Bangor Daily News: Vinalhaven wind turbine noise features in “Wind dealings in Legislature prove Maine democracy is an illusion”

January 13, 2015

Wind dealings in Legislature prove Maine democracy is an illusion
Bangor Daily News

By Alan Farago, Special to the BDN
Posted Jan. 13, 2015, at 10:16 a.m.

The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting recently published a damning report detailing how easily the Maine Legislature bends to the wind power industry.

In “LD 1750: A study in how special interests get their way in the Maine legislature,” Pine Tree Watchdog reporters detail how Juliet Browne, First Wind’s lawyer, sent former Senate President Justin Alfond suggested text for an amendment relating to a wind power bill. Alfond ultimately adopted all 248 words she supplied, changing nothing.

Neighbors of wind turbines on Vinalhaven have a different story and outcome to tell. In 2013, they proposed a single legislative change, to require that all Maine wind turbines conform to noise limits set by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in 2012; 42 dbA instead of the previous 45 dbA at nighttime.

After a series of public hearings by the Bureau of Environmental Protection, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection lowered wind turbine noise limits slightly. Lobbyists such as Juliet Browne, cited by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, actively opposed and testified against the minimal change.

Turbine noise makes some people very sick. Turbine noise forces some people to abandon their homes and suffer real financial loss. One wind turbine neighbor testified that every night she told her children to say their prayers and then gave them sleeping pills.

The Vinalhaven neighbors’ proposal for the Legislature in 2013, LD 1741, was only 74 words. Not 248. Its purpose: “[to ensure] that reductions in the sound level limits adopted by rule by the Department of Environmental Protection for the routine operation of wind energy developments are applied to previously approved wind energy developments. This bill directs the Board of Environmental Protection to modify an existing license for a wind energy development to implement sound level standards that were adopted by rule subsequent to the approval of the wind energy development.”

All they wanted with those 74 words was not to be treated worse than other Maine neighbors of wind turbines.

In contrast to the legislative carte blanche provided to the wind power industry, Vinalhaven wind turbine neighbors had a single state representative, former Department of Environmental Protection staffer Dennis Keschl, willing to help. Neighbors spent hours in meetings and telephone calls and meetings again, over weeks and months, trying to make sure that the language we proposed was suitable for committee review. They didn’t even make it to first base.

The proposed bill was introduced by Keschl. It then withered and died. Vinalhaven neighbors might be isolated on the island, but they are hardly alone.

In the Maine Center report, “Lexington Township resident [Alan] Michka reflected on how hard it has been for citizens like him to gain traction in the statehouse. Michka said, ‘I will tell you one thing that a legislator said to me, a Democratic legislator. He told me, ‘We don’t want you here. We say we do, we act like we do and we welcome you, but in truth we don’t want you here. In truth you clog up the works and make us feel bad.’”

Legislators ought to try having their home equity, health and quality of life hijacked: see how that feels.

The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting found:

— Wind industry lobbyists and lawyers enjoyed unfettered access to Alfond and his staff before and while the bill made its way through the Legislature.

— Wind industry lawyers and lobbyists provided the text of the bill at Alfond’s invitation.

— Alfond relied on the industry to direct him and his staff as the legislation was written, rewritten and debated.

— Alfond and his staff asked wind industry insiders to help them manage uncooperative Democrats who didn’t like the bill and strategized with them about who should testify in favor of the bill.

When pressured by such disclosures, legislators often resort to the argument that they are just ordinary citizens elected to public office and need industry experts to help frame complicated matters, but dozens of citizen initiatives related to the broader siting issues of wind turbines in Maine suffered the same outcome as the Vinalhaven wind turbine neighbors.

Placed alongside the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, these examples offer insight how democracy in Maine is a shadow government operated by crony capitalists.

Vinalhaven wind turbine neighbors have tried everything to obtain a small measure of fairness, but instead of fairness, they were dealt a lesson like a slap: unless you shovel a lot of money at elections, you don’t get a seat at the table or a shot at protecting your health or property values or civil rights.

Alan Farago lives in Vinalhaven and Coral Gables, Florida. He is president of Friends of the Everglades.

How the wind power lobby gets its way in the Maine Legislature

January 7, 2015

LD 1750: A study in how special interests get their way in the Maine legislature

The industrial wind lobby was not happy.

Its plans to keep building hundreds of wind turbines in rural Maine were threatened by the LePage administration.

During the summer of 2013, the Department of Environmental Protection, run by a LePage appointee, had made things harder for wind developers by putting more requirements into permit applications.

The wind lobby saw the new requirements as illegal and obstructionist from an administration hostile to wind power. And they believed the red tape would slow down — even kill — the expansion plans of their multi-million-dollar industry.

They needed help and by the summer of 2013, they knew where to go: to their friend and supporter Justin Alfond, the president of the Maine Senate. Read the rest of this entry »

21 peer reviewed articles on health and industrial wind turbines

January 5, 2015

Nieuwerust Noise & Bird Watch

Vermont Today: wind turbine neighbors re-settled away from turbine noise

January 3, 2015

The Therrien family outside their former Sheffield home in 2013.
Photo: John Dillon / VPR Photo
Published December 28, 2014
‘This family was out of time’: Sheffield family resettled with help
By Amy ASH Nixon

Luann and Steve Therrien had a busier Christmas than most people this year — and maybe a better one.

After living in the shadow of the 16 industrial turbines at the Sheffield wind site near their modest year-round home, a former camp that has been in Steve’s family since the 1970s, the family has been relocated with help from supporters of the anti-wind cause to a mobile home in Derby.

