Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Portage Complains: Windmills Too Loud

Windmills too loud, some Portage residents complain

[Source: News Watch Home ]

PORTAGE — Some turbines in the Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm are operating at noise levels above the limit spelled out in a local ordinance, a group of Portage Township residents maintains.

Resident and former township Supervisor Bruce Brunett said the noise level measured at his home near Blue Knob is at least 10 decibels higher than the 45-decibel limit spelled out in the township ordinance.

“We want to let them know we’ve got a problem there and they need to do something about it,” said Brunett, who lives 1.3 miles from the closest turbine.

Full story.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Audubon Pennsylvania

From Audubon Pennsylvania:

Ridgetop Important Bird Areas, Raptors, and Wind Turbines

Excerpt: Audubon Pennsylvania stands behind the USFWS in calling for three years of pre-construction monitoring, as well as post-construction monitoring and ongoing mortality and risk assessment, conducted by agency biologists and/or those independent of industry. … Multi-year pre-construction monitoring is critical because of annual variation in migration routes, due to variation in bird species distribution, weather fronts, and resulting wind conditions.

Siting Recommendations

Audubon Pennsylvania recommends to avoid siting turbines on ridgetops that concentrate raptors during spring and fall migration…

In addition, Audubon Pennsylvania advocates the protection of unfragmented forests, Important Bird Areas (IBAs), areas supporting federally and state Threatened and Endangered species, and Landscape Conservation Areas (PA Natural Heritage Program - www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/pndi). More appropriate turbine sites would be post-industrial (brownfield) sites, away from major migratory corridors. We seek to minimize fragmentation of intact forest blocks, as PA currently supports large breeding populations of forest birds. The fragmentation of large forest blocks is listed as a bird population stressor in many of our IBA conservation plans (the plans can be found at http://pa.audubon.org). Siting wind turbines on "brownfields" (post-industrial sites) rather than large, intact forest blocks would minimize such fragmentation and reduce impacts. [emphasis added]

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Lessons Learned: Mars Hill Town Manager

Mars Hill is Maine’s first industrial wind plant. Its 28 wind turbines have been operating about a year, making headlines about homeowners complaining of noise problems from the start.

From Portland’s Channel 6 website:

Winds Of Change: The Future Of Wind Power In Maine

“A group of about 18 homeowners in Mars Hill is angry about loud noise that is produced by the wind turbines. The neighbors say the noise is not consistent, that it can vary with weather and wind conditions. At times, it's almost inaudible. But at other thimes, they say, the noise can reach over 50 decibels in their homes, disturbing sleep and making life uncomfortable.

”The Maine DEP has been conducting sound testing for months, but still has not released the results. UPC Wind says it wants to do something to alleviate the problem, but so far there is no definite guideline for what that will be.

"And in one step along the wind power learning curve, the Town Manager of Mars Hill says he believes future wind projects should have guidelines for how close wind turbines are placed to homes. He says a turbine within 2,500 feet should have to get a noise easement from the homeowner, to avoid problems with complaints later on.” [Emphasis added.]


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Wind power overstated -- only 8.7%

PRESS RELEASEMarch 29, 2007
ERCOT Response to U.S. Rep. Joe Barton
U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee

ERCOT study: 6,300 MW of wind had same load carrying capacity as 550 MW of thermal generation (i.e. 8.7%, due to unreliability of wind generation when power demand is highest)

"...wind does not blow at a constant level, and in Texas is often at a low level at the time of the peak electrical demand during summer afternoons. ERCOT studies the availability of wind generation using its historical wind generation data. Using 2006 data, ERCOT has determined that 8.7% of the installed wind capability can be counted as dependable capacity during the peak demand period for the next year. Conventional generation must be available to provide the remaining capacity needed to meet forecast load and reserve requirements. "

Source: ERCOT

Note: Texas wind capacity is 20x Pennsylvania, so how little is the useful electricity from PA turbines?

Wind turbine 'blows over'

But 'how can a wind turbine blow over when the wind's not blowing'?


Sunday, October 07, 2007

New Fish/Game Commission Guidelines

Commission to set rules for windmills in wetlands
By DAN DiPAOLO, Daily American, Friday, October 5, 2007 4:25 AM

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will develop guidelines for wind turbine development in wetland and watershed areas following the quarterly board meeting in Harrisburg.

The commissioners agreed during the Oct. 1 meeting not only to develop guidelines but also send a letter to Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty concerning the matter, said Len Lichvar, the District 4 commissioner.

“We need to develop a full-blown policy, especially in exceptional value watersheds and wetland areas. We’re charged by legislature to protect the resources of the state,” he said.

The guidelines will include recommendations on studies to complete prior to permitting turbine sites, he said.

John Armway, the commission’s division chief of environmental services, said that guidelines will look to assess project impacts on not only watersheds and wetlands, but on reptiles and amphibians that could see migration routes or habitat impaired by the sites.

Of particular concern are endangered species that include some salamanders and the eastern timber rattlesnake, he said.... The goal is to provide a draft policy to the board during the next quarterly meeting in January, he said.

The commission will push for studies to be completed in full before the permit is issued, which varies from a recent agreement between wind developers and the game commission calling for ongoing studies pre- and post- construction.

Full story here.

Friday, October 05, 2007

New Neighbors: Airtricity Sold to E.ON

We have new neighbors coming. Airtricity has been sold to the world's largest utility, a German industrial company called E.ON:

E.ON To Acquire North American Operations Of Airtricity For $1.4 Bln
Thursday, October 04, 2007; Posted: 12:54 PM, Trading Markets

UPDATE 1-E.ON takes first step into U.S. renewables marketThu Oct 4, 2007 5:31pm BST, Reuters

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

SOAR Press Conference in Capitol Rotunda

Wind-farm opponents rally at Capitol
BY KECIA BAL, The Tribune-Democrat, September 18, 2007

A group fighting the Shaffer Mountain Wind Farm in Somerset and Bedford counties rallied Monday in the state Capitol for more-aggressive regulation of wind-energy companies.

Laura Jackson, chairwoman of Save Our Allegheny Ridges, joined concerned citizens from nine counties, including Somerset, in Harrisburg to urge legislators to pass siting regulations for turbines. No state or federal guidelines are in place regarding where turbines can be located.

The group of about 15 SOAR members met with legislators including Rep. John Eichelberger, R-Blair County, who Jackson said was sympathetic to their cause and offered his advice...

