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New Mexico Citizens Alliance for Responsible Enegry and Sustainability
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- National Wind Watch News
- Industrial Wind Action Group News - New Mexico
- Acoustic Ecology Institute News
- US DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) News - national and international renewable energy news and events.
- Blades of Power - Students at the local Rio Gallinas School for Art and Ecology discuss the pros and cons of Industrial Wind.
- University of Colorado News Center - July 23, 2009 - Noise Pollution Negatively Affects Woodland Bird Communities, According to CU-Boulder Study
- Las Vegas Optic - July 08, 2009 - Wind Farms' Effect On Health, by NMCARES member Dr. Eileen Mulvihill.
- The New Mexico Independent - Feb. 06, 2009 - GOP LAND COMMISSIONER SAYS DEMOCRATIC REP. STEINBORN WANTS HIS JOB, by Heath Haussamen. Responding to lawmakers' reform bills, Lyons says 'anti-growth' trio aims to elect Steinborn as land commissioner in 2010.
- The New Mexico Independent - Feb. 05, 2009 - LAWMAKERS PROPOSE LAND OFFICE REFORMS, by Heath Haussamen. Doña Ana County lawmakers are proposing reforms that would increase transparency and accountability in the land commissioner's dealings.
- Las Cruces Sun-News - Feb. 05, 2009 - DOÑA ANA COUNTY LAWMAKERS TRY TO REIN IN LAND OFFICE. A group of Doña Ana County lawmakers has introduced a package of bills that would place greater controls on and provide more oversight of the State Land Office.
- SF New Mexican, Jan. 16 - 2009 - LINE FOR GREEN ENERGY PLANNED, by Staci Matlock.
- High Country News - Jan 14, 2009 - RENEWABLE ENERGY V. RENEWABLE ENERGY, by Jeff Chen.
- SF New Mexican - Jan. 11, 2009 - WIND CHILL: Rural residents worry about impact of lightly regulated industry, by Staci Matlock.
- SF New Mexican - Jan. 10, 2009 - WIND ENERGY SWEEPS PLAINS; course correction in order? (editorial).
- SF New Mexican - Jan. 10, 2009 - FUELING CONTROVERSY: As researchers debate wind turbine impact, residents want more study, by Staci Matlock.
- SF New Mexican - Jan. 10, 2009 - MOVING POWER: Lack of transmission capacity challenges renewable energy projects, by Staci Matlock.
- SF New Mexican - Jan. 06, 2009 - TOWERING TURBINES DRAW IRE, by Staci Matlock.
- SF New Mexican - Dec. 06, 2008 - SOLAR HOME OWNERS OPPOSE WIND FARMS, by Staci Matlock.
- SF New Mexican - Dec. 06, 2008 - THOUGHTFUL PLANNING NEEDED FOR PROPOSED MESA WIND FARM, by Jan Rosenquist.
- Pecos River Gazette - Dec. 2008 - WIND TURBINES ON OUR MESAS?
- SF New Mexican - Nov. 21, 2008 - STATE: SHOW CAUTION AS PARTNER IN WIND POWER (letter to the editor).
- SF New Mexican - Nov. 13, 2008 - RESIDENTS WARY OF MESA WIND FARM DEAL, by Staci Matlock.
- New York Times - June 08, 2011 - The Cost Of Alternative Energy.
- UK Telegraph - June 19, 2010 - Britain's biggest wind farm companies are to be paid not to produce electricity when the wind is blowing.
- Boston Herald - April 2, 2010 - Towering turbines cast shadow over rural lifestyle.
- Wall Street Journal - March 1, 2010 - The Brewing Tempest Over Wind Power (available here by kind premission of the author).
- Telegraph UK - January 11, 2010 Wind farms produced 'practically no electricity' during Britain's cold snap.
- Times Online UK - Dec. 13, 2009 - Officials cover up wind farm noise report. Also see this report for more information.
- Daily Telegraph UK - Dec. 13, 2009 - Wind turbine noise warnings were dismissed by civil servants. Also see this report for more information.
- Detroit Free Press - Sept. 27, 2009 - HOMEOWNERS FIGHT AGAINST THE WIND by Tina Lam (300kb pdf of the article here)
- New York Times - August 08, 2009 - North Carolina Moves To Limit Wind Projects
- Salon.com - March 23, 2009 - The dirty green line: Erecting new transmission lines for solar and wind power is a boon to coal-burning utilities and a drain on our wallets.
- The Guardian UK - March 17, 2009 - Shell dumps wind, solar and hydro power in favour of biofuels.
- Bob Vila.com - March, 2009 - Green Backlash: The Wind Turbine Controversy.
- Spiegel Online International - Feb. 10, 2009 - Wind Turbines in Europe Do Nothing for Emissions-Reduction Goals
- MSNBC - OBAMA'S GREEN DREAMS AND WHAT THEY MEAN by Eve Tahmincioglu. These industries stand to benefit from plans to curb our oil dependence.
Joint Memorial Adopted
March 21, 2009 - HJM 75 - House Bill 75 passed the Senate unanimously last night!
From the bill locator:
HJM 75 STUDY REGULATION OF WIND FACILITIES Richard D. Vigil
 HAFC  DP  PASSED/H (45-18)  SCONC  DP  PASSED/S (36-0)
Thank you calls should go to Rep. Richard Vigil and Sen. Phil Griego.
Rick Vigil - 505-986-4242
Phil Griego - 505-986-4861
Huge thanks to everybody who worked to get this legislation passed.
Joint Memorial Draft
REQUESTING THE NEW MEXICO LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL TO APPOINT A TASK FORCE TO STUDY THE NEED FOR IMPROVED REGULATION OF COMMERCIAL WIND FACILITIES.
