WindAction Editorials

Voices of Mars Hill

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and wind energy developers insist a modern wind facility at a distance of 1000 feet produces a sound no louder than a kitchen refrigerator. This comparison is recited over and over in public hearings throughout the U.S. and worldwide. The residents of Mars Hill, Maine have pages of documentation from UPC Wind highlighting the developer's assertion that the 42MW, 28-turbine facility would not produce noise.
7 Apr 2008

Following land use regulations

Throughout much of the United States (and other countries) siting of wind energy development is governed primarily through local land use regulations as adopted by a host town or county. In jurisdictions with no regulations, there are no rules regarding height limitations, setback buffer requirements, noise enforcement guidelines, or other standards necessary to ensure the safe placement and operation of the turbines. Even with regulations in place, rural towns rarely have experience in large-scale developments, and their land use boards often fail to exercise the full scope of their authority to regulate wind towers.
31 Mar 2008

Wisconsin wind turbine siting

In the past year, several Wisconsin townships and counties  established study committees to evaluate and recommend local ordinances for smaller renewable energy projects (as provided by State law for projects under 100 megawatts). Having carefully studied the State's draft Model Wind Ordinance, these committees found the Model to have serious flaws and unfounded recommendations, as revealed in this video segment.
10 Mar 2008

Wind farms and OSHA

Last month, Oregon's Occupational Safety and Health Division (OR-OSHA) released its report on the wind turbine collapse at the Klondike III wind facility that left one worker dead and another seriously injured. Oregon OSHA fined Siemens Power Generation Inc. $10,500 for safety violations and multiple errors in Seimens' training and procedures.
3 Mar 2008

Turbine failures

Last Friday, a Vestas wind turbine in Denmark was caught on video blowing apart in high wind conditions. It's been reported that the braking system failed on the unit causing the blades to speed out of control.
25 Feb 2008

EMS transport near wind turbines

A retired EMS pilot in Wisconsin was interviewed by the Calumet County ad hoc committee regarding emergency medical transport within the vicinity of industrial wind turbines. The pilot substantiates several warnings including:
19 Feb 2008

Wind power and eminent domain

Property owners in Oswego County, NY were notified last week that Babcock & Brown, an Australia wind developer with twenty wind farms in the U.S., could execute eminent domain to secure a 150-foot wide swath across private land needed to erect transmission lines to a proposed wind project on Galloo Island.
12 Feb 2008

The PTC and the US Senate stimulus package

The Recorder newspaper published an interview with Judge Theodore Morrison, retiring member of Virginia's State Corporation Commission (SCC). Judge Morrison served on the Commission when it reviewed and conditionally permitted the controversial 39-megawatt Highland New Wind Development wind energy facility proposed for Allegheny Mountain in Virginia. Judge Morrison's comments are worth noting given the aggressive campaign now underway by the wind industry to pressure Congress into renewing the Federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) as part of the Economic Stimulus Package.
4 Feb 2008

The production tax credit

The wind industry has continuously lobbied Congress to enact a long-term extension of the federal production tax credit (PTC) since the incentive was first introduced in 1992. The PTC now represents up to one-third the return on a given wind farm. While it's true that fossil fuel generation also receives federal subsidies, when measured on a per kilowatt hour basis, wind is paid significantly more for a very minor percentage of overall generation (1% of U.S. consumption).
28 Jan 2008

USDA Forest Service rules pertaining to wind energy

The USDA's Forest Service proposes to make sweeping changes to its internal directives governing wildlife monitoring and special use authorizations. These proposed changes will greatly facilitate the siting of industrial wind turbines within our National Forests. The new language contained in the Forest Service Manual section now lists the Forest Service's #1 goal as: "Authorize wind energy facilities on National Forest System lands to help meet the nation's energy needs." The Service has declared these proposed revisions as "non-significant", thus exempting this policy action from National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements, i.e. no Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) needed to evaluate the cumulative impacts of these extensive policy revisions. Please write to insist that the Forest Service not finalize these proposed revisions until they complete an EIS - as should be required pursuant to the letter and intent of NEPA.
22 Jan 2008

Conflicts of interest

Wind energy developers are increasingly benefiting from local town officers who have a conflict of interest in seeing developments built on their own lands. News of such conflicts emerged during the past year from communities in New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, and elsewhere. In the town of Burke NY, two town board members voting on a proposed Wind Energy Facilities Law were exposed as clearly having "direct pecuniary interest in the placement of wind towers", according to a letter filed by an attorney representing citizens of Burke. The letter asserts "Town Board member Arnold Lobdell is a party to an Option and Lease Agreement with Jericho Rise Wind Farm, LLC.," and "Town Board member David Vincent has entered into an Easement Agreement with Noble Chateaugay Windpark LLC." (see agreements) Such conflict is destructive to the democratic process and should not be tolerated anywhere in the United States of America. In the case of Burke NY, and others recommends swift action be taken by the Town Board to disavow the draft wind energy facilities law, and re-initiate the effort from scratch with the conflicted members removed from the process.
14 Jan 2008

Projected costs for state RPS policies

More than half the states in the U.S. have adopted a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requiring a percentage of electric generation come from renewable sources. A Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study found that 62% of the renewable generation needed to satisfy these RPSs will come from wind, with Texas and the Midwestern States seeing 94% compliance coming from wind energy.
31 Dec 2007
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