Monday, April 30, 2012

Wind farms may be warming the planet

The radical environmentalists who push Al Gore-Style alarmism over climate change keep claiming that so-called "alternative energy" is wonderful for the world.

They leave out all the negative environmental and aesthetic effects of giant wind and solar farms.

It's turning out wind isn't so wonderful after all.

The first wind farms turned out to be vast killing fields for migratory birds. And the noise and vibration they create makes them unsuitable as neighbors to humans.

Meanwhile over at the Lew Rockwell blog, I came upon a link to this British newspaper report on yet another negative effect of wind power:

Usually at night the air closer to the ground becomes colder when the sun goes down and the earth cools.
But on huge wind farms the motion of the turbines mixes the air higher in the atmosphere that is warmer, pushing up the overall temperature.

Satellite data over a large area in Texas, that is now covered by four of the world's largest wind farms, found that over a decade the local temperature went up by almost 1C as more turbines are built.

This could have long term effects on wildlife living in the immediate areas of larger wind farms.

Looks like it's time to look for a new magical source of carbon-free power.
Or maybe now the enviros will finally turn to the type of power advocated by those who started the scam.

Windfarms can increase night time temperatures, research reveals

Large windfarms can increase local night time temperatures by fanning warmer air onto the ground, new research has revealed. The study used satellite data to show that the building of huge windfarms in west Texas over the last decade has warmed the nights by up to 0.72C.

"Wind power is going to be a part of the solution to the climate change, air pollution and energy security problem," said Liming Zhou, at the University of Albany in New York. "But understanding the impacts of windfarms is critical for developing management strategies to ensure the long-term sustainability of wind power."

West Texas has seen rapid expansion of windfarms, with turbine numbers rising from 111 in 2003 to 2358 in 2011. Zhou's team compared the land surface temperatures at the windfarms with other areas across this period and detected a clear rise at night.

They note, however, that the effect on the air temperature, which is usually given in weather forecasts, will be lower than 0.72C rise because they respond less quickly to changes than land temperatures.

The scientists say the effect is due to the gentle turbulence caused by the wind turbines. After the sun has set, the land cools down more quickly than the air, leaving a cold blanket of air just above the ground. But the turbine wakes mix this cold layer with the warmer air above, raising the temperature. A previous study found a similar effect but was based on data from only two weather stations over just six weeks.

"The result looks pretty solid to me," said Steven Sherwood at the climate change research centre at the University of New South Wales, Australia. "The same strategy is commonly used by fruit growers, who fly helicopters over the orchards rather than erect windmills, to combat early morning frosts."

"Overall, the warming effect reported in our study is local and is small compared to the strong year-to-year changes" that result from natural variation, said Zhou. The study is published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

He told the Guardian that his results could not be used as an justification for blocking new windfarms. "The warming might have positive effects," he said. "Furthermore, this study is focused only on one region and for only 9 years. Much more work is needed before we can draw any conclusion."

Green isle forced to revert to diesel

THE residents of Foula, Scotland’s most remote inhabited island which achieved a remarkable first by becoming 100 per cent self-sufficient with renewable energy, are now forced to endure black-outs.

An all-night black-out has had to be brought into force for the 22 homes on the isolated Shetland community, because of teething problems in the island’s £1.5 million hydro and solar power schemes.

Foula’s three wind turbines have been out of action since Christmas, when 100mph winds damaged the blades of one of the turbines.

Now islanders are back to relying on costly diesel generator until the faults can be rectified.

Two years ago the islanders, who live 20 miles from the Shetland mainland, were awarded £200,000 in funding from the Big Lottery Fund towards their combination of wind, solar and hydro power, enabling Foula to become the first Shetland community to become self-sufficient in energy. The final phase was completed last October.

But it has been revealed a series of problems with the pioneering green energy scheme has left the islanders having to rely on back-up diesel generators to power their homes.

And, because of crippling fuel costs, they are operating a blackout from 12:30am to 7am.

Frank Robertson, the councillor for Shetland West and a member of the Foula Electricity Trust, insisted yesterday the breakdown was a “teething problem” and round-the-clock power could be restored to the island by the end of next week.

Before the renewable energy scheme was installed, Foula was powered through one wind turbine and two dilapidated main diesel generators or individual generators at their homes.

The island now has three small state-of-the-art turbines –currently out of action – a hydro scheme in which a turbine is powered by water from a loch on one of the main hilltops, and a new photovoltaic solar panel scheme, which turns daylight directly into electricity.

For the first time, residents were able to enjoy 24-hour power more than a year ago. But Mr Robertson said two new back-up diesel generators had to be switched on last week after one of the relays feeding the hydro and solar schemes into a computer-controlled central battery storage system fused.

He said: “The whole system is new and there is a snagging period. Obviously with such a system, there is complex control gear which controls each of the elements so they feed into the battery when they are required. But one of the relays connecting the hydro and solar panels to the battery has fused. We have a chap who is very knowledgeable in electronics and he manually switched on the back-up generators. The island still has power.”

Mr Robertson, who lives on the mainland, continued: “We are restricting the power from 7am to 12:30am to save diesel, which was the system on the island for the last 20 years. The price of diesel is horrendous.

“But these are just teething problems. The relays are specialised units, and we are waiting for them coming from Edinburgh and hopefully they will be arriving text week and we will be back to 24-hour electricity.

“The folk on the island aren’t bothered. They are the kind of people used to inconvenience. When there is storm there can be no ferry for four weeks.”

He added: “Once everything is all up and running, we should be totally self-sufficient and hopefully getting cheaper electricity.”

The turbines are not allowed to turn from May to September during the bird breeding season.

The Ultimate Green Bombshell: New Study Finds Wind Farms Cause Actual Climate Change

For decades they have been touted by green warriors and global warming believers as the lynch pin of their brave new utopian future. Now it seems that something is truly rotten in the state of Denmark, or the great state of Texas in this case.