WHEREAS, Utility scale wind powered electric generation facilities are almost completely unregulated and
WHEREAS, the total environmental impact and ultimate viability of proposed utility scale wind facilities should be taken into consideration to determine if they are truly responsible renewable, and
WHEREAS, The siting of the current or planned industrial scale wind facilities does not fall under public regulation commission review, and
WHEREAS, the protection of public health through safety standards including setback standards from homes and noise limits standards that include hazardous low frequency noise should be considered and
WHEREAS, protection of the environment, including scenery, historic sites and wildlife corridors as well as night skies should be taken into account and
WHEREAS, a code of ethics for the wind power industry that guarantees procedural transparency to residents and provides for oversight of the industry is necessary
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO that the New Mexico Legislative Council be requested to form a task force for the 2009 interum to study the need for improved regulation of commercial wind facilities in New Mexico and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that at least six public members be appointed to the task force that represent communities and interests that have been affected by the siting of commercial wind facilities in the state and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the task force consider the concerns expressed in this memorial and make its recommendations to the second session of the 49th legislature by December 1, 2009 and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this memorial be transmitted to the co chairs of the New Mexico Legislative Council .
The Gas Is Greener
By ROBERT BRYCE
Published: June 7, 2011
IN April, Gov. Jerry Brown made headlines by signing into law an ambitious mandate that requires California to obtain one-third of its electricity from renewable energy sources like sunlight and wind by 2020. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia now have renewable electricity mandates. President Obama and several members of Congress have supported one at the federal level. Polls routinely show strong support among voters for renewable energy projects - as long as they don't cost too much.
But there's the rub: while energy sources like sunlight and wind are free and naturally replenished, converting them into large quantities of electricity requires vast amounts of natural resources - most notably, land. Even a cursory look at these costs exposes the deep contradictions in the renewable energy movement.
Consider California's new mandate. The state's peak electricity demand is about 52,000 megawatts. Meeting the one-third target will require (if you oversimplify a bit) about 17,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity. Let's assume that California will get half of that capacity from solar and half from wind. Most of its large-scale solar electricity production will presumably come from projects like the $2 billion Ivanpah solar plant, which is now under construction in the Mojave Desert in southern California. When completed, Ivanpah, which aims to provide 370 megawatts of solar generation capacity, will cover 3,600 acres - about five and a half square miles.
The math is simple: to have 8,500 megawatts of solar capacity, California would need at least 23 projects the size of Ivanpah, covering about 129 square miles, an area more than five times as large as Manhattan. While there's plenty of land in the Mojave, projects as big as Ivanpah raise environmental concerns. In April, the federal Bureau of Land Management ordered a halt to construction on part of the facility out of concern for the desert tortoise, which is protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Wind energy projects require even more land. The Roscoe wind farm in Texas, which has a capacity of 781.5 megawatts, covers about 154 square miles. Again, the math is straightforward: to have 8,500 megawatts of wind generation capacity, California would likely need to set aside an area equivalent to more than 70 Manhattans. Apart from the impact on the environment itself, few if any people could live on the land because of the noise (and the infrasound, which is inaudible to most humans but potentially harmful) produced by the turbines.
Industrial solar and wind projects also require long swaths of land for power lines. Last year, despite opposition from environmental groups, San Diego Gas & Electric started construction on the 117-mile Sunrise Powerlink, which will carry electricity from solar, wind and geothermal projects located in Imperial County, Calif., to customers in and around San Diego. In January, environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit to prevent the $1.9 billion line from cutting through a nearby national forest.
Not all environmentalists ignore renewable energy's land requirements. The Nature Conservancy has coined the term "energy sprawl" to describe it. Unfortunately, energy sprawl is only one of the ways that renewable energy makes heavy demands on natural resources.
Consider the massive quantities of steel required for wind projects. The production and transportation of steel are both expensive and energy-intensive, and installing a single wind turbine requires about 200 tons of it. Many turbines have capacities of 3 or 4 megawatts, so you can assume that each megawatt of wind capacity requires roughly 50 tons of steel. By contrast, a typical natural gas turbine can produce nearly 43 megawatts while weighing only 9 tons. Thus, each megawatt of capacity requires less than a quarter of a ton of steel.
Obviously these are ballpark figures, but however you crunch the numbers, the takeaway is the same: the amount of steel needed to generate a given amount of electricity from a wind turbine is greater by several orders of magnitude.
Such profligate use of resources is the antithesis of the environmental ideal. Nearly four decades ago, the economist E. F. Schumacher distilled the essence of environmental protection down to three words: "Small is beautiful." In the rush to do something - anything - to deal with the intractable problem of greenhouse gas emissions, environmental groups and policy makers have determined that renewable energy is the answer. But in doing so they've tossed Schumacher's dictum into the ditch.
All energy and power systems exact a toll. If we are to take Schumacher's phrase to heart while also reducing the rate of growth of greenhouse gas emissions, we must exploit the low-carbon energy sources - natural gas and, yes, nuclear - that have smaller footprints.
Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, is the author, most recently, of "Power Hungry: The Myths of 'Green' Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future."
by Julie Wernau/Chicago Tribune (printed in The Boston Herald, April 02, 2010)
Months have passed since anyone has waved hello to one another in Waterman or Shabbona in rural DeKalb County, Ill. Some people claim they've even stopped going to church to avoid having to talk to former friends.
"It's gone. The country way of living is gone," declares Susan Flex, who lives in Waterman with her husband and their nine children. The animosity stems from the greenest of energy sources: a wind farm.
The turbines started arriving last summer, at a rate of two a day, their parts trucked in on flatbeds. Today 126 turbines dot the county, with another 19 just over the border in Lee County. They have been making enough electricity since December to power 55,000 homes.
DeKalb County's efforts appear to be in line with President Barack Obama's push for the U.S. to produce 25 percent of its energy needs with renewable resources by 2025. Illinois has added more wind power than all but four states.
Yet the story playing out just an hour and half from Chicago is one of policy-meets-reality. While the idea of creating power from the wind sounds ideal, the massive structures that have gone up have dramatically affected the people who live there, country life and the landscape.
Each turbine stands about 400 feet tall from the tips of their blades to the ground - roughly the height of the Wrigley Building in Chicago. Infighting over the turbines has pitted families against landowners, farmers against friends, and even family members against one another.
Click the heading above to read the rest of the article.
