Friday, December 31, 2010

Maine Voices: State's record on wind power has little to boast about

CARROLL PLANTATION - The euphemisms of pro-wind developers at a LURC hearing to add Kossuth Township to the expedited wind development zone highlight last fall offered a picture of disturbing political and financial alliances that scar Maine landscapes.

First Wind, a money-losing firm needing federal stimulus money for its projects, proposes to build turbines in the viewshed of the beautiful Downeast chain of lakes.

First Wind declared to LURC that the Downeast lakes would not be compromised by its development.

Yet, its petition does not refer to strong evidence of economic and ecological drawbacks to wind power.

The burden of proof should rest with First Wind to provide rigorous evidence it won't harm rural communities, mountaintop ecosystems or birds.

First Wind utilizes Gov. John Baldacci's short-sighted regulations that grease the skids for wind developers to erect inefficient, money-losing wind farms over cherished Maine's landscapes.

Wind development in Maine has contributed to $2.5 trillion in debt amassed by the Obama administration.

Environmental and civic groups often support wind projects because developers like First Wind give them pre-permitting donations to insure their support.

At the meeting, Maine Audubon, Natural Resources Council of Maine and Baskahegan Land Co. capitulated to First Wind's petition to expand the haphazard expedited wind development zone.

Maine Audubon received donations from First Wind, and has also ignored the fact that wind turbines kill huge numbers of birds.

The pro-industry American Wind Energy Association reports that each megawatt of installed wind-power kills between one and six birds annually.

The United States had 25,000 megawatts of wind turbines by 2009, and no fines to wind developers for roughly 100,000 annual bird deaths.

How long will this capitulation continue? The departing governor wants wind energy development on 25,000 to 50,000 acres of priceless Maine mountaintops. Mainers need look no further than Mars Hill to see what "green" development really looks like.

Roger Milliken of Baskahegan Land testified at the meeting.

Baskahegan stands to make lease money from First Wind, so I wasn't surprised to hear Milliken's slant.

But I was surprised by his short-sighted reasons, for Baskahegan's record was once heralded for how timberlands could be sustainably managed.

Milliken cited Appalachian coal mines and the BP spill as reasons for wind turbines. Yet, he failed to divulge the rest of the tale.

First Wind claims that wind development would help the economy sounds similar to Appalachian coal miners trying to keep employment they already have.

Wind farms require only one permanent job for every 10 megawatts of installation. No turbine parts are made instate.

Increasing domestic wind production won't reverse climate change. American coal is being exported to China, to whom we owe debt amassed in part to finance wind energy.

Coal that we won't burn, China will, and thus global carbon emissions will be the same, with or without inefficient wind development.

Due to inconsistent and inefficient production, wind turbines need 100 percent back-up from energy sources like coal.

Milliken failed to mention that the Obama administration, which provides taxpayer-supported stimulus money to develop wind power in Maine, also gave BP critical exemptions to deepwater drilling one week before the well explosion.

Is it just coincidence that BP supported Obama's campaign?

In the Rangeleys, Baldacci recently declared, "It's all about that view. That view says, 'Maine. It gives people an inspiration and it's going to be that way forever.' "

His statements seemed unusually paradoxical coming from a man so aggressive at courting wind developers like First Wind and Iberdrola.

The latter company now demands a continuation of Maine policies (taxpayer subsidies) to bankroll wind development and upgrade transmission lines.

I wondered how Maine reached this precipice, where developers and politicians permanently scar beautiful Maine landscapes.

It seemed a strange twist for a state that had once prided itself on financially sound, aesthetically pleasing development, and even outlawed billboards decades ago.

I was reminded of Baldacci's comments after the hearing, when I climbed atop a wild Maine mountain at the peak of leaf season.

The slate-gray skies of autumn seemed to pull brilliant fall colors to the far reaches of the horizon.

Gazing upon miles of lakes and forests, I too concluded that "It's all about that view.'

And thanks to Baldacci, the future of that view is as uncertain as the legacy of the governor himself.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hammond wind panel OKs property guarantee

HAMMOND — The town's Wind Committee voted 9-1 Tuesday evening to adopt the controversial Residential Property Value Guarantee and move it on to the Town Council as part of its proposed wind zoning law.

Committee member and wind farm leaseholder Michele W. McQueer cast the lone dissenting vote.

With the move, the committee appears to have taken direct aim at the company most interested in locating a wind farm in Hammond.

In a recent letter from Iberdrola Renewables to the committee, Mark Epstein, senior counsel, wrote, "We believe that if the Committee chooses to pursue the RPVG, it will prevent any development of windpower facilities in Hammond."

Read the entire article

Hammond’s got balls! (New York)

Hammond, NY. (Full disclosure. For decades, my family had a summer property in Hammond Township. Dark Island in the Thousand Islands.) As I remember Hammond, it was one of the deadest towns this side of Montana. Right up there with those almost-ghost towns in the Sand Hills of Nebraska.

What passes for “downtown” is a half dozen houses, threadbare Presbyterian church, feed store, and two or three derelict storefronts. When I lived there the only traffic light was blinking—on a county road you could safely sit (literally) on when you were stupid and seventeen, and swill a six-pack with a buddy while enjoying the crickets of a warm summer evening.

Such was the town I knew.

Last night this bullshit town (don’t get me wrong; I adore the place) electrocuted energy giant Iberdrola. Right in its testicles.

Testicles, really? Spain’s smug steroid-bloated Wind Bull—the ballsiest of the ballsy.

Yeah, well, last night one crappy little upstate New York town fried the bull’s machismos. Both of ‘em.

How? Want the short answer? Brilliantly! Hammond’s wind committee overwhelmingly voted (9 to 1) to insist the town’s wind law must include a Residential Property Value Guarantee Agreement (RPVG). (The only member to vote “nay” was, unsurprisingly, a dead-ender with a lease. You couldn’t make this stuff up!)

Flexing its testosterone a couple weeks ago, Iberdrola blustered that any such provision would kill the entire project. To which the committee responded, with incredulity, “But didn’t you jokers tell us that property values are not damaged by your wind machines? Didn’t you rapturously assure us with (horseshit) expert studies that property value actually improves when a township is turned into an industrial wasteland of spinning monsters pounding like freight trains through the night?” Plus, “Hey, we’re prepared to believe you! If you clowns swear there’s no risk that people will flee their homes to escape your howling monsters—then for heaven’s sake you can have no quarrel with this by-your-own-admission wholly irrelevant and unnecessary clause we just wrote into our law!”

Talk about calling Big Wind’s bullshit bluff! Way to go Hammond! Run the bums out of town!

Carpetbaggers, carnies, cons, and grifters—all of ‘em. And not even elegant about it.

Okay, dear reader. Here it is: the text of Hammond’s RPVG. Download it, march this into your town meeting and insist it be included in your wind law.

Simple. Easy. Brilliant. So obvious you want to weep.

And when the Spanish thugs with their legal lackeys threaten to crucify your town in court, tell ‘em Dr. Calvin Luther Martin and Dr. Nina Pierpont, who are proud as punch this evening to have had the privilege of living in Hammond, NY, will gleefully contribute to your town’s legal defense fund.

No bull.

If you’re ever in the Thousand Islands, go see the castle at Dark Island and visit Boldt Castle and blah blah blah. But be sure to visit Hammond. And when you do, get out of your car, kiss the pavement—and sit by (the side of) that road and have a beer for a stupid 17-year-old on a hot July night long ago.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Vermont group pledges continued opposition to wind farm

A local opposition group in Vermont has pledged to make an appeal to the state’s Supreme Court if a current challenge to a utility-scale wind project fails.

Energize Vermont, a group fighting development of utility-scale wind projects in the Green Mountain State, said yesterday that it will continue action against First Wind’s Sheffield Wind project if an appeal to the facility’s stormwater construction permit fails.

The permit was granted by the state’s Agency of Natural Resources, regulating the impact of construction on local streams.

Observers of the proposed Sheffield Wind project reacted with surprise to last week’s announcement from First Wind that financing had been secured for the project.

Initial construction on the Sheffield project began this fall.

Local opposition to the wind project has focused on questions about First Wind’s ability to finance the project in the light of the company’s decision to cancel a public offering of stock owing to the state of the wind market (see this story).

However, Boston-based First Wind announced last week that it had secured $76 million in financing for the 40-megawatt Sheffield project, with KeyBank National Association as lead arranger (see this story).

Energize Vermont said yesterday that it believed securing finance for a wind project before the end of permit litigation was “unusual”.


Stephanie Kaplan, an attorney representing Sheffield project neighbors, pledged continued uncertainty for the project even if a current motion against the project’s permit fails.

She said: “The level of uncertainty that exists for this project is very significant. A motion to alter the court decision that we filed in early September still has not been resolved, and if the court does not reverse its decision, we intend to appeal to the Supreme Court.

“We would not appeal if we did not strongly believe that the permit was improperly granted and we are likely to prevail on appeal.” Kaplan continued. “I hope that the banks and project financers know that the stormwater permit is not yet final and is subject to reversal until all appeals are over.”

First Wind focuses on developing wind farms in the Northeast and western regions of the US, including Hawaii. The company current has seven wind power facilities in operation, with a capacity of 504MW.

Energize Vermont describes itself as a “pro-renewable energy non-profit”, but argues against the development of utility-scale wind farms in Vermont. The group states that it believes energy efficiency measures and solar power are the answers to the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Ms Kaplan said that the filing of the Supreme Court appeal awaited Judge Meredith Wright’s decision on the motion to alter that neighbors in Environmental Court filed in September.

