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VN 7/31 - Visual Impacts?

Over the past 15 months the leadership and residents of Cohocton have been flooded with data and analysis by UPC Wind as part of its lengthy application process. Why does it take so long to get a $250 million industrial power plant approved, anyway, especially if it's a "no-brainer" with no downside? After a while these DEIS, SDEIS, FEIS, etc. reports get so tiresome that people hardly read them any more. "Let's just get the project done," they say. Well, actually there are negative impacts - visual, noise, property values, and political corruption, to name several. Buried in UPC's most recent FEIS, for example, are some interesting findings about visual impact.

What do UPC's hired reviewers have to say?
"Visual impact of the project was increased in Viewpoint 110 with the addition of a foreground turbine to the view. The foreground turbine (approximately 0.25 mile from the viewer) presents significant scale contrast and becomes a dominant feature in the view. The composite visual impact rating from this viewpoint increased from 2.50 to 3.54 [scale 1.0-5.0]. This is consistent with findings of the VIA and SVIA, that viewpoints which include turbines at foreground distances (i.e., under 0.5 mile) are likely to have the greatest visual impact." (quote from page 29 in UPC's 319-page FEIS)

Well, where might we find turbines closer than half a mile? Answer: Along every road and near almost every house on Lent, Pine, Dutch, and Brown Hills. Won't that be pretty? Did UPC's study include many of these bad views? No, only one - they're not very good for selling their project.

Why should we trust a company that hides the truth at almost every turn? Browse our "Updates" section with special attention to the items labeled "Local Politics," come out to the "Special Meetings" of our Town Boards this week on Tuesday July 31st and Thursday August 2nd to see how our current leadership is handling things, and then help get out the vote this fall for people who will examine the facts more carefully and genuinely listen to all of us.

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Wind a Minor Player

Conservation More Effective Than Wind Energy

Pointing to the very small contribution of wind, National Wind Watch calls for conservation instead of industrialization of rural and wild landscapes

Rowe, Mass., July 30, 2007 - The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects that if the world's nations pursue carbon-reducing plans they are currently considering, then in 2030 there could be 18 times more electricity generated from the wind than there was in 2004.

But because of continuing growth in demand, that would still represent less than five percent of the world's electricity production.

In the US, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the US Department of Energy projects that wind's share of electricity production will be less than one percent in 2030.

National Wind Watch (NWW), a coalition of groups and individuals providing information about industrial wind energy development, says that conservation could easily make up wind's small potential contribution.

"It is obvious - even in the IEA's very hopeful scenario - that wind will never be an important part of electricity production," says NWW president Eric Rosenbloom, author of A Problem With Wind Power. "Wind does not now nor will it ever replace other sources to any significant degree," Rosenbloom says. He adds, "That is not to endorse any other source as problem free, it is simply facing the fact that wind is not a viable alternative."

Since wind's potential contribution is so small, modest conservation would avoid the adverse impacts of wind energy development, according to National Wind Watch.

Click here to read the entire article with footnotes and references.



VN 7/24 - Alice in Wonderland

Wayne Hunt has recently published 3 political articles (1, 2, 3) addressed to “Cohocton Voters” (and paid for by UPC Wind?) in which he criticizes those running against him in the upcoming Republican primary race of at least 4 serious shortcomings: Making wind power their primary focus, not being long-term incumbents, being members of a tiny fringe that hasn’t joined Cohocton civic organizations, and deluging us all with “Alice in Wonderland style delusions that insult the intelligence of the average citizen of the town.”

In contrast, what is Wayne Hunt running on?
- He identifies the breadth of his platform by calling his reelection campaign “Running on the Wind” and urging his supporters to put model wind turbines (also paid for by UPC?) in their front yards.
- He freely confesses to working tirelessly for “three long, hard years to bring a wind farm to Cohocton,” a project that’s been carefully kept away from the electorate the entire time.
- He lists all the worthy activities and accomplishments of Town government over the past several years as if they’re his own.
- He grossly underestimates both the number and the intelligence of those who have faithfully expressed legitimate and well-documented concerns about the process that’s been followed so far in the siting of industrial wind turbines in our town.

