Monday, July 30, 2012

Romney's wind stance blows through Capitol

The news of Mitt Romney’s support for allowing wind energy tax credits to lapse at year’s end blew through Capitol Hill Monday, revealing a divide with some heartland Republicans.

Romney’s campaign confirmed Monday that the presumptive GOP White House nominee does not believe Congress should extend the production tax credit (PTC) beyond this year, bringing an end to uncertainty about whether he backs even a limited renewal.

That creates at least some political friction between Romney’s view and Republicans including Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.), who both told reporters in the Capitol Monday that they don’t support simply cutting off the incentive that the wind industry calls vital.

“I am for reforming it,” Thune, the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, said about the credit. “I have made it very clear that we need to look at phasing it out, but I just don’t do it overnight.” Thune has been mentioned as a dark horse candidate for vice-president.

Hoeven said he backs going to a “market-based approach” for wind, but indicated he does not support simply letting the credit end completely at year’s end, instead calling for a “phase out” that is paid for.

“I think it really does come down to what can we work out where you have it paid for and you can get enough support here to actually pass the legislation,” Hoeven, who is helping craft the GOP’s platform for next month’s national convention, said Monday. The credit, which has not lapsed since 2004, will expire at the end of the year unless Congress acts.

“I think we are going to a market-based approach, that is where it is going, the question is how do you get there. So there are some differences in how we get there, but I think we are going to end up ... in the same place,” he said.

Hoeven suggested that there’s a bright side to the differing views. “Maybe this will help bring us to some kind of agreement or compromise,” he said.

Wind has been a growth industry in several Midwest and Great Plains states, drawing support from both parties. Iowa Republican Rep. Tom Latham bashed the Romney campaign’s announcement that the former Massachusetts governor wants to end the credit.

“I’m disappointed that the statement by Governor Romney’s spokesperson shows a lack of full understanding of how important the wind energy tax credit is for Iowa and our nation. It’s the wrong decision. Wind energy represents one of the most innovative and exciting sectors of Iowa’s economy,” Latham said in a statement to The Des Moines Register.

President Obama, in a recent visit to Iowa and other forums, has been calling on Congress to extend the incentive. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), an outspoken backer of credits the wind industry calls vital, said in a statement Monday that letting the credit lapse would be “irresponsible.”

“The PTC is the basis for good-paying, renewable energy jobs here at home. Not renewing the PTC would effectively out-source these jobs to China and our competitors abroad,” Udall said.

But a House GOP freshman who has been at the forefront of calls to end a range of energy subsidies applauded Romney’s position.

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) said Romney’s opinion that the 2.2 cent per kilowatt-hour credit given to wind-energy producers should expire as scheduled on Dec. 31 was commendable.

“When the government bets on these energy technologies, it typically selects the most unaffordable energy leading to unnecessarily higher energy prices for all Americans,” Pompeo said in a statement. “Governor Romney is right to call for an end to these policies today, and I support his leadership and his decision wholeheartedly.”

Pompeo is the chief sponsor of the Energy Freedom and Economic Prosperity Act, which would eliminate a range of tax breaks for green power, biofuels and oil-and-gas, and offset the higher revenues with a commensurate cut in corporate tax rates.

UTC poised for Clipper deal

A rumour has been circulating that UTC might be close to selling Clipper to a private equity firm.

Ajay Kejriwal, a financial analyst with FBR Capital Markets, said that a private-equity buyer of Clipper would make sense, although he still questioned how easy it would be to sell Clipper at all.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


The federal government has been subsidizing the wind industry for almost two decades under the Production Tax Credit (PTC). Despite costing taxpayers over $1billion annually and providing for less than 3 percent of total electricity generation in the country, the president insists on extending the program indefinitely.

The PTC is set to expire by the end of this year and alternative-energy proponents in Congress are attempting to renew the program. Even if the PTC does expire, taxpayers are still on the hook for nearly $10 billion in tax credits for previous, qualifying projects. Although the vast majority of Americans want a cleaner and healthier environment, wind is simply not a feasible way to get there. The cost/benefit analysis of wind energy must be considered.