“This case is critical because the application of basic water quality protections is at issue. The ANR permit for Sheffield did not enforce well-established state and federal standards. If that disregard for the law that protects pristine waters in Vermont is acceptable in this case, then it will also be ignored for other projects, and Vermont’s entire stormwater pollution prevention and water quality protection programs are at risk,” Ms Kaplan concluded.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wind turbine destroyed by fire

This is in Clear Lake, Iowa. It burned up a week or two ago. The skeleton is still standing there. Click the pictures for full size.

Friday, December 24, 2010

First Wind aims to put more financing in its sails

First Wind Holdings Inc. could have gone public in October, but it wouldn’t have been on ideal terms, the company’s CEO said.

“We could’ve done a deal,” CEO Paul Gaynor said in a recent interview. But the company would have only pulled in about $200 million from investors, far short of what the company had hoped to raise through the IPO. The proceeds would have been used as equity for new projects and to pay off a high-interest loan.

Now, the Boston-based wind farm developer is pursuing Plan B. The company expects to complete private financing in the range of ...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chamber head speaks out against wind project

HAMMOND — The leader of the local business community says wind development here would deal a "devastating blow" to the local economy.

Cara A. "Candie" Bliss, president of the Black Lake Chamber of Commerce, said her view was shaped after examining wind development in other communities.

"As wind facilities were installed closer to home, we've followed the effects on their communities," she said. "As more time has passed, it has become harder and harder to discount the testimonies of folks who are actually dealing with the realities of living in or near these industrial wind farms."

She said residents in Jefferson and Lewis counties, as well as Ontario, have made it clear that wind development has affected them negatively.

Read the entire article

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

First Wind seeks $300M in private funding

Editors note: Next announcement from First Wind is that they are selling the Brooklyn Bridge.

First Wind Holdings Inc. expects to raise more money through private financing than it could have through an initial public offering, which the Boston-based wind farm developer abandoned in October.

Company CEO Paul Gaynor said in an interview that the firm expects to complete private financing in the range of $300 million in the first half of 2011, which will allow the company to develop wind projects into 2013. The company expects the funding to come from strategic investors who have financed wind power projects outside of the Northeast and want to expand into the region, Gaynor said.

“It was more prudent for us to stay private given the other private options that we have,” he said. “The private strategic sources of capital are a lot less nervous than the public markets.”

First Wind had expected to price its IPO in late October at up to $312 million, with shares in the range of $24 to $26. Proceeds would have been used to pay off a high-interest loan and as equity for new projects.

But midway through the week during which the IPO was expecting to price, First Wind cut the range down to $18 to $20, which would have raised up to $240 million.

In the end, Gaynor said, “we could've done a deal,” but the company would have only been able to pull in about $200 million from investors.

“The decision was, do you do (the IPO), take two-thirds of your money and go try to build two-thirds of your business plan,” he said. “Or do you say, ‘I’m going to stay private and try to raise from other sources of capital.’”

Though the IPO market overall has been weak, the public markets have been especially skittish about wind power companies after some major European wind companies have seen their shares fall by 50 percent or more, Gaynor said. Investors who’d lost money on European wind firms told First Wind, “I just don’t want to make that same mistake again,” he said. “That’s kind of what came through in the pricing.”

First Wind, which first filed its intentions to pursue an IPO in 2008, will consider trying again in another two years or so, Gaynor said.

First Wind has developed wind projects that are operational in Maine, New York, Hawaii and Utah and is in the process of developing a project in Vermont. The company said in a filing that it operated seven projects, with a combined capacity of 504 megawatts, as of Sept. 30. First Wind said it had four projects under construction, totaling 232 megawatts.

Government at Work

Turbine noise raising concerns

It wasn’t noisy, but decibels were the issue during a public hearing at Cohocton’s town board meeting Monday.

The town board tabled a local law regarding windmill decibel levels after a resident raised concerns about noise impacting people on adjacent properties.

The law now goes back to the town planning board for review at their January meeting. It will come before the town board again during their February meeting.

The law deals with decibel levels for residential windmills. The legal limit for all windmills is 45 decibels, regardless of the height difference between residential and industrial turbines.

Read the entire article

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Wind Subsidy Bubble

Green pork should be a GOP budget target.

Ethanol isn't the only heavily subsidized energy source that won a multibillion dollar jackpot in last week's tax deal. The other big winner was the wind industry, which received a one year extension of a $3 billion grant program for renewable energy projects.

Talk about throwing good money after bad. Despite more than $30 billion in subsidies for "clean energy" in the 2009 stimulus bill, Big Wind still can't make it in the marketplace. Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, had warned that without last week's extension of the federal 1603 investment credit, the outlook for the wind industry would be "flatline or down." Some 20,000 wind energy jobs, about one-quarter of the industry's total, could have been lost, the wind lobby concedes. For most industries that would be an admission of failure, but in Washington this kind of forecast is used to justify more subsidies.

But what have these subsidies bought taxpayers? According to AWEA, in the first half of 2010 wind power installations "dropped by 57% and 71% from 2008 and 2009 levels." In the third quarter, the industry says it "added just 395 megawatts (MW) of wind-powered electric generating capacity," making it the lowest quarter since 2007. New wind installations are down 72% from last year to their lowest level since 2006. And this is supposed to be the miracle electricity source of the future?

The coal industry, which Mr. Obama's Environmental Protection Agency and Interior Department have done everything possible to curtail, added almost three times more to the nation's electric power capacity in the first nine months of 2010 (39%) than did wind (14%), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The grant program that Congress has extended was created in the 2008 stimulus bill. It forces taxpayers to pay 30% of a renewable energy project's costs. Big Wind insisted on these grants because wind energy producers don't make enough net income to take advantage of the generous renewable energy tax credit.

The industry also wants a federal renewable energy standard, which would require utilities to buy power from green energy projects regardless of price. Without that additional subsidy, AWEA concedes that wind power will "stall out." It is lobbying for billions of dollars of subsidies to cover the cost of hooking off-shore wind projects to the electricity transmission grid. And now that the cap-and-tax scheme on coal and oil and gas has failed in Congress, the windmillers want the EPA to use regulation to raise costs on carbon sources of power.

Big Wind also has lobbying operations in state capitals, where it has been pushing state renewable energy standards. More than half the states—mostly in the West and Northeast—have enacted these mandates, which are already inflating home and business electricity bills.

According to an analysis by Chris Horner, an energy expert at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the stimulus bill's subsidies for renewable energy cost taxpayers about $475,000 for every job generated. That's at least four times what it costs a nonsubsidized private firm to create a job—a lousy return on investment even for government.

The wind industry claims to employ 85,000 Americans. That's almost certainly an exaggeration, but if it is true it compares with roughly 140,000 miners and others directly employed by the coal industry. Wind accounts for a little more than 1% of electricity generation and coal almost 50%. So it takes at least 25 times more workers to produce a kilowatt of electricity from wind as from coal.

Given this level of inefficiency, it's no wonder that wind and solar energy require at least 20 times more in government subsidies per unit of electricity generated than the average for coal and natural gas, according to a 2007 study by the Energy Information Administration.

The wind industry gave the vast majority of its campaign contributions this election cycle to Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Democrats. If Republicans are serious about shrinking the federal budget and ending corporate welfare, a very good target would be green pork, starting with wind.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Wind Turbine Syndrome: “In their own words”

Congress just sent an $801 billion tax cut bill to President Obama for his signature. Obama will sign it into law. At the last minute, as a result of carpet-bombing lobbying and dire prophecies by the American Wind Energy Association, Democrats inserted language into the bill to extend the huge, absurd, direct federal subsidy for wind energy projects—guaranteeing Americans at least one more year of The Great Wind Energy Opera.

This means that you, dear reader, may wind up contemplating a wind turbine or two near your home, soon.

Should this happen, you’re doubtless going to hear (probably for the first time) the phrase “Wind Turbine Syndrome,” as your community debates this so-called “wind farm.” (It’s not a “farm”; it’s a major industrial plant.)

You will soon make an interesting connection. The people who have signed leases with the wind developers consider Wind Turbine Syndrome to be so much moonshine. As a Brewster, MA, town officer recently put it, “hogwash.” (Note: These “WTS = moonshine” experts signed those leases long before you were apprised of this whole project, but that’s a scandalous story for another day.)

Of course, the moonshine crowd has zero credentials, or, for that matter, any real knowledge of what Wind Turbine Syndrome in fact is. (Frankly, they wouldn’t know a syndrome from a Las Vegas hooker. Or a peer review from their pudenda.) They heard it’s moonshine from the wind developers—and that’s good enough for them.

But I digress. The point is, you’re looking down the barrel (a very large barrel!) of a wind turbine—maybe lots of them—and wondering if these things really, honest-to-god make people sick.

Short answer? Yes, they do. Sick enough that many either sell their homes (if they can), or they raise enough hell with the developer that the company (secretly) buys them out, or they abandon their home. (Lock the door and drive away. No kidding.)

Many more sit tight and suffer. And, since they haven’t read Pierpont, they can’t figure out why they’re getting pounding headaches and awakening at night in a panic, and why they feel like puking and get dizzy and have ringing (tinnitus) or pressure in their ears and feel like their insides are crawling, and—for the life of them—why they’re forgetting things, and can’t do many formerly mundane, simple tasks that require spatial thinking and spatial reasoning. (Um, early Alzheimer’s? Nope. Wind Turbine Syndrome.)

But you don’t want to hear it from me, right? You want to hear their beef in their own words, right? (Let’s call it the “unvarnished beef.”)

Pierpont gives it to you—yes, in their own words. Sixty-seven pages of it. Sixty-seven pages of what’s called, in medicine, “case histories.”

They look like this (click here).

Get Pierpont’s book and start reading those 67 pages.

