this Nov. 1 story from The Village Market, a news outlet in Staffordshire, England, about 150 miles northwest of London. The paper’s reporter, covering the staunch local opposition to a proposed wind-energy project near the tiny village of Haunton, wrote, “Huge numbers of people in rural areas are rising up against the technology, despite government assuming they would support it.”

Throughout the UK — indeed, all over the world — fights against large-scale wind-energy projects are raging. The European Platform against Windfarms lists 518 signatory organizations from 23 countries. The UK alone now has about 285 anti-wind groups. Last May, some 1,500 protesters descended on the Welsh assembly, the Senedd, demanding that a massive wind project planned for central Wales be stopped.

Although environmental groups like Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and Greenpeace claim that wind energy is the answer when it comes to slowing the rate of growth in carbon dioxide emissions, policymakers from Ontario to Australia are responding to angry landowners who don’t want 100-meter-high wind turbines built near their homes.

Last September, CBC News reported that Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment has logged “hundreds of health complaints” about the thumping noise generated by the province’s growing fleet of wind turbines. In December, government officials in the Australian state of New South Wales issued guidelines that give residents living within two kilometers of a proposed wind project the right to delay, or even stop, the project’s development.

Back here in the States, many communities are passing ordinances that prohibit large-scale wind energy development. On Nov. 8, for instance, residents of Brooksville, Maine, voted by more than 2 to 1 in favor of a measure that bans all wind turbines with towers exceeding 100 feet in height.

Meanwhile, the promoters of Cape Wind, a large offshore wind project proposed for Nantucket Sound, are still hoping to get their project built. But they continue to face lots of well-heeled opposition, including, most notably, environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Well-known for his advocacy of renewable energy, Kennedy opposes the wind project — because it will be built a few miles from his family’s estate in Hyannis Port.

As “Windfall” is premiering this week in New York, wind-energy lobbyists in Washington are desperately hoping to convince Congress to pass a multi-year extension of the 2.2-cent-per-kilowatt-hour subsidy for wind energy. Without it, the domestic wind business, which is already being hammered by falling natural-gas prices, will likely end up becalmed.

Israel’s portrayal of the bitter feuding that happened in Meredith over wind-energy development is similar to fights that have occurred in numerous other rural communities around the world. The battle in Meredith (population: 1,500) pitted landowners who stood to profit by putting the wind turbines on their property against those who didn’t. Israel interviews one couple, Ron and Sue Bailey, who took money from a wind company, a move they soon came to regret. The couple said they “were blinded by the money” and “never thought about what our neighbors across the road would think.”

The landowner faction in Meredith was led by the town’s supervisor, Frank Bachler. Israel portrays him as a well-intentioned man who, in favoring the wind development, is trying to help the area’s struggling farmers. Bachler dismisses the opponents of the wind project as “a minority of people who are very aggressive.”

But Bachler is proven wrong. The anti-wind faction quickly gains momentum and the resulting feud provides a textbook example of small-town democracy. Three wind opponents run for election to the town board with the stated purpose of reversing the existing board’s position on wind. In November 2007, they win, and a few weeks later pass a measure banning large-scale wind development.

Israel’s film also features a colorful interview with Carol Spinelli, a fiery real-estate agent in Bovina, a town of about 600 people located a few miles southeast of Meredith. Bovina passed a ban on wind turbines in March 2007. Spinelli helped lead the opposition, and she nails the controversy over wind by explaining that it’s about “big money, big companies, big politics.” And she angrily denounces wind-energy developers “as modern-day carpetbaggers.”

That’s a brutal assessment. But it accurately portrays the rural-urban divide on the wind-energy issue.

Lots of city-based voters love the concept of renewable energy.

But they are not the ones who have to endure the health-impairing noise that’s created by 45-story-tall wind turbines, nor do they have to see the turbines or look at their red-blinking lights, all night, every night.

So many want to make the world green — so long as it’s not them who have to suffer for it.

