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Deadly blades: US offers 30-year permits for killing eagles under plan to boost wind industry

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WASHINGTON — Under pressure from the wind-power industry, the Obama administration said Friday it will allow companies to kill or injure eagles without the fear of prosecution for up to three decades.

The new rule is designed to address environmental consequences that stand in the way of the nation’s wind energy rush: the dozens of bald and golden eagles being killed each year by the giant, spinning blades of wind turbines.

An investigation by The Associated Press earlier this year documented the illegal killing of eagles around wind farms, the Obama administration’s reluctance to prosecute such cases and its willingness to help keep the scope of the eagle deaths secret. President Barack Obama has championed the pollution-free energy, nearly doubling America’s wind power in his first term as a way to tackle global warming.

But all energy has costs, and the administration has been forced to accept the not-so-green sides of green energy as a means to an end.

Another AP investigation recently showed that corn-based ethanol blended into the nation’s gasoline has proven more damaging to the environment than politicians promised and worse than the government acknowledges.

These examples highlight Obama’s willingness to accept environmental trade-offs — pollution, loss of conservation land and the deaths of eagles — in hopes that green energy will help fight climate change.

The new rule will provide legal protection for the lifespan of wind farms and other projects if companies obtain permits and make efforts to avoid killing protected birds.

Companies would have to take additional measures if they killed or injured more eagles than they had estimated they would, or if new information suggested that eagle populations were being affected. The permits would be reviewed every five years, and companies would have to submit reports of how many eagles they killed. Now, such reporting is voluntary, and the Interior Department refuses to release the information.

“This is not a program to kill eagles,” said John Anderson, the director of siting policy at the American Wind Energy Association. “This permit program is about conservation.”

But conservation groups, which have been aligned with the industry on other issues, said the decision by the Interior Department sanctions the killing of an American icon.

“Instead of balancing the need for conservation and renewable energy, Interior wrote the wind industry a blank check,” said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold in a statement. The group said it would challenge the decision.

Wind farms are clusters of turbines as tall as 30-story buildings, with spinning rotors as wide as a passenger jet’s wingspan. Though the blades appear to move slowly, they can reach speeds of up to 170 mph at the tips, creating tornado-like vortexes.

Flying eagles behave somewhat like drivers texting on cellphones; they don’t look up. As they scan below for food, they don’t notice the blades until it is too late.

Until now, no wind energy company has obtained permission authorizing the killing, injuring or harassment of eagles, although five-year permits have been available since 2009. That has put the companies at legal risk and has discouraged private investment in renewable energy.

It also hasn’t helped eagles since, without permits, companies are not required to take steps to reduce their impact on the birds or report when they are killed.

The new rule makes clear that revoking a permit — which could undermine investments and interest in wind power — is a last resort under the administration’s energy policy.

“We anticipate that implementing additional mitigation measures … will reduce the likelihood of amendments to, or revocation of, the permit,” the rule says.

The wind energy industry has said the change mirrors permits already in place for endangered species, which are more at risk than bald and golden eagles. Bald eagles were removed from the endangered species list in 2007 but are still protected under two federal laws.

The regulation published Friday was not subjected to a full environmental review because the administration classified it as an administrative change.

“The federal government didn’t study the impacts of this rule change even though the (law) requires it,” said Kelly Fuller, who formerly headed the wind campaign at the American Bird Conservancy. “Instead, the feds have decided to break the law and use eagles as lab rats.”

However, the Fish and Wildlife Service said the new rule will enable it to better monitor the long-term environmental effects of renewable energy projects.

“Our goal is to ensure that the wind industry sites and operates projects in ways that best minimize and avoid impacts to eagles and other wildlife,” the agency said in a statement.

Last month, Duke Energy Corp. pleaded guilty to killing eagles and other birds at two wind farms in Wyoming, the first time a wind energy company had been prosecuted under a law protecting migratory birds.

A study by federal biologists in September found that wind farms since 2008 had killed at least 67 bald and golden eagles, a number that the researchers said was likely underestimated. That did not include deaths at Altamont Pass, an area in northern California where wind farms kill an estimated 60 eagles a year.

It’s unclear what toll, if any, wind energy companies are having on eagle populations locally or regionally. Gunshots, electrocutions and poisonings almost certainly kill more bald and golden eagles than wind farms. But the toll could grow along with the industry.

A recent assessment of the status of the golden eagle in the western U.S. showed that populations have been decreasing in some areas but rising in others.

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Large Wind Farms Increase Temperatures Near Ground

Large wind farms slightly increase temperatures near the ground as the turbines’ rotor blades pull down warm air, according to researchers who analyzed nine years of satellite readings around four of the world’s biggest wind farms.

The study showed for the first time that wind farms of a certain scale, while producing clean, renewable energy, do have some long-term effect on the immediate environment.

