Archive for the ‘Maine legislature’ Category

Excellent analysis of why a public policy response is needed for enforcing wind turbine noise standards: from a former Lt. Gov. of Vermont, Brian Dubie

October 7, 2015

Wind Turbine Noise: What you can’t hear can harm you.
by BRIAN DUBIE on October 6, 2015 at 9:33pm

Wind Turbine Noise: What you can’t hear can harm you.

What do you think of when you think of an industrial wind project? Wind developers want you to think of free, green electricity. People who live near industrial wind turbines think of noise. Let’s see why.

An Industrial Wind project in Swanton proposes to install seven 499-foot tall wind turbines along 6,000 feet of Rocky Ridge (elevation 323 feet). We recently learned that the developer of this proposed project plans to use Chinese made, Gold Wind 2.5mw turbines. The Chinese manufacturer Gold Wind http://www.goldwindamerica.comdoes not even list the noise rating of this turbines. Hiding a noise rating from the public is bad omen for proper siting for an industrial wind turbine. Let’s assume that the developer will use a GE 2.75-120 Wind Turbine. At 475 feet, it is slightly smaller than the developer’s Swanton turbines. GE says a single one of their 475-foot monsters can produce 106 dBA of noise. Scaling up to seven turbines would increase that noise to 109 dBA. (Noise is measured as pressure on a scale that is logarithmic, so sometimes the numbers are difficult to understand, but 109 dBA is loud. For comparison, my chain saw is rated at 109 dBA. I wear ear protection when I use it.)

So, when you think of industrial wind turbines on a ridge line, envision an airport with a line of airplanes that are holding for take-off. The airplanes are powered by chainsaw engines that have run up their engines to full power. But, unlike planes at an airport, the turbines never take off. Now, imagine this at 2am in the morning.

Some people will say wind turbines are not that noisy. Well that depends on how far from the turbines (chainsaws) and how many turbines (chainsaws) there are. Sound attenuates over distance. The further you are from the turbines (chainsaws) the more the noise attenuates and thus the quieter the sound is. Noise attenuation is also dependent on many topographical and meteorological factors. For example if you are downwind from the turbines (chainsaws) the noise is greater. If the turbines (chainsaws) are located on high ground, the noise carries farther. (more…)

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From Friends of Maine Mountains: 20 Facts About Wind Power … Why “Spin, Baby, Spin” Is Nonsense

September 20, 2015

Friends of Maine’s Mountains  284 Main St., Ste. 200  Wilton, ME  04294
The Facts about Wind Energy Development in Maine

(Friends of Maine’s Mountains is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, tax-exempt organization with IRS 501(c)3 status. Visit us on-line at http://www.friendsofmainesmountains.com or e-mail to info@friendsofmainesmountains.com.)

“If CO2 is the problem, wind power is not the solution.”

“EVERY operating, multi-turbine, wind facility in Maine that has been sited near people has significant, unresolved disputes over noise and shadow flicker. Continuing to site wind turbines using the same standards that have caused conflict assures that the problems will grow in number.”

When asked if they think wind-generated electricity is good, affordable, green, useful, and necessary most people will say ”Yes, of course.” But the fact is, none of these things have ever been proven. Wind- generated electricity has been effectively shielded from scrutiny by marketing and lobbying, with no obligation to verify industry claims. Wind-generated electricity has high impact and low benefit to Maine’s economy and environment. Following are 20 truths the wind industry does not want you to know, 20 reasons to take a closer look.

(more…)

Wind Power: Not Even Close to a Panacea for Energy Problems But It Sure Sucks Up A Lot Of Oxygen

September 16, 2015

CONTRIBUTORS
What New England’s foolhardy, clean energy policy looks like
The Oakfield Wind Project is now complete. A total of 48 turbines have been erected and are now producing electricity for SunEdison Inc.
By Chris O’Neil, Special to the Bangor Daily News
Posted Sept. 14, 2015, at 1:32 p.m.

Last Tuesday, Sept. 8, the New England electricity grid system operator (ISO-NE) had a terrible day. What played out Tuesday (and dozens of other days, especially in summer and winter) is a glaring example of our feel-good energy policies leading to catastrophic results. (more…)

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. (more…)

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
By: NAOMI SCHALIT, SENIOR REPORTER ©MAINE CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEREST REPORTING | 8 HOURS AGO

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. (more…)

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…)

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.

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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”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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 … (more…)

Wind energy foes say Maine lawmakers don’t give them a fair hearing

December 19, 2013

Ain’t it the truth: “Over the last four years you have heard hundreds of hours of testimony in this very room, from outraged, pleading, despairing, discouraged, dejected and depressed citizens from every part of Maine who are exposed, or potentially exposed, to the nightmare of industrial wind power,” the group wrote. “Yet you have done nothing at all to respond to their pleas. You act as though the citizens are your servants, not the other way around.”

Bangor Daily News: Wind energy foes say Maine lawmakers don’t give them a fair hearing

By Mario Moretto, BDN Staff
Posted Dec. 18, 2013, at 4:10 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Addressing sharp criticism that lawmakers are hearing a one-sided, pro-development view of wind energy projects in Maine, Sen. John Cleveland, D-Auburn, co-chairman of the Legislature’s Energy Committee, said anti-wind advocates would have their time to weigh in on wind policy.

Cleveland opened Wednesday’s Energy Committee meeting by addressing the myriad emails and phone calls that committee members had received, bashing them for a perceived bias in scheduling speakers for Wednesday’s work session on renewable energy policy and a handful of wind bills carried over from the last session. (more…)

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…)