Impact on Wildlife or Vermont
An estimated 850,000 to 1.7 million bats have died from collisions with wind turbines in the United States and Canada since 2000, said Mylea Bayless, director of conservation programs for Austin, Texas-based Bats Conservation international.
"What it boils down to is this: If you electrocute an eagle, that is bad, but if you chop it to pieces, that is OK," said Tim Eicher, a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement agent based in Cody, who helped prosecute the PacifiCorp power line case.
By not enforcing the law, the administration provides little incentive for companies to build wind farms where there are fewer birds.
In a decision swiftly condemned by conservationists and wildlife advocates, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said operators of Terra-Gen Power's wind farm in the Tehachapi Mountains will not be prosecuted if their turbines accidentally kill a condor during the expected 30-year life span of the project.The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grants exceptions to a wind farm and a building project in harassing or killing the endangered birds.
Since October, 105 complaints about the big three wind projects have been collected by the DPS division on consumer affairs and public information, not including this complaint from McGrath.
Some of those complaints are from the same people. Twenty-three different people have complained. In one case in November, 31 people joined to file a petition about wind noise about the Lowell wind project which prompted Green Mountain Power to adjust early operations.
In a letter to the commission, Ginger Ritter, AZGF project evaluation program specialist, asked the commissioners to postpone the decision until more data was available on the locations, nesting sites and activities of the golden eagles and long-nosed bats in the vicinity.
"Overall, I can say with some confidence that we have addressed the issues we consistently heard from the public and the industry developers alike -- that our current process is too complicated, too expensive, too slow, not transparent enough and not sensitive enough to cultural and environmental considerations," he said.
Brighton recently adopted a newly amended town plan in which the town says it supports the regional planning agency's call for a moratorium on wind development until further study is done.
Four members of the Brighton Planning Commission and the three members of the town's select board, signed a letter urging the CPG not be issued for the MET towers.
The slain young eagle was likely one of the six white-tailed eagles in a row, "said Pedersen, who follows bird migration in Skagen daily.
There were planning issues, aesthetic issues, things that people get concerned about when one of these type of projects shows up in their backyard, their neighborhood, so we really felt, and the Commission felt, that we needed to emphasize the planning process more first and also give the public an opportunity, a much longer opportunity to respond. Right now, there's a 45-day public notice period when an applicant is going to file with the board.
"The noise monitoring plan is entirely under the control of First Wind, who chose the firm to design the plan and conduct the monitoring. This is a perfect example of 'the fox guarding the henhouse,' " Smith said Thursday. "The PSB's order further illustrates the near-impossibility of neighbors being able to participate in protecting their interests before the PSB."
On Friday, the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee agreed to the House's pared-down version of what was originally a bill regulating large wind turbine projects, including a three-year moratorium.
But although Senate bill 30 is moving forward without any controls on energy siting, some key provisions are still on the table.
Marsha Blomberg, an ISO New England spokesperson, said the grid uses an "economic dispatch" method, which often gives the most expensive power source the temporary ax. But Johnson said cheaper sources could be curtailed if it keeps the grid safe.
On Tuesday, the Vermont Energy Generation Siting Policy Commission submitted its final report and recommendations to the governor and the Vermont Legislature. The commission recommends a revision of the Section 248 permitting process.
Senate Bill 30 might have gotten the wind knocked out of it this session, but a revised bill - far from its original call for a moratorium on big wind projects - sailed through a second reading on the House floor Friday by a vote of 140-3.
That does not mean, however, that some senators have ceased trying to pump the legislation back up.
The four wind turbines on Georgia Mountain, stationary for a week, are expected to spin back into action in the near future while technicians run safety checks, a company official said Thursday.
A faulty electrical component at the site’s tie-in with power lines caused the turbines to shut down automatically, project manager Martha Staskus told the Burlington Free Press.
"The relationship between turbine development and bird death caused by collision with blades is predictable," Cleveland said. "If a lot of birds are known to move through an area and a developer decides to put up a windmill in that area, it's safe to say a lot of those birds would be killed by blades. Wind developers have to be careful about this."
Kim Fried, chairman of the Town of Newark's Planning Commission, which amended the Town Plan last year to ban industrial wind projects, a change overwhelmingly supported by residents, said "We are very disappointed and saddened. Neither SMW, the PSB or the state of Vermont appear to care about the concerns of Newark's citizens and I think this attitude towards small towns is beginning to bother many other citizens across the state, as it should.
Although no meaningful legislation on ridgeline wind development is likely to emerge this legislative session, that's not stopping Vermont lawmakers from looking into its potential health impacts.
The Senate Health and Welfare Committee heard testimony from victims, researchers and doctors concerned about a combination of symptoms that may be caused by low infra-sound vibrations-- from headaches to sleep loss.
Advocates of the temporary ban say a compromise package being voted out of a House committee this week could at least bring more scrutiny of the regulatory process that governs ridgeline wind projects. ...Sen. Robert Hartwell, a Bennington County Democrat and lead sponsor of the original moratorium language, said he believes those summer hearings will yield legislation next year that will amplify citizens' voices in the regulatory process.
A lobbyist for an industry group supporting wind power apologized to a Vermont Senate committee on Wednesday after a witness she brought in called health concerns connected with wind power "hoo-hah," nonsense and propaganda.
Gabrielle Stebbins, executive director of Renewable Energy Vermont, called the remarks of acoustics expert Geoff Levanthall unhelpful and offered an apology to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee after Leventhall testified at the hearing by phone from England.