Cohocton Wind Watch: February 2010
Cohocton Wind Watch is a community citizen organization dedicated to preserve the public safety, property values, economic viability, environmental integrity and quality of life in Cohocton, NY and in surrounding townships. Neighbors committed to public service in order to achieve a reasonable vision for a Finger Lakes region worthy of future generations.


READ about the FIRST WIND Connection to the Obama Administration

Industrial Wind and the Wall Street Cap and Trade Fraud




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Sunday, February 28, 2010

US and NY officials reward Iberdrola of Spain at the expense of US taxpayers, job seekers, and electric customers

Friday, February 26, 2010

Coalition Attack 1

ENERGY: Huffing and puffing over wind power

Did the federal government, as some have said, give millions of dollars in stimulus funds to a non-producing wind farm in the Southern Tier town of Cohocton? Not exactly.

Cohocton Wind is a 50-turbine project with a total 125-megawatt generation capacity - the potential to power 50,000 homes, say officials with First Wind, Cohocton Wind's parent company. In September, the project was awarded $74.6 million in federal stimulus funds from the US Departments of Energy and Treasury - part of a large block of funding meant to encourage renewable energy development nationwide.

That grant's come under protest, however, by Congress member Eric Massa, who wrote the president to ask that the funding be revoked.

"We should not be rewarding anything, let alone cash grants, to companies like this that have abused the public trust and created such a toxic atmosphere in our region on the topic of wind power," Massa wrote.

The project's been plagued by controversy, including lawsuits and an attorney general's office investigation into First Wind and other wind power development companies. Since the project came online in January, it's been dogged by questions about what it's actually producing electricity-wise - lately that's been one of the most persistent issues. Massa made the claim in his letter, which he sent in September, that the project wasn't producing any power, information he said he received from the organization that operates New York's power grid.

"Nobody knows what they produce or what they don't produce," Massa said in an interview last week. "They demand the privacy of a private corporation and the subsidies of a public utility."

But John Lamontagne, a First Wind spokesperson, says the turbines produced 133,370 megawatt hours of electricity from when they came online in January, to the end of September. That's enough energy to power 1,200 homes with average monthly electricity consumption.

The wind farm hasn't produced the amount of energy the company would like, but it's had some maintenance issues involving gears and blades, Lamontagne says. The same issues plagued the company's Steel Winds development in Lackawanna, near Buffalo.

"The project hasn't been at 100 percent," he says.

The New York Independent Systems Operator, the body that operates the state's power grid, issues a yearly report detailing the amount of electricity produced by the state's individual power plants. Cohocton Wind's status as a producer was not included in this year's report, because the farm only came online in January. It should be included in next year's report, however. Calls to the ISO were not returned by this paper's deadline.

Massa's comments illustrate just one aspect of the ongoing feud between wind farm critics and developers. Critics say that wind companies oversell the turbines' performance and play down potential drawbacks such as noise, visual impact, and an intermittent electric supply. Wind developers say the turbines are vital clean energy generators that will help the US reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and that they serve as an economic benefit to the communities they're in.

The federal stimulus money serves as an incentive to develop wind farms, which is exactly what the government intended. But these recent grants -about $475 million went out to renewable energy projects across the country - replaced tax credits. It's a swap of sorts - the companies get upfront funding and agree to forgo the tax credits in future years. The idea was to create upfront funding for companies that, thanks to the economy, were having trouble getting financing, say statements from the US Departments of Energy and Treasury.

The stimulus money came with no restrictions on how it can be used - whether it's to finish an uncompleted project, to add on to an existing project, or to pay back investors. In Cohocton Wind's case the project was already finished by January of this year.

Massa said he was told initially that First Wind was going to use the money for repairs to its wind generators, and that the parts would come from overseas - and that would violate the Buy American clause of the stimulus act, he said.� But First Wind's Lamontagne says the money might be reinvested in the development of other renewable projects.

"We have no clue where the money's going," Massa said. "We have no way of knowing. They're under no obligation to tell anyone where the taxpayer money is going."

Massa said that his plea to revoke Cohocton Wind's stimulus funding has gone unheeded. The check's been cut, he said, and while he'd like to see the action reversed, he doesn't expect that will happen.

And he doesn't have much faith in the wind companies operating in the Southern Tier: not just First Wind, but Ecogen, and others as well.

First Wind, formerly known as UPC, was one of a handful of wind power companies operating in New York that was investigated by the state attorney general. The office wanted to probe allegations that wind company officials improperly sought land-use agreements, and whether public officials were given improper benefits to influence official actions.

The investigation resulted in a code of conduct, developed by the AG and agreed to by the wind companies. First Wind was one of the initial adopters. The code prohibited wind companies from providing gifts or benefits to municipal officials or their families, and required lease agreement disclosures.

Massa, however, said that some of these companies are already violating the spirit, if not the letter of the code. Ecogen, for example, is suing the Towns of Prattsburgh and Italy, claiming that both town boards have prevented the company from moving forward with proposed wind power projects.

"They have millions and millions of dollars to spend on attorneys and they know these small towns don't have any money at all," Massa said. "What they do is they just go in and overrun the ability of the community to defend itself."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ecogen's New Prattsburgh Lawsuit

How stimulus saved renewable energy

On a mountain top 80 miles northeast of Bangor, Maine, in country where houses and gravel pits are mere pinpricks on a map green with forest, Paul Gaynor is making stimulus work.

Gaynor, chief executive of First Wind, is using $40 million in federal funds to help build a wind farm that will produce enough power for 13,000 homes and has created 200construction jobs.

Without stimulus, First Wind's project -- and most renewable energy projects across the country -- may not have happened.

"To us, it's been essential to get through the nuclear winter of financing ability," Gaynor said, referring to the dark days of early 2009 right after the financial collapse. "The recovery act was the bridge that got us from a broken market to one where projects actually get done."

Because of the way tax incentives worked prior to stimulus, few industries were more dependent on Wall Street profits than renewable energy.

Pre-stimulus, renewable energy developments were funded largely by big banks. As an incentive to expand clean, homegrown power, the government offered generous tax credits.

The credit wasn't limited to just big banks, said Ethan Zindler, head of North American research at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a firm that tracks renewable energy investments. But the banks had the money and understood the rules, so they were by far the biggest financiers.

But tax credits only work when you're paying taxes. When Wall Street profits dried up and their tax bill fell, almost all funding for new renewable energy froze up.

"The market for financing large-scale power projects collapsed," said Zindler. "Stimulus fixed that."

Stimulus fixed it by changing the tax credit to an outright government grant worth roughly the same amount.

There is no limit to the amount that can be spent under the grant program, although it is set to expire at the end of this year. The government originally estimated it would cost taxpayers $5 billion.

The Energy Department said that from the start of the program in July though September, the last month for which data is available, over $1 billion has been paid to finance 32 projects nationwide.

It's hard to say for sure how many projects stimulus saved or what the renewable energy industry would look like without it, said Zindler.

In 2009, some 9,000 megawatts of renewable energy was built in this country, he said. The vast majority of that was wind power.

That's just slightly less than 2008, although without stimulus he estimated that maybe only half the 2009 projects would have been built.

Numbers from the American Wind Energy Association suggest that even fewer projects could have gotten built.

In years when Congress let a previous tax credit lapse, investments in wind energy fell by 75%.

That wouldn't bode well for President Obama's stated goal of doubling the country's renewable energy capacity by 2012.

And it wouldn't bode well for companies like First Wind, or anyone hoping to get a job in renewable energy.

The company's Maine project is actually an expansion of an existing $160-million facility right across the street that was completed last year.

First Wind took that tax credit and rolled it right over into the current expansion. Even on a frigid day in January, Gaynor said more than a hundred people are busy on the mountain constructing the new facility.

"It's a beehive of activity up there," he said.

Before 2010 is out, First Wind hopes to construct another 4 to 6 projects -- all partially paid for with stimulus money.

First Wind eyes Bowers Mountain

READ the comments from this article:

On 2/3/10 at 7:52 AM, deanhornblower wrote:
Repeated separate thumbs down will cause comment to be hidden

We might as well just consider this item below a reality:

Maine cedes the Northeast to First Wind

New State to Be Known as Firstwindiana

March 15, 2010 Augusta, Maine. Maine Governor Baldacci signed a historic measure today ceding a huge portion of northeastern Maine to First Wind Holdings. The law, passed as "Emergency" Legislation by the Maine 124th Legislature, creates the new state of Firstwindiana and cements Baldacci's legacy as one of the biggest buffoons to ever occupy the Blaine Mansion.

"This historic bill accomplishes many things", stated Baldacci. "It recognizes all of the hard work of this administration to keep First Wind afloat. I am so anxious to assist this exemplary business that I felt compelled to ram this through as an Emergency rather than wait for my Task Force to recommend it. Besides, it helps solve the financial mess by shifting all those poor towns to this new state and get them off state assistance from Maine. Since most of the elitists I hang out with don't even know this part of Maine existed, it will not be missed"

A ceremony will be held at the Stetson I site near Prentiss to commemorate the creation of Firstwindiana. Festivities include the inauguration of Governor by acclamation Matt Kearns and a 21 turbine salute. Gov. Kearns will promise a Met Tower for every ridge and a TIF for every town in his inaugural address. He is also expected to announce new contracts with China for turbines and with Brazil for blades. The Obama administration has announced $500 million grant to the new state as a good will gesture from American Taxpayers.

State of Firstwindiana

Governor: Matt Kearns

Statehood: Created in 2010 as "Emergency" legislation by the Maine Legislature

Boundaries: Penobscot River to the Canadian border, from the northern shores of the Grand Lakes of Eastern Maine to Southern Aroostook.

