Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Let’s not hand over our community to Everpower/Allegany Wind

As a former wind energy professional, I have personally experienced the ruthlessness of many wind energy developers during my many years in the wind business. Litigation is one of their frequent tools used to force their agendas. They lie, withhold critical information, and turn neighbors against each other. Some wind farm developers and operators seriously wrecked farmers’ properties in the Altamont Pass, Calif., where I was employed.

Wind farm developers and operators, including some in Western New York, have a history of violating worker safety, cutting corners on turbine maintenance, falsely promising employees advancement, and making life miserable for employees who wish to perform their jobs responsibly. Given this, if a wind farm is installed in our community, can we be assured we will be properly informed as to the dangers involved?

The infrastructure of constructing and operating a wind farm is highly technical and must be done with utmost care and meticulousness. If the system is not properly engineered, if the power distribution hardware is installed incorrectly, if the transformers are not correctly specified, there can be serious consequences such as transformer fires AND distribution line failures compromising landowners’ safety. There was an incident in which a local wind farm operator here in New York was required, during a severe blade icing condition, to continue operating the machines even though the site manager warned of serious consequences. This resulted in a blade failure costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was fortunate that the machine did not go into a runaway condition, creating a sizable threat to residents’ safety.

Does the town have the time and expertise to oversee whether the engineering of the infrastructure and the turbine installations are done properly? Can we afford to trust Allegany Wind to be honest and open with their work when reporting on their compliance with the town’s specifications? Will they provide a map of the underground cables? Can we trust that Allegany Wind will not increase the turbine tip speed ratios late at night ramping up the sound far above the advertised levels? (The tips of their proposed turbines reach speeds of about 200 mph.) Can we trust Allegany Wind to install the high voltage underground power cables to the depth required to assure landowners’ safety? Can we trust that Allegany Wind will not run the turbines during icing conditions, posing a threat to residents, hunters, and snowmobilers of Chipmonk and Knapp Creek areas from flying ice chunks? Can we trust that the transformers will be specified and sized to prevent hazardous and destructive transformer fires? Will Allegany Wind maintain turbines correctly without violating the safety of workers and local residents? Of note, most windfarms experience several turbine failures during their lifetime.

Is the Allegany Fire Department capable of handling a fire in a turbine motor hundreds of feet in the air? Is the town prepared to deal with a runaway of a 117 meter, 384-foot-high wind turbine rotor, requiring evacuation of residents within several miles of the machine?

Everpower/Allegany Wind representatives have already violated their contract with the town of Allegany numerous times. Then, rather than completing the required study for the project changes they demanded, they brought not just one, but two costly lawsuits against the town. Do we really want to allow these individuals, already acting as our enemies, to have the contractual right to do large-scale, risky business here?

Is it worth a few local businesses making some money, mostly temporary, on this installation at the expense of the well-being and safety of neighbors living and visiting in proximity of the wind farm for the next 20 years and beyond?

These questions need answers before we even consider Allegany Wind/Everpower’s demands. Otherwise, we must tell them NO.

Those of you sincere people who believe Allegany Wind’s promises need to take a long hard look at what Allegany Wind is pushing on us. Take a look at what happened, and is happening, in Howard, Andover, and other communities who have let these scoundrels in.

The bottom line for supporters of Allegany Wind: Will you be able to comfortably look your fellow community members in the eye if the events I described above occur?

To discuss and act on these issues contact Concerned Citizens of Cattaraugus County at concernedcitizens.homestead.com, and, Allegany residents, please vote for and support the current board members on election day even if the ballot says they’re unopposed. And please spread the word! Thank you.

Barry K. Miller, P.E.


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