Full story: The Tribune-Democrat
HT: National Wind Watch

Turbine Malfunction Sparks 68-acre Wildfire

Whitewater Canyon blaze blamed on windmill

Firefighters have fully contained a 68-acre wildfire in the Whitewater Canyon area about 1.5 miles north of Interstate 10, according to CAL FIRE.

Fire officials expect to have the blaze under control by 8 a.m.

Saturday. Whitewater Canyon Road has reopened to traffic.

The Alta Mesa fire, reported at 6:19 a.m., is not threatening homes, spokeswoman Jodi Miller said."It's in a pretty remote area," Miller said.

It was caused by an undetermined problem with a wind turbine, according to CAL FIRE.

Source: TheDesertSun.com, September 14, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Shocker: PA Biological Survey

Wind Power Development on Public Lands – It Isn’t Worth It

By the Pennsylvania Biological Survey

The environmental benefits of wind energy development, in the mid-Atlantic area in general and on Pennsylvania state lands in particular, are small relative to the negative consequences...

The Pennsylvania Biological Survey is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to increase the knowledge of and foster the perpetuation of the natural biological diversity of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Our membership includes scientists, representatives of state and federal agencies concerned with natural resource management, and representatives of non-profit conservation organizations.

PABS technical committees serve as official advisory committees to several natural resource agencies in the state, including the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Game Commission, and Fish and Boat Commission.

After reviewing evidence on the environmental costs and benefits of wind energy, PABS is opposed to wind energy development on Pennsylvania natural resource agency lands.

We are aware of the serious environmental costs of fossil fuel energy sources, including the threats of global climate change to Pennsylvania’s natural biological diversity. We therefore support the responsible development of alternative energy sources, including properly sited wind energy development.

However, because wind energy development has associated environmental costs, wind energy development should only be instituted on state lands if the environmental benefits can be demonstrated to exceed the environmental costs.

Based on the available evidence, it is our conclusion that wind energy development is not suitable on state-owned lands where natural resource conservation is a major goal (i.e., primarily lands owned and managed by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Game Commission).

The reason for our opposition is outlined below but can be summarized as follows:

The environmental benefits of wind energy development, in the mid-Atlantic area in general and on Pennsylvania state lands in particular, are small relative to the negative consequences, which include habitat fragmentation and mortality to birds and bats.

The primary environmental benefit of wind energy production is that it offsets the use of fossil fuels, thereby reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas.

The Department of Energy projects that by 2020, wind power will meet 1.2 to 4.5 percent of the country’s electricity generation, and will thus offset emissions of carbon dioxide from electricity generation by 1.2 to 4.5 percent. Since electricity generation accounts for 39 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, wind power will offset between 0.5 and 1.8 percent of total carbon dioxide emissions (National Research Council 2007).

The National Research Council (2007) concludes “Wind energy will contribute proportionately less to electricity generation in the mid-Atlantic region than in the United States as a whole, because a smaller portion of the region has high-quality wind resources than the portion of high-quality wind resources in the United States as a whole."

Thus, it is apparent that wind energy development in the mid-Atlantic will offset a very minor portion of future carbon dioxide emissions.

Because Commonwealth Natural Resource Agency Lands make up only a fraction of land in Pennsylvania, the contribution of wind energy development on these lands to future energy needs, as well as any offset of carbon dioxide emissions, will be negligible.

Energy conservation, on the other hand, could considerably reduce the demand for energy and thus reduce carbon dioxide emissions. For example, residential home energy consumption in 2020 could be feasibly educed by over 1/3 using existing technologies (Bressand et al. 2007).

The environmental impacts of wind energy are considerable… [complete article published in the PA Environment Digest here]

Monday, September 10, 2007

Press Conference in Capitol Rotunda

Groups Across Pennsylvania Speak Out Against Industrial Wind
Projects on Forested Ridges.

Folmont owners are welcome, and transportation can be provided.

A Press Conference has been scheduled for 12 noon on Monday September 17, 2007 in the rotunda of the Capitol in Harrisburg to protest the statewide push by the Rendell Administration to turn hundreds of miles of Pennsylvania's forested ridge tops into industrial wind facilities. Groups from across the state will be addressing the various concerns that wind power facilities pose to Pennsylvania's wild areas, wildlife, tourism, historical resources, and viewscapes.

Concerned citizens from a number of Pennsylvania counties (Bedford, Blair, Somerset, Fayette, Lycoming, Tioga, Dauphin, Northumberland, Potter) have formed a Wind Truth Coalition to push for more stringent siting requirements. While these groups recognize that wind power is renewable energy, they maintain that it is not a clean or green energy when the turbines and associated infrastructure pose grave harm to wildlife, or historic and natural areas. Coalition members want fellow Pennsylvanians to understand that both state and federal regulations are necessary to protect our natural environment from industrial wind turbine projects.

The Press Conference will follow Gov. Rendell's address to the joint session of the Senate and House at 11:00 a.m. The special session will consider "funding for renewable energy." Past funding measures have supported several wind projects in the Pennsylvania. PPM Energy received a state grant of $150,000 to help develop a wind project in Somerset County which was partly located on reclaimed strip mine areas – habitat that is much better suited for wind development than forested ridges. A more controversial use of taxpayer's money was the PEDA grant of $360,295 for Harrisburg's mayor to conduct a wind feasibility study on the ridges of St. Anthony's Wilderness, the largest roadless area in southeastern Pennsylvania.

The threat of global warming should make preservation of our natural areas even more critical. Our forested mountains are key to species' preservation and form an integral part of greenways that are being recognized by conservation groups as critical resources for humans and wildlife.

P.O. BOX 178 EVERETT, PA 15537
Laura Jackson
Save Our Allegheny Ridges

Saturday, August 25, 2007

DEP public hearing on Gamesa's Shaffer Mountain Wind Project

There will be a DEP public hearing on Gamesa's Shaffer Mountain Wind Project on August 28th at 6:00 pm in the Shade High School gymnasium. Gamesa plans to make a presentation from 5:30 – 6:00. From 6:00 – 7:00 DEP will host a public meeting – an informal session between the public and DEP -- which will include questions and answers about the project.

Gamesa's relations with local authorities and the community surrounding this project have been criticized for a deficit of transparency, so the hearing should be lively. (Most recently, for example, "More Investigation Needed," in the Somerset Daily American, August 25, 2007.

Word has it that Gamesa is requiring their employees to attend the public hearing using them as pawns.

Even if you aren’t directly effected by the proposed wind project on Shaffer Mountain, please try to attend. If DEP permits this wind application, then there is an excellent chance that any wind project will be approved, no matter how great the environmental damage.

