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Monday, February 28, 2011

Ontarian ~ Just the facts ~ On Wind Turbines

Writer offers Facts on Wind Turbines


This letter is very long but we have so much in common with our Canadian neighbors .
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Dear Editor,
There is some damaging information being delivered to the media and to councils by wind energy developers and our provincial government authorities. This information may help bring some degree of clarity to the issues. There is nothing technical in here. I leave that for the licensed professionals. There are also many subjects not covered.

Myth: Anti-Wind turbine groups are being funded by the power workers union and non-renewable energy groups.

Should anyone ever make this phony allegation again, I hope the recipients insist on evidence to back up their statements.

This is a callous attack on all rural Ontarians who have found themselves being railroaded into accepting industrial wind turbines into their area. The countryside slowly woke up to the impending harm and got involved as they became aware of turbine developments in their area. A small grassroots network that started about 5 years ago has grown into almost 60 groups scattered through the province and all connected by one cause: To stop the rapid growth of industrial wind turbine installations in rural Ontario.

Overwhelming evidence shows that current installations have already caused great harm and distress to human health, animal health, birds and the environment.

Educational meetings by unpaid volunteers have been organized all over small town rural Ontario at the full expense of the local residents. The countless number of volunteer hours and money raised has all been a grassroots effort by networking with neighbours and other area groups. Nobody is getting paid for their time.

There are two court cases currently playing out between rural Ontarians and the Ontario Government. The government ignored the precautionary principle as they proceeded in haste with their wind energy approvals and ignored those who have been warning them of the health problems and have been pleading for help.

Every dollar to go forward with these cases has been raised by donations from concerned citizens, fundraising in local communities and via networking the information.

Myth: Anti-wind turbine people are activists, anarchists and yes, even the term “terrorists” was used by one proponent.

“Anti- wind” is a very poor choice of words, but one that is repeated over and over by proponents, government authorities and is used widely in the media. It is inappropriate.The people who are publicly calling out for moratorium and a halt to more industrial wind turbines being erected are everyday people in everyday jobs with children and pets and homes and businesses just like the rest of the population.

The majority of those involved have never been involved in any previous activism. These people have formed groups in their communities to do what they can to stop wind installations from proceeding because the current ones up and running have caused great harm to residents and the environment. Nobody is anti “anything”. A better term would be advocates. People are advocating for health and for the government to stop putting residents in harm’s way. They are trying to protect their families, neighbours and their communities from the devastating effects these projects are having on people.

Myth: The people who are complaining are just mad because they aren’t getting any benefit. They are older and against change. They are NIMBY’s (Not in My Back Yard)

Families were not against wind turbines installations from the beginning. In almost all cases the residents were very positive about the opportunity to participate in helping the world go green. The promise of clean, green renewable energy was something supported. It was only after the start-up of the turbines and the substations that people started to get sick. Some experienced symptoms immediately and some over time depending on exposure. After hundreds of calls and letters to authorities, the affected residents received no helpful response. Certainly their view of turbines changed. Many hate to go home from work as the towers come into sight. They know their symptoms will be ramping up.

There is no amount of money that would make this right. There is no amount of money that anyone could be paid to live in such debilitating conditions. It is not about money.

Most, if not all landowners who have leases are bound by contract not to divulge any information about their agreements and are not to complain about any adverse effects or have negative comment about the installations. There are leaseholders who regret having participated in hosting a turbine as they are now being adversely affected but they cannot speak publicly. There are many affected who do not speak out due to fear of community backlash for speaking negatively about something marketed as green and good for the whole population, fear of exposing their children to social problems with their peers, fear of loss of property value when people find out they are having problems and fear of upsetting their neighbours. Many who have spoken publicly have experienced all of these. They have been subjected to personal character attacks and intentional false rumour spreading.

Myth: “I stood underneath a wind turbine and they hardly make any noise at all. I don’t understand what people are complaining about.”

Many people have heard this phrase from professionals, reporters and Sunday afternoon investigators. It would be very fair to say that anyone making this statement probably decided to drive out to a wind project one day when the weather was pleasant to experience what it might be like to live amongst them.

Standing under a turbine is the quietest place to be when they are running. If you were standing several hundred metres backwind of it you would likely hear and feel a difference. Sound travels. Even worse, sound bounces off and into buildings. Depending on both the array of the turbines and the receptors it can mean a difference between night and day. Night time noise can be much more invasive than daytime especially when the winds have increased and a storm is rolling in. We all need our sleep and this surely is not the time that you will find explorers standing under a turbine to hear what it’s like.

The other missing component that accompanies the audible noise is the infrasound that will penetrate walls and bodies. Living in it 24/7 it is a much different beast than a half hour drive about. The noise can change with changes in the wind direction, wind speed, atmospheric weather conditions, time of day and even the season. Some days it changes abruptly meaning that where it may seem tolerable to a visitor at 1 pm it can be unbearable at 6 pm.

Myth: There is no link between industrial wind turbines and adverse health effects.

Our government continues to deny the adverse health problems that are rampant in running wind installations. There are people who have been bought out and gagged, people who have had to abandon their home and are living with relatives and there are some who are paying additional rent & utilities for second accommodations while they wait for someone from our government or the wind developer to help. There have been many families with stories covered in the media and many have spoken at public meetings. Early on in the building of wind projects, affected residents were routinely isolated and told they were the only family in the community that were having problems and that they were sensitive and just needed to get used to it. They were told this by both developers and ministry employees. This left no clear channel for help. Many questioned themselves and the cause of their new symptoms. The government abandoned them from day one.

There is a vast and appalling disconnect between what the ministry authorities are telling the public and reality for the people living in wind installations. No one has ever suggested that every resident is having problems but a large number are. The government continues to insist on putting their energy policy ahead of people.

In the spring of 2009 a community based health survey was started to give those suffering a place to report on their symptoms as government was not acknowledging. It is a valid survey that follows Health Canada protocol. There were over 115 respondents that reported adverse effects since the start-up of wind turbines in their area. These problems are underreported as many have called with concerns but did not want to fill out a survey and many surveys that were mailed to respondents were not returned. There are only 700 turbines in operation. Results of the survey can be viewed at http://www.windvigilance.com/

In the fall of 2009, Dr. Arlene King, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health announced she was going to be doing research to report on adverse health issues related to wind turbines. She released her report in May of 2010. She concluded that there was no link of adverse health effects caused by wind turbines.

Dr. King did a literature review. She did not do a health study. She did not speak to even one of that many known families who are having problems. She was aware of the families who were reporting problems, some of whom had to leave their homes well before she released her report. In fact two physicians who were on her consulting team admitted publicly that Dr. King had left out a lot of important information that the panel had discussed.

Dr. King in her position of Ontario’s top doctor intentionally did not speak to any of the families reporting serious problems. It would have been to her credit had she taken this important step when specifically researching such a contentious issue. An analysis of her report can be found at www.windvigilance.com

Myth: The 550 metre set back will protect the health of Ontarians in the vicinity of wind turbines

The 550 metre setback was proposed in early 2009 and even after much public input throughout the summer of 2009 it was adopted in the regulations in September 2009.

During the Standing Committee hearings on the Green Energy Act in April of 2009 the committee heard from medical professionals, engineers and victims who were pleading for the government to listen to them. There were growing health problems and the hearings were a formal venue in which to inform the government. The committee intentionally shut out a family who was personally suffering from adverse health effects. They denied them the opportunity to present their situation to the committee and yet selected 2 speaking slots for the Pembina Institute, advocates for wind energy and also to George Smitherman, then Minister of Energy, who took two of the public speaking slots to address the committee.

There are wind turbines causing harm to families at distances far greater than 550 metres and anyone who had been involved in this issue up to that date was shocked when the 550 metre setback was approved. Apparently the setback was based on conservative computer noise modelling. Although many have asked, there has been no medical science put forward to show why 550 metres was chosen as a setback to protect our rural families.

The Ministry of the Environment did not follow the precautionary principle when embarking on wind energy installations. There were no front end health studies to make sure human health was protected and even after many reports of harm and pleas for help reached the ministry they still forged ahead with approving more new projects. To date nothing has been done to acknowledge or help those suffering.

