Friday, April 03, 2009

Pre-construction accoustical survey

The recent homeowner court victory over the nearby Blue Knob wind plant (Stull vs. Gamesa Energy USA LLC and Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm, LLC) gives new hope that excessive turbine noise can be successfully litigated by complaining homeowners.

In the event that noise and vibration from turbines near Folmont makes litigation necessary, we're advised we should engage a court-credible acoustical engineer to measure and document ambient sound levels, prior to the turbines becoming operational, at several Folmont sites within 2,000-3,000 feet of a planned turbine site.

On Folmont's behalf, SOAR (Save Our Allegheny Ridges) has contacted a number of engineers and universities with a track record in this field and is recommending Rick James. As SOAR writes:

Rick is an acoustics expert from Michigan and has testified in several court
cases. You can google “Rick James wind” and a number of hits will pop up
where he has worked with communities in the mid-west and in New York. He
is doing a lot in Cohocton, NY and has worked in Calumet County. He told
me that wind companies are not good neighbors and that too often the companies
cover up the truth, or lie to get into a community.

Rick James plans to be in New York soon and can swing by here afterwards – sometime right after Easter.

He estimates the cost of taking measurements at several Folmont sites and preparing the acoustical engineer's report at about $1900, plus some miscellaneous travel expenses.

Yesterday, Terry Doran contacted some Folmont owners, mainly along Old Farm Road, and already we have six commitments totaling about
$1400.00, a little over half the expected total expense.

This survey will be commissioned, if at all, by individual property owners acting on their own behalf, rather than the FPOA.

We'll need to give the engineer a go/no-go decision, based on the level of pledges we receive, early this coming week. If you can make a pledge, kindly notify Terry Doran.

The funding target was met and the acoustical measurements were taken, daytime and nightime, at several Folmont sites April 23-24. The final report is expected in a few weeks.

How Close is a Turbine to You?

Construction equipment started rolling in this week. Here's where the turbine sites will be, not to mention the other stuff, such as deforestation areas around each turbine, access roads between turbines, power lines, drainage provisions and other miscelleneous project infrastructure.

The pin points on this map are derived from inputting FAA site longitude/latitude degrees into Google Earth. So the turbine sites are accurate almost to the foot. You can measure the distance from your house to the nearest turbine using Google Earth. If you could use help with this measurement, please let us know.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

New Medical Study

Mars Hill wind turbine project health effects: preliminary findings
March 25, 2009 by Michael A. Nissenbaum, MD

Dr. Michael A. Nissenbaum, a radiologist at the Northern Maine Medical Center, conducted interviews with fifteen people living near the wind energy facility in Mars Hill, Maine. His preliminary data suggests the residents are experiencing medical problems (sleep disturbances, headaches, dizziness, weight changes, possible increases in blood pressure, as well as increased prescription medication use) due to noise emissions from the turbines near their homes.

Download File(s):
Mars Hill Nissenbaum.pdf (2.07 MB)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Court Upholds Noise Complaint Against Blue Knob Wind Plant

The Stulls' victory against the Blue Knob wind plant will have major impacts on future wind projects in Pennsylvania.

Because of noise and other nuisance from the wind plant in the Blue Knob area, Todd and Jill Stull filed a complaint for damages and injunctive relief against Gamesa and Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm LLC (Babcock and Brown). The Stulls complained that excessive noise, flicker and other nuisance are causing irreparable harm to the Plaintiffs and robbing them of their enjoyment of their property. A portion of their filing is detailed below. The full filing can be downloaded from Industrial Wind Action Group.

Stull vs. Gamesa Energy USA LLC and Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm, LLC

May 1, 2008 by Bradley S. Tupi and William Haberstroh

In the common pleas court of Blair County, Pennsylvania TODD STULL AND JILL STULL Plaintiff,v.GAMESA ENERGY USA, LLC andALLEGHENY RIDGE WIND FARM, LLCDefendants COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF (partial list)

14. Some of the industrial wind turbines are as close as 2,400 feet from Plaintiffs' home.

15. Before the wind turbines were erected, Plaintiff's property was a quiet, rural location where the predominant sounds were those of songbirds and leaves blowing in the wind. Defendants' wind turbines have destroyed the peaceful environment formerly enjoyed by Plaintiffs and their neighbors.