Capitol: Prentiss, centrally located and in honor of Stetson I: "where the revolution began"

State Flag: GE 1.5 MW turbine on a "green" background

State Bird: Clubbed and Mangled Bald Eagle

State Animal: Barotraumatized Bat

State Tree: Whatever is left standing after being run over by a H C Haynes skidder

State Song: "We're in the Money"

State Motto: "Big Wind, Big Lie, Forever!"


CARROLL PLANTATION, Maine — First Wind of Massachusetts is collecting data on Bowers Mountain wind conditions as a first step toward possibly erecting an industrial wind-to-energy site near the 1,127-foot summit, company officials said Tuesday.

The state’s largest industrial wind power producer placed three test towers on the site, two in November and one in December. Company officials will meet town leaders and residents on Feb. 8 and outline what their plans might be, spokesman John Lamontagne said.

“The data we get from those towers is critical to us deciding whether we want to locate a project there,” Lamontagne said Tuesday. “It is close to the proposed Rollins Mountain project, so that is a plus. We have had good relations with folks in that area.”

Topographical maps place Bowers about two miles south of Route 6, about 10 miles east of Lee and 16 miles east of Lincoln near the boundary line between Penobscot and Washington counties.

The Rollins Mountain project is a proposed $130 million, 40-turbine industrial wind site on nearby Rollins Mountain, a range of ridgelines in Burlington, Lee, Lincoln and Winn that has received Maine Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approvals.

The Friends of Lincoln Lakes residents group has an appeal of the DEP permit pending in the Maine State Supreme Court. The court will hear arguments in Portland at 1:45 p.m. Feb. 10.

The attorney representing the friends, Lynne Williams of Bar Harbor, also represents a group of Bowers Mountain-area residents that might oppose any Bowers Mountain development, she said recently.

“We have the luxury of being witness to this from the very beginning,” Williams said.

Williams and the residents will work to ensure that any Bowers project gets thoroughly reviewed, she said.

Beyond the meeting and data collection, First Wind has no immediate plans for Bowers, Lamontagne said. He said he was unsure how many landowners in the area had agreed to allow wind turbines on their properties if the testing proves successful.

“We haven’t decided, basically, on what we are going to do there, so I don’t have the details as how big a project it might be,” he said. “When you build a project, you have to collect many months of wind data to see whether a project can be sustained. This is fairly early in the process.

“It would not be something we would be building in 2010, that’s for sure,” he added.

With headquarters in Boston, First Wind operates the 42-megawatt Mars Hill and the 57-megawatt Stetson Mountain sites. Construction of the 26-megawatt Stetson II project will be completed this spring, while DEP approved the proposed 51-megawatt Oakfield project on Jan. 22.

Steven Kula CPA Wind Conference

Congressman Eric Massa Letter to President Obama

Gerry Sahrle CPA Wind Conference

Brad Jones CPA Wind Conference - Part I

Brad Jones CPA Wind Conference - Part II

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Another Wind Lawsuit In Steuben County

WIND COMPANY SUES THE TOWN OF PRATTSBURGH ONCE AGAIN

Prattsburgh Deputy Supervisor Steve Kula and Prattsburgh Town Board member Chuck Shick have just informed our news department that wind company Ecogen is filing another lawsuit against Prattsburgh.

According to Kula and Shick, Ecogen's lawsuit is asking for a determination on whether or not the previous Prattsburgh board's settlement on a past lawsuit from 2009 is legally binding. In that settlement, the Town of Prattsburgh agreed to move forward with the Ecogen wind project, but Shick says the current town board in Prattsburgh has rescinded that order made by the last town board.

There will be a special meeting on Thursday night at 7pm at Prattsburgh Town Hall, to discuss the newest lawsuit filed by Ecogen.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gary Abraham's Presentation - Citizen Power Alliance 2010 Wind Conference

Brad Jones' Presentation - Citizen power Alliance 2010 Wind Conference

John Servo's Presentation - Citizen power Alliance 2010 Wind Conference

Roaring Brook PILOT talks to resume

PROPOSED TURBINES: Two municipalities, Lowville school district plan March meeting with Atlantic Wind

MARTINSBURG — Local municipal officials next month plan to resume stalled talks with a developer concerning a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement on the proposed 39-turbine Roaring Brook Wind Farm.

"I think you're going to see this go," said Martinsburg Town Supervisor Terry J. Thisse. "I just don't know if it will happen this year."

Representatives of the town, Lewis County and Lowville Academy and Central School District over the past two years have met periodically with officials from Atlantic Wind about a possible PILOT plan, according to Richard J. Graham, county attorney. Another meeting likely will be held in early March, although a specific date has not been set, Mr. Graham said.

"We thought we should get back together," said Kenneth J. McAuliffe, Lowville Academy district superintendent, noting the sides haven't met face to face for several months.

The developer throughout the process has floated an informal offer of $8,000 per megawatt, or $624,000 each year, according to Mr. McAuliffe. However, municipal leaders have yet to agree to a formal deal that could be brought to their respective boards and the Lewis County Industrial Development Agency for approval, he said.

Atlantic Wind, a subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables, is proposing a 78-megawatt wind farm on 5,280 acres just south of Maple Ridge Wind Farm. Iberdrola operates that 195-turbine wind farm, which also extends into the towns of Harrisburg and Lowville.

The Martinsburg town Planning Board in December approved a site plan for the project, and an Iberdrola spokesman said at the time that construction could begin as soon as late summer 2010 and conclude by the end of next year.

However, PILOT talks have not advanced. And, over the past couple of months, the developer's 37-turbine Hardscrabble Wind Farm project in Herkimer County has been offered funding through the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency and received most needed approvals for its PILOT and site plan.

The 20-year PILOT plan approved by the Herkimer County Legislature offers $8,000 per megawatt with an annual cost of living increase of 2.5 percent to 5 percent, along with a one-time $400,000 construction impact payment, according to a recent story in the Utica Observer-Dispatch. If Iberdrola or a related developer approves higher per-megawatt payments on projects in Jefferson or Lewis counties within Hardscrabble's first three years of payments, the per-megawatt amount would increase to the higher level, the story states.

A PILOT agreement approved Feb. 4 for the Galloo Island Wind Farm in the town of Hounsfield provides $2.14 million annually for a 252-megawatt project, or $8492 per megawatt.

Iberdrola also is working on the proposed 64-turbine Horse Creek Wind Farm in the towns of Clayton and Orleans, and is studying a project in Hammond and Morristown, St. Lawrence County.

Some local leaders here said they had the impression that advancement of the Hardscrabble project would push Roaring Brook to a 2011 start, but that may not necessarily be the case.

"The Hardscrabble project moving forward doesn't mean it comes at the expense of our Roaring Brook development efforts, or any other project for that matter," Paul C. Copelman, a communications manager with Iberdrola Renewables, said via e-mail. "We believe that we could still begin construction of Roaring Brook this year, but it is contingent on our development efforts continuing to make progress."

Local leaders here are trying to maximize the value of a Roaring Brook PILOT without jeopardizing the project, Mr. McAuliffe said.

"At this time of declining state aid, this is a way to bring private tax revenue," he said.

The superintendent said the Maple Ridge Wind Farm's Empire Zone status likely will affect Roaring Brook PILOT negotiations.

Flat Rock Windpower, the company under which Maple Ridge was developed, was decertified in June from the state tax-incentive program. The company, while awaiting a decision on its appeal, chose in December to pay only $2.29 million of its $8.99 million annual PILOT payment, claiming it should pay only the so-called "fallback amount" without certainty of EZ benefits.

The involved taxing jurisdictions claim the wind farm is in default, and the two sides may square off in state Supreme Court if Flat Rock's appeal is unsuccessful.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Citizen Power Alliance 2/16/10 Wind Conference Summary

The 2/16/10 Citizen Power Alliance (CPA) Wind Conference at Bristol Harbor on Canandaigua Lake drew close to 200 elected officials, state representatives, news media and CPA members from across NYS to discuss the industrial wind issue.

The meeting was specifically designed to elicit greater awareness and involvement by NYS elected representatives and news media regarding the realities of industrial wind in New York State. CPA's panel of presenters for the meeting included NYS Town Supervisors & Board members, business owners, and an environmental attorney who have all had years of experience and great frustration in dealing with the industrial wind issue in their respective communities.

Congressman Eric Massa was originally scheduled to address the meetings' attendees, but was unable to attend due to Congressman John Murtha's funeral. Congressman Massa's representative, David Marion, read Massa's letter to President Obama (See: Massa Letter Link). Massa's letter calls on President Obama to address the questionable use of $115 Million dollars of stimulus money paid out to First Wind for projects already built, which fail to create any jobs, and is, for the most part, going overseas -- contrary to what the Stimulus money was intended to do.

The meeting included presentations and discussions on many of the aspects of this complex energy issue, including:

1.) exposing the myths Big Wind LLC's use to sell their product (i.e. - will reduce foreign oil dependence);
2.) education as to the economic, scientific, and environmental realities of industrial wind (i.e. - Wind is neither reliable, nor dispatchable, and therefore, provides virtually NO Capacity Value, and has not been shown to reduce CO2 emissions worldwide);
3.) explain common corruption and conflict scenarios that are occurring across NYS;
4.) to set forth goals and recommendations for elected representatives to strive for in order to protect the health, safety, well-being, and property values of ALL of their constituents, while also protecting the priceless legacy of NYS's irreplaceable natural landscapes for future generations.