Myth: Ontario has some of the most stringent setbacks in the world/North America.

A setback of 550 metres cannot be considered as stringent anywhere when talking about industrial scale wind turbines the size they are today. They are loud, they emit low frequency noise and there are documented reports of serious problems at distances much further than 550 metres. There are countries in other parts of the world calling for 2 km and greater setbacks. The government so far cannot seem to support how they came to their decision that 550 metres was safe but certainly were it much further than that we know that projects could not proceed due to the density of the population

Myth: The government is listening to the people

The government is not listening to the people. The government is fully supporting the wind industry.

Government ministry authorities have received bundles of peer reviewed reports pertaining to the adverse health problems from medical professionals and engineers both in Ontario and from other parts of the world. These professionals have talked to the affected residents directly and they became very concerned. They heard and saw the effects the wind turbines and substations were having on families and have done everything in their power to warn the government. These medical personnel have done all work on a voluntary basis and have attended untold numbers of meetings with ministry authorities but from day one, literally years ago; the government has steadfastly denied any harm. These physicians and health professionals are the only ones who have made an effort to help the victims who are ill. The government has done nothing.

There were avenues of public input by way of community meetings and public submissions to the Environmental Bill of Rights pertaining to the Green Energy Act but a lot of important information was redacted by white out and black out; certainly more than necessary, in what appears to be an attempt to hide pertinent information regarding setback issues.

Myth: Government authorities claim that there is little in the way of complaints from residents in wind projects.

This issue has been on their backs for 5 years. There are people who have abandoned their homes and many still suffer. The government has received hundreds if not thousands of letters and email correspondence. The ministry has received hundreds of calls to their complaint line, many in the middle of the night from families who are desperate for sleep. In one wind project alone it was reported in August 2009 by a ministry employee that there had been over 300 complaints to their office. One wind project and this was a year and a half ago! This adamant and ongoing denial can be explained by the shocking leaked Sussex Strategy Group report that advised government officials of the need to “confuse the public” in regards to their wind energy policy.

Victims who are suffering have followed every protocol laid out by the government. They have:

-Presented statements of harm before the Standing Committee on the Green Energy Act, in the Legislature before the regulations were enacted. April 2009

-Attended a green energy workshop hosted by and attended by employees of the Ministry of the Environment and Energy where they had a chance to speak to attendees about their serious problems. This was long before the new legislation was adopted. (Meeting-March 2009/ Legislation adopted May 2009)

-Sent in submissions to the EBR (Environmental Bill of Rights) registry on the Green Energy Act with statements pertaining to their adverse health and living conditions since the start-up of the wind project. This registry (June to July 2009) was in place to receive and review public input when setting the regulations including setbacks of wind turbines. The setback of 550 metres was established in September 2009. There is no evidence that any of the public submissions have ever been reviewed.

-sent letters or visited their public health unit to no avail.

-sent letters to Dr. King CMOH, prior to the completion and release of her literature review, a wind company favourite, that claims no link between adverse health effects and wind turbines. No action was taken by her and no response received when victims of wind requested a meeting with her.

-attended public input meetings hosted by the Ministry of Environment in several towns in rural Ontario prior to the regulations being set. People lined up at microphones telling the ministry officials of their problems and were asking for help.

-attended 2 public meetings hosted by the Grey-Bruce public health department in Owen Sound and Walkerton where once again families lined up at a microphone telling doctors about what was happening to them.

-been calling the Ministry of the Environment Spills Action Line when conditions are creating problems. Although this has been in place for many years, no one seems to get any helpful response and the ministry admits it cannot measure noise to determine if the developer is out of compliance.

-communicated by meetings, letters and/or email with ministry district offices, MPP’s, MP’s and local councils.

Aside from the above government protocols they have:

-attended an enormous number of community meetings to speak about the problems in the presence of local politicians, media and community members.

-spoken openly with reporters from newspapers, local interest publications, radio shows, television appearances, news reporters

-written countless letters to the editor to local and large urban newspapers and to Ontario provincial issue TV shows.

And the list goes on….

We must ask what more can any one of them do? What more is expected of them when they are barely existing in a living hell in their own home and are being constantly called on to speak up, speak out when no resolution ever comes of it! It is exhausting and defeating.

At some point we must question the sanity of the authors of this entire policy when it calls for the common sense, ethics and morals of so many to be set aside. What could possibly be at the core of such deceit and injustice?

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Ministry of the Environment is the one who is governing these projects. What we have are serious problems and the answers the families are getting amount to this:

The Ministry has no way to measure if wind projects are running in compliance.

The Ministry has no guidelines for noise heard inside the home.

The Ministry has no guidelines and has no way of measuring low frequency noise or infrasound being emitted from the wind project.

The Ministry does not cover dirty electricity or stray voltage and do not have the tools or expertise to address it.

Ministry employees who are on the ground responding to call have their hands tied. There is nothing they can do. The bureaucrats downtown are not addressing the gaps and holes and yet authorities are proclaiming full steam ahead and the incidents are growing with each new project that is built.

There is no government organization that will help those who are adversely affected.

The government says the developers are in compliance. The developers say they are running within government guidelines and our Minister of Health will not investigate.

AFFECTED RESIDENTS ARE POWERLESS.

The ministry did issue two RFP’s (request for proposals) last year to review audible noise and infrasound. Both were awarded to acoustical engineering firms who are members of CanWEA (Canadian Wind Energy Association) a lobby group who advocates for the wind industry. Both do or have done work on behalf of wind project developers.

Myth: The municipalities asked the government to intervene in siting wind turbine installations.

The Green Energy Act 2009 was new legislation that was adopted specifically to fast-track renewable energy projects. This detailed legislation involved some 65 pages of clauses touching 15 established acts and it was called for 2nd reading debate just 24 hours after first being introduced. It took away our democratic rights and blocked out planners and municipalities not to mention the residents in contributing any say as to what was being planned for their community. Municipalities are not happy that the government has taken control over the wind energy projects. Truth be told there are now 74 councils who want their power back.

“SEVENTY FOUR (74) COUNCILS WHICH HAVE PASSED RESOLUTIONS, MOTIONS, BYLAWS regarding industrial wind turbine development and the Green Energy and Economy Act of Ontario” ~link >here< color="#ff0000">Myth: Wind turbines are as quiet as a refrigerator… a quiet library… a whisper…

These claims have been touted by proponents; our government and government run electrical bodies such as the OPA. In fact there are widespread reports of sleep disturbance and deprivation from the noise coming from the turbines. Turbines make a characteristic swoosh, swoosh noise that have been measured exceeding the regulations. It was after these measurements that the MOE claimed to be unable to properly measure noise emanating from turbines. The noise changes depending on the atmosphere, wind direction, wind speed, and time of day as at night the noise is louder.

Residents are unable to shut the turbines off when they are causing them distress.

Adverse health symptoms resulting from sleep disturbance due to loud cyclical noise is very serious. Residents describe the noises as varying, sometimes sounding as a jet flying overhead that never lands, like the house is in a washing machine, a constant drone, like a rumbling freight train or diesel motor running and so on. There are no guidelines for the noise heard inside a house so the Ministry will not address the issue.

Engineering protocol calls for a 5 decibel penalty to be applied to noise that is tonal or cyclical in nature. This is characteristic of modern turbines but the Ministry of the Environment refuses to apply the penalty. The current noise regulations in Ontario allow for a maximum 40 decibel noise level that can increase under certain circumstances in higher wind speeds to 51 decibels. Applying the 5 decibel penalty would set the allowable limit at 35 decibels.

Myth: What you can’t hear can’t hurt you

In Ministry of Environment literature dating 2005, the claim was made that low frequency noise was an issue with old style turbines but not the new modern ones. In fact, recent engineering reports have measured low frequency noise but the ministry refuses to acknowledge it as something that must be measured and controlled. It is this contamination that is thought to be contributing to many of the problems for residents. The inaudible low frequency noise penetrates walls and the body. People complaining of chest pressure, heart palpitations, feelings of nausea, headaches, body vibration are just some of the symptoms that are causing some to abandon their homes. Some resort to survival tactics such as moving into the basement, stacking mattresses against the walls to try to block it, using ear plugs (this does not help), trying to sleep in other buildings on the property and some drive away to sleep in their car. It is unknown how inaudible low frequency noise may be affecting the wildlife and bird population.

