Cohocton Wind Watch: March 2011
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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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Take the NCNow Survey

Large wind farms have been proposed in the Parishville-Hopkinton area as well as Hammond. “Are you in favor of wind farms in St. Lawrence County?”

Take the NCNow Survey

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Trend-spotting and a success story in the fight against Big Wind

The little town of Brimfiled Massachusetts (that could) had a fight on their hands. First Wind came to their rural community intent to install 8-10 wind turbines. They didn't know with whom they were messing. Citizens galvanized and on foot traveled through town to tape informational flyers on each and every mailbox. They were determined to defend the character of Brimfield against the industrial blight planned by First Wind.

At Public Hearing, an unprecedented 200 residents rallied and appeared prepared to fight First Wind. One wore a tee-shirt that read, "Mafia Go Home!". Others told First Wind they had picked the wrong town. The Board took notice and so did the developer.

First Wind withdrew their plans for Brimfield citing insufficient wind speed.

A tip of the hat goes to the fiesty folks from Brimfield, Massachusetts.

Town wind panel wants multiyear ban

The town's Wind Committee is recommending a three- to five-year moratorium on industrial wind development in a report issued Monday to the Town Council.

"It would be prudent to allow for adequate and scientifically staffed radar, sonar, and other data collection and analysis to be completed to address questions regarding potential bird, bat, and other wildlife impacts," the committee's report says. "This extended time could also be used to evaluate industrial wind development's consequences for property values of adjacent lands."

A moratorium on wind development approved last year expires in late July.

The 10-member Hammond Wind Advisory Committee was appointed by the Town Council in February 2010 and first met that March. The committee has met 31 times since, its work culminating in proposed changes to the town's wind law.

Read the entire article

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bolt Failures Cause Blades to Fly Off Wind Turbine

Bolt failures caused a wind turbine's rotor and blades to fall from a tower in north-central North Dakota, and six other turbines have been shut down while their bolts are replaced, a state regulator said Thursday.

Members of North Dakota's Public Service Commission, which oversaw the development of the 71-turbine wind farm, said Thursday they would seek more detailed information about how widespread the problems may be.

"That's a fair bit of equipment concern that I would have, quite frankly," Commissioner Kevin Cramer said.

The wind project, which was dedicated last October, is located near Rugby in Pierce County. It is capable of generating up to 149 megawatts of electricity.

It is owned by Iberdrola Renewables Inc. of Portland, Ore., which is a unit of Iberdrola Renovables SA of Valencia, Spain. The turbines themselves were manufactured by Suzlon Wind Energy Corp., a unit of Suzlon Energy Ltd., based in India.

Spokeswomen for Iberdrola and Suzlon did not immediately reply to telephone and email requests for comment Thursday. Suzlon has previously described the accident as an isolated incident.

Jerry Lein, a commission utility analyst, said Iberdrola officials told him that bolts that attached the wind turbine's rotor and blades to a power shaft had failed. The shaft transfers the energy generated by the turning blades to an electric generator.

No one was injured when the rotor and blades toppled from the tower March 14 and crashed to the ground.

Lein said the wind farm was shut down and its turbines inspected. The turbines that did not need bolt replacement have been restarted, he said. The damaged material has been sent to a lab for analysis.

"They want to look further into the mechanism there that was failed before," he said. "They said that, specifically, they're replacing the bolts that hold it together."

The bolts are normally checked every six months, Lein said.

Commissioner Brian Kalk said the agency should seek to examine the wind farm's maintenance records. He wants to hear more information from the companies within two weeks, Kalk said.

"I'd like (the companies) to get back in front of us as quickly as possible ... and give us their best estimate of what is going on," Kalk said.

The commission's president, Tony Clark, said the agency should hold an informal hearing on the incident.

"Nobody has a greater incentive to find out what went wrong than the company does," Cramer said. "But, at the same time, the citizens of Pierce County, they're probably a little bit concerned too. ... You might not want to go hiking in the prairie for a while."

Hawaii Wind Developer tied to Largest-ever asset seizure by anti-Mafia police

http://cohoctonwindwatch.blogspot.com/2011/03/hawaii-wind-developer-tied-to-largest.html

Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind stood comfortably with Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie, Rep Mazie Hirono, and HECO CEO Dick Rosenblum at the grand opening of the Kahuku Wind energy project on Oahu’s North Shore Thursday. As he should.

First Wind–formerly known as UPC Wind--got its start in wind energy by launching Italy’s IVPC--a company now subject to a record breaking asset seizure by Italian police. The Financial Times September 14, 2010 explains:

Italian anti-mafia police have made their largest seizure of assets as part of an investigation into windfarm contracts in Sicily. Officers confiscated property and accounts valued at €1.5bn belonging to a businessman suspected of having links with the mafia.

Roberto Maroni, interior minister, on Tuesday accused the businessman – identified by police as Vito Nicastri and known as the island’s “lord of the winds” – of being close to a fugitive mafia boss, Matteo Messina Denaro.

General Antonio Mirone, of the anti-mafia police, said the seized assets included 43 companies – some with foreign participation and mostly in the solar and windpower sector – as well as about 100 plots of land, villas and warehouses, luxury cars and a catamaran. More than 60 bank accounts were frozen.

Until his arrest last November, Mr Nicastri, based in the inland hill town of Alcamo, was Sicily’s largest developer of windfarms, arranging purchases of land, financing and official permits. Some projects were sold through intermediaries to foreign renewable energy companies attracted to Italy by generous subsidy schemes….

The renewable energy sector is under scrutiny across much of southern Italy. Some windfarms, built with official subsidies, have never functioned….

Mr Nicastri sold most of his windfarm projects to IVPC, a company near Naples run by Oreste Vigorito, also president of Italy’s windpower association. Mr Vigorito was also arrested last November on suspicion of fraud and later released. He denied wrongdoing.

Of course the folks who started IVPC know nothing about any of this. Reacting to an earlier round of arrests, First Wind founder Brian Caffyn told the November 15, 2009 Boston Herald: “I read about it in the papers, and I was very surprised.”

Will Hawaii’s windfarms actually work? The “Clipper Liberty” wind turbines installed at Kahuku and on Maui are made by a company founded by a former Director of Enron Wind. Clipper Liberty Vice President of Engineering is also an Enron Wind veteran.

Gaynor and Caffyn were once much more public about their corporate ties to Vigorito’s IVPC. First Wind was originally known as UPC. The UPC Solar website touts “Mr. Caffyn personally oversaw the establishment and construction of the largest wind energy company in Italy — Italian Vento Power Corporation.”

IVPC’s english-language website states: “The Group came to light in 1993 from an idea of Oreste Vigorito who formed the company I.V.P.C. S.r.l. on behalf of UPC, an American company which operates in the wind sector in California.” (Emphasis added.)

The UPC Solar website explains: “UPC’s earliest wind farm developments were built in 1995 in Italy. At the time UPC sold IVPC, its Italian wind business, in 2005, it had built approximately 650MW of capacity representing over 50% of the total installed Italian wind capacity.”

The Worcester Polytechnic Institute News Summer, 2005 reports on the activities of WPI alumnus Gaynor:

"...As president and CEO of UPC Wind Management, located in Newton, Mass., Gaynor was tapped to bring the success of the parent company, UPC Group, to North America. In Europe and North Africa, UPC affiliates—including Italian Vento Power Corporation—have raised over $900 million in financing and installed some 900 utility-scale wind turbine generators (WTGs), with a total capacity of more than 635 megawatts. UPC subsidiary companies, positioned across the United States and in Toronto, are currently pursing some 2,000 megawatts in projects from Maine to Maui..."

In March, Gaynor secured financing for a $70 million project on the island of Maui. [The project is a joint venture with Makani Nui Associates, which owns 49 percent.] The 30-megawatt wind farm at Kaheawa Pastures will be Hawaii’s first utility-scale project to be put into service since the 1980s. Plans call for 20 towers, 180 feet tall, with 1.5-megawatt General Electric turbines. Construction is expected to begin this summer, and the project should be completed by the first quarter of 2006. When operational, the wind farm will supply up to 9 percent of demand to customers of Maui Electric Company.

The Kaheawa Pastures site is situated on state conservation land, between Ma’aleaea and Olowalu, at elevations ranging from 2,000 to 3,000 feet.

Makani Nui is also a partner in the Kahuku Wind project.

Business Week reports that Caffyn is a Director or Partner in dozens of Limited Liability Corporations tied to wind energy projects. These include Hawaii’s Kaheawa Wind Power, LLC, Kaheawa Wind Power II, LLC, Hawaii Wind Construction, LLC, and UPC Hawaii Wind O&M.

