A free-market energy blog
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Category — Health & safety (wind)

Wind Setbacks: Safety First (unless you’re a wind developer)

“After years of debate there is still disagreement and uncertainty regarding appropriate safety setback distances. This uncertainty has benefited the wind industry. Thousands of turbines are erected throughout the U.S. that are dangerously close to where people live.”

Last month, Ohio infuriated wind proponents by passing Senate bill 310, a bill that delays the state’s renewable electricity standard for two years and eliminates the requirement that half of the renewables mandate be met with in-state resources.

Within days of SB310 passing, Ohio Governor John Kasich approved a change to the safety setback distances for wind turbines. Under the new law, setbacks will now be measured at the property line of the nearest adjacent property as opposed to the wall of a nearby home. In practice, this will require minimum distances of at least 1,300 feet from property lines to each turbine base.

Wind developers and Ohio’s media cried foul over due process claiming the legislature gave no warning of the setback rule change or opportunity for testimony. They insisted the provision was ‘anti-wind’ driven by coal and oil interests intent on destroying the economics of large-scale wind and called on the governor to veto the change.

Industry Setback Recommendations

For decades, the wind industry has advanced the notion that these massive spinning structures can safely be erected a few hundred feet from where people live and gather.

The industry’s preferred setback has been 1.1x to 1.5x the height of the tower (including the blade) which was derived from the fall-zone of the tower. We saw variations on this over the years beginning in California, that measured as much as 3-4x the total tower height. In general, there was no consideration in the setback distances for noise nor did the 1.1 to 1.5x setback adequately address ice/blade throw. [Read more →]

July 1, 2014   3 Comments

Turbines on Trial: Animal Miscarriages in Denmark (inconvenient fact for wind cronyists?)

“Politicians, and wind industry shills who … deny the risks to health, are now liable to be successfully sued by wind farm victims. And so are governments, as they still refuse to measure infrasound emitted by modern wind turbines.”

In Denmark last month, 1,600 animals were born prematurely at a mink farm. Many had deformities, and most were dead on arrival. The lack of eyeballs was the most common malformation. Veterinarians ruled out food and viruses as possible causes. The only thing different at the farm since last year has been the installation of four large wind turbines only 328 meters away.

The wind farm consists of four 3 MW turbines, VESTAS model V112, reaching out to 140 meters in height at the tip of the blades. When they became operative last fall, a first mishap was reported by the mink farmer at a parliamentary committee on wind farms in January this year. [1] 

The World Council for Nature (WCFN) reported the incident earlier: [Read more →]

June 13, 2014   3 Comments

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Windpower: ABC Request vs. Government-enabled Eco-blight

“At the risk of sounding harsh, these gestures [by the American Bird Conservancy et al.] seem little more than the war’s defeated negotiating terms of surrender when, in reality, the industrial wind profiteers should be made to justify their existence. With tens of thousands of turbines placed in the U.S. and easily hundreds of thousands more to be placed until the business falls under its own weight, the onus is on industrial wind to prove its worth.”

Under the banner of the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), approximately seventy organizations have requested that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell “develop a Programmatic Wind Environmental Impact Statement to identify appropriate areas for wind energy development as well as areas where new projects should be avoided to conserve wildlife and sensitive habitats.

The letter refers to studies which “have documented significant losses of birds and bats, including threatened, endangered and other protected species (an estimated 573,000 birds and 888,000 bats annually at 2012 build-out levels). The number of birds taken annually by wind energy facilities could exceed 1.4 million by 2030 if there is no change in U.S. policy towards wind energy development.”

“Siting Is Everything”

The signatory groups “are supportive of renewable energy as a way to address anthropogenic climate change, but only if it addresses wildlife and habitat impacts. In particular, this means appropriate pre-construction assessments of risk leading to proper siting, post-construction mitigation and independent monitoring of fatalities, and compensation if and when public trust resources are being taken.”

The letter states that, “when it comes to wind energy, siting is everything.” The groups “believe that much of this conflict could be averted by a National Wind Energy Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which would determine where wind energy should be developed and where it should not.”

My Letter to ABC

This letter is being distributed widely. My copy arrived via the Allegheny Highlands Alliance, “an alliance of organizations and individuals committed to protecting the mountain resources of the Allegheny Highlands.”

I elected to respond to several members of that organization with these comments: [Read more →]

May 8, 2014   No Comments

Response to Media Matters on Wind Power Accidents (dilute or dense energy for health & safety?)

