June 28, 2006

Scudder Parker running for wind turbine salesman

Scudder Parker for Governor:
My Vision for Vermont's Energy Future


Just as healthcare is a right, not a privilege, I believe that all Vermonters have shared, basic rights concerning energy.

Vermont Energy Empowerment Principles
  • Reliability: All Vermonters should have access to secure and reliable heat, electricity and transportation, even in the face of external problems such as market changes, supply disruptions or political instability abroad.

  • Security: All Vermonters (individuals, communities and businesses) should be able to stay warm, keep the lights on, and get from one place to another without having to sacrifice other basic needs.

  • Responsibility: Vermonters have the right to an energy supply that reflects concern for economic strength, the environment and their communities.

  • Leadership ...
Energy problems facing Vermont have been left unaddressed:
  • Rising energy costs and price volatility.

  • Higher demand, fewer traditional resources, looming threat of Peak Oil.

  • End of contracts with Hydro-Québec and Vermont Yankee.

  • Negative effects of global warming theaten Vermont's economy (i.e.: ski industry, maple trees, agriculture).

  • Unreliable and strained electric grid.
... [T]he Douglas administration has proposed wind-siting regulations that are the most sweeping and complex of any regulations in the history of the state.

... In my first year in office, I will help businesses stabilize energy costs and create jobs by implementing the following: ... A plan to promote -- not discourage -- renewable energy, including wind, thus creating more jobs and protecting our environment.
Most of what Parker says and proposes is spot on (about health care, too). But his "leadership" on wind power has obviously been hijacked by the industry. Tom Gray of the American Wind Energy Association, after all, is a county chairman of the Vermont Democratic Party. The comments below pertain only to electricity and the push for big wind (Parker doesn't even mention home generation).

Reliability: Wind turbines generate only two-thirds of the time. They generate at or above their annual average (which is 21% of capacity at Searsburg) only one-third of the time. They respond to the minute-to-minute fluctuations of the wind, not to user demand.

Security: Not only will industrial wind facilities not "keep the lights on" (see Reliability, above), their erection requires many Vermonters to "sacrifice other basic needs," such as health, wildness, and rural tranquility.

Responsibility: Two-thirds or more of the cost of erecting industrial wind facilities is paid for by tax- and ratepayers to ensure handsome returns for private investors. Yet they do not add reliability or security to the electrical supply.

Rising and volatile prices: As they have discovered in Judith Gap, Montana, wind power on the grid has added substantial variability to the system which must be balanced by increased purchase of energy on the spot market.

Fewer resources: Vermont uses almost no fossil fuel for electricity. Even if we did, wind's intermittency and variability ensure that the use of other fuels is not reduced. Germany, with about a third of the world's installed wind capacity, is planning new coal plants as much as ever.

End of contract and license: The contract with Hydro-Québec will have to be renewed. How hard is that? And though it ought to be shut down, there's no sign that Vermont Yankee is going to be.

Global warming: In Vermont, our greenhouse gas emissions have almost nothing to do with electricity. They're from transport and heating, which Parker does address. In the realm of electricity, however, this issue requires a national and global effort to reduce consumption and clean up generation. New more sustainable sources of energy will be a part of that, but industrial wind power is a symbolic but ultimately meaningless and destructive sideshow.

Strained grid: See Reliability, above. Giant wind turbines will strain it even more, with huge surges and dips that are largely unpredictable.

Regulations: Vermont's environmental law, Act 250, effectively prevents development of the upper elevations and ridgelines of our mountains. Many towns have zoning laws further protecting such areas. But those are precisely the locations targeted by wind developers. In the Section 248 guidelines for public utilities, there was no mention of the special circumstances of large-scale wind plant siting. The state Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) determined that industrial wind was incompatible with its mission to preserve state lands for the benefit of all Vermonters. They also emphasize the unique ecosystems of higher elevations and the importance of keeping them undeveloped. As for the public service board, the "sweeping and complex" changes essentially require better public notification and allow a greater area for intervenors, since the sites would be prominent and the machines are so large (and, day and night, move and are lit), and specify that the ANR is an automatic intervenor.

Naturally, the industry does not want a fair process. They want one that they control, like they apparently control Scudder Parker's thinking about big wind. They want us to swallow their pablum about energy costs, jobs, and the environment and not have to show any evidence to back up their claims. They want to industrialize Vermont's mountaintops and don't want any one questioning the usefulness, much less the wisdom, of it.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, Vermont, animal rights

June 27, 2006

"Treehugger" protects wind industry from criticism

A correspondent has been valiantly challenging some of the many ill-founded assumptions about industrial wind power at "green lifestyle" site Treehugger. In their inability to imagine that a lot of people see the problems with big wind, she was even accused of being me! (Both of us using dial-up with the same Vermont ISP, our traffic is apparently routed through the same IP address in Connecticut.) When she did not properly defer to the authority of (or rather the evasive namecalling by) Thomas Gray of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), her further response was at first delayed -- then published when she reposted it half a day later. Further response to Gray's empty retort now appears to have been completely censored. She wrote to the editor of Treehugger but received no reply.

It seems the reputations of AWEA and Andrew Perchlik of Renewable Energy Vermont and now "Reimaginations" (with its fascist slogan, "the beauty of power") are fragile and must be protected. Their arguments are certainly fragile. She sent me her last reply to post here (links added).

() () ()

It is apparent that Tom Gray has a problem with misrepresentation, both of his product and his critics.

I noted only that the NYSERDA report's effective capacity value was fantasy.

