Library from Vermont
“Everyone who gets a tax bill is going to get a vote,” said John Soininen, [Eolian] project manager. But not everyone agreed. “I’ve never heard of anything voted on in this state before where we let out-of-state landowners vote on town issues,” said state Sen. John Rodgers.
The issue is whether ratepayers across the region should foot the bill for power lines needed for southern New England. The debate has pitted Vermont against some of the more populated states to our south. Southern New England – in particular Massachusetts and Connecticut – needs more renewable generation to meet their clean-energy mandates.
Seneca Mountain wind developers stuck their head in the lion’s den here Monday night, and the lion roared back.
The developer of a major wind project in the Green Mountain National Forest has been unable to reach an agreement to sell the power it would produce. The project’s state permit is contingent on a long term power purchase agreement with a Vermont utility.
"We think that it is likely there will be significant additional transmission investment needed to maintain reliability and improve access to these clean, intermittent power sources," Lee Olivier, executive vice president and chief operating officer, said in an earnings call Friday. "But it is too early to estimate how much that additional investment will be and exactly when it will occur."
PSNH has maintained that running underground transmission lines would make Northern Pass economically unfeasible. But critics said TDI New England's proposal not only disproves that claim, but could place Northern Pass out of the bidding since New England Clean Power Link would provide comparable energy to the New England market — without the community and political opposition Northern Pass has engendered.
The Caledonia County Democratic Committee recently passed a resolution seeking to have the State Democratic Committee call on the Vermont State Legislature and Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin to re-evaluate the state's energy policy and, in particular, protect areas of high elevation from wind development projects.
"We all support renewable energy, but it must be built in conformance with the existing standards intended to prevent stormwater pollution of our pristine streams. We cannot trade a wind project for our water quality. Our water is everything -- our wells, our water supply for fire fighting, our high elevation streams, our wetlands, our rivers. We cannot let our water be compromised so Gaz Metro and their cronies can make a buck."
In one case, as reported in the Sunday Free Press, the value of property was decreased by a whopping $50,000 from a price of nearly $410,000 because of proximity to a wind turbine. A homeowner saw a $700 reduction in the annual tax bill. Now that’s real cash gained because of financial harm — bona fide or perceived, it doesn’t matter. Though in terms of reducing enjoyment of property because of noise, altered views or flicking lights, this change is not exactly a favorable return on investment.
Horn said she is not suggesting that towns have veto power over the board’s decisions, but she does want the statute’s language changed to give towns an effective voice in the process. Communities have become concerned over the permitting process because of the impact some energy generation projects, such as the 21-turbine wind project on Lowell Mountain, have on the surrounding landscape.
When Melodie McLane of Georgia used to drive by the wind turbines in Clinton, N.Y., she says, she always looked at them with wondrous curiosity. But now, after four industrial wind towers were built near her home on Georgia Mountain Road, she dreads them. 'I had no idea it would be this bad,' she says, describing a constant noise she says makes it hard to sleep or go outside.
The department wants GMP to pay a penalty for several noise violations last winter that came from selected monitoring of four areas around the turbines. The department wants the PSB to enforce a $56,000 penalty against GMP to be used to do continuous monitoring. GMP at first resisted the idea of continuous monitoring, but then said it would research the idea.
Yet, countryside residents from Vermont to Massachusetts, and elsewhere, now claim not only environmental degradation but personal health problems from the imposing wind towers, which fans praise as emblematic of America’s clean energy future. Mike Nelson, of Albany, Vt., told WCAX-TV last November the resulting noise from the wind tower installments had cost him lost sleep and that neighbors were reporting headaches, symptoms of so-called “wind turbine syndrome.”
“If you get it wrong, bad things happen,” Nicholas Miller, a senior director at General Electric’s energy consulting arm, said about developing the grid in accordance with renewable energy growth. “Germany didn’t see 20 Gigawatts with a ‘G’ (of solar) coming in in 24 months. They got their interconnection rules wrong … and it’s costing them a quarter of a billion dollars to put the genie back into the bottle.”
The members unanimously agreed that the sound of the turbines-- any sound-- was enough. "It's a noise that's a constant sort of noise. I once described it as if you're on a coastline and way off in the distance, there's a freighter going by and you hear the engine going-- chug, chug, chug. That's the kind of noise that you experience," Vickers explained.
Minimum Generation Emergencies generally occur during temperate nights, when power demand is at an annual low. Blomberg said that when this happens, the first generators to be called off are those outside the region. The next generators ISO calls off are the “self-schedulers.” These are the generators that bid into the market at their leisure. Most, if not all, of New England’s renewable energy generators fall into this category of power producers because renewable power less predictable. ...It would be almost impossible for a renewable energy producer to participate in the day-ahead market because the risk is too high.
Taxpayers in Eden are getting a little something extra along with their property tax bills this month. The tax bill envelopes also include a two-page wind tower survey. The survey asks taxpayers to weigh in on wind power in Vermont, the nearby Kingdom Community Wind project, and a proposal to expand wind development on the ridgeline with six new towers in Eden.
An inspection committee found that noise emissions from the Georgia Mountain wind energy facility negatively impacted a residential property near the project. An excerpt of the decision can be seen below. The grievance decision to reduce the value of the property can be accessed by clicking on the link(s) on this page.
Sen. Robert Hartwell, D-Bennington and chairman of the Senate panel, cited the example of a man who told him he was trying to establish an organic vegetable farm in Addison County between a Vermont Electric Power Co. high-voltage power line and the route of a natural gas pipeline Vermont Gas Systems is proposing. Like many property owners affected by such projects but who can't afford to hire lawyers to represent them before the state Public Service Board ...He's nowhere" in terms of having an adequate voice in the process.
Smith, the head of VCE, said she has been receiving citizen reports for the past week, "noting that at least five of the western Sheffield turbines are off. Now apparently only one of the 16 are operating," she stated in an email Monday. "Inquiring minds want to know what's going on.