Caffyn is also listed as a Director or Partner of Italian Vento Power Corporation (IVPC), Srl, IVPC 4, Srl. (Italian Vento Power Corporation), IVPC 6, Srl, IVPC 2000, Srl., IVPC Energy B.V., IVPC Energy 3 B.V., IVPC Energy 4 B.V., IVPC Energy 5, B.V., IVPC Energy 6, B.V., IVPC Energy 7, B.V., IVPC Gestione, Srl, IVPC Management, Srl, IVPC Management 2, Srl and IVPC Marche, Srl. Mr. Caffyn served as Director or Partner of IVPC Marche 2, Srl., IVPC Puglia, Srl, IVPC Service, Srl, IVPC Service 2, Srl, IVPC Service 3, Srl, IVPC Service 4, Srl, IVPC Service 5, Srl, IVPC Service 6, Srl, IVPC Sicilia, Srl., IVPC Sicilia 2, Srl., IVPC Sicilia 3, Srl., IVPC Sicilia 4, Srl., IVPC Sicilia 5, Srl., IVPC Sicilia 6, Srl., IVPC Umbria, Srl., IVPC Wind, Srl.

The UK Independent September 16, 2010 reports:

After decades of drug-running, extortion and prostitution, the Mafia appears to have found a rather more ecological way of laundering their money: green power.

And if the assets of the Italian police's latest target are any indication, the Mafia is embracing the renewable energy business with an enthusiasm that would make Al Gore look like a dilettante. The surprising revelation of organised crime's new green streak came as Italian police said yesterday they had made the largest recorded seizure of mob assets – worth €1.5bn (£1.25bn) ($2.1bn US) – from the Mafia-linked Sicilian businessman Vito Nicastri, who had vast holdings in alternative energy concerns, including wind farms.

Organised crime in Italy has previously been notorious for trading in environmental destruction – principally earning billions of euros by illegally dumping toxic waste. But most of the newly seized assets are in the form of land, property and bank accounts in Sicily, the home of Cosa Nostra, and in the neighbouring region of Calabria, the base of the rival 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate.

So naturally, First Wind is very comfortable with Hawaii politicians and business leaders.

THE FUTURE: Wind Energy's Ghosts

The list First Wind owned companies (some inactive) registered in Hawaii includes the following:

FIRST WIND CONSTRUCTION, LLC
FIRST WIND ENERGY, LLC
FIRST WIND ENERGY MARKETING, LLC
FIRST WIND HAWAII
FIRST WIND O&M BATTERY SERVICES, LLC
FIRST WIND O&M FACILITIES MANAGEMENT, LLC
FIRST WIND O&M FACILITIES MANAGEMENT LLC
FIRST WIND O & M, LLC
KAHEAWA WIND POWER II, LLC
KAHEAWA WIND POWER II, LLC
KAHEAWA WIND POWER, L.L.C.
KAHEAWA WIND POWER, LLC
KAHEAWA WIND POWER, LLC
KAHEAWA WIND POWER, LLC
KAHEAWA WIND POWER, LLC
KAHEAWA WIND POWER VENTURES, LLC
KAHUKU WIND POWER II, LLC
KAHUKU WIND POWER II, LLC
KAHUKU WIND POWER, LLC
HAWAII HOLDINGS, LLC DBA FIRST WIND HAWAII
HAWAII HOLDINGS, LLC DBA HAWAII HOLDINGS, LLC (NV)
UPC HAWAII HOLDINGS, LLC
UPC HAWAII HOLDINGS, LLC
UPC HAWAII WIND
UPC HAWAII WIND CONSTRUCTION, LLC
UPC HAWAII WIND O & M, LLC
UPC HAWAII WIND PARTNERS II, L.L.C.
UPC HAWAII WIND PARTNERS II, LLC
UPC HAWAII WIND PARTNERS II, LLC
UPC HAWAII WIND PARTNERS, L.L.C.
UPC HAWAII WIND PARTNERS, LLC
UPC KAHUKU WIND POWER, LLC
UPC KAUAI WIND POWER, LLC
UPC WIND MANAGEMENT, LLC

by Andrew Walden

Hawaii Wind Developer tied to Largest-ever asset seizure by anti-Mafia police

Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind stood comfortably with Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie, Rep Mazie Hirono, and HECO CEO Dick Rosenblum at the grand opening of the Kahuku Wind energy project on Oahu’s North Shore Thursday. As he should.

First Wind–formerly known as UPC Wind--got its start in wind energy by launching Italy’s IVPC--a company now subject to a record breaking asset seizure by Italian police. The Financial Times September 14, 2010 explains:

Italian anti-mafia police have made their largest seizure of assets as part of an investigation into windfarm contracts in Sicily. Officers confiscated property and accounts valued at €1.5bn belonging to a businessman suspected of having links with the mafia.

Roberto Maroni, interior minister, on Tuesday accused the businessman – identified by police as Vito Nicastri and known as the island’s “lord of the winds” – of being close to a fugitive mafia boss, Matteo Messina Denaro.

General Antonio Mirone, of the anti-mafia police, said the seized assets included 43 companies – some with foreign participation and mostly in the solar and windpower sector – as well as about 100 plots of land, villas and warehouses, luxury cars and a catamaran. More than 60 bank accounts were frozen.

Until his arrest last November, Mr Nicastri, based in the inland hill town of Alcamo, was Sicily’s largest developer of windfarms, arranging purchases of land, financing and official permits. Some projects were sold through intermediaries to foreign renewable energy companies attracted to Italy by generous subsidy schemes….

The renewable energy sector is under scrutiny across much of southern Italy. Some windfarms, built with official subsidies, have never functioned….

Mr Nicastri sold most of his windfarm projects to IVPC, a company near Naples run by Oreste Vigorito, also president of Italy’s windpower association. Mr Vigorito was also arrested last November on suspicion of fraud and later released. He denied wrongdoing.

Of course the folks who started IVPC know nothing about any of this. Reacting to an earlier round of arrests, First Wind founder Brian Caffyn told the November 15, 2009 Boston Herald: “I read about it in the papers, and I was very surprised.”

Will Hawaii’s windfarms actually work? The “Clipper Liberty” wind turbines installed at Kahuku and on Maui are made by a company founded by a former Director of Enron Wind. Clipper Liberty Vice President of Engineering is also an Enron Wind veteran.

Gaynor and Caffyn were once much more public about their corporate ties to Vigorito’s IVPC. First Wind was originally known as UPC. The UPC Solar website touts “Mr. Caffyn personally oversaw the establishment and construction of the largest wind energy company in Italy — Italian Vento Power Corporation.”

IVPC’s english-language website states: “The Group came to light in 1993 from an idea of Oreste Vigorito who formed the company I.V.P.C. S.r.l. on behalf of UPC, an American company which operates in the wind sector in California.” (Emphasis added.)

The UPC Solar website explains: “UPC’s earliest wind farm developments were built in 1995 in Italy. At the time UPC sold IVPC, its Italian wind business, in 2005, it had built approximately 650MW of capacity representing over 50% of the total installed Italian wind capacity.”

The Worcester Polytechnic Institute News Summer, 2005 reports on the activities of WPI alumnus Gaynor:

"...As president and CEO of UPC Wind Management, located in Newton, Mass., Gaynor was tapped to bring the success of the parent company, UPC Group, to North America. In Europe and North Africa, UPC affiliates—including Italian Vento Power Corporation—have raised over $900 million in financing and installed some 900 utility-scale wind turbine generators (WTGs), with a total capacity of more than 635 megawatts. UPC subsidiary companies, positioned across the United States and in Toronto, are currently pursing some 2,000 megawatts in projects from Maine to Maui..."

In March, Gaynor secured financing for a $70 million project on the island of Maui. [The project is a joint venture with Makani Nui Associates, which owns 49 percent.] The 30-megawatt wind farm at Kaheawa Pastures will be Hawaii’s first utility-scale project to be put into service since the 1980s. Plans call for 20 towers, 180 feet tall, with 1.5-megawatt General Electric turbines. Construction is expected to begin this summer, and the project should be completed by the first quarter of 2006. When operational, the wind farm will supply up to 9 percent of demand to customers of Maui Electric Company.

The Kaheawa Pastures site is situated on state conservation land, between Ma’aleaea and Olowalu, at elevations ranging from 2,000 to 3,000 feet.

Makani Nui is also a partner in the Kahuku Wind project.

Business Week reports that Caffyn is a Director or Partner in dozens of Limited Liability Corporations tied to wind energy projects. These include Hawaii’s Kaheawa Wind Power, LLC, Kaheawa Wind Power II, LLC, Hawaii Wind Construction, LLC, and UPC Hawaii Wind O&M.

Caffyn is also listed as a Director or Partner of Italian Vento Power Corporation (IVPC), Srl, IVPC 4, Srl. (Italian Vento Power Corporation), IVPC 6, Srl, IVPC 2000, Srl., IVPC Energy B.V., IVPC Energy 3 B.V., IVPC Energy 4 B.V., IVPC Energy 5, B.V., IVPC Energy 6, B.V., IVPC Energy 7, B.V., IVPC Gestione, Srl, IVPC Management, Srl, IVPC Management 2, Srl and IVPC Marche, Srl. Mr. Caffyn served as Director or Partner of IVPC Marche 2, Srl., IVPC Puglia, Srl, IVPC Service, Srl, IVPC Service 2, Srl, IVPC Service 3, Srl, IVPC Service 4, Srl, IVPC Service 5, Srl, IVPC Service 6, Srl, IVPC Sicilia, Srl., IVPC Sicilia 2, Srl., IVPC Sicilia 3, Srl., IVPC Sicilia 4, Srl., IVPC Sicilia 5, Srl., IVPC Sicilia 6, Srl., IVPC Umbria, Srl., IVPC Wind, Srl.