The UWIG report, as I also noted, is a phantasmagoria. From that report:

"The addition of a wind plant to a power system increases the amount of variability and uncertainty of the net load. This may introduce measurable changes in the amount of operating reserves required for regulation, ramping and load-following. Operating reserves may consist of both spinning and non-spinning reserves."

They describe the cost of that extra burden as small, but they do not consider the effect on fuel use, i.e., more inefficiency causing more fuel burning and cancelling much of the theoretical benefit of wind power on the grid. Nor do they consider the cost (let alone the negative envronmental and social impacts) of adding the wind plant itself.

Gray points to GE's work on the UWIG report and on others. Yes, they know energy, but they are also the primary wind turbine manufacturer in the U.S., after buying the business from Enron. That could be perceived as a conflict of interest.

I already provided data showing the lack of change in Denmark's fuel use despite claiming that 20% of their electricity is produced by wind. And I already mentioned recent news stories about Germany's expansion of coal use.

For his part, if Tom Gray believes Denmark and Germany are success stories in replacing other fuels with wind, where are the data that substantiate that claim?

-- Rosa

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, Vermont, anarchism, ecoanarchism

June 22, 2006

Wind power found wanting

ABS Energy Research of London has recently published its 3rd "Wind Power Report." It costs £830, but the description gives one an idea of the main issue, namely, that the claimed benefits from wind power are not actually seen.

... Significant industry issues are emerging as operational data becomes available from the major wind power operators such as E.ON Netz, Eltra and ESB.

In 2003 the Irish government declared a moratorium on further wind power development. This opens many questions about the assumptions and claims made for wind power.

Key Findings

The wind power industry is reaching a highly controversial phase in its development as solid operational data becomes available about its performance, limitations and effects on the grid.

The ABS report concludes that governments, developers and operators should seriously consider their options regarding wind power.

Wind power reports have now been published by energy agencies and the network operators in USA, Germany, Spain, Denmark and Ireland, delineating critical problems. Deutsche EnergieAgentur (dena) has published a comprehensive report on German wind power on behalf of the Federal Government, together with the utility and wind and industries.

The dena report assessed the capacity credit of wind power in Germany in 2003 as 890-1,230 MW, i.e. 6% of installed wind capacity of 14,603 MW, rising to 1,820-2,300 MW for 36,000 MW installed in 2015, with a reserve capacity requirement of 7,000 MW.

The claimed savings in GHG emissions has been questioned.

Denmark exported over 80% of wind generated electricity to Norway in 2004, which has 98.5% carbon-free hydro generation, because wind delivered a surplus of 84%, according to the CEO of Eltra, almost nullifying any emissions savings.

Wind's intermittency places a large strain on system balance.

A new understanding is emerging about the relative efficiencies and emissions of base load operation of fossil fuel plant versus plant used in back up of a variable source.

Wind power has been promoted for politico/environmental reasons and wind developers have benefited from substantial subsidies, leading to exaggerated claims. A reality check is needed.

Reasons to Buy

With the first real evidence of performance from some of the most authoritative sources in the power industry, the claims for wind power are being called into question.

Anyone involved in this industry should have this information and be aware of these results.

Be wary when the wind industry describes a criticism of wind power as a "myth."

Industry figures like the CEOs of E.ON Netz and Eltra do not deal in myths and solutions, they have real experience and more data than anyone else. They record what has actually happened.
You can save yourself a lot of money and read "The Low Benefit of Industrial Wind," which appears to contain much of the same information, for free.

wind power, wind energy

Wind power = tons of concrete

According to the June 17 Dodge City Daily Globe, reporting on the "inauguration" of the Spearville Wind Energy Facility in Kansas (which is under construction),
It took 1,822 truckloads of concrete to build the 67 foundations for the wind towers, and each foundation required 272 cubic yards of concrete. The height of each tower will be 262 feet, compared to the tallest building in Kansas, the Epic Center in Wichita, which is 325 feet.
That's 27 truckloads of concrete, at least 27 tons, for each turbine. Along with the roads and new high-voltage transmission structures that the article also mentions (to get the energy from western Kansas to where it's actually needed), that's a serious impact on the prairie ecology.

And added to the height of the tower is the sweep of the blades that extend another 126 feet, for a total height of 388 feet, lit up and moving (and making noise) night and day.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism, animal rights

June 20, 2006

Tug Hill: A Cautionary Tale

The following is by Calvin Luther Martin of Malone, N.Y., dated June 19, 2006.

Sue Brander is an older woman. In her sixties, I would hazard to guess. She's a gardener, raises Morgan horses and, in years past, was a "major event" organizer. Sue's also a professional writer.

Sue lives in a little town in the Mohawk Valley, New York. Right about the center of the state (close to Herkimer, NY, if you know the geography). Hilly, lovely area. Lots of Amish around.

This past winter Sue showed up on my radar screen: I spotted an article she wrote in the Richfield Springs, NY, newspaper, on wind turbines coming to town. It was obvious this woman named Sue Brander was much concerned.

Last week Sue staged a modest "major event" in Stark, a village near her home. She put together a 3-hour conference on wind energy, featuring Gordon Yancey, owner of the Flatrock Inn, smack in the middle of the Tug Hill Plateau (Lewis County, NY). Gordon is worth inviting to a wind conference because his inn is surrounded by 135 (give or take) industrial turbines. The closest being 1000' away. The Tug Hill turbines went on-line this past January. Sue also had Nick Pressley, owner of an environmental engineering firm, speak about environmental impacts of wind plants. She had another expert address the finances of wind energy and Dr. Nina Pierpont speak (by teleconference) about health hazards of living close to turbines.

It was a powerful evening, I am told. ...