We have no doubt that Wayne and other members of our current Town Boards are sincere in their beliefs and desire to do what is right for Cohocton. We commend them for their sincerity. However, it’s very clear that their minds were made up years ago about wind power. No public dialogue has been fostered, just input and rebuttal.

We’ve come to the reluctant conclusion that it’s time for a major change. Check out our main website; browse through our “Updates” by clicking the label below to read those items addressing Local Politics (you might be particularly interested in this posting); and develop your own opinion about who’s been soaking up the Caterpillar’s fumes around here. Then help get out the vote this fall for people who will listen and represent all of our interests. Thanks!



UPC in Oregon

"Families for Sevenmile Hill is an organization that opposes the irresponsible placement of an industrial wind farm in a residential and scenic area of the Columbia River Gorge. In April 2007, UPC Wind Management announced plans to build the 60-megawatt complex on a prominent hill above Mosier and The Dalles. The massive project, which includes 40 turbines that each soar almost 400 feet, marks the first time developers in Oregon have attempted to site a wind farm so close to residences and with elements of the complex within the boundaries of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. It's up to the Oregon Department of Energy's siting council to approve or reject UPC's proposal. We urge the public to become informed and to support Sevenmile families as they fight for the future of their homes, their community and the unique landscape of the Gorge."

Sound familiar? Click here to visit our compatriots in Oregon online and find our just how familiar...



VN 7/17 - Maine Problem

UPC Wind's industrial wind power project on Mars Hill in Maine, just completed this winter, has caused a lot of local stir, primarily because of the noise it makes. Residents who live within half a mile of the project began complaining of disturbing thumping noises as soon as the turbines were activated. Since then, UPC has done a lot of public relations "damage control" and commissioned its own noise study to evaluate the situation. The results are now public.

Did UPC's noise study find and correct the problem?
- No. According to UPC's new numbers, there really isn't a problem. Their project meets the noise criteria they said it would. Period.
- Why is there still a problem? The answer can be found by comparing the noise study done for Cohocton with the new one done in Maine.
- Both studies have fraudulently defective assessments of ambient noise obtained by using improper wind screens on their microphones which give baseline noise levels that are 5-10 dBA high. The resulting levels of "allowable noise" are therefore 5-10 dBA too high as well.
- Both studies assume that turbine noise will be masked by ambient noise but overlook the fact that naturally-occuring ambient noise does not have the deep low "thumping" sounds that turbines generate.
- Both studies estimate noise propagation and masking based on the average noise turbines generate at all frequencies (106 dBA) not their much higher dBA output at lower frequencies (120 dBA).
- Microphones used to monitor noise compliance don't measure accurately down into the thumping frequencies below 100 Hz.

So the result is troublesome noise that UPC can deny. What else can you expect from a developer whose bottom line is making money? Costly corporate honesty? It's time to wake up and smell the coffee before it's too late and we're all stuck with noise that won't go away.

Click on the Label for Noise below
for more "Updates" articles about this subject, then go to the Sound section on our main website for more background information and updated links, including this link to an index page of UPC noise studies. After you've studied the noise problem for a while, be sure to let our Town leaders know what you think.



Global Warming Solutions

In a recent, thought-provoking article, Dr. Nina Pierpont writes:

As an ecologist, I’ve known about global warming since the 1970’s, especially in the work of certain marine scientists who began studying and modeling global carbon cycling forty years ago. The earth’s fossil record makes it clear that the earth has cycled back and forth between warmer epochs and colder throughout its history. At certain times the earth has been tropical to the poles.

There is no doubt that we are in a significant warming stage and that the human role in this is
critical, by releasing to the atmosphere enormous amounts of carbon locked up by trees and plants eons ago into oil and coal. Not only the burning of fossil fuels, but the destruction of forests also disturbs the carbon balance, on the other side. Forests are carbon “sinks,” reabsorbing carbon from the atmosphere and locking it up again into wood and leaves, cellulose and lignin. The energy in wood is the sunlight of past summers, but the substance is carbon from the air.

