Sunday, December 28, 2008

Naples: Don’t get too close with those windmills

The Town Board says wind turbines planned for neighboring Prattsburgh come too close to the Naples town line.

Board members agreed this month to send a letter asking the state Public Service Commission to intervene and order a developer to move the towers further from town line.

“I think the board has made clear, we’re not against wind turbines, but we are against the improper siting of towers,” Supervisor Frank Duserick said.

This is not the first letter of protest the town has issued regarding the location of towers in neighboring townships. In July, the town appealed to the state Attorney General’s Office, arguing that Naples landowners’ property rights and safety are threatened by the placement of the towers. While a date has yet to be set, the Attorney General’s Office has expressed interest in meeting with the town.

At issue are turbines planned for Knapp Hill in Prattsburgh, part of the Ecogen project. Five turbines are scheduled to go up in the area, with the closest only 489 feet from Naples landowner John Servo’s property line. Servo is president of the group Advocates for Prattsburgh, which has opposed this project.

Technically, the setbacks meet project guidelines established for Ecogen through an environmental study headed up by the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency. But both Servo and the Naples Town Board say the setbacks are not enough.

The neighboring town of Cohocton passed a zoning law prohibiting the placement of turbines closer than 1,500 feet from a residence, a step that Duserick points out to the PSC as precedent that another town has acknowledged the undesirability of building within that range.

By placing turbines less than 500 feet from the Naples property line, Duserick and Servo argue that the project is creating “reverse zoning” that effectively limits Naples landowners from full use of their property for safety reasons.

“The safety zone is 1,500 feet,” Duserick later said. “There should be a 1,500 feet setback, and actually it’s not enough. That’s for the smaller turbines.”

At a hearing last month, the Steuben County IDA outlined Ecogen’s new plans to install larger 2.3-megawatt turbines instead of the originally planned 1.5-megawatt model, but Naples received no advance notice of the hearing.

The increase in the turbine size means that only 36 towers will be placed instead of the 53 originally planned, but the towers will be 26 feet taller to generate the increased output. Ecogen project manager Thomas Hagner said contrary to what some project critics have suggested, no new environmental study is required.

And despite the number of towers being scaled back, with the site earmarked a prime wind resource, the Knapp Hill towers are still planned. Technically, Ecogen is within its rights to do so, said Hagner.

“The turbines meet the permitting requirements of the government agency with jurisdiction on this issue,” he said.

For Duserick, frustration goes back to initial planning phases for the wind project, when the IDA notified the village but not the town of the impending development, leaving the town out of the loop in the environmental review process.

“It’s inappropriate and unethical to place towers so close to the town line without even talking to (us),” said Duserick. “I clearly question the ethics of what’s happening in Steuben County.”
In the letter to the PSC, the town also asks for setbacks of five miles from designated historic sites in Naples like the Memorial Town Hall, in order to protect the town’s scenic views and tourism trade.

The environmental review process for wind developments evaluates the visual impacts of turbines for a radius of 5 miles; for the Ecogen project, the determination recorded in the environmental impact statement is that there would not be “significant adverse impact for distant views (greater than approximately 2 miles).”

But there is some precedent in the PSC limiting turbines from being built in sites where they could be visually and economically detrimental.

Last year, the PSC required Jordanville Wind to eliminate 19 of the 68 turbines planned for its Herkimer County project, since they would be visible from the Glimmerglass Historic District. Though the district fell outside of the 5-mile radius, the PSC acknowledged the district as a “nationally significant” historic resource, and a key factor in a regional economic plan developed around heritage-based tourism.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wind power doesn't deliver the goods

Dear Editor,

For those of you who believe that renewable wind energy (industrial wind turbines) and new transmission lines are a sign of progress in clean renewable energy and that those of us complaining about being forced to live in the middle of it are impeding progress, please read on.

I read about the new Bruce to Milton Transmission Line last week and about some of the impact it will have with its construction. I find it appalling that those lines will affect 360 properties and that 30 families will be forced to accept an offer from a Hydro One-appointed appraiser or face having their land expropriated.

Are you, dear reader, one of the people paying that high of a price for what you claim is progress? Are you one of the people paying the price of living with a 400-foot industrial wind turbine parked nice and close to your house, along with all the health, noise, collapse and ice throw concerns that go along with it? You may escape those personal costs, but you are most definitely paying the financial cost of government subsidies to wind developers.

Wind power does not deliver the goods.

Despite the existence of 50,000 turbines worldwide, there is no evidence that windpower reduces CO2 emissions or dependence on other forms of energy. The whole idea of a so called environmentally friendly renewable energy source has simply become a highly subsidized destruction of our rural countryside.

Lorrie Gillis, Grey Highlands

Monday, December 22, 2008

Don't sacrifice your quality of life

There is strong evidence to support the claim that wind turbines located within sight or sound of one's property cause that property to lose from 50 to 80 percent of its market value.

Although there have been public comments to the contrary from some Wyoming County elected officials, it is important to state that some of them have signed a land lease agreement with a wind turbine company. In spite of this conflict of interest, these town officials have neither resigned from public office nor recused themselves from issues related to wind energy companies.

Moreover, these town officials do not establish the market value of your property. Property values must ultimately be determined through professional appraisals and, if necessary, appeals. Meanwhile to confirm the obvious, ask a prospective buyer if they would still be interested in purchasing your home after learning that wind turbines will be constructed within the view shed of your property.

Wyoming County landowners who are planning to "escape" the future onslaught of wind farms must be advised that the marketing of potentially encumbered property requires full disclosure; the seller must notify the buyer of any impending change in the physical environment that impacts the property for sale.

Therefore, although there is some financial benefit to a few landowners who have signed lease agreements as well as some suggested by temporary town tax relief, the majority of property owners located within sight or sound of wind turbines will experience a significant devaluation of their property. A necessary re-assessment of such property must follow which will negatively and permanently affect town tax receipts. In addition to an obvious loss of property value, securing a bank loan on encumbered property, be it physical, visual or auditory, will be more difficult and, in some cases, impossible.

As well as their extreme negative impact on the visual and auditory environment, wind turbines are a potential hazard to drinking water sources by contamination through oil leaks from the turbine transformer. Such an incidence has already occurred in the Watertown area when 491 gallons of transformer oil spilled from a wind turbine and entered the aquifer. (Watertown News, Dec. 29, 2007).

(Editor's note: A Dec. 29, 2007, article in the Watertown Daily Times, "Mineral oil taints West Martinsburg well," reported that a July 4, 2007, transformer explosion at Maple Ridge Wind Farm apparently contaminated one residential well, with the state Department of Environmental Conservation saying neighboring wells were not affected.)

Beyond negative environmental impacts and property devaluation, wind turbines are an inefficient and more costly means of generating electricity. According to Professor T. Drennan at Hobart and William Smith College, the cost of wind power generated electricity is 6.37 cents per kilowatt hour compared with 5.57 cents per kwh for nuclear power sources and 4.94 cents per kwh for coal generated electricity. Since production of wind power generated electricity is less efficient and more costly than clean coal or nuclear powered systems, what will happen to our electric bills?

Hyperbole and global warming alarmists have given rise to a highly profitable wind energy industry that is destroying the natural beauty of Wyoming County and devaluing many homes and properties, while costing the American taxpayers an untold number of dollars. This is made possible by federal and state lawmakers who have introduced regulatory and tax schemes which benefit the wind turbine industry through subsidies, tax credits and accelerated depreciation allowances awarded to wind turbine companies. In this time of "bail out" mania, the taxpayers can ill afford to subsidize another inefficient industry.

For these reasons, it is extremely important for all concerned property owners in Wyoming County to be organized and vigilant, to attend and monitor local town board meetings, to demand transparency and accountability from your board members, to have your property professionally appraised and to retain counsel.

Do not sacrifice your quality of life and that of your children as well as your most important financial investment by remaining passive and silent.

Joe Zampogna, Ph.D.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Texas Wind Farms Paying People to Take Power

Wind power generators are willing to pay the state grid operator to take their output so that they can get federal tax credits. An inadequate transmission system is to blame. Or is it?

A power producer typically gets paid for the power it generates. In Texas, some wind energy generators are paying to have someone take power off their hands.

Because of intense competition, the way wind tax credits work, the location of the wind farms and the fact that the wind often blows at night, wind farms in Texas are generating power they can't sell. To get rid of it, they are paying the state's main grid operator to accept it. $40 a megawatt hour is roughly the going rate.

For the first half of this year, power producers, mostly wind farms, paid the grid operator to take electricity for nearly 20 percent of the time. It happened 33 percent of the time in March alone and nearly 10 percent in October, said Mike Giberson, an energy business instructor at the Texas Tech University. He recently wrote about this issue in his blog, Knowledge Problem.

The industry parlance for paying someone to take the electricity is "negative pricing." It happens mostly when power producers bid the selling prices in the negative territory because they can afford to pay someone to use the energy.

Why? Wind energy producers get money for generating renewable electricity, but to qualify for these federal tax credits, the generation must be purchased and fed to an electric grid. As long as the money paid to the grid operator to take excess or "unwanted" electricity is less than the federal tax credit, the wind producer can make a profit.

Texas's own state program also allows utilities and power producers to buy and sell renewable energy credits, which has increased the appeal of negative pricing.

With limited transmission capacity, power producers in various places have to compete more fiercely to sell their electricity. But in the Lone Star state, the competition has morphed into a phenomenon not seen in the rest of the country.