The UK Independent September 16, 2010 reports:

After decades of drug-running, extortion and prostitution, the Mafia appears to have found a rather more ecological way of laundering their money: green power.

And if the assets of the Italian police's latest target are any indication, the Mafia is embracing the renewable energy business with an enthusiasm that would make Al Gore look like a dilettante. The surprising revelation of organised crime's new green streak came as Italian police said yesterday they had made the largest recorded seizure of mob assets – worth €1.5bn (£1.25bn) ($2.1bn US) – from the Mafia-linked Sicilian businessman Vito Nicastri, who had vast holdings in alternative energy concerns, including wind farms.

Organised crime in Italy has previously been notorious for trading in environmental destruction – principally earning billions of euros by illegally dumping toxic waste. But most of the newly seized assets are in the form of land, property and bank accounts in Sicily, the home of Cosa Nostra, and in the neighbouring region of Calabria, the base of the rival 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate.

So naturally, First Wind is very comfortable with Hawaii politicians and business leaders.

by Andrew Walden

Sunday, March 27, 2011

EVENT DRAWS WIND FARM FOES

More than 100 people attended an open house Saturday, blasting Iberdrola Renewables' proposed North Ridge Wind Farm.

Company representatives Jenny L. Burke and Daniel C. Murdie said the project, in Parishville and neighboring Hopkinton, is in the preliminary development phase and could take three or more years to complete.

"The size of the project will depend on the availability of interconnection," Ms. Burke said.

Iberdrola is acquiring land leases in both towns, she said, with wind test towers already in place.

Read the entire article

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A world of thanks to the Prattsburgh Town Board

The majority of the current town board of Prattsburgh, has kept their promise. When the election results were tallied in November of 2009, a clear message was sent. The town wanted a renewed town board that would not only listen, but use their experience and knowledge to make decisions benefitting the town. Some say the election was only based on wind farms. This is far from the truth. The current town board has been pro-active with every area of improvement for the town. Benefits like seeking grants to improve water systems and bargaining for lowering electric rates for the town have been overshadowed by attacks on the town by Ecogen, the wind farm developer, and lawsuit costs to protect the residents of Prattsburgh. This level of detail and commitment has not occurred in Prattsburgh for many years. There will always be two sides of the story, and different beliefs by individuals. I am proud that the majority of the current town board has kept their promise, stuck to the issues, represented the people that voted them in and kept an open honest government. In this day and age of lack of faith in our public officials, I am proud of this group and the representation they have delivered. Thanks for representing us and what we believe in. “We The People”, merely had to show up and vote you in to office. You are the ones that continue to shoulder the burden. You must balance the facts that surround you and make decisions that represent “Us”, the voters that put you there. Thanks for your continued dedication!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Rush Limbaugh on Industrial Wind Turbines

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cancel Kessel

Then-Gov. David Paterson's choice to head the New York Power Authority, Richie Kessel, turns out to have been a big mistake, just as we predicted.

Now, only two questions remain:

* How much has it cost ratepayers?

* Will the mistake ever be fixed?

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman this week had to order Kessel to quit handing NYPA customers' cash to his favorite charities -- a practice he apparently brought over from his days at the Long Island Power Authority.

Never mind that then-AG Andrew Cuomo ruled in 2007 that the two authorities were not legally allowed to do that. (As if a legal ruling should be needed.)

Spurring Schneiderman's slap was a Freedom of Information request from ex-Port Authority boss George Marlin, which revealed numerous dubious NYPA donations, like one for $4,750 to Kessel's hometown Merrick Chamber of Commerce.

An NYPA aide insisted it was all proper and tied to the authority's work.

But that didn't seem to satisfy the AG, who warned Kessel anyway.

No wonder Cuomo, now governor, wants an adult to keep an eye on NYPA: He nominated an ex-NYPA chairman and respected veteran of the Rudy Giuliani and Hugh Carey teams, John Dyson, to the authority's board, presumably to serve as top dog again.

Just one problem: Kessel's past largess may have influenced enough officials, perhaps even Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (a fellow Long Islander), to stymie the Dyson move.

For sure, Kessel and Skelos have many friends in common -- including such powerhouses as former-Sen. Alfonse D'Amato.

On Tuesday, the board will hold its annual meeting, but Skelos has no specific plans, an aide said, for the Senate to OK Cuomo's choice by then.

Which means Dyson may lose out.

And Kessel would continue to have free rein. With ratepayer cash.

Read entire article

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Opposition Counties to the NYPA GLOW project

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Albany, Craftsbury oppose Lowell wind project

Selectboards in the towns of Albany and Craftsbury announced their opposition Monday to a wind project in Lowell -- a development supported by voters in that town and with stated backing from Gov. Peter Shumlin.

The project in question is Kingdom Community Wind, a plan to construct 21 wind turbines that would stand more than 400 feet tall atop Lowell Mountain in the state's Northeast Kingdom. Green Mountain Power has asked the Public Service Board for a certificate of public good to construct the wind turbines.

Albany and Craftsbury selectboards have determined "the proposed benefits from the project do not outweigh the adverse impacts to their communities," the towns stated in a news release Monday issued by Energize Vermont, an organization that says its mission is finding renewable-energy sources "that are in harmony with the irreplaceable character of Vermont."

Selectboard members in Albany, the closest town to the proposed development, voted in a meeting last week to send a letter opposing Kingdom Community Wind, writing that the wind project is "shocking and offensive." Board members cited concerns about negative health effects from the turbines' noise, visual and aesthetic effects, and possible effects on firefighting resources.

In Craftsbury, which Energize Vermont says has "many of the most prominent direct sight lines" to the wind development, Selectboard members based their opposition on aesthetics and the effects on "the local economy and quality of life." Officials also cited effects on wildlife habitat, water flows and "community identity," and also said the project would not provide "stable, low-cost power" or help combat climate change.

The project's developers say it could generate enough electricity to power 20,000 households, and they have promised $400,000 a year in payments to Lowell, which town officials say would result in tax relief for residents. The town voted overwhelmingly last year to approve the project, though it still needs approval from Vermont utility regulators.

Shumlin in February announced his support for the project, which had been opposed by the administration of his predecessor, Republican Gov. Jim Douglas.

WIND TURBINE PROMOTION AS A SCAM AND STEALTH TAX

TAXPAYER ORGANIZATION CHARGES WIND TURBINE PROMOTION AS A SCAM AND STEALTH TAX

CHICAGO—"The promotion of wind turbines is a scam and stealth tax," charged the President of Taxpayers United of America (TUA).

“Wind turbines are far less efficient than coal-burning plants. Turbines have roughly 30 percent efficiency, while coal plants operate at 90 percent efficiency,” said Jim Tobin, TUA President.

“Wind turbine companies receive massive taxpayer subsidies,” said Tobin. “They receive federal subsidies of 66 percent of construction costs, and also receive more than $23 per megawatt they produce. Convention generation receives about $1 per megawatt.”

“For every million dollars wind turbine companies spend in construction costs, they get a check for $330,000 from the federal government. The rest they must put up, but that is usually paid off in a very short term once they connect to the grid and begin generating tax credits, which are then sold to large companies to ‘offset’ pollution.”

“Wind turbine lobbyists are pushing the EPA and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to promulgate corrupt, anti-taxpayer regulations. Lobbyists have pushed the EPA to declare coal ash hazardous.”

“A good example of this scam is in Illinois, where FERC is proposing to force Illinois electric consumers to pay $1.3 billion to upgrade the national grid to connect wind machines. The Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), passed by Springfield politicians, forces utilities to buy high-cost wind energy and then to charge consumers extra to pay for it. It is a hidden tax on energy that drives up its cost.”

A November 8 article in the Wall Street Journal stated: “Senators Henry Reid of Nevada and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, both of whom have big wind and solar projects in their states, pushed a Senate energy bill this summer that would have socialized … transmission costs. That bill has stalled, so FERC -- supported by the White House and Democratic leaders -- may move on its own.”

“I urge taxpayers to contact federal lawmakers and demand they immediately draft bills to block both EPA and FERC. Additionally, Illinois taxpayers should contact their state legislators and ask them to repeal the state RPS.”

For more information, contact Rich Porter of Energize Illinois: An Energy Policy Group, at (217) 379-9007.

Founded in 1976, TUA is one of the largest taxpayer organizations in MidAmerica.