Three days later Sue sent out the e-mail about her (adult) daughter visiting the Tug Hill windplant a day after the conference.

If you live anywhere near New York State, do what the wind salesmen are always inviting people to do: "Go see for yourself." The usual invitation runs like this: "Go to Fenner and see for yourself."

But don't go to Fenner, NY, where there are 20 smallish turbines (which, we have reason to think, have their generators turned off much of the time, to cut the noise for this Poster Child Wind Farm). Go, instead, to Tug Hill, and experience those 135 goliath turbines. Go, experience what Gordon Yancey daily experiences. (I have seen Gordon weep in public over the industrial freak show and neurological nightmare he must now live with.)

Go to Tug Hill to see for yourself if you, too, "keep wanting to turn left, because the whole world is turning left." Or, maybe you're one of the lucky 80% of the population that doesn't suffer from inner ear sensitivity (motion sickness), producing the vertigo and nausea this man, Jeremy, describes. I suppose if you're one of that 80% you can drive away (in a straight line) from Tug Hill and announce, as wind salesmen routinely do, that it's fine to have wind turbines littering the residential landscape -- that you don't find them (literally) nauseating and (literally) vertiginous and, hence, everyone should experience them the way you do.

Yes, I have heard this said many times in public meetings in Clinton, Ellenburg, and Brandon, NY. The people who say this go to church on a Sunday morn' and they lay claim, in addition, to having a functioning brain and, hence, modicum of intelligence. A modicum of morality and intelligence, as it were.

But as I leave these meetings, I have my doubts. And I think the Leviathan named Almighty Dollar has swallowed them whole.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism, animal rights

Eyes opened by Tug Hill wind turbines

The following is by a resident of Stark, N.Y., dated June 19, 2006.

She started in on me about Tug Hill Plateau. "We went for a drive last night," she said. "We went to Herkimer for dinner and Jeremy wanted to go for a ride. We drove up to Barneveldt and stopped for ice cream. Then we went on to Booneville and Lowville."

That's where the 195-turbine wind factory is.

"You have to go there! It's awful! Just awful! We can't let this happen here. I've never seen anything so awful." ...

She went on and on. There was some wind, but not much, on June 17. The turbines were just hissing. They arrived there shortly before dusk, and stayed for the turnover to darkness, to see the lights on the turbine towers. They were there for not more than an hour, perhaps less.

"You absolutely cannot compare Fenner and Madison to this," she said. "These are much taller than Fenner and Madison. And there are more of them. This is more like what ours will be, 80 turbines in neighborhoods. There is no comparison. We have to get our Town Board members to go up there. You look at the horizon and you see tips spinning, and you know there are more, just over the next hill. It never ends. It's like having turbines from here to Herkimer."

After I drove her home, her husband insisted that I come inside and see the video on his cell phone. "I almost drove off the road," he said. "I kept wanting to turn left, because the whole world was turning left. I got dizzy, and I was dizzy for ten minutes after we left the area." ...

He began calculating the area of the rotor sweep. "They were spinning at 16 revolutions per minute," he said. "I counted the revolutions. There are three blades. That's 48 blade sweeps per minute." "That's how many times you're going to get strobe flicker if you're in the shadow of these things," he said. "And they give you window blinds to stop it? That won't work. And you sure can't sit outside in the yard with a strobe flicker like that." ...

Many times over the past six months, we had quarreled over these turbines. She didn't want to believe that neighbors planning to put turbines on their property would be doing any harm to us. When she heard Gordon Yancey [owner of the Flatrock Inn on the Tug Hill Plateau] on Thursday evening, they could barely hear at the back of the standing room only crowd. But they heard enough to convince them to go up to Lowville and see for themselves.

... She now knows these turbines could sicken animals and people. The motion. The low frequency sound. The stray voltage. ... She was not dizzy and didn't get motion sickness when they went to Lowville. But she saw what happened to her husband. The effects of motion and sound vary in the population. When she saw what happened to him, suddenly everything she heard and read came into focus. ...

"We have to get every lease holder to go up there to Lowville," she said. It's only 2 hours one way. We left at 6:00, and we were home by midnight. We stopped for dinner on the way. Everybody has to make it their personal mission to get one landowner to go up there and see this."

"I had nightmares about the turbines all night last night," her husband said this Sunday afternoon.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism, animal rights

June 17, 2006

A note about NIMBY

Promoters of industrial wind development in rural and wild areas generally dismiss the defenders of those rural and wild areas as NIMBY, i.e., supporting wind power but "not in my back yard."

But where are the promoters pushing these developments? Not in their back yards! It looks like they're the real NIMBYs.

Most opponents of industrial wind don't support it anywhere. They've looked into it and found it wanting.

And a note about aesthetics

Related to the dishonest NIMBY charge is that we are concerned only with aesthetics. Aesthetics are, of course, an important part of most people's rejection of industrial wind turbines: Anything that big that is lit up and moves and makes noise and dominates the skyline had better be worth it, and it doesn't take long to discover that they are not.

But the industry would rather avoid that debate, so they dismiss their critics as mere aesthetes, concerned only with their precious views, blind to the whole planet sinking into a hellhole. (And don't ask if lining the hills with giant wind turbines can have a significant effect against the pursuit of that quagmire, because that would obviously mean you don't think the problem is so grave that doing anything, even if it doesn't actually do anything, is better than doing nothing. That is, The world is hell-bent for destruction, and you're just being negative!)

So who sponsors an art exhibit to show how "aesthetic" the giant turbines are? Industry lobbyists Andrew Perchlik and the American Wind Energy Association! It looks like they're the ones trying to make it an aesthetic issue. Unfortunately, they have to resort to imagination.