"In other places, you might see a few hours of negative pricing here and there, but you don't see days and days in a row," Giberson said. "There are some days in March and April when you have 14 hours of negative prices."

Negative pricing takes place when the grid is congested, prompting energy producers to bid fiercely to sell electricity to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the main electric grid operators in the state. ERCOT buys energy at various times throughout the day and night to make sure the grid has a cushion to deal with unexpected demand, such as a hurricane-rendered blackout or when power producers didn't generate enough juice.

On average, ERCOT needs to set aside 5 percent worth of anticipated energy demand at any time. It often buys more than 10 percent, especially during periods of peak demand. Power for the rest of the market, which serves 21 million customers, comes from long-term contracts between electricity producers and utilities.

When there isn't congestion in the transmission system, spot market prices from energy producers from the four regions in ERCOT's jurisdiction should be the same.

That changes when the grid can't accommodate all the energy generated. In one auction in October, for example, the spot market price from producers in north Texas was $34 per megawatt hour while those from the west was $24 per megawatt hour. ERCOT doesn't just buy from the lowest bidder, it has to consider where the demand is and who can supply it promptly.

The competitionno can become so intense that some wind energy producers in the western region are willing to pay ERCOT to take the electricity from their turbines.

Even though the spot market makes up a small slice, its prices will affect the rest of the market, said Dan Jones, vice president of Potomac Economics. The state contracts with Potomac to monitor the power market and recommend policy changes to the ERCOT.

Spot market prices signal the value of electricity, and can be used by retail or wholesale customers to set contract prices, Jones said. In effect, wind energy producers are paying consumers to keep wind turbines going.

ERCOT doesn't tally how much energy and money have flowed its way as a result of negative pricing, said Dottie Roark, an ERCOT spokeswoman.

Which wind energy producers have offered to pay to play? Pretty much everyone, Jones said. Calls to some of the major wind energy developers in Texas, such as FPL Group, weren't immediately returned.

With a boom in wind energy development, Texas will likely to see more negative pricing happening - and for a longer stretch of time. Geography plays a part too. The state continues to experience a dramatic increase to its wind generation capacity in its rural western region. Texas, however, has yet to build enough new transmission lines to carry the energy to urban centers such as Dallas and Austin.

"For the short term, for the next year at least, there is going to be quite a bit of congestion out there," Jones said.

Texas has the most wind energy generation capacity in the country. In November alone, nearly 1.68 gigawatts of wind power generation came online in Texas, bringing the total capacity in the state to about 7.9 gigawatts.

Meanwhile, the transmission lines crisscrossing the ERCOT territory can accommodate roughly 4.5 gigawatts at any time, Jones said. Adding to the imbalance is the mismatch between when people use power and when the wind blows. Wind is most abundant at night and during spring and fall in Texas, Jones said. Power consumption peaks, however, in the afternoon and the summer.

ERCOT has created an ambitious plan to increase the transmission capacity to accommodate about 18.5 gigawatts of new wind power. In September, a group of utilities and transmission operators applied to develop the nearly $5 billion project (see Texas Consortium Seeks $4.93B for Transmission Lines).

State regulators hope to see a lot of new transmission lines in the next four years. Until then, Giberson argues, the generous federal tax credit isn't working as it should.

"You are wasting resources in order to produce subsidized goods," Giberson said. "It shows the subsidies are more than necessary to keep them in business."

Wind power producers would disagree. Some of them also believe that the inadequate transmission system and the negative pricing will curtail wind farm developments. In fact, state regulators already see projects delayed or canceled as a result.

"The market will take care of itself," said Jeff Rhodes, a spokesman for Duke Energy, which began operating a 59-megawatt wind farm in western Texas in recent months. "I don't see how you can make money from just building for the tax credit."

Rhodes declined to discuss negative pricing, adding that Duke aims to minimize having to sell power on the spot market by locking in long-term contracts. Duke doesn't plan to delay any wind energy projects, he added.

For others developers, waiting for a better transmission system will be a better bet.

"If I have a million dollars to spend on a wind turbine, I wouldn't put in wind turbine in western Texas right now. Maybe in two or three years," Jones said.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Industrial WInd Turbines for New York?

Many NY politicians, members of the media and environmentalists see wind power as an all-encompassing solution to global warming, energy independence, as well initiating massive job creation. Are these rosy expectations supported by scientific facts and wind project performance?

A recent AP article stated that New York currently has about 700 Megawatts of installed wind capacity, less than the output of a single large nuclear plant. The article states that New York has the potential for up to 7000 MW of installed capacity. The catch here is the vast difference between installed capacity and actual production.

Two North Country wind projects went on line in April -- Noble Clinton with an installed capacity of 100.5 MW and Noble Ellenburgh with an installed capacity of 81 MW. The 2nd quarter Clinton output averaged 12.9 MW and the 3rd quarter output was 11.7 MW. Noble Ellenburgh’s 2nd quarter average was 13.2 MW and 10.4 MW for the 3rd quarter. Those figure represent an overall performance of only 13.4% of capacity rating.

Wind developers have consistently claimed their turbines will operate in the 30-35% of capacity range. Early indications suggest that realistically they will produce only half that. Add to a low efficiency many hours of zero production and a complete lack of dependability, wind is the most unpredictable of all generating methods.

Both North Country wind projects average over 200 hours of zero output for the 2nd quarter and nearly 300 hrs for the 3rd quarter or about 10% to 14% of the time producing no power. This means on average no power is produced for more than 2 hours each day! Even larger blocks of time involve production of less than 1% of rated capacity. The extreme variability of wind power makes it totally unsuitable for baseload power.

The northern New York wind projects are yielding a very low return on their investment, averaging less than 4% before expenses according to The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

We have to ask why would a wind developer build spend about $ 3 million per turbine in an area with winds less than the minimum recommended by NYSERDA? The answer seems to be that the real goal of NY wind projects is not cheap renewable power but rather the sale of tax credits and green credits. Is wind power really just an elaborate tax break?

Ostensibly created to allow struggling wind companies to lower their tax burden, tax credits are sold to corporations and investors because wind company write-offs -- particularly double declining balance depreciation -- are so lucrative.

While NY is cutting funds to hospital, nursing homes and schools it continues to subsidize wind power.

Is wind power really a clean, effective method to reduce global warming? While wind turbines are non-polluting once they are up and running, the manufacture, transport and construction of a wind turbine produces thousands of tons of carbon based emissions. Every step from mining the ore to make the steel, moving parts by ship or overland and constructing access roads to running giant cranes and excavators creates emissions. Building the access roads alone produces nearly ten thousand tons of emissions.

The problem of mercury pollution associated with wind projects is rarely mentioned. However, it is a known fact among environmental experts that the production of cement produces large amounts of mercury released from the limestone used as the raw material, the median amount being 1.5 lbs. of mercury per ton of cement. Each turbine base requires over a million pounds of concrete –you do the math!

Since NY has relatively low winds (only 1/50th of some western states) a wind project may never pay back its carbon debt. In many areas of NY hydropower would have to be shut down to accommodate wind [re-state reason; original wording didn’t make sense.]

Add to the above there are the problems of property devaluation, scenic blight, bird and bat kills, wildlife habitat fragmentation, human health risks highlighted by recent studies on Wind Turbine Syndrome. There is also the danger from turbines built too close to roads or homes, thereby threatening potential ice throw or blade disintegration. Another question is whether there is too much potential for unethical business dealings between officials who control wind projects and the developers.

Coupled with the major disadvantages of too little wind and too many people, it is little wonder that more informed people are starting to question whether industrial wind turbines belong in New York State.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dangers of windmills outweigh benefits

I am all for alternative energy sources as long as they will enhance our lives and the life of our planet. Admittedly, those "windmills" sound like a great idea: free wind, energy for the community, an economic boon in these troubled times, especially for farmers who have suffered much over recent years.

The Concerned Residents of Hammond has looked at the research, interviewed experts, heard testimonials, watched the videos and learned the true dangers that are beneath the surface.

Landowners will benefit, yes. They will receive money for each 500-foot tower they allow on their property. Yes, that's 500 feet. The community, however, will not benefit. No reduction in energy bills, no income, no electricity.

What the citizens of this town will get is a long list of negative impacts, which the companies will not disclose prior to leasing. Before the towers are even in operation, properties will suffer major damage from tons of equipment being dragged through fields and woodlands. Drilling may cause damage to wells, septic systems and foundations.

Once running (and they don't always run), noise from the turbines, flicker effect and low-level vibrations have been shown to have detrimental effects on sleep and health, particularly to those most at risk: the elderly, those with pre-existing medical conditions such as migraines or high blood pressure, and kids with learning disabilities.

If the turbines catch fire (and they do), the local fire department is not equipped to battle a 500-foot spinning flame-thrower. Communities that have already succumbed to the companies have seen property values plummet. Not to mention that our beautiful fields, plateaus and river views will be marred forever. The list goes on. Just log on to any number of Web sites for documentation and you'll get the idea.

Perhaps the most insidious damage has only just begun. In this small, close-knit community, divisiveness has already taken hold. Many residents fear that their neighbors will sign leases without realizing how it may affect the rest of the township. Friends, relatives and neighbors are taking sides. Citizens are losing faith in a local governing board that seems to have taken the dive without checking the dangers first. Fortunately, CROH has been there to help us evaluate the pros and cons of this expensive, life-altering process. We need to work together to protect our way of life, our lovely area and our future.

Brooke Stark


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Prattsburgh wind farm stalls

Prattsburgh, N.Y.