407 South Dearborn, Suite 1170  Chicago, IL 60605
Phone: (312) 427-5128  Fax: (312) 427-5139  Web: NTUI.org  Email: ntui@NTUI.org

Monday, March 21, 2011

Iberdrola Halts U.S. Wind Farm After Suzlon Turbine Blades Fall to Ground

Iberdrola SA (IBE), the biggest producer of renewable energy, halted power production at a 150-megawatt wind farm in Rugby, North Dakota, after the blades of a Suzlon Energy Ltd. (SUEL) S88 generator fell from their mount.

The plant was suspended after the March 14 accident while Spain’s Iberdrola and Suzlon of India investigate the causes, according to an Iberdrola spokesman who asked not to be named in line with company policy. No one was hurt and there is no indication of when electricity production may resume.

Suzlon has signed contracts to deliver at least 1,257 megawatts of the 2.1-megawatt turbines to countries including China, Australia, India and Brazil, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The same model suffered cracked blades in 2008, prompting Suzlon to strengthen the components at a cost of $25 million, according to the Composites World industry website.

“In partnership with our customer Iberdrola Renewables, Suzlon is currently conducting an investigation into the cause of this incident,” Suzlon said in an e-mailed response to questions about the plant, owned by the renewable-energy unit of Bilbao-based Iberdrola.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ann Hornaday reviews ‘Windfall’

Faucets don’t spit fire in “Windfall,” making its local premiere Saturday at the Environmental Film Festival. But incendiary water may be the only side effect not associated with wind power in Laura Israel’s absorbing, sobering documentary about the lures and perils of green technology.

With the Oscar-nominated “Gasland” (and its flame-throwing plumbing) enlightening viewers on the environmental and public health implications of natural gas drilling, and with nuclear power’s reputation in meltdown as a global community turns an anxious gaze toward Japan, some hardy souls may see hope in wind power. After seeing “Windfall,” those optimists will probably emerge with their faith, if not shaken, at least blown strongly off course.

“Windfall” takes place in Meredith, N.Y., a once-thriving dairy-farming community of fewer than 2,000 tucked into a bucolic Catskills valley that is teetering between post-agricultural poverty and hip gentrification. When Irish energy company Airtricity offers leases to build windmills on some residents’ properties, the deals initially seem like a win-win. A little extra money in the pockets of struggling farmers, an environmentally sound technology, those graceful white wings languorously slicing the afternoon sky — what’s not to like?

Plenty, as the concerned residents in “Windfall” find out. Not only do the 400-foot, 600,000-pound turbines look much less benign up close, but research has suggested that their constant low-frequency noise and the flickering shadows they cast affect public health; what’s more, they’ve been known to fall, catch fire and throw off potentially lethal chunks of snow and ice.

Soon Meredith succumbs to drastic divisions between boosters, who see Airtricity’s offers as a godsend for the economically strapped community, and skeptics, who see the leases as little more than green-washed carpetbaggery. “Windfall” chronicles the ensuing, agonizing fight, which largely splits lifelong residents and the relatively new “downstaters,” who’ve moved in from Manhattan and want to keep their views and property values pristine.

Using artful collages of maps and signage, a rootsy soundtrack and crisp digital cinematography, Israel provides a vivid backdrop to “Windfall’s” most gripping story, the emotionally charged human conflict that results in a genuine cliffhanger of a third act. Wisely letting Meredith’s residents speak for themselves, the filmmaker avoids simple good-guy-bad-guy schematics, instead enabling each side to state its case.

Israel, a film editor making her feature debut here, has owned a cabin in Meredith for more than 20 years, a fact never made clear in “Windfall,” which is, nonetheless, filmed with careful, dispassionate distance. In large part, the documentary follows Israel’s process of discovery. Although she wasn’t approached for a lease, she initially supported wind power in the community, she said in an interview. “I wanted a turbine on my property, which motivated me to learn more about it,” she explained. “A lot of the people in the film are illustrating the process I went through, from initial excitement to having it unravel as you find out more about the subject.”

Comparing the situation in Meredith with similar ones in other New York communities, Israel conveys an alarming portrait of small, economically vulnerable towns being cynically targeted by Big Wind — slick, savvy energy companies less interested in the public good than in profits, which are virtually ensured thanks to generous federal and state tax breaks, as well as the deep pockets of investment banks. “It’s not green energy,” notes one observer. “It’s greed.”

Meanwhile, in Meredith, a handful of earnest, common-sense heroes try to separate fact from hype, do the right thing and navigate thorny questions of civic progress by way of small-town democracy. The latter isn’t always pretty, as anyone who has attended a town hall or school board meeting knows. But “Windfall” makes it look exciting, inspiring and, most important, stubbornly enduring. Last year, the Environmental Film Festival helped launch “Gasland’s” grass-roots tour, during which the film pulled the veil from an otherwise opaque subject. With luck, “Windfall” will soon embark on a similar eye-opening journey. Catch it if you can.

Friday, March 18, 2011

No lake windmills on their minds

The Erie County Legislature on Thursday opposed the placement of power-generating windmills in Lake Erie—a move that lawmakers hope dissuades the New York Power Authority from erecting a wind farm off the county’s shoreline.

Erie became at least the seventh of nine New York counties fronting Lake Erie or Lake Ontario to oppose the placement of offshore windmills. Nearby, the Chautauqua County Legislature stated its opposition in the summer of 2010. A majority of Niagara County lawmakers this year agreed to oppose a wind farm in Lake Ontario.

The Power Authority has said it will take such statements into account. But a spokeswoman responded to the Erie County Legislature’s action by saying that while the authority respects the legislators’ views, it will continue gathering public comment for its “Great Lakes Offshore Wind Project” without ruling out locations.

“The New York Power Authority is keeping its options open concerning the project location in order to continue listening to the greatest amount of public input possible,” spokeswoman Connie Cullen said, “and to give the many different facets of the general public an opportunity to be heard.”

In a statement approved 13-2, legislators said they feared a wind farm could dislodge toxins in the lake bed, affect shipping lanes, threaten wildlife with electrical shorts and harm sport fishing — all threats that have yet to be studied for the Great Lakes project.

“The installation of a wind farm would create a change in scenery, with a negative effect on the beauty of Lake Erie, which is admired by visitors to Western New York and residents alike,” the statement said before concluding, “the Erie County Legislature opposes the exploitation of Lake Erie as a site for a wind farm.”

An advocate for renewable forms of energy lamented the Legislature’s decision, especially as workers in Japan struggle to contain a nuclear reactor stricken during the massive earthquake there last week.

“We are extremely disappointed that Erie County would choose to take clean, safe, renewable energy options off the table,” said Brian Smith, Western New York program director for the Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “In particular, as we watch the horror unravel in Japan, we should be embracing the potential for clean energy, not fearing it.

“There are issues that we need to take a serious look at,” he continued. “But that is why we have a rigorous environmental review process to address these issues. We think that a resolution in opposition at this point is very premature.”

The project must face environmental reviews by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers before construction could begin, perhaps in 2014, the Power Authority has stated.

The agency intends to select a company to place up to 166 windmills in Lake Erie and/or Lake Ontario, to let the more-constant offshore gales generate electricity. The authority would buy the electricity under a multiyear agreement, guaranteeing a revenue stream for a developer willing to spend an estimated $1 billion. The cluster, or clusters, of windmills would occupy a tiny percentage of either lake’s massive expanse, the authority says.

The plan has advocates and critics.

“As I studied wind energy and the proposal, I found there is absolutely no net benefits for Erie County from the GLOW Project,” Thomas Marks of Derby, executive director of a group called Great Lakes Wind Truth, said in a letter to the Legislature last month.

“This wind folly only benefits big foreign companies,” he wrote. “It does nothing for the little guy. There are no long-term jobs.”

The primary sponsor of the Legislature's statment was Legislator Lynne M. Dixon, an Independent from Hamburg who votes with the Republican bloc. Lawmakers considered her resolution and a similar measure by Legislator Daniel M. Kozub, a Democrat also from Hamburg.

Kozub's version said the Legislature opposes an off-shore wind farm -- but pending further study, and it said the Legislature supports windmills on land as a source of clean energy.

With a procedural feint, Dixon's statement won the day. Legislator Thomas A. Loughran, D-Amherst, suggested both remain in a committee to be merged. The Republicans went along in sending away Kozub's resolution but then placed Dixon's up for a vote with help from Chairwoman Barbara Miller-Williams, D-Buffalo, and some Democrats who often vote with her.

Loughran voted against the Dixon measure to protest being misled. Majority Leader Maria R. Whyte, D-Buffalo, said she voted against the Dixon statement because she wants more study on the project before she takes a position.

SOURCE

NYPA Reviewing Proposals on Wind Project

Williamson, N.Y. - The New York Power Authority is reviewing five proposals for its Great Lakes Offshore Wind Project (GLOW), according to a spokesperson.

In April 2009, NYPA introduced the plan to the public. GLOW would place dozens of wind turbines in Lake Erie and/or Lake Ontario to help produce a renewable source of energy. Many lakeside residents have raised concerns over the look of turbines and their impact on the environment, among other issues.

