Impact on Wildlife or Minnesota
If not a free pass, wind power still gets a fairly strong presumption of social benefit. As the U.S and the world seek ways to produce more electricity without putting more greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, wind turbines have acquired a popular reputation as a low-impact, high-tech replacement for older power plants.
Reality is a good deal more complicated.
There are plans moving forward rapidly by PPL Renewable Energy LLC, Allentown, and the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority to construct and operate two gigantic utility-scale wind turbines on top of Turkey Hill in Manor Township. ...Regretfully, there are significant wildlife and environmental problems associated with the proposed Frey Farm Landfill Wind Energy Project. To begin, common sense should dictate that plans are inappropriate to construct two gigantic wind turbines in the middle of such an exceptionally bird-rich location.
State lawmakers have determined that major industrial developments, including wind farms, warrant government scrutiny because of potential impacts beyond the land where they're located, be it private, state or federal. That's a sound policy. And because Wyoming's abundant wildlife is treasured by the state's people, it's appropriate that our wildlife management agency have a say in projects that could harm that valuable resource.
It figures to be a doozy, pitting neighbor against neighbor in a debate over the economic, environmental and social impact of a giant wind farm that would turn 32,000 acres of the county's densely populated farmland into a Don Quixote-like landscape dotted with 400-foot tall wind turbines, capped by rotors the size of football fields.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife wrote me saying, "unfortunately some of the concerns we share can only be addressed by studying wildlife interactions at operational wind facilities. This is particularly true for understanding the effect low frequency noise and shadow flicker have on the survival, reproduction, ...." So, basically let's build them and see what happens?
As many area residents are aware, there is a plan for a wind energy conversion project being proposed in Goodhue County. ...Some residents have asked for my position on the wind energy proposal. I personally have no problem with expanding alternative energy sources. However, I would suggest the move toward these sources should be directed by technological advances as opposed to our current mandates.
For those of you affected by the wind turbine debate taking place in Goodhue County, I thought I'd provide an update on the issue.
What you need to know is this: Goodhue County can -legally according to the Public Utilities Commission - zone wind turbine projects and provide setbacks without taking over the costly permitting and inspection process.
Now in 2010, TransCanada wants to expand the Kibby project and is proposing 15 turbines on Sisk Mountain, which overlooks the Chain of Ponds.
To do this TransCanada wants to expand the already expedited area of Maine to include the portion of Sisk Mountain not yet within this "umbrella." TransCanada is petitioning to add another 630 acres to the expedited area, all of it overlooking Chain of Ponds, Big Island, and Massachusetts Bog.
A feature of these supposedly environment-friendly machines that I haven't mentioned, however, is their devastating effect on wildlife, notably on large birds of prey, such as eagles and red kites. Particularly disturbing is the extent to which the disaster has been downplayed by professional bodies, such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Britain and the Audubon Society in the US, which should be at the forefront of exposing this outrage.
A proposal to build Maine's largest wind complex in Highland Plantation, at the doorstep of the Bigelow Preserve and the Appalachian Trail, is under review by the Land Use Regulation Commission.
Prior to 2008 changes in site laws, this project would have had slim chance of being permitted, given its proximity to important Maine scenic assets. Under the new law, it could slide through in a process that has been greatly abbreviated.
The Feb. 22 Your Turn "We need lasting energy plan" offers more smoke than wind when it suggests we can harness the erratic "wind that is literally passing us by to create the true clean energy economy." It is delusional to think wind can replace base load coal and nuclear power.
In just under nine months, the residents of several Somerset county communities might see our beloved landscape and soundscape changed drastically for the remainder of our lives. Likewise, all the people of Maine could lose the scenic value of some of the state's finest natural treasures, and few even know of the threat.
Under recently amended state laws, all could occur with little consideration to the wisdom or long term implications of such a move.
Now that most of twelve California wind turbines retrofitted for Minnesota winters are finally operational, several cities have acknowledged to the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota that the $5 million project may be more suited for generating PR-both good and bad-than producing significant quantities of power.
All one has to do is look at the impact of the Kibby TransCanada industrial wind operation in the remote boundary mountains of western Maine. This is nothing more than industrial wind mountaintop removal. It is being driven by dollars and cents, not ecological sense.
To call mountaintop wind operations "farms" is nothing more than public relations. Farms suggest a positive relationship with the land.
I am writing to dispel misinformation presented as fact by a representative of Farm Bureau Insurance to Goodhue County officials on the behalf of 484 families that belong to Goodhue County Farm Bureau.
That letter is untrue and not endorsed by all those members. In fact, they are almost entirely unaware of this representation.
Mountaintop wind is both an ecological and economic boondoggle. It is time to take a step back from industrial mountaintop wind power and to develop an energy policy that is not driven by the profits to be made from federal subsidies.
After this mountaintop gold rush has played out, Mainers will be left with a despoiled landscape and the magic of the mountains will be gone forever.
Every day at wind farms across America threatened or endangered species are killed from collisions with blades of the prop wind turbine. This is considered legal because the offending wind farms either hold the "incidental take permit" or were not required to have one because they did not fully disclose environmental impacts of their activities.
In Minnesota, the wind is blowing but turbines aren't turning. The machines, bought used from California and installed last fall, are completely frozen in place. Even on the windiest days, the blades sit at a standstill, producing no power. Why should anyone care? The problem highlights some of the less intuitive challenges associated with wind power - long considered to be the most feasible and cost effective source of renewable energy.
Golden Gate Audubon and four other local Audubon chapters sent a letter Jan. 28 to Alameda County demanding that the county ensure that wind turbines operating in the Altamont Pass remain shut down until the county implements a management plan that significantly reduces avian mortality resulting from wind turbine operations in the Altamont.
"Wind turbine operations in the Altamont Pass kill as many as 9,600 birds each year, including many species that are fully protected by state and federal laws," said Mike Lynes, Conservation Director for Golden Gate Audubon.
Considering the wind farm(s) projected for Goodhue County, many are concerned for surrounding areas, the affects of sound, flickering reflections, killing of birds, human and wild life habitat, erosion of soil, etc.
After attending meetings of the county commissioners where some issues were addressed I checked with some in the foot print of existing farms.