Construction of energy-producing wind turbines in the town of Prattsburgh is on hold for at least a year.

Prattsburgh officials were notified late last week of the delay by the wind farm developer – First Wind.

“While we remain committed to wind development in the Northeast, we’ve made a strategic decision to postpone construction on the Prattsburgh wind project,” said Chris Swartley, the company’s vice president of development.

Swartley said the company appreciates “the strong community partnership” and will continue to maintain its Prattsburgh office, existing towers and the existing leases now in place with landowners.

The announcement caps a year of trouble for the energy company, which announced last spring construction of 36 turbines in Prattsburgh would begin in the fall.

Since then, a flurry of lawsuits have been filed regarding the project, with the first legal action this year brought in January by the Naples and Prattsbugh central school districts. The districts charged they didn’t receive a fair share of money from a tax relief agreement between First Wind and the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency.

Another lawsuit included challenges to eminent domain proceedings brought by the Prattsburgh Town Board to help First Wind lay underground transmission cables. Also, there have been charges of improper and unethical action by town Supervisor Harold McConnell.

First Wind also is one of two wind farm developers under investigation by the state Attorney General’s office.

Steuben County Industrial Development Agency Executive Director James Sherron said Monday he believes a court ruling on eminent domain proceedings will ultimately decide if the company pursues the Prattsburgh development.

“That's my understanding, anyway,” Sherron said.

In the past, First Wind officials have said the land targeted for underground cables are essential to the project.

First Wind also faced financial issues this summer, when one of its backers, Lehman Brothers, filed for bankruptcy and was subsequently acquired by Barclays.

John Lamontagne, communications director for First Wind, said financing the wind projects is challenging, given the current economy.

The developer is currently reviewing all its projects across North America, he said.
“(Prattsburgh) is not the only project in our pipeline that has been impacted, but in some cases other projects are moving forward as scheduled,” he said.

The company is in the midst of building 51 turbines in the town of Cohocton that expected to become operational within the next few weeks, according to Lamontagne. The original start-up date for the projects on Dutch and Lent hills was October.

McConnell said he is concerned First Wind will eventually scrap plans to build in Prattsburgh. He said the town's 2009 budget does not contain special tax revenues from the wind farm development.

Prattsburgh is also the site of another wind farm proposed by developer EcoGen. EcoGen is awaiting final approval by SCIDA of its plan, which is slated for a vote within the next few weeks, Sherron said.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Looking into the ˜noise’ about wind turbines

TUSTIN - When the state of Michigan commissioned recommendations to help formulate wind energy policies, acoustic expert Rick James saw two problems with the commission. The commission lacked both the expertise of an acoustic engineer and a medical doctor.

Without these two perspectives, a major concern of wind turbines - their potential physical side effects due to the sounds they emitted - were overlooked.

To counter this oversight, James has been working since 2006, consulting and sharing current research results that shed more light on this issue.

Thursday, James travelled to northern Michigan, meeting with Sherman Township residents at the behest of the local Save Our Sherman group.

"The state set the setback at 1,000 feet, looking at it from an economic perspective," James said. "If they looked at it from a public health perspective, the setbacks would be at least a mile."

James highlighted two primary concerns with the health effects of wind turbines. The first is the simple audible annoyance that he cited as causing sleep disturbance, among other conditions.

While wind turbines produce a relatively quiet sound when compared to other common noises such as cars, airports, or railroads, a study in Sweden showed that people find the sound more annoying.

"It causes the problem with sleep disturbance not because it’s overly loud, but because it can be equated to Chinese water torture. It’s the constant, drop, drop, drop."

"One factor we didn’t understand is that people choose to live in rural communities to get away from the noise," James explained. "What they are looking for is something only rural America can offer - peace and quiet."

The second health concern related to wind turbines is connected to the inaudible, low-frequency sound produced. While this concern has been rejected by wind companies, James himself has done research that proves that windmills produce a constant low-frequency sound.

"I found it dominant, omnipresent. Unlike the audible whooshing, which is there only part of the time when the wind is just right, the low frequency is there all of the time," James said.

Low-frequency sounds, which are created by large and stable sound waves, are known to travel for great distances and penetrate nearly every substance.

However, the medical dangers of the low-frequency sound waves are still highly debated and not yet conclusive.

One study that James cites comes from New York. After encountering several patients living near wind farms who complained of symptoms ranging from migraines and dizziness to uneasiness, Dr. Nina Pierpont began one of the first peer-reviewed comprehensive medical studies of the effects of low-frequency sound emitted by wind ¨ turbines.

According to James, the study asked patients with symptoms to physically move away from the wind turbine area - and the symptoms disappeared. She then had them move back, and the symptoms returned. The process was repeated, and she collected the data. The results of her study may be viewed for free at Pierpont attributes this to the low-frequency sound, what she refers to as Wind Turbine Syndrome.

James argues that while the medical effects of windmills hasn’t yet been fully studied, communities should proceed with caution.

Like smoking and fast food, "Do we really want to wait 30 years to determine if there are health risks?" he asked.

James recommends extending the minimum setbacks from residences to windmills to at least one mile. He explained that wind farms in the western part of the United States have not seen nearly the number of complaints as the eastern half - because the turbines are located much further from people’s homes.

"I’m not against wind energy," James assured. "The message is that we have rushed into this too fast."

James did not speculate on whether Sherman Township should proceeded with wind development but urged township "to make some good rules" to prevent potential concerns to public health. | 775-NEWS (6397)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Windmills at Iron Range wind farm grind to a halt after defects found

Minnesota Power’s Taconite Ridge wind farm isn’t producing nearly as much electricity as anticipated in recent months, with seven of the 10 wind turbines shut off for repairs.

The $50 million project, built on 450 acres of land overlooking U.S. Steel’s Minntac mine, came fully online early this summer. But this fall, inspectors with the turbine manufacturer discovered defects in seven of the wind turbines’ blades. Those turbines were shut down.

Some of the fiberglass blades have “wrinkles” that must be repaired for the blades to operate properly, said Amy Rutledge, communications manager for Minnesota Power. Repairing the blades is taking longer than anticipated.

“We had hoped they would be wrapped up by mid-December, but we’ve had a few issues with the weather,” Rutledge said. Ironically, windy weather kept the manufacturer from removing the rotors as quickly as they’d like, she said.

Repair crews are estimating all 10 turbines will be working by the end of January, Rutledge said. The work is covered under manufacturer Clipper Windpower’s warranty, she said, and the delay won’t affect Minnesota Power’s electrical supply.

The defects were discovered during a scheduled 500-hour inspection, conducted about three or four months after each turbine began operating, said Taconite Ridge project manager Andrew Remus. And while the wrinkles aren’t structural defects, they need to be fixed, he said.

“If we leave them the way they are, without taking any action, they will affect the way the blade operates,” Remus said, adding, “The blade is all one piece, and you need it to be perfect.”

The 153-foot-long blades are made of layer upon layer of fiberglass. Each layer should rest smoothly on top of the previous layer, Rutledge said, and any imperfection will gradually work its way to the blade’s surface to create that wrinkle.

“These are the largest blades out there on the market for inland units,” Remus said.

And in translating such large man-made components from the engineering stage to the real world, “there are some start-up issues, some design and engineering issues you work through.”

Some of the wrinkles will be sanded down and relaminated, Rutledge said, while others will be repaired with a premade “patch” that’s similar to using putty to repair a dented car.

The project is the first large-scale wind farm in northern Minnesota, and the first to be fully owned and operated by Minnesota Power. When running at full capacity, the turbines are expected to produce 25 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 8,000 homes.

The wind farm is part of Minnesota Power’s plan to increase its renewable energy resources. In early 2007, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed into law a bill requiring electrical utilities to produce 25 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2025.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Low-frequency noise linked to heart attacks

In an Oct. 9 letter to the Watertown Daily Times, I presented an article from the European Heart Journal authored by Dr. Stefan Willich et al. that suggested low-frequency noise may be related to heart attacks and that women seemed disproportionately at risk.

Dawn M. Munk of Three Mile Bay responded to my letter by bringing to our attention a critique by Dr. Wolfgang Babish (Oct. 25). Dr. Babish found fault with the way Dr. Willich's group had managed their data and took issue with the suggestion that noise affected women to a greater extent than men. In the meantime, Dr. Babish published a study suggesting men are at greater risk of heart attacks related to noise than women (Epidemiology, volume 16, 33-44, 2005).

So the respective research teams agree that there is evidence linking low-frequency noise and heart attacks. Dr. Babish concludes his critical letter (cited by Ms. Munk) with: "This supports the hypothesis that chronic exposure to traffic noise increases the risk for cardiovascular disorder, particularly myocardial infarction (heart attack)." So the important message is: They quibbled about some details, but largely agree with one another that low-frequency noise may have implications for our health.

Dr. Babish also participated in the World Health Organization conference in Stuttgart, Germany, June 23-24, 2005. Quoting from the Cardiovascular Section which Dr. Babish led, page 21: "There is sufficient evidence of an association between road traffic noise and ischemic heart diseases."

Ms. Munk furthermore criticizes my letter with, "There has never been a single peer-reviewed study linking wind turbines to ill health effects in those living nearby." This statement is at odds with our National Institutes of Health (NIH), since its representatives have stated, "Wind energy will undoubtedly create noise, which increases stress, which in turn increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer." (Environmental Health Perspectives, volume 116, pages A237-238, 2008.) The NIH is not known to make strong statements without sufficient evidence.