After years of searching, it appears that scientists have finally identified an actual cause of climate change… wind farms.

Critics have previously cited industrial wind turbine farms as a massive blot on the landscape, as well as accusing them of causing environmental and economic damage. Reports of bird and bat mortality, local deforestation, as well as negative effects on peat bogs in the UK – have all been cited in relation to the operation of wind turbines. Economic concerns include homes located near wind turbines losing significant value with some homes being impossible to sell and abandoned by their owners. Above all of this, the fact still remains that wind farms, like solar farms, cannot produce any significant amount of power required to feed the minimum base-load to electrify a small city.

Supporters and green lobbyists for the wind industry claim that these damages are justified in order to move society off of fossil fuels. Despite their sketchy green credentials, industrial wind farms have still been awarded generous subsidies from governments in North America and Europe.

But all these drawbacks pale in comparison to the latest bombshell to hit this once-celebrated symbol of Al Gore and the IPCC’s new green revolution. Now it’s official: wind turbine farms cause real climate change.

London Telegraph reported yesterday:

“Usually at night the air closer to the ground becomes colder when the sun goes down and the earth cools.

But on huge wind farms the motion of the turbines mixes the air higher in the atmosphere that is warmer, pushing up the overall temperature.

Satellite data over a large area in Texas, that is now covered by four of the world’s largest wind farms, found that over a decade the local temperature went up by almost 1C as more turbines are built.

This could have long term effects on wildlife living in the immediate areas of larger wind farms.

It could also affect regional weather patterns as warmer areas affect the formation of cloud and even wind speeds.”

There you have it. Global warming collectivists, backed by activist scientists have pushed hard for the last two decades, have breached academic ethics, routinely rigged temperature data, and even perverted the trusted pier review process – all in the drive to promote the idea of anthropogenic ‘climate change’ caused by man’s CO2 contribution to the earth’s atmosphere.

No other green technology has racked up such a poor record in terms of environmental damage and the huge sums of public money spent on it as wind farms.

According to a government study commissioned in 1998, by the Norwegian Ministry of Energy on wind power in Denmark, it was concluded that turbine farms have “serious environmental effects, insufficient production, and high production costs.”

The study continues: “Denmark (population 5.3 million) has over 6,000 turbines that produced electricity equal to 19% of what the country used in 2002. Yet no conventional power plant has been shut down. Because of the intermittency and variability of the wind, conventional power plants must be kept running at full capacity to meet the actual demand for electricity. Most cannot simply be turned on and off as the wind dies and rises, and the quick ramping up and down of those that can be would actually increase their output of pollution and carbon dioxide (the primary “greenhouse” gas). So when the wind is blowing just right for the turbines, the power they generate is usually a surplus and sold to other countries at an extremely discounted price, or the turbines are simply shut off.”

Wind energy was also envisioned by warmists as a central plank in their new global Carbon Trading scheme backed by Wall Street and City of London financiers hoping to cash in on a new fictional trillion dollar global market. Unlike most real markets, the carbon market was created by banks and governments so that new investment opportunities could seamlessly dovetail with specific government policies.

Its failure has been pushed along by the 201o collapse of Al Gore’s Chicago Climate Exchange - the fantasy casino based on the IPCC’s pure science fiction.

The global warming and climate change mythology continues to spiral down into irrelevancy – much like a toilet bowl.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Wind developer Iberdrola filed complaints about New York State's Article X draft regulations

Iberdrola, the Spanish industrial wind developers targeting the towns of Hammond and Clayton, NY with their crappy white towers of testosterone are apparently having a hissy fit over certain regulations that are being imposed by  the New York State Article X legislation that takes decisions on major energy facility sitings away from local citizens and puts them into the hands of a state siting board.

According to a representative from Concerned Citizens of Hammond who passed on the information to JLL:

CROH just checked the PSC's website and found that Iberdrola  filed comments yesterday regarding their displeasure with the Article X draft regulations. 

To quote the beginning of IBER's comments:

With the reduction of the regulatory threshold to 25 MW under Article 10, the Siting Board will decide how the State will meet its policy objectives. The State is already behind schedule for meeting its renewable energy objective of achieving 30% renewable supply by 2015,2 and will require substantially more new generation to come on line if these goals are to be met in the next three years. Additionally, Governor Cuomo’s “New York Open for Business” program and the related and recently announced “New York Energy Highway” initiative also will rely on the investment and economic benefits that renewable energy projects can bring to the State. As such, in order to achieve these policy goals, the Article 10 regulations must facilitate responsible review that avoids unnecessary delay and avoids unduly burdensome review requirements.

Despite positive improvements to the earlier draft of the proposed regulations, several critical amendments are still necessary. Certain application requirements defined in the regulations are contrary to Article 10 and/or seek information that is in some cases burdensome and in others represents the most highly confidential and proprietary information held by wind energy developers. The confidentiality of this information is essential to success in a competitive market. Iberdrola Renewables does not believe this information is necessary to make the findings required by Public Service Law (PSL) § 168. We respectfully request that the proposed regulations be modified in the following important ways.

Here is a summary list of their complaints.

1) Applicants Should Not Be Required to Disclose Proprietary Information such as Capital Costs or Meteorological Data.
2) Section 1001.31(e) Should Not Conflict With PSL §168(3)(e) or Previous Siting Decisions in New York, and the Regulations Should Not Restrict the Siting Board’s Granted Authority Over Unreasonably Burdensome Local Laws.
3) Requirements for Exhibits 8 and 10 Should Not Exceed the Requirements of PSL § 164(b)(viii), nor Conflict with or Conflate the NYISO Interconnection Process.
4) The Regulations Should Not Impose Unnecessarily Burdensome Application Requirements.
5) The Provisions for “Modification” and “Revision” Should Not Be Rigid, Impractical or Inconsistent with the PSL.
6) The Proposed Regulations Should Not Impose Burdensome Timing Requirements.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cape Vincent Wind Farm gets new project manager; tweaking layout as a “compromise” to please critics

With a new project manager at its helm, BP Wind Energy is tweaking the layout of the proposed Cape Vincent Wind Farm to show that it is “willing to compromise” with critics who seek to kill the project.