There are reports of dirty electricity and stray voltage seriously affecting many families and forcing some to leave their homes. They were fine before the start-up of the installation and got sick after the turbines became operational. Some of the affected are in homes close to turbines and some by the transformer stations built for the turbines.

Myth: The people who are complaining are just stressed out. Only people who are hyper-sensitive are having problems. Their symptoms are found in the rest of the population.

The symptoms that victims are experiencing are new at the onset of the turbine installation starting up. All ages are affected: toddlers, children, teenagers, young adults, middle aged adults, and senior citizens. Some people were perfectly healthy before the start-up of the project and some had pre-existing conditions. Pets are also reported as being affected.

Victims include both sexes. Some people work outside the home in a broad range of careers, some on their land and some spend most of their time at home.

Complaints vary and onset of symptoms can be immediate or they may build over time depending on the level of exposure. Symptoms can include sleep disturbance and deprivation, headaches, earaches, nausea, chest pressure, exhaustion, tinnitus, migraines, heart palpitations, thickness and pressure in the ears and head, cognitive problems, hypertension episodes, stress, anger and more.

Certainly you could find any one of these in the broader population but many of these symptoms are not only new and severe to the person, but it is common for them to experience multiple symptoms.

The same type of symptoms and complaints are being reported in industrial wind installations around the world. The most telling common denominator is that people are sick in their homes after the project starts up, when they leave their homes they get better, and when they return they get sick again.

Myth: Wind companies are mitigating problems by turning turbines down.

Some affected households are being told their problems have been addressed by the developer, yet nothing has changed in their living conditions and they continue to suffer. The Ministry of the Environment has stated that there is no way for them to measure for compliance.

They also have no guidelines to deal with interior noise, dirty electricity or low frequency vibration issues and so nothing can be done to mitigate the problems. Some are told to ask Hydro One to help them and suggestions have been made to seek help from a lawyer.

Victims are left powerless as projects continue to run.

Myth: Coal is killing people so we must employ wind.

Proponents and our government tie the need to close coal plants as the reason for their urgent push for renewable energy installations. They claim that emissions from our coal plants are killing hundreds of Ontarians each year. This claim is based on computer modelling.

Wind turbines are forcing people to abandon their homes. Some have lived in their houses for decades and even generations with no problem. There is no indication that current coal plants are having a similar immediate and drastic effect on their neighbours.

Knowingly causing harm to one segment of the population in a perceived effort to save another is immoral and unethical.

Myth: Property values increase wherever wind turbine projects are built.

There are many real estate professionals and appraisers that would heartily disagree with this statement. There are reports of decrease in property values and difficulty selling where there is an operating or pending wind project. The data would shake this out if one had the time or funds to carry out a proper independent study in Ontario today.

Myth: The wind company consults with communities.

Wind company open houses are set up to fail. They function as wind energy promotion rather than public consultation. Usually there are poster boards on easels and a number of people representing the company. In many cases there is no map confirming the number or location of turbines. There are cases where receptors (houses) are missing from their maps. There is no list of landowners who have signed contracts. Many employees cannot answer questions and send residents from one person to another in hopes of getting an answer. In some cases employees refuse to answer questions and insist that they get written down and sent into the company afterwards.

Many make no reference whatsoever to the distribution lines or the placement of the electrical substation.

The government says this is a mandatory part of the process but certainly they are meeting bare minimum requirements. A full community question and answer session that everyone can hear and participate in would bring clarity to conflicting information and unknowns.

Myth: There are thousands of turbines running in Europe and there are no problems. It is only Ontario that is causing the upset.

Everywhere industrial scale wind turbines are erected near residents there are reports of problems. Worldwide, residents are reporting the same issues and symptoms as here in Ontario, with families having to leave their homes. There are reports from England, Denmark, Spain, Germany, France, Australia, United States, and Japan…etc.

Early wind turbines were much smaller in size and were placed away from homes. As the industry grows we see the size of the turbines grow. What started out as machines maybe 100 feet tall are now reaching 400 to 600 feet in height with blade spans the size of a jumbo jet. Their nameplate capacity also grows. Today they are being put in much closer to populated areas and far too close to homes, schools and workplaces. It is quite possible that decades ago there weren’t very many complaints but that has changed with today’s modern wind installations. Perhaps this is where the huge error has occurred in the reviewing that our government and Dr. King have employed. Researching decades old information will surely not apply to today’s industrial scale turbines. Certainly there is a need to update their information immediately with so many families worldwide reporting harm. www.epaw.org

Myth: WCO – Wind Concerns Ontario are a bunch of anti-wind rabble-rousers who are trying to hold back progress

Wind Concerns Ontario was founded by a small group of people who became very concerned about the rapid and widespread plans for wind turbine installations being planned for rural Ontario. They were aware of the distress caused by the initial projects and the secrecy involved in the planning. Many others shared their concerns. They now are a coalition of 57 groups from 34 counties/districts under one umbrella who are networking across the province. www.windconcernsontario.org

Myth: The Society for Wind Vigilance is a bunch of doctors who don’t want wind turbines in their back yards.

The Society for Wind Vigilance was formed after it became evident that the government and developers were not responding to victims who were suffering from adverse health symptoms when the turbines and their substations started up. There were people across Ontario that had nowhere to go with some being forced to abandon their home. Instead getting involved and investigating the problems the government chose to dismiss them and deny the problems.

Various doctors, engineers and other professionals who investigated or had been called upon locally for help chose not to abandon the residents and instead started to collect data to find out what was going on. Any ethical doctor will listen to the people’s complaints and consider the cause. Having so many people reporting to be suffering from the same complaints tied to wind turbines and realizing it was a global problem led to the Society being formed; www.windvigilance.com

Compiled by Barbara Ashbee Lormand

Sent by:

Maureen Anderson

Amherstburg, ON

on behalf of Wind Concerns Ontario

http://windconcernsontario.org/

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wolfe Island Wind Plant Still Harming Birds in Important Bird Area


Nature Canada Blog: Wolfe Island Wind Plant Still Harming Birds in Important Bird Area
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Wolfe Island Wind Plant Still Harming Birds in Important Bird Area

Posted by Ted Cheskey
Last May, I blogged about a report that described how birds and bats have been affected by the TransAlta wind plant on Wolfe Island, a globally significant Important Bird Area in southern Ontario known for its waterfowl, raptors and swallows. I called the numbers of birds and bats being killed by TransAlta’s turbines “shockingly high,” indeed the highest recorded in Canada and one of the highest in North America.

However, since the report only studied a six month period, TransAlta’s spokespeople argued that it was premature to reach conclusions so soon, especially when comparing the Wolfe Island deaths to yearly casualty rates for other wind plants. Besides, TransAlta reasoned, the results appeared to be within the thresholds of acceptable limits set by provincial and federal government regulators.

Then last month, Stantec Consulting, the firm that produced the original report, released its report on the second half of the year: January 1, 2010 to July 1, 2010. And the results for birds are troubling. (I’ll write about bats in a future post.) Though casualty numbers for birds did not skyrocket in the second sixth month period, a time that included the spring migration, they still were high enough to make the Wolfe Island wind plant the most deadly for birds in Canada.

The 13.4 birds per turbine casualty rate is about 7 times the industry average in Canada according to Canadian Wind Energy Association (CANWEA) but below the so-called “adaptive management” threshold for TransAlta facility, as set by various government agencies. That level is 11.7 birds per MW which translates to 21 birds per turbine, which just happens to be the highest level ever recorded at any wind facility in North America (Buffalo Mountain, Tennessee). Using the highest level recorded as the threshold before which any mitigation is even considered seems a bit dubious to say the least.