Over the last three years since the turbines went online, the Therriens — the poster family for the wind movement — say they have been feeling sicker. Read the rest of this entry »

Bangor Daily News: DEP argues court has no say in Vinalhaven wind turbine noise level enforcement

December 10, 2014

DEP argues court has no say in Vinalhaven wind turbine noise level enforcement

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff
Posted Dec. 09, 2014, at 1:13 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 09, 2014, at 2:01 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Department of Environmental Protection argued Tuesday that the state’s highest court has no authority to order the agency to take tougher action to reduce noise levels from wind turbines on Vinalhaven.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments Tuesday on an appeal by the DEP of a Kennebec County judge’s ruling in March that chastised Commissioner Patricia Aho for her role in responding to complaints by Vinalhaven residents about noise from the Fox Islands Electric wind turbines.

Attorney Gerald Reid, who represented the DEP, said Tuesday that state law specifically prohibits judicial review of the enforcement of a final agency rule. Instead, Reid said the wind farm neighbors should have appealed to the Board of Environmental Protection, a citizens’ panel, or filed a nuisance lawsuit against Fox Islands in court. Read the rest of this entry »

Portland Press Herald: Maine’s high court hears appeal over Vinalhaven wind turbine noise

December 10, 2014

Maine’s high court hears appeal over Vinalhaven wind turbine noise
But many of the justices’ questions focus on whether they should rule on Department of Environmental Protection decisions.
BY TUX TURKEL STAFF WRITER | @TuxTurkel | 207-791-6462

PORTLAND — A five-year fight by residents living near the Fox Islands Wind project on Vinalhaven got a high-stakes airing on Tuesday, as the Maine Supreme Judicial Court heard an appeal dealing with state noise regulations for wind turbines.

The residents, organized under a group called Fox Islands Wind Neighbors, were buoyed last spring by a lower court ruling that found the Maine Department of Environmental Protection erred in a decision by its commissioner on how to deal with noise complaints. The neighbors came to the state’s highest court hopeful that they could get the DEP to step up enforcement, and limit turbine operation during certain wind conditions.

Neighbors would like to limit the operation of three wind turbines on Vinalhaven during certain wind conditions in an effort to reduce noise.

Neighbors would like to limit the operation of three wind turbines on Vinalhaven during certain wind conditions in an effort to reduce noise. File photo courtesy Fox Islands Electric Cooperative

But the central issues considered by the justices Tuesday focused on narrower points of law. These included whether the specific DEP actions are subject to judicial review and whether third-party groups such as the neighbors have legal standing to challenge an agency’s action, just because they think it’s not strict enough.

A lawyer representing the neighbors, Rufus Brown, said his clients hope they also can get the DEP to instruct Fox Islands Wind to collect and report data that would allow it to curtail excessive noise in the future.

There’s no way to predict how the court will rule. But in questioning, most of the five justices hearing the case expressed skepticism about whether the judicial branch of government can order an executive agency to beef up its enforcement rules.

The hearing comes five years after the 1,700-member Fox Islands Electric Cooperative switched on its three-turbine community wind project on Vinalhaven, 12 miles out to sea from Rockland.

The $15 million project attracted national attention when it went on line. The largest wind farm on the New England coast, the turbines stand 388 feet from ground to blade tip and are visible from miles away. The project has been praised by renewable-energy advocates as a way for remote communities to get a handle on volatile, rising energy bills. But opponents of large-scale wind development said it was built too close to homes. And neighbors say they suffer at times from repetitive noises and vibrations that disrupt sleep, trigger health problems and erode the quality of island life.

The legal wrangling began in 2010, when complaints from neighbors led the DEP staff to recommend ways for the utility to reduce noise levels during certain wind conditions, in part through better monitoring. But Patty Aho, the incoming DEP commissioner, reversed the staff recommendation and issued a less-stringent compliance order. The neighbors appealed. Last March, a Superior Court judge ruled that Aho “had no rational basis or relevant evidence” to justify her action.

In April, the DEP appealed the Superior Court ruling. Among other things, it questioned whether Aho’s action is subject to judicial review. It also disputed the standing of a third party in a challenge of the DEP enforcement action.

Meanwhile, the electric co-op has accumulated more than $1 million in legal and regulatory expenses. Those costs have been passed on to customers in Vinalhaven and North Haven who use the wind power, blurring the projected financial benefits.

On Tuesday, Gerald Reid, an attorney for the DEP, said the neighbors could have appealed to the Board of Environmental Protection or gone to court with a nuisance complaint, but the judicial remedy they sought through greater DEP enforcement action wasn’t legal.

A core issue in this case is that regulating small-scale projects, such as the one on Vinalhaven, is chiefly a municipal duty. In this instance, the town declined to get involved with the wind turbines. Because there was no municipal land-use decision to appeal, Reid argued, the DEP’s certification of the project isn’t subject to judicial review.

“Can one branch of government tell another branch what to do?” Justice Ellen Gorman asked the petitioners.

Brown, the neighbor’s attorney, said it could, in some circumstances. But citing the separation of powers, Chief Justice Leigh Saufley said “the concept is very challenging” that the judicial branch could tell the executive branch to do more.

After the hearing, Brad Blake, a prominent wind power opponent, said the noise and low-frequency sound waves from industrial wind farms will remain an issue in Maine, regardless of the court decision. He said 40 or so communities have enacted noise ordinances, but that was never an option on Vinalhaven.

“I believe citizens need to have the right to be heard in a court of law, when the quality of their lives is at stake,” Blake said.

On Dec 9th, Maine Law Court to hear our case on wind turbine noise violations … live streaming available

December 4, 2014

It has now been five years since the Vinalhaven (ME) wind turbines were turned on, saddling neighbors with wind turbine noise that often exceeds state noise standards.