Can handing out billions of tax credits to the wind industry be justified given the amount of electricity generated? Total subsidies for wind, including the PTC, totaled $5 billion in 2010 alone, according to the American Energy Alliance. Not only does the PTC fail the cost/benefit analysis, it does so unfairly.

According to Lisa Linowes of, "The PTC disproportionately benefits ratepayers in States with renewable mandates by distributing the high cost of wind to taxpayers at large." She goes on to say that, "In fact, it (PTC) is nothing more than a cost imposed on all taxpayers in order to accommodate development of a politically well-connected, high-priced, low-value resource that cannot meet our electric capacity needs."

Dr. M. Ragheb, in his report on the economics of wind energy, highlights the fact that half of all the country's wind power capacity is stored in two states- California and Texas. Other States where the wind industry is prominent includes Iowa and Illinois. The wind industry would be hit particularly hard in these four States if the PTC was allowed to expire.

But does the benefit of these four states justify a federal tax credit program paid for by taxpayers in all fifty states? Kevin Borgia, head of the Illinois Wind Energy Coalition, admits that without the tax credit, the market for wind power generation will grind to a halt.

It's time for our federal government to end programs that only benefit a small number of states. If each individual state wants to create its own wind energy program, that is ok. What's not ok is the federal government forcing taxpayers across the nation to fund a program that for the most part, benefits them in no immediate way. This is especially the case when the PTC is aiding an industry that provides less than 3 percent of electricity generated in the country.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Voting for Wildlife Extermination

The latest justification for extending the industrial wind electricity production tax credit (PTC) is that we need an “all of the above” energy policy. The slogan falls flat, even when it’s expanded to “all of the above and below” – which is rarely the case with radical environmentalists and “progressive” politicians, who steadfastly oppose “any of the below” (ie, hydrocarbons).

America needs an “all of the sensible” energy policy. If an energy option makes sense - technically, economically and environmentally - it should be implemented. If it flunks, it should be scrapped.

Industrial wind energy mandates, renewable portfolio standards, subsidies, feed-in tariffs and production tax credits fail every test. They flunk environmental standards disastrously. In fact, they are subsidizing the slaughter of countless eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, herons, cranes, egrets, other birds and bats.

The wind PTC epitomizes “you didn’t build it.” If any business “didn’t get there on your own,” or was “successful because, along the line,” somebody (in government) “gave you some help” – it is Big Wind.

Industrial wind energy has been mandated, propped up, subsidized, built and protected by government. Elected and unelected officials at the federal, state and local levels have given it every unfair advantage that taxpayer and ratepayer money, legal favors and exemptions, and crony corporatism could bestow upon it. Meanwhile, in numerous cases, the same legislative, regulatory, environmentalist and industrialist cronies have penalized and marginalized Big Wind’s hydrocarbon and nuclear competitors – often for the same reasons that are ignored with wind energy.

Industrial wind is actually our least sustainable energy resource.It requires perpetual subsidies to survive. The tax revenues it takes from productive sectors of the economy, the insufficient and unreliable nature of wind electricity, and the exorbitant electricity rates that wind turbines impose on factories and businesses, kill two to four jobs for every "green" job created. Wind is a net job loser.

Big Wind also imposes excessive environmental impacts. It requires vast amounts of raw materials and land for turbines, backup power and long transmission lines. The extraction and processing of rare earth metals and other materials devastates large agricultural, scenic and wildlife habitat areas and harms people’s health, especially in China. Worst, the turbines are returning numerous bird and bat species to the edge of extinction, after decades of patient, costly efforts to nurse them back to health.

These are not sparrows and pigeons killed by housecats. They are bats that eat insects and protect crops . They are some of our most important and magnificent raptors, herons, cranes, condors and other majestic sovereigns of our skies. They are being chopped out of the air and driven from numerous habitats.

The American Bird Conservancy (ABC)and other experts estimate that well over 500,000 birds and countless bats are already being killed annually by turbines. The subsidized slaughter “could easily be over 500” golden eagles a year in our western states, Save the Eagles Internationalbiologist Jim Wiegand told me. Bald eagles are also being killed at alarming rates that could soon reach 1,000 per year.