CPA's cited goals for the meeting were:

1.) Amendments to SEQRA that require lead agencies to use independent third party firms - not those brought in by the wind industry, which is currently what is happening.

2.) Statewide noise and setback standards for industrial wind turbines that will fully protect the health, safety, quality of life, and property values of neighboring residents.

3.) Accurate coverage by news media (which has been sadly lacking to date), who have taken the time to educate themselves on the issue instead of simply repeating false claims made by wind industry salesmen, which is what typically happens (i.e. - 'homes served' claims).

4.) An audit of NYSERDA regarding: a.) the hiring of wind industry lobbyists to develop the industrial wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) and other Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) regulations, and b.) the payment of over $200 Million from the Systems Benefit Charge (SBC) account to industrial wind companies - monies that were intended by the legislature to be used to improve the energy efficiency of state operations.

5.) A comprehensive investigation by the Attorney General's Office into the predatory and illegal tactics used by Big Wind LLCs across NYS, including: market allocation, price fixing, larceny, extortion, conspiracy, filing false instruments, mail fraud, etc.

6.) Audits of IDAs for ongoing refusal to acquire and maintain data on actual job creation and other economic benefits for projects that have PILOT or other tax abatements.

7.) An investigation into the 2009 decision by the DOE to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars in stimulus money to existing wind projects - monies that have not, and will not create a single new job.

8.) Support from our state representatives for the Protection of Home Rule.

Citizens from communities across NYS who comprise CPA are simply asking for responsibility and accountability from our elected officials and state agency representatives in their positions of public service. Likewise, since honest information is the key to our freedom, CPA seeks adequate, educated coverage of this extremely divisive, complex issue from the news media.

In the views of CPA members, these actions are not at all too much to ask for if we truly value our democracy, and wish to prevent ratepayers, taxpayers, and our environment from being exploited by financially-motivated mega-corporations/LLC's.

Mary Kay Barton
CPA Media Editor & Environmental Activist for Sound Scientific Solutions

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Legislators to consider Lake Ontario wind tower resolution

Members of the Oswego County Legislature’s Economic Development and Tourism Committee will consider a resolution in opposition of the New York Power Authority’s plan to provide incentives for erecting wind towers in Lake Ontario’s eastern basin.

NYPA has issued a request for proposals for the construction, siting and operation of wind turbine facilities in Lake Erie and/or Lake Ontario’s eastern basin that would include inland transmission lines. The project is said to be the first freshwater, offshore wind project in the nation.

According to legislators, the maps of the potential placement include the county’s most scenic, economical and environmentally sensitive areas of the lake shoreline.

The legislators are considering the opposition due to what they refer to as a negative economic impact on tourism, real estate values, farming, recreation and quality of life.

The proposed resolution notes that the project would have no economic benefit to any municipality in the county due to the real property tax exemptions that the utility would be entitled.

“Oswego County does not wish to be the location of experimental off-shore wind tower technology,” the draft resolution states.

A similar resolution is expected to be presented in Jefferson County, as both counties once again join together to oppose wind tower projects.

Last November, the legislature joined with Jefferson County officials to oppose the 230-kilovolt line that has been proposed to run from Galloo Island through the towns of Henderson, Ellisburg, Sandy Creek and Richland as well as the Village of Pulaski to a proposed substation and interconnection with existing transmission lines in Mexico.

Upstate Power has proposed to construct a wind farm on Galloo Island, off the shore in Hounsfield, along with a new power line capable of transporting 1,000 megawatts south to help meet needs of downstate consumers.

The route of the power lines has been tentatively changed to run though existing lines in the City of Watertown instead of the Village of Pulaski. The new route will need the approval of the New York State Public Service Commission.

The Village of Pulaski and the surrounding area is a main source of tourism dollars, and both the village and the county rely on revenue from fishing, boating and recreation. The village has spent millions of dollars to bury its power lines and officials have said they are concerned that above-ground lines would ruin the aesthetics of their community and negatively impact the tourism industry.

As legislators take a “wait and see” approach to the Galloo Island project, they are expected to move ahead with the resolution in opposition of NYPA’s proposed project.

The resolution will be presented at the Feb. 23 meeting of the Economic Development and Planning Committee and, if passed, will be moved to the full floor in March.

Mary Kay Barton 2/19/10 Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Regarding the 2/18 editorial on wind power -- I was astounded that anyone could possibly assert that electric rates will go down by adding in MORE expensive additions.

Anyone who touts wind's "economic benefits" is sadly misinformed of the fact that it is OUR taxpayer/ratepayer dollars paying up to 80% of of these projects.

The U.S. EIA reported in 2008, on a dollar per MWh basis, our government subsidizes wind at $23.34 — compared to our reliable, conventional energy sources: natural gas at 25 cents; coal at 44 cents; hydro at 67 cents; and nuclear at $1.59. Despite decades of these massive handouts to wind, the EIA states that wind still contributes less than 1% of our nationwide generation.

To put these massive subsidies into better perspective, Tufts economist, Gilbert Metcalf ran the numbers and found that the effective tax rate for wind is a minus 163.8 percent.

Together, natural gas, coal, hydro, and nuclear produce 97% of our nation’s electricity supply, and provide extremely high reliability and performance — each with a Capacity Value (specified amounts of power on demand) exceeding 99.99%.

Wind is NOT reliable, predictable, or dispatchable & provides NO Capacity Value, & thus needs constant "shadow capacity" from our reliable, conventional power sources - meaning consumers pay twice.

Wind is simply an inimical power source which furthers only civil discord, while devastating peoples' lives, communities, habitats, and our priceless NYS landscapes.

Industrial wind's nominal benefits are NOT worth the horrific costs.

Mary Kay Barton

P.O. Box 69
Silver Lake, NY 14549
585-813-8173

Friday, February 19, 2010

Municipalities countersue wind farm

The wind company's failure to make PILOT payments tells all of us how secure such payments are. The funds received by wind companies are mainly subsidies and tax credits from federal and state governments. The sale of electricity is a very minor component of their income. If these subsidies and tax credits are reduced, the companies will not pay.

LOWVILLE — Maple Ridge Wind Farm municipalities are countersuing the wind company, claiming it is in default for failure to make its full annual payment in December.

"Plaintiff has no valid excuse or defense for its failure to pay," states a recent legal filing from Kevin R. McAuliffe and David G. Burch of Syracuse law firm Hiscock & Barclay.

The firm is representing the involved taxing jurisdictions — Lewis County, the towns of Martinsburg, Harrisburg, Lowville and Watson and the Lowville, Copenhagen and South Lewis school districts — in a state Supreme Court lawsuit filed in late December by Flat Rock Windpower, the company under which the 195-turbine wind farm was developed.

The municipalities' counterclaim asks the judge to dismiss the complaint, declare that Flat Rock was not entitled to make a lesser payment and is, therefore, in default of its 15-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement and order the payment of $6.7 million plus interest, penalties and legal fees.

Lewis County Attorney Richard J. Graham earlier this month sent a notice of default to the company, according to legal filings.

Flat Rock was billed in December for an $8.99 million annual payment but paid only $2.29 million and filed a lawsuit to justify the payment. Flat Rock claims it should pay only the so-called "fallback amount," since it was decertified in June from the state Empire Zone program.

The company is appealing the state ruling but also seeking court approval of its PILOT interpretation, just in case its appeal is denied.

The attorneys for the municipalities dispute Flat Rock's interpretation of the PILOT agreement.

They state that the fallback clause should only be invoked if the company's property tax credits were "eliminated, reduced or capped through a change in law or regulation, but not as a result of Flat Rock's failure to comply with the requirement of the Empire Zone Act." That section of the PILOT specifically refers to Section 15 of state Tax Law, which has not been amended since Dec. 1, 2007, the counterclaim adds.

The filing also lays out a number of legal defenses the municipalities may employ, including failure to state a cause of action or act in good faith.

According to the Flat Rock lawsuit, the company has put $6.7 million into an escrow account with U.S. Bank that will be given to local taxing jurisdictions upon Empire Zone recertification.

The countersuit refers to the escrow as "an entirely self-serving act that allegedly permitted the Plaintiff to claim a tax deduction for the amount of deposit, but at the same time, deprived the Defendants of the benefits of the monies deposited."

Flat Rock was one of 363 businesses that appealed their zone decertifications statewide. So far, the state Empire Zone Designation Board has recertified 10 companies and upheld the decertification of 93.

The board is slated to meet again at 9 a.m. Friday in Albany, but there is no indication which appeals will be acted upon.

Most of the companies awaiting decision on their appeals — including Flat Rock — were targeted as "shirt-changers," or companies reincorporated as different entities that claimed they created jobs when, in reality, they transferred employees from one entity to the other.

While Flat Rock doesn't seem to fit that definition, it was apparently lumped into the category based on the company's response to a question in its 2006 financial report to Empire State Development, Mr. Graham has said.

Cape seeks opinion on possible conflict

CAPE VINCENT —Town Supervisor Urban C. Hirschey has asked for state Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo's opinion on wind farm-related conflicts of interest in the town.

Mr. Hirschey asked if two councilmen who have signed leases with wind developers may participate in discussions on a wind zoning ordinance, vote on the ordinance and vote on a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement, road use agreement or other town agreements with wind farm developers.

The attorney general's office has the letter, dated Feb. 2, under review, a spokesman said.

Mr. Hirschey said he hoped an opinion by the attorney general's office would give the council clear direction and fend off lawsuits in the future.

"It might save taxpayers a lot of money," he said. "If the state weighs in on one side or the other, the other side may not think it's worthwhile to challenge it in the courts."