“[Wind accident] data … is by no means fully comprehensive – CWIF believe that what is attached may only be the ‘tip of the iceberg’ in terms of numbers of accidents and their frequency…. Renewable UK confirmed that there had been 1,500 wind turbine accidents and incidents in the UK alone in the past 5 years. Data here … may only represent 9% of actual accidents. “

- Caithness Windfarm Information Forum (UK), Wind Turbine Accident Data to 31st December 2012.

My latest Forbes Political Energy post, Oil & Gas Isn’t Just One Of The Richest Industries, It’s Also One Of The Safest, examined the improving, impressive safety of the U.S. oil and gas industry compared to the much smaller (but accident prone) industrial wind power industry. The massive height of open-element wind turbines introduces hazards for high-up workers and from falling debris.

The density, scalability, and portability of oil, gas, and coal make them affordable, reliable, and flexible for average consumers,” my article concluded. “Wind turbines and solar panels, contrarily, are expensive, intermittent, and inflexible—and have their own set of health and safety issues.”

Media Matters Rebuttal

Enter Media Matters for America–the progressive answer to Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center–that is all-in with (government-enabled) wind energy, described as “an expanding market that saves money and creates jobs.”

In  “Forbes Reaches To Find Wind Power Fatalities” (March 27, 2013), Media Matters begins: [Read more →]

April 2, 2013   4 Comments

Wind Power’s Negative Externalities: Here Come the Lawsuits (Part II)

“Eric Bibler of Save Our Seashore writes that there are a MILLION Reasons to be Concerned About Industrial Wind Turbines. He invites you to go to your computer and type in the words: wind turbine lawsuit. The result is a staggering (his caps) ONE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THIRTY THOUSAND. As 2013 evolves, more and more of these cases, we predict, will settle on loss of property values, loss of enjoyment, loss of health.”

The damage of industrial wind turbines is also an international issue. Denmark worked with premeditation and created a “loss of value” clause, 2008, passed to compensate property values depreciated by proximity to turbine arrays, but this has turned out to be a double-edged sword. People may be awarded for a portion of projected losses, but of the 551 claims from persons living next to wind turbines, the average compensated value was only 57,000 kroner ($8,478 US), nothing even close to the actual property losses of upwards of 20%.

To challenge the awards, homeowners need to activate a civil suit, with often dubious results and of course legal costs. Further, evaluations are done before the turbines are constructed, leaving the vagaries of the real future losses to literally “hang in the breezes.”

But the admission of property losses is a feeble economic sputter from Denmark, mother of turbines pretty much everywhere. Other admissions of massive financial loss come when communities in opposition to turbine invasions enlist appraisers such as Appraisals One, who in 2009 delved into losses from three turbine developments in Wisconsin, sponsored by Calumet County [Wisconsin] Citizens for Responsible Energy (CCCRE: Dodge and Fond du Lac Counties). The report centres on a literature study, a survey of realtors’ opinions, and a sales study of undeveloped and “improved” lands.

Again, the results were not surprising. “In all cases with a 1-5 acre residential property, whether vacant or improved, there will be a negative impact on property values.” [Read more →]

January 3, 2013   8 Comments

Wind Power’s Negative Externalities (Part I: introducing www.windturbinepropertyloss.org)

“A new website, www.windturbinepropertyloss.org, provides summary materials and emerging events around property loss and wind turbine sprawl, suggesting that a robbery is well under way, stretching well beyond 30 years, and knowing no geographical limits. Some of the focus is on individual lives shattered by loss of property values.”

Wind developers and anyone aiding and abetting the new textbook example of a NEGATIVE EXTERNALITY should pay damages in full for turbine “trickery.” The damage to homes and landscapes–all because of government largesse–is deep and long-lasting. The “green” bill of sale has been utterly false, with no concern about, but even visible contempt for, personal reports of financial losses and personal suffering. It is really not hyberbole to call this uncompensated racket one of the greatest, lengthiest robberies of all times in a free society.

Despite the trumped up reports by the wind proponents, and others whose financial interests are at stake, sizeable property losses are reported, not just following the installation of massive turbines but also at the whiff of a development. Property sales are aborted, entire communities commonly almost instantly devalued; businesses lost or downgraded, tourism values slashed, including associate industries that depend on tourism.