In the 86-square-mile area blanketed by the Altamont Pass wind facility, no eagles have nested for over 20 years, and golden eagle nest sites have declined by half near the actual facility, even though both areas are prime eagle habitat, says Wiegand. Wildlife expert Dr. Shawn Smallwood estimates that 2,300 golden eagles have been killed by Altamont turbines over the past 25 years.

The wind industry keeps the publicly acknowledged death toll “low” and “acceptable” by employing deliberately flawed methodologies, says Wiegand. Companies have crews search around turbines that are not operating; search only within narrow radiuses of turbines, thus missing birds that were flung further by the impact or limped off to die elsewhere; search for carcasses only every 2-4 weeks, allowing scavengers to take most of them away; avoid using dogs to sniff for bodies; not count disabled or wounded birds and bats; and pick up carcasses, under the guideline of “slice, shovel and shut up.”

High security at most wind turbine sites makes independent analysis almost impossible, adds ABC wind energy coordinator Kelly Fuller. Even the faulty (fraudulent?) raw bird kill data are rarely made public and are difficult to access even through the Freedom of Information Act. Amazingly, the US Fish & Wildlife Service does not require that the information be made public. What little does get released is too often filtered, massaged and manipulated – and now the FWS may allow the industry to put even these suspect body counts into private data banks that would not be subject to FOIA.

The FWS and Justice Department prosecuted and fined oil companies for the unintentional deaths of just 28 small migratory birds (no raptors and no rare, threatened or endangered species) over several months throughout North Dakota. They fined ExxonMobil $600,000 for accidentally killing 85 birds over a five-year period in five states. But they have never prosecuted or penalized a single wind turbine company for its eco-slaughter. Now they are going much further.

The Service has proposed to grant “programmatic take” permits that would allow wind turbine operators to repeatedly, systematically, legally and “inadvertently” injure, maim and kill bald and golden eagles –turning what has been outrageously selective (non)enforcement of endangered species laws into a 007 license to kill. While the new rule “is not specifically designed for the wind industry” (as an industry spokesman helpfully pointed out), Big Wind will be by far the biggest beneficiary.

The FWS says it can do this based on illusory “advanced conservation practices” that are “scientifically supportable,” approved by the Service, and “represent the best available techniques to reduce eagle disturbance and ongoing mortalities to a level where remaining take is unavoidable and incidental to otherwise lawful activity.” The Service also claims “mitigation” and other “additional” measures may be implemented where necessary to “ensure the preservation” of eagles as a species.

When its goal is to restrict development, the FWS frequently defines species, subspecies or “distinct population segments” for sage grouse, spotted owls, “jumping mice” and other wildlife – or labels a species “imperiled” in a selected location, even when it is abundant in nearby locations. With eagles, the proposed “take” rules strongly suggest that the Service could easily say the presence of eagles in some parts of the Lower 48 States or even just Alaska would mean their preservation is ensured, even if they are exterminated or driven out of numerous habitats. (Ditto for other species imperiled by wind turbines.)

Attempts to “mitigate” impacts or establish new population segments will almost certainly mean imposing extra burdens, restrictions and costs on land owners and users outside of turbine-impact areas.

Another vital, majestic species being “sliced” back to the verge of extinction is the whooping crane, North America’s tallest bird. Since 2006, installed turbine capacity within the six-state whooping crane flyway has skyrocketed from 3,600 megawatts to some 16,000 MW – and several hundred tagged and numbered whooping cranes “have turned up missing and are unaccounted for,” says Wiegand. And yet, another 136,700 MW of new bird Cuisinarts are planned for these six states!

The Service knows this is happening, and yet turns a blind eye – and Big Wind is not about to admit that its turbines are butchering whooping cranes, bald eagles, Peregrine falcons, bats and other rare species.