So far, the two councilmen, Marty T. Mason and Donald J. Mason, voted on a townwide moratorium for wind power development in January. They opposed the measure, which was shot down 3-2.

They also participated in two discussions on a wind zoning amendment with other councilmen, Planning Board members and members of the town's wind committee from 2008.

"The law being considered is of general applicability to the Town as a whole and is not specific to any particular property let alone the property of an individual Board Member," Mr. Hirschey wrote. "Indeed, all Board Members have property that would be affected by the law in some way."

Mr. Hirschey was in leadership with the Wind Power Ethics Group before he was elected supervisor. That group has vociferously opposed council and Planning Board members with signed contracts with wind developers voting on wind-related issues.

Councilman Brooks J. Bragdon also is a member of the group. Mr. Hirschey said the two agreed that if the attorney general approves Marty and Donald Mason voting, "we're not going to contest it."

In the letter, he asked for a quick response based on a possibly tight time line.

"The state should weigh in on it anyway," he said Thursday. "It's upsetting — there's been so much suffering at the local level."

UTC could take majority stake in Clipper Windpower

UTC currently has a 49.5% in Clipper, after investing around $270 m through a share purchase tender and an issue of new shares.

"If over the next couple of years we see what we like, we always have the opportunity to take a majority share if we want," he said. He said that UTC had seen a “unique” opportunity to take a major stake in Clipper for a relatively small investment because of its shares being depressed by production problems and liabilities over cracks in its turbine blades which had to be replaced. “We saw an opportunity to use some of our gearbox technology, blade technology, manufacturing process technology to really help this company to grow.

Hayes also said that UTC is looking at further investments in renewable energy. "We've been looking at alternative energy for a long time," he said. "We always liked the space. We see the movement towards clean energy as a space that we can participate in with the technologies that we have."

Hayes said that UTC is looking to move into new higher growth areas and “game changing technologies.” He added that the Clipper acquisition was “a relatively small bet.” But he said “What we want to do is turn these small bets into bigger bets down the road.”

UTC has $3 bn to spend on mergers and acquisitions in 2010, of which $2.1 bn has already been committed, including the Clipper deal and the acquisition of GE’s fire detection and electronic security business.

UTC completed its purchase of the Clipper stake on 15 January. UTC’s investment will allow cash strapped Clipper to strengthen its balance sheet and pursue its ambitious investment plans. Clipper effectively put itself up for sale on 30 September. The company said that this had been made necessary by the expense caused by the massive remediation programme which it completed on its Liberty turbines in 2009, which amounted to $330m since January 2007.

Clipper has been involved in large scale onshore wind projects in the US, some of them through partnership with oil major BP. It is also developing a 10MW offshore wind turbine through the Britannia project in the UK, and plans – with government support - to build production facilities there to take advantage of the burgeoning offshore sector there.

UTC is a provider of high tech industrial goods whose units include Otis, Carrier, UTC Fire & Security, Pratt & Whitney, Hamilton Sundstrand and Sikorsky. It has around 210,000 employees and operates in 180 countries. It had revenues in 2008 of $59.8 billion.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

‘Industrial wind has changed our lives’


South Bristol, N.Y. — State and federal authorities have largely ignored the needs of rural communities faced with pressure from industrial wind turbine developers.

That was the message delivered Tuesday during a more than three-hour forum at Bristol Harbour Resort sponsored by Citizen Power Alliance. Town supervisors from as far away as Wyoming County spoke on the panel that included an environmental attorney and Naples Town Supervisor Frank Duserick.

The panelists said their repeated calls for inquiries into the practices of wind turbine companies have fallen, for the most part, on deaf ears.

A number of communities are in legal battles with wind developers, including Italy in Yates County and the neighboring town of Prattsburgh in Steuben County. Concerns center on health and safety issues associated with noise from turbines close to homes, as well as government subsidies for the wind projects.

“It was a real eye-opener,” said Prattsburgh Town Board member Steve Kula, adding he supported wind turbines until he visited a home near one. He said he “heard the windows rattle and felt the rumble,” an experience you don’t have “when you are outside looking at them on a sunny day.”

Duserick said when his town complained last year to state authorities about the siting of wind turbines in neighboring Cohocton that were too close to the Naples town line, it got little response.

But Mary Wilmot, a representative from Gov. David Paterson who attended the forum, objected to criticism, saying she has been in contact with event organizer James Hall since September and has not been informed of any complaints.

Though dozens of state and federal lawmakers were invited to the forum, few sent representatives. However, U.S. Rep. Eric Massa, D-Corning, sent two.
Massa had a letter read, that he has sent to President Barack Obama, calling for “responsible funding” of wind projects. Charles Bliss, an engineer with the state Department of State, attended the forum and answered questions about local laws.

Hall said he believes the event succeeded in getting the attention of those in power. The alliance is now planning a meeting with the top federal official with the Department of Energy advising Obama, he said.

“It’s been a long fight,” said Italy Town Supervisor Brad Jones.
The town spent some $65,000 in December alone on legal fees in fighting a lawsuit against wind farm developer Ecogen Wind LLC, he said, a cost the town can ill afford.

“Industrial wind has changed our lives,” he said.

Congressman Eric Massa February 15, 2010

February 15, 2010

President Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500-0005

Dear Mr. President:

In recent months, I have learned of some very troubling news regarding the use of stimulus funds for supporting wind industry jobs abroad. I do not believe this use of U.S. taxpayer dollars is in accordance with the purposes of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and I request that your Administration refrain from giving any awards to wind companies tunneling money to foreign corporations. Sending money abroad to support jobs in other countries while continuing to ignore problems facing the American wind industry is simply bad policy.

To date, I do not believe the use of stimulus funds to support wind projects in the U.S. has met the promises of substantial job creation and clean renewable energy. With these and other federal funds, we must make wise investments in the American people by weighing the job and energy creation prospects of each proposal. Quite simply, the potential benefits offered by a project should be commensurate with the size of the investment. I am not convinced that this is the case right now.

While it is true that these funds are used only to support American-based projects, the development corporations and the suppliers involved are, more often than not, headquartered outside of the U.S. This means that ultimately, a large portion of the nearly $2 billion invested in wind projects through the ARRA will go directly to supporting foreign businesses that compete with American workers. The stimulus package was meant to bolster American productivity, not hand over control of an entire industry to other countries, including China.

Instead of dumping billions of dollars into so many wind projects that support very few domestic jobs and produce limited energy benefits, while propping-up foreign industries at the expense of U.S. taxpayers, I believe your Administration should focus on addressing the underlying problems of the American wind industry. If we are to have successful American wind energy development, we must have an industry built by American workers that supply real energy to American homes and reduce our dependence on dirty fossil fuels. I believe it is necessary to slow down the wildly haphazard "progress" in wind power development which is having a destructive impact on many small communities. We need to address these and many other concerns because frankly, the current policy is not working.

As it stands now and as it has been proven by stimulus investments in wind power, our nation is dangerously reliant on foreign wind corporations. As with so many other industries, we have been surpassed by our foreign competitors in the wind sector. Even worse, now we are funding them. This is entirely wrong.

Moving forward, we must take a critical look into the American wind industry that we see today and develop comprehensive, long-term plans that address the many serious issues facing wind power in this country. The goal must be to use wise investments in this energy source to safely, responsibly, and effectively create clean energy while also establishing strong manufacturing and construction sectors that will build a truly American industry supported by American jobs.

Eric JJ. Massa Member of Congress

Cc: Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy

County approves PILOT for wind turbines

Ilion, N.Y.

The Herkimer County Legislature ended five years of negotiations with Iberdrola Renewables Friday by approving a 20-year payment in lieu of taxes agreement for the company’s Hardscrabble Wind Project in the towns of Fairfield and Norway.

“A lot of legislative time and effort was put into the negotiations, and the end result is an agreement that has the best interest of the taxpayers in mind,” said County Administrator James Wallace. “Everyone involved did a great job and we were able to get a good deal for the taxpayers.”

According to the agreement, which was approved unanimously, the county will accept a prorated share of $8,000 per megawatt produced by the project’s 37 wind turbines in the next 20 years.

A cost of living adjustment was included for the payments, with a floor of 2.5 percent and a ceiling of 5 percent. The adjustments, according to the agreement, will commence this year, so that the January 2012 payment will be a minimum of $8,405 per megawatt, depending on the cost of living.

The agreement also calls for a $400,000 construction impact payment to be made to the county within 60 days of the start of construction, and states that if future projects in Lewis and Jefferson counties receive higher per megawatt payment amounts from Iberdrola or a related developer during the three year period from the first per megawatt payment to the county, Herkimer County’s per megawatt amount will increase to the higher level. The agreement also says that if the wind turbines interfere with E-911 transmissions, the project owners will be required to take all necessary steps to resolve the problems, and will hold the county harmless from any associated costs.

The county will also be held harmless for sales tax and mortgage tax during the entire term of the agreement, as well as in connection with county roads through the execution of an “appropriate agreement” and the posting of appropriate security be the developers. The PILOT payments will not cover substations in the event they are turned over to or owned or developed by a third party.

“I believe we were one of the first counties to take the initiative to seek out a consultant to help us in our negotiations,” said Legislator Dennis Korce, District 14. “When these negotiations began five years ago many of us on the legislature had very little understanding of windmills or things such as price per megawatt, and through our working with the consultant we were able to educate ourselves and reach an agreement that is beneficial to the taxpayers of this county.”

“From where we started to where we are now we were able to gain 60 percent through negotiation, and that increase will benefit everyone in the county,” said Legislator Fred Shaw, District 16.