Estimated and actual numbers of birds killed, proportioned by the species actually found, over the entire 12 month period, paints a disturbing picture:
Tree Swallow 218 (calculation based on 31 corpses)
Purple Martin 49 (calculation based on 7 corpses)
Bobolink 73 (calculation based on 9 corpses)
Wilson’s Snipe 50 (calculation based on 7 corpses)
Red-tailed Hawk 10 (actual count)

It is important to note that the calculated numbers are arrived at using Stantec’s formula to calculate total casualty rates. A sample of turbines are visited either weekly or twice a week and a search for bird corpses on the ground beneath the blades is conducted. As the method is not intended as a comprehensive search, determining the casualty rate requires taking in factors like the ability of the search team to find carcasses, the percentage of the area searched and the rate of predation between searches. The 31 Tree Swallow corpses, in other words, represent about 15% of the calculated number of tree swallows killed, based on Stantec’s calculations and field testing.

While the report and the research behind it appear to be quite solid, the authors contend that the casualty rates are quite sustainable and will not have any effect on the species populations. They do this by contrasting the kill numbers from the turbines with the estimated Ontario population of the most affected species – Tree Swallow, numbering about 400,000 and Bobolink, about 800,000. (They do not do this for Red-tailed Hawk, which in fact may not meet their sustainability criteria). They also contrasted the numbers with estimates of birds killed by other human activities or artifices such as tall buildings, vehicles, cell towers, and pets.

While this argument has gained considerable traction among some in the wind industry and even the scientific community, it fails to consider that the turbines at Wolfe Island are killing different species than the tall buildings, cats and cars. Tree Swallow, Purple Martin, Red-tailed Hawk, Turkey Vulture and Bobolink rarely if ever show up on lists of casualties from tall buildings, and are unlikely victims of cats, with the possible exception of the Bobolink. And vehicle collisions, well – while this is a legitimate concern, Turkey Vultures have arguably had a net benefit from the carnage caused by vehicles.

But it is some of these very species – the ones most likely to be harmed by Wolfe Island’s turbines – that are already experiencing declines.

Take swallows, for example. Most species of swallow have declined significantly in Canada over the past 20 years. Adding additional threats to already stressed populations is not prudent. According to trend data on this species from Breeding Bird Survey routes in Ontario, the Tree Swallow has declined by about 6% annually over the past 20 years, a cumulative decline of almost 80%! In other words, the current estimated population of 400,000, was 2 million only 20 years ago. Bobolink, recently added to COSEWIC’s list of threatened species, declined 4.1% over the same period. We should not trivialize the impact of removing dozens, or hundreds of individuals from a population of species that are clearly in trouble.

In the meantime, good documentation of the impacts is essential. While TransAlta had to deliver these studies – they were a condition of the wind project’s approval – the company and Stantec should be recognized for doing good work. Once one takes the spin out of the document, the data and the methodologies are solid. The quality of the monitoring appears to be high, and some weaknesses, such as a potential bias to undercount the number of raptor fatalities, are recognized in the report.

With regard to birds of prey, even if they were not undercounted, the number of casualties is excessively high at .27 per turbine. This was the highest recorded rate for raptor kills outside of California. The victims included:

10 Red-tailed Hawks,
1 Northern Harrier,
1 Osprey,
2 American Kestrel,
1 Merlin
8 Turkey Vulture

This number crossed the “notification threshold” for the project, meaning that the CWS and MNR were notified about the high rates. The report states that TransAlta and MNR have initiated discussions regarding “adaptive management” in response to the raptor deaths. We look forward to hearing what the response might be.

With the plant already in operation, the only option now is to mitigate the risk to wildlife perhaps by slowing down the blades of the turbines at hazardous moments of the year, or turning them off. However, unless the numbers of casualties increase even further in the next two years, it is unclear how far the threshold must be exceeded and how often, before mitigation is implemented. It is reported in the document that four notifications were made by the company to the government for raptors alone, yet none appears to have led to mitigation.

As I write this, several wind farms are being proposed around the eastern end of Lake Ontario, the most worrying being Gilead’s Ostrander Point wind farm. Ostrander Point is an area that is arguably even more significant for birds than Wolfe Island, because of its specific geography. Ironically, the land on which the Gilead project is being proposed is owned by the Province of Ontario – a Crown forest block. Opposition to turbines in agricultural areas appears to have persuaded government officials to meet their renewable energy agenda by prioritizing "crown lands" as locations for wind energy plants. While this might be appropriate and acceptable for some properties, when a wind plant is located in an area of great significance to wildlife, as is the case with Ostrander Point, so-called green energy ceases to be green at all. The Ontario government needs to think more carefully about where they allow wind turbines. It is not too late for the Province to design a policy that promotes green energy and also protects key biodiversity sites including Important Bird Areas. Otherwise, as more of these facilities are built in bad places, wind energy will become a significant contributor to the declines of several species that are already in trouble, and the Green Energy Act will be recognized and remembered for all of the wrong reasons.
Posted by Ted Cheskey

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

White Nose Syndrome & Wind Turbines ~ Killing Bats


White nose syndrome is becoming an epidemic.

Nationwide, white-nose syndrome has wiped out an estimated 1 million bats since it was initially seen in a New York cave in 2006. Since then, it’s been identified in 14 states and two Canadian provinces and is moving westward. Bats play a crucial role in controlling crop and forest pests, the loss of so many bats will affect our agricultural economy and forest economy.
Their appetite for bugs has major implications for agriculture not only in New York State but nationwide.
“Bats are the primary predators of nighttime insects,” including moths and beetles that damage corn and other commodity crops. With fewer bats, we have more insects, which mean it is necessary to use more pesticides.
The Indiana bat – classified by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as endangered. Are legally protected they are not immune from white nose syndrome this disease could have a devastating effect upon the survival of this species. White nose syndrome is a fungus it attacks cave-dwelling bats while they hibernate. The fungus grows on the animals’ ears, wings and nose. It is believed that the fungus wakes them or keeps them awake. As a result, infected bats use more of their stored body fat and starve to death. Additionally to further devastate the bat population the growing popularity of wind turbines and wind farms also poses problems for bats, especially when they’re migrating.
Tree-roosting species, like the Indiana bat, are also in jeopardy when the large dead trees they roost in are removed and their habitat is disturbed in other ways, such as clearing for transmission line routes to accommodate wind turbines .
Serious threats to bats come from wind turbines and habitat destruction. When a species is eradicated from the planet it is an irreversible problem.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After watching the injured bat rescue video below, I was thinking ~ I wonder if when the post construction bird & bat mortality monitoring carcass searches are being conducted ,if they ever find injured bats at the bases of wind turbines ? What if they find an injured Indiana Brown Bat, what is the protocol? Do they kill them? Do they ignore them because they are not dead? Or do they rescue them?
This would apply to any species ,but I am particularly curious about any endangered species that they find that are injured and not dead.
Out of all of the post construction Bird and bat mortality reports that I have read I have never read of one injured bird or bat no survivors taken ....


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Video below ~ HOUDINI'S STORY ~
Houdini is a Leisler female bat (Nyctalus leisleri) found near a wind turbine with an external fracture on her right wing.







US FISH & WILDLIFE CURRENT White Nose Syndrome News >here

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Trillium CEO Questions Ontario's Offshore Decision


Wind Developer Speaks Out On Project Cancellation Offshore Wind Wire

by Angela Beniwal on Tuesday 22 February 2011
North American Windpower

John Kourtoff, Trillium's CEO, says there are no environmental issues with wind projects that are located 10 km out.

"We're directly on bedrock - there's no sediment or silt issue or water quality issue," he says.

But the MOE cited a lack of scientific studies regarding offshore wind development in freshwater when justifying the decision.



more here

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Holy Cracking Concrete!

Nova Scotia Power's wind farm on Nuttby Mountain, north of Truro, reported in January that at least 5 of 22 wind turbines were found to have cracked foundations
Now the problem is more extensive, the foundations of at least 19 of the 22 wind turbines installed this past summer at Nuttby Mountain, have cracked
Each of the Wind Turbines at Nuttby Mountain sits on a huge base, and it takes a full day just to pour the concrete. The concrete is made from a waste product from coal burning.
Each turbine foundation contains about 40 tonnes of fly ash that was incorporated into the concrete mixture.
During construction last July at the $120-million wind farm, concrete was not vibrated down to the steel base of the towers.
The repairs involve injecting an epoxy-like sealant into the 400-tonne concrete pads to stabilize the concrete. More -->here<--




Ticking Turbine Time bombs~ waiting to collapse?