The reality is too obvious. They are giant intrusive machines way out of place in rural and wild areas. There's new roads and transmission infrastructure involved, too.

And their potential energy contribution is puny. Their ability to replace other fuels, particularly base-load providers such as coal and nuclear, is nil.

That's what really makes them ugly.

It's the same old story. A lot of hucksters are getting rich by making other people's lives hell. "The beauty [sic] of power" indeed.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism, Vermont, anarchism, ecoanarchism

June 16, 2006

Who wants wind power?

To the Editor, Brattleboro (Vt.) Reformer:

The Reformer asks, in its argument for industrial-scale wind power (editorial, June 13), if Governor Douglas would like to see a nuclear plant in Chittenden County, a coal plant near Montpelier, or a natural gas plant near Rutland. Since most of the wind plants in Vermont are proposed up here in the northeast, one might also ask if advocates would like to see giant wind machines on the Northfield and Worcester ranges around Montpelier or lining the shore of Lake Champlain.

How about replacing the Bennington Battle Monument with a few wind turbines that would be over a hundred feet higher, distract with their movement and flashing lights, and disturb with their noise?

Faced with the prospect of actually having to live with the things, many who currently advocate industrial-scale wind power would, like their fellows in the northeast and everywhere else a project is proposed, start looking more seriously at the technology and more honestly weigh the costs and benefits.

They will discover that it is not a delusional love of the status quo or a lack of creativity that turns them against big wind. It is the obvious fact that the benefits are negligible yet the negative impacts are substantial.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, Vermont

Less incentive needed for wind power boondoggle

To the Editor, New York Times:

Since Goldman Sachs and others are already investing so much in renewable energy projects ("Let Them Go Green," editorial, June 12), one wonders why the Times thinks they need more incentive to do so. For example, the purchase of wind developer Zilkha (now Horizon) Renewable Energy was hardly a risk. According to legal firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, federal subsidies can pay for two-thirds of the value of a wind project. State subsidies may cover another ten percent. The modern wind industry (home of Zilkha/Horizon) was developed in Texas by George Bush and Kenneth Lay, and it shows.

Public investment may help to establish new beneficial technologies, but industrial-scale wind power is not one of them.

Because its generation of electricity depends on the wind speed, it is highly variable and can not significantly reduce our use of other fuels. This has been the experience in Denmark. The benefits are neglible, but the negative environmental and social impacts are substantial. The machines are huge -- now commonly more than 400 feet high -- and necessarily numerous, requiring new roads and transmission infrastructure in typically wild and rural landscapes.

We need less incentive for such a boondoggle, not more.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism

June 15, 2006

Cape Wind to study birds

Lest anyone has believed the developer's song that the studies have already been done concerning birds in Nantucket Sound, this article from the June 5 Cape Cod Times serves as a reminder that they've barely begun.
... Before Cape Wind can build turbines on the sound, it first must prove to skeptics -- and the state -- that, among other things, the 417-foot-tall towers won't harm birds.

A scientific team hired by the developer is completing a six-week, $400,000 radar study of the sound to characterize just how many birds fly through this offshore location -- and, critically, at what heights.

For the second time, the developer is using sophisticated radar during springtime on Horseshoe Shoal itself. It's a time when winter songbirds arrive from the warmth of South America and hundreds of thousands of ducks also pass through.

... While the [Massachusetts Audubon Society] has offered preliminary support for the project ... Jack Clarke, director of public policy and government relations for Massachusetts Audubon, says there are still some gaps in bird data on the sound.

In particular, they want to know more about the nighttime patterns of long-tailed ducks on the sound; the trends of endangered terns and threatened plovers; and just how many songbirds are flying through the area and where they are passing.

... Cape Wind has already conducted three radar studies to follow bird patterns.

But critics have complained that results from two of the studies were questionable since they were collected at remote, land-based sites.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for instance, has urged three years of radar study before a conclusion can be drawn. ...
wind power, wind energy, wind farms, animal rights, environment, environmentalism

June 12, 2006

Wind power is foolish choice

To the editor, Berkshire (Mass.) Eagle [published June 14]:

Philip Knowles says that no one is proposing lining our hills with industrial wind turbines (letter, June 12). But then he says that wind can supply 10-20 percent of our electricity. The larger figure would require more than 220,000 1.5-megawatt turbines and 26,000 square miles. As demand continues to grow, it would require yet more. But since wind turbines generate at or above their average rate only a third of the time, and their output varies from minute to minute, it would not enable the reduction of other sources. Large-scale wind is a foolish and destructive path to follow.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, Vermont

No benefits from wind power

To the editor, Village Soup Citizen (Waldo County, Me.):

The Citizen Editorial Board of Freedom is mistaken in describing wind power as inexpensive ("The power of Freedom," guest column, June 12). Taxpayers pay about two-thirds of the $1.5-2 million it costs per installed megawatt. Ratepayers pay for the additional transmission infrastructure necessary as well as the consequences of integrating such an intermittent and variable source.

They are also mistaken in touting the "environmental and energy security advantages." Each installed megawatt generates at an average of only 250-300 kilowatts, and it does so at or above that rate only a third of the time. Its minute-to-minute variability means that all other power sources must be kept going to balance the wind-generated power.

Thus there are no significant energy or environmental benefits.

With no real benefits to speak of, the substantial negative impacts of the giant machines are therefore inexcusable.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism

Wind power saves nothing

To the editor, Kennebec (Me.) Journal (published June 18):

The June 12 editorial ("We need wind power to fight global warming") is unconvincing. To argue for allowing "the loss of a beautiful view, the potential damage to wildlife species and the industrialization of a largely untouched landscape," it says that not doing so would cause even greater destruction.

