Impact on Landscape and Zoning/Planning
But already some people are complaining about turbine's visual impact on the region's scenic landscape (Transcript story, Page 1 on Saturday). The 265-foot-high turbine can be seen clearly from many spots in Hancock, from Pontoosuc Lake in Lanesborough and Pittsfield and, we suspect, from a lot of other spots in surrounding communities.
This is only one windmill. Imagine the complaints to come when turbines begin to sprout up in the 10s and 20s and hundreds, in Hancock, Florida, Monroe, Savoy and off the waters of Cape Cod - if these projects come to fruition.
The wind turbines would be far taller than Jiminy's - from 350 feet to well over 400. Most would be built by out-of-state developers with substantial help from government subsidies (read taxpayers' subsidies) and would require significant tree cutting and road building, not only to get the turbines where they must be but also to connect them to the grid.
The residents of Berkshire County should seriously consider if the end result would be worth it.
However, as soon as the Welsh Assembly published TAN 8, heralding the current rush of local wind farm planning applications, we were forced to look more closely into the claims made for on-shore wind power - both for and against.
We were determined to find out if its contribution to the community as a whole (with respect to energy provision and reducing greenhouse gas emissions) would outweigh the problems such massive re-industrialisation would bring to local people if allowed to go ahead.
Using only government sources and respected technical documents from the power industry itself, the results of our research have shocked and amazed us.
It is clear allowing these large wind farms would jeopardise our health, wealth and quality of life along with biodiversity and the quality of our landscape/environment.
All this to no real purpose since they cannot replace ordinary power stations and are four times more expensive than other means of reducing our carbon footprint.
How did Gamesa Corporation, a wind-energy company from Spain, find Shaffer Mountain, a small section of the Allegheny Front in Pennsylvania, which lies in Somerset and Bedford counties?
Although we do not know all the details, we do know in 2004, that Gov. Rendell and Kathleen McGinty, secretary of Department of Environmental Protection, enticed Gamesa to abandon plans to build in Texas, by promising Gamesa that it would receive millions of dollars in grants, loans, and tax credits, financed with taxpayers' money.
Federal income tax shelters will allow Gamesa to avoid paying taxes owed and thereby recover two-thirds of the capital cost of each turbine - about $2 million each.
We also know that Gamesa has received tax-free status through 2018 by locating on land that is a Keystone Opportunity Improvement Zone. Even before Gamesa started construction in our state, the company had purchase agreements and letters of intent to sell 400 megawatts worth of wind-generated power to Pennsylvania utilities.
But how did Gamesa find Shaffer Mountain? It's simple: Shaffer Mountain has wind.
Development should certainly be regulated on mountain slopes and ridges, as governments in Northwest North Carolina have finally started to do in the last few years....Few people want huge, sprawling farms of towering windmills. Regulations, including countywide zoning, are needed to make sure that doesn't happen. Neighboring Ashe County faces serious challenges in dealing with a proposed industrial-scale windmill farm in large part because it lacks a comprehensive land-use plan. Ashe did approve an ordinance a few months ago that would govern wind-energy systems such as windmill farms, but that may have been too late.
Well now we have it, a local landscape destroyed, wind developers sensing embracement, support, and easy pickings, banging on the planning door, and a council in denial that this local wind rush was not only started by them, turbines are out of control, and they can no longer contain this rural industrial carnage, after all how can you reject what you claim is a "positive contribution" that you fully "support and embrace".
Taralga Wind Farm
June 19, 2007
in Extract from NSW Legislative Assembly Hansard and Papers Tuesday
The villagers should have a forum to voice their feelings so they are not left with a nasty taste in their mouth and resentment in their gut. Further, negotiation with local people with local knowledge might even produce better outcomes for the proposed wind farm. If the Government is to achieve its renewable energy targets we know it has few choices. It can dot the crowded coastline or it can fill up the interior with these turbines. I am sure the Government would not allow hundreds of wind turbines around Newcastle, Wollongong or Sydney without very close and careful community consultation. The people of country New South Wales, and particularly the people of Taralga, no matter whose side one is on, deserve the same respect.