We have been told by reliable experts that public pressure may stop this project – so we need a thousand people at the Hearing on August 28. You don’t have to speak, but your presence is greatly needed!

Directions: Take 30 W to Reel’s Corner. Turn right at the flashing yellow light onto 160 N. Travel for 4 miles, and just past the gas station on the left, turn left onto School Road. Travel about 1 mile and take a right – you’ll see Shade High School in front of you after you go down a short hill. Park in the big parking lot in front of the high school and enter the gym doors. The hearing is in the gymnasium.

The Department requests that individuals wishing to testify at the hearing submit a written notice of intent to Helen Humphreys, by email at Hhumphreys@state.pa.us or by post at Department of Environmental Protection, 400 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222-4745, (412) 442-4183. The Department will accept notices up to August 27. The Department requests that individuals limit their testimony to 5 minutes so that all individuals have the opportunity to testify. The Department can only review comments made with regard to the NPDES Permit Application No. PAI055607001 documentation and plans. Written copies of oral testimony are requested. Relinquishing time to others will not be allowed. Individuals attending the hearing will have the opportunity to testify if they so desire; however, individuals who pre-register to testify will be given priority on the agenda.

Stay tuned at http://www.shaffermountain.com/

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Airtricity Site Plan

Here's the revised Airtricity site plan, as of August 16, 2007.

A larger copy of the map is here.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Airtricity Update

Airtricity, in recent meetings with Folmont representatives, agreed to modify its site plan for the adjacent wind plant so as to remove the two turbines that were planned to be sited closest to Folmont property.

The earlier plan called for ten turbines on the New Baltimore Sportsman’s Club ridge, south of Hawk’s Nest Road and Blueberry Way. The closest turbines were sited about 1200-1300 feet from the nearest home, and slightly more to other nearby homes. The revised plan reduces the number of turbines on that ridge from ten to eight, and increases the setback of the nearest turbines to about 2000-2200 feet.

Originally, Airtricity planned to install turbines on Layman’s ridge, east of Old Farm and New Baltimore Roads, but subsequently removed that property from its site plan.

The current plan calls for 39 turbines, with eight on the New Baltimore Sportsman’s Club ridge, three on the Swallow farm, and twenty-eight on the Mountain Ridge ATV Tracks. The construction target is December 2007. The construction access road will start at Route 30 and run just west of the Folmont western border.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Guidelines for Community Noise

Author: World Health Organization

“… for clear speech perception the background noise level should not exceed 35 dB(A). …

“Measurable effects of noise on sleep begin at LAeq levels of about 30 dB. … When noise is continuous, the equivalent sound pressure level should not exceed 30 dB(A) indoors, if negative effects on sleep are to be avoided. For noise with a large proportion of low-frequency sound a still lower guideline value is recommended. …

“During daytime, few people are highly annoyed at LAeq levels below 55 dB(A), and few are moderately annoyed at LAeq levels below 50 dB(A). Sound levels during the evening and night should be 5–10 dB lower than during the day. Noise with low-frequency components require lower guideline values. For intermittent noise, it is emphasized that it is necessary to take into account both the maximum sound pressure level and the number of noise events. Guidelines or noise abatement measures should also take into account residential outdoor activities. …

“Indoor guideline values for bedrooms are 30 dB LAeq for continuous noise and 45 dB LAmax for single sound events. Lower noise levels may be disturbing depending on the nature of the noise source. At night-time, outside sound levels about 1 metre from facades of living spaces should not exceed 45 dB LAeq, so that people may sleep with bedroom windows open. This value was obtained by assuming that the noise reduction from outside to inside with the window open is 15 dB. To enable casual conversation indoors during daytime, the sound level of interfering noise should not exceed 35 dB LAeq. …

“To be able to hear and understand spoken messages in class rooms, the background sound level should not exceed 35 dB LAeq during teaching sessions.”

Download “WHO Guidelines for Community Noise”

Source: National Wind Watch Resource Library Home

Monday, July 09, 2007

Airtricity Announces Plans

Company announces wind farm plans
By Sarah L. Reiber, The Somerset Daily American, 7 July 2007

SHADE TOWNSHIP — Supervisors have announced the possibility of a new wind farm coming to the township.

Airtricity Inc., a company that develops and operates wind farms across Europe and North America, has submitted a preliminary plan to supervisors and plans to apply for a permit, said Chairman John Topka.
“This is strictly an announcement,” he said. “We’ll have to wait for the application.”

The project is proposed on the Swallow Farm property, with three turbines in Shade Township and the remainder in Stonycreek Township, he said.
Airtricity’s permit application will be subject to the guidelines outlined in the township’s ordinance on windmills, he said, which includes a limit on the number of turbines built in one area and decibel levels they emit.
While on the issue of wind farms, residents inquired as to whether the supervisors had considered taking a public stance on Gamesa’s proposed Shaffer Mountain wind farm project. Many surrounding municipalities have gone on record to oppose the project, which has been subject to controversy over the possible destruction of the natural watershed area in which it is to be located.

“I understand why people are against it. It is a natural, untouched area,” Topka said. “I think it’s something we could discuss and act on at the next meeting, in August. But it might be one of those situations where you lose no matter what you decide.”

He explained that the Shaffer Mountain project was proposed before the township’s ordinance went into effect. “Those fell under the Somerset County Planning Commission. We don’t have any say over them,” he said.
As far as the Airtricity project or any other future project is concerned, he said, the board will have to remain neutral. “As long as they’re going to follow the guidelines, we pretty much have to grant them the permit,” he said.

HT: National Wind Watch

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Turbines Linked to Vibro-acoustic Disease

Industrial wind turbines, infrasound and vibro-acoustic disease (VAD)

Documented in a press release dated May 31, 2007 from the Vibro-Acoustic Disease (VAD) research group in Portugal, people living in the shadow of industrial wind turbines have moved a step closer to understanding the nature of the Wind Turbine Syndrome many of them experience and complain about. Professor Mariana Alves-Pereira (an acoustical engineer) and Dr. Nuno Castelo Branco (a surgical pathologist) recently took numerous noise/vibration measurements within a Portuguese home surrounded by four (4) industrial wind turbines. The closest turbine is nearly 1000 feet (300 meters), from the affected home. The turbines have been operating since November 2006. The scientific report on this research will be formally presented at Internoise 2007, to be held on 28-31 August in Istanbul, Turkey.

These results scientifically demonstrate that windmills in the proximity of residential areas produce acoustical environments that can lead to the development of vibroacoustic disease (VAD) in the nearby home-dwellers.

