Articles from Oregon
Even the lower end of the range -- which assumes no development for California -- is a substantial amount of power, and would exacerbate transmission issues and volatility in wholesale power prices. Wind development has already outstripped growth in regional demand. And an already clogged transmission system means the energy generated can't always be exported.
A potentially precedent-setting tax assessment hearing began on Wolfe Island on Wednesday for a couple claiming that noise and lights from nearby wind turbines have lowered their property value. Lawyers from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation and the Township of Frontenac Islands are opposing the claim made by islanders Ed and Gail Kenney.
The latest draft of wind rules commissioners reviewed Tuesday listed one mile from an unincorporated community, one mile from a home outside a wind project boundary and a half mile from inside the boundary. For cities, it stated, "setbacks from tower to the city urban growth boundary considered if requested by a city governing body."
The BPA, which operates 75 percent of the high-voltage transmission grid in the region, is responsible for balancing the minute-to-minute variations in supply and demand on the grid. But it says there's only so much [wind energy] it can absorb before those reserves start to compromise regular operations.
The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), which is responsible for managing the regional transmission system, has indicated that it will likely limit wind power to handle a surge in hydro-power production resulting from the melt-off of a large mountain snowpack this year.
As the wind industry expands, the BPA has found it more difficult to transmit all that power and still meet other responsibilities, which include selling hydro power outside the region and spilling water over dams to aid the passage of migrating salmon.
Although extremely uneconomical for wind developers, it is easier to shut down a wind farm than hydro or most other energy supplies. Last year, a staggering total of 25 TWh of wind power had to be curtailed around the country.
Severe implored the Umatilla County Commission to consider "the silent majority" of landowners who live near wind projects. They may refuse the developers' ever-increasing offers of money for a noise easement but in the end the turbines come anyway, only a bit farther away.
So just how much does a wind farm job cost taxpayers? The answer depends on the formula, and involves an implicit assumption that the jobs wouldn't exist without the subsidy -- questionable in the case of Oregon's large wind farms. Either way, the simplest formula for Shepherds Flat, with $1.2 billion in subsidies for 35 permanent jobs, that equation delivers a cost per job of $34 million.
Stacking federal, state and county subsidies is perfectly legal. But the result is that taxpayers who subsidize a project may bear a greater burden for development than the company that profits from it. For Shepherds Flat, for instance, federal, state and local subsidies total more than $1.2 billion, about 65 percent of its $1.9 billion cost, according to a White House memo.
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.