In other words, we must destroy the environment to save it.

Missing from that harsh logic, however, is any evidence that industrial wind power can indeed "stem global warming's progress." With 20% of its electricity supposedly coming from wind, Denmark's greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. That country has not reduced its use of other fuels despite a landscape saturated with wind turbines.

In other words, wind power destroys the environment. Period. It saves nothing.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism

June 10, 2006

Incomplete wind energy info at Vt. Guardian

To the editor, Vermont Guardian:

The sidebar accompanying the article "Wind developer pulls up stakes, state issues new regs" contains some inaccuracies and is incomplete in its list of proposals.

First, the current Searsburg facility generates only around 11,000 MWh per year, not the 14,000 claimed. This information is readily available in GMP's annual reports. The difference should also call into question the projections claimed for the many proposed projects around the state. [For more information, see "The Poor Record of the Searsburg, Vermont, Wind Plant."]

In February, Enxco (a subsidiary of Électricité de France) sold the development rights to expand the Searsburg facility into Readsboro to PPM Energy, a subsidiary of Scottish Power. This apparently includes the expansion within Searsburg.

The Glebe Mountain project from Catamount Energy (which is owned by Diamond Castle Holdings and Marubeni Energy International of Japan) was to entail not 27 turbines but 19, each of them with a rated capacity of 2.5 MW and a total height of 420 feet.

The proposal from UPC (a subsidiary of UPC Group, Italy) in Sheffield and Sutton would have a maximum capacity of not 45 but 52 MW, with 2-MW 399-ft machines.

Other projects not listed, besides the 6 MW starter facility in East Haven which was mentioned in the article, include further development (possibly around 50 MW) along the ridges from East Haven to Brighton (EMDC), around 50 MW on a ridge in Windham (UPC), and around 20 MW on Georgia Mountain in Milton (which Enxco may be behind). Through Vermont Environmental Research Associates, Enxco has been advertising for yet more "high-elevation woodland" on which to construct power plants. [For more details of regional projects, see "Large wind projects in Vermont and vicinity."]

The negative impact of these projects would be significant. The energy benefit, on the other hand, because of their variability and intermittency, would be nil.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, Vermont

June 8, 2006

al-Zarqawi is dead

But the idiot who conjured him three years ago still cowers in his White House.

June 7, 2006

Model large wind energy ordinance

A model ordinance for small wind, from Malone, New York, has been previously presented. The Malone definition of small wind energy systems is more realistic than the one reproduced here. Malone limits small wind systems to 10 kW and to tower heights of 65 feet on parcels of 1-5 acres and 100 feet on parcels over 5 acres. The Malone ordinance also requires 1500-ft setbacks for large wind energy systems if they are forced through despite the ordinance's outright ban. (Manitowoc also produced an ordinance for small wind, but it is highly restrictive because of efforts by wind company representatives on the drafting committee to sabotage the whole law-making effort.)

The Manitowoc County ordinance, which became effect May 1, is notable for its strict limitation of noise to 5 dB(A) above the ambient level at any point on neighboring property. Here are excerpts.

Large Wind Energy System Ordinance

"Large wind system" means a wind tower and turbine that has a nameplate capacity of more than 100 kilowatts or a total height of more than 170 feet, or both.

24.06. Standards

(1) Location. (a) A large wind system may only be located in areas that are zoned A3-Agriculture or PA-Prime Agricultural. (b) A wind tower may not be located within one-quarter mile of any area that is zoned C1-Conservancy or NA-Natural Area or within one-quarter mile of any state or county forest, hunting area, lake access, natural area, or park.

(2) Set Backs. The wind tower in a large wind system and each wind tower in a wind farm system must be set back:

(a) at least 1.1 times the total height of the large wind system from the property line of a participating property.

(b) at least 1,000 feet from the property line of a nonparticipating property unless the owner of the nonparticipating property grants an easement for a lesser setback. The easement must be recorded with the Register of Deeds and may not provide for a setback that is less than 1.1 times the total height of the large wind system.

(c) at least 1.1 times the total height of the large wind system or 500 feet, whichever is greater, from any public road or power line right-of-way.

(10) Lighting. A wind tower and turbine may not be artificially lighted unless such lighting is required by the Federal Aviation Administration. If lighting is required, the lighting must comply with FAA minimum requirements and, whenever possible, be at the lowest intensity allowed, avoid the use of strobe or other intermittent white lights, and use steady red lights. If more than one lighting alternative is available, the alternative that causes the least visual disturbance must be used.

(12) Appearance, Color, and Finish. The exterior surface of any visible components of a wind energy system must be a nonreflective, neutral color. Wind towers and turbines in a wind farm system that are located within one mile of each other must be of uniform design, including tower type, color, number of blades, and direction of blade rotation.

(13) Signs. No wind turbine, tower, building, or other structure associated with a wind energy system may be used to advertise or promote any product or service. No word or graphic representation, other than appropriate warning signs and owner or landowner identification, may be placed on a wind turbine, tower, building, or other structure associated with a wind energy system so as to be visible from any public road.

(14) Noise. The noise generated by the operation of a large wind energy system may not exceed the ambient noise level by more than 5 dB(A) as measured at any point on property adjacent to the parcel on which the large wind energy system is located. The noise level generated by the operation of a large wind energy system will be determined during the investigation of a noise complaint by comparing the sound level measured when the wind generator blades are rotating to the sound level measured when the wind generator blades are stopped.