This subsidized slaughter and legalized carnage cannot continue. Every vote to extend the PTC, or approve wind turbines in or near important bird habitats and flyways, is a vote for ultimate extinction of majestic and vital species in numerous areas all over the United States.

Wind energy is not green, eco-friendly, sustainable or sensible. Extending the subsidized slaughter is not something any members of Congress, state legislatures or county commissions – Republican or Democrat – should want to have on their conscience.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fairfield residents say wind turbines too noisy

FAIRFIELD — It’s not birds chirping.

It’s not the wind rustling through the leaves.

Fairfield residents June and Jimmy Salamone compared the noise of the 455-foot wind turbines surrounding their home to jet engines or nails on a chalkboard, grating their nerves.

“It wakes you up. It makes you feel like your whole body is pulsing to the whoosh of the turbine,” said June Salamone, who lives on Davis Road.

In hopes of correcting the issue, Iberdrola Renewables — which owns the Hardscrabble Wind Farm — installed a noise-reduction system at four turbines in Fairfield shortly after a June town board meeting, said Bernard Melewski, an environmental lawyer based out of Altamont representing the towns of Fairfield and Norway.

Both towns recently announced approval of the systems and require Iberdrola to report its findings in September.

Since the Hardscrabble Wind Farm was installed in the towns in 2010, two post-construction noise studies requested by the towns have been conducted by Iberdrola. They found there were times when certain turbines exceeded the towns’ permit limits of 50 decibels — the sound of a moderate rainfall, according to American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Read the entire article

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Wind farms do bring down property values

Wind farms can bring down property prices, government officials have accepted after downgrading the official valuation of several homes close to turbines.

The decisions by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to move certain houses close to wind farms into lower council tax bands are the first official recognition that the turbines can lower the value of nearby homes.

Although property experts have long acknowledged the harmful effect of wind farms on property prices, the association has until now been dismissed by the wind industry as conjecture.

In one recent case a couple saw the value of their home 650 yards from the Fullabrook wind farm near Braunton, Devon, fall from £400,000 to £300,000 according to a local agent's estimate.

The couple, who were not attempting to sell their house, told the VOA that the persistent whooshing noise caused by the turbines and the visual intrusion – including a flickering shadow when the sun is directly behind the blades – made their property less valuable.

The VOA accepted their argument and agreed to move the property from council tax band F to band E, amounting to a saving of about £400 a year, the Sunday Times reported.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

BP Hoping to Bypass Tough Local Limits Proposed as Cape Vincent Prepares to Adopt New Restrictions on Wind Farms

CAPE VINCENT — BP Wind Energy hopes to bypass strict local restrictions proposed for wind turbines and expedite the approval of its Cape Vincent Wind Farm by submitting an application to a state siting board under Article X of the 2011 Power NY Act.

Cape Vincent’s town government is preparing to adopt tougher rules on wind farms and plans to update its zoning law as soon as Aug. 1.

BP spokeswoman Amanda Abbott said in an email that the company already has a substantial investment in the project and that it is seeking an Article X process “that will facilitate its development and construction of the Cape Vincent Wind Farm.”

Article X generally imposes a 12-month deadline for the approval of the construction and operation of major electric generating facilities of 25 megawatts or higher. BP had told the state Public Service Commission that the Cape Vincent project “can reach upwards of approximately 285 megawatts in size.”

In its own comments to the PSC on Article X, BP said that any override of local laws should be provided by the state siting board early in the process and that the “local community should bear the burden of proof to demonstrate why the more restrictive requirements are appropriate.”

The town of Cape Vincent today is gathering public feedback on both the newly updated zoning law and the Comprehensive Plan at public hearings at the Community House on Market Street.

The town board will hear comments on the Comprehensive Plan from 9 a.m. to noon and on the zoning law from 2 to 5 p.m.

Read the entire article

Monday, July 16, 2012

Fairfield residents given noise generators to drown out sound of windmills

Fairfield resident James Salamone says he hasn't slept well since a number of windmills went up right near his home on Davis Road in Fairfield about a year and a half ago.

Salamone said, "It's torture. You cannot sleep with this frequency of noise. It's just torture, I can't explain it any other way."

