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No 3-mile setback for wind farms in San Miguel; Opponents upset by commission vote

The San Miguel County Commission Monday backed away from a proposal to mandate that all wind energy turbines in the county be at least three miles away from any residence. On a motion from Commissioner Nicolas Leger, the commission instead adopted a much smaller setback requirement for wind farms -- a half-mile.

The San Miguel County Commission Monday backed away from a proposal to mandate that all wind energy turbines in the county be at least three miles away from any residence.

On a motion from Commissioner Nicolas Leger, the commission instead adopted a much smaller setback requirement for wind farms -- a half-mile.

The vote produced a strong reaction from opponents of a wind farm project planned by Chicago-based Invenergy atop Bernal Mesa. "Shame, shame," the opponents shouted after the commission adopted the reduced setback distance.

Leger said he's received letters from wind energy companies saying a three-mile setback would effectively ban wind farms in San Miguel County.

All five commissioners voted for the amended measure.

No public comment was allowed at Monday's meeting after the commission met for about 12 hours on the wind ordinance last week and heard dueling commentators for most of the marathon session. No action was taken at that meeting.

Last week's meeting drew well over 100 people. A parade of Invenergy opponents (many wearing T-shirts that read: "Love This Land! Love This Life!") and wind farm proponents (many wearing green stickers that read "Support Wind,... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The San Miguel County Commission Monday backed away from a proposal to mandate that all wind energy turbines in the county be at least three miles away from any residence.

On a motion from Commissioner Nicolas Leger, the commission instead adopted a much smaller setback requirement for wind farms -- a half-mile.

The vote produced a strong reaction from opponents of a wind farm project planned by Chicago-based Invenergy atop Bernal Mesa. "Shame, shame," the opponents shouted after the commission adopted the reduced setback distance.

Leger said he's received letters from wind energy companies saying a three-mile setback would effectively ban wind farms in San Miguel County.

All five commissioners voted for the amended measure.

No public comment was allowed at Monday's meeting after the commission met for about 12 hours on the wind ordinance last week and heard dueling commentators for most of the marathon session. No action was taken at that meeting.

Last week's meeting drew well over 100 people. A parade of Invenergy opponents (many wearing T-shirts that read: "Love This Land! Love This Life!") and wind farm proponents (many wearing green stickers that read "Support Wind, Support Jobs") of changing the ordinance took turns voicing their views during public comments.

"The amount of money brought into our community through this project would be phenomenal," said Oren Matthews, who said his family came to Las Vegas in the 1880s. "It would bring our economy back."
Rico Giron, on the other side of the debate, told the crowd Invenergy wants to "ransack and pillage a natural resource and send it somewhere else."

Some residents of the area around Bernal Mesa said they don't want their views affected, but the most hotly contested potential problem with turbines concerned health impacts of the sound from the whirling blades.

Eileen Mulvihill, who was on the ordinance task force and owns a farm outside Villanueva, said that as a Ph.D. she studied disease for years. She said the state of Maine's Health Department called for a moratorium on wind turbine developments there because of demonstrated health problems, including insomnia and headaches.

But Mark Roberts, a Ph.D. author of a study evaluating scientific assessments of the health effects of turbines, told the commission by phone, "There's no scientific evidence there's health defects or disease associated with wind turbines."

The county has an ordinance regarding wind energy developments from 2003, but any construction was put on hold while a task force worked on an updated version.
Mark Jacobson, a business development director for Invenergy, has said in the past that the company has built more than 20 developments, and most of the counties containing them had setbacks ranging from 750 to 2,000 feet from residences.

In 2008, Invenergy signed a two-year lease option with the State Land Office for 7,063 acres of state trust land atop the mesa. Jacobson has said Invenergy was looking at up to 50 wind turbines on the site, each producing up to 1.5 megawatts of electricity, about the amount needed to power 400 homes in a year.

From an upright blade to the ground, the machines would be 390 feet high.


Source: http://www.abqjournal.com/a...

DEC 20 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/29384-no-3-mile-setback-for-wind-farms-in-san-miguel-opponents-upset-by-commission-vote
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