On December 9th, at 9:30AM, oral arguments of our case will be heard by the Maine Law Court. (That’s the state supreme court.) You will be able to view the proceedings via streaming. (links, below) Read the rest of this entry »

Neighbors file a reply brief worth reading, to Maine Law Court

September 12, 2014

FIWN Reply Brief

In Law Court, ACLU of Maine and Maine Employment Lawyers Association side with neighbors on our Federal 1983 claim

August 21, 2014

Fox Islands Wind Neighbors final brief to Maine Law Court

August 6, 2014

FIWN Brief Part 1

FIWN Brief Part 2

Michigan: next to wind turbines, one homeowner’s nightmare …

August 3, 2014

From the Economist: Sun, Wind and Drain

July 28, 2014

Free exchange
Sun, wind and drain

As the years go by, bumper sticker (“spin, baby, spin”) enthusiasts of wind power must be scratching their heads about a Vinalhaven turbine project that hasn’t lowered electricity costs. One would hope that reasonable people would consider reasonable evidence like comparing electricity bills. But beyond the bills, even if you don’t mind paying more for wind power, shouldn’t you care whether wind power is reducing carbon emissions or whether supporting wind power is ever going to amount to a solution to the energy crisis?

From the point of view of the neighbors of the wind turbines — who have been objecting for years to the noise exceeding state limits — it is upsetting (putting it mildly) that benefits of wind power as promised don’t exist. Real property, natural quiet and health have been sacrificed for other people’s enthusiasms. Those enthusiasms might be self-satisfying but they don’t have much to do with reality as the Economist points out in the following excellent report:


Wind and solar power are even more expensive than is commonly thought

The Economist, Jul 26th 2014 | From the print edition

SUBSIDIES for renewable energy are one of the most contested areas of public policy. Billions are spent nursing the infant solar- and wind-power industries in the hope that they will one day undercut fossil fuels and drastically reduce the amount of carbon dioxide being put into the atmosphere. The idea seems to be working. Photovoltaic panels have halved in price since 2008 and the capital cost of a solar-power plant—of which panels account for slightly under half—fell by 22% in 2010-13. In a few sunny places, solar power is providing electricity to the grid as cheaply as conventional coal- or gas-fired power plants.

But whereas the cost of a solar panel is easy to calculate, the cost of electricity is harder to assess. It depends not only on the fuel used, but also on the cost of capital (power plants take years to build and last for decades), how much of the time a plant operates, and whether it generates power at times of peak demand. To take account of all this, economists use “levelised costs”—the net present value of all costs (capital and operating) of a generating unit over its life cycle, divided by the number of megawatt-hours of electricity it is expected to supply.

The trouble, as Paul Joskow of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has pointed out, is that levelised costs do not take account of the costs of intermittency.* Wind power is not generated on a calm day, nor solar power at night, so conventional power plants must be kept on standby—but are not included in the levelised cost of renewables. Electricity demand also varies during the day in ways that the supply from wind and solar generation may not match, so even if renewable forms of energy have the same levelised cost as conventional ones, the value of the power they produce may be lower. In short, levelised costs are poor at comparing different forms of power generation. Read the rest of this entry »

Wind Blows Good and Bad on Vinalhaven

July 23, 2014

“If these turbines can’t be run in compliance during all conditions, then they need to be turned down… We hope the Supreme (Judicial) Court decision will point in that direction. … It’s hard for people to acknowledge that a mistake was made.”

Wind blows good and bad on Vinalhaven
Five years on, a landmark project generates power and frustration

BY TUX TURKEL STAFF WRITER | @TuxTurkel | 207-791-6462
VINALHAVEN — Sally and David Wylie are having an addition built onto their island vacation home. A patio door admits views of the woods and water, but the sunny, southern exposure has no windows. That south wall is a foot thick, and stuffed with sound-deadening insulation.

“On a bad day, we can get away from it,” David Wylie said. The Wylies are creating an acoustic cocoon for their new bedroom to get away from the “whomp, whomp, whomp,” the airplane-like drone and the low-frequency resonation that they experience periodically from the three massive wind turbines that are clearly visible from their deck.

Sally and David Wylie of Vinalhaven are building an addition to their home with sound-deadening walls to escape the “whomp, whomp, whomp” generated by turbines at the Fox Islands Wind Project.

“We moved out here for the peace and quiet,” Sally Wylie said. “We didn’t want any of this and we’re very sad.”

Five years ago this November, the residents of Vinalhaven and North Haven became part of an alternative energy experiment that drew national attention. Burdened by high electric rates, they erected New England’s largest coastal wind project, a proud achievement for a small island community, 12 miles out to sea from Rockland.

Today, the Fox Islands Wind Project is the tallest structure in Penobscot Bay. Standing higher than a football field is long, 388 feet from ground to blade tip, the turbines are visible from miles away.

For people who glimpse them on the horizon, for passengers on the ferry between Rockland and Vinalhaven, for neighbors who live in their shadows, the turbines have become a powerful symbol.

But a symbol of what? Read the rest of this entry »

Friends of Maine Mountains: Maine poll exposes softness in wind energy support

May 20, 2014

Please check this home page and blog for the latest news, or subscribe to our RSS feed. Friends of Maine’s Mountains (FMM) is the leading opponent of senseless industrial wind projects that destroy our state’s scenic assets, especially if those projects INCREASE the light bills for working Mainers.

Maine poll exposes softness in wind energy support
May 20, 2014

(Portland, Maine) Answers to questions asked recently by an independent, nonpartisan polling firm indicate that support for building industrial wind turbines in Maine is not as strong as wind power cheerleaders have led policy makers and the public to believe.

Friends of Maine’s Mountains (FMM), a group that opposes industrial wind turbine projects, commissioned Critical Insights of Portland, Maine to ask three questions about wind energy in its semi-annual Tracking Poll. The company completed 601 telephone interviews (including cell phones) with randomly selected voters across the state between April 16th and April 24th, 2014. CLICK HERE for a PDF of the results, which indicate that support for building industrial wind turbines declines appreciably when respondents learn that: Read the rest of this entry »

Bangor Daily News gets it wrong on Vinalhaven electricity rates

May 12, 2014

The following was sent to the Bangor Daily News, by Fox Islands Wind Neighbors after the recent news report that included data on FIEC rates. Our chart is based on the exact numbers provided to all ratepayers by FIEC. If you think the wind turbines are saving you money, check the numbers: the numbers don’t lie.

Image 2

“As neighbors fighting the wind turbine noise on Vinalhaven, we have paid close attention and tried to understand the ways in which ratepayers on the island are being misled about the trend in rates upward.