Global warming means not only more marked heat waves and melting glaciers and ice caps, but also increased variation in the weather. There is more energy in the atmosphere and hydrosphere not only for high temperatures, but also for more air movement, more wind, more storms, and greater swings between warm and cold, as air masses replace each other quickly and vigorously.

But wind generation is not the solution, even in a gustier world.

To appreciate a cogent, comprehensive, and remarkably concise analysis of the situation, click here to read the entire 2-page article.

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Organic Solar Cells

Higher efficiency organic solar cell created

Using plastics to harvest the energy of the sun just got a significant boost in efficiency thanks to a discovery made at the Center for Polymers and Organic Solids at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Nobel laureate Alan Heeger, professor of physics at UC Santa Barbara, worked with Kwanghee Lee of Korea and a team of other scientists to create a new “tandem” organic solar cell with increased efficiency. The discovery, explained in the July 13 issue of the journal Science, marks a step forward in materials science.

Tandem cells are comprised of two multilayered parts that work together to gather a wider range of the spectrum of solar radiation – at both shorter and longer wavelengths. “The result is six and a half percent efficiency,” said Heeger. “This is the highest level achieved for solar cells made from organic materials. I am confident that we can make additional improvements that will yield efficiencies sufficiently high for commercial products.” He expects this technology to be on the market in about three years.

Heeger and Lee have collaborated for many years on developing solar cells. The new tandem architecture that they discovered both improves light harvesting and promises to be less expensive to produce. In their paper, the authors explain that the cells “… can be fabricated to extend over large areas by means of low-cost printing and coating technologies that can simultaneously pattern the active materials on lightweight flexible substrates.”

The multilayered device is the equivalent of two cells in series, said Heeger. The deposition of each layer of the multilayer structure by processing the materials from solution is what promises to make the solar cells less expensive to produce.

“Tandem solar cells, in which two solar cells with different absorption characteristics are linked to use a wider range of the solar spectrum, were fabricated with each layer processed from solution with the use of bulk heterojunction materials comprising semiconducting polymers and fullerene derivatives,” wrote the authors.

The cells are separated and connected by the material TiOx, a transparent titanium oxide. This is the key to the multilayer system that allows for the higher-level efficiencies. TiOx transports electrons and is a collecting layer for the first cell. In addition, it acts as a stable foundation that allows the fabrication of the second cell, thus completing the tandem cell architecture.

Heeger shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in the year 2000, with Alan MacDiarmid and Hideki Shirakawa, for the “discovery and development of conducting polymers.” The tandem solar cells reported in the Science article utilize semiconducting polymers from the class of materials that were recognized by the award of the Nobel Prize.

With Howard Berke, Heeger in 2000 co-founded Konarka Technologies, based in Lowell, Mass., to develop and market solar cells based on this technology.

Heeger recently was presented with the Italian Prize for Energy and the Environment (Eni Italgas Prize) for his discoveries and research accomplishments in the field of “plastic” solar cells. The Italian agency cited Heeger “for research that will begin to contribute to the energy needs of our planet in the near future.”

An exciting aspect of the latest discovery is that it is expected to contribute to third world usage of technologies such as laptop computers in areas that are “off the electricity grid.”

Source: University of California - Santa Barbara



Hornellsville Update

Town approves resolution opposing move by state to take over regulation

ARKPORT - State or no state, the Town of Hornellsville is moving forward on adopting its local wind law.

Despite the prospect of the state Assembly and Senate approving Article X legislation, which would regulate power in New York - including wind farms with more than a set limit of megawatts - the Hornellsville town board discussed a draft of its wind law at the board meeting Tuesday night.

Few changes have been made to the law, drawn up by lawyer Dan Spitzer, but Councilman Roger Schulitz said it's still an ongoing process.

“We're still looking at it further,” he said.

No vote was taken on the law, expected to be put up for vote later this summer or in early fall, and it will be discussed by the planning board again at its next meeting. Supervisor Ken Isaman said the town and planning boards will likely meet to hammer out any changes board members determine need to be made, and a public hearing would be required prior to adoption of the law.

Isaman did discuss Article X with the board.

