General and Impact on Wildlife
The state Department of Environmental Conservation on Wednesday released preliminary plans for the surveys and information required on the Galloo Island Wind Farm environmental impact statement.
The 36-page draft scoping statement includes plans for studies on the effects of the wind project on the land, Lake Ontario, public safety, archaeological resources, wetlands and wildlife. The plan does not include the effects on public roads or from noise and shadow flicker from the turbines, because the site is remote, the plan said.
Interested parties have more than a month to file comments with the department before the scope of the impact statement is finalized.
Jim Congdon said two friends living in the town of Byron are experiencing significant sound problems and constant blade flicker since the $250 million Forward Wind Energy Center began operating.
"It's extremely irritating," he said. "What is the company going to do with somebody like that?"
Laura Miner, asset manager associate for Chicago-based Invenergy Wind LLC, said it's currently fielding all complaints .
"What we did when we built the project was to have a 1,000-foot setback and try to prevent some of those things from happening," she said. "Now we're doing drive-by tests and going up to the houses to try to gauge what's going on."
Eleven citizen and environmental groups in West Virginia and Maryland have filed a 60-day notice about their intent to sue a wind power project.
They say the huge turbines from the NedPower Mount Storm project would kill endangered bats and squirrels near the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area.
The groups also will sue corporate owners Dominion Resources and Shell Wind Energy for violating the Endangered Species Act, according to Judy Rodd, director of Friends of Blackwater Canyon, based in Charleston. ...Landowners who live near the project also have filed a nuisance suit against NedPower citing concerns about their health and safety, as well as reductions in their property values.
Nearly all of some 175 landowners raised their hands during a meeting here Friday when a West Texas lawmaker asked how many wanted legislators to oppose billionaire T. Boone Pickens' efforts to obtain rights of way for water pipeline and electricity transmission lines.
The lines would also pass through parts of Archer, Hardeman, Jack, Wichita and Wilbarger counties. A similar meeting has been scheduled Thursday in Holliday.
One landowner shouted "Do it," during the show of hands urging lawmakers fight Pickens' attempts to obtain rights of way to build the world's largest wind farm and to ship water from the Panhandle to thirsty areas downstate.
No one - not even Pickens' representatives - raised their hands when state Sen. Bob Duncan asked who wanted lawmakers to support the projects.
Late last week, eleven citizens groups filed a Sixty Day Notice of Intent to Sue NedPower Mt. Storm and its corporate owners Dominion Resources, and Shell Wind Energy for violations of the Endangered Species Act involving the "takes" of the West Virginia northern flying squirrel, the Indiana bat, and the Virginia big-eared bat.
The letter, sent to the Fish and Wildlife Service, NedPower and the West Virginia Public Service Commission, also raises concerns about impacts to bald and golden eagles and migrating birds protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Acts.
The groups are demanding that the industrial wind corporation apply for an incidental take permit and modify or stop construction of this project before irreparable harm is done to West Virginia's natural heritage.
Opponents of the controversial Shaffer Mountain Wind Farm have issued a notice of intent to file suit against the developer over claims the project will threaten an endangered species living on the site.
John Buchan Jr., one of the founders of Sensible Wind Solutions, said the group mailed the notice today to nearly 500 state and federal lawmakers and officials. It signals their formal intent to file suit with federal and state agencies charged with protecting the Indiana bat, which is on the endangered species list. ///It was a Gamesa-sponsored study performed last year by Bat Conservation and Management, of Carlisle, and Sanders Environmental Inc., of Centre Hall, that found juvenile male Indiana bats on the proposed project site.
Armed with the results of that study and testimony from Pennsylvania State University professor and bat researcher Michael Gannon, the group hopes to get the project stopped.
Every speaker last night made it clear that none of them were against wind power development, but were opposed to the irresponsible siting of wind farms. Blue Knob area residents Clair Chappell and Dr. Todd Stull spoke about their first-hand experiences of having a group of wind turbines close to their homes.
Chappell and Stull were told that the wind turbines made "no noise" when the two men first heard about the wind farm construction near their properties. Stull told the crowd that "nobody from Gamesa has ever come to my house about our complaints."