OR NOT WAITING?








November , 2010 Ynn reported that Work on the Hardscrabble Wind Farm Project FAIRFIELD, NY in Herkimer County hit a snag
Atlantic wind is behind the project a subsidiary of the Spanish company Iberdrola .
Ynn Reported that Iberdrola took core samples and found that their structures were not up to standards. They had to take down some towers and bases as a safety precaution.

link here to video and story
~~~~
Concrete problems with Wind turbines foundations are nothing new.
~~~~
Fenner wind owned by ENEL North America was the largest the wind complex east of the Mississippi when it was built 10 years ago. Fenner had a turbine collapse in December of 2009.

Concrete issues with turbine foundations apparently are becoming a common problem.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In December of 2009 Hank Sennott, director of corporate affairs and communications for Enel North America is quoted in an interview~
by Martha E. Conway a reporter for the Madison County Courier ~
It was discovered that concrete core samples from the foundations preliminarily showed inconsistent aging and degradation".
“Some of the samples looked like they were poured yesterday,” Sennott said. “Others… Didn’t”

According to Sennott the samples of five or six foundations led to the decision to test all 19 in the project. He said the company is in the home stretch of collecting data and a report is expected soon.
~~~~~~
It took 10 years for the turbine foundation to fail at fenner this prompted them to take the core samples otherwise they may not have tested the concrete. How many other wind complexes are out there with concrete like this?

Are there more Ticking Turbine time bombs waiting to collapse?
~~~~~~~~~~~
Did the developers of Fenner's wind turbine system, actually pre - determined the wind turbine reaction forces in conjunction with the wind pressure forces on the towers, and the turbine blades themselves to withstand the overturning moments developed, that are being resisted by the soil or rock material that is, part of the anchorage resisting system, as required by New York’s Construction codes?
One issue with wind turbines is that they actually try to unscrew them selves from the ground, due to wind pressure forces. The anchorage systems and subsurfaces are critical factors in wind turbine design.




The latest on the Fenner Collapse as reported ~
By JENNIFER BOGDAN

Observer-Dispatch
Posted Jan 06, 2010
FENNER — No unusual conditions were recorded in the internal computer of a 200-foot-tall turbine prior to its collapse at Fenner Wind Farm, .

Hank Sennott, a spokesman for Enel North America, the company that operates the wind farm, said analysis of data found in the turbine's computer showed:

-- The turbine had been operating normally before it crashed.

-- The blades did not strike the turbine's tower.

-- The rotational speed of the blades was “reasonable” at the time of its collapse.

Those findings suggest that the accident did not occur under the same circumstances that caused another turbine to crash in March 2009 at the Noble Altona Windpark in Northern New York, Sennott said.

The crashes in Altona and Fenner both followed power outages and involved turbines manufactured by General Electric. However, Noble Enviornmental Power, the company that operates the Altona operation, said its turbine spun out of control due to a wiring anomaly.

“It's not that situation at all,” Sennott said, who declined to discuss any other possible causes until an investigation is complete, which likely won't be until the end of January.

link--> here<-- to a story I did on the Fenner Collapes 5/12/ 2010 Titled is fenner an Expirement in motion?


The PSC Altona Turbine Collapse end of Investigation Report 10/18/ 2010 can be viewed--->here<--

Design of Wind Turbine Foundation Slabs .pdf file


Daily Mail Reporter
14th April 2010

Hundreds of Britain's offshore wind turbines could be sinking into the sea because of a design flaw.
It is believed the concrete used to fix some turbines to their steel foundation can wear away, causing the power generators to drop a few inches.
The fault was first discovered at the Egmond aan Zee wind farm in the Netherlands and affects those with single cylinder foundations. Offshore farms are notoriously expensive, and large firms including BP and Royal Dutch Shell have pulled out of the sector.
Sinking turbines could cost British wind farms £50million Mail Online link -->here<-- to story

Monday, February 21, 2011

ACCIONA~ Corruption/Clean Energy Plays Dirty in Oaxaca ~ Mexico.


Another familiar name in the news. Lucky for us our Ex - Supervisor, Reinbeck used his Keen NE-GO-TI-A-TING skills and was able to broker that deal where we are getting the new fence around the cemetery and the paint job on the Light house or is that a snow job we are getting?

Mar 23 2009
Zach Dyer
Generating enough electricity to power a small city while offsetting several hundred thousand tons of carbon emissions sounds like an ideal source of eco-friendly energy. But tell that to the residents of La Ventosa in Oaxaca, Mexico.

The government and private developers promised locals that the relentless winds that whip this part of southern Mexico would be an economic boon for the town. And now, the $550 million project is converting more than 6,000 acres of local campesino and indigenous lands into Latin America's largest wind farm.


link here--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Zach Dyer is a NACLA Research Associate.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

T.I. board appoints man to complete Edsall's term




T.I. board appoints man to complete Edsall's term
Watertown times article link here

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 12, 2011
It was reported in the Watertown Daily Times in January that Cindy Edsall had resigned for personal reasons as a member of the Thousand Islands Central school District School Board of Education . Thus leaving the position open until May 17, when her term was due to expire. Today the times is reporting that the Thousand Islands Central School District Board of Education has appointed Brian J. Lantier to serve the remainder of Mrs. Edsalls term Mr. Lantier has been a member of the Guardino Elementary Parent –Teacher Organization for the past 6 years, and plans on pursuing election to the post in May.

Property values adversely impacted by industrial-scale wind turbines

At the Town board meeting of Feb 10, 2011 Supervisor Urban Hirschey stated that he had received a letter from Clifford P. Schneider

RE: a property assurance plan , this is his letter ~

February 4, 2011

Mr. Urban Hirschey, Supervisor, Mr. Brooks Bragdon, Deputy Supervisor
Mr. Marty Mason, Mr. Donald Mason and Mr. Mickey Orvis
Town of Cape Vincent Town Board
Box 1964, NYS Rte 12E
Cape Vincent, NY 13618

Dear Town Board members:

At the October meeting the Cape Vincent Planning Board adopted site plan requirements
suggested by Acciona. Included in Acciona's list of “other” requirements were:

1. Road Agreements to protect town's roads and bridges ,

2. Potable Well protection plan,

3. Property Posting and Gating for public safety,

4. Assessment of Karst geography,

5. Turbine decommissioning/removal plan (still hasn't been done),

6. Traffic/Dust Control Plan,

7. Controlled Blast Plan

8. Waterline Contingency Plan (DANC agreement in case damage line)

9. Complaint Resolution Plan.

The list of plans cover a broad spectrum of issues that are important to our community; most of
the issues have a financial burden to them as well. The agreements and plans all contain a
provision for payment to town if resources and infrastructure are damaged by Acciona. What is
remarkable about this list, however, is what is missing.


The issue that could have the greatest financial impact on residents, far greater than any of the
issues noted above, is the potential for property devaluation as a result of commercial wind
development. As you are aware, Acciona and BP both claim properties will not be devalued.
Others disagree.


Cape Vincent's Town Assessor, ex-Planning Board Chairman, and other ex-planning board
members studied the issue and concluded as part of their economic committee report:
“Indications are that there will be an overall decrease in property values with the potential for
significant impacts on assessments and related factors such as tax rates and the ability to
market property at a fair price.
This is in contradiction to St. Lawrence Wind Farm's statement
(SDEIS/FIS) and should be carefully considered by the Planning Board prior to action on the
FEIS." Regardless of where you lean on this issue, we should all agree that there is uncertainty
and no one knows for sure how St. Lawrence Wind Project will affect our property values.