There are valuable lessons to be learned from the WHO and our NIH. But we need to keep an open mind. And the complexity and importance of the issues before us underscore the need for a comprehensive review by an impartial medical consulting firm. The last word on this issue should not be a few letters to the editor of the WDT, mine included.

Dr. Ralph H. Janicki

Cape Vincent

Dr. Janicki, M.D., Ph.D., is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Who could object to wind power?

On Toronto's waterfront stands a mighty wind turbine, its blades rotating lazily in the breeze (at least sometimes). It's a monument to good intentions and civic virtue. The Mayor loves it. The Premier loves it. All governments love wind power, because it makes them look so green. David Suzuki, the patron saint of environmentalism, compares wind turbines to medieval cathedrals - the highest expressions of human achievement. Wind is clean, sustainable, renewable, free. Who could possibly object?

The citizens. Last night in Toronto, hundreds of anxious folks jammed a meeting called to discuss plans for a massive wind farm along the shore of Lake Ontario. They fear the 90-metre turbines will chop up birds, disrupt migration routes, destroy views, lower property values, even make them sick.

NIMBYs? No doubt. But they have a lot of company. Across Canada, Britain and Europe, a growing protest movement is arguing that wind farms are no good for the environment.

Here's another reason not to like them. Wind power can't survive without massive subsidies, courtesy of you and me. "If these hidden subsidies were taken away, there would not be a single wind turbine built in Britain," says David Bellamy, a well-known environmentalist who has been tramping the Scottish countryside to oppose a massive wind project there.

Subsidies might be okay if wind could help replace conventional energy one day. It can't. "If the whole of Wales was covered with wind turbines, the nation would generate only a sixth of the U.K.'s energy needs," says Prof. David MacKay, a physicist at Cambridge. He's all in favour of clean, renewable energy. But he's done the math.

The biggest problem with wind is that it doesn't always blow. There are lots of days when Toronto's monument to civic virtue couldn't even power my toaster. Inconveniently, these times of low production tend to coincide with times of high demand. So no matter how many turbines you put up, you always need backup power. Usually that means fossil fuel, or, in Ontario's case, nuclear.

The biggest advertisements for wind power are Germany and Denmark. Germany has more wind turbines than any other country in the world, and Chancellor Angela Merkel has draped herself in green. But wind energy can't replace conventional power there either, so Germany is also building dozens of new coal-fired power plants. Denmark, with the largest offshore wind farm in the world, brags that 20 per cent of the electricity it generates comes from wind. But more than half its wind power is exported, because that's the only way the system can work.

Here at home, wind companies have been scrambling to get their share of $1.5-billion in federal subsidies for clean energy. On top of that, they get a premium when they sell the power. Ontario pays them 11 to 14 cents per kilowatt hour. Conventional energy goes for about half that price.

"Ontario is turning to wind turbines to help create jobs and power a green energy future," brags a government press release. But wind companies are chasing another green. The biggest wind project in the world, on the Thames Estuary, nearly collapsed last spring when a major backer, Shell, pulled out. Shell said the "incentives" were better in the United States.

Fortunately, a lot of wind companies won't survive the recession. One big Canadian firm, EarthFirst, is under court protection. Wind companies need a huge amount of credit, which has dried up. Expensive wind power makes a lot less sense with oil back around $50. And the global slump will do more to cut greenhouse gas emissions than all the wind turbines and solar panels David Suzuki can dream of.

When will we stop pouring billions into wind? I have no idea. Politicians really love their turbines. Meantime, that soft whooshing sound you hear is your friendly green government, vacuuming money out of your pockets.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wind Power Exposed

This is not what President-elect Barack Obama's energy and climate strategists would want to hear. It would be anathema to Al Gore and other assorted luminaries touting renewable energy sources which in one giant swoop will save the world from the “tyranny” of fossil fuels and mitigate global warming. And as if these were not big enough issues, oilman T. Boone Pickens’ grandiose plan for wind farms from Texas to Canada is supposed to bring about a replacement for the natural gas now used for power generation. That move will then lead to energy independence from foreign oil.

Too good to be true? Yes, and, in fact, it is a lot worse.

Wind has been the cornerstone of almost all environmentalist and social engineering proclamations for more than three decades and has accelerated to a crescendo the last few years in both the United States and the European Union.

But Europe, getting a head start, has had to cope with the reality borne by experience, and it is a pretty ugly picture.

Independent reports have consistently revealed an industry plagued by high construction and maintenance costs, highly volatile reliability and a voracious appetite for taxpayer subsidies. Such is the economic strain on taxpayer funds being poured into wind power by Europe's early pioneers -- Denmark, Germany and Spain -- that all have recently been forced to scale back their investments.

As a result this summer, the U.K., under pressure to meet an ambitious E.U. climate target of 20 percent carbon dioxide cuts by 2020, assumed the mantle of world leader in wind power production. It did so as a direct consequence of the U.K. Government's Renewables Obligations Certificate, a financial incentive scheme for power companies to build wind farms. Thus the U.K.'s wind operation provides the ideal case study -- and one that provides the most complete conclusions..

The U.K. has all the natural advantages. It is the windiest country in Europe. It has one of the continent's longest coastlines for the more productive (and less obtrusive) offshore farms. It has a long-established national power grid. In short, if wind power is less than successful in the U.K., its success is not guaranteed anywhere.

But wind infrastructure has come at a steep price. In fiscal year 2007-08, U.K. electricity customers were forced to pay a total of over $1 billion to the owners of wind turbines. That figure is due to rise to over $6 billion a year by 2020 given the government's unprecedented plan to build a nationwide infrastructure with some 25 gigawatts of wind capacity, in a bid to shift away from fossil fuel use.

Ofgem, which regulates the U.K.'s electricity and gas markets, has already expressed its concern at the burgeoning tab being picked up by the British taxpayer which, they claim, is “grossly distorting the market” while hiding the real cost of wind power. In the past year alone, prices for electricity and natural gas in the U.K. have risen twice as fast as the European Union average according to figures released in November by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. While 15 percent energy price rises were experienced across the E.U., in the U.K. gas and electricity prices rose by a staggering 29.7 percent. Ofgem believes wind subsidy has been a prime factor and questions the logic when, for all the public investment, wind produces a mere 1.3 percent of the U.K.'s energy needs.

In May 2008, a report from Cambridge Energy Research Associates warned that an over-reliance on offshore wind farms to meet European renewable energy targets would further create supply problems and drive up investor costs. No taxpayer respite there. But worse news was to come.

In June, the most in-depth independent assessment yet of Britain's expanding wind turbine industry was published. In the journal Energy Policy, gas turbine expert Jim Oswald and his co-authors came up with a series of damning conclusions: not only is wind power far more expensive and unreliable than previously thought, it cannot avoid using high levels of natural gas, which not only will increase costs but will also mean far less of a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions than has been claimed.

Oswald's report highlights the key issue of load factor, the actual power generated compared to the theoretical maximum, and how critical it is to the viability of the wind power industry. In 2006, according to U.K. government statistics, the average load factor for wind turbines across the U.K. was 27.4 percent. Thus a typical 2 megawatt turbine actually produced only 0.54 MW of power on an average day. The worst performing U.K. turbine had a load factor of just 7 percent. These figures reflect a poor return on investment. But this poor return is often obscured by the subsidy system that allows turbine operators and supporters to claim they can make a profit even when turbines operate at a very low load factors. So what’s the bottom line? British consumers are paying twice over for their electricity, funding its means of production, and paying for its use as end users.

Variability is one of the chief criticisms levelled at wind power. When the wind drops or blows too hard, turbines stop spinning, and you get no power. Wind turbine advocates have claimed that this can be avoided by the geographical spread of wind farms, perhaps by creating an international “supergrid.” But, as Oswald's report makes clear, calm conditions not only prevail on a fairly regular basis, they often extend across the country with the same conditions being experienced as far away as France and Germany. Worse still, says Oswald, long periods of calm over recent decades occurred in the dead of winter when electricity demand is highest.

Periods of low wind means a need for pumped storage and essential back-up facilities. Oswald told The Register online news service that a realistically feasible U.K. pumped-storage base would only cope with one or two days of low winds at best. As regards back-up facilities, Oswald states the only feasible systems for the planned 25 gigawatt wind system would be one that relied equally on old-style natural gas turbines. As Oswald says, however, the expense of a threefold wind, pump storage and gas turbine back-up solution "would be ridiculous."

The problems don’t end there. The British report highlights what more and more wind farms would mean when it came to installing gas turbine back-ups. "Electricity operators will respond by installing lower-cost plant ($/kW) as high capital plant is not justified under low utilisation regimes."

But cheap gas turbines are far less efficient than big, properly sized base-load turbines and will not be as resilient in coping with the heavy load cycling they would experience. Cheaper, less resilient plants will mean high maintenance costs and spare back-up gas turbines to replace broken ones that would suffer regular thermal stress cracking. And, of course, the increasing use of gas for the turbines would have a detrimental effect on reducing carbon dioxide emission -- always one of the chief factors behind the wind revolution.

Oswald's report concludes also that all this wear and tear will further stress the gas pipeline network and gas storage system. "High-efficiency base load plant is not designed or developed for load cycling," says Oswald. Critically, most of the issues raised in the independent report have not been factored into the cost of wind calculations. With typical British understatement, Oswald concludes that claims for wind power are "unduly optimistic."

We think they've been blown away.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hammond anti-wind-law group growing

HAMMOND — A group in Hammond aimed at overturning the recent wind farm law has been growing steadily in numbers and influence.