Peter A. Gross said Wednesday he is leaving BP to “pursue an opportunity at another company” but that the wind farm project will move ahead with Richard F. Chandler.

Mr. Chandler, the wind farm’s new project manager, has been involved in a number of large-scale, commercial solar-photovoltaic projects and has most recently completed the 31-megawatt Long Island Solar Farm as the director of development at BP Solar.

The change comes in the midst of rethinking the placement and number of turbines for the approximately 200-megawatt project.

Read the entire article

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Regulators Reject First Wind's Permit Application For Wind Farm In Maine

The Maine Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) has denied a permit application submitted by First Wind subsidiary Champlain Wind LLC for the Bowers Wind Project, a 69.1 MW wind energy development planned for Maine's Penobscot and Washington counties.

As currently proposed, the project would consist of 27 Siemens wind turbines with maximum height of 428 feet; new access and crane path roads; 34.5 kV above-ground collector lines; permanent meteorological towers; an operation and maintenance building; and a new substation to connect to an existing 115 kV transmission line.

The commission had raised concerns regarding the visual impact of the wind turbines' nighttime lighting, so First Wind began studying whether it could incorporate a radar-assisted warning system into the project’s design. Such a system, however, would first need to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.

However, local environmental groups expressed opposition to the wind project, claiming it would have an adverse impact on the area’s landscape and wildlife, especially the lynx, birds and bats.

As a result, First Wind asked LURC to withdraw the company’s application for the site permit and said it would submit a revised project proposal with a new layout design. However, the commission denied that request, and instead rejected the permit application, First Wind spokesperson John Lamontagne tells NAW.

The company is still proceeding with the project and intends to submit a revised plan in the coming months. Lamontagne also notes that First Wind is looking to use more efficient turbines to reduce the project’s footprint.

“We have already analyzed the feedback that was raised during the review and are currently in the process of reconfiguring a new project that will be different than the one originally proposed,” Lamontagne says.

“This is not the first time we have made adjustments in response to community and regulatory feedback and then have continued on to build a successful project,” he continues. “Now that we have received official word from the commission, we plan to file a new proposal in the coming months that will better address stakeholder concerns while also bringing economic benefits to the surrounding community.”

Provided that the project gains all the necessary approvals, First Wind expects the project’s construction to begin next year.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Minnesota Taxpayers Stuck Footing The Bill For Wind They Can’t Use or Sell

Taxpayers in Minnesota ended up paying $70 million more than they needed to for electricity in 2011 because of “green” energy mandates, according to the Minnesota Rural Electric Association (MREA).

“Taxpayers already pay a high price to subsidize wind energy through billions in federal grants, loan guarantees and tax credits that prop up the ‘windustry,’” Tom Steward writes for the Minnesota State News.

“Now the bill for state renewable energy mandates is coming due with hundreds of thousands of Minnesota electric co-op and utility customers picking up the tab,” he adds.

A $70 million dollar tab, that is.

Related: Gov’t-Subsidized Wind Farms Told NOT to Produce Energy

“It’s an enormous subsidy. You have to add wind power, whether you need it or not,” said Mark Glaess, MREA executive director. “Right now we’re paying for wind we don’t need, we can’t use and can’t sell.”

So how did this happen?

Steward explains:

The Renewable Energy Standard (RES) passed by the 2007 Minnesota State Legislature directs electric utilities to ramp up their percentage of renewable energy sales to 25 percent by 2025. Put another way, one of every four kilowatt hours must come from renewable energy by 2025. Unlike many other states, Minnesota does not exempt co-ops and municipal utilities from complying with renewable energy standards. To meet the state’s escalating demands, rural electric co-ops and utilities locked in long-term “take or pay” contracts to purchase power from wind farms.

However, a drop in demand due to the lagging economy and competition from natural gas pushed the price of energy down significantly.

“The RES exists in a sort of price vacuum. No matter that coal-generated power costs considerably less than wind. Dozens of Minnesota co-ops are stuck with higher, pre-recession prices for surplus wind power which must be bought and distributed,” Steward writes.

“The difference between what the wind power costs and what it resells for now adds up to tens of millions of dollars a year statewide with rural residents caught in the middle,” he adds.

Which means Minnesota taxpayers are stuck paying for “green” energy regardless of whether they can sell it.

“It’s a well-intentioned law that did not contemplate the inexplicable law of unintended consequences because it never considered resource planning to meet energy load and demand. What happens when the load goes down? Our members still have to buy it,” Glaess said.

“And we’re going to have to increase rates to pay for our incumbent coal generation, which is getting smacked by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency),” he adds.

Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey is not particularly pleased with the situation:

Spare us, please, from “well-intentioned” laws. The legislature attempted to dictate market supply and demand, and it produced the failure that this kind of central planning always produces. As a result, Minnesotans have to pay energy costs above current market levels at a time when their disposable income has become more and more restricted, thanks to price increases in gasoline and food. It’s yet another demonstration of the folly of central planning.

Co-ops and utilities in Greater Minnesota say some customers already have a difficult enough time paying their utility bills without the mandate. Considering the fact that the MREA is only halfway through implementing the mandate, it’s probably going to a lot worse.

“What’s awful is the percentage of customers who are late in paying their electric bills,” said Glaess.

“The average percentage that poor people are spending on energy has increased by a great deal and then they’re throwing more of this on us? It’s regressive energy economics,” he adds.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

State Moving Quickly Along Energy Highway

Just one week after a summit meeting among New York's leading energy luminaries about Gov. Andrew Cuomo's energy highway proposal, the state has issued a Request for Information (RFI), seeking ideas for potential projects from private developers, investor-owned utilities, the financial community, and others able and willing to construct a robust transmission infrastructure.