For many of us our homes represent our biggest financial investment. If we were informed by
the Citizens Bank that they were going to change their savings program so there would be no
FDIC insurance and that there may also be a possibility for a 30-40% loss, how would you react? To complete this example, suppose you asked what would be my reward for accepting this risk
and they replied, none to you, but others would have a steady income stream. The response of
any reasonable person would be outrage, and you would undoubtedly demand you savings to
reinvest elsewhere.


Homeowners in Cape Vincent who have neither lease or neighbor agreements with St.
Lawrence Wind need protection from the financial uncertainty associated with wind
development, much the same as they need their bank savings insured. The best way to protect
property values from any development uncertainty is with a Property Value Guarantee. A
Property Value Guarantee was used for the Rodman Landfill project and there are a number of
plans that have been developed for wind projects, the most recent developed by a local realtor
and attorney for Hammond, NY.



Perhaps the best endorsement for a Property Value Guarantee comes from Ben Hoen, the
author of the property reports cited by Acciona in their EIS documents. In a discussion I had
with Hoen regarding Property Value Guarantee (April 2010) he stated, “I think one of the things that often happens is that (wind) developers put our report forward and say look property
values aren't affected, and that's not what we would say specifically. On the other hand, they
have little ground to stand on if they say we won't guarantee that.”


At a local level I would take Hoen's statement one step further, Acciona has little ground to
stand on if they refuse to accept the terms of a Property Value Guarantee. How can Acciona
adamantly deny our property values will not be adversely affected and at the same time refuse
to provide us with protection in case they are wrong?


Before Acciona's project moves forward there are at least two financial agreements that they
need to complete with the town - road and PILOT agreements. I urge the Town Board to include in either of those agreements a provision for a Property Value Guarantee. Some residents, who
believe their property will be devalued substantially by Acciona's project, have already begun to
examine legal alternatives to recoup potential losses. These alternatives include civil court
action directed at municipal officials who have a responsibility to protect their citizens, yet
ignore the issue of property devaluation. Resolving to include a Property Value Guarantee in
any upcoming agreements with Acciona will not only afford some protection for property
owners, but also it will remove any future liability for those officials who support a Property
Value Guarantee. If properties will not be devalued from wind development, as Acciona and BP
believe, then why would they not put this community at ease for a relatively small
administrative fee to implement a Property Value Guarantee?


Sincerely yours,

Clifford P. Schneider

Cape Vincent, NY


P.S. WPEG sponsored an online petition that now has 177 signatures. The individual
petitioners , their comments the text of the petition can be viewed at:

http://www.gopetition.com/petition/41481.html .



The petition reads as follows:


We, the undersigned, request that the Town of Cape Vincent establish with Acciona Energia and British Petroleum a property assurance policy so that in the event that property values fall due to the presence of wind turbines the nonparticipating land owners will be wholly compensated for their property loss.

We respectfully request that a property assurance policy be established for industrial wind development in our town.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Certified appraiser Michael S. McCann submitted testimony to the Adams County Board, Adams County, Illinois, on June 08, 2010, in reference to the impact of industrial scale wind energy development on residential property. Mr. McCann's testimony provides a detailed explanation of the impacts he has found and his recommendations to avoid harm to adjacent property when siting projects. It is important that the full impact of what our conflicted town officials are pushing upon our community is fully understood .

Mr. McCann's ~ complete testimony can be viewed in the Scribd format by following the link below

Re: Wind Turbine Setbacks & Property Values June/ 8/ 2010

-->McCann Appraisal, LLC Written Testimony<--
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Cape Vincent ~ Wind Turbine Development ~ Economic Impact~ Final Report link-->here<-- BP Response to Cape Vincent Wind Committee Economic Report link -->here<--

Thursday, February 17, 2011

DEC Region 6 Director ~Judy Drabicki ~ Once called For a Wind Moritorium in Cape vincent

Cape Vincent Group Seeks Moratorium On Wind Farms

June 14, 2006 in WWNY-TV Watertown

A group of residents has hired an attorney in connection with proposals to build a wind farm in the town of Cape Vincent. Wind Power Ethics Group, made up of approximately 30 people, wants a moratorium on development of commercial wind power facilities.

The group hired Dexter attorney Judy Drabicki, who drafted a letter asking the town board to make no decisions on wind farm projects for six months.

Drabicki said the town needs to carefully examine the potential harm posed by wind facilities.

"You need to look at the view shed. You need to create computer generated images. You need to study the birds, study the traffic, not just click off boxes on a form," said Drabicki.

The attorney said a State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) is necessary before the town allows wind farm development.

Meanwhile, the town council is working on drafting zoning ordinances. It has been accepting letters from residents about the proposed wind farm projects.

The council will meet Thursday to discuss the issue.

"The SEQR is part of our process of changing any zoning law, which the town board will address all those issues. Link unavailable

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

SCHUMER: CLOSE EXAMINATION REVEALS ENERGY EAST TRYING TO PULL A FAST ONE ON ITS CUSTOMERS -

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 11, 2009

SCHUMER: CLOSE EXAMINATION REVEALS ENERGY EAST TRYING TO PULL A FAST ONE ON ITS CUSTOMERS - SENATOR URGES NY PSC TO SWIFTLY REJECT COMPANY'S RATEHIKE REQUEST


Schumer: Energy East Is Violating Its Deal With NYS - Company Trying to Fast-Track A Steep Rate Hike Four Months After Deal Despite Merger's Stipulation That They Must Wait 13 Months

As Part of Rochester Gas and Electric and NYSEG Purchase, Schumer Pushed Iberdrola To Increase Reserve Funds In Order to Stave Off Rate Hikes

In Letter, Senator Says Energy East's Recent Actions and Statements Raise Serious Questions About Their Pledges To Invest in Capital Projects, Keep Rates Low



U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today wrote to the Public Service Commission asking them to reject Energy East's request to raise gas and electric rates on nearly 1.5 million New York ratepayers. In a letter, Schumer outlined a host of reasons for the PSC to dismiss their request, contending that it violated several of the terms established by the PSC in approving Iberdrola's purchase of the utility and also made questionable claims in an attempt to justify the rate increase.

“This rate hike application reeks of profit mongering by a company that promised not to do just this as a condition of the approval of its merger. Just as New Yorkers are struggling to make ends meet, Energy East is trying to pull a fast one on its customers. The PSC should reject this application without any hesitation,” U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer said.

Iberdrola, a Spanish utility company, recently purchased Energy East, which is the parent company of NYSEG and RG&E, serving over 1.5 million ratepayers, spanning communities across Western NY, the Finger Lakes Region, the Southern Tier and Hudson Valley, the Capital Region and North Country.

During the regulatory approval process, Iberdrola committed to setting aside a $275 million pool of funds -- or Positive Benefits Adjustments (PBA) -- to keep customer rates low. At the time, Schumer said he would only support a deal containing provisions that would keep customer rates low. The final deal stipulated that a rate hike increase could not be requested for 13 months after the merger and that the $275 million Positive Benefits Adjustments be used to reduce rates or offset costs of the merger. Today, Schumer asked the PSC to determine whether the company was planning on using the $275 million in PBAs to offset the proposed rate hike, and if not, to determine how the company intended to use that fund.

All tolled, Energy East is looking to gain $227 million from New York ratepayers per year through increased charges. This would be done by requesting increases in electric and gas rates for both NYSEG and RGE. Specifically, NYSEG has requested a 9.9% increase in residential electricity transmission rates and an 8.8% increase in residential natural gas transmission rates. These rate hikes would mean the average customer’s electric bill would increase by $8.80 a month, while the average gas bill would increase by $12.20 a month. Similarly, RGE is requesting an 11.9% increase in electricity transmission rates and a 7.4% natural gas transmission rate hike. This translates to an average $8.80 and $7.80 a month increase in monthly bills respectively.

Schumer's letter to the PSC argues that the company is barred from requesting a rate increase until the Fall-Winter of 2009 at the earliest. The PSC’s order authorizing the purchase of the NYSEG and RGE stated that in order to protect ratepayers, and possibly pass along synergy savings to them, the earliest the next rate-case could be filed was “30 days following the first anniversary of the acquisition,” or 13 months. The commission did allow that a request could be filed earlier, but only if they could demonstrate that their “financial performance…would fall to levels that would jeopardize safe and reliable service.”