Concerned Residents of Hammond, which began in late October after the town enacted a law regarding the creation of wind farms, has grown from 25 to 70 members.

"In a town the size of Hammond, that's considerable," spokesman William A. Rogers said.

The original goal of the group was to have the town enact a moratorium on further development of wind turbines and test towers. The first few meetings were mostly educational, Mr. Rogers said. The group watched videos and brought in local speakers on the subject.

However, recently empowered by a wind turbine law in Centerville that was overturned this month, the meetings have become increasingly geared for legal actions.

The group has formed a bank account from money donated by members. The money will be used primarily for legal fees, Mr. Rogers said.

Attorney David P. Antonucci, Watertown, attended the most recent meeting to discuss the possibility of overturning the law.

With growing numbers and finances, CROH recently appointed an interim president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. The positions are interim because the group will hold elections next month to choose officers, Mr. Rogers said.

For the past three years, wind turbines have been hotly discussed in Hammond.

In 2005, a test tower from PPM Energy of Portland, Ore., which is part of the Spanish company Iberdrola SA, went up along the St. Lawrence River on County Route 6.

After the company expressed interest in building more towers, a moratorium on further development went into effect in February and lasted until the town board passed the wind law Oct. 27.

The law set standards for noise levels, setbacks and tax programs, among other things, but many in the community felt the board did not listen to their concerns about safety and health. Some also questioned the environmental standards and possible conflicts of interest.

"Citizens were shocked at how quickly the law went through," Mr. Rogers said. "We just want openness from the town and citizens' input to see if it's the best thing for the town or not."

Wind farm road controversy: Slag concerns Ag and Markets

Although the DEC has cleared the use of slag on wind farm access roads, the state Department of Agriculture and Markets has concerns.

In a Sept. 8 letter to Invenergy regarding the High Sheldon Wind Farm, Agriculture Specialist Michael J. Saviola said his department is against the practice.

The letter was written in response to a July 15 letter from the DEC to Invenergy, regarding such use of slag on the project. Work on the roads had already proceeded by the time of the September mailing.

"It appears that the use of this industrial byproduct may be acceptable as "structural fill" in an urban or industrial setting, however, the Department does not support the use of any adulterated industrial byproduct material (such as steel slag) as road base on, or adjacent to, structural lands used for the production of food and/or forage crops," Saviola wrote.

That's contrary to a Department of Environmental Conservation finding which says such use is within state guidelines. A copy of Saviola's letter was received Wednesday, in response to an inquiry last week from The Daily News.

The Ag & Markets review found it's "not unreasonable" to conclude that soil pH will vary greatly in locations where the material is used as a road base, with the potential to leach trace metals into farmland soils.

That could affect the availability of plant nutrients and other elements which could be toxic to higher plants and microorganisms.

The higher plants and microorganisms may be affected by rapid changes in pH, Saviola writes. Trace metals may lead to phytotoxic conditions at certain pH levels.

That means it could be harmful to plants.

Ag and Markets recommends each affected landowner be notified and testing completed when slag is used near crops. Soil should be remediated -- including shipping in new topsoil if necessary -- if crop loss, stunting or "burning" occur.

The developer would be responsible for such corrective actions.

At the same time, the use of slag in the wind farm's access roads is within state guidelines that DEC has found.

Representatives last Friday said Tecumseh Redevelopment, which now owns the former Bethlehem site, has a Beneficial Use Determination.

Materials are no longer considered solid waste once a BUD is issued, as long as they're used for the prescribed purpose.

Slag is a byproduct of steel production, and has been used in road based construction throughout Western New York for several decades. A DEC spokeswoman said thorough testing hasn't indicated any significant environmental impacts, and leachate into adjacent cornfields isn't a concern.

Slag is also used as railroad ballast, a cement ingredient, and as a limestone substitute in agriculture. Project Manager Eric Miller of Invenergy said last week that the company hasn't received any complaints from landowners about the quality or construction of access roads on their properties.

Seventy-five turbines area planned for the High Sheldon Wind Farm. A total of 39 turbines had their rotors attached as of Tuesday.

Construction is scheduled to be complete by the end of the year, weather permitting. The wind farm is slated to start operations in January or February once it substation is complete.

Wind development in New York has hit a bit of turbulence

The nationwide financial crisis has put the brakes on a wind farm under construction in northern New York and another developer has aborted possible projects in eastern and central New York after trouble securing land. And wind energy companies are now being asked to abide by a code of ethics by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo _ the upshot of his investigation into allegations of corrupt practices by developers.

Wind is still alive in New York and new turbines are still being planned for blustery parts of the state. But the last few tumultuous months have been tough for the industry nationwide and New York in particular.

"Obviously, it doesn't make it easy for the wind industry, like every other industry, to get financing," said Carol Murphy, executive director of Alliance for Clean Energy New York, which represents renewable energy companies. "But I have not heard of any of my members who've run into a brick wall ... There are still a lot of hedge funds and folks who are investing in green energy."

There are 10 wind projects running in New York with a combined potential to generate more than 700 megawatts of electricity. The largest, Maple Ridge along northern New York's Tug Hill, includes 195 turbines. But wind remains a relatively small player in New York, where all the wind farms combined generate less power than a large nuclear reactor.

That could change next year.

The Cohocton Wind project in the Finger Lakes region could be finished by the end of this year, according to a spokesman for First Wind of Newton, Mass. The High Sheldon Wind Farm in Wyoming County could be running by January, according to an Invenergy spokeswoman. And Essex, Conn.-based Noble Environmental Power has made progress on two projects in northern New York, according to supervisors of the local towns.

But there have been questions about Noble's projects amid its financial problems. The company announced plans this year to raise money through an initial public offering with underwriting from Lehman Brothers, which became the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history.

Noble officials did not respond to repeated calls and an e-mail seeking comment from The Associated Press.

However, Noble officials blamed financing problems when they suspended work on 14 towers in the northern Adirondack town of Bellmont, said town supervisor Bruce Russell. The company told Russell it could not start work again before the second half of 2009. Meanwhile, work is nearing completion on Noble wind farms in the neighboring towns of Chateaugay and Altona, said supervisors from those towns.

Noble and First Wind were investigated by Cuomo earlier this year amid allegations that developers were bribing local officials to push through wind projects. No charges were ever filed. Noble and First Wind last month became the first signatories of Cuomo's voluntary "Wind Industry Ethics Code," which is designed to make sure developers deal with local officials in a fair and transparent manner.

Siting 400-foot-high wind towers in heavily settled states like New York is difficult in the best of times. Developers operate under strict regulations and quite often face organized local opposition. Iberdrola Renewables is still trying to develop a project in Jordanville, southeast of Utica, five years after being granted a permit for a test tower. Project opponents have already sued once.

Shell WindEnergy recently ran into trouble securing enough land for potential projects on the Helderberg Escarpment west of Albany and in the Finger Lakes and shelved the projects, said company spokesman Timothy O'Leary.

But there also are national factors working against wind. Aside from the credit crunch, the plummeting price of oil has lessened the urgency for renewable fuels. Even oilman-turned-wind advocate T. Boone Pickens has dialed back spending on his wind and natural gas campaign.

While Congress recently renewed crucial production tax credits for wind production, the extension lasts only a year. Murphy said producers are looking for cues from the incoming Obama administration to see if they can plan for the extension long term.

"I think we'll know more as we get into a new presidency and a new year," Murphy said.

New York offers its own financial incentives for wind projects under a long-standing goal to rely on renewable resources for 25 percent of the state's electricity by 2013. State regulators only signed off this year on a deal allowed Iberdrola to buy out Energy East after the Spanish company promised to spend $200 million to develop wind projects in New York.

Iberdrola has a list of 10 wind projects in various stages of development, including the Jordanville project. It's not a sure thing all the projects will be approved.

There is still plenty of room for growth in New York, at least theoretically.

Bruce Bailey, a principal for the wind-mapping company AWS Truewind, said New York could potentially produce from 5,000 to 7,000 megawatts _ or up to 10 times its current production. The richest potential is in wind-blown areas of the state like northern New York, the Southern Tier and west of the Catskills.

Bailey's estimate is based on wind potential and leaves aside issues like available grid connections, political concerns, available credit and the future energy market. Still, he said: "Getting halfway there is realistic in the next 10 years."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Financial concerns may threaten wind farm projects

FARMERSVILLE — Noble Environmental Power’s wind-energy projects in Cattaraugus and Allegany communities face an uncertain future both because of the global financial crisis and a legal snag.

During a meeting of the Farmersville Town Board meeting Monday night, Town Supervisor Joe Brodka announced he had been advised that the area’s development director for Noble was no longer employed and that the local energy projects may be shelved or assets sold, due to financing difficulties.

A key Noble official responded Wednesday that efforts continue in Farmersville but several town officials this week said wind power projects in Farmersville and Freedom are in jeopardy and that a project in Centerville and Rushford could also be affected. They also said Noble’s development director in the region, Bob Maxwell, is no longer working for the company, which is beset by financial problems.

Calls seeking comment from Noble’s staff at offices in Arcade, Bliss and Fredonia were returned by John Quirke, the company’s executive vice president of development in Essex, Conn., who said he has taken over Maxwell’s responsibilities. He said the company’s efforts in Farmersville will continue but should be expected to take a long time to mature.

“We expect the market to improve,” said Quirke, who declined to provide further details about the company’s financial condition or the future of its various projects.