“Anytime local control is taken away, particularly when local government doesn't know legislation is in the works, is kind of a disheartening situation,” he said when he learned of the possibility of state stepping into the wind legislation fray. “We in Steuben County that have projects have worked very hard to put together a package that reimburses the towns quite well for the transformation of our towns into windmill territory.”

State Sen. George Winner, R-Elmira, is part of the conference committee comprised of Senate and Assembly members to come up with a joint bill. He said the two bodies are “very far apart” in terms of coming to terms on a joint offering. The bulk of the bills deal with natural gas and clean air standards, he said last month, but wind energy could be impacted as well.

“To the extent that a wind project would exceed - in the Senate bill - a 50-megawatt level,” Winner said then, adding the Assembly bill calls for regulations to kick in at the 30-megawatt level. “It would obviously be subject to Article X.”

Winner said the conference committee is trying to figure that out and how municipalities' rights to impact fees could be preserved. He said the new legislation would have no negative impact on Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreements being worked on in local municipalities for wind farms. He touted a provision in the legislation that would allow local residents to have a voice through “intervenor funds,” that would be available to groups opposing development, and municipalities would be eligible to receive up to 50 percent of the intervenor funds - if they apply for it - under the proposal.

Developers would be required to pay $100,000 to the intervenor fund on its pre-application stage, with ability for another $25,000 to be requested at the pre-application or application stage, Winner said. He said projects that exceed the 80-megawatt level would be required to cough up another $500,000.

The board approved a resolution in opposition of the potential Article X legislation, and copies will be forwarded to all the state legislators covering the town.

“We've definitely got to keep our eye on how that flows,” said Councilman William Giese. “We'll watch it, but I think we still have to go ahead and pass our local legislation.”

In other business, the board thanked John Buchko, who has resigned, for his many years of service on the town's planning board.


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VN 7/10 - Thump, Thump

Two weeks ago the Cohocton Planning Board uncritically accepted UPC Wind's FEIS (Final Environmental Impact Statement) without further review and appears to be poised to grant "Special Use Permits" (zoning variances) giving the developer local approval to go ahead as planned. Since then we've seen the voluminous FEIS and done a preliminary review of some of its revised findings.

What improvements does the FEIS contain?
- Absolutely none. Unsurprisingly, it's more of the same self-serving project justification that we've seen all along.
- Hessler's "new" noise study fails to correct its underlying fatal flaw: a totally inaccurate assessment of ambient noise (at least 5 dBA high). However, it does tell us that the Clipper turbines are much louder at the low thumping frequencies than previously estimated - up to 120 dBA - a fact that is glossed over in the sound projection contours.
- Revised visual impact studies note that the most dramatically negative impacts are where turbines are within 1/2 mile of the viewer (where most residents on the hills live). But simulations showing turbines this close are hard to find. Why? Probably because they won't fit on a page without using a camera with a special "fisheye" lens.
- Shadow flicker studies only measure impacts at one window in a house, not on the landscape within view of each dwelling.
- PILOT payment estimates - negotiations with SCIDA are still incomplete - keep getting smaller. What is SCIDA's status, anyway?

Are we really ready to approve this project? If it gets past the legal, political, logistical, and economic hurdles that lie ahead with ongoing local concerns, the PSC, and limited availability of Clipper turbines, what will we have? Defaced hills cluttered with looming industrial machines that make disturbing thumping noises night after night. And the promised PILOT payments? How small will they turn out to be?

Browse our website for more information, and make sure you come out to this week's Planning Board meeting on Wednesday night at the Hatch Hose Fire House, 30 University Avenue in Atlanta, at 7:30 pm to find out how our leaders handle UPC's Special Use Permit request.



Turbine shortage problems

An article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal highlights a significant problem in the domestic proliferation of wind turbine installations, the relative unavailability of turbine and parts. While giving a broad and generally sympathetic overview of the international scene, the author repeats a number of grossly inaccurate wind industry claims, like the following:

In the U.S., more wind power was installed last year than in any country in the world - 2,454 megawatts, or more than the equivalent of two nuclear reactors.