NYPA said it has and will continue to gather public input, but plans to proceed. Towns such as Webster, Greece and Irondequoit have passed resolutions against GLOW, but it is unclear what impact they will have.

Wayne County has also passed a resolution to thwart this project, but Williamson's town supervisor says he's concerned whether it will hold up the project.

NYPA says it will continue to review public input and is expecting to hold further public meetings on the topic.

Poor growth takes shine off renewables

Just over three years ago, Iberdrola, the Spanish utility, spun off 20 per cent of its renewable energy subsidiary, the world’s largest wind farm operator. Outside investors who bought in paid €5.30 a share. Last week, after seeing the shares consistently trade below their offer price, the Spanish company said it would buy back the shares. It will pay €3 a share.

“This is a great deal for Iberdrola shareholders, but not for shareholders [in Iberdrola Renovables],” says Alberto Gandolfi, an analyst at UBS. “Iberdrola sold at the top, bought the company back later with a more established asset base and less execution risk.”

Investors will receive both cash and shares in the more liquid Iberdrola, thereby gaining exposure to its other operations, as well as the renewables business. Nevertheless, those who backed the offer are still being offered a low value exit.

The decision by the Spanish utility comes after a sector-wide underperformance. The industry has been buffeted by factors including the financial crisis, regulatory uncertainty and a sharp drop in demand for power. Shares in Iberdrola Renovables’ peers, Portugal’s EDP Renováveis, and France’s EDF Energies Nouvelles have all fallen below their flotation prices.

The poor performance of the sector was also one of the main reasons why Enel, the Italian utility, had to reduce the flotation price of its subsidiary, Enel Green Power, last autumn. And last month EDP Renováveis reported that full-year net profits had dropped by almost a third as financing costs for its debt rose.

Read the entire article

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Inconvenient Truth: Wind Energy Has Killed More Americans Than Nuclear

There has been quite a bit of hysteria among some major media outlets in the past few days regarding the potential dangers of nuclear power. Some have even suggested that the benefits of nuclear energy do not outweigh its potential dangers to human life.

The dangers of nuclear power, while serious, need to be put in perspective. To that end, here's an interesting fact you won't be hearing from the mainstream press: wind energy has killed more Americans than nuclear energy.

You read that right. According to the Caithness Windfarm Information Forum, there were 35 fatalities associated with wind turbines in the United States from 1970 through 2010. Nuclear energy, by contrast, did not kill a single American in that time.

The meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979 did not kill or injure anyone, since the power plant's cement containment apparatus did its job - the safety measures put in place were effective. Apparently the safety measures associated with wind energy are not adequate to prevent loss of life.

Nuclear accounts for about nine percent of America's energy, according to the Energy Information Administration, and has yet to cause a single fatality here. Wind, on the other hand, provides the United States with only 0.7 percent of its energy, and has been responsible for 35 deaths in the United States alone. So if we're trying to weigh the costs and benefits of each, it seems wind fares far worse than nuclear. Yet no one seems to be discussing plans to halt production of all new wind farms until Americans' safety can be guaranteed.

Of course there are potential dangers to nuclear energy that the nation, thankfully, has not had to endure. But when assessing the dangers of a given technology, it usually helps to look at what has actually happened, not what could maybe, possibly, conceivably happen in the event of a Biblical-scale disaster.

Unfortunately, doomsday scenarios tend to get far more media play than level-headed analysis.

Iberdrola pulls wind project from state list

A communications manager for Iberdrola Renewables says the company remains interested in pursuing a wind project in Hammond despite withdrawing the proposed Stone Church Wind Farm from a state list of potential energy projects.

"We don't want people to come away thinking we're not interested," Paul N. Copleman said Wednesday. "We feel this is still a good area for a project."

The New York Independent System Operator is responsible for overseeing operations for New York's nearly 11,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines and the dispatch of more than 500 electric power generators. It maintains a running list of potential power projects, called an interconnection queue. Iberdrola added the Hammond project to the queue in 2008, and withdrew it earlier this month.

Uncertainty in Hammond, according to Mr. Copleman, including what he says are restrictive recommendations from the town's wind committee and a yearlong moratorium on wind power development that expires in July, has ground the company's progress to a halt.

Read the entire article

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hammond Wind Farm Put on Hold

The Spanish-owned company that wants to build 75 wind turbines in the St. Lawrence County town of Hammond has put the project on hold. Iberdrola says it's waiting for Hammond to finalize its zoning laws for wind power. David Sommerstein has more.

Click here to listen to the audio recording of the interview...

In a letter to the town board, Iberdrola said it’s pulling its Hammond project out of the queue for consideration by New York’s power grid operator. It’s been waiting in that line for two and a half years. Company spokesman Paul Copleman said there was an air of uncertainty regarding Hammond’s rules for siting wind towers. That air of uncertainty has hindered our ability to further the development process.

Hammond is in the middle of its second moratorium on wind farm construction. It’s set to expire at the end of July.

Like many communities confronting industrial-scale wind power in the North Country, Hammond’s been bitterly divided over a pile of wind farm-related issues - who’s signed land contracts with the company and who hasn’t, how far turbines should be from houses, property lines, and the St. Lawrence River, and potential conflicts of interest. Two councilmen have recused themselves because their families have signed deals with Iberdrola.

Town supervisor Ron Bertram says he understands why Iberdrola’s reluctant to move forward. But he says residents’ lifestyles and property values need to be protected. Bertram says the town’s wind advisory committee submitted its final report Monday night. It recommends maximum noise levels and a way for compensating homeowners if their property values drop, among other measures. Bertram says the town board has already begun sorting through those recommendations. He hopes to have a wind power siting law in place by the time the moratorium expires.

In the past, Iberdrola has hinted some of those measures could be dealbreakers. But speaking yesterday, Iberdrola’s Paul Copleman said the company’s willing to wait. I don’t think we want people to think this step means we’re any less interested in developing a project. We continue to work within the process that’s been afforded to us and are appreciative of the opportunity to continue working with people who are considering what it would mean to have a wind farm in the area. Copleman says the Hammond project will have to go to the back of the line behind other wind farms with the state power grid. But he says he doesn’t believe that will delay development.

For North Country Public Radio, I’m David Sommerstein.

NY Assembly Bill Would Create Wind Project Siting Task Force

The siting of wind facilities in New York is by and large a local affair. Unlike some states, New York does not have in place a comprehensive statewide framework for wind energy facility siting. Enter the state legislature.

Assembly Bill A04793 would establish a New York state task force on wind generating facilities siting to study the need to implement a uniform statewide policy regarding the siting and permitting of wind energy production facilities. The bill, referred to the Energy Committee, has no Senate “same as” as of 3/14/2011.

The Senate does have pending a somewhat related bill pending, however. Senate Bill S01086 would authorize and direct NYSERDA to conduct a comprehensive study of the potential siting processes required to establish wind energy production facilities. The Senate bill has been referred to the Energy and Telecommunications Committee.

With the legislative session set to end in a few months, at this juncture passage of either bill seems somewhat remote.

Text of Bill A04793

Text of Bill S01086

Turbine foes host forum on wind power downside

Local resident Elaine Pacheco was among the crowd of more than 100 on Saturday who listened in rapt attention as Executive Director Lisa Linowes of Industrial Wind Action detailed the costs, both environmental and financial, of wind turbines.

The crowd was drawn by a grassroots group, FairWindCT, that has formed in opposition to the proposal by BNE Energy, Inc. to build six wind turbines in town, each standing up to 492 feet tall when the blade is at its vertical limit.

Linowes said the power generated by wind creates no polluting emissions, but offered few other positives. "What I am trying to do today is balance out what is in the (BNE Energy) application," Linowes said.

She detailed many limitations faced by the large-scale development of wind power around the region, including a lack of existing power transmission capacity from the remote areas most conducive to wind power. Linowes challenged many of the contentions and assumptions detailed in the application, including the potential $400,000 tax windfall for the town and the applicant's contention that property values will hold up once the turbines rise.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Can wind farms aid criminals?

Could wind farms in Northern New York unwittingly help drug smugglers?

That is a question the federal government may have to tackle if the Department of Homeland Security does as Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., has asked, and deploys military-grade radar along the U.S.-Canadian border to nab low-flying aircraft. The Defense Department has warned that wind turbines interfere with radar and has opposed their placement near military installations.

Turbines' effect on radar hasn't been a big issue along the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario, where developers have eyed a number of locations for wind farms. That could change if DHS deploys the more sophisticated radar — something Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano strongly hinted last week could happen.

"It's certainly something we study," said James H. Madden, project manager for Cape Vincent Wind Farm, where 84 turbines are proposed.

Read the entire article

Monday, March 14, 2011

WindTamer seeks name change

Rochester wind turbine company WindTamer Corp. is looking to change its name to Arista Power Inc.

Shareholders will vote on the name change at the annual stockholder meeting to be held May 18.

If approved, the company’s wind turbines still will bear the WindTamer brand name.