The Brewing Tempest Over Wind Power
People living near turbines increasingly report sleep deprivation, headaches and vertigo. The wind lobby says there's no proof.
By ROBERT BRYCE
Imagine this scenario: The oil and gas industry launches an aggressive global drilling program with a new type of well. Thousands of these new wells, once operational, emit a noxious odor so offensive that many of the people living within a mile of them are kept awake at night. Some are even forced to move out of their homes. It's easy to predict the reaction: denunciations of the industry, countless lawsuits, and congressional investigations.
Now substitute wind for oil and gas and consider the noise complaints being lodged against wind projects around the world.
The Obama administration has made the increased use of wind power to generate electricity a top priority. In 2009 alone, U.S. wind generation capacity increased by 39%. But more wind power means more giant turbines closer to more people. And if current trends continue, that spells trouble.
In 2007, a phalanx of wind turbines were built around Charlie Porter's property in rural northern Missouri. Soon, Mr. Porter began to have trouble sleeping. So did his wife and daughter. The noise, he told me, made sleeping almost impossible. "We tried everything - earplugs, leaving the TV station on all night." Nothing worked. Late last year he moved his family off their 20-acre farm.
Mr. Porter's story is no isolated event. Rural residents in Texas, Maine, Pennsylvania, Oregon, New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, France and England have been complaining about the noise from wind turbines, particularly about sleep deprivation. Dozens of news stories - most of them published in rural newspapers - have documented the problem.
Click here to read the rest of the article (by kind permission of the author).
Wind farms produced "practically no electricity" during the cold snap which manufacturers' groups say could lead to severe winter energy shortages.By Rowena Mason, Daily Telegraph UK, 11 Jan 2010
The cold weather has been accompanied by high pressure and a lack of wind, which meant that only 0.2pc of a possible 5pc of the UK's energy was generated by wind turbines over the last few days.
Jeremy Nicholson, director of the Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG), gave warning that this could turn into a crisis when the UK is reliant on 6,400 turbines accounting for a quarter of all UK electricity demand over the next 10 years.
He said the shortfall in power generated by wind during cold snaps seriously undermined the Government's pledge on Friday to build nine major new wind "super farms" by 2020.
"If we had this 30 gigawatts of wind power, it wouldn't have contributed anything of any significance this winter," he said. "The current cold snap is a warning that our power generation and gas supplies are under strain and it is getting worse."
Coal stations are currently used as back-up generation when there is a surge in demand for gas and the wind does not blow - which both tend to happen during cold weather.
However, increased dependence on wind farms will coincide with a European Union directive shutting down Britain's dirtiest coal and oil fired power stations.
The UK has committed to switching off these stations by 2015, leaving it uniquely vulnerable to gas shortages and the intermittency of wind farms.
The EIUG, which represents the major steel, chemicals, paper, cement, glass, ceramics and aluminium companies, said many of its members were worried about the prospect of future gas rationing.
"It will be industry that gets its gas switched off first," Mr Nicholson said. "Just imagine going through the winter we're having now when energy demand has gone back up to pre-recession levels, we're more reliant on wind and 60pc of supply comes from gas compared with 40pc now.
"What is industry going to switch to using?"
Andrew Horstead, a risk analyst for energy consultant Utilyx, said current plans to build 30 gigawatts of wind farms could have serious consequences for the security of the UK's energy supply in harsh weather conditions.
"This week's surge in demand for energy in response to the cold weather raises serious concerns about the UK's increased reliance on wind power," he said.
"We need to ensure that energy can be quickly accessed in times of peak demand through improved gas storage and investment in clean-coal and nuclear power stations.
"Failure to address these concerns could mean further rationing of energy in future years and could even lead to black-outs, so it is vital that the UK Government takes action now to avoid the lights going off."
Last week, National Grid was forced to issue two warnings about gas supply as demand surged to a record high, forcing it to ask 95 companies to turn off their pipelines.
It lifted the warning on Friday, after problems with Norwegian pipeline gas supply were fixed, but demand may continue to rise next week with experts forecasting more snow.
In his latest podcast from Number 10, Mr Brown insisted that the UK was not running out of gas.
"National Grid has confirmed that it expects supplies to meet demand. I can assure you: supplies are not running out.
"We've got plenty of gas, of course, in our own back yard - the North Sea - and we also have access to the large reserves in Norway and Netherlands via pipelines."
A warning about the health effects of noise from wind turbines was removed from a government study following pressure from civil servants.
By Alastair Jamieson, Daily Telegraph UK, 13 Dec 2009
Consultants recommended lowering night-time noise limits because the sounds made by spinning blades were enough to disrupt sleep patterns. However, the advice, contained in a draft version of their 2006 report, was removed from the final submission which was eventually used in official guidance for local authorities ruling on planning applications from wind farm developers. It means that hundreds of turbines at wind farms in Britain built since 2006 have been allowed to continue generating high levels of noise. Evidence of the changed advice was uncovered after a two-year battle using the Freedom of Information Act by campaigners opposed to a wind turbine development close to their home at in mid-Devon. One of those campaigners, Mike Hulme, said: "This proves what we have been saying all along, that the noise guidelines should be reviewed. They haven't changed substantially since 1997, in which time the design of turbines has changed and the number of wind farms has increased.
"Turbines used to be about 50 feet and now they are closer to 400 feet.
"Residents are afraid to complain to their council because the problem is then in the public domain and it becomes impossible to sell their house."
The noise warnings were made in a draft report by Hayes McKenzie Partnership (HMP).
It was commissioned by the Department for Trade and Industry, since replaced by the Department for Energy and Climate Change, following a 2004 article in The Daily Telegraph that identified wind turbines at a Cornish wind farm as giving rise to health problems associated with low frequency noise emissions.
It said the sound caused by "aerodynamic modulation" - the rhythmic 'whump whump' of the blades - was enough to disturb the sleep of nearby residents, creating an "adverse" impact on their health, and recommended the night noise limited be cut from 43 decibels to 38.
However, an anonymous government official then inserted remarks querying the impact of the proposed change. "What will the impact of this be?," the civil servant wrote. "Are we saying that this is the situation for all wind farms ... I think we need a sense of the scale of this and the impact."