Noble representatives have met frequently with town officials in Farmersville and Freedom over the past two years and began negotiating a host benefit agreement with Freedom before filing an application in either town for an array of wind towers that would connect to a larger array in Farmersville. That project was to follow a Noble wind farm development spanning Centerville and Rushford in Allegany County, where applications have been filed for a targeted 2010 start-up. The Bliss Windpark in Wyoming County began generating power this year and the nearby Wethersfield wind farm is due to go online within a matter of weeks.

Last week, a citizen opposition group in Centerville won a Rochester appeals court ruling nullifying the town’s local wind farm permitting law because the town did not follow procedures required by the State Environmental Quality Review Act. The town should have filed a long environmental assessment form with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which is required for large-scale land-use changes, the court said. Also, on Monday, the Town of Farmersville — in an unrelated move — repealed a nearly identical wind-energy permitting law and enacted a new one without filing either a long or short environmental assessment form.

Dan Spitzer, the attorney who wrote the laws for both Centerville and Farmersville, said he is awaiting some direction from the Centerville Town Board.

He added that he believes the project will go forward with or without financing at this time, but remarked, “Wind farms are capital-intensive projects and all are feeling effects of the turmoil in the capital markets.”

Hamlin wind regs to get scrutiny

Things are about to get interesting out in Hamlin.

During his community forum in Irondequoit last night, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo told a group of Hamlin residents that he'd send an environmental attorney to look into the town's wind tower regulations and the circumstances under which they were passed. He was responding to repeated requests from a group of town residents, all members of the Hamlin Preservation Group.

To be clear - Cuomo did not say that his office would take any action, just that he's sending a lawyer to take a look at the situation.

The Hamlin Preservation Group, which is suing the town over the regulations, has a couple of concerns. The first is with the regulations themselves: they allow the towers to be built too close to homes and roads, they say. The second is a perceived conflict of interest: one of the Town Board members has a lease agreement with Iberdrola - the company interested in building turbines in Hamlin - though he abstained from voting on the regulations.

Neither concern is unique to Hamlin.

"It's a big issue all across the state," Cuomo said.

Earlier this year, the AG's office issued a code of conduct for wind developers to help prevent improper relationships with town officials. Noble and First Wind have signed on, but Iberdrola has not. Among those that helped develop the code is Monroe County District Attorney Mike Green.

The Hamlin situation brings a larger problem into sharp relief: there are no uniform regulations for wind farm placement in New York. As Hamlin residents pointed out, that leaves the decision in the town's hands.

Cuomo says that his office has put together a task force to address issues like standardizing setbacks.

Court knocks down town’s law regulating wind farms

CENTERVILLE - A law in the town of Centerville regulating wind farms was annulled by the state Supreme Court’s Appellate Division because the town failed to comply with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR).

The decision, which was made on Nov. 14, was prompted by a lawsuit from the Centerville Concerned Citizens (CCC), a group of landowners in the town who claimed that the Centerville Town Board worked along with the Noble Environmental Power to craft a local law that accommodates Noble’s proposed Centerville Windpark without fully looking at the environmental impacts.

The project would add 55 wind turbines, each about 50 stories high, to Noble’s Bliss Windpark in the town of Eagle.

The Centerville Town Board and Noble agreed to keep 1,000-foot distances from homes, and limit noise levels to 50 decibels, but that volume is far too loud, according to CCC head Dennis Gaffin.

“We told the town such noise levels would change life here dramatically, but they said there was no need to consider that issue because Noble would address it later,” Mr. Gaffin said in a press release.

CCC attorney Gary Abraham said the town broke the law by not considering the environmental impact of the project until Noble submitted its wind farm application.

“They said they would defer any of those things until applying for the project under the law,” Mr. Abraham said. “Once the law is in place, all Noble would have to say is ‘we complied with the law.’”

According to Mr. Abraham, under the SEQR, when a town takes on a project like a wind farm, the project is classified by its environmental impact as either a type one, type two, or unlisted action.

The court determined that the Centerville wind park project is a type one action, since it will affect more than 25 acres of the town. Centerville had pursued the project as an unlisted action, Mr. Abraham said.

“The town board, at their own peril, thought (they) weren’t going to lose this lawsuit and treated us as if we didn’t exist,” Mr. Abraham said.

However, the CCC’s lawsuit may have had some unintended consequences, according to Daniel Spitzer, lead legal representative for the town of Centerville in its discussions with Noble.

Since the court’s decision annulled the laws regulating wind farms in Centerville, there are essentially no regulations until the town enacts new laws.

“This doesn’t stop the project one bit,” Mr. Spitzer said. “Frankly, if the town does nothing, it means Noble can put (wind turbine) towers wherever they want.”

Mr. Spitzer expects the town board will take action swiftly, and that the project will continue to move forward.

“The petitioners did not get what they wanted either, so in that regard, we are pleased,” Mr. Spitzer said.

Centerville attorney David Pullen said the town will consider appealing the court’s decision.

“Hopefully, a decision will be made in the next few weeks,” he said.

“I question what (the CCC) thought they were achieving by bringing this lawsuit and invalidating the law, which leaves us with no law.

“That doesn’t mean their standards that they argued for are in place, it means there are no standards in place,” Mr. Pullen said.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Town Board revises wind farm regulations

FARMERSVILLE — The Farmersville Town Board voted Monday to replace its 2007 town law regulating wind farm projects with a shorter and more general version, while also lifting last month’s temporary moratorium against wind energy facilities.

“The old law had stuff that should have been in a host community agreement [between the town and the wind farm developer] and not in the law itself,” said Town Supervisor Joe Brodka.

The town has been approached about the possibility of a 67-turbine wind farm by Noble Environmental Power, which this year started up a new wind farm in the Wyoming County community of Bliss and has applied for a permit in the Town of Centerville in Allegany County.

That project may see a delay because of last week’s ruling by an appeals court that granted a citizen group’s request to nullify Centerville’s wind farm regulatory law because of the town’s inadequate state Environmental Quality Review.

The Centerville law was nearly identical to the 2007 Farmersville law, but Brodka said that the board was not informed about the court’s decision and that the ruling had no bearing on the move to update the Farmersville wind farm law.

The new Wind Energy Conversion Facilities Law requires the Farmersville Town Board to consider the aesthetic, physical, economic and sociopolitical impacts, as well as impacts on general health and welfare, and requires the developer to apply for a license from the town and pay a fee of $300 for each megawatt of generating capacity.

The applicant must also undergo a site plan review, while paying the town’s expenses and completing a state Environmental Quality Review. The developer will also be required to present studies on noise and visual impacts and assess impacts on birds and bats. Height limits of 450 feet are unchanged, but the Town Board may relax a 1,000-foot minimum distance to adjacent residential walls for good cause. Distance of wind tower placement from public roads or nonwind farm structures must be at least 1.2 times the tower height.

There were no statements from residents during a brief public hearing, and the law was adopted in a 4-0 vote.

The board also voted unanimously to accept a 2009 budget that appropriates $241,040 for general fund expenditures and $347,493 for highway costs. Another $4,200 will pay for a light district in Farmersville Station, and $57,938 is earmarked for the Farmersville Fire District.

Spending will increase by 5.8 percent for the general and highway funds, in addition to a 2.2 percent hike in the fire district expenses.

Brodka confirmed that the town tax rate is likely to be lower because of a townwide revaluation. The Cattaraugus County Legislature last week released a tentative tax rate for the town of $12.12, a 29 percent decrease from the amount levied in 2008.

Carteret County Tall Structures Ordinance


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Are turbines on the horizon for Alfred?

Alfred, N.Y.

Alfred residents found that where there is wind, there is a window of opportunity in a special Monday night meeting at the Alfred Station Fire Hall.

Keith Pitman, president and chief executive officer of Empire State Wind Energy from Oneida, gave an hour-long presentation to Alfred residents to gauge how interested the community is in developing a wind project.

So how did the Alfred community react to the possibilities of wind power?

Compared to some other communities looking at wind, very peaceful.

“I was kind of surprised that there was not more objections, but I think a lot of them were answered before they got a chance to be addressed,” said Alfred resident Alex Clare.

There was no shortage of residents at the meeting. Pitman spoke at previous meetings and only brought out a handful of residents, but at this meeting 130 residents turned out. The event was large enough that it had to be moved from the meeting area in the fire hall to the garage after firemen moved the company’s three trucks to make space.

Pitman positioned himself as a small-town businessman interested in transparent relationships with communities willing to use their resources for cleaner energy solutions.

“I sincerely believe in local control of a local investment,” said Pitman, adding his company would share a larger percentage of profit than other wind companies — twenty times the industry standard.

Pitman said Empire State Wind Energy has an openness policy that discloses financial numbers, including profits. According to Pitman, the company would would turn over between 50 to 75 percent of the net project revenue to the host community and give Alfred an option to purchase the development in its contract.

He said his company has not decided how many turbines would be constructed if a project is started, but his personal opinion is that 25 or 30 looks like a good number. Pitman asked for the community’s help in answering this question.

Pitman’s company has been conducting wind tests in the area, reviewing power market access, evaluating public acceptance and working with local government officials to see if Alfred would be a good choice for development.

“We haven’t found any red flags that say forget it,” said Pitman.

Pitman gave presentations to the village and town boards during the summer and both boards passed resolutions in May that supported wind project studies to be conducted.

Halfway through the meeting, Pitman asked the residents to raise their hands if they wanted his company to continue researching wind capabilites in the Alfred area. Two thirds or more of the people raised their hands.