A conference for interested parties will be held on Thursday, April 19 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel in Tarrytown. Advance registration is required as space is limited. Those planning to attend should e-mail

The governor's task force will issue an Energy Highway Action Plan this summer, following its review of the RFI responses. The action plan, with the Task Force's recommendations, will be available to the public on the Energy Highway Web site.

The swiftness with which the administration is advancing the project underscores the significance that Gov. Cuomo has placed on it.

"Building a new energy highway for New York State will not only create thousands of jobs, but lay a new foundation for future economic growth," the governor said. "If we want to truly make New York State open for the businesses of tomorrow, we cannot rely on the power supply of yesterday."

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Don’t waste money on wind turbines

I was literally blown away by The News editorial “Harness the wind.” Accepting wind energy’s inefficiencies and unreliability, yet endorsing it, makes no sense. Wind is not a good deal for pursuing alternative energy.

As a leading opponent to industrial wind turbines in Lake Erie, the issues were not that they were going to be sited too close to shore or an obstruction to fishermen. We understood the New York Power Authority plan and fishermen knew the environmental negatives. Global experience proves there are no environmental or economic benefits from industrial- scale wind energy. In addition, the facts do not support the wind industry’s claims for jobs per megawatt.

We opposed placing wind turbines in Lake Erie because they are an environmental nightmare. Birds, bats and even eagles struggling to make a comeback along Lake Erie will become casualties. Wind turbines cannot reduce carbon dioxide emissions. They must be backed up by power plants, which cannot efficiently cycle on and off at the whim of the wind.

There is no question that wind turbines have a huge impact on the aesthetics of the view. Wind turbines have an impact not only on those who live with the view but also those who will be impacted by the loss of income from people coming here to enjoy the unencumbered lake vistas and sunsets.

Wasting time, resources and money on wind turbines is not a boost for renewable energy. What is so renewable about wind turbines that require oil to make many of the component parts and tons of rare earth minerals for magnets? This just scratches the surface of the non-renewable wind turbines. Finally, the question is: Why add such an economic and environmental burden on New Yorkers for an energy source that cannot replace any conventional fossil fuel source, or reduce carbon dioxide?
Thomas Marks

Executive Director, Great Lakes Wind Truth; New York Director, Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council Derby

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Maine regulators OK wind deal against advice of staff

State regulators on Tuesday approved a multi-million-dollar deal that could fund construction of hundreds of wind turbines in Maine and the Northeast, despite a staff recommendation to reject the proposal.

All three members of the Public Utilities Commission voted for a complex series of transactions among First Wind, Bangor Hydro and Maine Public Service and their parent, Nova Scotia-based Emera, Inc., and Ontario-based Algonquin Power and Utilities Corp.

The commissioners said the economic benefit of such investment was substantial, that any potential harm from the deal could be mitigated by PUC-imposed conditions and that the deal helped meet the ambitious goals of Maine's 2008 Wind Power Act. Maine currently has 205 commercial wind turbines that can produce 400 megawatts of electricity. Tuesday's deal could pave the way for construction of turbines producing an additional 1,200 megawatts.

"I'm not sure it would be sound policy for the commission to turn down a several hundred million dollar investment on the ground," said Commission Chairman Thomas Welch.

"The magnitude of this investment in Maine is seldom seen and even less so in renewable, clean development," said Commissioner David Littell.

"The Emera transactions meet a number of public policy goals which encourage the development of investment in wind energy projects," said Commissioner Vendean Vafiades.

The deal originally proposed that First Wind, Emera Inc. and Algonquin Power and Utilities Corp. would jointly build and operate wind energy projects in Maine and elsewhere in the Northeast. After a failed bid to go public in 2010, which left First Wind cash-hungry, the deal is a way for the Boston-based company to continue building wind towers across Maine and the region, as well as a way for Emera and Algonquin to reach new energy consumers in the U.S.

Legal filings estimate the worth of the deal at the "high end" as $880 million.

Algonquin subsequently pulled out of the portion of the deal to invest in First Wind's holdings, but remained a partner with Emera in related plans to expand into the Northeast energy markets.

Tuesday's decision runs against the January recommendation of PUC staff that commissioners reject the deal because "the risk of harm to ratepayers exceeds the benefits."

In a draft decision, staff wrote that the deal posed unacceptable potential for hikes in electricity prices "even if conditions intended to mitigate the risk of harm to ratepayers were imposed."

Several other parties also objected to the deal in filings with the commission over the past year.

Small electricity generators were joined in their objections by industrial energy users such as Verso, Huhtamaki and Madison Paper and the Maine Public Advocate, which represents the interests of utility customers. Some of them, like PUC staff, argued that electricity rates would rise; others said the plan would violate the state's Restructuring Act of 2000, which prohibits utilities from owning both transmission and generation on the premise that allowing them to do so would be anti-competitive and lead to higher electricity prices.

Anthony Buxton, attorney for the industrial energy users who protested the deal, said Tuesday that the commissioners had hurt Maine's energy consumers.

"The irony is that at a period when the competitive market is working very well, we have taken the risk of impairing the competitive market by allowing the vertical integration of utilities," said Buxton. "We did away with that in 2000 and got a very competitive market – and now it will be at risk."

"I agree that there are risks associated with the transactions," said Vafiades, "but have determined the benefits are significant."

Those risks, commissioners said, could be dealt with by imposing a number of conditions on the deal.

"There are a lot of them, probably 30, maybe more," said Welch, following the meeting.

One set of conditions, said Welch, would ensure that the companies did not favor their newly affiliated partners over lower-priced transmitters and distributors of power, thus costing customers more. Other conditions would limit employees of the affiliated companies from moving back and forth between companies, carrying information that they would normally be prevented from sharing.

Then, said Welch, "you want to have a healthy utility so they can do the things you rely on them to do." So the PUC will impose conditions "that insulate both Bangor Hydro and Maine Public Service from any financial problems that Emera might have as a result of this transaction."