In a statement, CEO William Schmitz said the name change “reflects the fact that we have significantly broadened our suite of product offerings” in recent months. Those additional offerings include its Power on Demand system of battery storage that stores and distributes power from such renewable sources as wind and solar.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Prattsburgh officials applaud wind ruling

Rochester — Prattsburgh town officials are celebrating a court ruling giving a developer five months to put in substantial work on a 16-turbine wind farm in the town.

“I think it’s good news,” said town Supervisor Al Wordingham. “It may not be a homer, but it’s a double.”

According to a complex March 7th ruling by state Supreme Court Justice John Ark, windfarm developer Ecogen and the town must work out a road use agreement that satisfies both parties. If necessary, Ark said he will determine the final agreement between the long-time combatants.

After the agreement is signed, Ecogen has exactly 168 days to make substantial progress in the project it has insisted for two years is “shovel-ready.”

“I don’t think they can do it,” said Prattsburgh’s attorney Ed Hourihan, of Bond, Schoeneck and King. “They don’t have the turbines, they don’t have the contracts, they don’t have all of their permits.”

The key issue in Ark’s ruling is the matter of vested rights — the right to carry out a project because of the work already put into it.

Ark ruled a settlement with Ecogen by a lame-duck town board in December 2009 was based on the mistaken impression the developer already had vested rights in the project.

But any delay in going forward with the project was “partly attributable” to Ecogen’s actions, Ark said. In addition, Ark ruled Ecogen has not put in the substantial work needed to secure vested rights.

Hourihan said the decision based on vested rights also gives the town a powerful tool in any appeals court.

“The appellate court has said it very simply,” he said. “No vested rights — no project.”

The town also is in a strong position to appeal based on the board’s right to rescind a December decision that led to the current lawsuit, Hourihan said.

Ecogen and the town have been at odds several times during the past few years, with tensions increasing after February 2009, when residents in nearby Cohocton complained about intolerable noise levels at the operating First Wind wind farm. The board considered a moratorium in order to look at the noise issue, but dropped it when Ecogen threatened to file a lawsuit.

Ecogen did sue the town following fall, charging the town had failed to approve a road use agreement opposed by pro-wind board members.

After several pro-wind board members were ousted by 2-to-1 margins in the November elections, Ecogen threatened another lawsuit if the current board did not reach a favorable settlement by the end of the year.

The settlement was swiftly approved by the lame-duck board, then rescinded by the new board — and the year-long litigation between Ecogen and Prattsburgh in Ark’s court began.

Since then, the town has enacted a moratorium on wind-related construction, in order to develop a “wind utility law.” The moratorium is still in place.

While Ark noted Ecogen could claim it is “grandfathered” in and allowed to begin work, Hourihan said the ban is “in effect and in full force” for any wind-related activity.

Ecogen and its financial backer, Pattern Energy, have declined to comment throughout the proceedings.

However, Ecogen attorney Robert Burgdorf told the Democrat and Chronicle Thursday the developer "is pleased the court recognized its right to proceed with this important project."

Wordingham said the town board has not made any decision on whether it wants to appeal the ruling. Some officials believe Ecogen may want to appeal the ruling in order to ask for more time, he said.

“It’s early days yet,” he said. “The road use agreement is on my desk. We look at it. We sign it. Let the clock begin.”

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Turbine project delayed again

Defective turbine blades will set back the completion of Potsdam's hydroelectric project by about a month.

Village Administrator David H. Fenton said Friday the problem was discovered when workers assembling the components in Barrie, Ontario, noticed that air pockets had formed in the stainless steel castings. The air pockets left several holes in the steel, raising concerns about the strength of the blades.

The twin turbines have four blades each on them, with a ninth blade sent over as a spare part. The blades were made by Orengine International Ltd. of Genova, Italy.

"Five of the blades were not considered serviceable," Mr. Fenton said. "They will have to recast all of the turbine blades."

Read the entire article

Friday, March 11, 2011

Ruling: Wind farm can proceed in Prattsburgh

A judge has ruled that an energy-development company may proceed with a wind farm in Prattsburgh, Steuben County, over the objections of the town board, though the company must complete a substantial amount of work in a short period of time or the deal's off.

For nearly a decade, Ecogen Wind LLC has been seeking approval to erect about three dozen wind turbines in Prattsburgh and neighboring Italy, Yates County.

Shortly after several candidates who opposed the project were elected to the Prattsburgh board in November 2009, but before they took office, the Erie County company filed suit against the town. Lame-duck town board members who were not hostile to the project then agreed to settle the lawsuit and allow the project to go forward.

When the new board members were seated in January 2010, they attempted to rescind the lawsuit settlement, leading to a protracted legal fight.

State Supreme Court Judge John Ark, who presided over a five-day trial in January and February, said in a ruling released Thursday that the current town board could not void the settlement with Ecogen. The company's lawyers had argued that the 2009 legal settlement had given them "vested" rights to undertake the project that could not legally be taken away.

Ark directed the town and company to negotiate an agreement for use of town roads, an item left open when the parties began their legal warfare. Once done, Ark said, the company then must complete a "substantial" amount of work on the project to fully "vest" their rights. He gave them 24 weeks to do that.

Edward Hourihan, a Pittsford lawyer who represented the town, said Thursday morning that he had not yet discussed the decision with his clients and did not know if they would appeal it.

He asserted, though, that Ecogen "is not in a position to vest any rights. They're far from being able to do that." He said they lack financing, turbines, necessary permits and approval for work in the town of Italy, and could not comply with Ark's 24-week time limit.

A Rochester lawyer who represents the company, Robert Burgdorf, said Ecogen "is pleased the court recognized its right to proceed with this important project." Burgdorf said the company "looks forward to developing this uniquely productive wind resource."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cape Vincent group doing survey on support, opposition to wind

While the Town Council works on a townwide survey on development, including wind power projects, a pro-wind-power group has begun a short survey of its own.

Voters for Wind is calling all of the registered voters in the town and asking whether they support or oppose wind power development.

"We want to be better prepared for the elections and to know where to put the right people in office," said Beth A. White, president of the group. "We're trying to get as up-to-date information as possible."

Voters for Wind considered conducting a similar survey before the 2009 election, she said, but didn't, and underestimated the turnout needed. Two candidates critical of wind power development were elected to the Town Council during those elections.

Read the entire article

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

ONE VIEWER’S REACTION TO SEEING WINDFALL

Since seeing the film, Windfall, yesterday afternoon at the Clayton Opera House, I have been reflecting on how fortunate the other members of the audience and I were that this film was made, and that it was made available to be shown here.

I have been reviewing every scene in the film in my head, and thinking how directly applicable it was in so many respects to the dramas that are being played out presently in Cape Vincent, Clayton, Hammond, and Lyme. The parallels are numerous and spot on.

One of the characteristics of human nature is the tendency to want to be sure that your own feelings and reactions to any situation are valid. In your mind and in your heart you want to better understand yourself by seeing and hearing others living through a comparable experience. In Windfall, we saw a beautifully crafted film that, with great sensitivity and care, does exactly that.

I think – I hope – that seeing Windfall yesterday is going to cause most people who were in the audience to allow themselves to get justifiably more angry in a way that they may have not completely allowed themselves to feel so far – even with all of the shenanigans and blatantly unethical conduct they have seen displayed by some of their local officials. Anger is a counter-productive force when not well channeled and properly directed. But well directed anger is an entirely appropriate emotion to have under the present circumstances. We need more of it. Well directed anger often must precede more participatory citizenship.

There is no doubt that the "anger quotient" has been going up and up over the continuing and persistent threat to trash our St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario shoreline towns. That's good. But we need to see that response kicked up a few notches and spread among our troubled but still silent fellow citizens who too often behave like passive onlookers. Watching Windfall will help to do that -- in a serious and careful way.

I think in the coming weeks and months people are going to react to Windfall by saying to themselves, "I have a perfect right to feel angry that these wind companies are coming in here trying to radically change the nature of my town in a fundamental and profound way – – and all they can tell me is, essentially, that I will learn to get used to it. And I'm also angry at my lifelong neighbors and friends who are doing business with the wind developers with complete disregard for how it's going to affect the majority of their fellow citizens."

The Windfall movie does not cast the large landowner wind leaseholders in a negative way. The leaseholders who are interviewed come across as very decent people who simply did not comprehend or appreciate how invasive and unwanted the wind turbines would be to others. They approach the issue – aside from the matter of needing and wanting another source of income -- with an almost complete obliviousness to the ways in which the turbines would destroy the atmosphere and an entire way of life for the majority (yes, the majority) of the residents of Meredith, NY. (If only it were obliviousness that we were dealing with in our current struggles here.)

Among the things that I hope Windfall will reinforce in the minds of those who saw it is that there is not anything wrong – not anything remotely selfish – about passionately protecting the rural quietude and rare beauty of the Thousand Islands Region. Our treasured views of land and water and sky, our clear dark star-filled nights, without the contamination of hundreds of giant twirling machines and red blinking lights, is something to be protected with no apologies to anyone.