“I was very impressed with the turnout tonight,” said Jeanne Cartwright, Alfred town supervisor. “I personally support wind power, but I only want to go through with this if the community thinks it’s the right thing to do.”

Pittman said he will leave it up to local officials to hold more meetings and feels they are a good way to share ideas and answer questions.

“I thought it was an interesting presentation, but there are questions and issues that arise from a project like this and you can’t answer them all in one meeting, but it was a good start,” said Meredith Johns, of Alfred.

If the meeting was an indication of what kind of support the community has for a wind farm, then wind power seems probable in Alfred’s future.

“I’m idly impressed with the turnout here, given the local population. It tells me there is an interest in learning and participating in the community, and from our point of view, as a developer, that is a very good sign,” said Pitman.

“It was a very interested and community-minded group of people here tonight ... Alfred State College, the town and the village all have been very supportive, cooperative and reasonable. They are the kind of organizations we like to deal with and when you are dealing with that many entities that is not always an easy thing to find,” said Pitman

“The meeting made me more relaxed about having a wind farm and I’m kind of looking forward to the idea now,” said Clare.

Empire State Wind Energy was co-founded by Alfred State College alumnus Tom Golisano, who currently chairs the company.

Pitman made the following points:

Annual revenue per turbine is estimated at between $400,000 to $550,000.

Cautioned meeting attendees to be skeptical about information they find on the internet. He said information on the internet can be biased and misleading when it comes to wind power and asked residents to be careful when choosing a source of information.

His company is looking for long term property rights for wind turbine locations. According to Pitman, a wind turbine takes between seven to 11 years to pay for itself.

A wind project would take between 2 to 5 years to be cleared for construction, so nothing would be constructed immediately.

He expects the wind project to be operational for 25 to 50 years after completion.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lowville finishing work on turbine law

LOWVILLE — While satisfied with existing wind turbines, town officials are looking to better regulate any future wind projects, both large and small.

"We just want to make sure they are done to manufacturers' specs," Lowville Town Supervisor Arleigh D. Rice said.

The Town Council earlier this month held a public hearing on a proposed wind power zoning law but is awaiting review by the Lewis County Planning Board before adopting it, Mr. Rice said.

The idea for crafting the regulations did not stem from any problems or concerns about the 15 Maple Ridge Wind Farm turbines already located within the town, the supervisor said. "I think it turned out very well here," he said.

However, current zoning law, which doesn't address wind turbines, would require setbacks of only 250 feet for the 400-foot-tall towers, Mr. Rice said.

Under the proposed law, any new wind turbines or wind measurement towers would have to be sited at least 11/2 times their height from the nearest property line, public road or other above-ground utility, unless the utility company would offer a waiver. Towers also would have to be at least 1,000 feet from any off-site residences and 2,000 feet from schools, churches, hospitals, nursing homes, active cemeteries, government offices and buildings used for public assembly .

Turbine noise would be restricted to 55 decibels at the nearest residence or public building.

Large wind turbines would be allowed in agricultural and conservation zones but not in residential or commercial ones. However, small, roof-mounted turbines would be allowed in all zones as long as they are not more than 10 feet tall on residences or 20 feet tall on commercial or industrial buildings.

An exemption is included for non-electrical windmills "used for pumping water for agricultural purposes," like those erected by the Amish. However, they still would have to be sited so that "any tipover will be harmless to others."

The proposed law also includes a section on small wind energy conversion systems for home, farm or commercial use.

Such systems would need to be on at least one acre of land, although that requirement could be met through a joint application by multiple neighboring landowners.

The proposed law suggests that small turbines are to be used only "to reduce on-site consumption of electricity," not to produce power for an electric utility or commercial wind farm. However, residents could apply for a waiver to connect the turbine to the electrical grid, allowing them to sell power when more is being produced than needed on site.

Anyone interested in erecting a wind system would have to apply for a wind energy permit from the Town Council. Proposed fees are $50 per megawatt for large turbines, $200 for a wind measurement tower and $100 for a small wind tower.


Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department
CA 08-00282





Appeal from a judgment (denominated order) of the Supreme Court, Allegany County (Michael L. Nenno, A.J.), entered May 9, 2007 in a declaratory judgment action. The judgment dismissed the complaint (denominated petition and complaint).

It is hereby ORDERED that the judgment so appealed from is unanimously reversed on the law without costs, the complaint is reinstated and judgment is granted in favor of plaintiff as follows:

It is ADJUDGED and DECLARED that Local Law No. 1 (2006) of the Town of Centerville is invalid.

Memorandum: Plaintiff commenced this hybrid CPLR article 78 proceeding and declaratory judgment action seeking to annul Town of Centerville Local Law No. 1 of 2006 (Local Law) based on, inter alia, the alleged failure of defendant to comply with the procedural and substantive requirements of ECL article 8 (State Environmental Quality Review Act [SEQRA]) in enacting the Local Law. We note at the outset that this is properly only a declaratory judgment action. “The gravamen of the plaintiff’s challenge here is . . . that the local law itself is an invalid legislative enactment . . .[, and i]t is well established that an article 78 proceeding is not the proper vehicle to test the validity of a legislative enactment” (Kamhi v Town of Yorktown, 141 AD2d 607, 608, affd 74 NY2d 423). We agree with plaintiff, however, that Supreme Court erred in dismissing the complaint (improperly denominated petition and complaint) and instead should have granted judgment in favor of plaintiff declaring that the Local Law is invalid.

Defendant declared itself the lead agency for the proposed Local Law under SEQRA, concluded that this was an “Unlisted action” (6 NYCRR 617.6 [a] [3]), and prepared a “Short Environmental Assessment Form” (short EAF) used for such actions (see 6 NYCRR 617.20, Appendix C).

The short EAF contained a negative declaration of environmental significance and, based upon that declaration, no environmental impact statement was prepared (see ECL 8-0109 [4]; 6 NYCRR 617.7 [a] [2]).

It is well settled that SEQRA applies to the “adoption of . . . local laws . . . that may affect the environment” (6 NYCRR 617.2 [b] [3]; see ECL 8-0105 [4]; State of New York v Town of Horicon, 46 AD3d 1287, 1288). In addition, “[t]he mandate that agencies implement SEQRA’s procedural mechanisms to the ‘fullest extent possible’ reflects the Legislature’s view that the substance of SEQRA cannot be achieved without its procedure, and that departures from SEQRA’s procedural mechanisms thwart the purposes of the statute. Thus it is clear that strict, not substantial, compliance is required” (Matter of King v Saratoga County Bd. of Supervisors, 89 NY2d 341, 347).

We agree with plaintiff that defendant failed to comply with the procedural requirements of SEQRA and, “where a lead agency has failed to comply with SEQRA’s mandates, the negative declaration must be nullified” (Matter of New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning v Vallone, 100 NY2d 337, 348). The use of a short EAF is permitted only in the event that the proposed action, here, the enactment of the Local Law, is properly classified as an Unlisted action (see 6 NYCRR 617.6 [a] [3]). Unlisted actions are defined as those actions not identified as either Type I or Type II actions (see 6 NYCRR 617.2 [ak]), and Type I actions include “the adoption of changes in the allowable uses within any zoning district, affecting 25 or more acres of the district” (6 NYCRR 617.4 [b] [2]). The action at issue herein would change the allowable use within the entire Town and thus is properly classified as a Type I action (see generally Matter of Gernatt Asphalt Prods. v Town of Sardinia, 87 NY2d 668, 689-690; Patterson Materials Corp. v Town of Pawling, 264 AD2d 510, lv denied 95 NY2d 754). “For Type I actions, a full EAF . . . must be used to determine the significance of such actions” (6 NYCRR 617.6 [a] [2]). Thus, “[w]e agree with [plaintiff] that the failure of [defendant] to complete . . . the full EAF
nullifies its SEQRA negative declaration” (Matter of Citizens Against Sprawl-Mart v Planning Bd. of City of Niagara Falls, 8 AD3d 1052, 1053).

In light of our determination, we have not considered plaintiff’s
remaining contentions.

Entered: November 14, 2008 JoAnn M. Wahl
Clerk of the Court


Public hearing Comments Ecogen wind Project

To: SCIDA Board
RE: Financial Assistance to the Ecogen LLC project
FROM: Ruth Matilsky
Date: November 16, 2008

This letter is being written in response to the public hearing which was held at 10:00 A.M. on November 13 at the Prattsburgh Town Hall. The result of the public hearing will impact two towns, and it is unfortunate that the SCIDA chose to hold the hearing at a time when most people would be at work. It is not the first time that the SCIDA has held a meeting of this nature in the morning, and it appears it was not held at a convenient time for the SCIDA Board members, since not a single one attended the meeting. A copy of this memorandum is being sent to the recently established Attorney General’s Task Force, which was set up to ensure compliance with the Wind Industry Ethics Code.

It is approximately five years since the SCIDA became lead agent for the Ecogen project. Since that time much new information has emerged concerning the environmental impact of wind towers – The SCIDA has systematically ignored any and all evidence of harm, in its embrace of this and other wind projects.

The Ecogen project should not receive financial assistance from SCIDA in the form of a PILOT (or in any form for that matter) for the following reasons:

1. The SCIDA, as was mentioned numerous times in response to the DGEIS, does not have a legal right to be involved in financing for a project that is outside of Steuben County. More than half of the towers are proposed to be built in the Town of Italy, which is in Yates County.