Source: Industrial Wind Action Group

Friday, June 08, 2007

Shaffer Mountain Website

Follow developments surrounding Gamesa's construction plans for the Shaffer Mountain wind turbine installation at ShafferMountain.com.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Gamesa to Host Shade Township Public Meeting

Town hall meeting to be held

Wind energy company Gamesa Energy USA will be hosting a town hall meeting in order to discuss local projects and the industry in general, representatives announced.

The public forum will be held on from 7 to 8:30 p.m. June 12 at the Shade High School gymnasium, in Cairnbrook, company spokesman Neil Simpkins said.

Gamesa officials will be on hand to provide information about wind energy, construction plans and renewable energy in general, he said.
They will also address public concerns about specific projects like the Shaffer Mountain Wind Farm, he said.

The 30-turbine wind farm, which is projected to extend through parts of Shade and Ogle townships in Somerset County and Napier Township in Bedford County has generated much media coverage in the last six months as several local organizations have been working to block it.

Daily American, 6 June 2007
HT: National Wind Watch

Monday, May 28, 2007

Shaffer Mountain Petition Online

Altoona Mirror, May 27, 2007, by Allison Bourg, abourg@altoonamirror.com
NEW PARIS — Concern over a proposed wind plant on the border of Bedford and Somerset counties is growing, with an online petition asking residents to speak out against the plans.

About 100 residents have signed the petition at www.shaffermountain.com, which was started by several citizens’ groups in both counties. The groups oppose Gamesa Energy USA’s tentative plans to build wind turbines atop Shaffer Mountain.

Gamesa officials said last week they plan to hold a town hall-style meeting in June in Somerset County to address residents’ worries. A date has not been set.
Sign the petition here.

Important 1st Step

The Energy Policy Reform and Revitalization Act of 2007 (see H.R. 2337), now before the House Committee on Natural Resources, includes a provision on wind energy that represents an important first step in enforcing necessary protections for the natural environment impacted by industrial wind energy development.

This provision will put into law what the wind industry and its proponents already profess to support, i.e. the proper siting of facilities in order to “avoid impacts, including cumulative impacts, on birds, bats, and other wildlife to the greatest extent practicable based on data gathered during preconstruction surveys”.

Your action is needed. Please go to http://www.windaction.org/actionalert for details.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Informed public scrutiny: Supporters of wind turbines need a reality check

By Arthur Hooton, The Charleston Gazette, wvgazette.com, 16 May 2007

Advocates of industrial wind seem to fall into two camps: the dreamers and the schemers. The dreamers are engineers who think they can invent their way out of the inherent flaws of industrial wind by trying to make the turbines ever larger and more efficient, while hoping an industrial-scale electricity storage system will eventually present itself. They’ve had this same dream for over 30 years now. The schemers know it’s not going to happen, but they’re quite willing to lobby for legislation that guarantees a payoff to anyone with money to invest.

Imagine if Congress enacted a law requiring 20 percent of all goods coming into the United States be transported on cargo sailing ships to cut pollution caused by marine diesel engines. The dreamers would build massive, carbon-fiber-hulled ships equipped with titanium masts and Kevlar sails; and the schemers would make sure that investors got tax breaks, credits and subsidies for each ton of cargo hauled. When the wind didn’t blow, diesel powered, ocean-going tugboats would be dispatched to pull becalmed vessels into port with no net change in pollution and with major disruptions in product deliveries. Because the cargo sailing ships didn’t have engines on board, owners would still get tax credits, and consumers could blissfully believe that their goods were being delivered by clean and green energy. That’s the real story behind Big Wind. It’s called consumer fraud and the state of West Virginia does not have to be a party to that fraud.

HT: National Wind Watch

Monday, May 14, 2007

Local Wind Plants Linking to 12-State Grid

Background note: Pennsylvania is a net exporter of electricity.

Penelec, Gamesa vote near; Wind farms would be linked to electric transmission grid

HT: News Watch

The keepers of the regional power supply may vote next month on Penelec proposals to link area wind farms into the electric transmission grid.
About $13 million in projects are planned, mostly in Blair, Cambria and Somerset counties, as wind farms associated with Gamesa Energy USA sprout up.

A committee of PJM Interconnection received an update last week on the utility’s projects in Blair, Cambria and Somerset counties.

Utility companies make proposals to PJM, which conducts feasibility studies to estimate interconnection costs and construction time. The Transportation Expansion Advisory Committee must authorize new connections to the power grid before the PJM board gives its approval.

The PJM board is set to meet June 21.…

PJM oversees the power grid serving 51 million people in Pennsylvania, 12 other states and the District of Columbia….

By Mark Leberfinger

Thursday, May 10, 2007

90% Useless and Wasted


What if the electricity from a wind farm is generated mainly when there’s no economic use for it? It can’t be stored, so it is simply wasted.

As the California experience documents below, wind generation and grid load have different patterns.

A similar condition prevails in upstate New York, as admitted by General Electric. (See GE’s System Performance Evaluation to the NY State Energy Research and Development Authority.) Likewise in our area. The result is that even though a turbine or wind farm is usually touted for its rated capacity, only about 10% of that represents electricity that is usable.

That’s right. Not the 1.5 MW - 2.0 MW turbine capacity touted by wind brokers and pro-wind media. Not even 20-30% of that amount, which results after factoring in the lack of optimal wind (efficiency factor) prevalent in our area. But only about 10%, or 0.15 MW, will be expected to be usable from a 1.5 MW turbine, because the electricity it generates will be generated mostly at night and other times of least economic use for it, when electricity demand on the grid is lowest.

When you read that a wind farm of 40 turbines, each rated at 1.5 MW, will generate 60 MW of electricity, you should understand how misleading these numbers actually are, when it comes down to electricity that is actually usable. In our area, dividing by ten wil give more realistic estimates.

By using rated capacity as the basis for usuable generation estimates, wind brokers exaggerate by a factor of 10 or more.


Thanks to Moorsyde Wind Farm Action Group, an excellent resource on wind power.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Blades fall apart onto neighboring property at nearby wind farm

Wind Turbine Blade Safety Questioned After Damages

Blades fall apart onto neighboring property at nearby wind farm

March 22, 2007 by Mainline Newspapers

Download article and pictures: Gamesa_blade damage_22Mar07.pdf (1.62 MB)

Wind farms may not lower air pollution

May 4, 2007 by Matthew L. Wald in New York Times

Wind farms may not lower air pollution, study suggests

Reprint, Courtesy of Industrial Wind Action Group

Wind power could also reduce coal-plant carbon dioxide, which is thought to cause climate change, but the impact may be small, the report said. By 2025, wind turbines could cut carbon dioxide output by 4.5 percent compared with what it would otherwise have been, but this "would only slow the increase," said Dr. Risser. "It wouldn't result in a decrease in the amount of CO2."

