An Oregon homeowner claims that he moved from his home to escape turbine ‘infrasound’ that caused health problems
POSTED ON AUG 20 2013 BY SCOTT GIBSON
Do wind turbines make people sick? That’s the assertion of an Oregon man who has sued the operator of a 50-turbine wind farm.
An Oregon man has filed a $5 million lawsuit against the operator of a 50-turbine wind farm, claiming that low frequency noise from spinning turbine blades has caused a variety of health problems. Read the rest of this entry »
Wind turbines atop the ridge line of Lowell Mountain in Vermont. The wind farm is owned by Green Mountain Power.
By DIANE CARDWELL
Published: August 14, 2013
The 21 turbines at the Kingdom Community Wind farm in Vermont soar above Lowell Mountain, a testament in steel and fiberglass to the state’s growing use of green energy. Except when they aren’t allowed to spin at their fastest. That has been the case several times in the farm’s short existence, including during the record July heat wave when it could have produced enough much-needed energy to fuel a small town. Instead, the grid system operator held it at times to just one-third of what it could have produced.
Note: On Vinalhaven, the bumper stickers “Spin, baby, spin” with an image of wind turbines sends a tired message. The bumper sticker is as empty of meaning as the FIEC production numbers that appear on ratepayer bills; a monthly reminder to the neighbors of the Fox Islands wind turbines that “spin” is pretty much all that emerges from the closed-loop feedback that suppressed community discussion — unlike places like Falmouth, MA — about the true costs and questions of wind power.
The “spinning” of wind turbines can be measured by kilowatt hours produced but it is meaningless without an analysis of the impact on the electricity grid. A new Wall Street Journal OPED gets to the heart of the matter.
Is wind power helpful to reduction of carbon emissions — as claimed by its advocates — or does it hurt? Because if it hurts, then paying twice as much for electricity — as Vinalhaven ratepayers do — than they would if the turbines had never been built, really hurts. Wind turbine enthusiasts are convinced they have the answer to this question: paying more for electricity through “sustainable” wind shows they are planting the American flag on energy independence. Really? Utility economists know the answer is much more complicated than “spin”.
Through one set of lenses, the neighbors of the Vinalhaven wind turbines are guinea pigs for the experiment of turbine placement where no state authority prevails over local, patriarchal practices of governance. It has turned out to be an extraordinarily costly experiment for neighbors, who are self-funding litigation against the state of Maine; litigation that is vehemently supported by Fox Island Wind and the local electric cooperative.
Through another set of lenses, the wind turbine neighbors are also paying — because they are subject to the miscalculations by the local enthusiasts on placement of the turbines too close to residences — for very important questions related to the stability of the New England electricity grid.
That the answers to those questions are gradually coming into focus — concerning the stop-start nature of wind and absence of technologies to store electricity on a municipal scale — is bitter news to neighbors whose property values, through no fault of their own, is impacted by wind turbines.
Wall Street Journal OPINION
July 29, 2013, 6:52 p.m. ET
Europe’s Renewable Romance Fades
High energy bills and threats of blackouts ended the honeymoon. America, take note.
By DAVID GARMAN AND SAMUEL THERNSTROM
Europe has bet big on wind and solar energy, and many environmental advocates would like America to follow. Wind and solar have a role in the U.S. energy economy, but we would be wise to see the cautionary tale in the European experience and adjust our plans accordingly. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the Andy Revkin blog in the Times, here:
The NY Times blog by Andy Revkin, DOT EARTH, features a commentary on a recent interview by former NASA climate change scientist James Hansen, “Jim Hansen Presses the Climate Case for Nuclear Energy”.
“I encourage you to watch this short video interview with climate scientist and campaigner James E. Hansen, posted by the folks who brought you “Pandora’s Promise,” the flawed but valuable film arguing for a substantial role for nuclear energy in sustaining human progress without disrupting the climate.
Those preferring text can read a few transcribed excerpts below. Hansen proves himself, as always, somewhat inconvenient for almost everyone.
To me, for example, Hansen’s far too confident about the scale at which nuclear power, particularly the new technologies that he prefers, could be deployed by the middle of this century. But his statements pose a particularly tough challenge for those who embrace his take on the dangers attending an unabated greenhouse-gas buildup but see a fast transition to solar, wind and other renewable energy sources as the solution. Here he reprises the points he made in a 2011 essay, “Baby Lauren and the Kool-Aid“:
Can renewable energies provide all of society’s energy needs in the foreseeable future? It is conceivable in a few places, such as New Zealand and Norway. But suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.
Here are some excerpts, starting with a basic endorsement of nuclear power plants: I think the only hope we have of phasing down emissions and getting to the middle of the century with a much lower level of fossil fuel emissions — which is what we will have to do if we want young people to have a future — we’re going to have to have alternatives and at this time nuclear seems to be the best candidate.
