WindAction Editorials filed under Safety
...few realize that in the U.S. alone at least ten people have lost their lives in fatal aviation accidents involving collisions with U.S. sited wind turbines and meteorological (MET) towers.
This essay, the third in a series aimed at correcting the most harmful wind energy-related policies of the Obama era, examines how pro-wind federal law enacted in 2011 now compromises U.S. aviation safety and military assets. Prior essays can be found here and here.
Accepting these mitigation measures without fully understanding their effectiveness could place the lives and property of Nebraskans at risk.
After years of debate there is still disagreement and uncertainty regarding appropriate safety setback distances. This uncertainty has benefited the wind industry. Thousands of turbines are erected that are dangerously close to where people live.
...the wind turbines involved in the accident were never posted on the navigation charts! Roughly 40,000 utility-scale wind turbines are operating in the United States today and every project is required to be shown on the aviation charts. How many other turbines are missing from the sky maps?
The health and safety of those living in proximity to industrial wind turbines are at risk due to a lack of objective, practicable siting standards.
While of course the wind farm may be one of those projects with such overwhelming policy benefits (and political support) as to trump all other considerations, even as they relate to safety, the record expresses no such proposition. -- U.S. Court of Appeals
U.S. air space has been made less safe by turbines and our national security compromised because of a reckless policy of siting wind towers within 50-miles of radar installations. Military radar experts in the field know the damage that’s been done. But with the debate surrounding energy policy dominated by politics and money, the military has bowed to the pressure.
Last month, the LA Times examined how the push to build more wind and solar installations was raising safety concerns for workers and the general public. As if on cue, local newspapers around the U.S. also ran stories on five separate catastrophic events involving turbines: a shattered blade in Ohio, fires in Texas and Michigan, the death of a technician in Iowa and another hospitalized in Kansas. None of these stories made national news so most people have no idea the frequency of such events.
Several years back, we wrote how the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC), a quasi-public agency tasked with encouraging renewable energy technologies in the State of Massachusetts, gambled $5.28 million in public funds to purchase two new (at the time) Vestes V82 – 1.65 megawatt wind turbines. MTC hoped to jumpstart local public renewable projects by making the Vestas turbines available for sale.
This week, utility giant National Grid teamed up with Nantucket High School in Massachusetts to erect a 100 kilowatt wind turbine on school property. The 158-foot turbine  is located immediately adjacent to the school's football and baseball fields and by the road that runs behind the school.
In the last ten years, wind industry representatives have successfully laid the groundwork for expedited project review and approval in many States in the US. Reaching out to legislators and State agency directors, the industry argued that existing laws governing siting of electric power plants were unduly onerous when applied to wind facilities. After all, operating wind turbines do not produce air emissions or use/discharge water, the basis for these stricter laws.
Late last year, Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC), the state's development agency for renewable energy, awarded a $474,340 grant to Mark Richey Woodworking and Design, Inc. of Newburyport MA, for the construction of a single 600KW (292-foot) industrial-scale wind turbine to be sited adjacent to the business.
Last month, Barrington, RI voters approved plans to fund and erect a $2.4 million wind turbine to power the local high school. Town leaders anticipate the 600 KW turbine to supply a substantial portion of the school's energy demand. Windaction.org tried to determine a cost breakdown, expected electric generation, and suggested payback period but documentation on the Town's website showed numbers to be inconsistent and difficult to reconcile. For example, documents put the turbine cost at $1.4 million installed with published annual capacity factors varying between 19% and 25%. Further, no wind studies were done to gauge whether the marginal area winds meshed with periods of high demand.
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.
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.
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: