General and Impact on Wildlife
A Pennsylvania company is asking the O'Malley administration for leases in two Western Maryland state forests so it can clear up to 400 mountaintop acres to build about 100 wind turbines.
The U.S. Wind Force structures would be about 40 stories tall and visible from some of the region's most popular tourist areas, including Deep Creek Lake and the Savage River Reservoir. ...Dan Boone, a former state wildlife biologist who has been fighting wind farms in Western Maryland, said the Savage River and Potomac state forests contain rare old-growth trees and threatened species.
"You are talking about taking one of the most spectacular scenic overlooks in Maryland and industrializing it," Boone said of a proposed site on Meadow Mountain in the Savage River forest. "It would be a real tragedy to take state lands and convert them into an industrial theme park for U.S. Wind Force."
An energy developer from New York is moving forward with a project to build a gargantuan wind farm along the Columbia River in Gilliam and Morrow counties.
If built out as proposed, Shepherd's Flat wind farm would be the largest in the Northwest and more than double the size of any individual wind project under development in Oregon. It would include as many as 303 wind turbines, some stretching 500 feet tall. At peak capacity, the project could generate up to 909 megawatts ...It would include 57 miles of new access roads, two substations, six meteorological towers, 17 miles of high-voltage transmission lines and another 103 miles of collector transmission lines. The application lists about 25 landowners within the site or within 500 feet of its boundaries.
An open house Wednesday by Spanish energy producer Gamesa USA is not exactly the kind of forum Tyrone's mayor had in mind when he asked the company to hold a public meeting on its proposed Ice Mountain wind farm. ...
As it is set up now, with Gamesa representatives talking to people one-on-one, there's a missed opportunity for more people to hear how the company is addressing its critics.
Tyrone Mayor James Kilmartin has said that 70 percent of borough residents he has been in contact with oppose the wind farm project. This is a similar result to the Harrisburg Patriot News poll that revealed that 83 percent of Pennsylvanians oppose industrial wind farms on state forest lands.
Juniata Valley Audubon Society (JVAS) President Stan Kotala, M.D. has been at the forefront of the opposition in Gamesa's proposed wind farm on Ice Mountain. He said that the JVAS is not opposed to wind energy, but asks that wind energy be developed in an ecologically sound manner, avoiding ecologically sensitive areas, such as Ice Mountain.
"We ask that wind energy developers follow US Fish and Wildlife Service Guidelines calling for the avoidance of migratory pathways and unfragmented forests," said Kotala.
After days of detached and often numbing pontifications from hired consultants, it was a stark contrast yesterday to hear some of the closest residents bring a human face to the hearing in Ngaruawahia.
"I can only speak from the heart and it is breaking," said Ohautira Rd resident Wendy Reid. She said up to 24 of the turbines would be directly visible from her home of 19 years.
Ms Reid variously referred to the wind farm as "a glorified and cunningly gift-wrapped power station", "a gigantic monolith" and "visual pollution" which would cause catastrophic distress, anxiety and fear.
"It is dividing friends, neighbours, and families in half," she said. "It is destroying lives and lifestyles and turning me inside out personally.
A large swath off the New Jersey coast will be studied beginning in January to assess wildlife density where offshore windmill farms may be built as an alternative energy source, the state Department of Environmental Protection said Friday.
The 18-month survey will focus on the 70 or so miles of coast between Seaside Park in Ocean County and Stone Harbor in Cape May County and extend as far as 20 nautical miles, or 23 miles, offshore. ...Although the study stems from a recommendation from a May 2006 report from the state's blue ribbon panel on developing wind energy farms in New Jersey, Jeff Tittel, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, said the research is unnecessary and just delays the construction.
THE COMPANY behind plans to build a massive windfarm in Shetland intends to wait until next summer before submitting a planning application to allow a second study of the islands' peatlands.
Viking Energy had initially hoped to have already submitted its planning documents, but the huge number of responses to a public consultation scuppered the company's timetable. ...During the initial consultation in spring this year, many local residents were concerned about the amount of peat which would have to be cleared to erect up to 192 turbines, each measuring up to 145 metres in height.
There were also worries that disturbing the sensitive peat habitat could pollute burns and inshore waters.
A study involving whooper swans wintering on a Dumfriesshire reserve could have a major impact on new wind farm developments across Scotland.
A total of seven birds have been tracked by satellite from Iceland for the BBC's Autumnwatch programme. ...WWT Learning Manager Brian Morrell said the study of migration patterns could help answer a lot of questions.
"With a lot of applications for wind farms - up in the Western Isles there's a huge one planned for Lewis - they want to know what route these birds are taking," he said.
"Are they going across the area that is going to be earmarked for these wind farm developments?
In a move with direct significance for the Mid-Atlantic, the U.S. Interior Department today released its final proposal for regulating offshore wind turbines and other "alternative" energy projects in federally controlled waters.
Although work on detailed regulations will continue into next year, the agency plans to take applications during the next 60 days for permits to conduct offshore research on wind or other unconventional energy around the nation's Outer Continental Shelf. ...Several large national environmental groups have supported the offshore proposals for wind. But the American Bird Conservancy, American Littoral Society and others took opposing stands, urging the Interior Department to limit the projects and study threats to birds and fish in greater detail.
The wide open spaces and natural terrain and wildlife of Southeastern Washington are fading, and some residents would like the encroaching effects of urbanization toned down, such as a proposed project that would place 35 to 50 turbines on Rattlesnake Mountain.
More than 30 people showed up Saturday at the Richland Community Center for a meeting to oppose a proposed windmill farm at the base of the mountain. ...Rick Leaumont, chairman of the Audubon Society's conservation committee, agreed that urgency in protesting the project is necessary because about 238 bird species have been documented in the area, and would be effected by the windmills.