In his letter today, Schumer contends that the company has not made that case, pointing out that the companies’ initial proposals state that the rate increase would assist them in “potentially” enacting an $800 million capital investment plan and aiding low-income consumers, among other things. But nowhere has NYSEG or Energy East RGE made the case that this rate increase is necessary to continue supplying power to paying customers. The only other argument that Iberdrola offers for this rate hike is that the rate increase will be used to fund low-income energy assistance. However, assistance to low-income customers is already provided through federal funds via the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

Furthermore, Schumer said the PSC should reject the Energy East’s application to fast-track their request for a rate increase to five months instead of eleven months. Schumer said expediting the review would not allow ratepayers, municipalities and consumer protection organizations enough time to respond to the proposal. "It's bad enough that the utility wants to balance their books on the backs of customers, but trying to ram these cost increases through quickly it simply unacceptable," Schumer said.

Schumer also wrote that the “several of the arguments used by the utility to justify the merger appear dubious at best.” Schumer said that his research showed that the company’s claim they do not have adequate credit ratings and access to lending facilities did not hold water. Schumer said that both companies have investment grade credit ratings that have not changed since the merger was completed. Schumer noted that a recent Standard and Poor’s report singled out Energy East for their strong credit rating. Moreover, Iberdrola used their “A-" credit rating as a major justification for the purchase.

Finally, Schumer also said thatthe PSC needs to get answers on capital commitments made by the utility as part of the merger. Also, with the company recently stating that they planned to cut their capital projects budget by half, Schumer urged the PSC to find out if they planned of living up to their promise of investing $200 million in renewable energy projects over the next two years.

Schumer long pushed for a fair deal that will benefit Upstate New York by boosting jobs, delivering clean, renewable energy and keeping customer rates low and service levels high. Schumer said today he would continue to fight to ensure this deal stays fair and keeps customer rates low.

Below is a full copy of the letter:

Jaclycn Brilling
New York State Public Service Commission
Secretary
Albany, NY

Dear Ms. Brilling,

I write to ask that the Public Service Commission (PSC) immediately dismiss New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG) and Rochester Gas and Electric’s (RGE) petition to raise the residential electric and gas rates of New York State consumers. Iberdrola’s purchase of these two companies contained an agreement that the utilities would not increase rates for a period of 13 months. At a time when there is unprecedented economic strain on New York’s economy, balancing these company’s books on the backs of consumer violates both the spirit and the letter of their agreement with the PSC.

The rate increases proposed by NYSEG and RGE are both significant and burdensome. All tolled, the company is looking to gain $227 million from New York ratepayers per year. This would be done by requesting increases in electric and gas rates for both NYSEG and RGE.

Specifically, NYSEG has requested a 9.9% increase in residential electricity rates and an 8.8% increase in residential natural gas rates. These rate hikes would mean the average customer’s electric bill would increase by $8.80 a month, while the average gas bill would increase by $12.20 a month. Similarly, RGE is requesting an 11.9% increase in electricity rates and a 7.4% gas rate hike. This translates to an average $8.80 and $7.80 a month increase in monthly bills respectively.

Despite these proposals, the PSC’s order authorizing the purchase of the NYSEG and RGE by Iberdrola clearly stated that in order to protect ratepayers and possibly pass along synergy savings to them, the earliest the next rate-case could be filed was “30 days following the first anniversary of the acquisition,” or 13 months. The commission did allow that a request could be filed earlier, but only if they could demonstrate that their “financial performance…would fall to levels that would jeopardize safe and reliable service.”

It is my understanding that the commission’s was clear in limiting any request to extraordinary circumstances, where denial of the rate increase would imperil the survival of the utility and prevents the delivery of power to rate-paying customers. The companies’ initial proposals state that the rate increase would assist them in “potentially” enacting an $800 million capital investment plan and aiding low-income consumers, among other things. But nowhere has NYSEG or Energy East RGE made the case that this rate increase is necessary to continue supplying power to paying customers.

It is troubling that the utilities proceeded well in advance of their 13 month agreement to request this rate hike. As such, NYSEG and RGE’s petition fails to meet the threshold for consideration by the PSC, and should be swiftly rejected.

Iberdrola argues that this rate increase is necessary because of Energy East’s BBB bond rating. But, Energy East’s bond rating is the same as it was Iberdrola consummated its purchase, it is unclear how the Energy East’s bond rating can be used to support a rate increase. The only other argument that Iberdrola offers for this rate hike is that the rate increase will be used to fund low-income energy assistance. However, assistance to low-income customers is already provided through federal funds via the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Further, I note that a recent Standard and Poor’s report indicates relative strength in electric utility credit and even singled out Energy East for having stable investment grade credit rating. What’s more, throughout the acquisition process, Iberdrola repeatedly cited their strong credit as a reason for approving the deal. Their credit rating now stands at a very healthy A-. To now argue that the companies credit ratings justify a rate increase simply strains credulity.

While the petition should not even be considered based on previous agreements, there are several other important factors that the PSC should weigh in assessing this request. As shown below, I find it very troubling that Energy East is trying to expedite this request and may not even be living up to other conditions of the acquisition.

First, I am troubled that Energy East has made clear they intend to request the Commission to expedite their request for a rate increase and approve the order by July 1st, 2009. Rate cases generally take 11 months to complete, giving all interested parties the time to perform the necessary due diligence and review. The utilities’ petition that this massive spike in rates be granted less than 5 month would deny ratepayers and intervening parties such as municipalities and consumer protection organizations the ability to cogently respond to this proposal. An expedited review should be denied.

Second, even if the Commission finds that higher rates are justified, the Commission should make it clear that this increase in rates must first come out of the $275 million positive benefit adjustment (PBA) fund Energy East and Iberdrola set up, as part of the acquisition agreement, to “either reduce rates or moderate requested rate increases.” NYSEG and RGE’s rate increase would yield them $225 million annually, which could shield NYSEG and RGE ratepayers for over a year, if the Commission should deem these rate increases to be justified. as part of the order that allowed the merger to proceed, Energy East and RGE agreed to set aside a fund for consumers that would offset rate increases. The acquisition of these utilities NYSEG and RGE called for $275 million in positive benefit adjustments (PBA) intended to “either reduce rates or moderate requested rate increases.” I believe the commission and other parties must determine how, if at all, the $275 million in PBAs will be utilized here.

Third, according to correspondence between the PSC and Energy East, I am troubled by the utilities recent decision to significantly reduce capital spending targets in 2009. When the PSC signed the final order approving Iberdrola’s acquisition of NYSEG and Energy East in December of last year, it was contingent on the company investing $200 million in renewable projects over the next two years. The PSC must continue their queries as to what specific projects will be downsized and/or eliminated and ensure that they live up to their capital commitments as outlined in the order.

Fourth, several of the arguments used by the utility to justify the merger appear dubious at best. Among them, I believe that the commission should focus on the claim that the utilities do not have adequate credit ratings and access to lending facilities as a justification for raising rates. It is important to note that both companies have investment grade credit ratings of BBB that have not changed since the merger was completed.

A recent Standard and Poor’s report, indicates relative strength in electric utility credit and even singled out Energy East for having stable investment grade credit rating. What’s more, throughout the acquisition process, Iberdrola repeatedly cited their strong credit as a reason for approving the deal. Their credit rating now stands at a very healthy A-. To now argue that the companies credit ratings justify a rate increase simply strains credulity.

New York State law calls for there to be a “public benefit” to justify a utility merger.

In approving this merger, I believe the PSC achieved this threshold through striking the a balance in protecting consumers and encouraging the development of renewable energy. The strength of this order, however, is only as effective as its implementation. I believe this goal can still be achieved, but only if erroneous requests such as this rate increase are rejected. Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

Sincerely,


Charles E. Schumer

Iberdrola ~ Just How Good is Their Word ? Can They Be Trusted?

