Pictures from USA
Thunderstorms in the background of the Buffalo Ridge wind energy facility.
Site of a portion of the Mountaineer Wind Energy Center in 1997, five years before the start of construction. This is a digital color infrared photograph, which explains the odd coloration. The red areas are the conifer tree species (spruce, pine and hemlock) which are highly reflective of infrared light. The photo was taken during the winter so the brown areas depict the bare deciduous forest, mostly northern hardwoods — maple, birch, cherry, and northern red oak. The green bar at lower left is a 100m [328 foot] scale. This study area was chosen to compare before and after conditions, illustrating the impact of this type of development. Jon Boone's Comments regarding Mountaineer (WV) Before (this image), Mountaineer (WV) After (1), and Mountaineer (WV) After (2). The first two images (i.e. Before and After 1) show the extensive forest-interior habitat that existed before the windplant was constructed and the resulting impacts following construction in late 2002. The third image (i.e. After 2) shows the southern half of the windplant (about 22 turbines) and identifies the boundaries of the study area for the pre- vs. post-construction analysis. It also shows that the study area I chose was fairly representative of the existing habitat conditions at this windplant and gives a better view of the magnitude of the development’s impacts on forest and especially forest-interior habitat. [Forest interior is the type of habitat that exists at more than 100 meters from a clearing. Forest interior is required for the survival of certain species and is the type of habitat most easily destroyed by any form of development.] On the portion of the site that I analyzed, the construction of this wind factory cleared over 42 acres of forest for the string of eight turbines (out of 44) that I analyzed. The extensive fragmentation of habitat resulting from the 50-ft-wide service road and the 5+ acres (average) that were bulldozed to erect each turbine caused the loss of over 150 acres of forest-interior conditions within this once-contiguous forest tract. My estimate is that a complete analysis of the entire project area, including 5.5 miles of ridgetop and 44 turbines, would find a total of nearly 200 acres of forest were cleared and over 750 acres of forest-interior habitat was lost following construction of the Mountaineer wind energy facility.
US Wind Force’s depiction of their Liberty Gap project planned for Jack Mountain in Pendleton County, WV. This view is looking south toward Highland County. Turbines will extend all the way to the state line and, if Highland gives approval, they could be extended further south.
An example of the amount of grading done to install turbines in flat country
Calvin Luther Martin, Malone, NY 11/4/05 It’s Friday evening and I just got off the phone with a middle-aged lady who lives on the Tug Hill Plateau near Watertown, New York (USA). What makes this banal fact remarkable is that the woman now finds herself living in a mind-blowing forest of 40-story-high industrial wind turbines. The developers (Is this the right word to use for these people?) have given it the charming name, Maple Ridge Windfarm. Everyone else in Upstate New York knows it as the Tug Hill Plateau: a high tableland famous for its views of the Adirondacks (to the south), Canada (to the north), and L. Ontario (to the west). Also a serious migratory bird flyway. People remember Tug Hill as gorgeous and wild. No more. Sarah (I have changed her name to protect her privacy) was eager to talk. I found her full of homespun wisdom and quick to chuckle, even though she was in obvious pain. This place, which has been home and memories, has become a nightmare. When the turbine salesmen rang her doorbell a year ago to ask what she thought “about renewable energy” (that was their opening line), she soon steered the conversation around to the stupendous view. Look there, she said, pointing to the mountains: this is what I cherish. No more. She is now surrounded by colossal industrial wind turbines. How many? I asked. Fifteen to twenty within a mile radius, she replied. I could hear her despair, her disbelief. The wind companies (Zilkha and PPM) spent the summer feverishly cobbling together their Goliath machines: 187 in this first phase of the project. There are more to come in Phase II. And who knows how many more phases? Besides the dozen plus overshadowing her, there is a power substation mere yards from her backdoor, in a ravine she remembers well as a child. (The ravine was often struck by lightning, she recalled, as she wondered if this was the best spot for a power station. Fond memories often bubbled to the surface as we talked—a surface now rendered incomprehensible.) Sarah took the company-sponsored bus trip to Fenner, NY, to inspect Fenner’s 20 turbines (“Go to Fenner and see for yourself”: they got the same cheery line we get here, in Clinton & Franklin counties). She thought the Fenner turbines huge, but, it turns out, they are not as colossal as what she now has next door. Besides, that was only 20; this is 187. The number boggles her mind. She met a lady in Fenner with a turbine or two on her property. She motioned Sarah aside and whispered not to trust the wind energy company. The woman and her husband are not getting what the company promised, and are suing as a result. The wind salesmen snowed Sarah’s town board. They promised the sun and the moon; the board swooned and said amen. The wind guys managed to talk the town into a PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) rather than taxation, to Sarah’s disgust. She was clearly dubious the salesmen would deliver what they promised. And when it came to a public hearing, the town board hid the announcement so cunningly that Sarah was totally unaware of it. The construction has shattered her life. Noise. Roads cratered and potholed and rutted. Trees chain-sawed and bulldozed into piles. Giant pits bored into the earth and filled with rebar-reinforced concrete. Finally, the towers and 40-ton propellers and 60-ton nacelles stacked atop all this. Literally, skyscrapers. The turbines are not yet running; they will be in another few months. Sarah dreads that day: the pulsed thump thump thump; the huge shadow from blades sweeping the landscape, everywhere you look (morning & evening). Sarah has sensitive hearing; she’s especially worried about the low frequency thump, night and day, weeks on end. Already she struggles with 187 flashing red lights. And she tries to compose herself over the floodlit power station next door. When she telephoned the project manager to ask why those confounded lights need to be left on all night, he got testy and dismissed her. The floodlights still drill into her windows. Welcome to Maple Ridge Windfarm. A blasted, ruined, industrialized landscape where there was once serenity. And beauty. Sarah wandered down to the old family farm earlier this fall. She stood on the road and gazed upon vandalism. And wept. She’s angry. She feels lied to. She has a neighbor, a young man and his wife and little children, who is also outraged. The man is building a lovely home; he moved here because of the magnificent views, the beauty. Now, this. He worries about his kids’ health once the generators fire up. Sarah feels helpless, and kept saying she thinks she will move. Driven from her home. She worries no one will buy it, or will offer a fraction of its pre-turbine worth. She foresees town revenues plummeting as people refuse to pay the tax on turbine-depreciated property. In the end, she said, she and her neighbors were not organized well enough to stop the wind salesmen. The property owners and town fathers fell in line perfectly, like sheep to be slaughtered. Yet many of them don’t live on their land, or have moved elsewhere, leaving Sarah and her neighbors to deal with this horror. I urged her to start a daily journal of her experiences and the “progress” of the wind power project. I also urged her to take photographs of her landscape and the windmills. And I suggested she get an electrical engineer to check for ambient underground current, so she can sue the wind companies for stray current once the turbines go on line. I suggested, too, that she and her neighbors get a complete physical and neurological exam before the turbines are fired up, again, to establish a medical baseline for future medical problems. I told her, finally, I had seen the amazing photograph of the Tug Hill turbines in the Watertown Daily Times last month. “Yes,” she mused, “that was taken near my home.” Then added, “It’s actually worse than the picture shows.”