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Windmill proposal draws concern of Bayshore group

Bayshore environmental group the Hazlet Area Quality of Life Alliance (HAQLA) is opposing a proposal that would place a 380-foot-tall windmill near a residential area along the coastline. HAQLA President John M. Curran III has written to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Monmouth County Freeholders in opposition to the wind turbine project proposed for Union Beach ...Curran calls for a countywide moratorium on wind towers/turbines "until the county and towns establish effective, controlling ordinances and regulations" governing renewable energy projects.

Sewerage authority says wind power would save $500K

Bayshore environmental group the Hazlet Area Quality of Life Alliance (HAQLA) is opposing a proposal that would place a 380-foot-tall windmill near a residential area along the coastline.

HAQLA President John M. Curran III has written to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Monmouth County Freeholders in opposition to the wind turbine project proposed for Union Beach by the Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority (BRSA).

BRSA has announced its intention to build a 1.5-megawatt industrial windmill on its property in Union Beach.

In a letter to the freeholder board, Curran calls for a countywide moratorium on wind towers/turbines "until the county and towns establish effective, controlling ordinances and regulations" governing renewable energy projects.

Union Beach officials say they're not opposed to wind power but question what they say is the lack of transparency about the proposal.

The Union Beach Borough Council unanimously passed a resolution in August opposing the project's moving forward.

Curran said HAQLA supports the resolution.

The proposal for the windmill is currently before the DEP for approval.

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Sewerage authority says wind power would save $500K

Bayshore environmental group the Hazlet Area Quality of Life Alliance (HAQLA) is opposing a proposal that would place a 380-foot-tall windmill near a residential area along the coastline.

HAQLA President John M. Curran III has written to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Monmouth County Freeholders in opposition to the wind turbine project proposed for Union Beach by the Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority (BRSA).

BRSA has announced its intention to build a 1.5-megawatt industrial windmill on its property in Union Beach.

In a letter to the freeholder board, Curran calls for a countywide moratorium on wind towers/turbines "until the county and towns establish effective, controlling ordinances and regulations" governing renewable energy projects.

Union Beach officials say they're not opposed to wind power but question what they say is the lack of transparency about the proposal.

The Union Beach Borough Council unanimously passed a resolution in August opposing the project's moving forward.

Curran said HAQLA supports the resolution.

The proposal for the windmill is currently before the DEP for approval.

Robert Fischer, BRSA's executive director, said he expects word from the DEP within the next week.

BRSA estimates the wind turbine would bring in savings of $500,000, about 8.4 percent of its operating costs from 2008, according to numbers Fischer provided.

For BRSA, the windmill made the most sense for an alternative source of energy, he said.

"We looked at solar [panels] for energy. To produce the equivalent of solar [energy] would require 6 acres of property. We're surrounded by wetlands, so it wasn't an option," Fischer said.

The windmill and other efficiency improvements at BRSA would cost $7.7 million, of which $3.85 million would be financed through grants like the federal stimulus package.

"The beauty of this thing is that it currently qualifies for ARRA [American Reinvestment and Recovery Act]. What would typically be $5.5 million becomes $2.25 million," Fischer said of the windmill project.

Union Beach Mayor Paul Smith and Councilman Lou Andruzzi emphasized the council isn't against wind power, but how BRSA has presented the plan.

The sewerage authority has not adequately explained how it will transport the materials to build the structure through the streets of town or provided the empirical studies to back the figures they've provided the public, they said.

"It was generic Internet information. I want to know what impact it's going to have on the people," Andruzzi said.

"We're opposed to how they've had a lack of transparency," Smith said.

On the municipal website, viewers are provided links regarding quality-of-life issues that have arisen from large windmills in other locations. In one example from Minnesota, officials have cited noise created by windmills as a public health hazard.

According to Fischer, the BRSA windmill would generate 1 decibel of noise. By comparison, a person speaking creates about 50 decibels, he noted.

The issue causing the most concern is the proximity of the planned site to homes. The windmill would be about 550 feet away from some 25 homes that would be affected by flicker, the shadow of the windmill's moving blades.

Fischer said the windmill would be shut down for about a half-hour during sunset in the summer when the flicker would reach homes.

But Andruzzi still has concerns over the effects the construction would have on property values and quality of life, questions BRSA has not addressed, he said.

While acknowledging the homes are next to a sewerage station, he said he's opposed to allowing the windmill project from moving forward without seeing the data to prove it.

"We don't have to go with something the size of the Statue of Liberty and stick it in the middle of a residential area," he said.

In the letters to the DEP and the freeholder board, Curran states the wind tower

will affect the surrounding, densely populated, residential communities and the entire Bayshore Region."

He calls on the DEP and the county to require BRSA to provide evidence that there will be no negative impacts on the health, safety and quality of life of residents of the Bayshore.

He asks that BRSA take independent pre- and post-construction measures, including: monitor decibel levels; shadow/ flicker and epidemiological studies of the population within three miles of the tower; monitor property values within 10 miles of the tower; and monitor bird, bat and other wildlife injuries or kills.

He also asks for increased public outreach, including requiring BRSA to post full disclosure of information on the website and through public meetings.

Another group weighing in on the proposal is PEER, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which is also raising concerns about the wind turbine, which, it states in a press release posted on the website, would be 380 feet tall and have 118-foot blades sitting on a 240-foot-high pedestal atop a concrete pad over 24 pilings adjacent to Raritan Bay.

According to the activist group for public employees, about half the $7.7 million project would be financed by American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds, which are conditioned on shovel-ready work that is undertaken by 2010.

In an Oct. 6 press release posted on its website, www.peer.org, PEER claims environmental studies are being shortchanged in favor of federal stimulus funds.

According to PEER, state environmental officials have come under "intense pressure" from the governor's office to cut corners on BRSA's controversial wind turbine project.

A factor weighing in favor of wind projects and residential windmills is action taken this June by state legislators who passed a bill that would declare solar and wind energy facilities "inherently beneficial," making it more difficult for municipal zoning boards to outright reject them.

The bill has not been signed into law, according to the state website.

Supporters see the wind projects as beneficial.

According to Jeff Tittel, executive director of the Sierra Club New Jersey Chapter, windmills could pave the way for locally owned power co-operatives.

"It's probably the most cost-effective way of reducing [energy] costs," said Tittel. "They [supporters] think it's the best way to save energy and save the planet."


Source: http://independent.gmnews.c...

OCT 15 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/22663-windmill-proposal-draws-concern-of-bayshore-group
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