Salamone says he just received a noise maker from the company that installed the windmills, Iberdrola Renewables.

The small round machine is supposed to help drown out the sound of the windmills so people can sleep at night.

Salamone says he turns the device on and it sounds like a small fan. He said, "it's a noise making machine. This is what they sent me. Put this by your bedside, put this eight feet from your bed, this will help drown out the noise coming in your house from the wind turbines."

Salamone says the machine doesn't help at all, and he says he shouldn't have to have something like it, in order to be able to get a good night's sleep in his own home, he says something is wrong with the system.

Salamone is not alone. Tobias Tobin lives right around the corner from Salamone on Cole Road.

Tobin says people don't realize what it's like to try to try and sleep at night with these windmills going around and around when everything else is quiet. Tobin said, "I've had a few friends of mine that came up from Middleville to visit, and when they came up the first time, they said 'well that aint nothin'. When they sat there and were were talking, the said 'my gosh, how the heck do you put up with this'. Yea, cause it's constant. It don't go away. It sounds like a plane that never stops. It just goes and goes and goes."

Here's how landowners have had to have to deal with this problem. Other landowners lease their land to the company Iberdrola Renewables, and receive $8000 per turbine, per year.

The turbines cannot be within 1250 feet of someone else's property.

Salamone and Tobin say the ones next to their homes which sit on neighboring properties, are way too close.

Salamone says he feels trapped, and is ready to just up and move. He said, "you can count from my house right here, eleven, from right here at my house, they're very close. This one here is about 1500 feet, the rest of them are about 2000 feet."

But there may be some relief in sight for Salamone, Tobin and other Herkimer County homeowners who have been forced to live next to the windmills.

On Thursday, the Town of Fairfield authorized the testing of a Noise Reduction System by Iberdrola Renewables to make sure the turbines are in compliance with the noise levels required by the special use permit issued to the company.

After complaints from landowners back in the spring of 2011, Iberdrola Renewables agreed with the request from the Town of Fairfield to test sound levels adjacent to several homes.

Testing was done in the spring of 2011, and in late 2011 after the leaves had fallen from the trees.

Those test results were delivered to the town at their June Town Board Meeting.

According to attorney Bernard Malewski, a special counsel hired by the Town of Fairfield, the test results showed repeated levels beyond the legal 50 decibel level limit.

Malewski says Iberdrola Renewables immediately told him the company would like to begin testing a brand new Noise Reduction System (NRS) developed by Gamesa, the manufacturer of the turbines, on three of its turbines in Fairfield.

At this past Thursday's (July 12th) Town Board meeting, the Town of Fairfield passed a resolution which supported the deployment of the NRS system as an opportunity to to cure the problem.

Today, we talked with a landowner who now has the sound detection equipment on his property to see if the new NRS is working.

That homeowner did not want his name used, but says he hopes the new system works.

If the results of the NRS are good, Iberdrola says it will implement the technology on all of the turbines in the entire Hardscrabble Wind Project, 25 of which are in the Town of Fairfield as well as 12 more which are in the neighboring Town of Norway.

The Towns of Fairfield and Norway were the first towns in New York State to require post construction testing of the sound generation of wind turbines.

If the noise problem is not fixed, both towns have the authority to suspend or revoke Iberdrola Renewable's permit, or the towns can shut down any offending individual turbine.

The Town of Fairfield and Norway have directed Iberdrola Renewables to report back to the Town Boards on the results of the NRS, no later than their next Board meeting in the month of September.

Salamone says he hopes the new system does work, but if the levels come back as compliant, but still continue to keep him awake at night, he won't stop fighting. He said,"we gotta sleep at night. Turn them off or move

Italian police seize giant wind farm in mafia probe

Italian police Friday seized assets worth 350 million euros ($428 million) including a giant wind farm in a crackdown on the 'Ndrangheta mafia in the southern region of Calabria, investigators said.

The main suspect in the investigation is 55-year-old Pasquale Arena, the nephew of a notorious local mob clan leader and head of urban planning for the town council in Isola Capo Rizzuto, Colonel Fabio Canziani told AFP.