Link to NY Times article here.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Living with industrial wind turbines...

Living with industrial wind turbines, testimony presented on April 30, 2007, to a Committee of the Maine legislature by Ms. Wendy Todd who, with her family, lives approximately a half mile from the Mars Hill (Maine) “wind farm,” which started operating several months ago.

Friday, May 04, 2007

National Academies Report

Environmental Impacts of Wind Projects,
National Academies Report

Released May 3, 2007

The National Research Council has released a report this morning on the environmental impact of wind turbines. The report is currently available at http://www.eswr.com/latest/307/nrcwind.htm ; you have to download the report in sections. Below is a summary of "key points" about this NRC research publication, which was prepared by Rick Webb - a co-author of the report.

Thanks to Dan Boone

National Academies Report

- some key points from the report concerning benefits and risk, Rick Webb, 050307

Contribution to Electricity Supply and Emissions Reductions

Based on 3 DOE projections for U.S. onshore wind development by 2020:
· 19 - 72 GW installed capacity; or 9500-36000 2-MW turbines.
· 2 - 7 % of installed generation capacity.
· 1.2 - 4.5% of actual generation (less than installed capacity due to intermittency of wind).
· 3.5 - 19% of the projected increase in total generation from all sources (that is, 96.5 - 81% of new generation must be obtained from other sources).
· No reduction in NOx and SO2 emissions – pollutants regulated by emissions caps.
· 1.2 - 4.5% reduction in CO2 emissions from electrical generating units, which at present only account for 39% of total U.S. CO2 emissions from energy use.

· Given that the density of the wind resource is less for the Mid-Atlantic region than for the U.S. as a whole, the benefits in terms of electricity supply and emissions reductions will be proportionately less for the Mid-Atlantic region than for the country as a whole. [Boldface added]

Cumulative Impact on Birds and Bats

Based on two projections for wind development in the Mid-Atlantic Highlands and the range of mortality observed at existing Appalachian wind projects:
· National Renewable Energy Laboratory projection for wind development: 2,158 MW of installed capacity or 1439 1.5-MW turbines.
o 5,805 to 25,183 birds killed per year
o 33,017 to 61,935 bats killed per year
· Projection for wind development based on the PJM Interconnection Queue: 3.9 GW installed capacity or 2571 1.5 MW turbines.
o 10,372 to 44,999 birds killed per year
o 58,997 to 110,665 bats killed per year
· There is insufficient information to assess the potential for population impacts on birds in the eastern U.S.
· The potential for impacts on bat populations in the eastern U.S. is significant.

Rick Webb note: The committee was not charged with making a determination about the significance of the potential contribution of wind energy development. My personal perspective, however, is that wind energy development on Appalachian ridges carries great risk of environmental harm and very little potential for benefits.

Gamesa Nixed by Winber Area Authority

Winber Area Authority to Editor, The Daily American

Letter to the Editor, May 3, 2007 (Excerpt)

…On March 5, Gamesa filed its plans with Somerset Soil Conservation District. On March 14, before our meeting, a private citizen gave WAA the complete plans he got from Somerset Soil Conservation. We were shocked and dismayed when we saw the plans which consist of 400 or more pages and 36 large drawings and blueprints they wanted the Board of Directors and our Hydrologist to give approval on the project with only the first five pages that were submitted.

The destruction would change the face of the whole area of the Piney Run/Clear Shade watershed and recharge area forever.

A Gamesa representative then came in with a copy of the plans that we should have had months before. We the Board members of the WAA then went on public record and voted to oppose the placement of wind turbines in the Piney Run/Shade Creek watershed and recharge area by a 5 to 1 vote.

We have a fiduciary duty to our customers and our local governing bodies who also went on record as opposing Wind turbine development in the watershed. We cannot take any chance what so ever that would endanger the future water supply, which has always been of exceptional quality.

Walter A Drzal

Board of Directors of the Windber Area Authority

Full letter here.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Anti-Trust Complaint Filed

Anti-Trust Complaint Filed Against U.S. Wind Industry

Naples NY, April 25, 2007

A grass roots coalition of nearly 100 citizens from New York, Vermont, and other states have filed a federal Anti-Trust Complaint alleging that an international cartel comprised of foreign and domestic business entities have conspired to eliminate competition in the newly emerging U.S. wind energy sector.

This Complaint, filed today with the Department Of Justice Anti-Trust Division, maintains that windfarm developers, suppliers, consultants, investors, and in some cases public officials have engaged in illegal geographic Market Allocation, Price Fixing and Bid Rigging in direct violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

As a result of this illegal conspiracy thousands of landowners and hundreds of municipalities have been denied substantial monetary gains that otherwise would be available in a free and competitive market.

Questions regarding this Complaint, or requests for copies of the entire Complaint, may be directed to:

Bradley E. Jones
3996 Donley Road
Naples NY 14512
585-374-2627 (H), 585-233-8539 (M)


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

PA Game Commission Pact

PA Game Commission Wind Energy Pact Ratified

HARRISBURG, Pa., April 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania
Game Commission today signed cooperative, voluntary agreements with 12
companies to avoid, minimize and potentially mitigate any adverse impacts
the development of wind energy may have on the state's wildlife resources.

Full story.

Note: While Airtricity and Gamesa are included in the voluntary agreement, its application to pre-existing development plans -- such as the turbine construction planned near Folmont -- is not clear.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Issue Ads in Bedford Gazette

Turbine Talk

Message from Sam Pratt

Sam Pratt, CEO of Rockland Manufacturing, headquartered in Bedford, PA, says:

When I first heard about wind turbines on Pennsylvania's mountaintops, I decided to inves­tigate wind energy. Unfortunately, they cannot eliminate our dependence on foreign oil and they can never be a major source of electrical power. They are promoted by some environmentalists and those that profit from turbines as "clean and green." Unfortunately, the truth does not match the claims.

These facts concern me.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

GE Admits 90% Inefficiency

General Electric, manufacturer of wind turbines, admits to the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) that its turbines' effective capacity factor is only 10% in New York State inland sites

HT: Nina Pierpont

Monday, April 02, 2007

Noise Complaints on Rise

Noise Complaints On Rise with New Industrial Wind Power Projects

Noise created by commercial-scale wind turbines has become a major concern around the world as wind power development continues to proliferate. Although the industry claims that modern turbines are quieter — even as they grow ever larger — complaints are increasing from people who live near new projects.