What we have around here is wind. But the idealistic, pastoral vision we once might have had of Dutch boys playing along the dikes with wooden windmills churning in the background, or mountain ridges adorned with them for miles as if pickets in a giant fence, no longer exists.
That vision has been corrupted by the realities of what those large-turbine contraptions mean for the people who live - or could live - near them.
Much of upstate New York, from north of Albany to Buffalo, from the Catskills to the Adirondacks, is in danger of being transformed beyond recognition by industrial wind parks. Some 50 of these wind parks are being planned and even built.
All of this is being done in the name of clean energy and saving the planet. But it isn't clear that wind power is such a panacea in the battle against global warming that developers of these wind parks should be allowed to run roughshod over some of our loveliest land. What we need are statewide siting guidelines that take other environmental factors, including visual impacts, into consideration.
As the debate over "Wind Farms" continues, and is now into court, I cannot help but wonder why it has progressed this far dividing neighbors, friends and families. I also reflect on how the whole ordeal, which has put much undue stress on all parties involved, could have been avoided had our County Board followed normal protocol regarding the granting of Special Use Permits. Last fall, when the hearing for Special Use Application was in front of the County Zoning Board of Appeals, there were several long nights of testimony from both sides. After all testimony was heard, the Zoning Board of Appeals voted 3-1 to deny the application. At that point, in normal county procedure, the issue is over and the applicants must wait a year to apply again. However, in this case, our County Board leadership decided to be above the norm and overturn the Zoning Board of Appeal's recommendation forcing themselves and the county into imminent litigation.
Rep. Alan Mollohan is proving refreshingly thoughtful and farsighted on one of the emerging issues facing West Virginia - the pros and cons of wind power.
He makes a persuasive case that the state should regulate its newest energy industry now.
On Tuesday, the 1st District congressman told a congressional subcommittee he is very concerned about the impact wind farms could have on the wildlife and natural beauty of the state......Mollohan is right. It's time to slow this heavily subsidized stampede.
I really hope that everyone on the west side of Bloomington keeps fighting against construction of a wind farm. The Ellsworth-Arrowsmith area is virtually destroyed by turbines as far as you can see complete with red flashing lights at night.
Many roads are virtually unusable because of damage caused by large trucks.
Wind farms should be built on tracts of land, as close together as possible. That's how they are done in Arizona. They shouldn't be scattered all over the countryside!
At the eleventh hour and at the brink of hard-won success, Maritime Electric "ran the numbers" and decided the bypass they worked with us to secure was too expensive after all. At a meeting on Friday, April 20, I was told that the differential cost was about $75,000. This is approximately 2% of the cost for the entire transmission line expansion, estimated at about $3.75 million. According to government sources, it is less than one half of the amount they spent on a botanical analysis and environmental assessment process (required by provincial policy) to safeguard rare flora and ecologically unstable wetlands/streams.
Less than $100, 000 to save a community, and Maritime Electric bows out of a year-long commitment.
It beggars the imagination.
We have an alternative theory - applications are being turned down because local authorities have the good sense not to permit them in areas of environmental sensitivity, or local beauty spots. What worthwhile purpose would be achieved by damaging local environments in the name of environmentalism?
If windfarm developers want a better response from local councils, it's simple: be far more careful about where you plan the turbines.
Controversy surrounds the measures needed to switch to less polluting re-newable energy. Many question a major expansion of onshore wind turbines, given their landscape impact and limited effectiveness. We need new measures to promote effective, alternative renewable energy sources - in the right place.
But as the number of turbines grew into the hundreds and then the thousands, concern arose among residents, adjacent landowners and environmental groups.
Wind power can be a viable method of producing electricity, and it is widely considered a clean, safe and reliable source of energy. However, it does have adverse effects in locations such as the San Gorgonio Pass, including the loss of developable land and danger to local wildlife.
Wind-energy companies claim that they only use a fraction of the land, leaving the rest as open space. But in essence, modern wind-energy projects involve massive industrialization of undeveloped land. The newer turbines that have been installed in recent years are large, typically 100 meters (330 feet) tall. Indeed, some developers of future projects are proposing turbines that are 125 meters (410 feet) tall.
