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Sounds of "Silence" II

Dave Hunt, we hear you. It's too bad your father and his enthusiastic companions on our Town Board didn't listen to sound reason while this whole project was just an over-hyped sales pitch. We've been documenting the noise problems of industrial wind turbines and UPC ("First") Wind's duplicity in its noise measurements all along. For some historical background, just click the "Noise" link below.

Since Cohocton's turbines went online and began spinning on Lent Hill, we've been keenly aware of the noise(s) they make, even though the 4 turbines near our property are all farther away than the nominal 1500' margin specified by our Local Law. Last month I reported about how they sound when the wind is blowing through the turbines toward our property. Today's report is about how they sound when the wind is blowing the other way, across our property first and then through the turbines.

The noise is like a jet airplane crossing overhead high in the sky, but instead of getting slowly louder and then softer again over a several minute period before fading away entirely, this sound stays at the same level and just keeps going on and on, hour after hour. The "plane" never arrives or leaves, it's just constantly roaring overhead with occasional groaning sounds added when the turbine nacelles turn as the wind shifts. Your mind keeps waiting for the noise to stop, but it doesn't. On the other hand, the aggravating thumping sound heard when the wind is blowing in your direction is barely audible when the wind is going the other way.

There are basically three ways to learn - from your own mistakes, from other people's mistakes, and from discernment and revelation about who can and can't be trusted. Unfortunately, it's too late in Cohocton now to learn from anyone else's mistakes but our own. When enough folks in town wake up to the fact that UPC's project was put over on a well-intentioned but naive rural community by a bunch of profit-minded urban con artists, we may be able to spread the alarm to other communities in the Finger Lakes before it's too late for them. Do you hear me, Wayne?



Only the beginning

Cohocton man complains of turbine noise

by Jeff Miller in Genesee Country Express

Son of town councilman says high-pitched noise keeps him awake

Before the turbines have been fully placed online, the first noise and shadow flicker complaint was brought before the Cohocton Town Board Tuesday night by David Hunt of Kirkwood Road.

Hunt complained that the noise of the turbines, which he said has a constant high-pitched sound like a train whistle, an occasional roar and a loud whooshing sound, has regularly kept him awake at night since the blades started spinning in August. Although he cannot see turbines from his home, he said he can hear about a dozen turbines between a half-mile and three-quarters of a mile away.

Hunt stated that although he approached First Wind representatives on the issue, they said that the turbines are in compliance with the town’s local ordinance on the noise level, which is 45 decibels.

Hunt suggested that the town find a way to change the law to a more reasonable decibel level.

Hunt’s father, town board member Wayne Hunt, said, “Changing the law is not going to change the sound.”

David asked, “What am I going to do with a house I can’t live in?”

Cohocton Deputy Supervisor Jeff Wise answered, “That’s a good question.” But Wise also said that his best solution to getting a change in the local law is to address the problem to the planning board first, which then recommends changes to local laws to the town board.

Besides his noise complaint, Hunt said after the meeting that six of his neighbors have also complained about the turbines, but their complaints are mostly due to the shadow of the turbine blades flickering on their property and in their homes.

Hunt said that he will be addressing the planning board. “I don’t know what else to do,” he said. Hunt has lived on Kirkwood Road for the past nine years.



An Early Test

Wind Energy will be an early test of Obama's White House Staff

President-elect Obama has said that he would promote "wind farms" as one way to create more jobs. This idea is consistent with popular wisdom about wind energy and, therefore, sounded good while Mr. Obama was in the Senate and during his presidential campaign.

The problem for Mr. Obama now is that this popular wisdom is wrong. Contrary to reports issued by various wind energy advocates, "wind farms" provide few energy, environmental, or economic benefits and create very few jobs - far fewer than could be achieved if the money were used for other investments. Also, wind energy has adverse impacts that advocates like to ignore.

Difference between campaigning and governing

"Good ideas," even if costly, can be useful during a presidential campaign. Once elected, however, presidents typically find that they have many more "good ideas" thrust upon them by staffers, campaign contributors, special interest groups, and heads of departments and agencies than their Presidential budget can accommodate, or that have benefits outweighing true costs.

Therefore, all presidents need effective procedures and trusted staff with discernment skills near at hand who can tell them whether the claims made by proponents of various "good ideas" are really true and whether a proposal will be cost-effective in meeting his goals.

The question now is whether Mr. Obama's White House and Executive Office staff will have the capability and "clout" to protect him from being pressured to adopt unworthy proposals. This will be a test for NEC Director Larry Summers, Domestic Policy Director Melody Barnes, ERAB Staff Director Austan Goolsbee, and OMB Director Peter Orszag and their staffs.

Click here to read Glenn Schleede's entire article in American Thinker magazine.



Hartsville Moratorium?

Hold on wind project proposed

by Bob Clark, Hornell Evening Tribune

Hartsville, NY - With little news from developers and fears of low returns on revenue, the Town of Hartsville might hold off on allowing anyone to build a wind farm until the details get ironed out.

The Hartsville town board voted 3-2 at Wednesday night’s meeting to consider a law placing a moratorium on wind turbine development. Town Supervisor Steve Dombert proposed the idea following a discussion on revenue benefits for the town and how they would compare to other municipalities.

Under the current Payment in Lieu of Taxes formulas, the town would receive between $52,000 and $180,000, Dombert said. “I’m really underwhelmed,” he said.

While the Town of Cohocton has received more than a million dollars in two years from a community host agreement, Dombert said recent court action by parties involved in the PILOT programs at other wind turbine locations may rule the community host agreement concept void.

He said he recently talked to representatives with E.ON, the company planning to build between 33 and 46 turbines in the town, “but I’m not feeling I’m getting a lot of encouragement on their end.”