Often, media reports on the Vinalhaven situation — and wind power in Maine as a general matter — fail to get to the underlying economic / financial data. This is a difficult analysis, I know from experience, but it appears to us that you simply took the Vinalhaven electric utility’s word on the matter of the 5 cents per kilowatt hour. That’s a number, by the way, that taken as a single data point would be impressive to the folks who are lending FIEC the money, but it is not indicative of the rates for the year, and itself is not even accurate (the actual January energy rate was 5.7₵/kwh – closer to 6₵ than the 5₵ stated).

In the article you also say: “Generally, the price for customers is 10 to 11 cents per kilowatt-hour, Farrington said.” That’s certainly better than saying we all paid 5₵/kwh, but the real numbers say even the 11₵/kwh is inaccurate: the actual average energy rate for the last 12 months was 11.5₵/kwh, and for the 2013 year was 11.8₵/kwh, both more than the 11₵/kwh you quote Mr. Farrington as saying.

Because the electric utility has been fairly cagey about what it is charging ratepayers, I would be suspicious about the statement you make “The cooperative was able to sell electricity to ISO for 14 cents per kilowatt-hour during the past winter”. I would be curious if you actually saw the purchase agreement or evidence where ISO/NE paid 14 cents per kilowatt hour for the winter.
This is very tough information for citizens to ferret out.

Still, from our point of view, where there is smoke there is fire and with the Vinalhaven electric utility there is plenty of smoke. We hope you can reassure us that BDN reviewed every data point from its original source — not just one data point — or can explain why.

Robert Bryce testifies before US Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee

May 7, 2014

US wind turbines are killing wildlife … FWS have documented dozens of endangered species kills … “to date the FWS have brought only one prosecution against the wind industry for violating the Endangered Species Act” … “wind turbines are climate-change scarecrows” … “let’s do the math” …

Warren Buffett on Wind Energy

May 7, 2014

“The billionaire was even more explicit about his goal of reducing his company’s tax payments. “I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire’s tax rate,” he said. “For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.” from the Wall Street Journal (May 4, 2014)

(Vinalhaven ratepayers, if they paid attention, would know the industrial turbines don’t make sense, either. Period.)

NY TIMES: Vinalhaven neighbors win court round over wind turbine noise

April 18, 2014

A legal petition aimed at reinstating a state rule for limiting noise at a controversial wind farm in Maine can proceed, a judge ruled on Friday, denying a motion from the farm’s developer, Fox Islands Wind, for dismissal.

Since the farm – three 1.5 megawatt turbines – began operating on the island of Vinalhaven in late 2009, neighbors have complained about the noise from its 123-foot spinning blades, especially at night. After receiving many complaints, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection found in 2010 that the installation had been too noisy on two occasions. In 2011, Fox Islands Wind submitted a new operating procedure to remedy those infractions.

The state agency then drafted a new set of rules, a condition compliance order, that accepted the wind company’s proposal but added a requirement that it actively show it was complying during certain testing periods and to stop operating if it was not.

Then last June, according to Friday’s ruling, Patricia Aho, a deputy environmental commissioner and former lobbyist for the power company’s law firm, took over as acting environmental commissioner. She finalized the new regulations but removed the provision that Fox Islands actively prove its compliance.

The next month, the group of neighbors filed their petition to review that order, saying that it was “politically motivated, arbitrary and capricious, contrary to law, unsupported by substantial evidence, and the product of an abuse of discretion,” Judge Michaela Murphy of Kennebec County Superior Court noted in Friday’s ruling.

The power company then filed a motion to dismiss the petition, saying that the court did not have jurisdiction over the matter. But Judge Murphy found that it did.

Whether or not Ms. Aho’s decision ultimately holds up, she said, its legality or lack thereof “must be argued and considered at a later stage of these proceedings.”

Utility buys out Vermont Wind Turbine Neighbors: Nelsons called “heroes”

April 15, 2014

Wind Opponents Call The Nelsons Heroes, Predict More Buyouts
Robin Smith, Staff Writer, The Caledonian Record, Vermont

Wind opponents from across Vermont reacted to the settlement between Green Mountain Power and Don and Shirley Nelson of Lowell on Monday, calling them heroes.

They said they hope the buyout could spur more as the state begins to realize that industrial wind projects have an impact on human neighbors and they vowed to continue fighting them.

Luann Therrien of Sheffield, who also lives near industrial wind turbines, said she cried for joy when she heard the news that the Nelsons had struck a deal and would be paid for their property. Read the rest of this entry »

Vinalhaven wind turbine neighbors on Vermont counterparts: this sounds familiar

April 2, 2014

COMMENTARY MAR. 12, 2014, 9:40 PM

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Melodie McLane, who is a neighbor of the Georgia Mountain Community Wind project (VT). Read the rest of this entry »

How Does Wind Turbine Noise Affect People?

April 2, 2014

“Avoid wind turbines. Live near your senator” is how one Vinalhaven wind turbine neighbor signs his email correspondence. It is an ironic but accurate point: there is not a single elected official on Vinalhaven or in the state of Maine who lives near or voted for wind turbines to be placed near their homes.

The wind turbine industry is desperately anxious to avoid the costs of noise. As time goes by, data accumulates in support of the key contention by wind turbine neighbors: that the A weighted measurement scale advocated by industry misses the key acoustical component of dramatic health impacts. Read the following peer reviewed report in “Acoustics Today” to understand why.

View this document on Scribd

MPBN: Vinalhaven Plaintiffs Applaud Judge’s Ruling In Their Favor On Wind Turbine Noise Violations

March 18, 2014

Plaintiffs in Vinalhaven Wind Case Applaud Judge’s Ruling
03/14/2014 Reported By: Susan Sharon

Vinalhaven Plaintiffs Applaud Judge’s Ruling
Originally Aired: 3/14/2014 5:30 PMListen

The general manager for a Vinalhaven utility says he and his attorneys are weighing all their options after a Superior Court judge sided this week with plaintiffs in a wind turbine noise complaint case on the Maine island. Judge Michaela Murphy’s decision overturns a 2011 ruling from the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection that the judge said “had no rational basis.” Susan Sharon has more.

