Correspondence with FIEC from a wind turbine neighbor

The following correspondence was submitted to Chip Farrington, FIEC manager, recently by a wind turbine neighbor. From reading the most recent communications to ratepayers, the FIEC strategy seems to be an effort to short-circuit a public nuisance lawsuit, by attempting to lay down a trail of misinformation that will itself become a subject of argument and money pit for attorneys. Given the record of Pierce Atwood and other major Maine law firms hired to impose the most burdensome and costly obstacles for affected citizens, this is no surprise.

Hello Chip.

I had some questions and thoughts I wanted to share with you.

The Recent “Update”

First, I wondered about the recent “update” (included in the most recent Fox Island Electric Coop monthly bill to ratepayers) which states that the FIWN neighbors petitioned for no updates at all! It says: “In the second proceeding, the attorney for the group of 13 Cooperative members, some neighbors to the wind project and some not, filed a complaint against the Cooperative last May with the MPUC which objected to the content of the Cooperatives monthly updates and asked the MPUC to prevent further updates.” This is quite wrong! Here is the actual wording of the complaint. Please note the last part which was omitted.

“The Aggrieved Parties ask the Maine Public Utilities Commission to sanction responsible officials of FIEC and FIW for this abuse and issue an order preventing any future “Updates” or similar communications having the purpose or effect of intimidating efforts by the Aggrieved Parties to protect their health and welfare and their property values.

In the current Update, you abridged this quote and took it out of context. This changes the meaning of the entire request and has the ultimate effect of actually “intimidating efforts by the aggrieved parties…” Indeed this omission is exactly what the neighbors were complaining about (I assume that you are responsible for its content…if not, who is and who approves it?).

This simply paints us as filing frivolous complaints and sets us up for further harassment. I would expect that you would include the full content in your next update with an apology.

The Trailing Edge Technology

You might also add in your next update that anything less than 5 decibels, according to most acoustical research, is indiscernible by the human ear. George alluded to this fact in his recent presentation during the FIEC annual meeting. No surprises here, so please do not raise expectations that this had made any major difference.

You add that you have had many reports from people who have listened to the turbines that the sound levels are noticeably lowered. It is curious that you seem not to have talked to anyone who has been actively bothered by the noise and whom you are trying to appease. I would suggest that you do so and reflect that in a new update. Personally, we find that the noise levels have not been reduced that much, although in moderate winds the whump-whump seems to be much less. That is a positive, but in no way a sufficient enough reduction in the noise level to allow us to enjoy our home as initially promised.

Current Electrical Rates

On our bill, we find that there is an “MPUC adjustment.” What is that? Does this adjustment refer to the legal and consulting fees incurred by FIW in challenging the DEP’s assessment that the turbines were running out of compliance?

Where does 13.679 cents per KWH for the energy costs come from in our most recent invoice? Representatives from FIW and FIEC have repeatedly said in public that the rate from the windmills would be closer to 6 cents and that power purchased over the grid is around that same amount. Why isn’t this discrepancy explained in your update? Is it not true that we are paying more for energy than we otherwise would have without the turbines? If so, by how much?

Pierce Atwood Suggestion

In a recent response to the pending matter at the Maine Superior court, your own attorneys from Pierce Atwood suggest that FIWN should sue for nuisance.

“… like any other land owner and as to any other project, small or large scale, nothing would foreclose Petitioners from suing for nuisance—if they had reasonable grounds for so complaining under established law.”

While no neighbors have chosen to litigate at all with FIW or FIEC, do you think we should consider your attorney’s advice? After being accused repeatedly at public meetings for proceeding with litigation against FIEC/FIW and told that this is the reason that FIW refuses to speak with the aggrieved neighbors, it is surprising that your attorneys should suggest that we follow that route for resolution! Do you agree with their advice?

Misguided Optimism

Finally, I would suggest that the optimism you express to being “close to the end of a long and difficult conflict” is misguided. I would suggest that it is just beginning. We have tried to talk directly and then tackled the regulatory route. Now would be a good time to actually talk to those who are aggrieved (through mediator or attorneys, or with us directly) to find out what our relatively modest concerns are and to reach a settlement. This entire over-reactionary process has been a losing proposition for everyone when it need not have been. It is time to put matters on a course for reaching a win-win solution.

I look forward to the courtesy of your response to these issues.

David

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