The final report removed any suggestion of cutting the noise limits or adding any further penalty if turbines generated a beating noise - and recommended local authorities to stick to the 1996 guidelines.
Britain has 253 land-based wind farms generating 3.5 gigawatts, but this is expected to double or even triple by 2020 to help to meet targets for cutting CO2 emissions.
A spokesman for the DECC denied officials had put pressure on the consultants to remove the noise warnings.
He added: "Noise impacts are an aspect which is considered within the planning process before any decision is taken whether or not to grant consent to a project."
The Maine Medical Association adopted this resolution regarding wind energy development and public health at its September 12, 2009 annual meeting.
Resolution RE: Wind Energy and Public Health
WHEREAS, proposals to locate and build wind energy facilities in the State have at times proven controversial, due to concerns regarding potential effects of such facilities on the public health, and
WHEREAS, the trade off between the public good of generating electricity and the adverse health effects warrant appropriate evidence-based scientific research, and
WHEREAS, assessing the potential health impact of wind turbines has been difficult to measure but if present would be of significant concern. This is especially apparent regarding the noise level and other noise characteristics specific to industrial wind turbines, and
WHEREAS, there is a need for modification of the State's regulatory process for siting wind energy developments to reduce the potential for controversy regarding siting of grid-scale wind energy development and to address health controversy with regulatory changes to include, but not limited to:
a) Refining certain procedures of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission to reflect scientific evidence regarding potential health effects, and to further explore such potential health effects;
b) Judging the effects of wind energy development on potential public health by avoiding unreasonable noise and shadow flicker effects, with development setbacks and incorporating upto date noise regulations specific for industrial wind turbines adequate to protect public health and safety.
Therefore be it resolved that the Maine Medical Association work with health organizations and regulatory agencies to provide scientific information of known medical consequences of wind development in order to help safeguard human health and the environment.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Maine Medical Association
1) work with other stakeholders to encourage performance of studies on health effects of wind turbine generation by independent qualified researchers at qualified research institutions;
2) ensure that physicians and patients alike are informed of evidence-based research results.
The North Carolina State Senate has voted overwhelmingly to ban large wind turbines from the state's scenic western ridgelines.
The 42-1 vote on Thursday represents the strongest stand against wind turbines taken by lawmakers in any state. The bill would amend a 1983 "ridge law" to allow only turbines that are 100 feet or smaller to be placed on ridgelines above 3,000 feet. This effectively bars industrial-sized turbines - which can reach several hundred feet in height - from the windy mountaintops.
The bill has been sent to the state's House of Representatives for consideration. However, the House is due to adjourn in a few days, so the debate is likely to resume after the legislature returns next May, according to Brandon R. Blevins, the wind program coordinator for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
If the bill becomes law, it would "virtually ban two-thirds of the onshore wind resource in N.C.," he said in an e-mail message.
The Senate action in North Carolina is the first time a state legislative body has voted to ban turbines, according to Christine Real de Azua, a spokeswoman for the American Wind Energy Association. New Jersey had a temporary moratorium on offshore wind projects while the state studied the matter, but now New Jersey is moving ahead with offshore projects, she said.
Around the country, some counties have enacted height limitations on turbines.
Ivan Urlaub, executive director of the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, pointed out that the state legislature just passed a number of other bills that increase renewable energy incentives, including a five-year extension of a generous tax credit that now is on the governor's desk.
The potential blanket ban on big turbines "is very much an issue about do people want to look at wind turbines in the mountains of North Carolina," Mr. Urlaub said. "It's not about the state's commitment to renewable energy or lack of commitment."
He acknowledged, however, that the vote "has had the effect of raising concerns about North Carolina's commitment to clean energy."
The bill passed on Thursday in the Senate would assist the development of wind energy along the North Carolina coast by establishing an environmental permitting process, according to Mr. Urlaub.
by Emily Lambert - Forbes Magazine, February 16, 2009
"Small groups are getting smarter about keeping big projects at bay.
Thanks to Saint Consulting, corporations are wising up, too."
Just off I-39 lies rural El Paso, Ill. But it's hardly a quiet place. Some of its 2,700 residents got pretty worked up in 2007 after learning that Navitas Energy of Minneapolis wanted to build a wind farm in their back yard. It proposed 40 turbines, each peaking at 2 megawatts of electric output. Sitting in Woody's Family Restaurant on the town's main drag, roof truss salesman Kevin Moore explains that he worried the proposed windmills could hurt property values, stunt the town's growth and flick dangerous ice balls. (Navitas says it's not a problem.) He went to county board meetings with 200 angry citizens, who helped stall Navitas for a year.
Navitas fought back for the hearts and minds of El Paso, bringing in Saint Consulting Group, which boasts the world's biggest stable of former political campaign managers. Saint tried the good-cop approach, holding a kite-flying event in a park, after surveys showed that residents felt strongly about energy independence, and giving pinwheels to tots at a July 4th parade to promote wind power. It also played bad cop, in part by painting protesters as carpetbaggers. Moore didn't help his case by living 10 miles south of El Paso and belonging to a group that sued another wind developer in the area. On Aug. 19, 2008 it came down to a vote by the county board, and Navitas won. Wanda Davies, Navitas' director of development, says project owner Babcock and Brown should be ready to build in 2010. "I think no matter whose back yard they're in, they just aren't effective," says Moore, arguing that wind farms are only tax-fueled boondoggles.
So go the turf battles among rival grass-roots organizations--communities mobilizing against commercial interests, which, in turn, try to co-opt the citizenry. With tens of billions of dollars at stake in projects nationwide, corporations are ripping pages from the playbooks of protesters, politicians and lobbyists to organize constituents faster and far more effectively than in the past. The businesses rely on word of mouth, as well as mass e-mails, online videos and blogs.
Saint Consulting has made a specialty of waging war on behalf of corporate clients desperate to win zoning battles. Charging up to $300 an hour in an average $250,000 project, the Hingham, Mass. firm pulls in $30 million a year deploying political and media experts and lawyers on behalf of casinos, colleges, grocery and retail chains, medical groups, utilities and heavy industries. A rotten economy hasn't stalled community opposition, says Patrick Fox, Saint's president: "People think they can win now."