16. During windy conditions, the mechanical turbines become extremely noisy. The turbine blades make a "whooshing" sound almost like jet aircraft, except that the sound is cyclical, alternating louder and softer over short intervals. The turning of the industrial wind turbine hub housings to face the wind (or otherwise) makes a piercing, screeching, metal-on-metal noise.

17. The noises from the turning turbine blades can last many hours or even days. The noises from the turning of the hub housings are of shorter duration. The noises occur during daytime and nighttime. The noises are unpredictable and are generated without notice to Plaintiffs. The noises are audible inside Plaintiffs' home, even with windows closed.

18. The turbine noises interfere with Plaintiffs' sleep. Since the operation of the industrial wind energy facility began, Plaintiffs have not been able to sleep with their windows open, and even with windows closed Plaintiffs use an indoor fan to create "white noise" in a vain effort to cancel out the noise of the mechanical turbines outside.

19. The mechanical turbines also generate disturbing, low-frequency vibration that adversely affects the Stulls and their property. Both the audible noise and the vibrations, either individually or collectively, make Dr. Stull so uncomfortable that he often cannot sleep at night. Sometimes he goes down into an unheated cellar to try to find a quiet place to sleep.

20. Dr. Stull has experienced stress, anxiety and frequent disruptions of his sleep as a result of the noisy wind turbines.

21. The turbines' noises have a negative effect on Plaintiffs' enjoyment of their property and quality of life. The noises disrupt Plaintiffs' efforts to entertain guests on their property. The noises disturb Plaintiffs' use of their property for all outdoor family activities including hiking, hunting and other recreation.

22. Upon information and belief, the turbines' noises have diminished Plaintiffs' property value.

23. The turbine blades also create a disturbing "flicker" effect as they turn in the light of the setting sun. This also adversely affects the Stulls and their use and enjoyment of their property, including watching birds and wildlife, and hunting.

24. In order to induce state and local officials to grant permits and approvals necessary for construction of the industrial wind project, Defendants Gamesa and Allegheny represented that the wind turbines would be quiet. Those representations were false.

25. Plaintiffs relied upon Defendants' misrepresentations inter alia, by declining to oppose permits for the industrial wind energy project, by declining to appeal various local and state approvals of the project and by declining to sue to halt the project.

26. After the industrial wind energy facility was constructed, Plaintiffs complained about the turbine noises. Defendants offer various unsatisfactory explanations. Sometimes Defendants asserted that there simply were no noises. On other occasions, Defendants said that the turbine blades were defective and needed to be replaced. Defendants allegedly replaced the tape on the blades in January 2008, but the noises continued.

27. At various times, Plaintiffs have measured the noises from the turbines on Plaintiffs' property in excess of 70 decibels.

28. Defendants' conduct is ongoing, and Plaintiffs' harm is ongoing.Count VII Injunctive Relief55. The averments of the preceding paragraphs are incorporated by reference.

56. Plaintiffs seek injunctive relief to abate the nuisance and violations caused by Defendants' design, construction and operation of the wind turbines.

57. Plaintiffs are likely to prevail on the merits.

58. Plaintiffs are suffering immediate and irreparable harm, including ongoing personal injuries, anxiety, and emotional distress.

59. Money damages or other remedies at law are inadequate. Money damages cannot restore the peace and quiet Plaintiffs enjoyed on their property before the industrial turbines were built, and cannot free Plaintiffs from the constant anxiety and physical and emotional distress they suffer as a result of Defendants' conduct. Plaintiffs should not be forced either to continue to suffer these invasions or to move out of their home.

60. A balancing of the equities weighs in Plaintiffs' favor because, inter alia Defendants obtained permits for the industrial wind project based upon misrepresentation that the mechanical turbines would cause no noise.

61. A balancing of the equities weighs in Plaintiffs' favor because Plaintiffs relied upon Defendant' misrepresentation, inter alia, by declining to oppose permits required for the industrial wind energy project, by declining to appeal various local and state approvals of the project and by declining to sue to halt the project.