Local homeowners and adjacent landowners are the ones immediately affected, and they are now very active in opposing any new wind-energy projects. Other opposing parties are residential developers and the city of Desert Hot Springs. The latter sees a tangible loss of developable land south of Pierson Boulevard, an area the city is considering annexing for future growth.
In addition to the impact wind-energy projects have on land, the structures cause problems in the air as well. The tips of the turbine blades reach speeds of 200 mph to 300 mph, depending on wind speed, which can harm animals.
As a result of studies in other areas, such as Altamont Pass near San Francisco, we know that wind-energy systems cause deaths among many species, particularly raptors, owls and other migratory birds. A major concern for environmental groups, including The Sierra Club, is bird and bat mortality.
The decision that such a huge industrial installation should be allowed to dominate this unspoiled tract of Devon, against the wishes of the local council, the local MP and almost the entire community, was taken by a Government inspector, David Lavender, who, from the Government's point of view, has become an ideal choice to conduct wind turbine enquiries.
There was a time when Mr Lavender was prepared to turn down such proposals, to protect valued landscapes, and even to point out that their benefits could be greatly exaggerated. But he then seems to have undergone a conversion, as he demonstrated last May when he gave the go-ahead to a single giant turbine on the unique plateau of the Mendips in Somerset.
As he showed last week in Devon, he has been persuaded by the Government that our "international commitment" to produce 10 per cent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2010 - and the "targets" imposed on each county to meet it - are all that count. Since Devon must produce 151 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy, the county must have scores of wind turbines, starting with the nine 2MW monsters that will blot out the view of Dartmoor from Den Brook and North Tawton.
Wind power would seem to be a necessary component of any strategy by North Carolina to increase the amount of energy produced here from alternative sources. Put simply, there’s plenty of wind in these parts.
The downside is that sections of the state where wind currents are strongest and most consistent also happen to be ones that are heavily dependent on tourism and where there is an understandable priority on protecting natural views. That holds for the coast, and it holds for the mountains.
The issue of whether and how to take advantage of mountain winds now is before the state Utilities Commission. The commission yesterday held a hearing focused on a proposed Ashe County “wind farm” — 25 or so giant turbines that would be built near Creston in the state’s far northwest. It is easy to see why the project has stirred local opposition in an area where vacation-home development is an economic mainstay.
Moresville Energy Center in Stamford (fronting for Invenergy LLC), encouraging placing industrial wind turbines, or IWTs, in the Catskills, is running advertisements promoting these 420-foot monsters as opportunities for children to experience “a cleaner tomorrow.”
Its incentive comes from indecisiveness by town supervisors hesitating, even though their citizens have spoken out against IWTs.
One supervisor stands out against a sea of poor leadership and courage: Tom Garretson of Cherry Valley. The Freeman’s Journal in Cooperstown, applauding Mr. Garretson’s efforts against Reunion Power, wrote: “A freshman town supervisor, he firmly and courteously followed the logic of facts in the face of resistance from his family, his political mentor and longtime friends and associates.”
The battle continues today in Andes, Bovina, Roxbury, Stamford, Meredith and Walton. Will there be a town supervisor strong enough to listen to the people and follow Tom Garretson’s lead?
From Barton, Vermont, to the German border with Denmark and from the shores of Lake Huron, to the Romney Marches of southern England, wind power advocates are fighting crosswinds from local residents.
In Barton in mid-January, a referendum overwhelmingly rejected the wind power turbines that were planned near this upper Vermont community. ...In Germany, where one-third of the world's current wind power is generated, doubters have provoked a loud debate. The company that owns the grid that includes nearly half the wind-farms in Germany reported its wind farms generated only 11 percent of their capacity. The company said the winds vary so much the wind farm had to be backed 80 percent by the conventional power grid.
Another announcement of plans to build a large wind farm along a Pennsylvania ridgetop brings additional emphasis to the urgent need for the state to enact a windmill-siting protocol.
Failure to do so threatens to dramatically alter Pennsylvania’s ridge and valley landscape to a degree not seen since the 19th-century lumber barons denuded Penn’s Woods.