Robert Bryce is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. His latest book, “Power Hungry: The Myths of ‘Green’ Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future,” is now available in paperback.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Wind Energy, Noise Pollution

In his State of the Union address last week, President Barack Obama touted renewable energy and declared that he would “not walk away from workers” such as Bryan Ritterby, who is employed by a wind-turbine manufacturer in Michigan.

But in their rush to embrace the wind-energy business, Obama and numerous other politicians are walking away from rural residents such as David Enz and his wife, Rose. A year ago, the couple abandoned their home near Denmark, Wis., because of the unbearable low-frequency noise produced by a half-dozen 495-foot-high wind turbines that were built near the home they’ve owned since 1978. The closest was installed about 3,200 feet from their house.

Shortly after the Shirley Windproject’s turbines began operating, the couple began experiencing numerous symptoms, including “headaches, ear pain, nausea, blurred vision, anxiety, memory loss, and an overall unsettledness,” says Mr. Enz, 68. Today, the Enzes are living in their RV or staying with friends. “We didn’t expect any of this stuff,” says Enz, who spent more than 30 years working as a millwright at a paper mill in Green Bay.

Policymakers and health experts are casting a hard eye on wind energy at the same time that the wind industry is desperately trying to convince Congress to pass a multi-year extension of a tax credit that supports it. Without the subsidy, the domestic wind business, which is already being hammered by falling natural-gas prices, will be forced to downsize even further. In December, the American Wind Energy Association issued a report predicting that some 37,000 wind-related jobs in the U.S. could be lost by 2013 if the tax credit is not extended.

That possibility doesn’t faze Wisconsin Republican state senator Frank Lasee, whose district includes the Enzes’ 41-acre property. Last October, Lasee filed legislation that would require the state to investigate the health effects of the noise produced by industrial wind turbines. If passed, the bill– the first of its kind in the U.S. — will impose a moratorium on new wind projects until the study is completed. “I’ve heard and seen enough from people I represent to know that we need a factual study,” Lasee told me recently. In addition to the Enzes, Lasee says he knows another family among his constituents who have abandoned their home because of wind-turbine noise. “We shouldn’t be embracing an agenda that hurts people’s property values and their health,” he said. In mid-January, Lasee filed another bill that could allow cities and counties to establish minimum setback distances between wind projects and residences.

It’s tempting to dismiss the complaints about wind-turbine noise as little more than NIMBYism. And to be clear, not every wind project is causing problems. Further, the most problematic noise generated by the turbines — low-frequency sound (20 to 100 hertz) and infrasound (0 to 20 Hz) — has varying effects. Some individuals feel the effects of the noise quickly and compare it to motion sickness. Others may not feel it at all. That said, the harmful effects of infrasound are well known. A 2001 report published by the National Institutes of Health said that exposure to infrasound can cause vertigo as well as “fatigue, apathy, and depression, pressure in the ears, loss of concentration, drowsiness.”

Furthermore — and perhaps most telling — are the news reports. And there are lots of them. Newspaper stories from Missouri, Oregon, New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Britain, Australia, Canada, Taiwan, and New Zealand indicate that the wind-turbine-noise problem is global and that the frustration among rural landowners is growing.

The Beginning Of The End!

Mark your calendars. February 2012 may well be the beginning of the end for Big Wind.

There is a lot going on, but I am going to keep this short.

On January 31st, just days after Jackson Parker, the President of Reed & Reed construction announced on Statewide TV that they had ‘over 70,000 signatures,’ the liars and thieves pushing the Renewable Referendum down our throats had to admit that they had fallen short of the 57,000 + signatures that were required to place it on the ballot. They were caught in their own lies.

In just the last week or so we have had Iberdrola announce publicly that they are laying off 50 workers in the United States, and that they are not moving forward with any projects that can not be completed before the end of 2012, due to concerns over the expiring Production Tax Credit. This means that Lexington/Concord/Trescott/Fort Kent, and surrounding towns, are safe, for a while, anyway.