62. Consideration of the public interest weighs in Plaintiffs' favor because, inter alia, Defendants obtained permits for the industrial wind power plant complex based upon misrepresentations that the mechanical turbines would cause no noise. The industrial wind power plant complex not only affects Plaintiffs, but Plaintiffs' community.

63. Consideration of the public interest weighs in Plaintiffs' favor because Art. 1, Sec. 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution provides that "The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural scenic, historic, and esthetic values of the environment." Defendants' conduct has robbed Plaintiffs of the natural scenic and esthetic values of their environment at Pine Springs Farm.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs demand injunctive relief against Defendants to abate the nuisance caused by the offending industrial wind power turbines, together with costs and such other and further relief as the Court deems just.

TUCKER ARENSBERG, P.C.Bradley S. Tupi, EsquireWilliam Haberstroh, EsquireAttorneys for Plaintiffs,Todd and Jill Stull

Download File(s):StullvsGamesa.pdf (236.46 kB)


Friday, March 27, 2009

PA Court Upholds Noise Charges against Gamesa/Blue Knob

Charges against wind companies upheld, By Phil Ray,, POSTED: March 27, 2009

HOLLIDAYSBURG - A Blair County judge has upheld all but two civil charges brought against two wind companies by a Juniata Township couple, who have complained that 40 wind turbines on Blue Knob Mountain are noisy and cause light to flicker in their home. ...

Milliron refused to strike a charge of fraudulent misrepresentation against Gamesa and a similar charge, plus others, against Allegheny Ridge.

One of the Stulls' attorneys, Bradley S. Tupi of Pittsburgh, said the charges that were dismissed will not prevent the Stulls from presenting their case.

The next step will be for Allegheny Ridge and Gamesa to answer the Stull lawsuit....

Allegheny Ridge once was va subsidiary of Gamesa, but in 2007, Allegheny Ridge was sold to Babcock & Brown, an international investment group.

According to the lawsuit, Gamesa and Allegheny Ridge made assurances during the planning stages for the wind farm that the turbines would not be noisy and that a 2,000-foot setback requirement would be enough to protect home owners against intrusion.

The Stulls say the resulting noise, vibrations and flicker have caused them to lose sleep and to suffer anxiety and emotional distress.


Construction to Start

Wind turbine work to start, Tribune-Democrat, March 27, 2009

REELS CORNERS — Construction is to begin on 35 new wind turbines in the mountains of eastern Somerset County.

E.ON Climate and Renewables North America Inc. has received approval to place construction trailers at the Stonycreek Wind Farm site along Route 30 near Reels Corners.

The turbine site... is expected to take about seven months to complete once work begins. ...

Most of the turbines will be in Stonycreek Township, but the project also extends into Allegheny and Shade townships.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Q: If wind subsidies are used for economic stimulus, what is the cost of each operating job created by wind farms?
A: Jobs created by wind subsidies cost $9.8 Million each.*

To say that wind subsidies are an economic stimulus because they create jobs is a stretch, at best.
When wind subsidies are justified on grounds of job creation, taxpayers should understand that the cost will be about $9.8 Million for every job created. As between coal, gas, solar and wind power, wind subsidies are by far the least efficient for job creation, the most capital-intensive and labor- extensive of them all.
In fact, as suggested by the data below, when wind replaces other sources of electricity, jobs are lost on balance, not gained.

Jobs created per $billion invested
In energy production: Coal v. Gas v. Solar v. Wind
(Direct, indirect, induced)

Supercritical pulverized coal w/o carbon capture: 806 Operating Jobs (Source: DOE Cost and Performance Baseline for Fossil Fuel Plants (May 2007)

Supercritical pulverized coal w/ carbon capture: 947 Jobs (Source: IBID)

Natural gas combined cycle w/o carbon capture: 387 Jobs (Source: IBID)Natural gas combined cycle w/carbon capture: 321 Jobs

Solar: 210 Jobs (Source JEDI 3)

Wind: 102 Jobs (Source: JEDI 3) [ = $9,803,922/job ]

*Source of job cost estimates: Employment from Power Generation Investment (Dec 2008 Energy Ventures Analysis Inc),Cost and Performance Baseline for Fossil Fuel Plants (May 2007, DOE/NETL-2007/1281) and the JEDI Model (DOE-NETL Website).