WindAction Editorials filed under Impact on Landscape
We're frequently reminded that wind energy and agriculture are compatible land uses. Farmers who lease sections of their crop land for wind development can continue working the soil right up to the towers and earn extra revenue for farming expenses. A win-win business opportunity, right? Not so fast. In this two-part series (part 2 here), Windaction.org examines the wind-farming relationship in the State of Illinois and tests the claim that the two are a good fit. As with so many topics involving wind energy, there is another story behind the story.
In August 2007, First Wind, LLC received approval from the Vermont Public Service Board to erect sixteen 2.5 megawatt wind turbines in Sheffield, Vermont. Residents of Sheffield, neighboring Sutton, and others in the region fought the project from the beginning. And when First Wind was issued a NPDES storm water permit in 2009 from the State, the permit was appealed . The appellants argued that First Wind failed to identify the full extent of the area of disturbance, impacts to streams and stream biota, and violated the VT Water Quality Standards.
Last month, New Hampshire's Gov. John Lynch announced that 25-percent of the electricity powering the state's government buildings will now come from wind power.
New Hampshire's Site Evaluation Committee is deliberating on Noble Environmental's proposal to erect a 99-megawatt wind energy facility in northern Coos County.
Last week, First Wind (formerly UPC Wind) hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its newest wind farm in New England, the Stetson wind energy facility located in Danforth, Maine. The event celebrated completion of the 38-turbine (57-megawatt) facility and was attended by 100 state and local officials including Maine's Governor Baldacci, construction company representatives, and local business owners.
In September, the U.S. Forest Service released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the first wind energy project proposed for national forest lands.
The New York Times recently published "Thinking Anew About a Migratory Barrier: Roads" in which reporter Jim Robbins explores the impacts of road development on wildlife habitat at Glacier National Park in Montana.
This week, UNESCO, the cultural agency of the United Nations, threatened to act against Britain for failing to protect "world heritage sites". Their complaints included a proposed wind energy facility that would impact Neolithic sites on Orkney.
In 2004, the U.S. Government Bureau of Land Management (BLM) granted Pacific Wind Development LLC (now Iberdrola/PPM) a 3-year Right-of-Way Temporary Use Permit for 17,617 acres of public lands for "wind energy testing and monitoring facilities". The testing right-of-way was permitted without the benefit of public notice or comments, apparently based on the assumption that wind testing would not prove controversial. Letters objecting to the right-of-way grant were submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity, the San Diego Sierra Club, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and others. In December 2007 the BLM released an updated Eastern San Diego County Proposed Resource Management Plan (PRMP) and Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) that allowed Iberdrola/PPM to develop wind energy in the vicinity of McCain Valley on 6,931 acres, reduced from the initial 17,617 acres granted. Opposition mounted and letters of protest were lodged with the bureau of which only one, written by Iberdrola/PPM, argued that more land should be granted.
Wind energy developers commonly downplay the impact of road construction through proposed project areas. For most ridgeline project proposals which Windaction.org has reviewed, applicants quietly state that roads will only require 11-meters (36-feet) width during construction, and quickly add that these areas will be allowed to re-vegetate back to 16-foot mountain trails. Yet, a reading of the actual road plans tells a very different story, as do actual results at completed developments.
National Audubon’s newly released position statement on wind energy development is short, sweet, and dangerous. Notable deficiencies in the Statement include:
Two different, but very similar news reports (CBS News: Winds of change blow in Texas and NPR: Winds of change blow into Roscoe, Texas) were published in the last two weeks. Each highlighted the economic opportunities resulting from wind energy development in West Texas and the revitalization of otherwise land-rich, resource-poor communities of the State. CBS termed it a "wind energy gold rush".