Archive for the ‘Fox Island Electric Coop’ Category

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) (more…)

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RFK Jr.: Wind plants are gas plants

August 19, 2014

Some wind enthusiasts are still convinced embracing three wind turbines on Vinalhaven is doing something “good”. But “wind plants are gas plants”, says Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and to understand why, listen or pick up at 2:15 min.

Fox Islands Wind Neighbors final brief to Maine Law Court

August 6, 2014

FIWN Brief Part 1

FIWN Brief Part 2

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
tturkel@pressherald.com | @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? (more…)

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.

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

April 18, 2014

http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/23/neighbors-win-court-round-over-wind-farm-noise/

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.”

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. (more…)

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

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 … (more…)