While the wind itself may mask some of the noise under some atmospheric conditions, the deep unnatural thumping as the giant blades pass their supporting tower is particularly intrusive. Testimony from hundreds of turbine neighbors confirms this, most recently from Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin, Texas, Canada, the U.K., and New Zealand. Reports can be found at www.wind-watch.org/news and www.wind-watch.org/documents.

The noise is especially intrusive because wind energy facilities are often built in rural areas where the ambient sound level may be quite low, especially at night. On the logarithmic decibel (dB) scale, an increase of 10 dB is perceived as a doubling of the noise level. An increase of 6 dB is considered to be a serious community issue. Since a quiet night in the country is typically around 25 dB, the common claim by wind developers of 45 dB at the nearest home would be perceived as a noise four times louder than normal. And because it is intermittent and directional, those affected assert that one can never get used to it. The disruption of sleep alone presents serious health and human rights issues.

The problem is worse than the industry admits. Frits van den Berg, a physicist at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands, studied noise levels around a German facility of 17 turbines. In a 2003 paper published in the Journal of Sound and Vibration, he found that at night, because the surface air is often more still than the air at the height of the blades, the noise from the turbines is 15 to 18 dB higher than during the day and carries farther. He noted that residents 1.9 kilometers (6,200 feet or 1.2 miles) away expressed strong annoyance with noise from the facility.

The French National Academy of Medicine has called for a halt of all large-scale wind development within 1.5 kilometers of any residence, because the sounds emitted by the blades constitute a permanent risk for people exposed to them. The U.K. Noise Association studied the issue and agreed with the recommendation of a 1-mile setback.

Full article here.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Recoup your losses.

Windmills devalue your property and home? Recoup your losses by investing in a wind company.

Earlier this week, Goldman Sachs more than doubled its money by selling Horizon Wind Energy, a developer and operator of wind power generation, for at least $2.15 billion to Energias de Portugal….

German wind turbine manufacturer REpower Systems has also seen its market valuation more than triple in the last year, to 150 euros ($200) a share, and in recent weeks has received takeover bids of around $1.7 billion from French nuclear power company Areva and India's Suzlon Energy.

Full article here

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Blades Peeling Apart "Piece by Piece"

Lightning and cold weather may be culprits at nearby Allegheny Ridge Wind Project.

Trade association: ‘Blade problems are rare’

Wind-energy experts say incidents such as the splintering of two blades and cracks in five others produced at Gamesa’s Cambria Township factory are rare.
The American Wind Energy Association views the problem as a fluke, an anomaly that turned up in a time-proven industry involving a highly respected company.
“We haven’t heard of anything like this before. There have been thousands of blades installed, and this is a first,” said Christine Real-de-Azua, spokeswoman for the wind energy national trade association, based in Washington, D.C.
“Offhand, this doesn’t seem like a big issue. We haven’t heard of any other problems.”
Gamesa officials as late as Friday continued to search for a cause of the Fiberglas skin cracking on the blades, which were installed during the past several months on turbines at Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm in Portage and Washington townships.
With the troublesome blades now being removed from the towers and two already back at the Ebensburg-area plant, Gamesa officials said they will continue the investigation until the mystery is solved.
“We’re still analyzing all of the information recorded,” plant manager Alberto Gros said Friday. “We’re going back to the original material we used, the transportation.”
The problem will have no impact on employment levels at the Ebensburg-area plant, Gros said.
Investigators, including two from Spain, are looking at the manufacturing process, shipping and installation of the 143-foot-long blades on the towers, he said. Attention will be paid to all aspects of the weather, including two extreme cold spells when some of the blades were installed.
“Lightning can be a problem,” Gros told officials from Portage and Washington townships last week. “We’re trying to get as much information as we can.”
The defect is showing as cracks on the Fiberglas membrane stretched over the harder Fiberglas and plastic blade form.
“We know they are not well bonded on the edge,” Gros said.
“We’re looking at that area.”
In addition, a team of experts is at the wind farm going over blades still on the towers.
The plant has turned out 360 blades so far, a number of which were shipped to wind farms in Texas and Illinois. Gros said skin cracking has not occurred in those areas.
Five defective blades at the Portage and Washington township farm were spotted by Gamesa workers after they were in place on the towers, while the side of a sixth splintered and fell to the ground. A larger outside percentage of the skin on a seventh blade came off and also fell, officials said.
“Piece by piece, they just peel apart,” said Gros, who has been with the company for 10 years.

Full Story: Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, March 24, 2007
HT: National Wind Watch

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Local Authorities Oppose Gamesa Plan

Water authority votes against wind farm

Windber Area Authority members voted to oppose a wind turbine project slated for the Shaffer Mountain area over concerns that the watershed will be negatively impacted.....
Chairman William Oldham said that as more information is publicly released, the more concerned he is with the project, which is slated to bring 30 turbines to the mountain.
The site's extensive road system and other details like the potential for a concrete batching plant worry him.“I think that we haven't been told enough.
I'm against them,” he said.The board subsequently voted 5-1 against the project as a whole.
That makes the authority the fourth governing body to make a resolution publicly opposing the watershed project in recent months.
Paint Township supervisors, Paint Borough council and Windber Borough council members have all voted against the project since February.
Where that leaves the project is still to be determined said Project Developer Tim Vought, who represented the company at the authority meeting....

Complete story »

Suit to be Filed to Stop Shaffer Mountain Windplant

Residents work to stop windmills

NEW PARIS - Residents determined to stop the Shaffer Mountain Wind Farm have issued a notice of intent to file suit with federal and state agencies over environmental concerns.The notices were mailed March 2 by environmental attorney Bradley Tupi who is with Tucker/Arensburg Attorneys, Pittsburgh, and is representing several families within the project area.“We’re still […]
Complete story »

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Health Effects of Wind Turbine Noise

Two British researchers, Barbara J. Frey and Peter J. Hadden, recently published a 137-page report on "Noise radiation from wind turbines installed near homes: Effects on health, with an annotated review of the research and related issues" (February 2007). See www.windturbinenoisehealthhumanrights.com. It's likely the best single source to date within the emerging body of documentation on health issues effected by industrial wind turbines. The report includes, by the way, a lengthy annecdotal compilation regarding property devaluations that occur when wind turbines are sited too close to dwellings and residential lands.