Arena is suspected of having had a wind farm built on behalf of the clan through shell companies based in Germany, San Marino and Switzerland.

The wind farm has 48 generators and is considered one of the biggest in Europe in surface area and output, investigators said in a statement.

Arena himself has not been arrested and was present at the raids. A total of 31 people including two German nationals are under investigation.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Report from Mary Ellen Jones, formerly of Cohocton, NY, about her experience with First Wind as a neighbor:

I have finally closed on the sale of my house to First Wind. I received $116,000, which was the appraised value of the house, plus $8,000 for documented moving expenses, and $1,500 toward legal fees which came to around $3,500. No gag order or easement was signed. I did much of the legal work, reading and making copies of the Town Windmill Law for different attorneys.

I had a difficult time finding an attorney who would accept the case. The first attorney I hired left the case after I refused to follow his advise to sign a perpetual easement prior to closing. Fortunately, I found a semi-retired litigation attorney, who was also a family friend with a social consciousness. Without him the sale would not have gone through.

After much research, I had found in the Town Windmill Law, that if the sound measured over 45 dBA, more testing under specific monitored conditions was required, and specific mitigations procedures were required on the part of First Wind.

The first step was to obtain copies of the required periodic sound testing done by the Town and First Wind. This took a Freedom of Information request and several visits to the Town Offices where everyone was friendly and appeared cooperative, although obtaining anything took a great deal of time. The sound studies showed sound at my house and at several other areas tested, to be well over 45 dBA. I wrote several letters to the Town of Cohocton over a period of 3 years and filed complaints according to the complaint procedure detailed in the Town Law. I visited the Town Offices regularly and kept copies of repeated letters to the Town requesting additional site specific sound testing as detailed in the law, as well as the mitigation procedures. At one point, I received a phone call from First Wind offering me $4,500 to sign a perpetual easement which would allow such things as Ice throw, house vibrations, damages, noise, and physical health problems related to the windmills with no legal rights at any time in the future even if the house was sold or passed on by inheritance. The Town advised me that they were not acting on my complaints because they had been advised that First Wind had put in an offer to buy my house. Several days after I had advised the Town that I had received no offer to buy the house, First Wind advised me to get an attorney, whom they would pay, because they were going to make an offer to buy the house. I hired an attorney to represent me, assuring him that I would pay him $500 if the sale did not go through and he did not receive payment from First Wind. Then there was a long period during which no offer was received, although First Wind promised repeatedly that an offer would be made soon. They paid for 4 appraisals of the property as I had argued that the first appraisal was extremely low. The subsequent appraisals were substantially higher. Eventually, my attorney came to an agreement with First Wind which was about the same as the final settlement, but after I agreed to the contract verbally, First Wind added that I would need to sign the easement described above, prior to the closing. I was willing to sign the easement at the time of the closing but not before. My attorney pressured me to sign the easement prior to closing, I sought the advise of 2 other attorneys who strongly advised me not to sign an easement prior to the closing, and my communication with my attorney ended with my payment to him of $500. He would have received $3,500 from First Wind had the negotiations gone through.

I continued to file my complaints with the Town and visit the Town Offices regularly. The Town Law was poorly written and gave First Wind several ways to avoid serious litigation, but the further testing and mitigation procedures were clear. After contacting several attorneys who would not take the case, I found another attorney. He followed up with the Town. Finally another sound test was done at my home. This was not done according to Town Windmill Law, under my supervision and under circumstances similar to the highest prior sound readings. It was done by the Town and First Wind at a time and place decided upon by them, but the reading registered 49.9 dBA at my residence. Phone conversation with an independent sound consultant, revealed that there was a 1 point margin of error with these tests. My new attorney continued to communicate with First Wind concerning this and the other issues I had regarding the windmills. The house vibrated in strong wind, screens had blown off, and I had a flicker effect problem which was longer that the 20 hours the Windmill Law allowed. I made regular visits to the Town Zoning Officer. After several requests that the Town advise First Wind that they were in violation of the Town Law, the Zoning Officer agreed to write a letter to First Wind. However, this letter was not written until months after the Zoning Officer agreed to write it. During those months, I continued regular complaints and visits to the Town Offices.