Emera spokeswoman Sasha Irving said Tuesday, "We're very pleased the three commissioners agreed unanimously that this is a positive transaction for the state of Maine and we look forward to receiving the final written order and we'll review it at that time."

First Wind's CEO Paul Gaynor thanked the commissioners for their approval. "The partnership will drive further growth of well-sited and well-run wind energy projects in the Northeast," Gaynor said.

Monday, April 09, 2012

First Wind's request to pull Bowers application denied

Regulators have blocked First Wind's efforts to pull its application for a 27-turbine wind farm on Bowers Mountain near Lincoln. The Massachusetts-based developer asked to withdraw the application last November when it seemed regulators would deny its permit.

The Land Use Regulation Commission on Friday voted not to allow First Wind to pull its application for the wind farm on the Penobscot-Washington county line, according to a press release from the Partnership for the Preservation of the Downeast Lakes Watershed, a group opposed to the project. Last fall, LURC asked staff to prepare an order denying the application because of its impact on scenic views, leading First Wind to request the withdrawal in order to address questions. Now, LURC also asked its staff to finish writing the order and will take a final vote on May 4.

LURC reviewed First Wind's request to withdraw in December and instead gave the company three months to address the project's impact on scenic views, with a March 9 deadline for submitting an outline of a reconfigured project. At that time, however, First Wind did not submit an outline and again asked to withdraw the application.

Saturday, April 07, 2012


April 6, 2012
Lincoln, Maine

The Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) voted today not to allow First Wind Holdings, LLC of Boston to withdraw its application for the Bowers Mountain Wind Project. The project would have erected 27 forty-three story tall turbines on prominent ridgelines in Carroll and Kossuth, adjacent to the headwaters of the Downeast Lakes. This area has been a magnet for sporting tourism for more than a century. It is home to the Village of Grand Lake Stream, the state’s premier salmon hatchery, and is the birthplace of the square-end canoe known as a Grand Laker. LURC also directed its staff to complete the permit denial document as had been decided at their October 2011 meeting. The final denial vote will take place at 9:30 a.m. on May 4, 2012 at the Washington County Community College in Calais.

The Partnership for the Preservation of the Downeast Lakes Watershed (PPDLW) has led the broad-based opposition to the project. The Maine Professional Guides Association, the Maine Sporting Camp Owners Association, and the Grand Lake Stream Guides Association also opposed this project.

“I could not be happier.” says PPDLW member Gary Campbell. “It’s been a long arduous battle, but the natural beauty of the Downeast Lakes Region is well worth fighting for. Today’s vote shows that Maine is not willing to sacrifice this magnificent natural resource for a few megawatts of expensive and intermittent wind energy.”

After a long and well documented process that included a site visit, lakes tour, three days of formal public hearings, and three deliberation sessions, a straw poll taken in October showed the Commissioners in unanimous agreement that the project would have an unreasonably adverse scenic impact on a number of significant paddling and fishing lakes, and consequently the numerous sporting camps, lodges, professional guides, and ancillary support businesses that are the lifeblood of the area. The Commission instructed LURC staff to prepare a denial document.

Facing an imminent denial, the applicant, through lead counsel Juliet Browne of Verrill Dana, filed a request several weeks later that they be allowed to withdraw the project application. After much deliberation, the LURC board tabled the request to withdraw, but did agree to give the applicant some additional time to reconfigure the project. Interveners in the case argued that the applicant was simply venue shopping. In the end, the LURC Commissioners awarded the applicant an additional 90 days to reconfigure the project in hope of mitigating the project’s scenic impact, while expressing serious reservations that it could be mitigated at all. The applicant assured the Commission that 90 days would be enough time and that they would bring back a formal outline of a reconfigured project by March 9th.

Twenty minutes prior to expiration of the deadline, the applicant submitted a letter stating that “[First Wind] is not able to present a particular reconfigured project to the Commission at this time.” The letter then repeated the earlier request that they be allowed to withdraw the Bowers application. At today’s meeting LURC voted to officially deny First Wind’s request to withdraw and directed its staff to resume preparation of the application denial document. The denial is now scheduled to become official by Commission vote on May 4, 2012.

The Scenic Downeast Lakes Region encompasses more than two dozen lakes including Pleasant, Shaw, Scraggly, Junior, West Grand, Pocumcus, Bottle and Keg Lakes. The turbines of the proposed Bowers Mountain Wind Project would have been visible from 11 lakes that are officially recognized as Scenic Resources of Statewide Significance, two of which boast Maine’s highest designation as “Outstanding for Scenic Quality”
(Pleasant Lake and West Grand Lake).

PPDLW’s President, Kevin Gurall explains, “The Scenic Downeast Lakes Region has a long, rich history of providing a wilderness experience to visitors and sportsmen from all over the world. Celebrities from Ted Williams and Jimmy Doolittle, to Presidents and foreign heads of state, as well as multiple generations of families have been coming here for well over 100 years to enjoy this network of clean, largely undeveloped lakes. The guiding tradition on this watershed can be traced back to the 1850’s. We have 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th generation professional guides who stitch together a living providing sportsmen with an outdoor experience that leaves them with memories for a lifetime. Never mind that this type of experience is becoming rare in Maine, there aren’t many places like this left in the entire continental U.S… and that’s why it’s so important that we protect it so future generations will have the opportunity to make their own memories of the wilderness character and scenic magnificence that is the Downeast Lakes Watershed. He added, “Those memories need not be ruined by an industrialized landscape… there have to be better solutions to our energy issues than defacing our treasured lake shore landscapes and our mountains. Tourism is our largest industry in Maine and employs more than 140,000 people. That’s much too important to risk for the mere trickle of high priced energy that’s generated by these wind projects. “

“Although PPDLW sounded the initial alarm, this was a grassroots effort by more than 300 citizens. People from the immediate area, from all corners of Maine and beyond worked together for nearly three years to defeat this project. It’s a true David vs. Goliath story. Fortunately, we had common sense, truth, and the state’s scenic impact regulations on our side.”

