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Going green without offending the neighbors

Being green, without annoying your neighbors, was high on the list of residents' requirements for the regulation of small wind energy conversion systems at last week's special meeting of the planning commission. While not calling for a ban on wind turbines, many residents requested that commissioners write regulations to make the wind turbines as difficult to install as possible and suggested the alternative of a wind farm here, located on one property, rather than allowing individual systems on eligible parcels.

Being green, without annoying your neighbors, was high on the list of residents' requirements for the regulation of small wind energy conversion systems at last week's special meeting of the planning commission. While not calling for a ban on wind turbines, many residents requested that commissioners write regulations to make the wind turbines as difficult to install as possible and suggested the alternative of a wind farm here, located on one property, rather than allowing individual systems on eligible parcels. They also called into question the feasibility of wind turbines' performance in Estes Park. No proponents of the wind turbines spoke.

Gilbert Gressiln expressed the confusion of many opponents, saying the whole idea of such systems is to make the environment better, but studies confirm that they actually increase the carbon footprint and their cost is not offset by the amount of electricity produced.

"I don't understand why you're doing this," he told commissioners.

Maryann Karinch, reading a letter from Jim McCormick, urged commissioners to reconsider the validity of the survey concerning wind turbines on the town Web site, saying the survey design was faulty and produced flawed results (a... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Being green, without annoying your neighbors, was high on the list of residents' requirements for the regulation of small wind energy conversion systems at last week's special meeting of the planning commission. While not calling for a ban on wind turbines, many residents requested that commissioners write regulations to make the wind turbines as difficult to install as possible and suggested the alternative of a wind farm here, located on one property, rather than allowing individual systems on eligible parcels. They also called into question the feasibility of wind turbines' performance in Estes Park. No proponents of the wind turbines spoke.

Gilbert Gressiln expressed the confusion of many opponents, saying the whole idea of such systems is to make the environment better, but studies confirm that they actually increase the carbon footprint and their cost is not offset by the amount of electricity produced.

"I don't understand why you're doing this," he told commissioners.

Maryann Karinch, reading a letter from Jim McCormick, urged commissioners to reconsider the validity of the survey concerning wind turbines on the town Web site, saying the survey design was faulty and produced flawed results (a majority in favor of the wind turbines). She also raised the issue of property rights -- for those impacted, as well as those who wish to install a wind turbine. She and other residents urged commissioners to require the consent of impacted neighbors before allowing installation of a wind turbine. Additionally, she said wind-generating electricity is available through the utilities department.

"Every customer in town has access to wind-generating power without erecting a wind turbine," she said.

She called regulating wind turbines an unnecessary "indulgence."

Gary Coleman said that individual wind turbines are counter-productive and we should have wind farms like Wyoming. Individual systems would lead to an infinite bureaucracy, whereas a central system would reduce the cost, help everyone and keep the turbines out of sight and out of mind.

Bob McCreery, who has had roots here since his grandfather homesteaded, said he has a "great love for this valley. God had a very good day when he created Estes Park."

McCreery, a scientist involved with energy all his life, said he maintains a sense of stewardship for the land here. He called wind turbines a "feel-good technology at this point," with no dependable, economic or proven track record. The winds provide marginal support for them in Estes Park.

"The turbines tear themselves apart in our winds," he said.

The industry is moving toward a different type of wind turbine now, he added. That will make current technology obsolete, adding to the negative features and providing few positive, redeeming features for wind turbines now, he said. He urged the commissioners to recommend continuing the moratorium on wind turbines until the town has the opportunity to build a test project to determine what is really viable in Estes Park. McCreery said we don't have the data now for making decisions that may be irreversible. For instance, he said three wind turbines designed to last 50 years were erected in Nederland, and 10 days after a big storm blew through, they were in pieces.

"I'm afraid that's where we're headed," McCreery said.

Harry Hutcherson, a 40-year resident, said, "I don't believe wind turbines are necessary within the city limits in Estes Park. I favor a community wind farm. The technology hasn't reached a point yet where (wind turbines) pay for themselves in a lifetime. They are unnecessary for our community."

Richard Volkstorf said he's glad to see the wind turbine on Highway 7 "because it looks so obnoxious." He hopes that will lead people to say wind turbines are horrible and they don't want them.

Paul Brown suggested there are emerging small systems to power home appliances. Wind turbines three feet tall may be used and those should be exempt from regulations, he said.

Jay Heineman said wind generation is not the way to go. If you decide wind turbines don't work, efficiently, what's the point in having them, he asked.

"I don't like them, they won't work and they should be banned," he said. "...A lot of people want to make a green statement....If we absolutely have to make a green statement, the wind farm is 100-percent green."

Jim Docter said that, while he favors energy conservation and efficiency, he's a strong proponent of property rights.

"Our ancestors came over to own property and do as they wish, not to have open space," he said. "...Imagine having in your view corridor 50 whirling blades. It's a detraction from the view, relaxation and enjoyment and flies in the face of why we moved here. It's a violation of our own property rights."

Bob Ayres told commissioners that he fears we are going out of our way to make it possible to do something that won't work. If the only reason to install wind turbines is for the "feel-good effect," he said we should find another way.

Commissioner Steve Lane said the planning commission should develop a reasonable set of codes and restrictions, to allow for the potential of changing technology that would make wind turbines workable.

"Working on this is appropriate," he said. "Banning them is not."


Source: http://www.eptrail.com/ci_1...

NOV 18 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/23172-going-green-without-offending-the-neighbors
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