After a very well written letter was sent to First Wind by the Zoning Officer, negotiations began between my attorney and First Wind. After much negotiation, the purchase offer was signed with 2 contingencies. One was referred to as an "environmental inspection" but was actually a building inspection, the other contingency was not a mortgage approval, but a "lender approval." Based on the building inspection report, First Wind asked that the back yard be excavated and a drainage system be put in, a fire wall be put in between the garage and the house, and a new roof put on, as well as several smaller details. Fortunately I had kept pictures and receipts for the drainage system I had put in the back of the house, architectural drawings of the firewall between the house and the garage, and receipts for the roof indicating the 20 year guarantee, another walk through was done and that hurdle was passed. Next, First Wind indicated that they had received the approval of 2 lenders but not the 4 they wanted. My attorney advised First Wind that the contingency was for one lender not 4, and the settlement went through. Meanwhile I had moved because First Wind wanted final receipts for the move prior to closing. So it was all pretty stressful.

So there it is, the whole story. Now I'm wondering how my situation could be helpful to others in dealing with windmill issues. I am not against wind energy, but I am against corporate greed.

Mary Ellen Jones
formerly of Cohocton, NY

Friday, July 06, 2012

Industrial Wind turbines will cause Cape Vincent home loss of "25% to 40% or more."

Today, Pandora's Box of Rocks reports on a conversation between a Cape Vincent resident and Michael McCann of McCann Appraisals in Illinois. Mr. McCann wrote an opinion for the Town of Cape Vincent Wind Turbine Economic Impact Committee's report.

In summarizing McCann said, "it was clear that numerous homes in the Cape Vincent area will be adversely impacted, and the best available evidence indicates that value loss of 25% to 40% or more will occur to homes within approximately 2 miles of the turbines. This impact is not expected to be uniform, and some losses may well be lower and others higher."

However, McCann is no friend of the Lyme-Cape Vincent Voters for wind organization. After homeowners in Lyme had received a mailing that quoted Michael McCann, Karen Stumpf, spokeswoman for Voters for Wind, rebutted McCann's findings during a Privilege of the Floor Presentation during an Aug. 11, 2011 Cape Vincent Town Board Meeting:

Karen Stumpf: "If you are a land owner in the Town of Lyme, I'm sure you have received something that looked like this. In the mail. If you were a land owner in the Town of Lyme. After starting to read it I said, 'Oh my gosh. Lies, Lies and more Lies'".

"So where are these lies coming from? It's not really hard to figure out if you take a look at the form I just showed you, entitled, 'Swindle'. A man who is probably the most outspoken enemy of wind power in the United States. A man who brags about being a shill for the anti-wind. If you want to go to his website and learn more, go to Michael McCann and you will find out some more about what he is propagating and pandering to the anti-wind."

Monday, July 02, 2012

Energy firms announced wind deal despite risk posed by legal appeal

Less than two weeks ago, a Canadian energy company and a major wind power developer with turbines in Maine announced they had closed a deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars to expand wind power projects across the Northeast.

But the announcement left out one important fact that could jeopardize the deal: Legal appeals had been filed just days before by the state’s Office of the Public Advocate and a Maine utility company challenging a ruling by a state agency that cleared the way for the joint venture.

“I was somewhat surprised” to see the announcement that the deal had closed, said Eric Bryant, the attorney in the public advocate’s office who filed one of the appeals.

“It’s unusual for a company to make a decision when there’s risk involved that it may have to undo it because of a legal matter.”

The partnership is between Emera, a Canadian energy company that owns electric utilities — including Bangor Hydro Electric Co. — in the Northeastern U.S., Atlantic Canada and elsewhere, and First Wind, which develops, constructs, operates and owns utility-scale wind projects across the United States and in Hawaii. First Wind is the Northeast’s largest wind power developer and has four major wind projects in Maine, with a fifth, Bull Hill, under construction.