While Legislator Leonard Hendrix, District 6, voted in favor of the agreement, he voiced his displeasure over the negotiation process. “I am not happy with how we were treated during these negotiations,” he said. “When we asked for information we did not receive it. We were accused of stonewalling the project throughout the process when that was not the case, as we were simply trying to negotiate the best possible agreement to help the county, the towns and the school.”

The project is expected to produce 74 megawatts of energy, which means as much as $592,000 annually could be split between the county, towns and West Canada Valley school district based on the $8,000 per megawatt rate. In all, the project is estimated to bring in over $11.8 million.

Fairfield Town Supervisor Richard Souza welcome Friday’s vote.

“Financially, this project will bring in a sizable amount of revenue for our town,” he said. “And considering our current financial standing, that additional money will be of help to us.”

Now that the legislature has approved the PILOT agreement, the Herkimer County Industrial Development Agency will conduct a public hearing of its own. Once that hearing is held, a final vote will be taken on the agreement before construction begins.

District 2 Legislator Helen Rose and District 5 Legislator Jeff Stone were absent from Friday’s special session and District 17 Legislator Bruce Weakley abstained from casting a vote.

Wallace said the vote on the PILOT agreement had to take place prior to Wednesday’s regularly schedule session of the legislature, as Iberdrola is approaching a grant deadline.

Legislature opposed to wind farms in the lake

A wind power project on an island is OK, but turbines in the lake are not.

The Jefferson County Board of Legislators' Planning and Development Committee passed on Tuesday night a resolution opposing the New York Power Authority's plan to put a wind farm in Lake Ontario.

NYPA has asked for developers to submit proposals on building towers for up to 500 megawatts of wind power in possible sites in Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.

This action came two weeks after the legislators approved a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement for the proposed 252-megawatt Galloo Island Wind Farm.

"While I certainly intend to support it at the full board, my concern is our inconsistency in our message," Legislator Scott A. Gray, R-Watertown, said. Mr. Gray is not a member of the committee. "We're opposing a project with some of the very same things we approved a few weeks ago with the Galloo Island project."

The resolution included language that the NYPA project would hurt landowners, "including potential effects on real estate values, scenic vistas, and quality of life."

Chairman Barry M. Ormsby, R-Belleville, disagreed.

"The two projects, when compared side-by-side, are apples and oranges," he said. "One project is on a 2,200-acre island six-and-a-half miles offshore where 84 turbines will be confined."

He acknowledged that a certain section of the shoreline will see the turbines.

"But compared to the possible NYPA sites on the maps, you see a total littering of the Eastern basin from Tibbets Point to Mexico Bay," he said.

The six members of the committee at the meeting approved the resolution, which the full board will consider on March 2.

A draft natural hazard mitigation plan also was presented to the committee. It addresses measures to decrease potential harm from 13 natural hazards, including winter storms, wind, floods and earthquakes.

The plan, which is now with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for review, will open up FEMA grant possibilities for the county and seven municipalities that fully participated in the planning process.

The participating municipalities were the town and village of Clayton, Deferiet, Glen Park, Henderson, Lorraine and the city of Watertown.

Legislator Robert D. Ferris, R-Watertown, asked why the two towns he represents, Rutland and Watertown, weren't included.

Jefferson County Fire and Emergency Management Director Joseph D. Plummer said they either opted out of participating or didn't respond to the opportunity.

"We sent mailings, called town clerks and village clerks and our weekly e-mails would go out to everyone," he said.

Towns and villages that didn't participate initially won't be shut out forever.

"Other towns can jump back in during the five-year review and reapproval," said Richard A. Franks, project manager with URS Corp., Wayne, N.J. URS was the county's consultant on the plan.

The municipalities identified four or five actions to take to lessen the damage, such as a new storm drainage system or culvert replacement to prevent flooding. The county found 16 things it could do, including public awareness and information programs.

"The big thing was just public awareness with disasters coming — what to do, where to go and that kind of thing," Mr. Plummer said.

PSC adds new wind farm study to list

Developers of the proposed Galloo Island, Horse Creek and Cape Vincent wind farms have one more study to add to their lists after an order from the Public Service Commission.

Under the PSC's order, dated Oct. 20, all renewable energy projects built at 80 megawatts or more in capacity must conduct the "energy deliverability" study.

Renewable energy development advocates say the study duplicates others, adds time and expense and may be used to refuse development. But the PSC says the study will show whether the power can reach areas with need.

The basis for the order is the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard, which aims to have 25 percent of the energy consumed in the state come from renewable sources by 2013.

"This goal will not be realizable if the energy from new renewable resources just replaces the energy produced by existing renewable resources," the order said.

The study would show areas of "bottlenecking," where the full output is not being delivered.

Maple Ridge Wind Farm in Lewis County has had periods of bottlenecking, said Paul N. Copleman, communications manager for Iberdrola Renewables, which operates the facility. Those times are usually a result of low demand in a region for power. Iberdrola would then "choose to curtail ourselves during real-time operations for economic reasons," Mr. Copleman said.

Iberdrola objected to the order during the comment period. The company said the order isn't clear on how the study should be conducted and it doesn't apply to other energy generator developers.

Renewable energy proponents said the PSC is adding an unnecessary requirement.

Carol E. Murphy, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, said the New York Independent System Operator not only is responsible for the reliability of the grid, but is conducting a study of renewable energy development now.

"It's problematic that the PSC would require a study when one is already under way," said.

The group is asking for a rehearing on the matter.

"I certainly agree that we need to look at transmission," she said. "But work's already being done there."

The New York Independent System Operator reviews all requests to connect into the state's wholesale electric grid. Developers are required to conduct feasibility, system reliability impact and facilities studies for NYISO. Those studies determine the effect of the added generation and what upgrades, if any, would be necessary to ensure reliability.

The grid operator also conducts ongoing 10-year studies on grid reliability and efficiency, most recently released in May. A separate congestion study should be issued in December and a study on higher levels of wind power generation should be finished in early 2010, spokesman Kenneth M. Klapp said in an e-mail.

"The draft findings of the study indicate that there are areas where existing transmission capacity may limit the system's ability to take full advantage of new generation," he said. "The transmission constraints can be addressed with transmission upgrades in these local areas."

Ms. Murphy said congestion issues are addressed not just through the New York Independent System Operator studies and resulting requirements, but through other programs. Utilities are using "smart grid" grants to work on congestion problems. Power generators also can use transmission congestion contracts to make sure their power gets on the grid.

Renewable energy producers, like other developers, also conduct a series of studies for the environmental review and siting process.

"Nothing gets built in New York without a lot of permits and review," Ms. Murphy said.

The additional requirement also may encourage developers to keep projects under 80 megawatts — and the added hurdle.

"That would be a shame," Ms. Murphy said. "That would leave megawatts of clean energy on the table."

She also questioned what the PSC would do with the study when completed.

"The PSC recently made $95 million available under its Renewable Portfolio Standard program to develop large-scale renewable energy projects, including wind," James A. Denn, spokesman for the commission, said in an e-mail. "It is currently weighing whether to commit even more funds in the future. The time was right to issue the order given the huge amounts of ratepayer funds that are being invested to promote renewable energy."

He said the information in the studies will help the commission determine when, where and what type of system upgrades to require.

In Jefferson County, almost all of the proposed developments would have to complete the energy deliverability study.

Iberdrola Renewable's Horse Creek Wind Farm, Clayton and Orleans, would be built at 126 megawatts. Upstate NY Power Corp.'s Galloo Island Wind Farm, Hounsfield, is planned for 252 megawatts. Cape Vincent Wind Farm, being developed by BP Alternative Energy, would come in at 142.5 megawatts.

The only planned development that would be excluded under the plan is St. Lawrence Wind Farm, being developed by Acciona in Cape Vincent at 79.5 megawatts.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Orleans has committee to study wind's impact

LAFARGEVILLE — The Orleans Town Council has created a new wind committee to study the economic impact of wind development in the town and make a recommendation to council by May.

Town Supervisor Donna J. Chatterton said the Wind Economics Committee's recommendations will help the town update its zoning law for wind power development.

This will be the second wind committee for the town. The first, charged with coming up with technical recommendations for the town's proposed zoning amendments, finished its work last fall.

The first Wind Economics Committee meeting will be held in a week or two, she said. The committee will hold four meetings at the town office over a period of six weeks, with a goal to submit its final recommendation to the town board by May.

Currently, the committee has only three members — Councilman Thomas A. Johnston; Leslie T. Henry, a local real estate broker, and Wendell Walldroff, a businessman — and the town is seeking three or four more community members to serve on it.

"There are a number of topics we need to look into," said Charles E. Ebbing, a retired acoustic engineer and the committee's facilitator.

Some of the issues the committee will study:

■ The economic impact of wind farms on the town's tax base, property values of participating and nonparticipating residents, jobs and industries in the town of Orleans.

■ Expected revenue through payments in lieu of taxes for the town.

■ Whether wind farms produce enough energy to justify the cost.

■ Whether nonparticipating residents should be permitted to waive their health and safety protection for monetary compensation and whether wind developers should have money set aside for possible turbine removals.

■ The economic feasibility of reducing the spin speed of turbines during sleeping hours and fines and penalties for noncompliance.

Mr. Ebbing said the committee needs more members from the public, such as farmers, to research other issues and ultimately help the town board determine whether the economic benefits of wind development outweigh the potential health and safety risks.

The committee meetings will be open to the public, Mr. Ebbing said.

Town residents interested in serving on the committee should call the town office at 658-9950.

Wind farm moratorium decision on hold

Prattsburgh, N.Y.

