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.)