Friday, April 06, 2012

LURC decision leaves First Wind facing first defeat in Maine

The state’s largest wind developer could face defeat for the first time in Maine with LURC’s decision Friday to deny a request to withdraw a proposed wind project on Bowers Mountain.

The Land Use Regulation Commission voted 5-0 at the Waterfront Event Center to reject First Wind subsidiary Champlain Wind’s request to withdraw its proposal to build a 27-turbine wind farm in a rural, sparsely populated area east of Springfield on the Penobscot and Washington county line. Commissioner Robert Dunphy abstained.

The vote leaves the commission free to act on an October staff recommendation to reject the project at a special meeting or at its next scheduled meeting on May 4, LURC staff director Samantha Horn Olsen said. She doubted that Champlain Wind could change the project enough by then to satisfy LURC’s requirements.

First Wind officials said they plan to submit a scaled-down proposal to build on Bowers Mountain later this year, but that didn’t stop project opponents from calling Friday’s decision a significant advance.

The opponents, who had objected to what they believed would be the Bowers Mountain project’s adverse visual impact on at least eight lakes and ponds within eight miles of the site — some considered “outstanding” natural resources by the state — were elated with LURC’s action.

“This shows the world that First Wind is not unstoppable,” said David Corrigan, a registered Maine Master Guide from Concord Township who opposed the project. “This shows that if they come forward with a bad project they can be denied. As far as I know, that has never happened before to this company.”

“I think the commission has done extremely well in its deliberations,” said Gordon Mott, a Lakeville resident who opposed the project and lives on Almanac Mountain within view of the proposed site. “The application is by no means dead. The applicant can resubmit it, so victory is the wrong word for this.”

“I think it is a significant advance in getting good terms for future developments both there [at Bowers] and in the state in general,” Mott added.

Attorney Juliet T. Browne, who represents Champlain Wind, said the company had taken several steps to answer LURC’s concerns. The company reduced the original number of site wind turbines and the project’s footprint. That increased the project’s cost, but Champlain remains committed to its agreement with host towns as part of a sincere effort to meet LURC’s vague visual impact standards, she said.

The project originally consisted of 27 turbines and carried a $130 million price tag, First Wind spokesman John Lamontagne said in a telephone interview after the meeting.

LURC’s process is lacking in significant ways, Browne said.

“The reality is that there hasn’t been a mechanism in this process for applicants to react to feedback” from commissioners, Browne said during Friday’s hearing. Allowing Champlain to withdraw the application, she said, would send an important message to developers that LURC would work with applicants in trying economic times.

It would create “an opportunity for applicants to come back with a project that meets your standard,” Browne said.

Kevin Gurall, president of the group Partnership for the Preservation of the Downeast Lakes Watershed, argued that LURC had already given Champlain ample time, including a 90-day extension, to revamp its plans.

Granting more extensions would effectively approve “procedural gamesmanship” that would “work to undermine the public process,” Gural said.

Commissioner Sally Farrand rejected the notion that First Wind or Champlain were anything other than “a straight broker,” but agreed with the project’s opponents.

“For us to allow this project to go on and on and on would make the citizens in effect partners in the business,” Farrand said.

Commissioner Edward Laverty agreed that the state’s visual impact standards needed work, but said they have existed for years and that Champlain had been lax in its follow-up of commission recommendations. Commission Chairwoman Gwen Hilton expressed satisfaction with opponents’ arguments that the project would mar the lakes region.

“I don’t see the value of extending the process and I think the applicant still has the opportunity to make substantial changes to the project and come back,” Commissioner Toby Hammond said.

Champlain will rework the proposal and submit it to LURC for review later this year, Lamontagne said.

“Our view is that the reconfigured proposal would have enough substantial revisions that it would address commission concerns enough for them to look favorably upon it,” he said.

Brad Blake, spokesman for the Citizens Task Force on Wind Power, congratulated LURC for its decision.

“We hope that this establishes a precedent,” Blake said, “that both LURC and Maine Department of Environmental Protection will start taking a more critical examination of all the issues pertaining to the cumulative effects of wind power site development throughout Maine.”


Today marks the “International Protest Day Against Wind Power” with 765 websites participating.

A dark side of the wind industry that many media outlets have failed to report on is the thousands of documented cases of serious accidents. These include numerous documented cases of turbines falling over, blades flying off, injuries to workers and the public, and at least 99 reported fatality accidents.

Of the deaths, 67 were wind industry and direct supporters workers or small turbine operators and 32 were public fatalities.

How many tragedies have occurred worldwide is a well-kept secret within the wind industry. In the United Kingdom alone, however, Renewables UK, an industry trade association, has admitted to 1,500 wind turbine accidents/incidents in the UK alone during the past five years, the London Telegraph reported Those included 300 injuries and four deaths—in just one small part of the world.

A partial database of accidents , injuries and deaths through December 2011 has been compiled at the Caithness Wind Farm Information Forum:

According to the Caithness database, which estimates it represents only 9% of actual accidents (based on the RenewablesUK figures), an average of 128 accidents per year have occurred from 2007-2011, up from just 6 a year back in 1992-1996 due to the growing number of wind turbine installations.

Among the most grisly tragedies was that of John Donnelly, a worker killed in Oregon in 1989 when a lanyard that as supposed to prevent falls for turbine workers became entangled, dragging him into the spinning machinery. According to Paul Gipe, an advocate of wind power who authored an article on fatalities, the medical examiner described Donnelly’s demise as death by “multiple amputations”, witnessed by a horrified coworker.

Another Oregon worker, Chadd Mitchell, young father of two, was killed when a wind turbine tower he was in collapsed to the ground in Sherman County after the turbine’s rotor went into “overspeed,” the Oregonian reported on February 6, 2010. Siemens Power was fined for safety violations, and the family filed a lawsuit.

Other deaths have included electrocutions, falls, crush injuries, construction accidents, and a Minnesota man who was nearly cut in half by a chunk of ice knocked off a turbine tower in 1994. Three suicides have also been linked to turbines, including a worker who hanged himself, a parachutist, and a farmer who killed himself after neighbors protested a turbine he put on his property.

Caithness also has documented 221 separate incidences of blade failure, with pieces of blades documented to have flown over 1,300 meters—or 4,266 feet (4/5 of a mile). Blade pieces have gone through roofs and walls of nearby buildings.

At least 121 structural failures have been recorded too, including an entire wind turbine that crashed to the ground. The website documents many of these. Turbines have crashed to the ground in school yards, near homes, roads and walking paths where only by sheer luck was no one underneath when the multi-ton structures collapsed. In the Palm Springs area, a turbine spinning out of control forced closure of a major highway. There are also concerns about many turbines still standing –where failures such as cracked foundations and sinkage have been observed.

Wind turbine fire, Australia, WindWatchAround 168 wind turbine fires have been documented. Some sparked brush fires and left some fire departments helpless to watch as oil in turbine components burned hundreds of feet in the air—out of reach of hoses—whirling burning debris across the landscape.

There are also many instances of ice throws hurling chunks of ice off blades—94 times in 2005 alone. Another 93 transport accidents involving turbines have been reported, including one turbine section that rammed through a house and another that knocked a utility pole through a restaurant.

Disturbingly, EnergyBiz Magazine reported in its March/April 2011 edition that “More troubling for wind fleet owners and operators is that many turbines are coming off warranty. The end of last year marked the first time in U.S. history that more wind turbines were operating out of warranty than were covered, according to Wind Systems magazine, while many more are approaching the end of their warranties. Hidden costs of maintenance have climbed sharply, though some promising technologies may help reduce those costs, Energy Biz noted.

Still the issues raise troubling questions: who will be responsible for catastrophic failures when warranties have run out? Are local boards making decisions regarding turbine placement sufficiently educated on the risks?

Farm surrounded-IllinoisHow far away from a wind turbine is a safe setback distance? Locally, some proposed industrial wind projects would place turbines within a half mile of homes, on up to three sides of the dwellings, in Ocotillo. In McCain Valley, Iberdrola's Tule Wind proposes setbacks from roads of only 1.1 times the height of the turbine - or around 455 feet maximum.

In Kansas, Rose Bacon, a member of the Governor’s Energy Task Force, became so concerned about lack of teeth in regulations and vulnerability of inexperienced local officials in small towns facing proposals from international wind companies that she likened the scenario to the “wildcatter days in the oil business,” the McPherson Sentinel reported in 2005.

Below are some specific examples of serious incidents documented through the above websites, where many more incidents can also be found.
A wind turbine crashed to the ground at a wind farm near The Dalles, Oregon in August 2007, killing one worker and injuring another, Associated Press reported.

•A blade from a wind turbine at Lister Hospital in the United Kingdom flew off and hit a car just one month after becoming fully operational in September 2011, the Comet reported.
•California Highway Patrol shut down Highway 58 for several hours to protect motorists from a runaway wind turbine in the Tehachapi area. “The runaway wind turbine, when it deteriorates or explodes, can send scrap metal and steel up to a mile away,” CHP Officer Ed Smith said, the Tehachapi News reported.
•A wind turbine plunged nearly 200 feet to the ground near I-10 in North Palm Springs after going into “overspeed”, KPSP news reported on May 1, 2009.
•An Iberdrola wind turbine caught fire on May 14, 2009 at Locust Ridge wind farm in Pennsylvania; the fire was blamed on a gear box problem.
•A 187-ton wind turbine crashed to the ground at the Fenner wind farm in New York after breaking off at its base. Enel shut down the entire 20-turbine wind farm in Madison, County New York in June 2010 for at least six months, the Oneida Daily Dispatch and other newspapers reported.
•Large chunks of seven turbine blades broke off at the Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm in Pennsylvania, with pieces flying over 500 feet, the Patriot News reported in May 2007. Spanish wind-energy company Gamesa blamed insufficient glue for the failures.
•In Dolfor, United Kingdom, a turbine exploded and fell to the ground near walking tracks, leading the Shropshire Star to conclude In January 2012, “Turbines should be nowhere near public footpaths.”
•At Perkins High School in Ohio, blades on a month-old turbine broke apart while spinning, sending fiberglass pieces up to 40 yards (120 feet) away in February 2009. In December 2010 a blade again detached; fortunately school was not in session.
•A wind turbine crashed down near Western Reserve High School in Berlin Center in April 2011 in Ohio, WKBN news reported.
•At Fakenham High School in the United Kingdom, students witnessed a 40-foot wind turbine crash onto the school’s playing field and crush a contractor’s van in December 2009, reported.
•Redriven Power recalled blades after turbines therw blades onto an Ohio high school and an organic fig farm in northern California, Eastern AgriNews reported in May 2009.
•A General Electric turbine collapsed at an Altona, New York wind farm, the Press-Republican reported, after neighbors heard explosions and the turbine caught fire.
•In Norway, a blade from a Suez Energy North American V-90 wind turbine was hurled about 1,600 feet, landing near a home’s back door, the Journal Pioneer reported in December 2008.
•A turbine blade crashed through the roof of a neighbor’s home in Wallaceburg, Canada, the Chatham Daily News reported in February 2009.
•In November 2009, the Press & Journal reported that a wind turbine collapsed at Rasssay Primary School, forcing children to be sent home after it landed in their playground.
•A damaged transformer leaked 491 gallons of mineral oil in 2007 at the Maple Ridge Wind Farm’s substation in New York; in 2009 a transformer at the same site was destroyed by fire, the Watertown Daily News reported.
•A turbine near a highway twice lost blades, the Huron Daily Tribune reported in December 2010.
•Offshore wind farms in the North Sea are in danger of tumbling down, Wind Energy Update reported on March 18, 2011, noting that dissolved grout had shifted turbines within their foundations at around 600 of Europe’s 948 offshore turbines.
•Renewables UK has warned that hundreds of offshore wind turbines could be suffering from a design that makes them sink into the sea, the Times Online reported on April 13, 2010.
•Two men were injured while constructing a wind turbine tower in Rochester, Minnesota, the Post-Bulletin reported on January 14, 2011.
•Proven Energy told owners of over 600 smaller turbines to shut them down due to fears of catstrophic mechanical failure, the Press and Journal reported in September 2011; the manufacturer suspended sales.
•Five U.S. wind projects owned by Australia’s Infigen Energy have been engaged in legal actions with turbine manufacturer Gamesa over repair costs and lost production due to various warranty-related disputes, Recharge News reported in December 2011. The largest of those cases involves the Kumeyaay Wind Farm in Campo, where all 75 turbine blades had to be replaced due to storm damage at a cost of over $34.5 million. Kumeyaay has “vigorously” contested a Gemsa claim and was pursuing warranty-related claims of $10 million against Gamesa, the story added. [Note: This project is listed by Pattern Energy as a “success” story in its application to the California Public Utility Commission for the Ocotillo Wind Express project)
•Texas state representative Susan King had a wind turbine on her ranch that caught fire and burned two acres. She described it “throwing fire balls on my property”; KTXS found that despite pledges by Next Era Energy t o support volunteer fire departments, no funds had been provided in the past four years.
•In Hokkaido, Japan, firefighters found hoses were too short to extinguish a fire in a 66-meter-high wind turbine, which took four hours to burn itself out.
•Huge blades from three turbines in Huddersfield, England “were blown across a busy road and could have hurt wildlife or caused damage to property as well as endangering life,” the London Telegraph reported in January 2012. Gale force winds were blamed.
•In Western Illinois in 2008, a 6.5 ton blade sailed about 150 feet away, the Associated Press reported.
•One month earlier, a 330 foot turbine “burst into flame in Ayrshire” during a 165-mph storm on the Scottish border and crashed to the ground near a road, the Telegraph reported.