In the remaining 230 pages, Pierpont explains the likely patho-physiology of their beef, which, incidentally, Big Wind (WIND) says is nothing more than, well, garden-variety hysteria. “They’re making it up,” in other words. WIND (“Why I Need Dollars”) calls it a “nocebo” effect. WIND seized on this risible explanation after it hired some shills to write a rebuttal to Pierpont’s research.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention. The big fight in this whole mess is between WIND and NIMBY. ”Why I Need Dollars” versus “Not In My Back Yard.” The WINDies want, um, the dollars, and for that they’re going to make all sorts of righteous speeches about “getting off Arab oil” and “global warming” and “doing our part” and “bringing home the troops” and “Wind Turbine Syndrome is bullshit” and “cats kill more birds than turbines” and “jobs jobs jobs” and “green economy” and so forth. You get the idea. The NIMBYs don’t want the turbines because they devastate their property value, industrialize the neighborhood, make many people seriously ill, do nothing for global warming and energy independence and the jobs are short-lived and wind energy raises your electricity bill, and so forth.

But I’ve digressed once more.

When you’re done reading the case histories, ponder this: Virtually everyone in these 67 pages moved out of their home. (Do people really, truly move out of their homes—or abandon them—over something they made up?)

Finally, this. There are thousands of people around the world who describe the identical cluster of symptoms—symptoms that started when the turbines went online, symptoms that disappear when people go away for several days, symptoms that reappear when people return home. Symptoms that steadily, insidiously worsen over time, because you can never “get used to” the patho-physiological jack-hammering of infrasound. (Sorry, my friend, the body just doesn’t work that way.)

Moonshine? You’ve got brains and you’ve got common sense and you’re an adult. You decide.

Friday, December 17, 2010

First Wind To Launch Sale, Equity Hunt

First Wind is about to launch a search for capital and a stake sale in its Northeast wind farm fleet as a way to capitalize its development pipeline since deciding to shelve its initial public offering. Morgan Stanley has been hired to raise capital at the holding company level, while Credit Suisse and Macquarie Capital run a process to sell stakes in its wind farms in the Northeast. Teasers have not gone out and a timeline for the process could not be learned.

First Wind wants to maintain a stake in the operating assets, says a banker. Infrastructure and pension funds are expected to be interested in buying stakes in its 270 MW Northeast fleet, observers say. First Wind will likely be considered an attractive partner, one banker says, pointing to its operating experience.

It has three operating farms in Maine : the 42 MW Mars Hill, 57 MW Stetson and 26 MW Stetson II. The developer owns the 125 MW Cohocton and 20 MW Steel Winds in New York . The farms have offtakers. At least two projects, including the 50 MW Rollins project in Maine and a 15 MW expansion to Steel Winds, are expected to be operating next year.

The Boston-based developer has 200-250 MW of projects it expects to bring to construction next year and had planned on using funds from the IPO to finance a portion of the development costs (PFR, 10/22). Backers D.E. Shaw & Co. and Madison Dearborn are not looking to exit the company, but want to pull in additional third-party investments, says an observer.

First Wind iced its IPO after investor commitments came in at the $16-18 range, below the roughly $19-20 range the company was targeting (PFR, 11/5).

A Macquarie spokeswoman and First Wind spokesman declined to comment while calls to officials at D.E. Shaw and Madison Dearborn were not returned. Spokespeople at Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley did not reply to inquiries.

CROH: Current Law's Setbacks Inadequate

HAMMOND - Concerned Residents of Hammond President Mary D. Hamilton made a presentation to the wind committee Thursday, including the group's recommendations for setback requirements for the placement of industrial wind turbines.

The first part of CROH's position paper focuses on Hammond's natural water resources - the shorelines of the St. Lawrence River and Black Lake.

Citing several resources, including the New York State Scenic Areas of Statewide Significance (SASS), New York State Historic Preservation Office (NYSHPO), Department of Environmental Conservation's New York Natural Heritage Program, and the Audobon Society, Mrs. Hamilton said, "The fact Hammond lies between two amazing water resources not only provides a unique distinction but poses a special situation, particularly with regards to the wildlife and migratory bird and bat population, and their scenic, environmental, recreational, and historical significance.

"These areas deserve special consideration in formulating setback conditions for an industrial wind law for the Town of Hammond."

Read the entire article

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A reason not to do business with Iberdola

I read with a great deal of interest the article covering the proceedings of the Hammond Wind Committee. Iberdrola threatening to leave caught my eye, but really did not come as a big surprise to me.

Apparently, some Hammond wind committee members would like a guarantee that their residents are not harmed by property value loss by living next to a farm of 75 500-foot-tall spinning structures. Wind developers across the country (including Iberdrola) have been touting their own financed findings of no impact on property values.

If Iberdrola were genuine in their claim that a wind project has no negative economic consequences for adjacent property owners, then any guarantee to make them whole costs Iberdrola nothing but still allows adjacent property owners to sleep comfortably in the knowledge that they can and will be made whole, if the development in Hammond results in significant loss in property values.

Why can't Iberdrola put their money where their mouth is? Number one, living next to a wind turbine farm does decrease the desirability and will decrease values. There are numerous studies that have shown that, which have been swept under the rug.

Number two, CNBC Financials in a report characterized Iberdrola as a troubled Spanish business desperate to raise cash and reported that they are selling off assets. This company is in financial trouble and wants to use unknowing landowners for their profit and wants to dismiss any responsibility for any damage they do.

The very approach of the developer saying to the community "we're going to take our money and go away if you don't do things our way" should be enough to convince anyone that Hammond has no business doing any business with these people.

Brooke Stark


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

First Wind Eyes Sale, Equity Hunt

First Wind is considering ways to raise equity and development capital to fund its project pipeline since it decided to shelve its initial public offering. Credit Suisse and Macquarie Capital are advising the wind developer on ...

United Technologies Completes Clipper Windpower Acquisition

United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) today announced that it has completed its purchase of Clipper Windpower Plc by acquiring all remaining shares, as previously announced.

Clipper Windpower is a California-based company engaged in wind energy technology, turbine manufacturing, and wind project development. Its acquisition by UTC creates the long-term financial stability necessary for Clipper's continued growth, while enabling Clipper to fully leverage UTC's management capabilities, operational expertise and world-class technology in blades, turbines, and gearbox design.

The acquisition also builds on UTC's existing portfolio of energy efficient products and power generation systems that respond to the world's growing demand for cleaner, more efficient products.

Based in Hartford, Connecticut, UTC is a diversified company that provides high technology products and services to the building systems and aerospace industries.


John Moran

(860) 728-7062

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pickens Plan no longer features wind energy

Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens' TV commercials blasted the airwaves in 2008 with his big idea to get America off foreign oil imports: natural gas and wind energy.

Two years later, let’s just make that natural gas.

Since the billionaire’s plans for the world’s largest wind farm fell apart in the Texas Panhandle, Pickens has edited his much-hyped “Pickens Plan” to focus primarily on his other big business interest: natural gas.

Touting 1.7 million Pickens Plan supporters, he’s now pushing Congress to pass legislation that would offer incentives to convert 18-wheelers and fleet vehicles to run on compressed natural gas, or CNG, rather than diesel. He said if just 8 million of those trucks switch to the domestic-produced fuel, it could cut in half the amount of foreign oil imported by the United States.

“I’m all American,” Pickens said on Friday. “Any energy in America beats importing.”

The businessman said he is now looking to Canada as a place to build his 500-megawatt wind farm, because he couldn’t get a deal done in Texas.

Pickens has spent more than two years and $80 million promoting the Pickens Plan, mostly in 2008 with TV spots and social media and traversing the country for town hall meetings, lobbying Congress and visiting the White House.

Special Report: Environmental entrepreneurs

But critics say Pickens is no passive policy advocate and his agenda reflects his own financial interests.

“He stands to make hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Tyson Slocum, director of the energy program for Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group. “He doesn’t see wind personally as a lucrative investment anymore.”

Pickens owns 45 percent of Clean Energy Fuels, a Seal Beach, Calif., company that builds natural gas filling stations for buses and fleet vehicles. CNG industry executives say natural gas is cleaner, abundant and cheaper than gasoline — as much as 60 cents to $1 less per gallon.

Pickens admits that he may benefit financially but that’s not his main goal. “If that was the case, I shouldn’t have spent $80 million,” he said. He says that if America is going to stop importing foreign oil, we must focus on transportation.

Much of Pickens’ early media blitz plugged wind. In one 2008 YouTube video, Pickens sketched out a plan on a whiteboard to increase wind energy for power companies, which would then free up natural gas for transportation and reduce overseas oil imports. In another video, he advocated for more wind energy, which would create jobs, finance schools and revitalize rural America.

“It can be done, and it will be done because it has to be done,” he said in the video.

Pickens said he ordered $1.5 billion worth of wind turbines to build the wind farm in Pampa, Texas, but he later abandoned the project because the state didn’t have local transmission lines needed to distribute the energy. Texas should start construction on those local lines next year.

“There’s a certain amount of disappointment,” said Lonny Robbins, Pampa’s mayor. The town of 17,000 had bustled with anticipation following Pickens’ announcement. No other wind project has been built in the town so far.

“That’s the way some things happen sometimes,” said Robbins.

Pickens now says Canada is more appealing because the country has renewable energy standards that require energy companies to buy certain amounts of wind power. Because natural gas prices have dropped, wind looks too expensive for U.S. power companies.

“You’re going to get natural gas prices up, or wind — it just isn’t gonna happen,” Pickens said on Friday.

Even without Pickens’ project, the U.S. wind industry should be just fine. Projects by fellow billionaires Phil Anschutz and Warren Buffett are still moving forward in Wyoming and Iowa. And the overall wind industry had its biggest year in 2009, due in part to new federal cash grants for investments.