After voluminous documentation, the authors recommend a minimum setback of 2km (1.25 miles) from people's homes for turbines up to 2MW installed capacity, and larger setbacks for any turbines over 2MW.

Following is the report's abstract:
Wind turbines are large industrial structures that create obtrusive environmental noise pollution when built too close to dwellings. This annotated review of evidence and research by experts considers the impact of industrial-scale wind turbines suffered by those living nearby. First, the paper includes the comments by some of the families affected by wind turbines, as well as coverage in news media internationally. The experiences described put a human face to the science of acoustics.

Second, the paper reviews research articles within the field of acoustics concerning the acoustic properties of wind turbines and noise. The acoustic characteristics of wind turbines are complex and in combination produce acoustic radiation. Next, the paper reviews the health effects that may result from the acoustic radiation caused by wind turbines, as well as the health effects from noise, because the symptoms parallel one another. Primarily, the consequent health response includes sleep deprivation and the problems that ensue as a result. In addition, this paper reviews articles that report research about the body's response not only to the audible noise, but also to the inaudible components of noise that can adversely affect the body's physiology. Research points to a causal link between unwanted sound and sleep deprivation and stress, i.e., whole body physiologic responses.

These injuries are considered in the context of Human Rights, where it is contended that the environmental noise pollution destroys a person's effective enjoyment of right to respect for home and private life, a violation of Article 8 of the European Court of Human Rights Act. Furthermore, the paper considers the consequent devaluation of a dwelling as a measure of part of the damage that arises when wind turbines are sited too close to a dwelling, causing acoustic radiation and consequent adverse health responses.

The review concludes that a safe buffer zone of at least 2km should exist between family dwellings and industrial wind turbines of up to 2MW installed capacity, with greater separation for a wind turbine greater than 2MW installed capacity

Hat Tip:
Save Western New York

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Direct Approach

Board adopts tall structures ordinance

The Enterprise, February 17, 2007, Stuart, VA.

"The issue that roared into Patrick County like a windstorm almost a year ago blew away Monday like a gentle breeze.

"The Patrick County Board of Supervisors voted to pass a tall structures ordinance that will prohibit the construction of 400-foot wind turbines on the county’s mountain ridges. Telecommunications towers and church steeples are exempt from the tall structures ban."

Full story.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Writer's Tool Kit

Thinking of writing, but don't have the time? Try using these tools:

1.Talking Points - Wind Salesmen’s Talking Points and the Facts that Refute Them

A point-by-point refutation of common claims made about the effect of windplants on reducing CO2 emissions, oil consumption, foreign oil dependence, fossil fuel consumption, global warming, electricity generation costs, electricity user costs, future energy shortages, local tax base, local employment, local businesses and tourism economy, health and safety of neighbors, and forests, watersheds and ecosystems.

This has been prepared for use, freely and without obligatory attribution of any kind, in writing media and elected officials. It’s in Word file format, so that users can copy/paste as expedient.

2 Address Books – Also in Word file format, for easy copy/paste to letters and envelopes. Email addresses and phone numbers included where available.

Politicians: Directory of state, county and township officials

Media: Directory of regional and local media

SOAR: Address Book for Bedford County Members


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Allegheny Township News

Windmill ordinance to be advertised
Somerset Daily American, Jennifer Garlesky, February 6, 2007

ALLEGHENY TOWNSHIP - At Monday night’s meeting, supervisors voted to advertise the township’s ordinance regulating the placement of wind turbines.

The township ordinance requires a setback of five times the turbine height between the windmill and the home or business of a non-participating property owner. A non-participating property owner is someone who has not given the developer permission to build a tower within the setback distance.

The township setback requirements are more stringent than the county’s wind energy ordinance because of the measurements used to establish the figure. The county ordinance states the turbine must have a setback of five times the hub height, not the total height of the windmill. Full article.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Life Near Mars Hill, Maine

Mars Hill residents voice concerns over wind tower noise
Bangor Daily News, January 26, 2007 by Rachel Rice

Wendy and Perrin Todd knew what would happen to their view of Mars Hill Mountain when crews starting erecting wind towers near their backyard.

They braced themselves when their home, newly built on the north side of the mountain, shook because of the blasting.

But what shocked them — and what they said this week they should not be expected to live with — is the noise.

"They turned on tower Number 9, and almost immediately it made enough noise that it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that can’t be right,’" Wendy Todd said.

"It all depends on the wind speed and direction, but the best way to describe it is you step outside and look up thinking there’s an airplane. It’s like a high-range jet, high-low roar, but with the windmills, there’s a sort of on and off ‘phfoop ... phfoop ... phfoop’ noise."

That’s one "phfoop" or more every two seconds as the turbine’s three blades rotate from 10 to 22 revolutions per minute. It’s loud enough, Todd said, that she can hold her cell phone outside her home and the person on the other end of the call can clearly hear the sound.

Even though tower No. 9 has been shut down in the wake of noise complaints, several local residents who live close to the mountain said they’re worried about what they’ll hear when all 28 wind turbines start rotating sometime in mid-February. Currently 16 turbines are in operation....

"The only thing we’ve got going for us is we’re getting older and that means we’re getting deafer," he said.

The couples agreed that the noises they’ve heard so far go beyond annoyance or frustration.

"Our sleep patterns have already been interrupted," Perrin Todd said. "And that’s with only a few [turbines] running. We assume our sleep patterns would worsen once all of them are up and running."...

Mars Hill Town Manager Ray Mersereau said Thursday that he doesn’t have many answers to give about the noise issue. He confirmed that Evergreen told the town that the turbines would make hardly any noise, and that’s what he’s experienced when he’s stood directly under the towers....

"We have nothing against alternate forms of energy, but when it’s at the expense of residential living, people need to be aware of the facts," Perrin Todd said. "It has to be put in a location where it’s not so intrusive on people’s lives and dreams."

Full article: Mars Hill residents voice concerns over wind tower noise
HT: Industrial Wind Action Group.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Turbines to Ring the Flight 93 Memorial?

From Letter to the Editor, Somerset Daily American, January 25, 2007 [boldface added]:

The County Commissioners are to be commended for efforts made to plan for the future of the Flight 93 Corridor. The planning consultants made several recommendations that may lead to the creation of a pathway to the national memorial that will be well suited for this area of Somerset County. The consultants specifically stated that their goals for development included the conservation of farmland and natural areas and the preservation of scenic views and vistas. The consultants specifically mentioned the placement of road signs and the masking of cell towers as two examples of creating a positive viewscape. The planned development could result in aesthetically pleasing buildings and commercial sites and an area that would be a destination for tourists from all over the nation.