The firm was founded in 1983 by Paul (Mike) Saint, press officer for former Massachusetts lieutenant governor Thomas P. O'Neill III (son of Tip, former U.S. House Speaker). When O'Neill left office, Saint opened a one-man shop. He made ends meet by doing p.r. and political work but focused in the mid-1990s on land use and met Fox, who was running political campaigns in Massachusetts. They combined skills to push for support of rock quarries, landfills, hospitals and power plants. Saint realized most people couldn't be won over "by telling them facts or statistics," he says. "They become passionate, and that translates into political action." Solution: counter political action with political action.
Saint is currently waging 135 skirmishes in the U.S., U.K. and Canada. Half its clients need help essentially to squelch a competitor's project--a supermarket chain, say, wants to keep a big box out of town. For obvious reasons clients insist on anonymity. So Saint goes "undercover," riling up neighbors, turning them against a group or company, quietly offering legal advice, as well as tips on how to organize and turn up political pressure. Fox says some neighbors are suspicious that he's an enemy plant, though he tells them, "I'm here to help you. I do this across the country." Funds to pay, say, a traffic expert are sometimes handled through attorneys so they can't be traced back to Saint or its client. Fox encourages neighbors to hold fundraisers, which further disguises Saint's fingerprints; often its agents use fake names.
The other half of Saint's business: clients like Navitas and Hyperion Energy, trying to get a project built. A private oil and gas producer in Dallas, Hyperion wants to build the first new U.S. refinery in 33 years--a $10 billion refinery complex near Elk Point, S.D. it claims would generate 1,800 permanent jobs. That might spare some Elk Point residents the 60-mile round-trip commute to jobs in Sioux City and Sioux Falls. To be financed by an undisclosed amount of bank debt and equity investment, the refinery "is what America needs," says Preston Phillips, Hyperion's project manager.
Not everyone sees it that way. Edward Cable, a construction consultant who lives nearby, expects the refinery will provide only half its stated jobs. He believes Hyperion's annual sales tax benefit--$50 million--is overstated, that the county is ill prepared to handle sudden growth and that "the long-term solution is clearly not in refining outdated fossil fuels." Organizers launched a ground war before the project was even made public.
Saint parachuted in Jay Vincent, a 34-year-old Chicagoan who has organized for Democratic campaigns. While Hyperion was quietly buying up land options, he stopped by Elk Point's county building and, without identifying himself, picked up meetings minutes and maps. He chatted up residents in coffee shops and read stories at the public library. Vincent blends into a crowd: "I'm vanilla enough to fit in just about anywhere."
Coconut, maybe. Rumors spread about the options buying; speculation about the project, nicknamed "Gorilla," made national news. Ed Cable headed a group called Save Union County, though they didn't yet know what they were saving it from. After a reporter tied the options to Hyperion, the oil company held a press conference; an attendee posted it on YouTube. A chapter of the Sierra Club found experts on refineries and aquifers.
Shifting into high gear, Saint studied voter files, knocked on doors, asked folks whether they were for or against the project and why. The idea: stop opposition at the doorstep. Pollsters fed what they learned into a database, adding info they bought from vendors, such as who subscribed to what newspapers. That offered further clues about political and environmental leanings, and allowed Saint to craft tailored messages. To those concerned about emissions, it emphasized that the 400,000-barrel-a-day refinery, plus an integrated gasification combined cycle plant, could sequester carbon more cheaply than a coal plant. The north part of the county, Vincent knew, worried especially about economic benefits. So he worked up leaflets and newspaper ads touting jobs and tax advantages.
Hyperion's two public hearings were open warfare. Opponents trotted out mothers concerned about their kids' health. Saint encouraged Hyperion to counter speaker by speaker; a mother who said she hoped the project would keep her children in the area. The fight headed to a referendum. When the last vote was counted on June 3, Hyperion had won, 58% to 42%. It is now seeking air permits.
Comments on the article:
Posted by DonLennox - 02/06/09
I found this article pretty interesting, actually. I've been involved in a number of development projects (I'm a traffic engineer). A lot of the time, the entitlement process is very contentious. I know, from the developer's perspective, it can be really tough to get people to give your project a fair shake, even when it's something you think would actually be good for the city. I think it's pretty interesting that companies are out there doing this sort of thing.
Posted by GreenBean - 02/05/09
For those of us already living inside of poorly sited wind farms, this article is a joke. The noise, and shadow flicker is intolerable. Want to see what shadow flicker in our community looks like? Watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbIe0iUtelQ. Developers told us it wouldn't be a problem. They told us noise wouldn't be a problem. They told us the headaches and the ringing in the ears wouldn't happen. All of it has happened. And more. Houses go up for sale here, and no one will touch them. I'm sickened by the championing of such underhanded business practices described in this article. Bedford Falls hasn't a chance against such an army of Old Man Potters. All the wind farm has brought to our community are sleepless nights, neighbors who no longer speak and continual misery. Tags: wind turbine trouble and misery.
Posted by Hilldweller - 02/05/09
As a NIMBY myself I appreciate any exposure for our side of the arguements. Transmission queue requests increased ten fold when Illinois passed the RPS. The wind developers came in years ago with their model ordinance which protects nobody. Rural residents get blind-sided because the big companies (wind, landfills, slaughter houses) only talk to the people they need for their projects - county boards, banks, etc. In rural America NIMBY means NEXT IT MIGHT BE YOU. We have resisted zoning to maintain our freedom but it has back fired on us. Even in our county which has zoning we have a very hands-off policy.
Posted by johnwvterry - 02/05/09
Nimby is a pejorative word. We need to be careful how we use such words because they point to a prejudice on the user's part. It's like the term, "special interest group" which might as easily refer to parents, union workers, soldiers or Wall Street bankers. In the case of the wind farm nimbys, I have personal experience with a wind energy company who apparently used similar tactics in West Virginia by funding a bogus green energy citizens group to support a wind farm proposed to be built in an area with dubious wind resources.