Because Windfall does not deteriorate to the level of character assassination and name-calling on either side, it is going to be very difficult for any pro-Big Wind viewers in the audience (those who had the good judgment to come) to criticize it for driving a wedge even deeper into the community. At the same time, Windfall reminds its viewers that it is entirely legitimate to feel profoundly sad and distressed, and thoroughly un-accepting of misguided development and shoddy underhanded dealings that make such bad deals possible.

I am very hopeful that as we move further into this critical local election year that the collective will to protect our shoreline towns will become an iron determination. Intolerance of local public corruption and uncompromising insistence on preserving our most valuable natural assets will continue to grow faster and become more widespread among our residents -- stimulated, in part, as a result of seeing Windfall.

There are dozens of responsible and proper ways to act upon anger channeled and applied to block the unethically corrupted processes that are still slowly grinding away leading to what would be the essential destruction of our towns. Without a broad-based and high level of citizen anger and indignation, those grinding processes will ultimately work in favor of the Big Wind corporations and their local leaseholder accomplices.

Take back your town. Windfall has shown us that it can be done, and how it should be done.

Thanks and congratulations to Windfall creator and director, Laura Israel, and to all those who helped in any way to bring this fine documentary to us.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Wind farm plan nixed in Brimfield

BRIMFIELD - Boston-based First Wind has withdrawn a proposal to build a wind farm on top of West Mountain, a move that has pleased its opponents.

"West Mountain was not the place for eight to 10 wind turbines, and I'm happy that they're leaving. I'm calling everybody that I can think of," Selectman Diane M. Panaccione said.

First Wind issued a statement on Thursday about the decision, saying that there is not enough wind at the site to support a wind farm. The company had proposed installing eight to 10 wind turbines to generate electricity. The proposed site on the mountain is near Steerage Rock, the town's symbol.

"We have made the decision not to pursue permitting of a wind project in the town of Brimfield," First Wind's communications director John R. Lamontagne stated. "After assessing the meteorological data collected in Brimfield, we have determined that the wind characteristics do not meet our requirements at this time. We remain strongly committed to wind development in the Northeast. We will continue to look for potential projects in Massachusetts and appreciate the local interest and support we received as we explored this potential project."

In September more than 200 residents packed a selectmen's meeting to make their opposition to the project clear. There were some supporters, but most of the people at the meeting expressed worries about noise, changes to the landscape and blasting that could affect water wells.

Opponents organized the No Brimfield Wind group against the project, and also cited concerns about the project's proximity to 79 homes.

Selectmen last year refused to accept a $30,000 payment from First Wind that could be used by the town to hire experts to help investigate economic, environmental, engineering and other aspects of the project. Panaccione said that First Wind never provided any of its study results to selectmen in its 11 months of studying the site.

State Sen. Stephen M. Brewer, D-Barre, who was notified of the development earlier this week, said "science should always determine these investments. If you don't have the wind in this location, then you don't have the wind."

Brewer said he believes in green energy, but also believes in the self-determination of communities.

There is a wind farm siting bill pending in the Legislature that Brewer said is "nebulous" and could have the potential to override local zoning ordinances. Brewer has filed an amendment to the bill ensuring that local zoning remains in effect when dealing with these projects.

In Brimfield, representatives of the company and the town had said the project could not be built without a zoning bylaw change that would take a two-thirds vote at Town Meeting to be approved.

Corporation representatives have said First Wind would wind up paying the town up to $170,000 annually if the turbines were operational, plus some additional money for community purposes.

First Wind was interested in Brimfield because Lamontagne said the company was under the impression it would be a strong location for wind and transmission. Lamontagne said a meteorological pole was erected at the site approximately 11 months ago to test the wind at the site.

Lamontagne said because "it was early in the process" the size of the turbines had not been determined. He said in other areas where the company has wind turbines, such as Maine and in New York, turbines can range in size from 260 feet to 420 feet. If built, the project in Brimfield would have had the capacity to generate 20 to 30 megawatts of power, roughly enough electricity to power between 7,000 and 10,000 homes a year, he said.

Lamontagne acknowledged the project had its detractors, and said there were "a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions spread about wind energy." But he said they had also spoken to folks who were supportive of it.

Virginia A. Irvine, a founding member of No Brimfield Wind who lives near the site, said she is pleased the fight is over, but is continuing to monitor the legislation for siting such projects. Another member, David G. Carpenter, said he is "cautiously happy" about the development.

"Wind projects are really good in places where there are no people, the wilderness of Maine, off in the ocean, the top of the mountains in Hawaii," Carpenter said.

Carpenter added that "it's a good day for the people in Brimfield who turned out in droves" to oppose the project at meetings.

William B. Hull, general partner of Hull Forest Lands in Pomfret, Conn., which owns 300 acres in Brimfield, said he has not heard anything directly from First Wind about its plans. Hull uses part of the Brimfield site as a tree farm, and First Wind had an option on the property. He declined to say how much land First Wind wanted to use, or how much money was involved.

"It is our further understanding that the company is in the process of contacting the landowners and will be removing the equipment from the site in the near future," Kate Cohen, Brewer's chief of staff, wrote in an email.

First Wind scraps plans for first Mass. project

First Wind Holdings Inc. will not seek to build a wind farm on a mountain in Brimfield, Mass., due to weaker-than-expected wind resources, the company said.

The Boston-based company, which develops, builds and operates wind energy farms, had faced stiff opposition from local residents since introducing the project to the town last June. The project would have required a local zoning change that only a vote by residents could have enacted, signalling the project might have been impossible for the company.

But the opposition didn’t ultimately factor into the decision to pull out, First Wind spokesman John Lamontagne said in an e-mail.

“For any possible wind project, we need to collect about a year’s worth of wind data before making a determination whether or not to move forward. It was very early in the process in Brimfield,” Lamontagne wrote. “After reviewing almost a year’s worth of data, we determined the site didn’t meet the requirements we need to move ahead with a project.”

The opponents of the project “raised concerns and created a lot of confusion about wind energy,” he added. “But we’re not going ahead with the project because the project didn’t meet the requirements we need to move ahead with a good wind energy project.”

First Wind — which has built wind farms in Maine, New York and Hawaii — had been seeking to build its first wind farm in Massachusetts with the 10-turbine, 30-megawatt project in Brimfield.

But a local opposition group, No Brimfield Wind, formed soon after First Wind’s arrival in the town. Opponents argued the project would bring industrial development to a pristine mountaintop, cause property values to plummet and create noise and visual impacts, such as a shadow “flicker” caused by spinning blades.

During a visit by the Business Journal to the town last fall, Brimfield selectmen Chairman Thomas Marino said previously that he had wanted to accept $30,000 from First Wind to study the project, until hearing from 50 opponents who spoke during a three-hour meeting on the project.

“The passion was amazing,” Marino said at the time. “The entire message was, ‘We don’t want your money, go home.’”

Last October, First Wind scrapped plans for an initial public offering after the company was unable to get the amount of money from investors that the company was looking for, CEO Paul Gaynor said previously. The company expects to complete private financing in the range of $300 million in the first half of 2011, which would enable the company to develop wind projects into 2013, he said.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Hammond wind decisions up to 3 men

HAMMOND — With James E. Langtry joining fellow Councilman James C. Pitcher on the sidelines, the Hammond Town Council will need all three remaining board members to agree in order for action to be taken on any wind issue.

Mr. Langtry's sister, Susan L. Dunham, and Mr. Pitcher have signed wind leases with Iberdrola Renewables. Both board members now are recusing themselves from wind discussions, leaving Supervisor Ronald W. Bertram and councilmen Dr. James R. Tague and Douglas E. Delosh with the three remaining votes.

"Any action will require the remaining three board members to vote in the affirmative," Mr. Bertram said.

The Town Council held its second special meeting Monday for the purpose of reviewing recommendations made by the wind committee on revisions to the town wind-farm regulations. Neither Mr. Langtry nor Mr. Pitcher was in attendance.

Read the entire article

Thursday, March 03, 2011

WIND FARM IS SPACED OUT

CAPE VINCENT — BP Wind Energy has reduced the size of its planned Cape Vincent Wind Farm to 84 towers.

When it submitted a draft environmental impact statement in December 2007, the project called for 140 turbines in the town. Under the supplemental draft environmental impact statement, submitted Feb. 10, the capacity of the project shrank from 210 megawatts to 134 megawatts, using 1.6-megawatt turbines.

BP evaluated project alternatives but "determined that a significant reduction in the Project's generating capacity would jeopardize its financial viability," the statement said. The developer reduced the number owing to the need for more spacing between turbines "to eliminate significant turbine noise impacts to residential structures within the site," the statement said.

But the developer designed the project allowing up to 50 decibels of audible noise at participating landowners' residences. The project is also designed to allow the turbines to generate at or below 48 decibels of audible noise on the property of nonparticipating landowners and at or below 47 decibels at nonparticipating residences.

Read the entire article

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Why aren't Lackawanna windmills turning?