(15) Flicker or Shadow Flicker. The owner of a large wind system must take such reasonable steps as are necessary to prevent, mitigate, and eliminate shadow flicker on any occupied structure on a nonparticipating property.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism, animal rights

June 6, 2006

Negroponte comes to Vermont

Yesterday, Director of Total Information Awareness John Negroponte spoke at his son's high school graduation from the supposedly prestigious St. Johnsbury Academy in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Needless to say, this offended many people, including many who protested at the ceremony (and several who were arrested) (though the local peace & justice center decided not to disturb anyone about it). Many remember the man as a central figure -- while "proconsul" to Honduras in the early 1980s -- to the U.S.'s illegal support of the "Contras" to fight a brutal war against the socialist Sandinista government in Nicaragua. The Academy's headcase, er, headmaster, said that it never occurred to him that the invitation would have political overtones: just another dad at his son's graduation. The best letter so far in the local (Negroponte-backing) rag has been the following.
In August of 1990, it was my great pleasure and privilege to drive a used 4-wheel-drive Toyota pickup truck to a farmer's co-op in San Juan de Limay, Nicaragua, the sister co-op of Hardwick's Buffalo Mountain Co-op and the Vermont Northern Growers Co-op in East Hardwick. We purchased the pick-up and packed it with seeds, clothes and tools that had been purchased after a year of fund-raising by our co-ops. The truck and supplies were a much-needed boost to our sister co-op, which had been suffering along with much of the rest of the Nicaraguan economy due to the illegal, covert and immoral war raged on the Nicaraguan people by our government.

This war was directed largely by John Negroponte, then-U.S. ambassador to Honduras. The small village of San Juan de Limay lies just south of the Honduran border, and was subject to multiple attacks from the United States-funded Contras. The farmer members of our sister co-op farmed about 350 acres of land -- raised a few cows, some chickens, beans and corn, barely eking out a living on rocky hillsides with either too much or too little rain, depending on the season.

One of the first people I was introduced to when I arrived, was the 7-year-old daughter of the co-op baseball team's former pitcher. He had been killed by Contras a year and a half earlier while serving on a community defense brigade in the nearby mountains. I'm sorry to say that I don't remember that little girl's name. I do remember her beautiful brown eyes and the sadness I saw in them every now and then, and I remember her father's name; Hector Orlando Gomez. The co-op members were doing the best they could to provide for her, her younger brother and sister and their mother, who helped with weeding and harvesting when she was able to. They lived in a small house with a dirt floor, clay walls and a tile on stick roof. In spite of that dirt floor, their clothes, which their mother washed in the river next to the village, were always immaculate.

I was told that the children's mother was struggling to keep her kids in school altho it was a hardship to buy the school books and paper and pay the small fee for tuition. Judging by the determination that I saw in her eyes, I imagine, I hope, that her daughter was able to complete her schooling and graduate along with the other kids in her class fortunate enough to still have a father. I do know that if she did, her father was not there to smile proudly and applaud loudly when she rose to receive her diploma -- he was not there to be able to give a speech about the lessons to be learned from his life as a hard-working and struggling farmer who still took the time to play baseball with his neighbors. He was not there to wipe away the tears from his wife's eyes of both pride in her daughter and sadness that he was not there to celebrate her success.

We are asked why we wish to interfere with or obstruct this Negroponte family moment between father and son -- his opportunity to bless the graduating class with his gathered truths. The truth I believe is that John Negroponte, and his fellows have been wantonly destroying families for decades -- in Nicaragua, in Iraq, they are responsible for some of the most dishonest and inhumane warfare against members of our human family in recent generations. His is a legacy of death, destruction, short-sighted corporate profiteering, and a burgeoning hatred for our American government. We cannot remain silent while his accomplishments are foolishly and obscenely lauded. It is our duty to bear witness to and denounce the crimes committed in our names. It is our duty to demand a foreign policy and world order with love, families and common decency at its core, not just for the privileged few, but for the many, the humble, the powerful all of us.

Hector Orlando Gomez, a loving father and husband, a good farmer and an even better pitcher -- Presente!

Robin Cappuccino
West Wheelock

Vermont, anarchism

No buyers for wind energy

People often ask, if wind power is so problematic and expensive (not to mention ecologically destructive in its own right), why do so many utilities support it? The simple fact is that they only support it where the law requires them to.

Australia has met a mandate of 2% of the electricity supply from renewable sources, and now, without an increase in the target, utilities are showing no interest in buying more wind energy.

The following is from "Wind farms shelved" in the May 31 Northern Argus.
Millions of dollars worth of Mid North wind farm projects are being shelved because the Australian Government is holding off boosting renewable energy targets.

Only one proposal is likely to break ground by the end of the year and that's because it has its own "built-in" consumer, having been optioned by Australian Gas and Light.

Other wind farms have not been so lucky and have suspended construction until Canberra's politicians extend the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target scheme.

The targets, set by the Federal Government, call for energy suppliers to source two percent of their power from renewable sources.

This target has, however, just about been met leaving wind farm companies with no inducement to continue with their projects as they cannot guarantee the sale of their energy.

An $180 million wind farm at Waterloo ... has been suspended. ...

A proposal by Wind Prospect for a 170MW wind farm of 85 turbines in the Barunga and Hummocks Ranges, west of Snowtown, ... has also stalled. ...

Of the four proposed projects in the Mid North, only the one at Hallett appears to be moving forward.
wind power, wind energy, wind farms

June 5, 2006

Wind is more big industry, not alternative

This ad for insurance and reinsurance company "XL Capital" appeared on the back page of the Wall Street Journal's front section on June 2.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism

June 4, 2006


The New York Times and the Boston Globe each contained an item that immediately suggested an obvious reply.