Posted by LisaLinowes - 02/05/09
Regretfully, the author of this story has grossly understated how effective the residents of El Paso and Woodford County were in educating their county board on the perils of wind energy development in their community. Navitas did not get what they wanted having to reduce the size of the project by a number of turbines. Despite Ms. Davies confidence in this article, last Aug she was fretting the project might not be viable with fewer turbines. Also, while Navitas is quick to assert property values are not impacted near turbines, the company refused to sign property value agreements with the residents. This story is far from over. Woodford County is now working on changes to its wind energy oridnance to better protect its citizens. As can be expected, Navitas/Iberdrola is racing to get proposals in before any zoning changes take effect. And the fight goes on ... Those interested in understanding the real story behind this fight may want to check out: http://www.windaction.org/search?module=search&q=woodford .
Posted by larrythomas - 02/04/09
Continued media use of the phrase "NIMBY" to describe grass-roots (communities) opposition to a commercial interests intrusion into their communities, often "under the cloak of darkness", demonstrates a lack of understanding of the facts, a belief of the false claims of those industries, intentional or unintentional misrepresentation or presentation of a story dictated only by the intruding industry.
This is the type of story which confirms that a majority of the media does not have a clue of what motivates the opposition and will not spend the time and effort to venture into our world to gather the facts and write a well balanced representation of issues affecting both sides of a story. How much independent research of the "NIMBY" assertions is ever completed?
Posted by dantemorocco - 02/04/09
Doesn't it seem a little duplicitous to masquerade around a community to foist a corporate agenda on defenseless neighbors?
It seems as though the author is fairly proud of the role and tactics used by this firm. It really smells bad when corporate interests cannot gain acceptance on the merits of a project, only to revert to twisting the truth to achieve its ends.
Sometime, somewhere, the media will realize that people and communities are what is good about the system we like to call a democratic republic. Subterfuge should not given esteem like it does in this story.
Best of luck to the principals, may they sleep well even as they dupe the public.
They should be ashamed, as well as Forbes for trying to paint a pretty color on this deceitful practice.
Coal camp politics.
2009 Forbes.com LLC . All Rights Reserved
March 22, 2009 - Right Side News
The Answer, My Friend is NOT Blowing in the Wind
By Jay Dwight and Joe D'Aleo, ICECAP.us
Many states and the Federal Government are putting a lot of faith in renewable energy sources especially wind and solar as solutions for our energy independence and future cost reduction. However, unlike other energy sources such as natural gas, oil, coal, nuclear, tidal, geothermal and to a large degree hydro, wind and solar are much less reliable and cost effective, requiring heavy subsidization. See how Shell Oil just announced today it is backing off its wind and solar efforts as they found them to be not cost effective.
In fact of the primary energy sources, wind power is the most expensive:
Wind = 21.97 cents per kwh
Gas and oil = 12.28 cents per kwh
Nuclear = 11.06 cents per kwh
Hydro = 7.60 cents per kwh
Believing in wind is a fool's errand. The reasons are simple. Wind is costly, inefficient and erratic.
The New Hampshire Climate Action plan to be released on March 27th by Governor Lynch like the one in neighbor state Maine relies heavily on wind power. Dr. Fred Ward using the NHDES's own calculations, found you could put a wind power turbine on every hill in the state and yet get at most half the electricity that one single nuclear power plant could deliver.
Vaclac Klaus from the Czech Republic in his book "Blue Planet in Green Shackles" asked the question "Could the Czech Republic replace the power output from the Temelin nuclear power plant by wind?" Using conservative estimates the answer is yes but it would take 7,750 wind turbine power plants requiring 8.6 million tons of material and would cover a 413 mile long line of turbines 492 feet high, corresponding to a distance from Temelin in the southern Czech Republic to Brussels in Belgium or in the US, the distance from Concord, NH to Washington DC.
Even if, under ideal conditions, wind could provide a substantial portion of the energy needed for a state or region, you would have to have a back-up permanent and reliable source to turn to when the wind fails. See examples of how the wind has stopped when needed most here, here and here. In other words, hydro, gas, oil, nuclear, or coal turbines must be available and in ready back-up mode at all times. If the 'shovel ready' sources are at a much less expensive cost, why waste money on an unreliable source? Ask Arnold how the enviro inspired government programs are working so far in his state, which he proudly announced was leading the nation.
Wind energy can be a 'supplemental', but is will never be a reliable 'primary' supply of electricity on a large scale. Solar and wind both may have greater potential regionally, say in the deserts of the southwest, the intermountain and the high western plains, but that generated energy must be carried to the national grid and the transmission lines often meet resistance from the same environmental groups pushing the wind and solar as the solutions. Also wind turbines kill birds and bats in large number, upsetting other environmental groups.
There is just nothing we can do to ensure the wind will blow or sun will shine. The governors, state legislature even congress and the administration can't mandate the wind blow and sun shine, like they can and do control virtually every other aspect of our lives. They brush this off with talk of a smart grid, but while that is necessary, energy storage is just as important, and that has gotten little attention.
To summarize, wind power has half a dozen major problems: erratic behavior, system load problems, dependency problems, need to transmit the energy usually long distances from remote locations, energy must be stored and merged with other sources and the technology requires heavy taxpayer subsidy.
We certainly support conservation and energy innovation but we believe all sources of energy must be pursued including (as Obama called for during his campaign in coal states) clean coal, drilling for oil and gas offshore near the Gulf and in ANWR, extracting oil from tar sands and oil shale, a second generation nuclear, geothermal, tidal, solar and wind. If we don't let the environmental lobby control our future using a failed theory to focus all attention on the carbon dioxide boogeyman and restricting our choices for future energy sources, we CAN be energy independent and have the future we all envisioned possible not too many months ago. Read more and see calculations here. See similar story from the Scientific Alliance Newsletter here.
Copyright © 2009 Right Side Publications, LLC
Will 2008 news fuel 2009 policy?
January 14, 2009
As the New Year begins, we thought it might be beneficial to our Windaction.org visitors and subscribers to take a look back at 2008 and see how the wind energy debate shaped up over the course of the last year.
Worldwide, installed wind energy capacity reached 120,000 megawatts (MW), an increase of 26,000 MW since 2007. Here in the United States, wind grew by over 6000 MW and now exceeds 22,000 MW installed. Most of this development, spurred by generous tax subsidies and established renewable energy goals, was conceived, planned for, and approved in the years leading up to 2008.
Since January 1, 2008, our subscriber list has doubled, reflecting the growth in wind energy development. Our subscribers include wind developers, environmentalists, wildlife and energy experts, decision makers, stakeholders, and people who are affected, positively or negatively, by the projects. The Windaction.org database of news articles, opinion pieces, documents etc. also expanded to just over 19,500 entries including more than 6,000 additions in the past year. We communicate weekly with the press and others who are tracking wind project development at all stages.
Based on news postings and e-mail, the areas of the world experiencing the most development and controversy include the United States, Canada, Europe (in particular the UK and Ireland), New Zealand and Australia. Within the United States, 2008 saw a groundswell of concern coming from States we had previously not heard from -- Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, California, Idaho, Nevada, and Minnesota. Others, including Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Illinois, Washington and Texas, continued to be at the forefront of the debate. Interestingly, while Minnesota and California have long encouraged wind development, it was not until 2008 that Windaction.org developed lasting contacts with concerned residents in these states - an indicator that resistance to the turbines is growing there as well.
With each new wind facility proposed, Windaction receives inquires from those living nearby. Rarely are people narrowly focused on the visual impacts or aesthetics (NIMBY) of the towers, a characterization commonly asserted by wind proponents and the press. Rather, people express substantive worries related to their health, safety, and quality of life, particularly when project plans involve siting 450-foot towers within 2000-feet of a residence and as little as 500-feet from property lines.
Since wind facilities are typically approved through the local planning and zoning process, e-mails we receive include questions about the process and how residents can go about getting their voices heard. But more disheartening, people are e-mailing us about the growing distrust of government officials tasked with reviewing and approving the plans - and with good reason.
Those sitting on the town and county boards seldom have any experience with power plant siting, nor are they equipped to evaluate the extensive and complex issues related to turbine noise, flicker, property value impacts, decommissioning, tax benefits and risks. Small town boards, in particular, are easy prey for the smooth-talking wind representatives intent on getting their way; Windaction.org has tracked numerous examples of developers manipulating local boards. New York State is a hot bed for this activity, prompting Attorney General Cuomo to step in and reassert order and fairness into the process with his Code of Conduct for wind energy companies working in the state. But New York is not alone. The public, and not so public, antics of wind developers span nationwide. One of the more blatant cases involves former Maine Governor Angus King who for the last year, as a priv ate citizen, has been trying to ram through zoning changes in Roxbury, Maine to permit industrial turbines over the objections of Roxbury property owners.
By the beginning of 2008, Windaction.org began to notice a shift in the debate at the grassroots level. Until then, there was little continuity in the news stories. Discreet local news events detailing individual wind farm proposals and related controversies were the norm with limited reporting in the national press. But in 2008, something changed. People in rural areas were becoming increasingly aware of projects proposed for their communities and were starting to engage more quickly by talking with their neighbors and searching the web for details. More and more anecdotal information was coming to light in 2008, a reflection of the number of turbines built closer to where people live, a growing anger at turbine noise and other consequences of living near the towers, and the desire to get the word out.
Residents of Mars Hill in Maine wrote letters to those in Roxbury Maine encouraging them to ask questions and demand answers of their town board and State agencies. Gordon Yancey and his family captured national press attention with their story of how the Maple Ridge wind facility in New York tore their family and the community apart. Gerry Meyer's story in Wisconsin was picked up by USA Today after he cataloged the impacts of the turbines on his family and how his life had changed for the worse. Jane Davis in the UK shared her experiences with the turbines and why she abandoned her home. Gail Meir of Italy and Barbara Ashbee-Lormand of Ontario Canada docu mented similar experiences. Rene Taylor, who lives with her family in the shadows of Horizon Wind's Twin Grove facility in Illinois, wrote how their quality of life had been harmed and why Mrs. Taylor now commits hours of her time helping others in Illinois and elsewhere to learn more about the projects before they're constructed. And Dr. Nina Pierpont has worked tirelessly over the last several years investigating "Wind Turbine Syndrome", a condition in humans marked by headaches, sleeping difficulty, concentration and behavioral problems which she believes is triggered by the effects of turbines' low-frequency noise and vibration on the inner ear.
After witnessing what others were dealing with post-construction, communities also started to recognize the importance in moving cautiously when reviewing wind projects. Promises of tax revenues and jobs piqued interest, but residents understood how critical it was to balance possible benefits against the environmental, societal, and economic impacts of industrializing enormous swaths of land in their area. Others doubted the idea of building expansive onshore wind facilities hundreds of miles from load centers only to reap a trickle of intermittent, unpredictable energy.
In 2008 we saw townships and counties throughout Wisconsin adopt local laws to protect the health and safety of their residents, despite State laws prohibiting municipalities from restricting wind projects except under very narrow conditions. Elsewhere, communities sought change via elections, replacing the people sitting on local and county boards.
As more people and communities raised public concerns, wind developers responded by seeking ways to fast-track the approval process. They lobbied State agencies and politicos to legislate for the rapid expansion of wind development in the interest of meeting State renewable energy goals. Rural residents, who were doing their part locally to protect themselves, had limited knowledge of what was happening at their State houses hundreds of miles away, but the result was very real. A number of States have already responded with laws and goals that favor massive wind development without stopping to consider the consequences (or viability) of their actions. Windaction.org has observed firsthand the growing impatience at the State and Federal levels with those who report concerns about the towers. Residents in areas targeted for wind development are dismissed as misinformed while others are accused of being shortsighted, or worse, selfish and anti-Earth. Energy policy has become pol iticized and the goals are more about the urgent need to go green and build wind facilities, than about meeting our energy needs through clean, reliable, and cost-effective methods.
