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Turbines Too Loud?


Turbines Too Loud? Here, Take $5,000

Some families in the vicinity of Ione, Ore., have complained to the county planning commission that noise from the Willow Creek Wind Farm, which borders their homes, exceeds allowed levels.

IONE, Ore. — Residents of the remote high-desert hills near here have had an unusual visitor recently, a fixer working out the kinks in clean energy.

Patricia Pilz of Caithness Energy, a big company from New York that is helping make this part of Eastern Oregon one of the fastest-growing wind power regions in the country, is making a tempting offer: sign a waiver saying you will not complain about excessive noise from the turning turbines — the whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of the future, advocates say — and she will cut you a check for $5,000.

“Shall we call it hush money?” said one longtime farmer, George Griffith, 84. “It was about as easy as easy money can get.”

Mr. Griffith happily accepted the check, but not everyone is taking the money. Even out here — where the recession has steepened the steady decline of the rural economy, where people have long supported the massive dams that harness the Columbia River for hydroelectric power, where Oregon has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in tax incentives to cultivate alternative energy — pockets of resistance are rising with the windmills on the river banks.

Residents in small towns are fighting proposed projects, raising concerns about threats to birds and big game, as well as about the way the giant towers and their blinking lights spoil some of the West’s most alluring views.

Here, just west of where the Columbia bends north into Washington, some people are fighting turbines that are already up and running. In a region where people often have to holler to be heard over the roar of the wind across the barren hills, they say it is the windmills that make too much noise.

“The only thing we have going for us is the Oregon state noise ordinance,” said Mike Eaton, an opponent of the turbines.

Oregon is one of a growing number of places that have drafted specific regulations restricting noise from wind turbines. The Oregon law allows for noise to exceed what is considered an area’s ambient noise level by only a certain amount. But what those ambient levels are is sometimes disputed, as is how and where they should be measured.

And while state law limits turbine noise, the state office that once enforced industrial noise laws, housed within the Department of Environmental Quality, was disbanded in 1991, long before wind power became a state priority.

Click here to read the full New York Times article by William Yardley.

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Wind Firm Shuts Down

Wind firm backed by Golisano shuts after prices fall

Empire State Wind Energy LLC, the company backed by billionaire and Paychex Inc. founder Thomas Golisano, has ceased operations because its leaders believe the venture will not be profitable.

David Still, a partner and investor in Empire State Wind Energy, said this week the company is "mothballing," or postponing, the project indefinitely. The main reason is the significant drop in wholesale electricity prices.

"The company is not proceeding with anything at this point," Still said, adding the chances of resuming down the road do not look good either. "If we do see a resurgence in wholesale prices, we could proceed with the project, but economically, it just doesn't work for us now."

The Oneida-based firm has been looking to develop wind farms in the area since it began in 2006. The company has said it would build only projects acceptable to host communities and return most of its profits through taxes, payments in lieu of taxes and fixed-cost energy sales.

The New York Independent System Operator this year reported the state's average wholesale electric energy price for 2009 was the lowest in 10 years.

NYISO operates New York's bulk electricity grid and administers the state's wholesale electricity markets.

The average annual price of wholesale electric energy in the state was $48.63 a megawatt-hour in 2009. The average was below the previous low of $49.90 a MWH set in 2002 and 49 percent below the 2008 average of $95.31, NYISO reported.

The declining wholesale electricity energy prices in 2009 were largely attributable to reduced power consumption and reductions in the cost of natural gas, NYISO said.

Click here to read Andrea Deckert's whole article.

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Greece Says No

Greece says no to wind farm in Lake Ontario

The Greece Town Board has become the first elected body in Monroe County to voice an opinion on offshore wind turbines.

That opinion was a resounding no. In a 5-to-0 vote Tuesday, the board said it opposed the New York Power Authority's current proposal to site one or more wind farms in Lake Ontario or Lake Erie.

Authority officials are considering five proposals from private wind developers to erect offshore turbines, which likely would be more than 400 feet high and at least two miles off shore. A farm could have from a few dozen turbines to more than 100.

Homeowners along Greece's nearly eight miles of shoreline made it clear to town leaders they weren't interested in turbines, said Supervisor John Auberger.

"That's a residential area, and from an aesthetic standpoint, residents didn't want development into what they consider a national treasure, Lake Ontario," Auberger said. He also said the authority hadn't given the public enough information about the project.

Authority officials won't say where the developers are proposing to put turbines, though the authority earlier indicated that the Monroe shoreline from Greece to Webster was suitable for a wind farm.
Winning proposals are expected to be chosen by early next year.

The Democrat and Chronicle has filed a Freedom of Information Law request for material from the proposals. The authority turned down that request, and an administrative appeal is pending.

The authority says a farm would help meet a demand for non-polluting electricity. Offshore is desirable because winds blow stronger and more persistently over water.

County lawmakers in Wayne, Oswego, Jefferson and Chautauqua counties have voted to oppose the authority's project, while Niagara County legislators have endorsed it.

County Legislator Rick Antelli, a Republican whose district includes Greece shoreline communities, is seeking support from lawmakers for a resolution of opposition.

"I'm pleased with the Town Board," Antelli said Wednesday. "I believe they're answering the call of the constituents also."

By Steve OrrDemocrat & Chronicle staff writer

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Prattsburgh Moratorium Extension

Proposed Extension of the Industrial Wind Energy Facilities Moratorium Law

Notice is hereby given that a Public Hearing by the Town Board of the Town of Prattsburgh, County of Steuben, State of New York, will be held at the Prattsburgh Town Hall, 19 North Main Street, Prattsburgh, New York, on the 19th day of July, 2010, at 7:00p.m. upon the proposed Extension of the Industrial Wind Energies Facilities Moratorium Law of 2010.

The purpose of the hearing is for public comment on the proposed extension of the Industrial Wind Energy Facilities Moratorium Law. The intent of the law is to impose a further six (6) month moratorium on construction of and/or receipt and processing of applications for Industrial Wind Energy Facilities, their infrastructure and their support facilities in the Town of Prattsburgh.

All persons interested in this proposed Industrial Wind Energy Facilities Moratorium Law will be heard by the Town Board at the Public Hearing to be held as stated above. The proposed Industrial Wind Energy Facilities Moratorium Law is available for review at the Office of the Clerk of the Town of Prattsburgh, 19 North Main Street, Prattsburgh, NY 14873 during regular business hours.

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