The excessive noise complaints were brought by a group of residents on Vinahaven who live near three 1.5-megawatt wind turbines on the island. DEP staff initially recommended that Fox Islands Wind take specific steps to reduce noise from its turbines and undertake monitoring. Read the rest of this entry »

Vinalhaven Electric Rates: They Have Gone Up Since Wind Turbines Were Turned On

March 14, 2014

Vinalhaven Total Electric Rates vs. CMP Energy Rates 2005 to 2013
Source: Fox Islands Electric Co-op (FIEC) Bills on the island and the CMP website


View this document on Scribd

Until Nov. 2009 when the Industrial Wind Turbines were installed, FIEC rates tracked CMP rates as they went up and down. Toward the end of 2008 rates were dropping fast due to downward pressure from the falling price of natural gas.

After the FIW wind turbines were installed, CMP rates stayed low while FIEC rates rose steadily.

The energy rate (without the Transmission & Delivery costs) went from 5.5₵/kwh in Nov. 2009 doubling to over 12.7₵/kwh in Dec. 2013. Transmission and Delivery rates have not changed at 12.9₵/kwh.

Energy rates (without T&D) have more than doubled (up 111%) and Total rates (energy + T&D) are up 32% since Nov. 2009.

Bangor Daily News: Judge chastises Maine DEP commissioner in overturning Vinalhaven wind power decree

March 14, 2014

Judge chastises Maine DEP commissioner in overturning Vinalhaven wind power decree
By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff
Posted March 14, 2014, at 8:15 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A Superior Court judge has overturned a decision by the commissioner of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection concerning noise complaints against a Vinalhaven wind power project, saying the agency head’s action had no rational basis.

Maine Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy’s ruling, issued Monday in Kennebec County Superior Court, criticized DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho for participating in the department’s handling of the Fox Islands Winds case.

Aho had worked for Pierce Atwood LLC before being appointed deputy DEP commissioner and then acting commissioner on June 20, 2011. Pierce Atwood represents Fox Islands Wind. She overrode the DEP staff and an outside consultant’s recommendation 10 days after she became acting commissioner. Read the rest of this entry »

Maine Superior Court rules at last: for Fox Island Wind Neighbors and against state agency Maine DEP charged with enforcing wind turbine noise standards

March 13, 2014

After three years of litigation, a Maine Superior Court decision has finally found in favor of wind turbine neighbors complaining about excessive noise from three nearby 1.5 megawatt GE wind turbines. Although citizens across the United States living near wind turbines are complaining — including lawsuits against wind turbine operators — this is the first court case where a state judge has found against a state agency charged with enforcement; the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

The judge’s decision follows the key claim of the plaintiffs who proved that FIW (Fox Islands Wind) was not complying with the State’s noise limits and that the DEP failed to enforce against the turbine operator or to require compliance. The immediate impact of the court decision is to remand to the state agency and work with neighbors to find an equitable way to measure and enforce against ongoing noise violations.

For years Fox Islands Wind Neighbors has felt betrayed by the DEP for not protecting them by enforcing against excessive wind turbine noise. Falling back on their own resources, neighbors were forced to do noise measurements to state regulatory specifications — often in extraordinary weather conditions — , then engage in a protracted administrative process to clarify for state regulators the deficiencies of antiquated rules; rules never designed to protect people from wind turbine noise. Throughout the lawsuit, the wind turbine operator, FIW (Fox Islands Wind LLC), stonewalled both the state and the neighbors. It failed to produce data and information about the noise from the turbines, thumbing its nose at due process, and when the neighbors proved at their own expense that violations were occurring, the wind turbine operator flexed political muscle to operate the turbines its own way.

The Vinalhaven wind turbines are permitted to operate at 45dbA at night time. In other parts of Maine, after complaints by neighbors and a public hearing process by the state of Maine, noise levels are 42dbA.

This decision is an important step in the neighbors’ long battle that began in late 2009 when the wind project commenced, threatening health and depressing property values. But it is hardly the last word. Fox Islands Electric Coop informed ratepayers (July 2013) that it has already spent more than $800,000 on behalf of the wind turbine operator’s legal troubles with the state.

The judge’s order also notes that that Patricia Aho, who worked for FIW’s law firm, Pierce Atwood, LLC previous to her appointment as Maine DEP commissioner, “… created an enormous amount of mistrust by the Neighbors as to whether their grievances can receive fair treatment by the Commissioner and the Department… Commissioner Aho’s continuing participation in deciding upon operational and complaint protocols could be viewed as antithetical to the common notions of impartiality which Maine citizens understandably expect from decision makers in Maine agencies.”

The wind industry has retreated from poorly sited turbine locations like those on Vinalhaven where wind shear and turbine placement present significantly more noise than predicted in the planning phase of the project. For example, Harvard Business School’s George Baker — former president of FIW and chief promoter of the project — assured neighbors and Maine DEP during initial permitting that turbine noise would be masked by wind rustling leaves. Baker, former Vice President of Renewable Energy for the Island Institute of Rockland, Maine, both minimized and ignored consultants who had warned of likely noise problems. In one Harvard Business School study of the project, Baker took pride in speeding the Vinalhaven project past likely objectors. Not one director of Fox Islands Electric Coop, Fox Islands Wind, or George Baker live within earshot of the Vinalhaven wind turbines.

Around the world communities impacted by wind turbine noise are pleading for lower noise thresholds and, also, for improved acoustic metrics compared to poor standards in effect, today. Fox Islands Wind Neighbors look forward to working with the DEP to formulate protocols that will assure compliance by FIW in the future.