In Texas, if you drive four hours south of Pampa to Sweetwater, you will see seven of the top 10 largest wind projects underway, said Greg Wortham, Sweetwater mayor and director of the Texas Wind Energy Clearinghouse. The state is also spending $5 billion on transmission lines.

“You can go 150 miles without losing site of a wind turbine,” said Wortham. “There are lines of blades parked along the highway waiting to go into a wind site under construction.”

The big worry for the industry is Congress, not Pickens, said Wortham. The industry would get a boost if Congress approves President Barack Obama's bi-partisan tax plan now set for a vote in the Senate. That plan includes energy tax credits to encourage more wind investments, yet industry officials say a more consistent policy is still needed to encourage more long-term investment in the industry.

Pickens is equally frustrated with Washington. He pointed to President Obama’s post-election pledge to end U.S. dependence on imports of Middle East oil within 10 years.

“Two and a half years,” Pickens said. “And there’s no plan.”

Howard Wind Update

Hopkins Road Being Worked On/Hotline For Wind Company Concerns

Everpower Wind officials say that Hopkins Road in the Steuben County Town of Howard, from Mill Road to County Route 27, is temporarily closed for improvements to support Howard Wind Farm construction vehicles. According to Everpower, Hopkins Road is expected to be closed for about a week, but no later than December 23. There will not be an onsite detour.

“We are trying to do as much preparatory work as possible before the end of the year,” said Kevin Sheen, EverPower’s senior director of development. “By starting now, it should allow us to be ahead of schedule for when construction begins in Spring 2011.”

Residents will also see Delaney Construction vehicles and construction equipment moving into the region. For complete construction information or updates, please visit

In other Howard wind news, EverPower officials have announced a customer service hotline for residents of Steuben County who have a question or concern regarding the construction of the wind farm. The toll-free phone number is 1-888-450-6731. An Everpower spokesman says that the phone line is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week and will remain in operation for one year after construction has been completed.

“It is the easy and most efficient way the community can have their questions or concerns addressed as quickly as possible,” said Kevin Sheen, EverPower’s senior director of development. “The calls will be answered by a person and not a machine. The person will then forward the inquiry to the proper person or company, allowing us to respond within a week of the initial inquiry.”

Steuben County residents can also have their questions and concerns addressed in writing. To submit a written question or concern, please forward to Howard Wind LLC Customer Service; 44 East 30th Street, 10th floor; New York, NY 10016.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Iberdrola threatens to pull project

Iberdrola Renewables is threatening to pull its plans for a wind farm here if the Town Council passes rules it deems "unworkable."

The board is considering a law proposed by the town's wind committee that would require Iberdrola Renewables to compensate property owners who see drops in their land values because of the presence of wind turbines. The proposal also requires the company to buy out any property owner who objects to living near a turbine.

"If there aren't any negative effects to property values, then they are no worse for wear if this agreement is included," wind committee chairman Ronald R. Papke said.

But Iberdrola Renewables spokesman Paul N. Copleman said the company won't conduct business inside the town if the so-called "Residential Property Value Guarantee Agreement" is passed.

Read the entire article

Lame-Duck Bailouts for Ethanol and Wind?

Ethanol is the Frankenfuel of the energy business, a subsidy-devouring monster that cannot be killed, no matter how great the political opposition. Farm-state senators have apparently succeeded in adding an extension of the ethanol tax credit, which is scheduled to expire at the end of the year, to the tax bill now working its way through Congress.

While that news is disheartening enough, the wind-energy business — the electricity sector’s equivalent of the ethanol scam — may also be winning in its effort to garner more federal subsidies. It is pushing lame-duck legislators to extend a part of the stimulus package known as the Section 1603 tax credit, which gives cash directly to wind-project developers. But what the wind boosters really need to keep their struggling business afloat is a mandate requiring the production of renewable electricity — at least 15 percent by 2020. And some Democratic senators are pushing a bill that would do just that.

Any legislation that provides more subsidies for ethanol or wind energy in the final days of the 111th Congress will be a major loss for taxpayers, as billions of additional dollars will be lavished on sectors that cannot survive in the free market.

Both industries have a long history of subsidies. The ethanol sector began suckling at the public teat in 1978 and has never been weaned. Instead, the industry has convinced Congress to provide ever-increasing volumes of taxpayer cash on the promise that their corn-distilled elixir will drastically reduce America’s need for foreign oil.

Read the entire article

Friday, December 10, 2010

Citizens Against Lake Erie Wind Turbines

Clipper Windpower PLC (UK): Scheme of Arrangement

Subject to the court sanctioning the scheme of arrangement in relation to the acquisition of Clipper Windpower PLC (UK) by United Technologies Corporation (Non-Constituent), FTSE announces the following changes:


Clipper Windpower (UK B09H7Z5) will be deleted.

Metminco (UK B61HMS3) will be added to the index with a shares in issue total of 835,258,549 and an investability weighting of 100%.
15 December 2010

FTSE AIM All-Share
Clipper Windpower will be deleted.
15 December 2010

Please note: Last day of trading for Clipper Windpower is expected to be Monday 13 December 2010, therefore it will remain in the index on Tuesday 14 December 2010 based on its last trade price.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Howard Moving Closer And Closer To Getting Wind Project

First Step: Road Improvements

An official in the Town of Howard tells our news department that the Town of Howard is beginning construction work on town roads to make the roads wider and stronger, so construction companies can travel with wind turbine parts on them.

According to Howard officials, the wind turbines will actually be smaller than was originally planned on.

Officials also say the location of some of the wind turbines will be slightly different in placement.

However, Howard officials maintain there will not be another environmental study, because the wind turbines will not be far from where they were originally planned to be.

Iberdrola Threatens To Leave

HAMMOND - If Hammond adopts a wind law that requires Iberdrola Renewables Inc. to compensate property owners who see drops in their land values, the company says it will scrap plans to build a proposed wind farm.

"They've basically said if we pass this agreement, that they will pick up their tinker toys and leave the sandbox," said Richard K. Champany, the wind committee member responsible for the proposal. Mr. Champany, a real estate attorney with offices in Alexandria Bay and Pulaski, said he didn't anticipate this reaction from Iberdrola.

"It's very infuriating," he said, holding up the letter from Iberdrola. "I've attempted to mediate and make everyone happy. This is a very fair proposal. I didn't expect this kind of reaction."

"It also says they don't have any experience with property values dropping," said Michele W. McQueer, committee tri-chair, "and that they would like to discuss the proposal with us."

Read the entire article

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

NYSERDA seeks to 'transform our economic system'

As the G20 summit meeting scheduled in Cancun approaches, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) co-chair, Dr. Edenhoffer of Germany, candidly admitted, " must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world's wealth by climate policy." This has been clearly exemplified here in the United States by the fact that of the $2.2 Billion dollars of the stimulus money that was allotted for "renewables" (and all the "green" jobs it would supposedly create) -- over 80% of that money went overseas (See: ). Industrial wind is a major component of the IPCC's "climate policy" redistribution of wealth scheme, and NYS -- with plenty of Big Wind lobbyists and political cronies in high places, is a major player in this redistribution of wealth and, as Al Gore & George Soros refer to it -- "global governance" scheme.

The push for the redistribution of our wealth through politicalization of our energy policies was made clear once again at the annual NYS Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) "Partnership for Environmental Improvement" meeting held on 11/18/10 in Albany, when NYSERDA executive, Janet Joseph stated, "...We are looking at transforming our economic system."

The objective of the meeting was supposed to be for NYSERDA to give Environmental Groups from across NYS an opportunity to bring their concerns to NYSERDA's attention, so that NYSERDA could properly address these concerns. The absolute frustration we have faced at getting them to address any of our concerns over the past several years now, was made even worse at this year's meeting. Dr. Thorndike, the Cornell professor on NYSERDA's board who chairs these meetings, elected to skip over the folks from across NYS she knew were there about wind, while letting all the other attendees speak -- despite the fact that we had all been invited by NYSERDA to this meeting, and driven hundreds of miles to get there. When it got to be 3:00 -- past the time the agenda said would be allotted for our comments -- and the meeting was only scheduled to go until 4:00, I decided to speak out -- much to their chagrin, I'm sure.

I pointed out to them that the entire focus in each of their varied presentations that day had been about improving "energy efficiency & reliablity" -- of which industrial wind is neither.

I asked, "You admitted that we don't have the money, the equipment, or the transmission lines in your presentation on Offshore Wind, - so why are we wasting the time and resources soliciting these projects? I can testify that my hometown would be much better off if we spent the money insulating, and installing energy efficient windows in every home. And I dare say, we'd probably save millions in dollars, and emissions in the process, while creating thousands of jobs!" (Why create jobs for local contractors when it's all about servicing Big Corporate, though?!?)

I went on and said, "Two things are missing when it comes to industrial wind -- the science and the money!" NYSERDA has yet to provide the independent, transparent, empirical proof that wind energy can live up to any of the wind industry's claims.

I asked how they could compare industrial wind -- something that has virtually a zero capacity value (can be relied on to be there when called upon), to our reliable, dispatchable, baseload energy sources (i.e., hydro, nuclear, gas, & coal), which "is like comparing a soap box derby car to a Boeing 747." (See: )

I referenced the Colorado/Texas Bentek studies, which looked at actual wind performance data in Texas and Colorado, and concluded that wind caused coal plants to operate more inefficiently, "often resulting in great SO2, NOx, and CO2 emissions than would have occurred if less wind energy were generated and coal generation was not cycled."

No one debated any of the facts I presented.