2. In addition, by acting as lead agent as well as the instrument for arranging financial assistance, the SCIDA has a conflict of interest, since the SCIDA stands to gain $275,000 by arranging the PILOT. The Board of SCIDA knew that if they had rejected the GEIS that the SCIDA would have received no payment because there would have been no PILOT to arrange. Perhaps this is why the Board of SCIDA rubber stamped this project as well as the Windfarm Prattsburgh project. I personally sat at meetings when the SCIDA accepted 3000 page documents pertaining to the GEIS without hearing one SCIDA Board Member raise a single question.

3. Never once has the Ecogen project proved its cost benefit. Many times in the GEIS, the project sponsors referred to the Renewable Portfolio Standard, but never have the project sponsors revealed the results of their meteorological studies. The wind maps produced by AWS Truewind (referred to by the project sponsor) clearly show that the wind conditions in Prattsburgh and Italy are either less than or barely in line with NYSERDA guidelines.

4. It was announced at the public hearing that the Ecogen project will use 2.3 mw turbines instead of the GE 1.5’s they originally proposed in the GEIS. This alone should call for a new SEQR. The original studies based on 1.5s were not sufficient, comprised as they were of missing data and other flaws. The setbacks for the 1.5s were not sufficient. Now Ecogen is going to use more powerful turbines and SCIDA is rubber stamping that decision.

5. Ecogen does not have the leases it requires to make a contiguous path from the turbines to the substation or for a delivery path. The company has hired surveyors and directed them to trespass on the land of non participating landowners. People have been pressured, bullied and told that their land will be condemned, and still many of them have not signed. Yet SCIDA is about to grant financial assistance to a project whose plans were supposed to be completed during the SEQR and are, in fact, not yet complete.

6. Once again it must be pointed out that it was completely inappropriate for the SCIDA to allow Ecogen to carry out a generic EIS in the first place. Because each wind site varies so much, it is absolutely impossible to make models that will be accurate unless each and every turbine site is studied for noise impact and ice throw, not to mention visual impact and shadow flicker. The impact to well water has never been taken seriously by Ecogen or by the SCIDA.

7. Six to eight full time jobs have been projected by the project sponsor and not once have these jobs been defined. It is not known whether local people will qualify for these jobs and whether they will be jobs with benefits, etc. Surely a project that is going to reap windfall profits because of financial assistance, should be providing many more jobs than that.

Respectfully submitted
Ruth Matilsky, 6724 Baker Road, Prattsburgh, NY 14873

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wind farms: is there a hidden health hazard?

MORROW COUNTY, Ore. - It's their slice of heaven.

"When you get out here, everything kind of drains away from you," Sherry Eaton says as surveys her 10-acre rural home. "It's quiet, peaceful."

At least, it was.

"It looks like something prehistoric, something in the movies," Sherry’s husband Mike Eaton says about the more than a dozen towering wind turbines that have appeared above a ridge near their home.

Wind energy is the latest rage in going green and in shifting the United States away from fossil-based energy supplies. And more wind turbines are coming to Oregon. It is even required by law.

But with giant wind turbines now looming nearby, the Eaton’s fear the rapid move to clean energy will come at the expense of their health.

The problem is something called "Wind Turbine Syndrome."

"I pulled in the driveway after they started putting the towers up and there they are, I was just flabbergasted," Sherry said about the turbines, which reach nearly 400 feet into the sky.

But the view is not the half of it.

"My health concern is because I have a motion disorder, the research we've been researching has a possibility linked to having problems with [the turbines]," said Mike Eaton, who was an artillery man in Vietnam and has inner ear damage from all the blasts. He suffers from debilitating vertigo, which is similar to being seasick. He walks with a limp and a cane for assistance.

"In other words, I don't know what [the turbines] will do to me," he says. "To be honest with you… I don't want to be the guinea pig to find out."

Certain noises set off his vertigo, and he wonders if the sounds made by the whirling blades and churning turbine motors will be constant triggers.

That's why a soon-to-be-published book has them so alarmed. It’s called "Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on a Natural Experiment."

It's the work of New York physician and ecologist, Dr. Nina Pierpont.

Among the problems associated with Wind Turbine Syndrome are "a debilitating, complex of symptoms" including sleep disturbance, headache, dizziness, vertigo, nausea and panic episodes "associated with sensations of internal pulsation or quivering which arise while awake or asleep."

Dr. Pierpont began seeing patients in her clinic suffering from many of those symptoms and found a common thread among them: all lived near a new wind farm.

Dr. Owen Black is one of the experts asked to critique the research in the book. He is an expert in disorders of the inner ear.

He's also the Director of Neurology Research for the Legacy Research and Technology Center in Portland.

"Judging from the studies done, particularly by the Navy on low frequency sound pressure levels and given the symptom patterns that are described here, I definitely think it needs to be investigated," Dr. Black told KATU News. "What the cause is, I have no idea."

Dr. Pierpont's hypothesis says wind turbines produce vibration, low frequency noise and their moving shadows create visual stimulation known as "flicker."

All of those things that can affect the body, especially if you're someone with a "pre-existing migraine disorder, motion sensitivity, and inner ear damage" like Mike Eaton.

KATU News attempted to talk to the company building the wind farm next to the Eaton’s home about their concerns, but Susan Dennison of Invenergy, LLC, told KATU News "there hasn't been any conclusive evidence that turbines cause health problems."

Near the Eaton’s home, another company was cutting the ribbon on a newly-built wind farm.

Arlo Corwin, director of development for the Northwest region for Horizon Wind Energy said "we have definitely heard of these theories and we do think they are theories and we've never seen any credible source cited that substantiates this or scientific study that says this happens."

Horizon just commenced operation of the large new wind farm near Arlington.

Dr. Black concedes that "this area is very difficult because very few people have expertise in the areas that need to be studied" when it comes to the health affects of wind turbines.

He said that proving Wind Turbine Syndrome would require a comprehensive and very expensive study.

Meanwhile, The Eaton’s keep on eye on the nearest wind turbines, which are within a half-mile of their home.

Dr. Pierpont’s book says there should be a buffer of at least a mile and a quarter - maybe more - to protect the public.

"It's sickening, the pit of your stomach, you're whole life is going to change, and you have no control over it," Sherry Eaton says as she looks toward the temporarily still turbines.

Health concerns have not been part of the permitting process for wind farms in the Northwest. In fact, the state of Oregon touts it has "adopted an expedited siting processes for wind farms".

To learn about more Wind Turbine Syndrome, click here and here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Reduced Jordanville Wind Project Fine, Iberdrola Tells Packed House

Spanish multi-national Iberdrola unveiled a slimmer version of the Jordanville Wind Project before a packed town-hall meeting Monday, Nov. 10.

It was unclear, though, if anyone has changed his or her mind on an issue that divided the townspeople of Warren and Stark, where the wind project is planned, and Herkimer from Otsego counties; the northern county gets the benefits, and two counties share the impacts.

And while the prospective wind project has a new owner, some of the faces remained the same. For instance, Iberdrola’s vice president in charge of the 40-turbine project is Skip Brennan, the same Skip Brennan who was promoting the original wind farm for Community Energy as it shrank from 75 turbines to 68 to 49.

The current project, which was described as achieving a “suitable balance” between those pro and con in the community, also happens to top out at 80 megawatts; if it were a watt higher, it would fall under the review of the state Public Service Commission, which has issues strongly worded opinions about the shortcomings.
Since it escapes PSC review, the hearing the other night was to solicit public comment on Iberdrola’s revised filings required under SEQRA, the State Environmental Quality Review Act.

The company’s revised arguments, detailed by Brennan and emphasized on poster board across one wall, state:

• The project has gone though an exhaustive environmental review, dramatized by a pile of bound volumes a table long and three feet high, although it turned out those documents were actually for the Maple Ridge Farm near Lowville, the biggest in the state and now home to almost 200 turbines.
• The 28 eliminated turbines (from the 68-turbine version) is a 41 percent reduction, (although only an 18 percent reduction from the 49-turbine level set by state Supreme Court Judge Donald Greenwood in response to an Article 78 challenge.)
• Eight turbines were removed to the south, creating a five-mile buffer strip between the project and the Glimmerglass National Historic District.
• Four turbines were removed north of Holy Trinity Monastery, creating a one-mile buffer.
• A PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) has been negotiated, which will generate $640,000 in local revenue annually, half of which would go to the Owen D. Young Central School District. Landowners would share $240,000 a year.

Some 36 people were scheduled to speak, five minutes each.

Representative of the anti side was Susan Marquardt, who cited low energy usage in the two towns, and called for “a unifying energy alternative” to the wind farm.
Troy Hugick was among the pros, quoting president-elect Barack Obama, “we have a righteous wind at our back.” He concluded, “and I believe we do.”

Brennan encouraged people with questions to visit the project description on Iberdrola’s web site.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Don’t rush to invest in wind, solar power

We have just seen the collapse of the financial Goliath that was built by fast-buck bankers and encouraged by altruistic but shortsighted government policies that required banks to make more loans to those least able to repay them, and encouraged passing on these loans as quality investments.

We are now building a second Goliath in the form of irrational investment in wind and solar-voltaic energy. These are intermittent sources of electric power that our grid has no means to store for use when needed. The rush to invest in such irrational alternative energy schemes is driven by the same fast-buck investment bankers and by more altruistic but shortsighted government policies that require us to subsidize the cost of building such intermittent energy sources, and purchase their power output, whether we can use it or not.

This country needs reliable and affordable electric power for our homes and industries, and we have no more ability to make the wind blow or to move clouds when we need electric power than a farmer has the ability to make it rain on parched crops. We cannot afford another Goliath with feet of clay.

David Amsler