View this document on Scribd

Portland Press Herald: Maine DEP faces court’s ire over Vinalhaven wind turbine noise

March 13, 2014

Judge voids ruling by Maine’s Aho in wind farm case, says it ‘had no rational basis’
Kennebec County Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy overturns Patricia Aho’s decisions in a Vinalhaven case, saying her involvement ‘directly benefited a client of her former employer.’

By Colin Woodard
Staff Writer

Posted: March 13
Updated: Today at 12:22 AM

The court decision adds to criticism that the actions of Patricia Aho, Maine’s environmental chief, frequently benefit her former employer’s clients.

By Colin Woodard
Staff Writer

Patricia Aho, commissioner of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, is the target of renewed criticism over regulatory action that benefited clients of her previous employer, the Pierce Atwood law firm, where she was a longtime industrial lobbyist.

A spokeswoman says some actions by DEP chief Patricia Aho, above, are bound to help ex-clients. 2013 Press Herald file/Carl D. Walsh

Maine Superior Court Judge Michaela Murphy


This time, the incoming fire is from a state judge.

In a ruling issued Monday, Kennebec County Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy overturned a controversial decision that Aho made in June 2011 involving noise violations at a wind farm in Vinalhaven, saying there was “no rational basis or relevant evidence” to support it.

Aho’s decision, which reversed the recommendations of the DEP staff and the state Attorney General’s Office, was the exact outcome sought by Fox Island Wind, which was represented by Pierce Atwood, the state’s largest law firm, where Aho had worked until earlier that year.

Instead of requiring disclosure of detailed monitoring information to enable the staff to develop appropriate protocols, Aho announced that the company would have to address only the exact conditions that existed on the night of July 17-18, 2011, when a documented noise violation had occurred. The DEP did not explain its decision, either publicly or in records the court reviewed. Read the rest of this entry »

23 Texas wind farm hosts sue over noise, nuisance

January 30, 2014

This is a very encouraging development for the besieged neighbors of the Vinalhaven wind turbines …

In what may be an unprecedented move, 23 Texans who host wind turbines on their property have filed suit against two different wind farm developers, claiming that companies “carelessly and negligently failed to adequately disclose the true nature and effects that the wind turbines would have on the community, including the plaintiffs’ homes.”

The plaintiffs host hundreds of turbines on projects developed by Duke Energy and E.ON, and as a Duke spokesman noted, they did consent to the placement of the turbines. However, the lawsuit stresses that the companies told residents the turbines “would not be noisy, would not adversely impact neighboring houses and there would not be any potential health risk.”

This court challenge stands apart from most previous ones … Read the rest of this entry »

Governor LePage is Right: wind farm subsidies are a poor use of government funding

January 28, 2014

Portland Press Herald: Maine Voices
“LePage is right – wind farm subsidies are poor use of government funding
Despite their hype, the massive projects cut neither fossil fuel use nor greenhouse gas emissions”

Mike Bond of Winthrop is an environmental activist and a renewable energy advocate.

WINTHROP — As a lifelong Democrat, environmental activist and renewable energy advocate, I commend Gov. LePage’s recent criticisms of the huge taxpayer-funded industrial wind power scam, which, unless it is stopped, will ruin Maine.

Though initially a proponent of industrial wind, I’ve learned it’s a catastrophe on every level – environmental, fiscal, social and economic.

And now with Maine’s southern neighbors halting industrial wind in their states, they’re paying to build thousands of turbines in Maine, to devastate every magnificent Maine ridge, pinnacle and mountain with howling machines more than 50 stories high, some so tall they’ll be the third-tallest structures in New England.

Industrial wind projects have been clearly proven to slaughter millions of birds and bats, destroy scenic beauty, lower property values and tourism, sicken people and drive them from their homes, increase erosion and raise electric rates. But they make billions in taxpayer-funded subsidies for the investment banks that develop them.

Yet the biggest trouble with industrial wind is it doesn’t lower greenhouse gas emissions or fossil fuel use. Not one molecule. The reason … Read the rest of this entry »

Wind turbine health woes

January 25, 2014

A Falmouth veteran battles wind turbines — and health woes
BOSTON GLOBE, Jan. 24, 2014

FALMOUTH — Barry Funfar is a 67-year-old Vietnam veteran who spent most of his waking moments since retirement a decade ago working with the hundreds of flowers and trees he planted around the Colonial-style house that he built. Gardening was his exercise, therapy, and passion, and his doctors agreed it was beneficial to combat his post traumatic stress disorder.

A Marine, Funfar flew 127 combat missions as a door gunner on Huey helicopters and was awarded seven Air Medals for meritorious service.

Years later, he is battling another enemy: two wind turbines near his home, which he says have ended his gardening, caused him unremitting health problems, and exacerbated the PTSD that has plagued him for decades. Read the rest of this entry »

Vt: Noise, property values fall near wind turbines

January 21, 2014

“That turbine noise and the infrasound has made them so sick they can’t work. They’re on anti-depressants. They’re on sleeping medications. Steve is on motion sickness pills. He often wakes up in the morning throwing up,” said Smith.Noise, property values factor in wind forum discussion.”

The Manchester (VT) Journal
Brandon Canevari – Staff Writer
POSTED: 01/20/2014 03:18:16 PM EST

GRAFTON – About 60 people gathered at the White Church in Grafton for the second in a series of three wind forums, this one focusing largely on the depreciation of the value of properties located near wind projects.

The first forum – which was held last November at the United Church of Christ in Townshend – focused largely on the noise impacts wind projects have had in some nearby areas. One of those was the 19 turbine Hoosac wind project in the town of Florida, Vt. built by Iberdrola Renewables – a company headquartered in Spain – and another was the 24 turbine project built by Iberdrola in Groton, N.H.

Iberdrola Renewables built two test towers (MET towers) in Windham and one in Grafton on land owned by the New Hampshire based Meadowsend Timberlands Limited, which some believe is a precursor to an application for a large scale wind development project in Windham County.

