Wind developers encumber the private land on which they propose to build a wind plant through a legal contract referred to as a Wind Energy Easement Agreement. Landowners often sign these agreements without first receiving advice from an attorney. An attorney reviewed one such agreement. His comments, embedded in this document http://www.windaction.org/documents/11774 , highlight the common pitfalls of signing without legal advice. A second contract, often referred to as a Good Neighbor Agreement, might be executed between a developer and landowners who own property near the project site but whose land will not host turbines. One agreement can be found at http://www.windaction.org/documents/11807 along with comments provided by an attorney. Other examples of agreements can be found on windaction.org at http://www.windaction.org/documents/2435
Wind proponents regularly assert that bird mortality at wind energy sites averages at a low 2.3 birds per turbine per year. These collision figures were derived from outdated, and inadequate bird mortality studies conducted at land-based wind projects in western United States. William R. Evans, well-known ornithologist with expertise in nocturnal bird migration provided a critique of these studies in his 2004 testimony on the Chautauqua (NY) proposal ( http://www.windaction.org/documents/11726 ) where he states the Erickson, et.al. 2001 studies are "now widely seen as prematurely conceived." Evans continues, "the high mortality figures associated with cats and windows predominantly involve plentiful species that are common in suburban and residential neighborhoods or in the vicinity of farms, whereas the species killed at commercial wind turbine facilities and communications towers are largely neotropical migrant songbirds; species of conservation concern that nest in our wild lands." Recent bird mortality research from Europe ( http://www.windaction.org/documents/11725 ) found that collisions can vary substantially between sites with mortality as high as 103 to 309 birds/turbine/year. The researchers state that "[mortality] results of individual wind farms can not be generalized" but that "the collision mortality is mostly related to the number of (flying) birds present (at rotor height)". The Erickson et.al. numbers are inappropriately used by proponents to bolster their claims that pre-construction avian surveys are an unnecessary expense.
In the rush to legislate renewable energy mandates, state legislators failed to consider needed infrastructure. Onshore wind plants are typically built hundreds of miles from load centers in areas with little or no transmission. Now states are scrambling to socialize the cost of transmission, a cost normally borne by the generators. Burdening ratepayers with this is contrary to the rules and recommendations held by utility commissioners as recently as a few years ago. Comments to FERC by the New England Conference of Public Utilities Commissioners and the Vermont Department of Public Service ( http://www.windaction.org/documents/11629 ) make the point this way: "If a generator is not required to pay for transmission upgrades and the cost is instead to be socialized across all load, then generators will choose their location based on other factors, such as where land is cheaper or emissions permitting is easier, rather than where good transmission planning or market economics would dictate. On the other hand, if the cost of transmission associated with locating in these other areas were borne by the generators themselves, these economic tradeoffs would be internalized and economic location would be more likely to occur. As currently proposed, the costs are not borne by generators, which could lead to uneconomic grid expansion." Further skewing the economics, in the case of wind, 70% of the costly transmission line's capacity will be un-utilized.
In a July 9, 2007 Wall Street Journal article ( http://www.windaction.org/news/10617 ), wind power was described as "basically a cottage industry, until recently", and the race to build wind facilities worldwide has created a turbine shortage. Manufacturing of the turbines, and their 8000 specialty parts, is being squeezed, raising prices and the potential for quality problems. Current reports from Germany ( http://www.windaction.org/news/11519 ) detail quality problems with installed turbines, "...wind power providers and experts are now concerned. The facilities may not be as reliable and durable as producers claim... Fractures form along the rotors, or even in the foundation after only limited operation". Last week, a Siemens wind turbine at PPM's Kondike III site in Oregon collapsed killing one person and seriously injuring a second ( http://www.windaction.org/news/11547 ).