The length of the moratorium would be between six months to a year, he said, adding it would give the town time to figure out its options and negotiate any necessary deals with the Canisteo-Greenwood Central School District.

Dombert added he feels the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency, which has the task of negotiating PILOT agreements, is not looking out for the town’s best interest. “They’re not negotiating anything at all,” he said.

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Hamlin reconsiders wind

Hamlin to consider new wind tower laws

by Meaghan M. McDermott, Staff writer

In the wake of a state Supreme Court decision striking down Hamlin's law regulating wind turbines, town officials plan to begin crafting a new law as soon as possible.

"We're looking at various options," said Town Supervisor Denny Roach, adding that he was "surprised and disappointed" by the Jan. 5 ruling from Justice David M. Barry nullifying wind turbine laws crafted through more than two years of public hearings, committee meetings and research. "Not only did we model our wind tower laws on other wind tower laws enacted throughout the state, but ours were more stringent than the other regulations, including some of the toughest noise restrictions in the state."

The Hamlin Preservation Group sued the town in August over the law, which would allow 400-foot-tall wind turbines to be constructed within 600 feet of property lines and public roads and within 1,200 feet of residences in areas zoned residential/very-low density. About 70 percent of Hamlin is zoned residential/very-low density.

The group claimed the Town Board ignored recommendations of its Wind Tower Committee — which included four of the 39 residents who filed the suit — to establish 1,500-foot setbacks from roads and property lines and 2,640-foot setbacks from homes.

Justice Barry ruled that town leaders violated state environmental quality laws in approving the new ordinance by not taking a "hard look" at environmental concerns related to wind towers or setting forth a "reasoned elaboration" on why the wind tower rules would not have a significant impact on the environment.

"We are very pleased with the decision," said Paul Lapinski of Redman Road, a member of the preservation group. "There are places wind turbines fit in, but they don't fit in right next to somebody's house."

Hamlin leaders began grappling with wind energy issues in late 2006, when Competitive Power Ventures Inc. erected two devices in northwest Hamlin to study whether it would be a good place for a wind farm. Since then, the company — now owned by Rochester Gas and Electric parent Iberdrola — has obtained options to lease about 15 properties for a possible wind farm in the northwest Monroe County town.

So far, Iberdrola has not put forth an official proposal for a wind farm in Hamlin.

But without a wind tower law on the books, Roach worries the town is vulnerable to developers. He plans to ask the Town Board to enact a temporary moratorium on wind farm development at the upcoming Jan. 26 meeting.

Lapinski said he'd like to see the town go even further than the wind committee's recommendations and prohibit turbines within 2,640 feet of property lines and 1,500 feet of roadways. He is concerned about noise, flicker, the possibility of ice thrown from spinning blades, destruction of airborne wildlife and what could happen if a tower were to collapse.

Roach said town leaders would take a harder look at potential environmental concerns.

But, Roach said, he's frustrated by more state and federal government calls for green energy and alternative fuels that don't come with any guidance for local governments for regulation.

"These are all grand goals, but there's no guidance and in the meantime the towns are left with the expense of getting regulations together and in place." he said.

Arthur J. Giacalone, attorney for the preservation group and a proponent of tight controls on wind energy companies, said he's aware of three towns that have banned industrial turbines altogether: Brandon and Malone in Franklin County and Meredith in Delaware County.

"Town boards need to understand they do have a right to keep these things out," he said.

Hamlin is the first Monroe County town to attract attention from a wind power firm. Other projects are ongoing in the region, however. Two farms are planned in Ontario County, there are three in the works in Genesee, one in Orleans and one in Livingston County.

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Hamlin wind law out

NYS Supreme Court Judge Nullifies Hamlin Wind Energy Law

The Wind Energy Law adopted in April 2008 by the Monroe County Town of Hamlin has been “set aside and annulled” by the Hon. David Michael Barry, Justice of New York State’s Supreme Court, in an “Order and Judgment” granted on January 5, 2009. The court’s decision concludes that the Hamlin Town Board violated the requirements of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) when it neither took a “hard look” at the relevant areas of environmental concern, nor set forth a “reasoned elaboration” for its determination that the wind energy law would not have a significant impact on the environment.

The wind law nullified by the court would have allowed construction of 400-foot-tall wind turbines within 600 feet of property lines and public roads and 1,200 feet of residences. In adopting the local law, the Hamlin Town Board chose to ignore the recommendations of the town's Wind Tower Committee for 1,500-foot setbacks from roads and property lines, and 2,640-foot [half-mile] setbacks from residents. The Town Board also disregarded the WTC's recommended noise standards intended to protect the health and wellbeing of nearby residents.

The judicial proceeding was brought in State Supreme Court, Monroe County by the "Hamlin Preservation Group" [HPG], an association of town residents and landowners determined to protect Hamlin's rural character and natural environment, and thirty-nine (39) Town of Hamlin residents. Of special concern to the Hamlin residents was the town board’s failure to take the required “hard look” at potential adverse impacts on human health associated with industrial wind farms prior to establishing minimum setback requirements and noise standards in the challenged wind law.

Attorney Arthur J. Giacalone expressed HPG’s response to the decision:

The members of the Hamlin Preservation Group are thrilled with the court’s ruling, and grateful to Justice Barry for holding the Hamlin Town Board to the tough standards mandated by the State’s environmental review law. If a town chooses to allow, rather than prohibit, industrial-scale wind development, it must, at a minimum, protect its residents' health, maintain the town's rural character, and preserve property values by establishing meaningful setback requirements and noise standards. The court’s ruling will help to ensure those protections.

For further information, please contact Arthur J. Giacalone, at 716-687-1902.

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