Statements like these obscure the inconvenient fact that the nameplate capacity of wind turbines is not equivalent to the nameplate capacity of nuclear reactors. Due to the intermittent nature of wind, coupled with production that is often out of phase with demand, so-called wind farms only produce between 8-15% of nameplate capacity in usable energy, while nuclear reactors generate about 97% of capacity. This makes our wind-struck WSJ author's estimate off by a factor of 10, meaning that last year's large wind installation actually represents the equivalent of only about 1/5 of one nuclear reactor, hardly a large gain for the investment and landscape despoilation.

Click here to read the article, and then contact the author, Keith Johnson, to express your concerns.

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Article 78 in Jordanville

An article in Cooperstown's weekly newspaper, The Freeman's Journal, last week discusses ongoing local opposition to the Community Energy wind project proposed for Jordanville. Note the similarities between the their situation and ours, especially the timing:

As the Holy Trinity monks hold prayer services and mount a letter-writing campaign, Otsego 2000 is seeking out the most appropriate “petitioners” to file an Article 78 complaint against the 68-turbine Jordanville Wind Farm, a preliminary step to going to court to block the 400-foot-tall towers in view of James Fenimore Cooper’s Glimmerglass.

After a year working through the State Environmental Quality Review Act process, the towns of Warren and Stark, on June 20 and 21 respectively, accepted the Final Environmental Impact Statement on the project and approved special-use permits. That step started a 30-day clock running on the Article 78 proceeding.

The next step for Community Energy is to apply for a certificate of necessity from the state Public Service Commission, which would require a further public hearing before action could be taken. The towns must then issue building permits for each turbine and related building in their jurisdictions.

Meanwhile, the monks at Holy Trinity Monastery, the Russian Orthodox Church’s spiritual headquarters overseas, have begun a cycle of “molebin,” prayers of supplication somewhat like the Roman Catholic novena, and as many as a dozen people from the community have been attending. Father Luke Murianka, the deputy abbott, said all are welcome.

“Certainly, we feel that prayer is one of the best methods,” Father Luke said, but influential Russian Orthodox clerics are also weighing in, and their letters will be sent to Gov. Eliot Spitzer and others in state government.

Archbishop Hilarian Kapral of Australia, former abbot at Jordanville and metropolitan in Manhattan, had visited a wind farm in Tasmania and concluded “it would be terrible tragedy to have it here.”

The archbishop in Manhattan, Gabriel Chemodakov, has also written a letter decrying “the desecration of the landscape.”

The Cohocton Planning Board rubberstamped UPC Wind's FEIS last month and is set to review [approve without question?] the developer's application for special use permits at its meeting this coming Wednesday evening, July 11th. If and when this step is passed, assuming the same process applies here, UPC will then have to "apply for a certificate of necessity from the state Public Service Commission, which would require a further public hearing before action could be taken. The towns must then issue building permits for each turbine and related building in their jurisdictions." UPC and its local supporters will also be running a gauntlet of local prayer and, most likely, facing a similar Article 78 legal proceeding.

And remember, this year is an election year. As Yogi Berra once said, "It ain't over 'til it's over!"

Click here to read the entire article.

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VN 7/3 - Independence

Last week our Town Planning Board met "to continue with its review and consideration of the special use permits, site plan applications and the FEIS [Final Environmental Impact Statement] which have been submitted by Canandaigua Power Partners…" In the preceding public comment period, explicitly focused only on UPC's application for three more 250-foot test towers, Paul Wolcott gave the 80 Cohocton citizens assembled a brief lecture on representative government.

How did our leaders express representative government?

In true Tory style, Planning Board Chair Ray Schrader disallowed any further comment, stood up and read a long prepared legal resolution to the group, received a unanimous vote of approval from his Board for UPC Wind's FEIS - a document that included final revisions none of them had even seen yet, and then closed the meeting.

Where is our representation? I asked Ray after the meeting about our concerns and the pending Supreme Court case. He told me that Jack Zigenfus had instructed him to ignore them. Councilman Wayne Hunt has told us that their project will be going through "unless there is a Court injunction against it." So much for representation and the rule of law. Power and money are in control. Hungry for a truly independent point of view? Read our personal letter to the gentlemen named above, pray with us for justice, and then let your voice be heard!

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