“The completion of the joint venture could lead to up to $3 billion in future economic investment in the region in the coming years,” stated the June 15 announcement.

The deal meant First Wind was getting the cash from Emera that it needed to build more wind turbines after a failed attempt to go public in 2010. Maine currently has 205 commercial wind turbines that can produce 400 megawatts of electricity. The Emera-First Wind venture could pave the way for construction of turbines producing an additional 1,200 megawatts.

The appeals by the Public Advocate and Houlton Water Company argue that the state Public Utilities Commission, or PUC, should not have allowed Emera and First Wind to go ahead with the joint venture. Those appeals were joined by a third, similar appeal on June 20 that was filed by the Industrial Energy Consumers’ Group, which represents large energy users and advocates for lower electricity prices.

The PUC approved the joint venture in April, which cleared the way for the two companies to complete the process that led to the June 15 announcement.

The applicants to the PUC were actually Bangor Hydro and Maine Public Service, the regulated utilities in Maine that are owned by Emera. Commissioners gave their approval despite the PUCstaff’s recommendation to reject the deal because it posed a risk of higher prices to ratepayers.

The arguments made by the Public Advocate and the other appellants in the case, filed with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, are similar to their objections when the issue was debated before the PUC.

They said the proposal would violate the state’s landmark electricity restructuring act that barred transmission companies such as Bangor Hydro from owning electricity generation. That law prohibits utilities from owning both transmission and generation because it was seen as anticompetitive and contributing to high electricity prices.

“The commission committed an error of law, abused its discretion, and failed to follow the mandate of the Legislature … in concluding that the ownership of generation assets in Maine by an affiliate of a transmission and distribution utility is not prohibited by the electric industry restructuring statutes,” wrote Bryant in his notice of appeal.

But the appeals go further and claim that the PUC acted outside of its legal authority when commissioners imposed a long list of conditions on Emera and First Wind designed to mitigate any potential harms from the deal.

The problem with imposing those conditions was that technically, Emera, First Wind and one other party to the deal, Canadian company Algonquin Power & Utilities Corporation, aren’t regulated by the PUC. So the companies filed letters with the PUC saying they would submit to the commission’s jurisdiction.

Please continue reading here.

Winds of Change: The Wind Industry Is Leaving the US

There are a number of patterns emerging in the wind industry.

First, and most obvious, major manufacturers and developers are making plans to leave the U.S. for greener horizons due to Congress' decision not to extend the production tax credit (PTC).

First Wind, based in Boston, took $211 million plus a $150 million loan from Canadian utility Emera Inc. for 49 percent of Northeast Wind Partners, a partnership which will handle First Wind’s eight-project, three-state, 385-megawatt northeastern business. Looking to Canada, where renewable energy retains big mandates and incentives, First Wind said the new partnership could lead to $3 billion in future investment and 1.2 gigawatts of new wind.

EDP Renewables North America, the second biggest wind U.S. developer after NextEra Energy, reportedly wants to sell 707 megawatts of operating wind projects and a 1.4-gigawatt development pipeline because Spanish utility Iberdrola Renovables, its parent company, is re-evaluating its U.S. strategy.

The town of Gillett, Wisconsin, population 1,256, will lose 45 jobs when Wausaukee Composites, a plastic and fiberglass wind turbine component maker, closes its Gillette factory August 31. Many small businesses in wind’s supply chain across the U.S. will soon be following suit.

At Windpower 2012 in June, GE Energy announced recent deals in Turkey, Canada and Brazil, and CEO Vic Abate called Europe, Canada, China, Brazil and India “the growth markets of the immediate future.”

A different pattern is emerging in China.

In June 2011, new wind industry guidelines mandated that Chinese government support for turbine manufacturers would be restricted to those making 2.5 megawatt or larger machines with up-to-date, transmission-ready technology. The guidelines set off a still-unfolding consolidation in the Chinese wind industry. Some 80 percent of China’s wind makers may eventually fall or be absorbed.

The consolidation is driving heightened competition.