I looked to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative presenter who had proclaimed that "We must raise the cost of carbon!", and told him that in spite of their demonizing of coal, there is the inconvenient fact that with over 100,000 IWT's that have been installed worldwide to date, NOT one coal plant has been closed down anywhere in the world thanks to industrial wind. I elaborated that it was cheaper, affordable energy that had made our country what it is today, and our poorest poor in this country are far better off than the poor in any other country in the world because we have had affordable power. Their plans to "transform our economic system" will hurt the lowest income folks the most. (See: "Resisting the Green Dragon" at the )

His response was, "We answered all your questions at the meeting a year ago."

I said, "No you didn't! Dr. Jan Storm, the NYS Dept of Health rep who spoke at the June, 2009 meeting acknowledged the existence of health problems around the world due to citing these things too close to peoples' homes -- but that NYS had not yet undertaken any studies. Here it is a year and a half later, and NYS still has done NO health studies. Yet, you continue to push these projects through! Furthermore, former PSC Sound Engineer, Dan Driscoll, told us all at the June, 2009 meeting that setbacks of approximately 3500 feet would probably alleviate most problems, yet you still have made NO recommendations to communities across NYS dealing with industrial wind developers. As a matter of fact, you have done NOTHING to help protect NYS residents!"

Of course, the typical reply came back, "It's a local matter."

I challenged them, and said, "As NYS's Energy Research & Development 'authority', you have a responsibility to make recommendations to the state on behalf of the people you work for in regard to these projects!"

A fellow advocate from the Tug Hill area jumped in -- citing the fact that she had brought in FERC numbers showing the ridiculous output levels of 12% & 16% from the Maple Ridge project at the last meeting, and then handed all of them copies of the latest peer-reviewed study on the negative health effects of living too close to industrial wind installations. Advocates there for the first time from the Great Lakes group, then voiced their utter dismay with the way we had all been treated and ignored, and got up and left.

And how were our questions and concerns answered? With lame excuses and condescending lectures.

Why doesn't our government listen, you ask? One can only surmise that our government and its agencies (i.e., NYSERDA) are in bed with the developers. NYSERDA is bent on raising your electric rates in order to benefit multi-national developers, and in turn -- themselves.

NYSERDA told us straight out at last year's meeting, "Industrial wind is not up for debate as it is a political agenda that has been handed down from Washington & Albany." Really???

The hypocrisy of the NYS Energy Research & Development bureaucracy's Mission Statement of providing "independent, objective, scientific proof," versus pursuing "political agendas," is clear, and it is we -- the NYS taxpayers & ratepayers, who will pay the price, while OUR tax & ratepayer dollars continue to be exported overseas in this "climate policy" fraud.

I'm afraid that I could not agree more with the statement Environmentalist, Jon Boone, made three years ago at a presentation in Chautauqua County:

"The politicalization of electricity production, which is what is happening here, corrupts any reasonable sense of enlightened public policy, driven as it is by propagandized sloganeering and a press that much of the time couldn’t hit water with an accurate story about wind if it fell out of a boat. New York State’s Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the politically correct renewable energy oversight group within the state’s PSC, has become one of those grotesque bureaucracies that exist to justify its existence, generating gratuitous inaccuracies about the potential for wind energy in much the same way Cinderella’s step sisters connived to make that damned slipper fit their outsized feet. NYSERDA’s levy of a renewable energy surcharge is nothing more than a legalized bunko scheme for defrauding consumers."

Folks, accountability is a biblical principle. Not only is it time that we held our politicians and government bureaucracies accountable -- we all have a duty to speak out! Silence is agreement. Ignoring what is going on is akin to denial of an addiction -- It won't get better until we acknowledge the problem, and ask God for His help to deal with it. We have a responsibility to educate ourselves, speak out, and demand accountability from our elected officials. As Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

The next "political" development in NYS will likely be "Article X", which is being promoted by Governor-elect Cuomo. This will effectively take away NYS citizen's Home Rule rights to determine whether or not they want wind projects in their community, and if so, under what conditions. Are you willing to sit back and accept this removal of our constitutional rights, or will you stand up and speak out?

Mary Kay Barton
Silver Lake, NY

“Wind Turbines Are Hazardous to Human Health”

Overview of The Problem

Wind turbines such as those currently being constructed in rural areas generate high levels of infrasound noise. This is very low frequency noise (sound waves of less than 20 cycles per second) that you cannot hear. Even though you cannot hear the sound, it is easily detected by the ear at the levels that are produced and can have effects on the body that profoundly disturb some individuals.

The situation is somewhat similar to ultraviolet (UV) light and the eye. We cannot see ultraviolet light but we all understand that it can affect us profoundly, causing sunburn, photokeratitis (also known as snow blindness or welder’s flash) and cataracts. For UV light, there are simple ways that the damaging effects can be avoided using sunscreens and eye protection.

For infrasound exposure in your home, there is currently no way to protect yourself. Although double glazing and door seals will reduce the levels of the sounds you can hear, they have little influence on the infrasound level in the home. Infrasound is a slowly-changing pressure wave, that can only be blocked by completely sealing the house, making it airtight. In practice this cannot be performed due to building codes and the risk of suffocation.

The effects of wind turbine infrasound build up slowly on people. For most, there are no effects while in the vicinity of wind turbines for short periods (such as the workday) and when higher levels of other sounds (i.e. sound you can hear) are present.

The problem arises when people try and sleep in their homes in the presence of wind turbine noise. [Editor's note: Dr. Nina Pierpont's research demonstrates that Wind Turbine Syndrome, for many people, is not limited to their night-time sleep.] The audible sounds are reduced by the house structure, so the room may be fairly quiet, but the sound becomes dominated by the infrasound that the person cannot hear. The infrasound is detected by the ear and has subtle influences on the body that we are only just beginning to understand. It can cause dysequilibrium (like sea-sickness, but not induced by movement), tinnitus, a sensation of fullness in the ear and worst of all, disturb sleep, probably by stimulation of subconscious neural pathways to the brain. [Editor's note: Dr. Pierpont's research demonstrates a considerably larger constellation of symptoms.]

People undergo repeated arousals from sleep (brief partial awakenings that are not remembered) and repeated awakenings when sleeping in such an environment that leave the individual stressed and unrefreshed.

Sleep disturbance over a prolonged period is known to be extremely hazardous to health, causing mental changes, high blood pressure, diabetes and increased mortality. [Editor's note: Dr. Pierpont's research suggests there is more going on here than simply "sleep arousal"; it is a panic response, which she suggests is connected to a vestibular organ response to low-frequency noise/infrasound.]

In many cases, these health effects have been significant enough to force people to abandon their homes. In a few cases the homes have been “bought out” by the wind turbine companies (and the owners typically “silenced” by non-disclosure agreements, otherwise known as “gag” orders), but in others the home is abandoned and is difficult to sell to another family. Properties located in the vicinity of wind turbines are becoming increasingly difficult to sell.

Recent epidemiological studies suggest that significant disturbances of sleep and mental health occur for people living in homes up to 5 kilometers away from the wind turbines. This is because infrasound is capable of traveling greater distances than the sound you normally hear (which is why elephants and whales use it to communicate).

The wind turbine companies and most politicians are turning a deaf ear to this problem, and continue to promulgate false and debunked arguments that no problem exists. In this collection of pages, below, we consider in detail some of these issues in which we have scientific expertise.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Maine Voices: An 82-year-old got tired of spitting into the wind, went out on a limb

LINCOLN - My name is Donald Smith. I am 82 years old and a native Mainer. I am a veteran and a grandfather. I was arrested and charged with criminal trespass at the Rollins Mountain wind project site in Lincoln on Nov. 8. Five of us formed a human barricade to the site.

Dozens of others braved the cold rainy November day to protest First Wind's project.

Many people have asked me why I did this. Good question. I hope I give good answers.

The first reason is that nobody seems to be paying attention to the negative aspects of wind power -- least of all the complacent and complicit media in Maine.

If we had just stood out there with signs, even the local reporter would likely have overlooked the event. putting myself on the line to dramatize why this project is so wrong, it caught the attention of media far and wide.

It seems that most people understand utility scale (or industrial) wind power superficially, accepting wind power as "green" and "clean" and the panacea for solving energy and climate challenges. It is the result of years of masterful propaganda by the wind industry.


Some of us have actually done a lot of research into industrial wind and have found huge negatives. dramatically raising the visibility of the issue with the arrests, we are getting people to discover these negatives as the follow-up dialogue occurs.

I have gained insights from my research into industrial wind. The wind industry would not exist without massive government subsidies. For example, the US Energy Information Administration reports that in 2007, wind received $23.37 per megawatt hour in subsidies; the next highest subsidy was $1.59 for nuclear. Those are our tax dollars going into something that doesn't work.

We are putting up wind turbines in places where there isn't enough wind to generate electricity. Look at the NREL map of wind potential in Maine. The area around Lincoln Lakes is all white. Look at the color code and white means "poor."

My guess is wind turbines are not about generating electricity, but about selling a carbon tax in the form of renewable energy certificates, raking in production tax credits, and having the taxpayers pay the cost of construction.

Another reason I got arrested is to protest the proliferation of these industrial wind projects. I retired to live a quiet life on Caribou Pond, with a view of Rollins Mountain. That ridge will have 15 turbines, each 389 feet high. The total number of turbines will be 40 on Rollins Mountain and the ridges of Rocky Dundee.


An acoustics expert stated that the noise from these turbines will negatively impact hundreds of people on the lakes and nearby country roads, the same well-documented noise problems that have been experienced at Mars Hill, Freedom and Vinalhaven.

I am not a NIMBY. I don't believe these industrial machines belong anywhere in the rural landscape. Not in anyone's yard -- back, front or side.