Have you noticed many of the new windmills along Route 5 are not working?

This isn't the first time they've had mechanical problems, and we managed to dig up some hard numbers on just how much electricity they actually are generating.

In its first year, Steelwinds had to replace all of the gear boxes in the eight turbines. The next year, the blades had to be fixed. And for this entire winter, only half of the Lackawanna windmills have been working at any given time.

So we did some research to see just how much electricity these turbines have actually been producing. According to the numbers filed with the NY Independent System Operator, the eight Lackawanna windmills averaged about 40 Megawatt hours of electricity per year in 2008 and 2009. That's enough to power almost 6,000 homes, and works out to about 23 percent of its capacity. 100 percent would only be achieved in a constant wind, with turbines that never needed maintenance, so 30 percent is the average capacity for a wind farm.

The bottom line is Steelwinds is putting out less electricity than an average wind farm, partly because of mechanical problems, but it has no effect what Lackawanna gets.

Mayor Norman Polanski said, "We still get our money from them, our $100,000 a year. Uh, but people call about them all the time, they want to know what's going on."

At the going rate for electricity, Steelwinds is still making over $2 million a year for the electricity it is generating. On top of that, its investors get an extra two cents a kilowatt for going green. So the investors that helped pay a million bucks to build each one of these turbines get $800,000 every year in federal tax credits.

Steelwinds has plans to build six more, but the company just notified Erie County that plans have been "delayed for several months" until next December because of "delays in completing all of the PILOT agreements, and other circumstances beyond Erie Wind's control." You can read the full letter here.

We reached the project manager and a Steelwinds spokesman weeks ago about this story, but they had no comment about any of it.

UPDATE: John Lamontagne of First Wind contacted News 4 Tuesday night with this explanation: "The turbines are currently down due to composite work being completed in the towers. Given the scope of work being done and the the harsh winter conditions, there has been a delay in returning the turbines to service. We expect the turbines to return to service in the near future."

Wind power: questionable benefits, concealed impacts

EPA trumpets dubious shale gas risks – but ignores environmental impacts of wind turbines - America is running out of natural gas. Prices will soar, making imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) and T Boone Pickens’ wind farm plan practical, affordable and inevitable. That was then.

Barely two years later, America (and the world) are tapping vast, previously undreamed-of energy riches – as drillers discover how to produce gas from shale, coal and tight sandstone formations, at reasonable cost. They do it by pumping a water, sand and proprietary chemical mixture into rocks under very high pressure, fracturing or “fracking” the formations, and keeping the cracks open, to yield trapped methane.

Within a year, US recoverable shale gas reserves alone rose from 340 trillion cubic feet to 823 tcf, the Energy Department estimates. That’s 36 years’ worth, based on what the USA currently consumes from all gas sources, or the equivalent of 74 years’ of current annual US oil production. The reserves span the continent, from Barnett shale in Texas to Marcellus shale in Eastern and Mid-Atlantic states – to large deposits in western Canada, Colorado, North Dakota, Montana and other states (and around the world).

Instead of importing gas, the United States could become an exporter. The gas can move seamlessly into existing pipeline systems, to fuel homes, factories and electrical generators, serve as a petrochemical feedstock, and replace oil in many applications. States, private citizens and the federal government could reap billions in lease bonuses, rents, royalties and taxes. Millions of high-paying jobs could be “created or saved.” Plentiful gas can also provide essential backup power for wind turbines.

Production of this much gas would reduce oil price shocks and dependence on oil imports from the likes of Gadhafi and Chavez, while lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Talk about a game changer!

What’s not to like? Plenty, it turns out. The bountiful new supplies make environmentalist dogmas passé: the end of the hydrocarbon era, America as an energy pauper, immutable Club of Rome doctrines of sustainability and imminent resource depletion, the Pickens’ Plan and forests of wind turbines.

What to do? Environmentalists voiced alarm. HBO aired “Gasland,” a slick propaganda film about alleged impacts of fracking on groundwater. Its claims have been roundly debunked (for instance, methane igniting at a water faucet came from a gas deposit encountered by the homeowner’s water well – not from a fracking operation). A politically motivated Oscar was predicted, but didn’t happen.

The Environmental Protection Agency revealed a multiple personality disorder. Its Drinking Water Protection Division director told Congress there is not a single documented instance of polluted groundwater due to fracking. (Studies by Colorado and Texas regulators drew the same conclusion.)

EPA’s Texas office nevertheless insisted that Range Resources was “endangering” a public aquifer and ordered the company to stop drilling immediately and provide clean water to area homes. EPA officials then failed to show up at the hearing or submit a single page of testimony, to support their claims.

Meanwhile, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced plans to conduct a “life-cycle” or “cradle-to-grave” study of hydraulic fracturing drilling and gas production techniques, to assess possible impacts on groundwater and other ecological values. Depending on whether the study is scientific or politicized, it could lead to national, state-by-state or even city-by-city drilling delays, bans – or booms.

The industry and many states that have long experience with drilling and are confident the needed regulations, practices and testing procedures are already in place. They voice few worries, except over how long a life-cycle study could take or how political it might become. In fact, it’s a very useful tool.

But if a life-cycle study is warranted for hydraulic fracturing, because drilling might pass through subsurface formations containing fresh water, similar studies are certainly called for elsewhere: wind turbine manufacturing, installation and operation, for instance.

Turbines require enormous quantities of concrete, steel, copper, fiberglass and rare earth minerals – all of which involve substantial resource extraction, refining, smelting, manufacturing and shipping. Land and habitat impacts, rock removal and pulverizing, solid waste disposal, burning fossil fuels, air and water pollution, and carbon dioxide emissions occur on large scales during every step of the process.

Over 95% of global rare earth production occurs in China and Mongolia, using their technology, coal-fired electricity generation facilities and environmental rules. Extracting neodymium, praseodymium and other rare earths for wind turbine magnets and rotors involves pumping acid down boreholes, to dissolve and retrieve the minerals. Other acids, chemicals and high heat further process the materials. Millions of tons of toxic waste are generated annually and sent to enormous ponds, rimmed by earthen dams.

Leaks, seepage and noxious air emissions have killed trees, grasses, crops and cattle, polluted lakes and streams, and given thousands of people respiratory and intestinal problems, osteoporosis and cancer.

In 2009, China produced 150,000 tons of rare earth metals – and over 15,000,000 tons of waste. To double current global installed wind capacity, and produce rare earths for photovoltaic solar panels and hybrid and electric cars, China will have to increase those totals significantly – unless Molycorp and other companies can rejuvenate rare earth production in the US and elsewhere, using more modern methods.

Made in China turbines are shipped to the USA, trucked to their final destinations, and installed on huge concrete platforms; new backup gas generating plants are built; and hundreds of miles of new transmission lines are constructed. That means still more steel, copper, concrete, fuel and land. Moreover, the backup power plants generate more pollution and carbon dioxide than if they could simply run at full capacity, because as backups for turbines they must operate constantly but ramp up to full power, and back down, numerous times daily, in response to shifting wind speeds.

Wind farms require roads and 700-1000 ton concrete-and-rebar foundations, which affect water drainage patterns in farm country. The 300-500 foot tall turbines affect scenery, interfere with or prevent crop dusting over hundreds of acres, and kill countless birds and bats. Farmers who lease their land for wind turbines receive substantial royalty payments; neighbors are impacted, but receive no compensation.

Despite these ecological costs, wind farm projects are often fast-tracked through NEPA and other environmental review processes, and are exempted from endangered species and migratory bird laws that can result in multi-million-dollar fines for oil, gas and coal operators, for a fraction of the carnage.

Perhaps worst, all this is supported generously by renewable energy mandates, tax breaks, feed-in tariffs, “prioritized loading orders,” and other subsidies, courtesy of state and federal governments and taxpayers. In fact, wind power gets 90 times more in federal subsidies than do coal and natural gas, per megawatt-hour of electricity actually generated, according to US Energy Information Administration data. And wind-based electricity costs consumers several times more per kilowatt-hour than far more reliable electricity from coal, gas and nuclear power plants.

Simply put, the wind might be free, when it blows. But the rest of the “renewable, green, eco-friendly” wind energy system is anything but.

It might be far better all around to simply build the most efficient, lowest-polluting coal, gas and nuclear generating plants possible, let them run at full capacity 24/7/365 – and just skip the wind power.

Life-cycle studies would be a positive development – for all energy sources. In fact …

“Think globally, act locally” might be a very good motto for EPA and wind energy advocates.

Paul Driessen

Click on link to submit your SEC complaint on the
First Wind Holdings Inc. IPO public offering


TEN Reasons
Why the SEC should not allow First Wind to be listed on NASDAQ

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

First Wind Holdings Inc. 7/31/08 SEC S1 IPO Filing

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

August 18, 2010 amendment 7 to the First Wind Holdings Inc. SEC S1A IPO Filing

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


FIRST WIND Lays an Egg WITHDRAWS IPO
after Wall Street no confidence in company




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