Video:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304868004577374091316876420.html#articleTabs%3Dvideo

US Mainstream to cancel their projects in Auglaize and Shelby Counties

US Mainstream has decided to cancel their Ohio projects in Auglaize and Shelby Counties, stopping lease payments and releasing their recorded leases. Attached here is a copy of the letter Mainstream sent to farmers who signed leases. A similar letter was sent to Shelby County. The 12,000 acres is combined, as they had leased 5,200 acres in Auglaize County and 6,800 in Shelby County.

I want to thank the many people who made this possible. We will discuss the future of the group more at length at our upcoming June 22 meeting.

As we enjoy the success of our efforts let us remember it would not have been possible without one another and our neighbors who were willing to listen. We must also remember the farmers who signed leases remain our neighbors. We were able to present out viewpoint in a civil manner and educate the public about our ideas. Let us be mindful to be gracious and respectful of the ideas of others with this good news and our success.

http://noauglaizewind.wordpress.com/

Allen County starts fight against Industrial Wind Turbines

http://saveourskylineohio.com/

Why are we here? Concerned citizens from Ohio want you to Get the Facts about wind energy turbines before it is too late and our neighbors sign long-term leases with foreign companies. These industrial machines may not only impair your quality of life, but may significantly reduce your property value and, later, increase your taxes and electricity rates. We hope to challenge what you believe to be true about this industry by exposing truths.

Why should you be concerned? Are you aware that BP Wind Energy North America has plans to blanket the entire remainder of southern Van Wert county? We have seen the leases plotted out on maps. You can look up leases too, by going to http://www.landaccess.com/sites/oh/disclaimer.php?county=ohvanwert and inserting “BP Wind North America”. This proposed wind farm would also include a handful of leases in Mercer county and push, almost to the edge of Allen County, west of Spencerville. 4 landowners in Spencer township, Allen county, have signed leases, which could be either for the transmission line or the wind farm. BP Wind Energy also proposes to run a transmission line from Van Wert to Allen counties, through Spencerville, along the Spencerville-Elgin Railroad. This transmission line could have towers approximately 300 feet tall (telephone poll is approximately 30 feet) and be placed every 1000 feet. If the transmission line is approved, Allen county could become a fertile ground for planting more turbines.

But, BP is not the only developer in our area. Delphos is currently being targeted by Heartland Wind, LLC (of Iberdrola) who has applied to the Ohio Power Siting Board for permission to build the Blue Creek Wind Farm in Van Wert and Paulding counties. Multiple farmers have leased ground in Washington township (bordering Delphos), including near the beautiful golf course. Needless to say, multiple homeowners are not pleased. These leases are also visible utilizing the link above and searching for “Heartland Wind”. This company is a subsidiary of Iberdrola, one of the world’ leading turbine manufacturers, based in Spain. Click here to read about the Spanish Green disaster http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_ID=20628

If you still need convincing that our area is at risk, visit the Ohio Power Siting Board website http://www.opsb.ohio.gov/opsb/index.cfm/siting-case-breakdown/preapplication/ and review the preapplication and pending cases. Once land owners have leased enough land to developers, the company then submits an application to the OPSB. Our legislature gives complete control for approval/rejection to this governing body. You should find it interesting that zero wind applications have been rejected since its inception.

Our coalition of citizens are not opposed to truly clean energy. Wind is not the answer. Wind turbines do not reduce our dependence on foreign oil because we only produce a fraction of our energy from oil. Most of it is produced by gas, coal and nuclear. Wind turbines actually increase our dependence on fossil fuels because they must always be backed up, in the fraction of a second, when the winds drop below a certain speed or cease to blow. This causes our fossil fuel plants to constantly “cycle”, something they were not designed to do. Not only are these conditions hard on the facilities, but it increases their emissions; therefore, any negative environmental effects of wind turbines are additive to fossil fuels. And, there are plenty of negative environmental effects. Search our website and you will learn of Asian Neodymium mining, noise, low frequency infrasound…and this does not include the tens of thousands of birds, including Eagles, and bats that are slaughtered by the industrial machines. As Pastor Jay Dennis states in Wind Power Mirages, “Telling the truth is a basic moral principle. So is being a good steward of the Earth and its resources, by considering all the facts, the environmental impacts, and the harm to jobs and families from needlessly unreliable and expensive energy. America can’t afford to shut down the fossil fuels that make our jobs and living standards possible- or slap huge new climate change taxes on them- before we have a real alternative to replace them, not just mirages.”

Why the US wind boom is going bust

Is the US wind boom over? It certainly looks that way. Wind energy installations plunged 80% in the first quarter to 384 megawatts (MW) from a year ago. That’s the lowest level in seven years and a massive drop from the record 13,329 MW that came online in the fourth quarter, according to a report from energy research firm SNL.