Times: '"I like George Bush because he is God fearing," said Delia Randall, 22, of Provo, Utah.' He has very good reason to be.

Globe: 'Killing of civilians in Iraq highlights stress on troops.' Not to mention the stress on Iraqi civilians.

Wind farm requires purchase of extra energy

Surprise: Reality doesn't live up to the sales claims. From the Helena (Mont.) Independent Record, June 4, 2006:
New Judith Gap wind farm causing headaches on the grid

The clean, green power from the Judith Gap Wind Farm that debuted last fall has been more intermittent than anticipated.

And that is causing problems for NorthWestern Energy, the utility that must balance supply and demand on its transmission lines. ...

In April, the Western Electricity Coordinating Council [WECC] in Salt Lake City sent a letter to NorthWestern saying that its transmission system may have fallen 3 percent short of its minimum control performance standards of 90 percent. ...

"This is unconfirmed and ordinarily this information isn't even made public," he said. ...

Joel Schroeder worked as project manager for Invenergy Wind LLC's Judith Gap project, the largest of the company's four wind farms. Reached at company headquarters in Chicago, Schroeder said wind is by nature intermittent.

"If you have a storm move in and the wind picks up, that will boost production, or if you have the opposite and the wind drops out, you'll lose power," Schroeder said. "It's completely dependent upon the wind."

Everyone knows wind power is variable and that other backup power from coal or hydro or natural gas is needed to fill in the calm times.

However, the hourly ups and downs are harder to manage than expected, [vice president of wholesale operations at NorthWestern Energy David] Gates said.

"The wind's blowing and in that hour, the output goes from 20 MW (megawatts) to 80 MW," he said. "The average is 50 MW, but as control operator we have to manage that move from 20 to 80 MW (on the transmission lines)." ...

You can store water behind a dam. But you cannot store electricity, and that fact creates lots of challenges for delivering power and pricing power.

Engineers may have more elegant explanations, but you can think of a power transmission line as a teeter-totter.

To keep the board level, the supply of power sitting on one side must balance the demand sitting on the other side.

When there is too much supply, the utility has to sell power right now. When demand outweighs supply, the utility must buy more power right now.

Long-range power contracts that run for years are relatively inexpensive. But, like shopping at a convenience store, buying power on the spot market costs more, often far more.

So variability at the Judith Gap project is costing NorthWestern's consumers more, they just don't know how much yet.

... On May 7, more than 30 energy developers, power company representatives and rural electric cooperative executives met in Helena with Gov. Brian Schweitzer's staff to discuss Montana's energy future.

One topic was how to build more wind farms, yet keep the transmission lines balanced.

Dave Wheelihan, chief executive of the Montana Electric Cooperatives Association, said the gist of that part of the conversation was that NorthWestern has had to buy more short-term power than expected to balance Judith Gap.

"You can go out and contract for it, but the pricing will be interesting," Wheelihan said.

He said the utility has purchased another 15 megawatts of incremental power from Avista Energy to balance the load. ...
wind power, wind energy, wind farms

June 3, 2006

Wind turbine burns 900 acres

A wind turbine in California caused the Tehachapi area's first large-scale fire of the season last Friday (May 26), according to a June 2 report from the Tehachapi News.

A malfunction in the wind turbine started a fire in the machine, and burning debris fell and caught surrounding brush and grass, eventually burning about 900 acres in Oak Creek Pass before it was brought under control, which took two days and 241 firefighters.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism

June 2, 2006

"Houses for Weekend Cooks"

Featured in today's New York Times "Escapes" section, page D4: "Houses for Weekend Cooks":
WHERE Kirby, Vt. [near Burke]
WHAT 3-bedroom house
HOW MUCH $285,000

Built-in hoosiers, exposed beams with pot racks and a wood-burning cook stove exist side by side with more modern amenities in the kitchen of this 1,800-square-foor renovated farmhouse [built in the 1850s]. It has one bathroom, original wood floors and covered porch. The property is 31 acres in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont with views from Camel's Hump to Willoughby Gap. The property includes established herb and vegetable gardens, a barn and a two-car garage. Agent: Annette Dalley, Peter D. Watson Agency, 802-467-3939; www.northernvtrealestate.com.


June 1, 2006

Model wind energy ordinance (1)

From the Town Code of the Town of Malone (N.Y.) (enacted May 24, 2006, by unanimous vote):

Wind Energy Facilities

Article I

§ 80–2. Purpose. ... to promote the effective and efficient use of the Town's wind energy resource through wind energy conversion systems (WECS), whithout harming public health and safety, and to avoid jeopardizing the welfare of the residents.

§ 80–4. Findings

A. The Town Board of the Town of Malone finds and declares that:

1. ... the potential benefits must be balanced against potential impacts.

2. The generation of electricity from properly sited small wind turbines can be a cost efffective mechanism for reducing on-site electric costs, with a minimum of environmental impacts.

3. Regulation of the siting and installation of wind turbines is necessary for protecting the health, safety, and welfare of neighboring property owners and the general public.

4. Large-scale multiple-tower Wind Energy Facilities represent significant potential aesthetic impacts because of their large size, lighting, and shadow flicker effects.

5. Installation of large-scalee multiple-tower Wind Energy Facilities can create drainage problems through erosion and lack of sediment control for facility and access road sites and harm farmlands through improper construction methods.

6. Large-scale multiple-tower Wind Energy Facilities may present risks to the property values of adjoining property owners.

