Robert Bryce: The backlash against BIG WIND continues

Posted: November 28, 2012 by tallbloke in Energy, flames, Incompetence, Legal, Politics, Robber Barons, wind

From the National Observer, via the GWPF

Last month, 60 residents of New York’s Herkimer County filed a lawsuit in Albany that provides yet another example of the growing backlash against the wind-energy sector. It also exposes the double standard that exists in both the mainstream media and among environmental groups when it comes to “green” energy.

The main defendant in the lawsuit is the Spanish electric utility Iberdrola, which is the second-largest wind-energy operator in the U.S. The Herkimer County residents — all of whom live within a mile or so of the $200 million Hardscrabble Wind Power Project — are suing Iberdrola and a group of other companies because of the noise and disruption caused by the wind project.

The lawsuit comes at a touchy time for the wind industry, which is desperately trying to convince Congress to extend the industry’s production tax credit that expires at the end of this year. The subsidy gives wind-energy companies 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour of electricity that they produce.

Wind-energy proponents claim that an elimination of this tax credit could result in the loss of 37,000 jobs, but they have not been able to silence the dozens upon dozens of groups that have sprung up to fight expansion of the wind sector. And few places in the U.S. have seen a bigger backlash than New York State. About two dozen New York towns have passed rules banning or restricting wind-energy development, and many rural residents have expressed ongoing concerns about turbine noise.

The noise issue is front and center in the Hardscrabble lawsuit. Neighbors of the project have been complaining about noise from the turbines since last year. Two noise studies done on the Hardscrabble facility found that the turbines sometimes exceed their permitted limit of 50 decibels. In response to the complaints, Iberdrola Renewables — which owns the Hardscrabble project — installed noise-reduction equipment on a handful of the turbines.

In the lawsuit, the residents claim that the noise produced by the turbines on the 74-megawatt facility causes headaches and disturbs their sleep. Some of the residents say they have abandoned their homes because of the noise. Others are claiming that the project has hurt their property values. The key paragraph in the suit says that the defendants “failed to adequately assess the effect that the wind turbines would have on neighboring properties including, but not limited to, noise creation, significant loss of use and enjoyment of property . . . diminished property values, destruction of scenic countryside, various forms of trespass and nuisance to neighboring properties, and health concerns, among other effects.”

For years, the wind industry and its many supporters on the “green” left have been trying to dismiss the turbine-noise issue — and the nearby residents who are complaining about the problem. In late 2009, the American Wind Energy Association and the Canadian Wind Energy Association published a paper that attempted to quiet critics of the noise problem; they stated in the paper that “there is no evidence that the audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects.” The paper also suggested that the symptoms critics were attributing to wind-turbine noise were psychosomatic and declared flatly that the vibrations from the turbines were “too weak to be detected by, or to affect, humans.”

The Herkimer County lawsuit — Abele et al. v. Iberdrola et al. — will bring the noise issue into the legal arena where it can be properly adjudicated. But it’s not yet clear what the plaintiffs might get if they win, because the lawsuit doesn’t name a specific dollar amount in damages. Jeff DeFrancisco, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs, said that New York State doesn’t allow plaintiffs to put a dollar value on the damages.
Read the rest here:

  1. Tim Cullen says:

    The Green Disease epidemic continues to cut a swathe through the Western World:

    Already, we are seeing the dead hand of the water shortage agenda exert its malign force, as water companies forcibly introduce water meters, costing consumers up to £200 each, and paving the way for rationing by price, all to meet government targets of cutting water use from 148 to 130 litres per person per day by 2030.

    But what is fascinating from the current BBC report on the flooding in Gloucestershire is that it pictures the “Horsbere Brook Flood Storage Area” helps to protect more than 350 homes from flooding. For “storage area”, read “reservoir”. Additional capacity serves not only to deal with drought, but can be used to contain excesses, thus reducing local flooding.

  2. Zeke says:

    Tim Cullen says:
    November 28, 2012 at 4:07 pm “Already, we are seeing the dead hand of the water shortage agenda exert its malign force…”

    Yes, it appears that China is now very aggressively and effectively pushing for water “sustainability” controls and crop-yield reductions agreements from the European Union:

    “The FAO said agriculture and food systems consume 30 percent of the world’s energy, while crop and livestock sectors are responsible for 70 percent of all water withdrawals. In the future, however, farmers will have fewer water and energy resources, meaning they will have to produce more with less.