Public opinion in the town of Prattsburgh heavily favored a moratorium on industrial wind development Monday night, although the final decision on the temporary ban will wait until March.

Nearly 100 people attended the Prattsburgh town board’s public hearing on the proposed six-month moratorium, with dozens voicing their support for a halt to any industrial wind-related activity in the town.

The town is being considered by developer Ecogen for a 16-turbine wind farm.

Health and safety issues appeared to be the key concern of those supporting the moratorium.

Many urged the board to look at dramatically increased setbacks to push tower sites farther back from homes and reduce noise levels.

Others said the moratorium should provide time to do more research, saying there is too much uncertainty and misleading data on wind projects.

Not all those attending the public hearing supported the moratorium.

Mara Parker, of Prattsburgh, said she understands residents might not like living near proposed sites for wind turbines. But delaying the project could mean a financial loss to the school district and town.

“This has gone on long enough,” Parker said.

Ecogen launched its plans to put the massive electricity-generating turbines up in Prattsburgh more than eight years ago.

Since then, local resistance has grown steadily as concerns over disruptive noise, land use and reliability have mounted.

Ecogen threatened the board with legal action throughout 2009 as board members considered how to respond to growing concerns. The board’s action last year followed reports of disruptive noise at an operating wind farm in the neighboring town of Cohocton.

When two pro-wind board members were defeated during the November elections, Ecogen filed a lawsuit, demanding the lame-duck board remove any issues the developer considered harmful to the project.

The court declined to rule on the matter, and the new town board rescinded a settlement made in December.

Defending against future lawsuits was on the mind of one resident at the public hearing Monday.

“Wind farms are a problem … My problem is the lawsuits,” Lenny McConnell said. “Can we afford this?”

A town of Italy representative also weighed in on the two towns’ intertwined Ecogen projects.

The Yates County town is the proposed site of 18 turbines and an electrical substation, and the defendant in a separate Ecogen lawsuit.

“You have our full support,” Italy Town Supervisor Brad Jones said, adding he would forward Italy’s moratorium laws and wind industry regulations to the Prattsburgh board.

Prattsburgh board members unanimously agreed to extend the comment period on the moratorium until Friday to allow time for more written comments.

Prattsburgh Town Supervisor Al Wordingham said the board has received about 20 letters so far.

Other residents submitted written comments Monday night.

“We intend to read them all,” Wordingham said.

The board also is waiting to hear from the Steuben County Planning Board, which received a copy of the proposed moratorium.

Prattsburgh’s legal counsel Ed Brockman said the county has the right to make recommendations or reject the town proposal.

If the Steuben board rejects the proposal, it would require the approval of four-fifths of the town board to enact the moratorium, Brockman said.

Monday, February 15, 2010

EXPERT: FLAWED METHODOLOGIES USED IN U.S. DOE STUDY ON PROPERTY VALUES AND WIND POWER PROJECTS

Serious questions raised concerning the credibility of the results

NEW HAMPSHIRE (February 15, 2010) -- Real estate appraisal experts are challenging the scientific credibility and accuracy of a recent US Department of Energy ('DOE') report on the effect of wind power projects on property values. A new paper asserts that well known flaws in the methodology used in the study raise serious questions concerning the credibility of the results, and the DOE report's authors failed to follow any of the well-developed and tested standards for performing regression analyses on property sales.

The Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory report titled “The Impact of Wind Power Projects on Residential Property Values in the United States: A Multi- Site Hedonic Analysis” released December 2009 generated media headlines claiming "Wind farms have no effect on property value." The report asserts that an analysis of residential home sales across the United States found no evidence that home prices surrounding wind facilities were "consistently, measurably, and significantly affected by either the view of wind facilities or the distance of the home to those facilities". While the authors acknowledge that individual homes in proximity to the towers may be negatively affected, such impact was declared "either too small and/or too infrequent to result in any widespread, statistically observable impact".

The authors relied on a methodology known as Multi-Site Hedonic Analysis.
The DOE study caught the attention of Mr. Albert Wilson, a valuer of environmental impacts on business and real estate with more than 25 years experience who has specifically studied hedonic analyses of real estate for more than a decade, and has taught and written extensively on these impacts and methods.

“I have no opinion concerning the effect of wind power projects on residential property values," Wilson told Windaction.org. "However, I was compelled to respond professionally when it became apparent that the latest report by the Department of Energy was predicated on flawed methods – flaws that are well known in the literature but apparently ignored or missed by the report’s authors.”
In his paper, "Wind Farms, Residential Property Values, And Rubber Rulers" Wilson writes that the underlying methods used in the development of the DOE study raise serious questions concerning the credibility of the results. In particular, the authors failed to follow any of the well-developed and tested standards for performing regression analyses on property sales.

"There are literally thousands of possible real estate regression models. Absent published and recognized standards on the validation of data, model development and testing, and calibration of the model against the real world market, a regression may be nothing more than a rubber ruler that can be stretched to provide a desired result," he wrote.

And since any hedonic analysis depends entirely on the accuracy and reliability of the regression used, if the underlying regression does not conform to recognized standards, Wilson argues there can be no independent assurance of that accuracy or reliability.

Offering specifics on the study's flaws, Wilson is highly critical of DOE's nationwide approach whereby thousands of real estate transactions were examined in communities surrounding wind power facilities spread across the United States. The authors consolidated all of these markets and treated them as the same with little consideration of basic differences. For example, sales prices in areas of declining population and therefore decreasing demand–a majority of the areas examined–are not directly comparable to sales prices in areas of increasing population and therefore increasing demand. Even within the ten communities identified in the DOE report, such aggregation of markets is questionable. In Washington State, which was used as the base for comparison to all other areas in the study, the authors aggregated the urban market of Kennewick with the rural market of Milton-Freewater -- two very different areas some 42 miles apart!

Wilson was clear when he wrote, "The failure to recognize and account for the need for homogeneity of markets is a common failing of hedonics."

The DOE study completely ignores this point by creating an average sales price representing houses from nine states and at least 20 different markets -- a gross oversimplification that Wilson asserts cannot provide for the specificity required to answer a micro-question such as an influence on sales price from a highly localized condition i.e. distance to or view of a wind energy project.

This problem becomes even more significant when, as Wilson points out, less than 10% of the sales transactions used in the Report had any view of turbines, and only 2.1% had a view rated greater than minor. In fact, the study is dominated by transactions where no influence is reasonably likely. While the author's of the DOE study claim their analysis is "data-rich", in fact, their claim is an overstatement of the situation because of this issue.

The DOE study was three years in the making and cost taxpayers at least $500,000. It is difficult to see how the public was served by an exercise that failed to follow even the most basic requirements for regression analysis which is the foundation on which hedonic methods are based.

RUSH LIMBAUGH CALLS WIND A HOAX....AGAIN!

RUSH%20ON%20WIND%20.mp3

Rush on the Kamaoa Wind Farm.

A stealth ban on wind

Wind opponents have succeeded in getting introduced to the Vermont House a bill, H.677, that if passed would virtually preclude installing wind turbines in the state.

There is no outright ban, but rather a series of requirements that would make siting and construction of turbines a half-megawatt or larger practically impossible. These include restrictions on sound, setbacks from buildings, setbacks from roads, from power lines and so on. Power lines? Yes, power lines.

In defining setbacks, the bill reads:

"Sec. 1. 30 V.S.A. § 8008 is added to read:

4 § 8008 c.(4) One-third of a mile from any public highway or right-of-way and from any above-ground utility line or facility. However, this subdivision shall not apply to an electric line that directly connects a wind turbine to a substation or other utility facility."

It is hard to imagine what harm it would do to have a wind turbine within a third of a mile of a power line, which is not affected by noise or shadow flicker. However, such lines define areas where the natural environment is already affected by manmade intrusions, so the bill would force turbines into the most remote patches of wilderness where it will be easier to argue against them on environmental grounds. H.677 is full of such innocuous little poison pills for the wind power industry. These include a sound limit of 35 decibels (a level the National Institutes of Health defines as "whispering") within 30 yards of any occupied building. So not only do you have to be able to sleep indoors without hearing the wind turbines, you have to be able to not hear them outside.

In fact, the restrictions are so numerous and so onerous that the Legislature could waive many of them in a "compromise" and still effectively ban wind development.

If the sponsoring legislators, several of whom voted in favor of the renewable energy bill last year, want to ban commercial wind turbines, why don't they just introduce a bill saying so? Clearly, one reason is that would lose them support from the state's powerful environmental lobby, so instead they couch the ban in a relatively obscure argument over levels of sound waves.

The big difference is scale. Last year's renewable energy bill supported construction of wind plants rated under half a megawatt, or "Vermont scale" wind, which has a crunchy, Vermont-y feel to it.

The problem with "Vermont scale" is, well, scale. Vermont Yankee, which the state's powerful environmental lobby also strongly opposes, produces 650 megawatts of steady always-on baseload power. As wind's actual output is a fraction of its rated maximum, it would take not two but perhaps 20 turbines rated at .49 megawatts to equal one megawatt of nuclear power, or something over 13,000 of them to even approach the power the state may be taking offline in Vernon in 2012. And that's if the turbines are optimally sited on ridgelines where the wind is steadiest, which would require tens of thousands of miles of power lines to connect them to the valley floors where the demand is. Otherwise, tucking them out of sight tucks them out of the wind as well, where they might never produce as much energy as it would take to build them.

Simply put, "Vermont scale" wind doesn't make a dent in Vermont's need for electricity.

The state has identified an energy portfolio with a substantial portion coming from renewables as a priority. If we're going to have wind power in a renewable portfolio, we cannot get there without putting some big turbines up on ridgelines.