Stull said that the wind turbine noise is especially loud at his house, by which he compared it to a jet aircraft constantly flying overhead.
Proposals for wind farms in the Valley are whipping up opposing viewpoints about the structures' effects on wildlife, local vistas and energy production.
Opponents say the turbines, each hundreds of feet tall, would mar the local landscape and endanger bats and birds, some of which are federally protected.
But proponents say the farms can be built with minimum impact on the environment to offer clean, alternative energy and a break from the nation's dependency on foreign oil. ...After studying maps and coordinates provided by the Federal Aviation Administration, consultant D. Daniel Boone, a conservation biologist and policy analyst, said the FreedomWorks' project could negatively affect untouched areas of the George Washington National Forest.
"Other than a power line and one small road which crosses between Hardy and Shenandoah counties, the project area is completely undisturbed forest with no sign of logging roads or clear-cuts," Boone stated.
They were once a common sight on the west Highland estate of Beinn an Tuirc, but as the landscape has changed over the past 40 years, there is now a greater chance of spotting a mountain hare at a tea party than on the moorland.
Now, a project by an energy company aims to establish a thriving community of the creatures by next Easter.
Scottish Power Renewables is offering £30 to rangers for every hare they hand over. The animals will be reintroduced to draw a pair of golden eagles, which feed on the hares, away from the wind turbines.
The company is offering cash after a call to estates for help failed to elicit a strong response.
Combined with a $400 million Peñascal Wind Farm on property owned by the John G. Kenedy Jr. Charitable Trust, the projects will place roughly 240 turbines on thousands of acres of Kenedy County property.
The Coastal Habitat Alliance, made up of the King Ranch and several environmental groups, agrees wind energy has benefits. But the group cites environmental concerns including potential damage to South Texas bird populations and possible harm to the Laguna Madre as reasons the projects should not happen in Kenedy County.
"We are very concerned about impacts," said Jim Blackburn, a Houston environmental attorney representing the Coastal Habitat Alliance. "I am for wind energy. The question is: Is wind supportable at this site?"
The Coastal Habitat Alliance has sued the Public Utility Commission and the Texas General Land office to stop the projects ...
Also filed under [
Opponents to expanding wind energy on public land are voicing their opinions, and sometimes in a loud manner.
About 50 of those opponents met Wednesday with OG&E Electric Services and Department of Wildlife Conservation officials to discuss concerns about expanding Centennial Wind Farm north of Fort Supply onto Cooper Wildlife Management Area. It is a scenario OG&E says will not happen.
In light of growing local and statewide opposition and concern by wildlife organizations about the impact to the region's natural habitat, OG&E has declined to pursue the development of any wind energy on public land, officials said.
Highland citizens have once again reminded county supervisors of their intent to sue the board if proper conditions are not met by Highland New Wind Development LLC.
In a Feb. 27 letter addressed to the board, county attorney Melissa Dowd, county administrator Roberta Lambert, and zoning administrator Jim Whitelaw, the law firm of Woods Rogers outlined the citizens' expectations based on the conditional use permit granted to the developer July 14, 2005.
Attorney James Jennings, writing on behalf of his clients, first contacted the county in July 2005 informing officials that if they granted a building permit to HNWD they could be violating the Endangered Species Act.
An alpine wilderness in northern B.C. that's critical habitat to a herd of threatened mountain caribou is being proposed as the site for hundreds of industrial wind turbines.
Aeolis Wind Power Corp. based at Sidney on Vancouver Island has provided the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office with draft terms of reference for its 1,000-megawatt Hackney Hills wind farm, about 45 kilometres northwest of Hudson's Hope. ..."Global warming is being used as a Trojan horse to justify all manner of high-impact energy projects, and Hackney Hills is a prime example," said Wayne Sawchuk, an award-winning Peace Valley conservationist and member of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society board.
The Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. wants to lease or buy from the state Department of Wildlife Conservation a portion of the Cooper Wildlife Management Area in northwest Oklahoma for its power-generating wind turbines.