The noise issue is just one of many. If you could see the destruction of Rollins Mountain taking place right now, you would never consider this a "green" project. The DEP would fine me if I moved a rock at my home, yet they approved ridges being blasted away and scalped. They will never be the same.

The Rollins project will blast away more than seven miles of ridges and clear-cut more than one thousand acres and install 20 miles of powerlines to tie into the grid.

That is for just one project. Without thinking through the ramifications, the Legislature in 2008 passed LD 2283, a horrible law to give favoritism to wind power. They chose an arbitrary figure of 2,700 megawatts of installed capacity by 2020, which at a generous actual output of 25 percent, ends up being just 675 megawatts of intermittent, unpredictable, unreliable power.

If Rollins is 60 megawatts, then it will mean 45 more projects like this to achieve the goal.


Do the math. Based on the impact of Rollins, that means at least 315 miles of Maine ridges and mountains blasted away to install 1,800 turbines; 45,000 acres or more of carbon sequestrating forest permanently clear-cut; and 1,000 miles or more of new powerlines.

The price? Rollins' price tag of $130 million times 45 is a staggering $5.85 billion.

Why did I get arrested? To help bring forth what a folly this is and how damaging it is to Maine's environment. Wind power is bad economics and bad public policy. It is far from "green." The negative impacts of these projects on the environment and our quality of place far outweigh the pittance of good they might do for the planet.

New Jersey lawmakers endorse Wind Turbine Syndrome, calling for 2000 ft. setbacks

“The Legislature finds and declares that . . . recent developments in the area of wind power production have . . . indicated that the noise and vibration stemming from the operation of large-scale industrial wind turbines may cause nearby residents to suffer from a health condition known as “wind turbine syndrome,” which may result in sleep disturbance, headaches, ringing of the ears, ear pressure, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, visual blurring, racing heartbeat, irritability, problems with memory and concentration, and panic episodes accompanied by internal pulsation or quivering sensations; that people have moved away from their homes to avoid the ill effects associated with “wind turbine syndrome”; and that medical, noise, and acoustics experts, as well as wind energy organizations, have indicated that incidents of “wind turbine syndrome” can be avoided if industrial-strength wind turbines are sited a considerable distance away from residential property.”


Prohibits siting of industrial wind turbines within 2,000 feet of any residence or residentially zoned property.

AN ACT concerning wind energy and supplementing Titles 13 and 40 of the Revised Statutes.

BE IT ENACTED by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

1. a. The Legislature finds and declares that industrial-strength wind turbines can be over 400 feet tall and have blades that sweep up to 1.5 acres in area; that, as a result of their size, these machines have the potential to obstruct scenic vistas, create large community eyesores, and reduce property values for nearby residents unless they are sited at appropriate distances from residential areas; that recent developments in the area of wind power production have further indicated that the noise and vibration stemming from the operation of large-scale industrial wind turbines may cause nearby residents to suffer from a health condition known as “wind turbine syndrome,” which may result in sleep disturbance, headaches, ringing of the ears, ear pressure, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, visual blurring, racing heartbeat, irritability, problems with memory and concentration, and panic episodes accompanied by internal pulsation or quivering sensations; that people have moved away from their homes to avoid the ill effects associated with “wind turbine syndrome”; and that medical, noise, and acoustics experts, as well as wind energy organizations, have indicated that incidents of “wind turbine syndrome” can be avoided if industrial-strength wind turbines are sited a considerable distance away from residential property.

b. The Legislature therefore finds that, in order to protect the public health and welfare, and in order to preserve the scenic vistas enjoyed by State residents and protect residents from unnecessary reductions in property value, it is both reasonable and necessary to prohibit the siting of industrial-strength wind turbines in or near residential areas.

2. a. No wind energy structure may be erected or installed in the State at a site that is closer than 2,000 feet from any residence or residentially zoned property.

b. No State entity may approve any plan, proposal, or permit application for a wind energy structure if that wind energy structure will be erected or installed at a site that is closer than 2,000 feet from any residence or residentially zoned property.

c. The provisions of this section shall apply only to wind energy structures erected or installed in the State subsequent to the effective date of this act.

d. As used in this section, “wind energy structure” means any on- or off-shore turbine, facility, farm, or other structure that is designed for the purpose of supplying electrical energy produced from wind technology, but shall not include a “small wind energy system,” as defined by section 1 of P.L.2009, c.244 (C.40:55D-66.12).

3. a. No municipal agency may approve any plan, proposal, or permit application for a wind energy structure if that wind energy structure will be erected or installed at a site that is closer than 2,000 feet from any residence or residentially zoned property.

b. The provisions of this section shall apply only to wind energy structures erected or installed in the State subsequent to the effective date of this act.

c. As used in this section, “wind energy structure” means any on- or off-shore turbine, facility, farm, or other structure that is designed for the purpose of supplying electrical energy produced from wind technology, but shall not include a “small wind energy system,” as defined by section 1 of P.L.2009, c.244 (C.40:55D-66.12).

4. This act shall take effect immediately.


This bill would prohibit the siting of any industrial-strength wind energy production system within 2,000 feet of any residence or residentially zoned property. It would further prohibit any State entity or local government unit from approving a plan, proposal, or permit application for any industrial wind energy system that will be so sited.

The bill’s prohibitions are necessary in order to ensure that the increased use of wind energy in the State will not cause a significant obstruction of scenic views or reduction in home values for New Jersey residents, and, more importantly, will not cause New Jersey residents to suffer from the ill health effects associated with “wind turbine syndrome” – a condition that has been connected with the close placement of industrial-scale wind turbines to residential areas. Symptoms of “wind turbine syndrome” include sleep disturbance, headaches, ringing of the ears, ear pressure, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, visual blurring, racing heartbeat, irritability, problems with memory and concentration, and panic episodes accompanied by internal pulsation or quivering. These symptoms, which are continuing in nature, often force people to move away from their homes. Experts on “wind turbine syndrome,” experts in noise and acoustics, and wind energy associations, however, have all indicated that instances of “wind turbine syndrome” can be avoided if industrial wind energy systems are sited a considerable distance away from residential housing. Such distant siting would also alleviate potential problems associated with vista obstruction, and would ease the impact of industrial wind energy facilities on property values. Consequently, in order to protect the public health and welfare, and preserve the State’s scenic vistas and residential property values, it is both reasonable and necessary to prohibit the erection of industrial wind energy facilities within 2,000 feet of any residential property.

It is important to note, however, that this bill would not apply to the siting of small wind energy systems that are used primarily for on-site consumption purposes. “Wind turbine syndrome” has been associated only with the residential placement of large-scale, industrial-strength wind turbines. Moreover, small, personal-use wind energy systems are not likely to cause significant vista obstruction or the reduction of surrounding property values, as is true of their larger, industrial counterparts.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Prattsburgh residents updated on wind farm lawsuit

An informational meeting Tuesday night on the status of a lawsuit between a wind energy company and the town of Prattsburgh drew sharp lines between a divided town and a divided town board.

Ed Hourihan, the attorney defending the town in the lawsuit filed by wind farm developer Ecogen, told a crowd of 100 residents state Supreme Court Justice Ark has given the two groups time to reach an out-of-court agreement.

He said John Calloway, a representative from Ecogen’s largest shareholder, Pattern Energy, has agreed to talk to representatives from Prattsburgh and the neighboring town of Italy. Italyalso is being sued by Ecogen on a related wind farm matter.

Ecogen maintains an agreement reached 3-2 by the outgoing pro-wind Prattsburgh town board in December is binding, despite the fact the new town board rescinded the agreement 4-1 the following January.

The majority of the new board believes the December agreement violates a number of laws, including the right to home rule.

Hourihan said the new board’s action prevented Ecogen from going ahead with its plans to build a 16-turbine wind farm in the town.

He said other court decisions support the new board’s action.

“It’s safe to say had the board not rescinded the settlement you could have turbines in your backyards right now,” Hourihan said.

Preventing the construction didn’t please some residents, who said they had wanted the project to go forward this year.

“You came in and stopped something (a lot of us) wanted,” one woman said.

But the cost of the lawsuit – pegged this year at $49,393 – was the chief concern of the meeting, with some angrily charging other legal costs had been hidden.

Hourihan also privately represented councilmen Chuck Shick and Steve Kula in the fall of 2009, and some residents charged those bills were hidden in the town costs.

However, Hourihan said his bill itemized every action taken on behalf of the town after Jan. 1. Any personal – or town -- expenses in 2009 had not been charged to the town, he said.

Hourihan said current town Supervisor Al Wordingham told him the new board was not authorized to pay $35,000 for legal services last year.

“Now, would I like the money? Sure,” Hourihan said. “But I’m not getting it.”

When councilwoman Stacey Bottoni pointed out the town had apparently paid Kula’s and Shick’s final account, they said they would check out the $200 fee, and repay it if a mistake had occurred.

Bottoni, who supports Ecogen, also complained she had been “kept in the dark” about the bills. Hourihan said the information has always been available to here.

But Bottoni said she relied on frequent calls to Ecogen representatives for her information.

“Well, and that concerns me, Stacey,” Hourihan said, adding her contacts with Ecogen seemed to violation of client-attorney confidentiality.”

Other concerns were raised about the proposed talks with Calloway. Prattsburgh officials have suggested the developer use its original 100-site map to find other locations and reduce noise levels.

One resident asked if property owners in those other locations had been contacted to see if they wanted the 400-foot tall turbines on their land.

Kula questioned whether the town government could approach owners, but said it might be possible to form a citizens’ committee.

Bottoni angrily countered Ecogen already has spent millions on the project and doesn’t want to spend more money for new studies.

