Library from Oregon
Many citizens expressed fears that wind turbines degraded scenic views, wildlife habitat, property values and health. People living near a wind farm complained of panic attacks, lost sleep and added stress caused by the low frequency noise and vibrations from turbines. "All of the information that has been gathered is going to be included in the report and we're hoping that the document will be used by policy makers," said Stone.
A huge crowd filled the seats and spilled out the doorways of the S.E. Miller gym in Union Tuesday night as the Oregon Department of Energy and its facilities siting council held a public hearing on the proposed Antelope Ridge Wind Farm. The energy department heard testimony from anyone who wanted to speak up - and plenty did.
"All this makes this whole situation so gray. And if you're a business trying to decide whether you should invest half a billion dollars in a wind farm in Oregon or Washington, or Montana for that matter, your financial folks are going to be pretty scared," said John Audley, deputy director of the Renewable Northwest Project.
A small group of researchers is looking into whether the symptoms of wind turbine noise could be more physical than mental. Leading this area is Alec Salt, who's been experimenting with the hearing of guinea pigs for about 10 years. The journal Hearing Research in August published Salt's paper showing that the human ear might have more acute sensitivities to low-frequency sound.
All the posturing by wind industry big mouths cannot change the fact that the tips of the propellers of wind turbines (when the wind is blowing) spin at more than 200 miles per hour! If you were an eagle or an owl hunting for a meal-or any bird trying to fly over the hill along the Columbia River where wind farms are being built at a terrifying clip-imagine having to navigate these spinning blades every day.
Power from windmills is supposed to be great for the environment. But it's not. First, big wind farms are gobbling out vast areas of the West that until now were relatively undisturbed, sitting there as grazing land or farm fields, or as scenery. Then there's the deadly effect on birds.
After two stakeholder meetings this fall, BPA announced Dec. 3 it would not pay negative prices. ...Currently, the cost of wind developers' tax credits is broadly shared by taxpayers. But if BPA were to pay negative prices to comply with the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act during high runoff events, the cost burden would be narrowly focused onto BPA customers.
What's the attraction of these Rube Goldberg power networks, and why are they preferred over reliable and proven energy sources? The answer is simple, really. They are "renewable." Never mind that they require huge subsidies from customers and the federal and state governments. And never mind that when the wind isn't blowing or the sun isn't shining, they are little more than oversized lawn ornaments.
"I told them I wouldn't sign any noise easement unless they bought me out," said Richard Goodhead, who retired with his wife, Joanne, to a 106-acre farm in the valley in 1997. At first, Caithness Energy refused his proposal. It hoped he would take a $5,000 check and sign a noise waiver like some of his neighbors. ...A month and several negotiations later, the company changed its tune.
For myself, wind energy is pretty awesome and should be developed throughout our nation. But I am strongly against development at the cost of scenic beauty that is highly valued by local residents. That is why I voted "no," but I am very hurt and angry toward the response my honest and sincere vote received.
"California is a very big variable," said Elliot Mainzer, who is Bonneville Power Administration's guru on how to balance future energy and environmental needs here in the Northwest. When asked if he thought California was carrying its weight as far as managing those type of issues, he said "I would like to see California pay a little bit more attention to our issues, quite frankly."
Customers of Pacific Power will see their electric rates spike 14.5 percent in January. The increase comes in a one-two punch: an 8.4 percent general rate increase state utility regulators approved Friday, and a 6.1 percent increase for increased power costs they are expected to approve Dec. 28. Both take effect Jan. 1. ...The biggest factor driving the increases: renewable power.
Following widespread fears that Oregon's Business Energy Tax Credit won't survive the next political season, a circumstance likely to leave the small wind market without the tools the to grow here, The American Wind Energy Association considered taking its annual Small and Community Wind Conference & Exhibition elsewhere instead of bringing it to Portland this week.
A new map illustrating key sage grouse breeding habitat across the West is designed to help land managers make decisions about where to allow developments like wind power facilities or transmission lines, and where to focus conservation efforts. "The goal now is to lend some consistency to the whole program, so that we can benefit the sage grouse and its habitat."
Kaufman is editor of the Kaufman Field Guide Series, a series of books on birds and national history sold all over North America. "I moved to this area from Arizona because the bird migration here is so spectacular. ...He said radar studies are needed to get a sense of bird movements before the turbines are installed.
Wind companies are expanding out of the farm country of the gorge and into wildlife rich habitats like Oregon's Blue Mountains. ...This is an industry that is killing wildlife and it's killing bats. And the whole issue is, are you going to produce enough energy to overcome the amount of wildlife that you're going to kill?
After a nearly five-hour-long meeting, the commission agreed the discussion was not over. It continued its hearing on the wind farm siting rules. The next time it addresses them, it plans to have a more finished draft of the rules, as well as talking points on subjects like setbacks.
The rule changes propose a distance of 3,520 feet from residential zones (such as a town or neighborhood), a half mile (2,640 feet) from a house (such as a farm house), and two times the total tower’s height, from base to blade tip, from any roads. This sparked debate.
BPA will also recover the costs of integrating rising amounts of wind power into the transmission grid through a separate wind integration charge paid by wind developers and purchasers. That rate will be determined through the same process of setting power rates.
Existing wind farms are being reviewed and pending projects are under scrutiny for their potential bird impacts, with four seeing particular attention. The issue is the latest sign of increasing tension between wind development and rural concerns in Oregon.