7. Large-scale Wind Energy Facilities may be significant sources of noise, which, if unregulated, can negatively impact adjoining properties, particularly in areas of low ambient noise levels.

8. Construction of large-scale multiple-tower Wind Energy Facilities can create traffic problems and damage local roads.

9. If improperly sited, large-scale multiple-tower Wind Energy Facilities can interfere with various types of communications.

10. The Town has many scenic viewsheds which would be negatively impacted by large-scale multiple-tower Wind Energy Facilities.

§ 80–5. Permits Required

B. No WECS other than a Small WECS shall be constructed, reconstructed, modified, or operated in the Town of Malone. No Wind Measurement Tower shall be constructed, reconstructed, modified, or operated in the Town of Malone, except in conjunction with and as part of an application for a Small WECS.

E. Exemptions. No permit or other approval shall be required under this Chapter for WECS utilized solely for agricultural operations in a state or county agricultural district, as long as the facility is set back at least one and a half times its total height from a property line and does not exceed 120 feet in [total] height.

G. Notwithstanding the requirements of the Section, replacement in kind or modification of a Small WECS may occur without Town Board approval when there will be: (1) no increase in total height; (2) no change in the location of the Small WECS; (3) no additional lighting or change in facility color; and (4) no increase in noise produced by the Small WECS.

Article III. Miscellaneous

§ 80–14. Variances

B. If (1) a court of competent jurisdiction orders the Zoning Board of Appeals to consider a use variance for any Wind Energy Facility other than a Small WECS ... or (2) the prohibition on any Wind Energy Facility other than a Small WECS is invalidated, no Wind Energy Facility shall be allowed except upon issuance of a Special Use Permit ... which shall require a Decommissioning Plan and Removal Bond, a Public Improvement Bond to protect public roads, and compliance with the following minimum setbacks:

a. The statistical sound pressure level generated by a WECS shall not exceed L10-45 dBA [i.e., shall not exceed 45 dBA for more than 6 minutes (10%) of any hour] measured at the nearest off-site dwelling existing at the time of application. If the ambient sound pressure level exceeds 45 dBa, the standard shall be ambient dBA plus 5 dBA.

b. 1,500 feet from the nearest site boundary property line.

c. 1,500 feet from the nearest public road.

d. 1,500 feet from the nearest off-site residence existing at the time of application.

e. One and a half times the total height of the WECS from any non-WECS structure or any above-ground utilities.

f. 250 feet from federal or state-identified wetlands, to protect bird and bat populations. This distance may be adjusted to be greater or less at the discretion of the reviewing body, based on topography, land cover, land uses, and other factors that influence the flight patterns of resident birds.

[Click here for Article II: Small Wind Energy Conversion Systems]

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism

Model wind energy ordinance (2)

From the Town Code of the Town of Malone (N.Y.) (enacted May 24, 2006, by unanimous vote):

Wind Energy Facilities

Article II. Small Wind Energy Conversion Systems [WECS]

§ 80–11. Development Standards

1. A system shall be located on a lot a minimum of one acre in size. However, this requirment can be met by multiple owners submitting a joint application, where the aggregate size of their lots is at leaste one acre.

2. Only one Small WECS (plus, where authorized, a temporary wind measurement tower) per legal lot shall be allowed.

3. Small WECS shall be used primarily to reduce the on-site consumption of utility-provided electricity.

4. Tower heights shall be limited as follows:
a. 65 feet or less on parcels between one and five acres.
b. 80 feet or less on parcels of five or more acres.

5. The maximum turbine power output is limited to 10 KW.

6. The system's tower and blades shall be painted a non-reflective, unobtrusive color that blends the system and its components into the surrounding landscape to the greatest extent possible and incorporate non-reflective surfaces to minimize and visual disruption.

7. The system shall be designed and located in such a manner to minimize adverse visual impacts from public viewing areas (e.g., public parks, roads, trails). Facilities shall not exceed the ridgeline level, where the the ridgeline is defined as the average height of the summer-time vegetation on the parcel.

8. Exterior lighting on any structure associated with the system shall not be allowed except that which is specifically required by the Federal Aviation Administration.

9. All on-site electrical wires associated with the system shall be installed underground except for "tie-ins" to a public utility company and public utility company transmission poles, towers, and lines.

10. The system shall be operated such that no disruptive electromagnetic interference is caused. If it has been demonstrated that a system is causing harmful interference, the system operator shall promptyl mitigate the harmful interference or cease operation of the system.

11. At least one sign shall be posted on the tower at a height of five feet warning of electrical shock or high voltage and harm from revolving machinery. No brand names, logo, or advertising shall be placed or painted on the tower, rotor, generator, or tail vane where it would be visible from the ground ...

14. Construction of on-site access roadways shall be minimized. Temporary access roads utilized for initial instllation shall be re-graded and re-vegetated to the pre-existing natural condition after completion of installation.

§ 80–12. Standards

1. Setback requirements. A Small WECS shall not be located closer to a property line than one and a half times the total height of the facility.

2. Noise. Except during short-term events including utility outages and severe wind storms, a Small WECS shall be designed, installed, and operated so that noise generated by the system shall not exceed [L10-]50 decibels (dBA), as measured by an unweighted meter at the closest property line.

§ 80–13. Abandonment of Use

A. A Small WECS which is not used for twelve (12) successive months shall be deemed abandoned and shall be dismantled and removed from the property within 24 additional months at the expense of the property owner.

B. All Small WECS shall be maintained in good condition and in accordance with all requirements of this section.

[Click here for Articles I (Findings and Permits Required) and III (Variances)]

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism