Archive | July 2013

Wind compromise pleases no one

The Howard County Commissioners learned last week that a compromise means little to people who are set in their ways. A slate of changes to the county’s wind farm economic development agreement was met with total disdain from protestors who want the proposed Wildcat Wind Farm killed off completely.

The commissioners had endured a prolonged protest from the anti-wind crowd that began in April, and it appeared that the remonstration finally had eroded the officials’ resolve.

“We’ve heard testimony and comments and concerns for a number of months now,” said Commissioner Tyler Moore. “After the visits and letters and emails and phone calls, I think we’re in a position to bring some closure to the discussion and move forward.”

Moore said the proposed changes are designed to best serve the Howard County community as a whole.

“We do not take this decision lightly,” said Moore. “We know the concerns and know there are arguments on both sides of the issues. In conversations with leaseholders and residents in favor and opposed to the project as well as with officials from (wind developer) E.On, I think we have come to what we feel is a position we can move forward.”

The amendment changes setbacks for the windmills to 1,500 feet from a non-participating resident’s property. The existing setback of 1,250 feet will continue to be in place for participating residents. Sound level limits will be reduced to 50 decibels, down from 55 decibels, for non-participating residents.

E.On also will be required to install FAA-approved light shields atop the windmills to reduce visibility from the ground. Shadow flicker limits will be extended to include any time that the windmills are in operation. And the county will commit to establish appropriate wetlands setbacks as determined by the county surveyor and the county drainage board.

The wind turbine project will be required to make additional payments to Howard County equal to 10 percent of the granted 2012 abatement — approximately $750,000 — and the commissioners have committed to investigating ways to use that money to guarantee property values for affected properties.

“Today, there is no county in the U.S. that has structured such a deal,” said Commissioner Paul Wyman. “That will take some legal work, but we believe that if the project goes forward, we will be able to find a way to target these dollars toward the wind farm area.”

The proposal was rejected in its entirety by the protestors,

with not a single point conceded as an improvement or resolution. Various speakers argued that the windmill setbacks should be determined by the distance to the property line, not the living structure. They also insisted that the light shields would not be sufficient, and the decibel levels are nowhere near the 25-30 decibel limit they prefer.

The commissioners passed the amendment despite the protests and then went into recess so that a public hearing could be held for the Howard County Drainage Board. When the commissioners reconvened, however, they had a parting gift for the crowd — a moratorium on all future wind farm projects in Howard County. More information about the program is available on the web site at scfwindturbine.com.

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Thropton farm wind turbine go ahead advised

Controversial plans for a wind turbine in the Northumberland countryside are being recommended for approval, despite more than 100 objections.

Northumberland County Council planning officers are advising members to give the go-ahead for the 78-metre structure on a farm at Thropton, near Rothbury, in the face of opposition from residents, parish councils, bosses at nearby Northumberland National Park and the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

The turbine proposal is for an engine 50 metre to hub height, 78 metres to tip, on land associated with Follions Farm, Weststeads.

It has yielded objections in 107 letters from residents and four parish councils – Harbottle; Glanton; Whittingham, Callaly and Alnham; and Netherton with Biddlestone. Northumberland National Park Authority and the CPRE have also lodged opposition. A Facebook page and website have also been set up by residents under the banner Fight Follions Wind Farm.

Objections are based on impact on the character of the local and wider landscape, on the visual amenity of the area, and on the local economy including tourism.

Yet county council officers are recommending the scheme be approved at a meeting of the authority’s planning and environment and public rights of way committee on August 6.

Officers conclude: “The proposed wind turbine would contribute to the provision of a sustainable source of locally produced renewable energy that is consistent with national and local planning policies.”

The proposed development would not have a significant adverse impact on the character of the landscape, heritage assets, ecology, highways, noise, or shadow flicker.

“The potential impacts on the local landscape and visual amenity in terms of nearby land users are not considered to be of such significance to outweigh the wider benefits of the proposed wind turbine in terms of renewable energy provision.”

Last night, Tony Meikle, a part-time photographer from Glanton and former editor of the village’s website, voiced his surprise at the recommendation and his hope that councillors would go against the advice.

Mr Meikle said: “It is totally out of place there. We are right bang in the high scenic area and the single so-called farm sized turbines, they are not farm sized, they are great big industrial things.” They are there to plug into the grid and make money for someone.

It is close to the hills, it is very, very close to the national park, it is very obvious from there.

It is very obvious from the Simonside hills,

it is very obvious from the hills at Thrunton Woods which are very popular. Once you get one of these farm ones the countryside becomes a mess.”

Wind turbine opponents testify

Three years after the first wind turbine went up at Falmouth’s wastewater treatment facility, town residents had a message Tuesday for state legislators: A thorough, scientific study of how the devices affect the human body is long overdue.

More than two dozen people brought that sentiment to Beacon Hill at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Public Health, which had a full day of testimony on scores of bills relating to environmental health hazards. Four of the bills before the committee, including one by state Rep. Sarah Peake, D-Provincetown, call for an investigation and study into the health effects from wind turbines.

Fairhaven resident Louise Barteau said she testified that she experienced health problems — pressure in her head, dizziness and nausea — when she rented an art studio on Arsene Street last year. Barteau said she no longer rents that property.

“What I experienced was very small in comparison to the people who live there,” she said, adding there are 701 Fairhaven homes within 3,000 feet of the turbines.

For Barry Funfar, the investigation can’t come soon enough. A Falmouth resident and neighbor of one of the town’s two turbines, Funfar said the local and state government’s inaction on what he believes are the turbines’ harmful effects is negligence. “Our government is knowingly hurting people,” he said, calling the area around the turbines “a toxic zone.”

Funfar said he is a Vietnam veteran and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after returning home from the conflict. After struggling to regain a sense of normalcy, the turbine issue has taken much of that away from him, he said.

“I spent 10 years in therapy to get my life back, only to have it taken away by these turbines,” Funfar said.

Peake said her bill was spurred, in part, by the May 21 defeat of a Falmouth ballot measure that would have authorized spending millions of dollars to remove the town’s two turbines, dubbed Wind 1 and Wind 2. Without funding to dismantle the 1.65-megawatt devices, selectmen and other town leaders are going back to the drawing board to determine how to balance residents’ health concerns with the town’s multimillion-dollar financial investment.

“They are betwixt and between in what to do,” Peake said Tuesday.

Many people described devastating health effects caused by the turbines. Frequent complaints from those who live near wind power generators Products include physical effects from the noise, flickering shadows of the turbine operation and changes in air pressure. Headaches, persistent trouble sleeping and anxiety were among the physical effects reported by the residents who testified Tuesday.

Lilli-Ann Green, a Wellfleet resident who has researched turbine operations all over the world, said the Massachusetts residents claiming ill effects aren’t alone. Even in allegedly wind-friendly countries in Europe, the same effects have been noted, she said.

“There are clusters of people all over the world who are living too close to wind turbines and getting sick,” she said.

A state-commissioned report, released in early 2012, found no link between turbine operation and the health effects reported by residents. But Green and others faulted the report for only reviewing other published works and for conducting no on-site reconnaissance of homes near Massachusetts turbines.

We need to have actual scientific work done

, not another literature review,” said Virginia Irvine with Wind Wise Massachusetts, a statewide wind turbine advocacy group.

Although the legislators on the joint committee offered no indication of when, or if, the turbine bills would move out of committee, they seemed to be a receptive audience. Malcolm Donald, a turbine abutter and critic, said he hopes this latest push to get action from the commonwealth will be a success.

“I was impressed. … Sometimes you testify at these things and they look like they’re going to fall asleep,” he said. “I think they were moved by what they heard. They realized it’s a real issue and something needs to be done.” Read the full story at scfwindturbine web.

Chelsea housing dream turned nightmare

A Somerville developer’s dream to turn an 18-acre brownfield in Chelsea into a waterfront loft community that would set a new standard for sustainable urban living has ended.

Marketing for the 350-unit Forbes Park mixed-use development began six years ago and was touted as the region’s “greenest” and “most ambitious real estate project.” It was to offer energy-efficient “hybrid lofts,” powered by a wind turbine and solar panels, a place where residents would share a fleet of electric cars.

But the ambitious project to be built on the former site of a 19th century printing factory on the Chelsea River that proponents said would help make Chelsea the next hip place to be, ran into a series of snags that will result in a foreclosure auction that is set for July 25.

The notice published on Sunday by Paul Saperstein Co. of Holbrook said the mortgage foreclosure sale includes the 18- acre parcel bordered by water on three sides. The site is eligible for multifamily use under current zoning rules, the ad said. In addition, a partially completed four-story apartment building and a 240-foot, 600 kilowatt wind turbine is included in the sale.

Forbes Park LLC, an entity created by Somerville-based Urban Design and Development and its principal Blair Galinsky, bought the parcel in 2004 for $8.8 million. The company took out a first mortgage in 2006 for $36 million from Amalgamated Bank and a second mortgage from the New York lender in 2008 for $94.5 million.

Work ground to a halt in 2008,

during the height of the Wall Street meltdown. In 2010, the developer was fined nearly $20,000 the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection over permitting and cleanup issues at the site.

But Jay Ash, Chelsea’s city manager, said while Galinsky was unable to make the project a reality, he has already spoken with several developers who think they can make it work. “It’s a story not unlike many others where bad timing made things unravel,” he said. “But I’m confident that a new development team will make that project happen.”

The pilot windmill set up by the Greater Cochin Development Authority at Marine Drive that collapsed on day one of its operation on Saturday will be reinstated by Tuesday, GCDA chairman N Venugopal said on Sunday.

“The contractor Kollam-based United Electricals will place back the blades and hold the trial run on Tuesday. Yesterday, it collapsed after the raft shaft got broken. We’ll go forward with the project,” he said.Upon its fixation, the height of the shaft will be reduced to be on the safer side, he said.

The Rs 3.90 lakh windmill is expected to generate 10 kw power, enough to run 100 lights across the Marine Drive walkway besides 16 MH (metal-halide) lamps.

“We haven’t paid the contractor so far. As per the condition, the wind turbine has to function properly for three months before we make the payment,” Venugopal said. The wind turbine was inaugurated by Hibi Eden MLA in the presence of district collector P I Sheik Pareeth on Friday. However, the blades came apart on Saturday morning. Read the full story at scfwindturbine web.

Cramped quarters offer couple freedom of the sea

Many people in Southwest Florida live in homes that have more than 2,000 square feet, but Dita and Roger Wisard live in about 32 feet of space with only the sea breeze to cool them.

For the past two years the couple has lived on Zephyr, their sailboat that is now anchored just inside Matanzas Pass by Fort Myers Beach. It’s not the first time they have lived aboard a sailboat, and their experience helps them make the most of their cramped space.

Little cubbies are everywhere, behind every seat, under every seat, under the bed, and tucked in corners of the boat. Each cubby only holds a few items so the Wisards have a seven-page list that shows where each item is.

“We used to know we had something and didn’t know where it was,” Dita Wisard said. “With this we just look up where things are and how much we have.”

Zephyr is a 32-foot-long sailboat with a small cabin that includes one queen bed for sleeping and two small beds for storage. There is a sitting area, kitchen and small bathroom.

wind generator

“What I like is the layout,” Dita Wisard said. “I can close off the front to make it more homey.”

The boat holds 60 gallons of water and 60 gallons of fuel. It has a 30 horsepower diesel engine. Zephyr has a deep freezer, a freezer, refrigerator, stove, and a foot pump for water. They wash their dishes with saltwater and rinse with freshwater.

The boat uses many aspects of natural energy. A wind generator charges the batteries. Solar panels in the back give them some power and a water catcher is used to fill the solar shower pillow.

“It’s a primitive life, but it’s a good life,” Dita Wisard said. “It amazes me all the time how without much you can still have a good life. It’s a simple life and a good quality life.”

The couple likes the freedom of sailing, the friends they meet along the way and the adventures they have when they are at sea and in port.

“When you are sailing you meet other sailors and you come together and one brings the guitar and one brings the harmonica, and you have a good time and then next day everybody departs again,” Roger Wisard said.

The couple has sailed all around the Caribbean and Central America. They enjoyed the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, the Mississippi River and the Virgin Islands.

“There is the freedom of traveling. It’s very healthy living. It’s very primitive, but healthy. You meet so many people and everyone helps each other,” Roger Wisard said.

One of their favorite ports is in Georgetown in the Exumas where they dock and spend their days at a port that has a variety of activities including yoga, water walking, basket weaving, volleyball, seminars, restaurants, bonfires and dances.”

“We also liked Rum Key in the Bahamas,” Roger Wisard said. “Every day we had a potluck. It was amazing.”

Roger Wisard built his first boat more than two decades ago. The family lived on it when his daughter was a baby. By the time she was 18 months old, life on board with an active toddler was too tough and the boat became more of a vacation place than a permanent home. The family tried living aboard the boat again when their son was born about six years later, and stayed aboard until his toddler years. Back then, they lived even more primitively.

Wind Storm

The tiny community of King Island off the north-west tip of Tasmania has voted to push ahead with plans for the country’s biggest ever wind farm.

A community ballot has revealed 59 per cent support for Hydro Tasmania to conduct a multimillion-dollar feasibility study into a 200 turbine wind farm.

It’s a decision that’s been made against the backdrop of a dwindling population, fewer jobs and closing businesses.

The massive wind farm would generate about 2,400 gigawatt hours of electricity a year, to be sent across Bass Strait by a high voltage underwater cable to the national electricity market.

Hydro Tasmania says it could produce enough electricity to power a quarter of a million households, a huge chunk of the nation’s renewable energy targets.

But as Fiona Breen found out, the issue has divided the community. Friends and even families are no longer talking.

FIONA BREEN, REPORTER: On a wintry Saturday, a sporting battle pitches mate against mate, colleague against colleague and even family against family.

For 1,500 King Islanders, the three-team footy competition stirs sporting passion. Today, it’s Grassy versus North. It’s a tough, close match.

Off the field, another battle has been simmering. Like football, passions have come to the surface.

VOX POP: I’m against. Don’t want any wind farms here to – they’re just ugly, horrible things.

VOX POP II: I think the wind farms are a great idea for the island, even if it just goes to feasibility.

VOX POP III: I don’t want to look at wind towers really, but if it’s going to help out the island, well, we need it.

FIONA BREEN: King Island is in the Roaring 40s. Its rugged coastline is a graveyard of shipwrecks driven ashore by the winds. Calm days are rare and the wind blows at an average speed of 32 kilometres per hour. It’s that consistent wind that Hydro Tasmania wants to harness, using 200 turbines costing $2 billion. The company has spent six months taking the proposal to the local community.

ANDREW CATCHPOLE, HYDRO TASMANIA: We’re taking a very different approach in coming to King Island to have this conversation before doing a feasibility study, a different approach to that taken previously and elsewhere for these kinds of projects.

That is very deliberate to try and understand, and I suppose to demonstrate, that not all wind farm developments are the same. They don’t have to be the same. And so we hope you would see that as a sign of our commitment to continue to work with you to ensure that if this goes ahead that there is an optimum outcome for the community.

FIONA BREEN: The community ballot has now been counted and the result was tight. Nearly 59 per cent supported taking the 200 turbine wind farm proposal to the next stage, but there was only 10 or 11 votes in it.

Hydro Tasmania had always said it needed at least 60 per cent community support for it to go ahead. At an emergency board meeting this week, the company decided it was close enough.

ANDREW CATCHPOLE: Well certainly we’re aware that there are different views in the community and we want to work with all sections of the community going forward about their concerns, as we’ve indicated. But we do feel that the survey result of 59 per cent is a very strong indication of community support to go forward to a feasibility study. More information about the program is available on the web site at www.scfwindturbine.com.

Rural communities invited to bid for 15m green energy pot

The government has unveiled a 15m fund designed to encourage hundreds of communities across England to invest in small-scale renewable energy projects, such as wind turbines or heat pumps.

Rural communities were invited to bid for a share of the funding pot late last week, which can be used to support the first steps of a project, including investigating the potential for renewable energy in their area and applying for planning permission.

Communities can apply for funding for a range of technologies such as wind, solar, biomass, heat pumps, anaerobic digestion, gas with combined heat and power, and hydropower.

“Not only can local generation bring people together, boost local economies and drive forward green growth, it can help save money on energy bills too,” said Climate Change Minister Greg Barker in a statement, adding that the previous Local Energy Assessment Fund helped bring forward 236 community energy generation and management projects across England.

Each community will be eligible for a grant of up to 20,000 for feasibility studies and they can also apply for a loan of up to 130,000 to help fund applications for any necessary environmental and planning permits.

The government is also currently consulting on finding new ways of funding community energy projects, and is planning to publish a community energy strategy in autumn.

Speaking at an event organised by think tank Policy Exchange last week, Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said community-funded schemes could play an important role in ensuring that local people reap the benefits of onshore wind turbines and other schemes.

He said the government was looking at a range of ways to involve communities in local energy projects, including using community benefits given to them by developers of existing wind turbines to invest in even more renewable energy.

“The ownership question is a really interesting one and we are very much exploring that and want to come forward with positions in the autumn,” he said.

In related news, new research has found the number of farmers using renewable energy has shot up in the past three years.

A survey by Nottingham Trent University, Forum for the Future and Farmers Weekly found that of 700 farmers asked, 40 per cent are generating renewable energy onsite, compared to five per cent in 2010.

More than two thirds of those not using renewable energy are considering investing in it over the next five years. Click on their website scfwindturbine for more information.