The crash reflects the whiplash plaguing the industry after the US Congress let a crucial renewable energy incentive expire at the end of 2012. Wind companies rushed to bring as many turbines online by the end of the year as possible so they could qualify for the production tax credit, which pays 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by wind farms during their first decade of operation.

Congress resurrected the tax credit in January for another year, but it was too little too late. The industry had already begun to lay off workers and scale back manufacturing capacity. And don’t expect wind companies to go on a building spree this year, now that the tax credit has been restored. Its latest version only mandates that developers merely break ground in 2013 on projects, rather than complete them in the calendar year, as previously was required.

Utilities in big wind states like California are also beginning to meet government mandates to obtain a certain percentage of the electricity they sell from renewable sources. (California, for instance, requires utilities to meet a 33% renewable energy target.) The shale gas boom, which resulted in a glut of cheap natural gas, isn’t helping the windmaker’s cause. For instance, wind developer EDF Renewables, has not broken ground one of its long-planned big wind projects in California’s Tehachapi region because it has yet to find a buyer for the electricity generated.

And yet, despite the troubles in wind, the solar boom continues. Solar projects qualify for a 30% incentive tax credit through end-2016, when it declines to 10%. In the first quarter, solar accounted for 49% of announced new power plant projects and 39% of completed ones, according to SNL. (Those figures do not count rooftop photovoltaic arrays installed for homeowners and businesses.)

Whether solar suffers the same fate as wind in 2017 will depend on how quickly the industry becomes competitive with fossil fuels, particularly in states with high electricity costs like California.

In the meantime, one country—whose renewable energy industry is not subject to the whims of legislators—will continue ramping up. China has announced it intends to install 18,000 megawatts of wind energy and 10,000 megawatts of solar this year.

Source

Neighbors United Education Night – Rockford, Ohio

 

What:  Wind Turbine Information

Where:  Rockford Community Building

When:  April 16, 2013 @7:00 pm

 

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Mercer County Township Assocation adopts wind farm resolution

Resolution # 03212013-B

On March 21, 2013 The Mercer County Township Association has adopted the following resolution:

 

Whereas, the Mercer County Township Trustees Association is concerned that the development of industrial-sized wind generating power plant in populated areas like ours can have many long-term negative consequences, that at this time, we cannot fully quantify and understand.

Whereas a large industrial wind development can have many potential short and long term negative impacts to both the local road system as well as to economic development opportunities.

Whereas, this Township Trustees Association respects and recognizes the importance of private property rights but recommends that landowners be fully informed and seek professional legal counsel that is versed in the law as it relates to the granting of leases, easements to wind development companies.  Further we respectfully request that landowners consider potential impacts to neighbors as a result of agreements being formalized with wind development companies.

Finally, it is not the intent of this Township Association to promote large industrial wind development efforts in Mercer County, but rather to discourage them.  This resolution does not in any way discourage private entities from developing wind resources under the 5 megawatts threshold (which is not regulated by the Ohio Power Siting Board) provided they comply with applicable zoning regulations.

Resolution was motioned by Ron Niekamp

Seconded by Keith Canary

All Voted in favor on March 21, 2013

 

Neighbors’ group learns about future turbines

ROCKFORD – Nearly 50 residents attended a meeting held Tuesday by a group opposing wind turbines in northern Mercer County. Most at the meeting simply asked questions.

Neighbors United co-chair Pete Hayes told the crowd at least 17 land leases have been signed in the Rockford area to construct turbines. The turbines would be an extension of the proposed Long Prairie Wind Farm in Van Wert County.

Van Wert resident Ron Schumm, whose neighbors have turbines, said the turbine company tore up the roads and did not adequately repair them.

“They will destroy your roads,” he said. “That’s something the county and townships should be aware of.”

Residents asked about the flicker and noise produced by the 300-foot-tall structures. Schumm said the first time he saw the flicker – the shadow cast by the turbine’s moving arms – he didn’t know what it was. The nearest turbine to his house is a quarter mile away. Schumm said he only sees flicker in his house for about one week out of the year when the sun is rising.

“If the turbine was located somewhere else, that would be a different story,” he said.

He also said the noise from the moving arms produces a thumping sound, but he only hears it when his windows are open.

“My wife has allergies so we don’t have our windows open very often,” he said.

He also urged residents to hire an attorney to review any contract. Schumm said he considered allowing a turbine on his land but then changed his mind.

Businesses will always write a contract to suit themselves more than the resident, he cautioned.

“No offense to local attorneys, but they just don’t have the background to handle this,” he said. “We hired an attorney from Columbus, and they are expensive.”

Schumm said a pro is the money made on the venture but cautioned that people should be weary of what is happening to farmland.

Each turbine uses about 1-2 acres of land, for which the farmer receives a payment, and the farmer does not have to pay property tax on that land. That land cannot be farmed. Wind companies also pay neighbors without turbines a certain amount of money “for their inconvenience,” he said.