It wasn't that long ago when Iberdrola was involved in the Energy East merger~

Federal and New York Officials Reward Spain’s Iberdrola at the Expense of U.S. Taxpayers, Job Seekers, and Electric Customers
by Glenn Schleede
March 1, 2010 ~

Consider, for example, the connections between:

Spain-based Iberdrola’s recent announcement that its net profit had doubled, and
Actions affecting Iberdrola during the last few months by members of the New York State Public Service Commission (NYS PSC), NY Senator Charles Schumer, US Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

read more -->here<-- ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Senator Schumer:


"The Future is over my shoulder"


When foreign wind companies are allowed to destroy our communities where is our future?
Why aren't our politicians protecting us ? 




  Senator Schumer said that the acquisition of Energy East by Iberdrola was Ok in his book if a couple of things were done. One condition was if Iberdrola were to put a large part of their profit from this deal into a pool to keep the rates down.
 Another condition was that Iberdrola would not only produce wind energy in NY , but the manufacturing component would be based in New York state as well , thus creating thousands of new jobs. Senator Schumer also stated that he would be watching this deal like a hawk to see that rates stay down, and he said the same thing about creating and manufacturing for wind . 
As you can see from the articles below Iberdrola has done neither
~~~ IBERDROLA Company presents wind farm plan
tags:Jimmy Lawton JOHNSON NEWSPAPERS 

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2010 According to representatives from Iberdrola at a recent Town Council meeting, plans call for the installation of 75 towers that are approximately 66 feet taller than the windmills at Maple Ridge Wind Farm in Lewis County.

 In the Video above Senator Schumer described this as a win situation and I am afraid he is right. Unfortunately it is win-win for Iberdrola and Lose-Lose for the rate payers and New York State. 

Iberdrola seems to have a game plan and it does not include keeping its promises. 

Apparently they are planning new money generating projects and these cost big bucks to build. Ultimately we are the ones who pay for these projects. So there you have it, we will sacrifice for their new money generating scheme in Hammond.
 What will be the next condition that is violated by a wind company? 
Will we continue to let the fox guard the hen house until there is nothing left of our state?

Wind Power Does Not Equal Job Power By JONATHAN KARL Feb. 9, 2010 Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the flow of money to foreign companies an outrage, because the stimulus, he said, was intended to create jobs inside the United States.
 "This is one of those stories in Washington that when you tell people five miles outside the Beltway, or anywhere else in America, they cannot believe it," Schumer told ABC News, "It makes people lose faith in government, and it frankly infuriates me."

 Several of the large European turbine manufacturers had limited manufacturing facilities in the United States, but there was nothing in the stimulus plan that required that the turbines, or any other equipment needed for the wind farms, be made here, said Rogers. There are strict "Buy America" provisions in the Recovery Act, but this Green Energy Stimulus initiative turned the existing tax credits into cash grants, bypassing the "Buy America" provision. Iberdrola, one of the largest operators of renewable energy worldwide, is based in Spain and has received the most U.S. stimulus dollars -- $577 million.
 It buys some of its turbines from another Spanish manufacturer, Gamesa, which has a U.S. connection. Gamesa has two facilities to manufacture turbine blades in Pennsylvania, but the company said the market forced it to temporarily lay off nearly 100 workers.

  click here for full article ~~~~ Where are those thousands of jobs?

Schumer: Energy East Is Violating Its Deal With NYS WBNG-TV: 
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today wrote to the Public Service Commission asking them to reject Energy East's request to raise gas and electric rates on nearly 1.5 million New York ratepayers.
In his letter, Schumer outlined a host of reasons for the PSC to dismiss their request, contending that it violated several of the terms established by the PSC in approving Iberdrola's purchase of the utility and also made questionable claims in an attempt to justify the rate increase.
 “This rate hike application reeks of profit mongering by a company that promised not to do just this as a condition of the approval of its merger. Just as New Yorkers are struggling to make ends meet, Energy East is trying to pull a fast one on its customers. The PSC should reject this application without any hesitation,” U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer said. Iberdrola, a Spanish utility company, recently purchased Energy East, which is the parent company of NYSEG and RG&E, serving over 1.5 million ratepayers, spanning communities across Western NY, the Finger Lakes Region, the Southern Tier and Hudson Valley, the Capital Region and North Country. During the regulatory approval process, Iberdrola committed to setting aside a $275 million pool of funds -- or Positive Benefits Adjustments (PBA) -- to keep customer rates low.
 At the time, Schumer said he would only support a deal containing provisions that would keep customer rates low. The final deal stipulated that a rate hike increase could not be requested for 13 months after the merger and that the $275 million Positive Benefits Adjustments be used to reduce rates or offset costs of the merger. Today, Schumer asked the PSC to determine whether the company was planning on using the $275 million in PBAs to offset the proposed rate hike, and if not, to determine how the company intended to use that fund. All tolled, Energy East is looking to gain $227 million from New York ratepayers per year through increased charges.
 to read the full story click link --> here<--

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Harvey White Editorial


5/10/2009
Editorial Watertown Daily Times
link unavailable

There have been recent letters in this newspaper from Cape Vincent's anti-wind group, mostly seasonal residents, who want you to believe that Cape Vincent is run by irresponsible elected officials.

Even though our elected officials have put a lot of effort into following the correct legal procedures and respectfully addressing the concerns of the community, the anti-wind group continues to disrespectfully drag their names through the mud.

There's no real need for me to show how the anti-wind group's assessment of our local officials is totally wrong. I know most Cape residents either ignore the anti-wind group's letters or read them to see how low the group will stoop.


Sometimes you have to laugh at how ignorant the self-righteous anti-wind group is.

In a recent letter, the group claims that the town board votes on the Environmental Impact Statement, when most people know the town board doesn't even vote on the EIS. And yet they claim the town supervisor doesn't know what he's doing.

And enough with the conflicts-of-interest accusations. First, it's not illegal for a board member to be related to someone with a wind lease.
Second, any board member
with such a relation consistently and ethically recused themselves from votingThird, the voters of Cape Vincent have clearly shown they don't care about conflicts of interest by repeatedly electing the candidates with supposed "conflicts of interest
The anti-wind group is just getting bitter because they haven't made the wind projects go away. They've tried lawsuits. They've tried campaigning to get anti-wind people into elected positions. They've tried malicious attack ads.

They've even tried sneaking video cameras into board meetings, putting the videos online and disrespectfully making fun of the board members. To their disappointment, all the money they've spent has not stopped our local officials from performing their duties efficiently, wisely and responsibly.

Don't let these anti-wind rants tarnish your view of Cape Vincent. When you visit Cape Vincent this summer, as long as you avoid the handful of anti-wind folks, you'll see that most Cape Vincent residents are friendly, respectful and rational people.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"Windfall" audio interview with director Laura Israel & cartoonist Lynda Barry



Director Laura Israel and cartoonist Lynda Barry talk about the controversy over wind turbines.

Israel directed “Windfall,” a revealing look at wind energy that tells the story of residents of Meredith, NY, who are divided when companies want to build wind turbines in the traditional dairy farm community.

“Windfall” Lynda Barry is researching a book on homes near turbines.


This film will be showing at the Clayton Opera
House Saturday March 5. I have posted the first comment left on the WNYC website in response to the airing of this interview
link -->here <--- The Leonard Lopate Show ~ Webpage to read more...
Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D. from Manhattan, New York I spoke at the first international symposium on the health effects of wind turbine energy in Picton, Ontario two weeks ago. I was asked to speak because of my research and writings on the adverse effects of noise on children. I was very impressed by the information provided at the symposium. Last week I saw Windfall which similarly addressed the health impacts of wind turbines on nearby residents. Before we move further in employing this apparently attractive alternative energy source, we must research the potential harm of wind turbines. We cannot simply state that turbines have "no effects on nearby residents," especially when reports to the contrary are growing. Additionally, I would like to alert New Yorkers that there is legislation in the City Council that will encourage placing wind turbines on the roofs of buildings in our city. Here we should similarly demand that the requisite research be done to determine potential harm from noise, especially low frequency sound. There is sufficient research linking noise to adverse health effects and diminished quality of life and these findings should serve as a warning that we need to do research on this "new" source of noise.