According to a Power Point presentation put together by Mike McCann the owner of McCann Appraisal, LLC, there are 951 dwellings within three miles of the potential tower sites – 500 of which are within 2 miles of the potential site – in the towns of Andover, Athens, Chester, Grafton, Jamaica, Londonderry, Townshend and Windham. Read the rest of this entry »

January 4, 2014

Let the wind subsidy blow away
Congress shouldn’t renew corporate welfare to this politically favored industry
(Stacey Wescott, Chicago Tribune / August 17, 2010)

January 5, 2014

In the early 1990s, with dreams of cheap and clean wind energy ascendant, Congress lavished a generous subsidy on power from the tall, twirling turbines. The wind industry responded, and since then has increased its installed generating capacity 30-fold.

For 20-plus years the subsidy has been intermittent, although not as unreliable as the winds that drive the turbines. The most recent authorization, a 2013 extension tucked into the federal budget deal that avoided the so-called fiscal cliff, expired Dec. 31. Applause, please, for our do-little Congress: What’s known as the wind production tax credit has long outlived any public policy usefulness. Lawmakers now being urged by industry lobbyists to renew the subsidy retroactively instead should let it blow away. Read the rest of this entry »

2013 Year-End Update

December 27, 2013

As 2013 draws to a close, we offer the following update on litigation involving Fox Island Wind Neighbors, Maine DEP and Fox Island Wind. In mid July, oral arguments were heard in Maine Superior Court, almost three years after the original lawsuit was filed by the neighbors.

After the appearance in Maine Superior Court, the neighbors offered to participate in mediation to resolve the lawsuit against Maine DEP for failing to enforce against turbine noise violations by the wind turbine operator, Fox Island Wind.

Finally, after considerable time and effort, Maine DEP and Fox Islands Wind rejected our request for transparent, easily-accessible data from the wind turbines.

The litigation is back before Maine Superior Court. We hope for a decision by the Court by spring time.

We have learned wherever wind turbines are located too close to people and private property, there are complaints by neighbors exactly like ours. We have also learned that some communities are willing to stand behind neighbors who are afflicted.

The neighbors are exploring additional legal options to protect property values, quality of life and health from noise impacts of the turbines.

Wishing you a peaceful Holiday Season …

Public letter regarding Maine Superior Court action and Fox Islands Wind Neighbors

December 11, 2013

(This post originally published April 4th with updates, since) It is now three four years since the three 1.5 megawatt industrial wind turbines changed the lives of nearby Vinalhaven residents. In its 2012 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 took place in Augusta in July 2013.  Following the Court date, the parties agreed to attempt mediation. During mediation, consideration of the case by the Court was suspended. Now that the mediation failed, the Court is taking up the case again.

The final reply brief to the Court details what Fox Islands Wind Neighbors want:

1) That the Maine Department of Environmental Protection be directed … Read the rest of this entry »

Kill Eagles To Save Eagles: Wind Power Advocates… by Robert Bryce

December 9, 2013

NOTE: Horace Hildreth, the sole investor of Fox Island Wind, is also a longtime board member of Maine Audubon. Did the wind turbine company willingly comply with ALL federal regulations for an eagle “taking”? Because if it didn’t, wouldn’t it be a violation of its own mission for Maine Audubon to include on its board an investor who profits from exploiting the Endangered Species Act?


DECEMBER 9, 2013 4:00 AM
‘Green’ Energy Kills Eagles
By Robert Bryce

We have to kill eagles in order to save them.

That’s now the official policy of the U.S. Interior Department. On Friday, the agency announced that it would grant some wind-energy companies permits that will allow them to kill or injure bald and golden eagles for up to 30 years without penalty.

The move is an unprecedented gift to the wind-energy industry, which has been lobbying for the 30-year permit for several years. Shortly after the deal was announced, the wind-energy lobby issued a statement that would make George Orwell proud. An official with the American Wind Energy Association declared that this “is not a program to kill eagles.” It is, he claimed, “about conservation.”

Well then. We can now rest easy. Big Wind is saving eagles by getting permits to kill them. Read the rest of this entry »

Good news for Falmouth: Judge orders limited use of wind turbines

November 22, 2013

Judge orders limited use of Falmouth wind turbines
AP / November 22, 2013

BARNSTABLE, Mass. (AP) — The town of Falmouth was ordered by a judge on Friday to limit the hours two town-owned wind turbines operate after neighbors blamed them for a series of health problems.

Effective immediately, the energy-generating turbines at the Cape Cod town’s wastewater treatment facility are only allowed to operate from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on every day of the week except Sunday, and are not allowed to operate at all on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, Superior Court Judge Christopher Muse wrote in the decision. Read the rest of this entry »

Sound familiar? Wind turbine noise on Cape Cod makes national news

October 21, 2013

‘Wind Turbine Syndrome’ Blamed for Mysterious Symptoms in Cape Cod Town
By SUSAN DONALDSON JAMES | Good Morning America – 17 minutes ago

Good Morning America – ‘Wind Turbine Syndrome’ Blamed for Mysterious Symptoms in Cape Cod Town (ABC News)

Sue Hobart, a bridal florist from Massachusetts, couldn’t understand why she suddenly developed headaches, ringing in her ears, insomnia and dizziness to the point of falling “flat on my face” in the driveway.

“I thought I was just getting older and tired,” said the 57-year-old from Falmouth.

Months earlier, in the summer of 2010, three wind turbines had been erected in her town, one of which runs around the clock, 1,600 feet from her home. Read the rest of this entry »

“Never Stops, Never Stops. Headache. Help.”

September 22, 2013

New York Magazine, Sept 15, 2013. “Some people living in the shadows of wind turbines say they’re making them sick. Almost as upsetting: Their neighbors don’t feel a thing.”

For neighbors of Vinalhaven wind turbines, these are true words. The recent feature story in New York Magazine just scratches the surface. The NY Mag story ends with the writer fleeing, “I was a little relieved to get away.” For nearby property owners on Vinalhaven, there is no getting away; either from the noise or the costs inflicted through no fault of their own. How would you like to live in a sacrifice zone?