Oil stains, Campo-Andy Degroot•A Sheffield, Vermont wind turbine spilled 55-60 gallons of gear oil, spraying it out 200 yards; each turbine generator holds about 110 gallons of hydraulic and lubricating oils, the Burlington Free Press reported.
•An Abilene, Texas wind turbine erupted into flames and spread to grass around the tower, KTXS News reported on August 26, 2011. The turbine was owned by NextEra Energy.
•Iberdrola, the Spanish wind energy producer, blamed falling Suzlon Energy turbine blades on a one-tie accident, the Bloomberg News in North Dakota reported in May 18, 2011, suspending operations at its wind farm in North Rugby, North Dakota. The same model, however, suffered cracked blades starting in 2007, prompting a $100 million global retrofit.
•Three blades came off a turbine at a residence and farm in Forked River, New Jersey, causing the state to shut down its entire onshore wind turbine program in March 25, 2011, the NJ Spotlight reported.
•A lightning fire at a wind turbine in Peterson, Iowa in August 2010 was the “third or fourth” turbine fire that the Peterson Fire Department had put out in a dozen years, the Sioux Cit Journal reported.
•In White Deer Texas, News Channel 10 reported oil seeping down the sides of multiple turbines.
•In Iga Mie Prefecture, Japan, the Asahi Shimbun reported in January 2008, “malfunctions and accidents involving wind turbines have occurred repeatedly across the country, leading to suspended services and even the scrapping of one facility…Slipshod surveys of wind, flawed designs or sheer incompetence have dealt a blow to the reputatin of wind turbines…”
•Hundreds of motorists near Sunderland in the UK witnessed a turbine fire that caused rotor blades to break off; two more turbines by Vestas later fell over in high winds in Scotland, the JournalLive reported in 2008.
•Clipper Windpower had to spend $300 million to fix faulty blades after cracks appeared at multiple facilities, Enviornmental Finance reported in May 2009.
•A $6 million wind turbine caught fire at the Cathedral Rocks Wind Farm, starting blazes on the ground from falling embers the Adelaide Now newspaper covering Australia/New Zealand reported in February 2009.
•In Florida, the Desert Valley Star reported in January 2009 that FPL/NER operates 60 wind turbines—and reportedly 40% were “malfunctioning, in disrepair, or need maintenance.”
•Windtech International reported that a survey of 75 wind farm operators in the U.S. in 2008 found that 60% of turbines may be behind in critical maintenance due largely to a shortage of qualified turbine technicians.

While there are certainly many wind turbines that have never malfunctioned, the dangers cited above are real and have led many municipalities to adopt setback requirements from homes, roads, campgrounds, walkways, playgrounds and any inhabited buildings.

The wind industry has resisted setbacks, however. In Wind Energy Comes of Age, published in 1995, wind energy advocate Paul Gipe contends that setbacks of 500-1000 feet from residences are “more than adequate to protect public safety” and notes that in Europe, windmills have often been installed in places frequented by the public. Gipe insists that despite many accidents, the odds of being injured by a wind turbine remain less than that chance of being struck by lightning.

Setback distances vary widely. Some California communities use a multiple of size, such as three times the height of the turbine. Other areas have larger setback requirements. For instance, in Victoria Precinct, Australia, the government has adopted a 2 meter (1.24 mile) setback requirement for wind turbines to protect residents from risks of mechanical collapses.

In Brown County, Wisconsin, the Board of Health in January passed a resolution seeking emergency financial aid for residents near wind turbines who suffered serious health impacts including some families who abandoned their homes due to health concerns.

The Board called for adoption of the Wisconsin Citizens Safe Wind Siting Guidelines which would require setbacks of at least 2,640 feet from property lines, with further restrictions on shadow flicker, noise and other factors. Developers would also be required to submit a report with blade and debris throw calculations to protect public safety.