However, Shick pointed out the basic environmental studies for all the sites have been completed.

Some residents were worried because action on another ruling by Ark has been put on hold while the parties try to work out a compromise.

Ark supported the town’s request for sworn statements from the previous town board and other officials on the events that led to the December agreement. The deadline for the statements was Nov. 24.

Hourihan said he notified Ark the sworn statements would be delayed because of the proposed talks.

Hourihan said it would cost the town $25,000 to get the statements – and might be unnecessary if a compromise was reached.

Bottoni told the group the town was trying to prove the town illegally sided with the developer. She said there had been no illegal collusion.

“We wanted it,” she said. “We’ve wanted it for three years.”

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Offshore wind power untapped

America has a largely untapped potential for offshore wind power, according to a report released Wednesday that also calls for a more aggressive approach for wind power development off the Atlantic coast.

The report calls for a permitting process that’s friendlier to offshore wind power, establishment of priority zones for offshore wind, more research on offshore wind technologies, and efforts to promote quality jobs, especially in manufacturing, that would result from that industry.

The report was prepared by the National Wildlife Federation and co-sponsored by more than 35 other organizations, including the Natural Resources Council of Maine and Environment Maine. The Maine AFL-CIO supports its findings.

The report, unveiled in Portland, surfaced barely a week after U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar promised to spur offshore wind projects in the Atlantic Ocean by expediting permits and identifying promising areas for wind power. He promised a “smart permitting process” that could result in leases issued within two years, instead of seven years or more.

The University of Maine has received more than $20 million in federal funding for its work on offshore wind power. Its Advanced Structures and Composites Center plans to have the first small-scale offshore wind farm, with five 5-megawatt turbines, operating between 2014 and 2016 and a farm with 200 turbines up and running by 2020.

The wind farms would be 10 to 50 miles offshore, out of sight from land. Four large-scale, land-based wind farms, including New England’s largest, also operate in Maine and more are under construction or proposed.

Of the 212 gigawatts of wind power potential off the Atlantic coast, wind projects harnessing 6 gigawatts have been proposed or are advancing through the permitting process, according to the report. Those proposed projects would generate the equivalent of up to a half-dozen coal-fired plants, enough to supply the needs of about 1.5 million homes annually.

“Not a single offshore wind turbine is spinning off the Atlantic coast of the United States,” the report says.

While Atlantic wind resources are largely untapped, European countries have more than 900 turbines producing enough power for at least 450,000 homes. Even offshore wind-power goals of European countries and China dwarf those of the United States.

Groups including the Citizens’ Task Force on Wind Power point out that the megawatt output claimed for offshore turbines is only about 40 percent of the stated capacity, reflecting the amount of time the wind blows hard enough. That makes wind power too costly, they say, and not worth taxpayer subsidies.

“Those subsidy dollars could be better spent on conservation and efficiency,” said Steve Thurston, co-chairman of the anti-wind task force.

Offshore wind offsets the need for fossil fuels such as coal and oil, whose consumption leads to environmental damage, including global warming, and a range of public health risks including thousands of premature deaths, says the report. The development of an offshore wind industry would create thousands of jobs.

In Maine alone, the Ocean Energy Task Force says development of 5,000 megawatts of offshore wind would create 16,700 new or retained jobs per year for 20 years. The report also cites studies showing a potential for roughly 10,000 jobs in Virginia and nearly 2,000 jobs in South Carolina resulting from offshore wind.

The report lists proposed projects, or projects that have moved to advanced steps such as leasing or power contracts, in 13 East Coast states. Besides Maine, they include New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Obama administration colluded with 'windmill welfare queens' to rebut European 'green job' studies

"Windmill welfare queens" -- the corporations who stand to benefit from carbon regulation, and who already benefit from massive subsidies -- are telling Americans that they can "have their cake and eat it too" when it comes to emissions controls and so-called "green jobs." A FOIA request now reveals that as the Obama administration scrambled to respond last year to strong evidence that "green jobs" are a massive an economic drain, costing 570,000 Euros apiece, Department of Energy officials relied heavily on Big Wind and its monied backers.

Writes Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute:

As candidate and president, on eight separate occasions Barack Obama instructed Americans to “think about what’s happening in countries like Spain [and] Germany” if they wanted to know what successful “green jobs” policies look like, and if they wanted to know what we should expect here in the U.S. from his agenda.

Some European economists took a look. In March, a research team from Madrid’s King Juan Carlos University produced a detailed, substantive, heavily sourced, two-method paper: “Study of the Effects on Employment of Public Aid to Renewable Energy Sources.” The paper concluded that Spain’s “green jobs” program was an economic failure, in fact costing Spain many jobs.

...[T]he Spanish study embarrassed the White House, prompting substantial media attention and even questioning at a press conference, Obama swapped out Denmark for Spain for later references to an enacted “green jobs” program.

Soon, Denmark produced a study (“Wind Energy: The Case of Denmark“) through the think-tank CEPOS. This paper also revealed tremendous costs, and that Obama’s claim about Denmark’s “renewables” experience was also steeped in mythology.

...Back in the U.S., the American Wind Energy Association — the lobby for “Big Wind” in Washington, D.C., which includes a few Spanish wind giants — also attacked the publication of the Spanish paper. Soon, the Obama administration published a five-page talking points memo assailing the economic assessment — written by two young, non-economist, pro-wind activists from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Boulder, Colorado...drafted in often personal terms.

It's well worth reading the whole thing to understand the relationship between the Left in government and the rent-seeking corporations who make their money not by producing anything, but by putting their hands in the next guy's pocket.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Prattsburgh sets special Ecogen info session

Prattsburgh, NY — A special meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday by the Prattsburgh town board to supply information on a current lawsuit between the town and developer Ecogen.

The two sides are at odds over a proposal by Ecogen to set up 16 turbines in the town.

Town Supervisor Al Wordingham said the town’s attorney in the lawsuit, Ed Hourihan, will attend the meeting to discuss the cost and the status of the lawsuit.

The matter is before the state Supreme Court Justice John Ark, who told the parties in September he was ready to rule, but urged them to reach an out-of-court settlement.

Ark also asked former Prattsburgh officials to explain their involvement with Ecogen last December.

Last week, Wordingham told the town board a face-to-face meeting was being arranged between a representative of Ecogen’s parent company, Pattern Energy, Prattsburgh, and Italy Town Supervisor Brad Jones.

The Town of Italy also is battling Ecogen in court over a proposed 18-turbine wind farm there.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

First Wind Withdraws Registration Statement

First Wind Holdings Inc. today announced that pursuant to Rule 12d2-2(c) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 5840(j) of The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC (“Nasdaq”), it intends to withdraw its Class A common stock, par value $0.001 per share, from registration under section 12(b) of the Exchange Act, and in connection therewith intends to file an application on Form 25 with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Pursuant to the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Nasdaq, these actions will also terminate First Wind’s previously approved listing on Nasdaq. First Wind is terminating its listing and withdrawing registration of its common stock because of unfavorable market conditions that would adversely affect the offering of the common stock.

Wind industry fears FERC slip-up on proposed grid rules

The American Wind Energy Association said late Friday that there could be a “mistake” in proposed new grid connection rules from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The issue regarded reforms that FERC said on Friday would make it easier for renewable energy projects to connect to America’s electricity transmission networks (see this story).

But the wind industry trade association said it believed the proposed rule allows conventional power generators to remain “largely exempt” from integration costs they impose on the system from any unexpected or emergency shutdowns, while renewable energy generators would have to pay “more than their share”.

The AWEA said it was not clear whether the federal commissioners intended such a rule, and that FERC’s remarks on outlining the proposals had not indicated this was the aim.

The trade association said on Friday: “We hope this was a mistake. Mistakes like this can be fixed before proposed rules turn into final rules. AWEA will provide FERC an alternative method that treats all generators fairly which we hope will be included in any final rule.”
Forced outages

Under the proposed rules, AWEA said conventional power generators do not have to pay for the back-up resources that grid operators require when conventional power plants shut down unexpectedly. These costs add up to billions each year, the wind industry group explained, but are not met by the generators that cause them.

However, variable energy producers like wind farms and solar power plants would have to pay for these back-up electricity supplies, even when outages are caused by large fossil fuel plants or nuclear generators, the wind industry fears.

AWEA also accused FERC of overstating costs of connecting up and managing renewable energy supplies on the grid in its proposals, calculating the variability of clean energy projects in isolation of other energy sources transmitting power through the grid.

Explaining the problem, the association said: “A comparable policy would be requiring a new house joining the grid to pay for an expensive battery that must be activated every time the residents turn a light or appliance on or off, while all of the existing grid users enjoy the benefit of having their changes in electricity use netted out against the changes of the other users of the grid.”

Noting the FERC’s intention to help reduce the discrimination faced by new renewable energy generators on the grid, the AWEA said it was “gravely concerned” that the proposals as currently drafter would “exacerbate” the discrimination.

FERC’s proposals are currently open for public comment for a two-month period.

The Problem with Spain’s Green Jobs Model

On at least eight occasions, President Obama has stated we should follow Spain’s example, massively subsidizing wind, solar, and other expensive types of electricity production. But if that’s really the model on which the president is basing U.S. policy, we may be in for a longer, deeper and more severe recession than previously thought.

Because the president emphasized Spain, we thought it was important to take a closer look at the Spanish experience. We commissioned a study on Spain and the results were astounding. What was meant to be a green energy revolution in Spain turned out to be an economic disaster. The video below explains why.

The Obama Administration is trying to implement the same types of programs that have failed in Spain. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today visited Baltimore, Maryland, to announce a new, streamlined process for issuing offshore wind permits. The announcement comes fresh off the heels of a visit to Louisiana, where he discussed, but did nothing to change, the Obama Administration’s stalled permitting process for offshore oil and gas production.