“On May 4, 2012, at around 8:30 a.m., air-traffic controller Mark J. Cool put two planes on a collision course over Cape Cod. “Runway 14” is what Cool heard the Coast Guard controller say when he okayed a Falcon jet for takeoff from the airport. “Runway 23” is what the controller actually said. That set the jet directly in the flight path of a twin-prop Cool had just released from another airport. On his radar display, two green splats lurched ever closer as he made a series of frantic radio contacts to set them on a corrected course. Cool’s supervisor and colleagues crowded behind him in a crescent of worry. The planes came within two thirds of a mile and 500 feet of altitude of one another. A few seconds later, they would have crashed.

Cool was immediately taken off duty, and before he could return to the boards, his supervisors flew in a guy from California to counsel him in sleep and stress management.

The cause of his near-fatal mistake, Cool insists, was the 40-story wind turbine a third of a mile behind his home in Falmouth, Massachusetts. For two years, he had been suffering from insomnia and headaches, which left him fatigued, distracted, and stressed out. It wasn’t the turbine’s noise that woke him or made his head hurt; he believes some intangible mechanism was at work, an invisible and inaudible wind turbulence. And it was all he could talk about… Read the rest of this entry »

Wind Turbines Cause Property Values to Plummet

September 17, 2013

Studies Show Land-Based Wind Turbines Cause Property Values to Plummet; Wind Wise Massachusetts Claims Study Showing Otherwise is Misleading
By Wind Wise Massachusetts
Published: Monday, Sep. 16, 2013 – 5:23 am

FALMOUTH, Mass., Sept. 16, 2013 — /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A national study that claims there is “no statistical evidence” that real estate prices near wind turbines are negatively impacted is misleading because it lumps homes close to the turbines with those miles away, according to Wind Wise Massachusetts (WWMA). Read the rest of this entry »

Watch This!

September 1, 2013

“Too Close”: New Fairhaven (MA) documentary echoes Vinalhaven …

The answer: why are Vinalhaven electric rates so high?

June 8, 2013

Why are Fox Island Electric Cooperative’s electric energy rates so high compared with what we were promised? Back in 2008 at the Island Institute’s Sustainable Living Conference, Mr. George Baker, CEO of Fox Islands Wind, said, “If electricity prices go down and stay down, we might kick ourselves for doing this project.” Read the rest of this entry »

Fox Islands Wind Neighbors reply brief in Maine Superior Court

April 4, 2013

The reply brief, filed in Maine Superior Court, rebuts arguments by FIW and the State of Maine.

View this document on Scribd

“How Much Proof Do We Need?” by Malcolm Gladwell

February 25, 2013

Those who are skeptical about the science of noise impacts from industrial wind turbines might watch and listen to this lecture. The desire for proof as an excuse not to do anything …

Read the rest of this entry »

Full brief submitted by Fox Islands Wind Neighbors to Maine Superior Court

January 28, 2013

Last week, attorney Rufus Brown filed a brief on behalf of aggrieved neighbors of the Vinalhaven (ME) wind turbines with Maine Superior Court. The filing represents a summation of the case related to noise from the turbines that has turned the lives of nearby residents upside down.

The full brief is available, here:
Petitioners’ Rule 80C Brief (as filed)

For additional information and background, click this link.

In its December 2012 newsletter to ratepayers, FIW and Fox Islands Electric Cooperative prepared ratepayers … Read the rest of this entry »

James Lovelock, founder of Gaia and Green movement, decries industrial wind turbines

January 28, 2013

To all the environmentalist on Vinalhaven and North Haven who embrace the idea that the public good is served by industrial wind turbines; please read the following Dec. 2012 communication from James Lovelock, founder of the Gaia movement:


“I am an environmentalist and founder member of the Greens but I bow my head in shame at the thought that our original good intentions should have been so misunderstood and misapplied. We never intended a fundamentalist Green movement that rejected all energy sources other than renewable, nor did we expect the Greens to cast aside our priceless ecological heritage because of their failure to understand that the needs of the Earth are not separable from human needs. We need take care that the spinning windmills do not become like the statues on Easter Island, monuments of a failed civilisation.”

Well, those monuments are on North Haven Road.

Sacrifice Zone of Industrial Wind Turbines on Vinalhaven, Maine

October 7, 2012

The following youtube clip was not taken on Vinalhaven but it does demonstrate noise levels affecting the health, peace and quiet, and property values of homeowners in the sacrifice zone of the Fox Islands Wind turbines.

A clear explanation of wind turbine noise and its effects

April 12, 2012

From the website: The Energy Collective, by Willem Post


The von Trapp family came to Vermont, because it reminded them of Austria, where “the hills are alive with the sounds of music”. Those sounds will soon be replaced by the health-damaging infrasound and low frequency noise from 3 MW wind turbines on 2,000-ft high ridgelines, courtesy of GMP/Gaz-Metro-Canada.

GMPs 21 wind turbines of the Lowell Mountain facility will emit various noises, such as:  Read the rest of this entry »

Newsweek: What’s the true cost of wind power?

April 14, 2015

Newsweek Magazine: OPINION
What’s the True Cost of Wind Power?

As consumers, we pay for electricity twice: once through our monthly electricity bill and a second time through taxes that finance massive subsidies for inefficient wind and other energy producers.

Most cost estimates for wind power disregard the heavy burden of these subsidies on U.S. taxpayers. But if Americans realized the full cost of generating energy from wind power, they would be less willing to foot the bill—because it’s more than most people think.

Over the past 35 years, wind energy—which supplies just 2 percent of U.S. electricity—has received $30 billion in federal subsidies and grants. These subsidies shield people from the uncomfortable truth of just how much wind power actually costs and transfer money from average taxpayers to wealthy wind farm owners, many of which are units of foreign companies.

Proponents tend to claim it costs as little as $59 to generate a megawatt-hour of electricity from wind. In reality, the true price tag is more than two and a half times that. Read the rest of this entry »


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