Following a discussion of the lessons from the great earthquake and tsunami that badly damaged Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant, he focuses on more resilient reactor designs:
A Reality Check on a Plan for a Swift Post-Fossil Path for New YorkA Film Presses the Climate, Health and Security Case for Nuclear EnergyCan Wind, Water and Sunlight Power New York by 2050?Kerry Proposes U.S.-India Push on Carbon and Climate’Pandora’s Promise’ Director and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Debate Nuclear Options
But with the new technologies, they are passively safe in the sense that if there is an anomaly like an earthquake or tsunami or both, it will just shut down and they don’t require power to cool them.
He discusses the merits and limits of energy efficiency as a path to lower greenhouse gas emissions:
It’s useful to show that you can have a lifestyle which produce less carbon, but it doesn’t solve the problem. Because if that’s all that happens, even if you convince a thousand people or a million people or a billion people to reduce their emissions what it does is reduce the demand for the fuel, lowers its price and somebody else will burn it.
Here’s what he says about renewable energy:
I think it’s unfortunate that so many environmentalists are just assuming that these renewable energies will be able to satisfy all of our requirements. Renewables are only providing between 1 and 2 percent — the soft renewables. Hydropower provides a significant amount of electricity but that’s limited. The hope that the wind and the sun and geothermal can provide all of our energy is a nice idea but I find it unlikely that that’s possible.
The environmental community is basically asking governments to try to reduce their emissions and asking them to subsidize clean energies. Well, that simply doesn’t work because we don’t get enough energy from the renewables to make a difference. And that then forces any government to approve expanded oil drilling, hydro-fracking to get more gas, mountaintop removal to get coal. We’re not going to turn the lights out. No government, no president or governor is going to turn out the lights. There has to be energy. If renewables aren’t providing it, it’s been fossil fuels.
In the video, Hansen doesn’t discuss his preferred mechanism for propelling a shift away from fossil fuels — a rising fee on carbon-containing fuels that is fully returned to citizens. It’s a strategy that has won him some support in conservative circles. But I don’t see how this mechanism provides the support for the research, development and deployment of new nuclear technologies that he champions in his remarks.
I’ll try to arrange a conversation with him sometime soon.
August 15 NOTE TO READERS: All parties, the neighbors, Maine DEP/ State, and Fox Island Wind, attended judicial mediation in Portland on August 14. According to the rules established by the mediator, there will be no public discussion of the mediation unless a settlement is reached or the mediation fails. Another mediation session will be scheduled in the near future. What follows was posted on July 16.
The only surprise at yesterday’s oral arguments in Maine Superior Court with neighbors … Read the rest of this entry »
(This post originally published April 4th) It is now three years since the three 1.5 megawatt industrial wind turbines changed the lives of nearby Vinalhaven residents. In its December newsletter, the wind turbine operator Fox Islands Wind and Fox Islands Electric Cooperative prepared ratepayers for an appeal of any decision by Maine Superior Court in the favor of neighbors. Oral arguments are anticipated in Augusta later this summer.
1) That the Maine Department of Environmental Protection be directed … Read the rest of this entry »
Portland Free Press investigative report discloses background of Vinalhaven neighbors’ legal battle against Maine DEPJuly 12, 2013
Maine DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho
Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer
NOTE: The lawsuit by neighbors of Vinalhaven wind turbines is moving to oral arguments on July 15 in Kennebec Maine Superior Court. For four years, neighbors have been waging an expensive, protracted struggle around the refusal of DEP to enforce against wind turbine noise violations by the operator, FIW (Fox Islands Wind).
The experience of neighbors squares with facts disclosed by the investigative report in the Portland Press Herald/ Sunday Telegram/ Kennebec Journal. Read the neighbor’s petition, here:
SUNDAY, JUNE 16, 2013
Portland Press Herald/ Maine Sunday Telegram/ Kennebec Journal
June 16, 2013
The lobbyist in the henhouse: Whose interests is Maine’s DEP commissioner serving?
For two years, public servant Patricia Aho has overseen Maine’s environmental protection. But whom does she really serve? A seven-month investigation by the Telegram points to her former corporate clients. Part 1 of a 3-day series.
By Colin Woodard firstname.lastname@example.org
MONDAY: Led by a former chemical industry lobbyist, the Maine DEP has stalled efforts to regulate substances that are potentially harmful to children and to the development of unborn fetuses.
TUESDAY: So-called “product stewardship” regulations – even recycling efforts with industry and bipartisan support – find staunch resistance at the Maine DEP, where a former corporate lobbyist has taken the helm. Read the rest of this entry »
Will Fox Islands Wind do better with compliance noise measuring THIS summer? No, because they are not required to …July 11, 2013
This post was originally published April 4th.
This is taken from the 2012 summer compliance report by Fox Islands Wind, the wind turbine operator on Vinalhaven. During a period of litigation and scrutiny, FIW did not even take care to be sure its noise measurement equipment was recording sound data carefully. It is as though FIW does not even care … AND the state of Maine found no problem with this.