It's curious that state wildlife commissioners would consider such a proposal when state wildlife officials have been clamoring that more public hunting land is needed in Oklahoma. ...At issue for state wildlife commissioners is to what extent would numerous wind turbines disturb wildlife on Cooper? And what kind of policy would they be creating if they choose to lease Cooper for a wind farm?
No doubt, other WMAs in western Oklahoma such as Beaver, Sandy Sanders and Packsaddle will be targeted for wind energy as well.
Sue Selman of Buffalo, president of Save The Prairie and an owner of the historic Selman Ranch north of Woodward, is against any wind turbines on Cooper. ..."Placing wind turbines on the Cooper Wildlife Management Area will fragment and destroy a large quantity of (wildlife) habitat," she said. "It's a gross injustice to our part of the state, to wildlife and to hunting."
Some say counting carcasses isn't enough.
That's why Illinois is changing the way it wants studies of wildlife around wind farms to be performed as more of the clean energy installations are planned around the state.
Previous research has been based almost entirely on mortality counts, the process by which bird and bat carcasses are scooped up early in the morning within a several hundred foot radius of wind turbine bases.
But studies now are aiming to determine a more long-range impact on avian and terrestrial creatures by examining how animals react to the sudden presence of a vertical structure soaring as high as 450 feet into the sky.
The shift in practice comes as other mortality studies are under way in the area, but only a few have been completed in the state. ..."It's unfair to assume, I think, that there's no environmental effects from wind (energy)," said Keith Shank, an impact assessment specialist with the DNR. "Until we get some firm data, the problem is, people are making multimillion-dollar investments with insufficient information."
State environmental officials want wind energy developers to pay closer attention to how their projects will affect birds and bats.
The Department of Environmental Conservation proposed a set of guidelines to promote wind power and minimize the danger to birds and bats.
Developers have been required to analyze how wind projects would affect wildlife before they are allowed to build and the new guidelines will standardize that review.
SPRING VALLEY TOWNSHIP - When Kevin and Lynda Kawula first heard about a wind farm proposal for Magnolia Township, they thought it sounded like a good idea.
But as they attended meetings and researched the issue, their opinions changed.
"It seemed like enough people were concerned that we got concerned," he said. ...The Kawulas visited the Montfort wind farm in Iowa County. It has 20 turbines with 30 megawatts of capacity.
"It's like moving back into a metropolitan area," he said. "It's an airport where the planes never land."
Being around the turbines and high voltage power lines make Kevin feel physically ill with pressure headaches, he said.
Last week, the State Corporation Commission granted conditional approval for the company to build up to 20 turbines, each about 400 feet tall, on Red Oak Knob and Tamarack Ridge near the West Virginia border. ...McBride's project faced considerable opposition from environmentalists.
It was widespread among residents who see Highland County as a pristine rural area and "a sort of last frontier," Sullenberger said.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries summarized the opposition in a September 2006 letter to the SCC.
"We support the use of alternative energy sources, including wind energy" the DGIF said. "However, we feel this project presents an unacceptable risk to wildlife."
...environmentalists already have voiced concerns about what they say are the negative effects of fragmenting the forestland. Stan Kotala, president of the Juniata Valley Audubon Society, said Ice Mountain in Blair County, where part of the project would be built, is unique because it has a large expanse of unbroken forest. That interior forest is favored by some species including the bobcat, fisher and scarlet tanager, Kotala said.
The county Planning Commission's Natural Heritage Inventory designated the area a natural heritage area, he said.
"We just feel that it should be protected," he said.
Gary Thornbloom, chairman of the Sierra Club Moshannon Group, said the biggest concern is where the wind industry is putting its projects.
But what happens when a good idea is put in the wrong place?
"You've gotta look at the ecological setting. And some settings are wrong for it," said Jim Blackburn, a Houston-based environmental lawyer working for the Coastal Habitat Alliance, CHA.
Projects by two companies now underway would put 600 wind turbines about 400 feet tall along the South Texas coast. That's where millions of migratory birds must pass through to fly south for the winter.
"It's a world-class worst site," said Blackburn. CHA and other coastal environmental groups say the blades will kill the birds, and project threatens valuable Texas wetlands.
But the companies behind the wind farms don't need any state permits to build.