First Wind recently made public statements saying that if the Maine PUC did not approve their merger with Emera [the Canadian owner of Bangor Hydro], and Algonquin Power, [another Canadian company], then they would be forced to put their northeast wind projects on hold for ‘multiple years,’ due to the fact that they have no money…..

Well, the PUC was set to deny the merger earlier this week. At the last minute, [as seems to be their M-O in everything they do], First Wind and Friends tried to play games. They tried to manipulate the system. They have done the same thing in front of LURC, but this time they were facing a wall of experienced lawyers and Advocates, and they got caught.

The PDF below shows what the Maine Public Advocate and the Intervenors in the case think about First Wind’s games. They are recommending DISMISSAL AND SANCTIONS!

If the PUC acts on this—and there is absolutely no reason to believe that they won’t—then we are witnessing the beginning of the end.

Be happy, folks. You are witnessing history in the making. The People are starting to pay attention, the laws are starting to work, and Truth and Right are starting to win out over Greed and Lies.

The fight isn’t over, not by a long shot. There are still battles to be waged [call your Senators and Representatives and tell them to KILL the Production Tax Credit!], but we ARE making progress.

We might just be witnessing the beginning of the end……………….

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

For U.S. Wind Industry, A Storm Before The Calm

The wind industry continued to expand in 2011, but industry officials said the momentum is likely to come to an abrupt halt if a crucial tax incentive is allowed to expire this year.

In a conference call with its members and the media, leaders of the American Wind Energy Association said that 6,810 megawatts of new wind energy capacity came online last year, up 31 percent from 2010.

The 2011 installations bring the U.S. total wind capacity to 46,919 megawatts, which AWEA officials said is enough to power 12 million American homes.

Officials said there are 8,300 megawatts of new wind energy under construction now, but that the surge in activity can be in part attributed to uncertainty over the future of the production tax credit. The tax credit provides developers with 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour of wind energy and will expire in December without legislative action.

AWEA is seeking passage of a four-year extension of the PTC, proposed by U.S. Rep.’s Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) in November.

“We don’t expect to have this tax incentive forever, but we do need encouragement and support to finish the job,” said Denise Bode, AWEA’s chief executive.

Bode said she was hopeful that the tax credit would get extended – as it has three times in the past decade – but said it needs to happen sooner rather than later.

Leaders of two companies that supply components for wind turbines joined in the call to underscore the uncertainty that exists in the industry today and stress the need for swift passage.

“The damage is very severe, and not only just the immediate loss of jobs, but the loss of skills,” said Terry R. Royer, the chief executive at Winergy Drive Systems Corporation, which provides component parts from its factory in Elgin, Ill.

Royer said the company typically forecasts needs eight to ten months in advance, and that the company needs assurance this quarter in order to plan appropriately for 2013.

Iberdrola has already suspended planning for new wind farms in the U.S., an executive told Dow Jones Newswires on Wednesday.

AWEA’s year-end statistics also underscored the growing presence of wind energy in the Midwest.

Ohio saw the largest year-over-year increase in wind capacity, adding 101 megawatts of wind energy capacity. Kansas has more wind energy under construction than any other state – 1,188 megawatts, according to the AWEA.

Illinois meanwhile ranked second in new wind energy production last year, and moved ahead of Minnesota to become the country’s fourth-leading state in terms of total installed capacity. Texas, Iowa and California rank first, second and third.

But even in states where activity is robust, there are fears of a precipitous drop off.

“Whatever is moving forward is moving forward because people want to be able to take advantage of the tax credit,” said Harold Prior, the executive director of the Iowa Wind Energy Association.

Prior said he knew of one project in Iowa that had already been put on hold, and pointed to layoffs at Clipper Windpower, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as harbingers of what could come if the tax credit expires. As many as 3,000 jobs in Iowa could be lost without the tax credit, he said.

And although each member of the Iowa delegation has voiced support for the extension, Prior remains concerned that the issue will flounder during the election year.

“Watching this Congress from afar, I can’t say I’m very confident,” he said.