"Wildlife needs some kind of solitude, a place that is theirs," Leaumont said. "Any location on the mountain would be a problem."
Congressman Alan Mollohan sent an 11-page letter to the state Division of Energy officials last week, criticizing a new state plan for developing industrial wind power sites, primarily in the state's northeastern counties.
State plans "entirely disregard the serious environmental concerns" raised by a number of critical studies prepared by the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Government Accountability Office, said Mollohan, D-W.Va.
Citing state marketing efforts touting the state's scenic vistas and calm pace, he asked, "How do rows of 400-foot-high industrial and wind turbines, spread out over thousands of acres of ridgelines, fit into that picture?" ...James Webb, a University of Virginia research scientist, recently found that the Mountaineer Project in Tucker County operated at only 9 percent of its capacity during the month of August.
Webb calculated it would typically take nearly 3,000 huge wind turbines to match the power output of one conventional electric power plant.
...wind power has attracted an impressive array of critics. Scientists question wind power's efficiency as a consistent power source. Number crunchers point out that without subsidies, wind power is a prohibitive energy source. Biologists, birders, and hunters cite the deadly effect of these huge turbines on migrating and permanent populations of birds and bats as well as the destruction of crucial habitat in order to service the elaborate infrastructure. The technology is so new, and the pressure to create clean energy so intense, there has been little regulatory oversight of the industry nationally, and organizations traditionally thought to oppose such habitat degeneration, such as the Sierra Club and the National Audubon Society, have voiced their support for wind energy.
A proposed wind farm on Seven Mile Hill near the tiny town of Mosier, Oregon is the centerpiece of the trouble that stems from development near a protected scenic area. The Cascade Wind Project, proposed by UPC Wind Partners, has thus far drawn serious opposition from not only residents of Mosier, but throughout the Gorge and beyond. The farm would be built just outside the Scenic Area boundary, and the 389-foot-high turbines of the 40 towers would be clearly visible from many areas in the Gorge, including Interstate 84 and McCall Point Trail.
"This proposal is a slap in the face of the protection rights that everybody in the Gorge has had to live up to for the past twenty years," says Mike Rockwell, a real estate agent who lives in Mosier. "It's simply not a wise location."
By December 2007, more than 1,500 turbines will be churning out electricity in the Columbia River Gorge. Scientists are also concerned that since the turbines are nearing along the ridge of the gorge, canyons and shrub-covered rangeland, the natural habitats of the birds could be at risk. ...Wildlife biologists in Oregon and Washington state say the turbines are taking toll on raptors and other birds and it may limit expansion of clean wind energy.
Concerned citizens of the Deerfield Valley, and as far away as the Berkshires, have come together to form "Save Vermont Ridgelines."
The current proposal before the public service board, to allow or deny construction of an industrial wind power plant on 80 acres of highly visible United States Forest Service- controlled ridgelines, has brought us together to consider the scope and consequences of these 17 410-feet tall machines, with flashing lights stretched across one of the area's most prominent ridgelines. ...The goal of our group is to inform the public of the full intent and consequences of this proposed wind experiment.
County council will be spending approximately $10,000 more on its wind power study but not all members were pleased with that stance.
The extra $10,000 will assist in predominantly helping to further study the migration patterns of birds and bats to ensure they aren't impacted by proposed wind energy projects, an issue which arose during public meetings ...Amherstburg Mayor Wayne Hurst believed the money would be well spent. He believed that the county has to ensure they are doing as much as they can to make sure that due diligence is being met. Essex Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche believed "our research is too important not to spend the additional money." ..."These turbines will be here for years to come and site planning is extremely important. ..."We strongly believe buffer zones must be determined for the sensitive wildlife areas such as Point Pelee, Hillman Marsh and Holiday Beach. There are important long-term environmental and tourism impacts to consider for Essex County."
Some 51 per cent of African-Eurasian migratory raptor species have an "unfavourable" conservation status.
John O'Sullivan, of Birdlife International, a global alliance of conservation organisations, said: "We have recently heard about the sad case of the golden eagle being poisoned in Scotland, but birds of prey face additional problems trying to settle in networks of suitable habitats along their migration paths. We know little about the status of raptors in Africa, and in Asia species are poorly understood." The main threats to the birds, Mr O'Sullivan said, were habitat loss, illegal hunting, power lines, and wind farm initiatives.
The meeting heard Prof Peter Cobbold use the name, Clwyd power station, to describe to more than 200 local residents what is in store for their countryside between now and 2010.
He also talked about the changes in local scenery, which he believes will come about if the asssembly plans to generate electricity from wind turbines continues. ..."The significant thing is that not one word was voiced to support wind energy.
"If they are so great, why did no one turn up to say so? Nobody wants them; everybody knows they won't close down a single 'dirty' power station; and yet they are foisted on us by an uncaring Government that refuses to listen to us."
A divided Public Utility Commission shut the door Wednesday on conservationists' efforts to air concerns about the effect of planned Gulf Coast wind farms on migratory birds. ...Chairman Paul Hudson dissented, saying it would be in the public's interest for the commission to hear about the environmental impact and that denying the intervention would prevent the PUC from ever looking at the alliance's argument.
County Council narrowly agreed Wednesday to spend another $10,000 on new studies to make sure internationally significant bird, bat and raptor populations aren't harmed by looming wind energy projects.
However, some councillors complained that the Jones Consulting Group of Oakville, which is doing the county's wind energy planning study, should have anticipated the need for the additional research.
"I'm just a little disappointed in the whole process," said Leamington Mayor John Adams. He said he thought it was clear from the start that protection of birds, bats and raptors was going to be the major issue in the planning study.