    In response, the United Nations is advocating agricultural techniques that draw on “nature’s contribution to agricultural growth,” for example, soil organic matter, water flow regulation, pollination and natural predation of pests.

    The FAO report calls for a reduction in the massive amounts of waste in traditional agriculture and urges the introduction of “improved crop varieties that are resilient to climate change and use nutrients, water and external inputs more efficiently.””

    Is this really concern about environmental risk? Or is this economic espionage, an “assisted” suicide policy from Beijing to weaken the West?

  3. Tim Cullen says:

    Zeke says: November 28, 2012 at 7:01 pm
    Is this really concern about environmental risk?

    The problems arrive when we are stopped from managing the environment:

    Prohibited clearing of undergrowth -> burnt people and property, forest fires…
    Prohibited reservoirs -> flooding and droughts
    Prohibited CO2 emissions -> winter deaths, fuel poverty and excess fuel costs…
    Prohibited landfill and tipping -> fly-tipping, inefficient recycling and excess costs…
    Prohibited power stations -> useless windmills, excess costs and power shortages…
    Prohibited light bulbs -> mercury pollution and poisoning, poor lighting and accidents
    Prohibited environmental uses -> excessive controls, bureaucracy, poor transportation
    Prohibited environmental impacts -> bad investments, poor planning and shortages.
    Prohibited thinking: corruption of science, education, media, government…
    Prohibited policies: corrupt government, NGOs and eco-cronyism…

  4. Curious George says:

    There are no adverse effects associated with wind turbines, just as there are no adverse effects associated with smoking.

  5. Doug Proctor says:

    I’ve been around Alberta and Saskatchewan wind farms a reasonable bit, though never lived near one. While not all were operating any time I was near them, I don’t recall being away of significant noise – even some noise. Unsitely, yes, but I found them quiet.

    Maybe I’m deafer than I think (too many rock concerts and headphones at 11).

    Any of you care to comment? I am suspicious that the lawsuits are to stop expansion or because property values fell with the windfarms, not because there is much noise.

    I’m a skeptic of anything where there are positive benefits for shutting something down other than what is mentioned.

  6. p.g.sharrow says:

    I don’t remember much noise from the ones in California that I have visited over the last 40 years. They are kind of an eyesore and older windfarms look like crap. As the subsidies and new wear off they fall into disrepair. These things are difficult and expensive to maintain and repair. Best to scrap them as soon as possible. pg

  7. Steve Richards says:

    It is different visiting a wind generator site compared to living near to one.

    The constant low level hum or whine, barely noticeable during a visit could quickly become a major irritant whilst trying to sleep each and every night.

    A ticking clock can be unnoticeable during the day time but at night, it can be an extreme nuisance.

  8. Neil McCubbin says:

    Noise from the wind generators I have sailed past, walked under and checked out from a stopped car with open window is trivial realtivel to normal noise levels in day-to-day life.
    I noticed a complaint that the Hardscrabble wind generator system sometiems passes its 50 decibel limit.
    50 dB is the noise of a very low whisper, that healthy peole can hear up to about 3 ft from the whisperer. Anyone who is genuinely upset by such a low noise level must be hellish upset most of the day.
    If the lawyer complaining about Hardscrabble put his effort into stopping genuinely loud and annoying noises, he coudl do some good.

  9. tallbloke says:

    50db of noise is very different depending which end of the frequency range you are at. Low frequency noise can be very disturbing even at low energies. I would hesitate to discount the stories about homes being abandoned and people complaining of deleterious effects on their health on the basis of simplistic numerical values.

  10. Marco Polo says:

    Regarding the noise of worthless wind turbines, it is important to remember the dimensions of the gigantic varieties:

    “Many small first generation turbines, such as the Blyth Harbour turbines, are being replaced (‘repowered’) with turbines of gargantuan proportions.

    The current generation of turbines are commonly 125m (410 ft) high. The 42.5m turbines at Blyth are to be replaced with six 125m and one 163m turbines.”

    Even when the props seem to be turning slowly, they can be traveling 100mph at the tips. I cannot envision how the cement bases, which are the size of swimming pools, can withstand the stress of these velocities. So you have not only the sound, but also the enormous bases.

  11. Zeke says:

    And some of the noise generated is below ranges of human hearing.