If we're not going to put up wind turbines, let's make that decision publicly and move on to finding homes for solar panels and biomass. In Germany, with comparable weather to Vermont, a 40MW solar facility opened on about 540 acres. Even if we want to get one-quarter of Yankee's capacity from solar, we need to find about 2,000 acres to start, with attendant neighbors' concerns about power lines, substations, sightlines and the like.

If we're not willing to site and host renewable energy plants, we need to buy our energy on the open market, where "green" electricity is at a premium. Paying that premium, abandoning renewables as a goal or letting developers build where it makes economical sense, are our options.

We might want to get going honestly on that conversation, instead of debating a stealth measure like H.677.

H-677.pdf

Company presents wind farm plan

HAMMOND — Iberdrola Renewables Inc., Lowville, announced plans for 75, 330-foot windmills, with the majority of them slated for construction in the town of Hammond.

According to representatives from Iberdrola at a recent Town Council meeting, plans call for the installation of 75 towers that are approximately 66 feet taller than the windmills at Maple Ridge Wind Farm in Lewis County.

Each tower would be approximately 475 feet at the tip of the blade, according to Iberdrola representative Jenny L. Burke.

Ms. Burke said that her company is still examining wind levels in Morristown but that it appears Hammond will be home to the majority of the project based on current data.

"At this point, we don't know what all of the wind resources are, but it appears that 2-megawatttowers are feasible in Hammond. It's something we continue to evaluate," Iberdrola representative Daniel C. Murdie said.

Supervisor Ronald W. Bertram asked the representatives if they could share their proposed layout with the board, but Ms. Burke said they could not because they would be mapping the towers based on the results of State Environmental Quality Review Act studies and the town's zoning laws.

"We would be using your setbacks to determine where the towers would be," she said.

Mr. Bertram asked representatives to keep the board informed of the company's plans for the area. While Ms. Burke said a layout did not exist now, she said she would be willing to help as much as possible.

"I think we can be active in helping the town board without saying, 'This is where our 75 windmills are going,'" she said, adding that her company has worked closely with municipalities in the past.

Ms. Burke left contact information with the board and said the Iberdrola representatives would be happy to work with the town's Wind Advisory Committee once it is formed.

A special meeting has been scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Hammond Free Library to review applications for the Wind Advisory Committee. The committee will help establish guidelines for the town's wind facilities law.

Wind Energy's Ghosts

Bankrupt Europe has a lesson for Congress about wind power.

Wiwo...wiwo...wiwo.

The sound floats on the winds of Ka Le, this southernmost tip of Hawaii's Big Island, where Polynesian colonists first landed some 1,500 years ago.

Some say that Ka Le is haunted -- and it is. But it's haunted not by Hawaii's legendary night marchers. The mysterious sounds are "Na leo o Kamaoa"-- the disembodied voices of 37 skeletal wind turbines abandoned to rust on the hundred-acre site of the former Kamaoa Wind Farm.

The voices of Kamaoa cry out their warning as a new batch of colonists, having looted the taxpayers of Spain, Portugal, and Greece, seeks to expand upon their multi-billion-dollar foothold half a world away on the shores of the distant Potomac River. European wind developers are fleeing the EU's expiring wind subsidies, shuttering factories, laying off workers, and leaving billions of Euros of sovereign debt and a continent-wide financial crisis in their wake. But their game is not over. Already they are tapping a new vein of lucre from the taxpayers and ratepayers of the United States.

The Waxman-Markey Cap-and-Trade Bill appears to be politically dead since Republican Scott Brown's paradigm-shattering Massachusetts Senate victory. But alternative proposals being floated by Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and others still promise billions of dollars to wind developers and commit the United States to generate as much as 20% of its electricity from so-called "renewable" sources.

The ghosts of Kamaoa are not alone in warning us. Five other abandoned wind sites dot the Hawaiian Isles -- but it is in California where the impact of past mandates and subsidies is felt most strongly. Thousands of abandoned wind turbines littered the landscape of wind energy's California "big three" locations -- Altamont Pass, Tehachapi, and San Gorgonio -- considered among the world's best wind sites.

Built in 1985, at the end of the boom, Kamaoa soon suffered from lack of maintenance. In 1994, the site lease was purchased by Redwood City, CA-based Apollo Energy.

Cannibalizing parts from the original 37 turbines, Apollo personnel kept the declining facility going with outdated equipment. But even in a place where wind-shaped trees grow sideways, maintenance issues were overwhelming. By 2004 Kamaoa accounts began to show up on a Hawaii State Department of Finance list of unclaimed properties. In 2006, transmission was finally cut off by Hawaii Electric Company.

California's wind farms -- then comprising about 80% of the world's wind generation capacity -- ceased to generate much more quickly than Kamaoa. In the best wind spots on earth, over 14,000 turbines were simply abandoned. Spinning, post-industrial junk which generates nothing but bird kills.

The City of Palm Springs was forced to enact an ordinance requiring their removal from San Gorgonio. But California's Kern County, encompassing the Tehachapi area, has no such law. Wind Power advocate Paul Gipe, who got his start as an early 1970s environmental activist at Indiana's Ball State University, describes a 1998 Tehachapi tour thusly:

"Our bus drove directly through the Tehachapi Gorge passing the abandoned Airtricity site with its derelict Storm Master and Wind-Matic turbines and the deserted Wind Source site with its defunct Aeroman machines. We also got a freeway-close glimpse of Zond's wind wall with its 400 Vestas V15 turbines, the former Arbutus site on rugged Pajuela Peak where only the Bonus turbines are still in service, and steep-sided Cameron Ridge topped with FloWind's few remaining Darrieus turbines before reaching SeaWest, our first stop.

"As we approached SeaWest from the desert town of Mojave, the old Micon 108s were spinning merrily, but the Mitsubishis with their higher start-up speed were just coming to life. SeaWest and Fluidyne had done a commendable job of cleaning the Mitsubishis of their infamous oil leaks for the tour's arrival."

Tehachapi's dead turbines
(image via webecoist, sky#walker; Center for Land Use Interpretation; Terminal Tower)

Writing in the February, 1999 edition of New Energy, Gipe explains:

From 1981 through 1985 federal and state tax subsidies in California were so great that wealthy investors could recover up to 50 percent of a wind turbine's cost. The lure of quick riches resulted in a flood of development using new and mostly untested wind turbines. By the end of 1986, when projects already underway in 1985 were completed, developers had installed nearly 15,000 wind turbines. These machines represented 1,200 MW of capacity worth US$2.4 billion in 1986 dollars.

It took nearly a decade from the time the first flimsy wind turbines were installed before the performance of California wind projects could dispel the widespread belief among the public and investors that wind energy was just a tax scam.

Ben Lieberman, a senior policy analyst focusing on energy and environmental issues for the Heritage Foundation, is not surprised. He asks:

"If wind power made sense, why would it need a government subsidy in the first place? It's a bubble which bursts as soon as the government subsidies end."

After the collapse, wind promoters had a solution to their public image problem. Hide the derelict turbines. Gipe in 1993 wrote for the American Wind Energy Association:

Currently most of the older, less productive wind turbines are located within sight of major travel corridors such as I-580 and I-10. Many first generation turbines and some of the second generation designs are inoperative, and all turbines of these generations are more prone to mechanical failure than contemporary designs. Public opinion surveys have consistently found that inoperative wind turbines tarnish the public's perception of wind energy's efficacy."

Gipe then quotes a 1991 UC Davis study, which explains:

"Our research and that of others show that turbines' non-operation and public fear of wind farm abandonment is still a critical issue, and it therefore behooves the wind industry to return to the 'big three' wind farm sites (Altamont, San Gorgonio, and Tehachapi) and to ensure that these areas are operating as efficiently as possible, and all turbine arrays which do not contribute significantly and conspicuously to power production are either replaced or, if necessary, removed."

Altamont's turbines have since 2008 been tethered four months of every year in an effort to protect migrating birds after environmentalists filed suit. According to the Golden Gate Audubon Society, 75 to 110 Golden Eagles, 380 Burrowing Owls, 300 Red-tailed Hawks, and 333 American Kestrels (falcons) are killed by Altamont turbines annually. A July, 2008 study by the Alameda County Community Development Agency points to 10,000 annual bird deaths from Altamont Pass wind turbines. Audubon calls Altamont, "probably the worst site ever chosen for a wind energy project." In 2004 the group unsuccessfully challenged renewal applications for 18 of 20 Altamont wind farms.

From its beginnings as a slogan of the anti-nuclear movement, wind energy has always been tied to taxpayer support and government intervention. Wind farms got their first boost with the Carter-era Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) which encouraged states to enact their own tax incentives. PURPA also for the first time allowed non-utility energy producers to sell electricity to utilities -- the first step towards a bungled half-privatization of electricity supply which would come two decades hence.

In the 1985 book "Dynamos and Virgins" a San Francisco based PG&E utility heir tells the story of how he joined forces in the 1970s with lawyers from the Environmental Defense Fund. Together they worked for years to obstruct coal and nuclear power plants until utilities were forced to do business with wind energy suppliers.

Protest and litigation remain among the foremost competitive tools used by the now multi-billion dollar "alternative" energy industry. Reviewing the book, Robert Reich, a Kennedy School of Government professor who would later become Clinton's Secretary of Labor, wrote:

"The old paradigms of large-scale production, centralized management, and infinite resources are crumbling. We are on the verge of a new political economy."