“What will we do in 2050 when turbines take over our farmland?” he said. “We can live without wind energy. We can’t live without food.”

Residents asked if the turbines would run often enough to make the project worth it. Schumm said they move with very little wind.

“It’s amazing how little wind on the ground it takes to get those things moving,” he said. “They’re going almost all the time.”

Schumm said the turbines do allow him to tell which direction the wind is moving and how fast.

Residents also asked if the turbines bring down property value and if the contract covers who is responsible for dismantling the structures after they break down or become obsolete. Schumm answered it’s too soon to know.

He believes property values would decrease and said the contracts he’s seen say the company is responsible for removing broken down turbines.

“My biggest concern is bankruptcy,” he said. “Who’s going to make a bankrupt company tear it down?”

Schumm said he tried but failed to negotiate an upfront payment from the company to cover costs if they go bankrupt.

“I think that’s something elected officials will have to do,” he said.

Hayes provided attendees with letters addressed to Mercer County Commissioners, Gov. John Kasich and local congressmen saying they are against the development of turbines.

The proposed Long Prairie Wind Farm involves the construction of a 200-megawatt wind farm – approximately 67 turbines — south of the city of Van Wert, business developer Roger Brown has said. He said as many as five turbines would be constructed in Mercer County.

Brown also has asked commissioners for a payment in lieu of taxes for the project. Commissioner Jerry Laffin last week said they would not accept the proposal unless they entered into negotiations with the company and first talked with those affected.

Neighbors United also has asked Rockford, Mendon and Willshire councils to consider banning turbines inside the corporation limits.

Neighbors United will hold an educational night at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26 at the village hall. Council will meet for its next regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the village hall.

Source: The Daily Standard

US taxpayers giving $4B to foreign firms for green energy projects, study says

U.S. taxpayers have forked over nearly $4 billion to foreign-owned companies as part of a stimulus program that pays cash grants to green-energy firms, according to a newly released congressional report.

The report from Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee charged that the Treasury Department-administered program has “failed” in its goal of putting Americans to work.

“Billions of dollars have filled the coffers of overseas firms while the evidence of the promised permanent jobs and economic growth here in the United States is scarce,” the report said.

The program is separate from the Energy Department fund that gave nearly $530 million to failed solar panel firm Solyndra.

This one sprung out of the 2009 stimulus package, and offers cash payments to alternative energy companies worth 30 percent of any given project’s cost. The money is available for everything from solar to wind to geothermal to fuel cell projects.

According to the report, though, nearly one-quarter of the $16 billion approved to date has been for U.S. subsidiaries of foreign firms. The money went to several Spain-based companies, as well as those in Japan, Germany, France and Italy.

Nearly $1.8 billion, for example, went to various wind energy projects across the country under the U.S. division of Spain’s Iberdrola Renewables, according to the study.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/01/17/us-taxpayers-giving-4b-to-foreign-firms-for-green-energy-projects-study-says/#ixzz2IHCRzzQ0

Study suggests wind turbines’ low-frequency noise could cause health woes

When it comes to wind farms, it may be the sound you can’t hear that drives you to distraction, according to a report released this week that is pitting environmental groups against one another.

The study of noise levels around the Shirley Wind Farm in Brown County detected largely inaudible, low-frequency sound inside three nearby houses. But researchers found that only in the home closest to the turbines could it be correlated with sound coming from outside the house, according to the report released Monday.

The study concluded that between the low-frequency sound and the nausea, dizziness, headaches, ear pressure and other maladies reported by neighbors “enough evidence and hypotheses have been given herein to classify (low-frequency noise) as a serious issue, possibly affecting the future of the industry.”

But the study could not conclude that the health problems reported by nearby residents were caused by the low-frequency sound from the eight-turbine project, according to Clean Wisconsin, a Madison environmental group that arranged the testing.

That’s because “there aren’t any documented peer-reviewed studies finding any health effects for inaudible sounds,” said Tyson Cook, staff scientist for Clean Wisconsin, which favors development of renewable energy.

Duke Energy of Charlotte, N.C., which owns the Shirley Wind Farm, was reviewing the study but had no comment Thursday, spokesman Jason Walls said. Walls added that the facility was “in compliance with all laws and ordinances.”

The study was paid for in part with funds awarded by the Public Service Commission to Clean Wisconsin and Forest Voice, a group of homeowners fighting the Highland Wind Farm, a proposed 41-turbine facility in St. Croix County. Both groups have been granted intervenor status in the Highland Wind Farm case before the PSC.

Two lawmakers and another group involved with the testing say the study could be groundbreaking.

“The report suggests that very low-frequency noise from wind turbines may cause motion sickness-like symptoms in some people,” according to a statement from Forest Voice.

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