As the video and study show, Spain’s green jobs model doesn’t work. So why is the Obama Administration trying to emulate it?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Take back your legal rights to protect your community against turbines!

Are you fighting an industrial wind turbine project and finding, to your horror, that you’re getting nowhere with state & federal regulatory agencies?

•State Department of Environmental Conservation (aka Ministry of the Environment)
•State Department of Health
•State Attorney General’s Office
•Army Corps of Engineers
•and so forth
Are you discovering that Big Wind operates in collusion with the state and federal government, and there is no way to legally prevent these corporate knaves from getting their permits to destroy your community?

In sum, have your community rights been usurped by state or provincial law (witness the Green Energy Act in Ontario, Canada, and equivalent legislation in Wisconsin and Maine, and pending legislation in Massachusetts)?

If the answer’s “yes,” you’d better watch this video. It describes the exciting, grassroots work of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). The video is about pesticide use in Santa Cruz, California, but you can just as well plug in “wind turbines” for “pesticides.”

Now, read this. It’s a letter from the CELDF, describing their services. (In this instance, it’s about hydrofracking in the “Marcellus Shale sacrifice zone.”)

Now ask yourself, Why can’t this approach be used against “wind farms”? Would the CELDF give advice, or, better yet, legal representation in your campaign? If they’re already stretched too thin, why can’t another group of attorneys and campaigners be formed to defend communities explicitly against turbines—using the same legal principles invoked by the CELDF?

Please forward to friends throughout the Marcellus Shale sacrifice zone:

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) is pleased to offer free assistance to you to get a local law banning fracking adopted in your municipality. Join Pittsburgh, and take a stand for Community Rights! [The City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, recently banned hydrofracking for natural gas.]

Please send an e-mail to me, including your name, phone number, address, and e-mail in the body, and the name of your municipality and county in the subject line to:

We’ll prepare and send you the ordinance and petitions, outline steps and strategies, conduct conference calls with your core group of neighbors, and work with you throughout the process as closely as possible. Only costs: please reimburse mileage if we travel to your community to do presentations, etc. Free legal services to assist in the defense of the ordinance if there is litigation against the municipality, after the ordinance is adopted.

Check out our website: Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
And here’s the CELDF facebook page: CELDF—Facebook
Pennsylvania Community Rights Network facebook page: PCRN—Facebook
Northwestern chapter of PCRN Blog: NWPACRN

Ben Price

Projects Director

Monday, November 22, 2010

Prattsburgh, Italy heads to meet with energy reps

A face-to-face talk is in the works between the towns of Prattsburgh and Italy and an energy company seeking to build an electricity-generating wind farm.

Prattsburgh Town Supervisor Al Wordingham said Monday John Calloway, of Pattern Energy, will meet with representatives from the two towns to discuss their differences.

Pattern Energy is the parent company of Ecogen, a wind farm developer planning to set up 16 turbines in Prattsburgh and 18 turbines in the town of Italy. The three sides have been locked in legal disputes for nearly a year, with a state Supreme Court justice recently urging them to find an out-of-court compromise.

Wordingham told the town board he tried to contact Calloway three times after their initial 30-40 minute phone call on Oct. 20. However, Calloway had been out of the country and finally reached Wordingham Monday morning.

“He told me he had some internal issues to resolve, and then we could meet,” Wordingham said. “And he said ‘When we get together, no lawyers.’”

Wordingham said the details of the meeting have not been worked out, although he offered to meet Calloway at one the firm’s existing wind farms.

Calloway also offered to meet with Italy Town Supervisor Brad Jones, Wordingham said.
“It’s a good start,” Wordingham said. “I feel good about this.”

The current issue between Prattsburgh and Ecogen stems from a town election last year, during which pro-wind town Supervisor Harold McConnell and town Councilwoman Sharon Quigley were ousted by sizeable margins.

Days after the election, Ecogen filed a lawsuit against the town, insisting all details be cleared up before the end of the year. The lame-duck board swiftly reached a 3-2 agreement with Ecogen in December, which was rescinded by the new town board in January.

Ecogen then filed its second lawsuit, charging the new town board did not have the authority to overturn the December action. The board opted to fight the lawsuit, saying the earlier agreement violated a number of laws, including home rule.

Ecogen also sued Italy, after the town denied the developer the permits to proceed with the turbines. Italy also piled up significant legal debts, prompting their attorneys to step down recently from the case.

Concern about future legal costs for all sides led state Supreme Court Justice John Ark to recommend last September the parties work out a solution before he publicly announces his decision.

Since then, both towns have told Ark they would support alternate sites originally proposed by Ecogen.

Ecogen response, on Oct. 13, maintained the Prattsburgh agreement in December is binding and any compromise would kill the project. But Ecogen said it would look for other ways to increase annual payments to Italy and offered to pay the town’s legal fees.

The developer’s statement to the court was made a week before Calloway and Wordingham talked for the first time.

Italy Town Supervisor Brad Jones said he would be glad to meet with Wordingham and Calloway. He added Ecogen’s financial offers are not enticing.

“For one thing, we’ve paid our (legal) bill,” he said. “I’d say they’ve been hard line with us throughout.”

Italy recently passed their 2011 budget, which includes a near-flat increase in the tax levy and a drop in the tax rate. The town also has increased its legal fund account, which will go toward paying their previous attorneys and securing a new one, Jones said.

“We’re in good shape,” Jones said.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Problems at wind farms 'unusual,' state official says

More than a week after Iberdrola Renewables opted to shut down assembly of the first wind farm in Herkimer County, construction has resumed, but little is known about how the project veered off course.

What is certain, one state official said, is the recent turn of events at Hardscrabble Wind Farm is hardly the norm.

Iberdrola halted turbine construction earlier this month to complete additional testing after it discovered concrete used in the foundations of some of the turbines did not meet company standards.

Jim Denn, a spokesman for the state Public Service Commission, said it’s rare to find problems with the construction of one turbine, let alone a group of them.

“There are hundreds of wind turbines that exist in New York state that are operating safely and that have been constructed appropriately,” Denn said. “It is certainly unusual if a particular turbine has a problem with the foundation at any point.”

By the time construction ceased, 25 of the 37 turbines slated to dot the Fairfield and Norway landscape were fully constructed.

On Friday, the company formally announced that construction had commenced again on turbines where tests were completed and foundations meet or exceed the company’s standards. Further results still are pending, company officials said.

Rumors regarding the nature of the problem and where fault lies abound among residents, contractors and even some local officials.

Ibderdrola spokesman Paul Copleman would only respond to O-D inquiries through e-mailed responses. He declined to release the names of the project’s contractors and to speak about whether all current contractors would remain working on the project despite the glitch.

The problem, Coplemain said, involved the strength of the concrete foundations, which support the turbines. Data the company gathered during routine tests showed some foundations were weak, he said.

While the company opted to temporarily call it quits on construction, local officials have said they knew the gist of the problems long before construction stopped.

Copleman confirmed that fact last week, saying that Iberdrola first identified the specific problem in early November but only decided to cease construction Nov. 12 to pursue certain tests.

“We have aggressively addressed any concerns as soon as they were identified,” Copleman said. “Until all of the tests are concluded and the engineer reviews the data, we cannot confirm to what extent the issue exists.”


The issues almost certainly would have been handled differently if the project was larger, state officials said.

The state Public Service Commission regulates wind energy projects of 80 megawatts or greater. The Hardscrabble project, however, falls just six megawatts shy of being restricted by state guidelines.

For those projects that are bound by state regulations, the state has the authority to step in and conduct an investigation when problems are discovered with wind farms. Those same wind farms meeting the 80 megawatt standard also must follow various state regulation and approval processes, said Denn, the commission spokesman.

For example, earlier this year, the state investigated a turbine collapse at Noble Environmental Power’s Altona Wind Park in Clinton County. The investigation revealed that during a power outage, the turbine spun out of control due to incorrect wiring.

As a result, the state ordered all wind power developers with projects of 80 megawatts or greater to certify that they have emergency systems that will shut down turbines during a power loss.

Asked why the threshold is set at 80 megawatts, Denn said the system simply is what it is.

“It’s 80 megawatts or above because that’s the law,” Denn said. “That’s like asking why do we travel at 55 miles per hour. We do because that’s the law.”

‘More diligent’

So where does regulation lie for projects such as Hardscrabble?

It’s entirely up to local officials, Denn said.

Fairfield Town Supervisor Richard Souza and Norway Town Supervisor Judy Gokey did not return calls last week.

Delaware Engineering, a firm specializing in environmental engineering, was jointly hired by the towns to oversee the projects. Engineer Stephanie Vetter, who is assigned to the project, would not comment on its recent problems and directed questions to town officials.

Norway resident Cheryl Crossett, who will have six turbines on her land when the project is complete, said she’s not worried about the project’s oversight.

Her husband, Scott Crossett, is a Norway Town Board member who recused himself from discussions about the project because it involved his land.

“I don’t have a concern for the wind towers themselves being that they’ve caught the problem and they’re in the process of rectifying it,” Cheryl Crossett said. “Now that they know what’s going on, I’m sure they’re going to be more diligent.”


Project scope: 74 megawatts. Only projects 80 megawatts or larger are overseen by the state Public Service Commission. The only oversight for the Hardscrabble project comes from the towns involved.

Turbine specifications: All turbines are 2.0 megawatt Gamesa turbines. They measure 322 feet to the center hub or 476 feet to the tip of the blade.

Foundation specifications: Each foundation was expected to use about 680 cubic yards of concrete, according to Iberdrola’s project plans.