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Group says wind farms overstate output

Industrial Wind Action Group, a nationally based grass-roots effort, claims companies are exaggerating the amount of megawatts wind farm projects can produce by giving maximum output figures instead of more concise estimates.

ELLSWORTH - Industrial Wind Action Group, a nationally based grass-roots effort, claims companies are exaggerating the amount of megawatts wind farm projects can produce by giving maximum output figures instead of more concise estimates.

A lawsuit filed by an Ellsworth family against the McLean County Board and Horizon Wind Energy over the Twin Groves Wind Farm has spurred the group into spreading its message in the Midwest, spokeswoman Lisa Linowes said. The group consists of about 1,000 members who live near wind farm projects on the East Coast and in New Zealand and Australia.

The New Hampshire resident said she began gathering data on wind farms about two years ago.

"Zoning and county boards make an assumption, 'It's wind, it works.' People need to be more informed," Linowes said. "People want to do something to solve global warming, they say 'Let's build a turbine.' It's harder to understand it's not going to make much difference at all."

Because wind blows hardest during winter months and infrequently during summer months, when demand is the greatest, wind farms are not a significant source of reliable energy, Linowes said.

"(Public opinion) has put wind on par with coal, nuclear energy and... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

ELLSWORTH - Industrial Wind Action Group, a nationally based grass-roots effort, claims companies are exaggerating the amount of megawatts wind farm projects can produce by giving maximum output figures instead of more concise estimates.

A lawsuit filed by an Ellsworth family against the McLean County Board and Horizon Wind Energy over the Twin Groves Wind Farm has spurred the group into spreading its message in the Midwest, spokeswoman Lisa Linowes said. The group consists of about 1,000 members who live near wind farm projects on the East Coast and in New Zealand and Australia.

The New Hampshire resident said she began gathering data on wind farms about two years ago.

"Zoning and county boards make an assumption, 'It's wind, it works.' People need to be more informed," Linowes said. "People want to do something to solve global warming, they say 'Let's build a turbine.' It's harder to understand it's not going to make much difference at all."

Because wind blows hardest during winter months and infrequently during summer months, when demand is the greatest, wind farms are not a significant source of reliable energy, Linowes said.

"(Public opinion) has put wind on par with coal, nuclear energy and bio-mass in its ability to produce electricity," she said. "We'll end up with tens of thousands of turbines and still have to build nuclear and coal plants."

Of the 396 megawatts of electricity Twin Groves is expected to produce at maximum capacity, enough to power about 120,000 homes, Linowes estimated, only about 33 percent of that figure will be generated because of mechanical limitations and a lack of a reliable power source - wind.

Project development manager Bill Whitlock said he couldn't estimate a percentage for the project but did say the blades will not turn if they are imbalanced, and ice sheets can shut them down. They will resume function when the ice melts off, he said.

"Natural gas is highest in winter time," Whitlock said. "It will provide a great hedge in winter time, to use wind in its place."

Moving forward

The first complete tower and turbine at the Twin Groves Wind Farm, located on about 21,000 acres between the communities of Arrowsmith, Ellsworth and Saybrook, was erected Oct. 19. The first phase of 120 towers is scheduled for completion by April 2007.

Among other charges, Rene and Lawrence Taylors' lawsuit claims the McLean County Board and Zoning Board of Appeals should not have granted the special use permits for the project.

When construction began in August on the $600 million wind farm project, the Taylors had lived on their four-acre property for just more than two years.

"I hoped to have something of some significance to leave to our (five daughters) and I have to wonder what we have now. It's a shattering of a dream," Rene Taylor said.

Three of the 260-foot-tall towers are planned within 1,500 feet of the Taylors' house and the five-acre power substation is currently located 860 feet from the north wall of their home, she said.

Rene Taylor said she originally was told by Horizon the five-acre substation, which transfers electricity to Commonwealth Edison, would not be located close to her home.

"I felt duped," Rene Taylor said.

Assistant State's Attorney Brian Hug said the project was very well publicized when it began more than a year ago and multiple county hearings were held by the company.

Whitlock said county ordinances give the company its guidelines and some wind farms, like the Mendota Hills project in LaSalle County, allow towers even closer to homes, at 600 feet.

"I think the reason (we measure from the wall of the house instead of the property line) is that the vast majority of time spent on the property is spent in the home," Whitlock said.

The company generally maintains a minimum distance of 1,000 feet from any residence occupied by a landowner who is participating in the project and 1,500 feet from any residence occupied by people who are not participating by leasing land to the project.

Working with landowners

Horizon entered into a 30-year lease agreement with 150 landowners on the 21,000 acres needed for the project. Those landowners will receive a cumulative total of $1.2 million annually despite whether the turbines are operational, Whitlock said.

"People call us up and we're very open on everything and about being good neighbors," Whitlock said.

About 40 landowners who reside 2,500 feet from any planned turbine have also signed up with Horizon to receive a total annual stipend of about $25,000.

The Taylors were offered an annual stipend of $1,000 for 30 years from Horizon but refused the money, Rene Taylor said.

"We got a real estate agent's opinion and our property will devalue more greatly than that," Rene Taylor said of the offer.

The lawsuit also charges Horizon has ignored the dangers of high voltage and cancer risks as well as the noise and shadow pollution of the 240 turbines and their 130-foot long blades.

The lawsuit asks the company to pay $1 million in compensation costs and $3 million for punitive damages and court costs.

The family also asked their attorney, Jack Vieley, to file eight charges of trespass on their property by Horizon, including one count of intrusion and seclusion.

Hug said the county plans to ask the lawsuit be thrown out during a hearing tentatively scheduled for next month.

Andrea Frampton can be reached at 686-3041 or state@pjstar.com.


Source: http://www.pjstar.com/stori...

OCT 30 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/5515-group-says-wind-farms-overstate-output
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