The new paradigm created by the generation of 1968 is more political and less economy. Without government intervention, utilities normally avoid wind energy. Wind's erratic power feed destabilizes power grids and forces engineers to stand by, always ready to fire up traditional generators. Wind does not fit into an electric supply model made up of steady massive low cost "base load" coal or nuclear plants backed up by on-call natural gas powered "peaker" units which kick in during high demand. No coal or nuclear power plant has ever been replaced by wind energy.

Although carbon credit schemes often assign profitable carbon credits to wind farm operators based on a theoretical displacement of carbon emitted by coal or natural gas producers, in reality these plants must keep burning to be able to quickly add supply every time the wind drops off. The formulae do not take into account carbon emitted by idling coal and natural gas plants nor the excess carbon generated by constant fire-up and shut down cycles necessitated to balance fluctuating wind supplies.

But with PURPA on the federal books, the State of California quickly created "Interim Standard Offer" (ISO4) contracts guaranteeing a purchase price based on utilities' "avoided costs"--launching the first "California Wind Rush". By 1982 turbines were sprouting from the dusty terrain of Altamont Pass, Tehachapi, and San Gorgonio. The ISO4 contracts were written with the assumption that fuel prices would continue to soar.

But that's not what happened.

By 1985 oil and natural gas prices were dropping. This changed the "avoided cost" calculations to the disadvantage of alternative energy producers. ISO4 contracts no longer guaranteed a price sufficient to attract investment in wind energy. Construction of new turbines stopped. As the old ten-year contracts began to expire in the late 1980s, renewals were pegged at much lower avoided cost estimates. As a result, many California wind developers quickly closed up shop, abandoning their turbines to moan out the one note song.

Then Enron got involved.

Building on the foundation laid by PURPA, 1992 Energy Policy Act (EPAct) began the partial deregulation of wholesale -- but not retail -- electricity. Reich in 1985 had lauded the "crumbling" of "large-scale production (and) centralized management". He got his wish. EPAct set the stage for Enron's California energy market manipulations which led to the 2003 recall of Governor Gray Davis (D-CA). The movement started by a PG&E heir led to the bankruptcy of PG&E. Perhaps this is why some call the children of the 1960s "the destructive generation."

Designed to create a renewable energy trading market, EPAct -- much of which took effect in 1997 -- created a combination of mandates, incentives, and tax credits. These included:

•laws requiring large wind producers to be allowed to tie into the existing utility grid
•"Renewable Portfolio Standards" forcing utilities to buy intermittent wind generated electricity.
•"Renewable Energy Certificates" tradable separately from the electricity itself to sell to companies needing to meet the portfolio standards.
•A 10-year "Production Tax Credit" that now equals $.019/kWh
•Accelerated depreciation allowing tax write-off using an accelerated 5-year double-declining-balance method (40% per year).

Wind capacity had stagnated through the mid-1990s. But Enron in January, 1997 bought out Tehachapi-based industry leader Zond Corporation - launching the second California Wind Rush.

Four years later, Enron would implode. The company which gamed a government-crippled artificial marketplace was deconstructed as poster boy for unbridled capitalism.

But the tax credits, mandates, and regulations which made Enron possible did not die with it. Enron Wind's turbine manufacturing subsidiary was purchased by General Electric. Many of its wind farms went to Florida Light and Power. By 2009, the US Department of Energy estimates mandate-and-subsidy-driven wind capacity would rise to 28,635mw.

That much coal or nuclear "capacity" would power 28.635 million homes, but wind "capacity" is calculated assuming perfect wind 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. At the best wind sites, such as Kamaoa, newly installed turbines generate only 30-40% of "capacity". At most sites, the figure is 20% or less. After 30 years of development, wind produces only 2.3% of California's electricity.

And then there is maintenance. The turbines installed in the first wind rush were not very reliable. Some never worked at all. As the years passed and the elements took their toll, downtime climbed ever closer to 100% and production dwindled to negligible amounts. Developers often set malfunctioning turbines to "virtual" mode -- blades spinning without generating electricity -- in order to keep oil circulating inside the turbine drive. Of course this habit also gives passing drivers an illusion of productivity.

Wind developers claim that today's American and European-made turbines are more reliable and longer-lasting than their old-tech predecessors. But new Chinese turbine manufacturers of untested quality are crowding the marketplace Europe's subsidy-driven turbine meisters are chased from their home markets.

After the debacle of the First California Wind Rush, the European Union had moved ahead of the US on efforts to subsidize "renewable" energy--including a "Feed in Tariff" even more lucrative than the ISO4 contracts. EU governments provided government-backed securities to support utilities burdened by Feed-in Tariff costs. But last year, as the national debt of wind-intensive EU countries became unbearable, the EU subsidy bubble burst.

Wind maven Gipe proudly takes a page from the disastrous European playbook, crediting himself with "Almost single-handedly launch(ing) a campaign for Advanced Renewable Tariffs (electricity feed laws) in North America."

But addressing a Heritage Foundation seminar last May, Dr. Gabriel Calzada, Professor of King Juan Carlos University in Madrid explained what Feed In Tariffs and other wind subsidies did to Spain (as well as Portugal and Greece) got into debt:

"The feed-in tariff... would make (utility) companies go bankrupt eventually. So...the government guarantees...to give back the money in the future -- when (they) are not going to be in the office any more. Slowly the market does not want to have these securities that they are selling. Right now there is a debt related to these renewable energies that nobody knows how it is going to be paid -- of 16 Billion Euros."

In early 2009 the Socialist government of Spain reduced alternative energy subsidies by 30%. Calzada continues:

"At that point the whole pyramid collapsed. They are firing thousands of people. BP closed down the two largest solar production plants in Europe. They are firing between 25,000 and 40,000 people...."

"What do we do with all this industry that we have been creating with subsidies that now is collapsing? The bubble is too big. We cannot continue pumping enough money. ...The President of the Renewable Industry in Spain (wrote a column arguing that) ...the only way is finding other countries that will give taxpayers' money away to our industry to take it and continue maintaining these jobs."

That "other country" is the United States of America.

Waxman-Markey seems dead, and Europe's southern periphery is bankrupt. But the wind-subsidy proposals being floated in Congress suggest that American political leaders have yet to understand that "green power" means generating electricity by burning dollars.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wind farm’s payments: $8,000 per megawatt

HERKIMER

The Herkimer County Legislature has ended five years of negotiations with Iberdrola Renewables by approving a 20-year payment in lieu of taxes agreement for the company’s Hardscrabble Wind Project in the towns of Fairfield and Norway.

“A lot of legislative time and effort was put into the negotiations, and the end result is an agreement that has the best interest of the taxpayers in mind,” County Administrator James Wallace said after Friday’s unanimous vote.

“Everyone involved did a great job, and we were able to get a good deal for the taxpayers.”

According to the agreement, the county will accept a prorated share of $8,000 per megawatt produced by the project’s 37 wind turbines in the next 20 years.

A cost of living adjustment was included for the payments, with a floor of 2.5 percent and a ceiling of five percent. The adjustments, according to the agreement, will commence this year, so that the January 2012 payment will be a minimum of $8,405 per megawatt, depending on the cost of living.

The agreement also calls for a $400,000 construction impact payment to be made to the county within 60 days of the start of construction, and states that if future projects in Lewis and Jefferson counties receive higher per megawatt payment amounts from Iberdrola or a related developer during the three year period from the first per megawatt payment to the county, Herkimer County’s per megawatt amount will increase to the higher level.

The agreement also says that if the wind turbines interfere with E-911 transmissions, the project owners will be required to take all necessary steps to resolve the problems, and will hold the county harmless from any associated costs.

The county also will be held harmless for sales tax and mortgage tax during the entire term of the agreement, as well as in connection with county roads through the execution of an “appropriate agreement.”

The PILOT payments will not cover substations in the event they are turned over to or owned or developed by a third party.

“I believe we were one of the first counties to take the initiative to seek out a consultant to help us in our negotiations,” Legislator Dennis Korce, District 14, said. “When these negotiations began five years ago, many of us on the legislature had very little understanding of windmills or things such as price per megawatt, and through our working with the consultant we were able to educate ourselves and reach an agreement that is beneficial to the taxpayers of this county.”

“From where we started to where we are now we were able to gain 60 percent through negotiation, and that increase will benefit everyone in the county,” said Legislator Fred Shaw, District 16.

While Legislator Leonard Hendrix, District 6, voted in favor of the agreement, he voiced his displeasure over the negotiation process.

“I am not happy with how we were treated during these negotiations,” he said. “When we asked for information we did not receive it. We were accused of stonewalling the project throughout the process when that was not the case, as we were simply trying to negotiate the best possible agreement to help the county, the towns and the school.”

The project is expected to produce 74 megawatts of energy, which means as much as $592,000 annually could be split between the county, towns and West Canada Valley school district based on the $8,000 per megawatt rate.

In all, the project is estimated to bring in over $11.8 million.

Fairfield Town Supervisor Richard Souza welcomed the approval.

“Financially, this project will bring in a sizable amount of revenue for our town,” he said. “And considering our current financial standing, that additional money will be of help to us.”

Now that the legislature has approved the PILOT agreement, the Herkimer County Industrial Development Agency will conduct a public hearing. Then a final vote will be taken on the agreement before construction begins.

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First Wind Holdings Inc. 12/22/09 SEC S1/A IPO Filing

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May 14, 2010 addition to the First Wind Holdings Inc. SEC S1A IPO Filing

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October 13, 2010 Filing update to the First Wind Holdings Inc. SEC S1A IPO Filing

New October 25, 2010 Filing update to the First Wind Holdings Inc. SEC S1A IPO Filing


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