Unfortunately, the proposals for over 350 wind turbines (see http://alleghenywindwatch.blogspot.com/) spread throughout the adjoining areas to the Flight 93 Corridor makes such planning absurd. Current plans call for the erection of large numbers of 388 foot wind turbines on the ridges of the Allegheny Mountain and adjacent land areas. Each wind tower would require the clearing of a 400 foot circle for each tower and the construction of huge cement and steel supported foundation. Tourists will not experience the grand views currently found along Route 30, but rather will be greeted by a large number of industrial wind turbine sites. Why recommend the masking of cell towers and the lowering of signs when the wind turbines will dominate the area?

Wind turbines can be properly sited following the guidelines published by the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service or from regulations from the European Union. Let us not forget that we are sacrificing precious forest, rural areas and adjoining home values for an industry that cannot make a profit without huge tax subsidies, is 30% efficient in Pennsylvania and will not decrease our dependence on foreign oil or provide significant amount of steady electricity at a reasonable price (without subsidies and tax breaks). Once these areas are desecrated, it will be many years before any semblance of our natural areas and scenic vistas are restored.


Dr. Terence M. Doran, Vice-President Folmont Property Owners Association

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Good news. A leading local real estate company advises us that Folmont properties have been appreciating at 8-10% per year recently, well above the rate of inflation.

Bad news. Sale of a Folmont lot was cancelled this month when the buyer learned of the prospect of wind turbines nearby.

Ugly. Construction of turbines on properties adjacent to Folmont is scheduled for this fall.


Monday, January 15, 2007

Sample Leases

SOAR has provided sample lease documents used by a leading wind company to secure land and farms for windplant sites. The documents, too voluminous to post, are available upon request to SOAR, or contact the Folmont Blog webmaster.

Yet another large turbine installation

Somerset: 350 turbines and counting

Dan Boone emails that he "rechecked the PJM Generation Interconnection Queue last week and found another large windplant is in the study phase for Somerset County. The application is numbered R56 and proposes to build a 124 MW windplant. The R56 application supposedly was filed with PJM on Dec. 11, 2006, and involves connection somewhere along the Quemahoring-Hooversville 230 kV powerline inside the County. Unfortunately no other information is available.

"The R56 application brings the total generation capacity in the PJM Queues of all planned windplants in Somerset County to 635 MW, which likely would involve about 350 wind turbines. This would be in addition to the 34 existing wind turbines in the County, which have a combined generating capacity of nearly 50 MW."

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Our New Neighbors

Meet some of our new neighbors, 35-40 GE 1.5 MW turbines.

They'll be 385 feet tall. You think that's bad? They're short compared to some.

They'll be on Lamen's land, the ATV tracks, and New Baltimore Sportsmen's Club. Phase One will construct 35-40 of them, spread out over these three properties, with the allocations and specific footprints set to be finalized this spring.

The grapevine predicts 13 turbines on the NB Sportsmen's Club, 10-13 on Lamen's land bordering Folmont, and the rest on the ATV tracks.

How close they'll be to Folmont property lines is still unclear.

But wait. These are only the Airtricity turbines. There are more coming, from other turbine companies. Additional turbines from other developers are planned for Swallow Farm and, according to the PJM Queue, another 60-100 turbine installation adjacent to the Airtricy development on Lamen's farm.

In an effort to resolve issues prior to undertaking legal action, FPOA is meeting with turbine company representatives at their earliest convenience. On January 11, 2007, Airtricity representatives met with FPOA, thanks to arrangements made by Rep. Bob Bastian in conjuntion with Terry Doran.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Latest Map

Here's the latest on turbine installations around Folmont:

Wind turbines do best in Class 4 and Class 5 wind conditions, so you can estimate their general configuration on that basis.

Special Thanks to Dan Boone

Inverse Condemnation?

Excerpt from statement to Allegheny Township Board of Supervisors on behalf of Folmont Owners:


Consequences of Unwise Regulation May Include Inverse Condemnation?

When unwise regulation permits turbines too close to incompatible land uses, it invites inverse condemnation proceedings, especially where strong public policy interests are involved, such as home ownership and public safety.

By way of background, please consider the following summary of the theory of inverse condemnation:

"Sometimes, however, the government will deny that it has taken anything from the landowner. Thus, the landowner will commence an action, called an inverse condemnation proceeding, seeking compensation from the government. This situation can arise in a variety of ways. For example, the government might engage in conduct that destroys the landowner's ability to use and enjoy the property, such as by building an airstrip next to the property and flying planes over it, or cutting off or polluting the flow of water to the land. The government might also obstruct the landowner's access to the property with water or debris, as where dynamiting operations block the road to the landowner's property.

"The government might also infringe a landowner's rights through regulation.This could occur where the landowner buys land and builds a dance club and thenthe local government passes a law, banning dance clubs in the town. If the landowner's business is harmful to the public, the government's action in shutting it down may be a valid exercise of its police powers, as opposed to a taking. The government might also unduly restrict or diminish the property's use. A law raising minimum lot sizes from one acre to five acres robs a landowner with less than ten acres of the right to subdivide his or her property. A law denying sewer access or water access to certain plots would all but destroy their value for residential use. In these cases, the landowner could sue, arguing that the government has taken the property without paying for it." 2/

Unwise regulation, permitting turbines to be sited too close to Folmont's property, may invite litigation based not just on nuisance and personal injury, but also on inverse condemnation.

Since wind turbine investment is so highly subsidized, it may be seen that unwise regulation has the effect of taking some people's land to give other people tax breaks.

Friday, January 05, 2007

More Allegheny Township Public Hearings

Allegheny Township supervisors held another public hearing on their draft wind turbine ordinance on Thursday, January 4, 2006, at the Township Municipal Shed. The meeting was covered by Jennifer Garlasky in the Somerset Daily American.

Several Folmont owners presented testimony, including written statements submitted for the record by Terry Doran, FPOA's VP, and by Pete Weaver.

Among the main concerns expressed on behalf of Folmont residents are that the current draft would allow:
  • Turbines to be constructed at a proximity of 1.5 times the "Turbine Height" from the property line of an adjacent land owner.
  • Noise levels of 55dbA, as measured at the exterior of the neighboring occupied building.
Further, the escrow for decommissioning is set at only 25% of estimated decommissioning costs, with the result that turbine companies can walk away from abandoned turbines for a 75% discount, as against the cost of actual removal of the instalation. (Ownership of turbines is normally held by single-asset corporations created soley for that purpose, so that financial recourse for damages is virtually non-existent.)