President-elect Obama is sending strong signals that he will "stimulate" the economy and put people back to work by transforming United States' energy generation, once and for all, into renewables and wind. Perhaps Obama and his staffers believe that enough money thrown at any ideal goal will make it happen. Or that lofty goals repeated enough will make the difference. But nowhere in Obama's "New Energy for America Plan" is there an analysis of his plan or details of the risks. Nor does he seem to care. Perhaps we are to accept that our political leaders, turned energy experts and economists, have already considered the issues -- but don't count on it. And if the new administration is relying on the report "20% Wind Energy by 2030" coauthored by AWEA and the Department of Energy, we have much to discuss.
Before we race to dump billions of dollars into building a new electricity infrastructure that will criss-cross our open spaces with wind turbines and associated transmission, lining the pockets of T. Boone Pickens and a handful of corporations, it would be prudent for our local, state, and federal governments to consider the controversies wind has wrought in rural areas and to understand why everyday people have put their lives on hold to fight these developments and help others. The time has come for the United States to remove the rose-colored glasses, to stop with the platitudes and wishful thinking, and to finally understand that energy policy cannot be driven by emotion and superficial assumptions.
Statewide Conversation on Wind Power held in Santa Fe
Towering turbines draw ire
As energy companies, state look to boost wind power, residents want answers about environmental, health impacts
Staci Matlock | The New Mexican | 1/6/2009 - 1/7/09
The idea of using wind to generate electricity seems to be gaining popularity, except with people who might have to live near 30-story-tall turbines.
The potential impacts of placing such tall wind turbines near communities was among topics at a meeting Tuesday in Santa Fe hosted by two community groups concerned about large-scale, wind-energy farms proposed in New Mexico.
More than 50 people - among them rural residents, clean energy advocates and state officials - packed a room at the State Library. Many came from El Valle, a long strip of land and villages along the Pecos River and N.M. 3, near a mesa where a company proposes to put as many as 50 wind turbines on state trust land.
The mesa is beautiful and no place for an industrial-sized wind farm that won't benefit the local communities, said community activist Gloria Gonzales, who lives near Ribera. "The question is, if we don't protect it, who will?" Gonzales said.
Wind energy is among the renewable energy sources that Gov. Bill Richardson and renewable energy advocates hope will push the state to the forefront of a "green energy" revolution expected to take off under the new Obama administration. The U.S. Department of Energy issued a study that indicates wind could provide up to 20 percent of the country's total energy needs - if enough wind turbines are put up and the wind blows.
New Mexico ranks 12th in the nation for wind energy potential, primarily on the northeast side of the state, but so far hasn't tapped much of that potential. A new eight-year extension to a federal tax credit for wind farms is expected to boost investment in and construction of such facilities.
But residents near proposed wind farm sites outside Taos and in San Miguel County are wondering who's keeping their interests in mind. Wind energy facilities are regulated by counties, the State Land Office or federal agencies, depending on where they are located. The Public Regulation Commission only has oversight if a project has a capacity greater than 300 megawatts.
Gonzales is among several residents in El Valle who banded together and researched wind farms when they heard of Invenergy's plans to place a wind farm on the nearby mesa. What they found made them believe more careful state and county oversight is needed before wind farms are approved in New Mexico.
Gonzales and others are concerned about potential health impacts from the constant low-frequency noise of wind turbines if they are placed too close to homes. They wonder about the impact on wildlife from roads and concrete pads for wind turbines. And some simply don't like the idea of a row of wind turbines visually breaking the skyline over the mesa.
The wind-energy industry says rural counties benefit from the tax revenues and jobs generated by wind energy facilities.
Craig O'Hare, a renewable-energy lobbyist for the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, told Tuesday's gathering that Richardson sees renewable energy as a way to diversify the state's revenue stream away from oil and gas production over time.
Other state agency representatives said members of the group had raised good questions and concerns about wind facilities. It didn't appear that anyone from a wind energy company attended the meeting.
Keely Meegan, one of the organizers, said they're talking to state legislators but said, "I don't know if we have a clear next step."
Contact Staci Matlock at 470-9843 or firstname.lastname@example.org. ©2008, The Santa Fe New Mexican and MediaSpan
EDITORIAL: County steps in; state is missing in action
By The Optic Editorial Board
Recently a group of residents from the Bernal area showed up at the San Miguel County Commission meeting to ask the county to enact stricter rules for wind farms.
The county deserves great credit for enacting a wind turbine ordinance in 2003, long before most other counties, but it now appears that updating that ordinance is in order.
When the county considered the ordinance five years ago, it received little public input. That's because no one was actively seeking to build a wind farm. Now that an industrial-sized wind farm could be coming to the area, residents are naturally much more interested.
The residents presented proposed amendments to the ordinance, and for that we commend them; not only did they bring their concerns to the table but they also brought proposed solutions. And the county had a good response: It plans to have staffers meet with residents about their proposal.
One of the key provisions in the residents' proposal would ban turbines from being any closer than eight miles to an occupied residence. This may be a bit excessive - if this ordinance were enacted, there would be very few places where wind farms could be built - but perhaps it's a good counter to the half-mile setback now being planned by Invenergy.
The State Land Office has already taken the first steps to lease land on the Bernal Mesa to Invenergy. The land office always argues that its goal is to maximize revenue for the state trust fund for schools, but we think that it should also consult with area residents when such projects surface.
Moreover, it's a shame that the state doesn't require an independent environmental impact study. To its credit, Invenergy is voluntarily conducting one, though it's unlikely that people will consider its findings credible. For example, there's a growing concern that the turbines could kill migrating birds - a bird sanctuary is just a few miles away - and if Invenergy's environmental study concludes that no harm will be done to the birds, who's going to believe it? Even if it's a well-done study, with solidly scientific findings, a skeptical public will write it off as skewed toward the company's interest.
So far, we're not at all impressed with the way the state is providing "oversight" regarding such issues. Instead, the only governmental entity that watching out for the public's interests seems to be the county. Thankfully, our county officials appear committed to working with Bernal-area residents to ensure all our interests are properly considered.
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