Inherent in these financial losses are the dashed dreams of people who have actively sought out peace, alternative living, farming and recreational havens, or even the peaceable enjoyment of their own personal property. [Read more →]

January 2, 2013   10 Comments

Health Effects of Windpower on Residences: Canadian Debate Update

Industrial wind turbines in human habitats are becoming increasingly controversial and subject to environmental laws and restrictions. To this end, a long, urgent letter was sent to the Attorney Generals of Canada, the Premiers, and to the Prime Minister of Canada with copies to every Parliamentarian in the country as well as the Senate.

The senseless and wasteful proliferation of industrial wind factories across North America impacts the Canadian and U.S. economy, the environment, the health of people including the disabled, the elderly, and children, who depend on the legal system for protection and redress. We have the opportunity to learn from the errors of Europe, and stop the carnage now.

Industrial wind turbines are not green. They do not produce electricity, less than half of one percent internationally, despite massive, thoughtless, energy sprawl. They harm humans, wildlife, and drive the economy into disarray. Witness the plight of Greece, Spain, Italy and many others.

With over 600 anti-wind groups in North American and Europe, and with 2,800 worldwide, the imperative nature for a moratorium call is clear and irrepressible.

An excerpt from the full letter concerning health issues of residents near wind turbines follows. [Read more →]

April 19, 2012   1 Comment

Wind Energy and Radar: A National Security Issue

Military leaders are under pressure to not disrupt White House green energy policies even while green energy technology is disrupting our navigation aids and impairing U.S. national security.

Washington has a track record of muzzling military testimony to protect its pet policies and political friends. Last week, Air Force Gen. William Shelton admitted he was pressured by the administration to change his testimony regarding LightSquared’s network and its adverse impact on military space-based navigation systems. We applaud Shelton for not bowing to the pressure.

But the military has not been honest about the effect wind turbine technology has on our national radar systems.

The fact is that our air space has been made less safe by turbines and our national security compromised because of a reckless policy of siting wind towers within 50-miles of radar installations.  Military radar experts in the field know the damage that’s been done. But with the debate surrounding energy policy dominated by politics and money, the military has bowed to the pressure.

Radar Interference and Mitigation [Read more →]

September 26, 2011   12 Comments

Wind Energy: A Review of Human Health & Safety Concerns

This is a more detailed examination of the wind energy situation in North Carolina that I previously outlined, which is part of an ongoing investigation of the state’s process of getting wind energy permits. All this came about as North Carolina’s first industrial wind project (Desert Wind) is now in the pipeline.

As a part of my research, I had a productive conversation with North Carolina’s Health Director. My question to him was: what state agency will be assuring that NC citizens are protected regarding health and safety matters resulting from this industrial development?

He agreed that there should be such an assessment, but concurred with other North Carolina agency people that I had already contacted: there currently is no provision in the state’s rules and regulations that requires a comprehensive human health assessment for such a project.

We subsequently had several good correspondences, and below is a composite. I’m sharing this as I’m sure similar situations exist in other states and provinces, so the sample Health & Safety references should be helpful.

———————————-

Doctor:

Per our recent phone conversation, I would like to supplement your industrial wind energy knowledge by recommending that you read the conclusions of some independent experts about some of the known human health impacts of wind turbines. This will put some scientific balance into the situation, so the state won’t be just looking at what the developer says. I don’t want to overload you, so below are just some samples. If you want more, please let me know.

The most pressing matter is that a comprehensive, objective assessment of the possible human health effects of the proposed Desert Wind project (Iberdrola/Atlantic Wind: Elizabeth City) needs to be authorized.

Additionally it would be much appreciated if you would use your connections as the NC State Health Director to see that a NC Health agency is an automatic participant in all future NC industrial wind project permitting approvals. As we discussed, that is not the case now.

In our conversation you raised a good point: what are the human health and safety effects of wind projects compared to those resulting from a coal facility?

This is a classic case of comparing apples to oranges, as these sources of electrical power are profoundly different, and are not interchangeable. [Read more →]

July 6, 2011   6 Comments

“The Miserable Hum of Clean Energy” (Noise is an emission too, AWEA and D.C. environmentalists)

“The people who build wind farms are not environmentalists. . . . Business is a delicate balancing act, and chief executives are always walking a tightrope between the needs of the community, their employees, and the marketplace.”

- Paul Gipe, Wind Energy Comes of Age (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1995), p. 454.

The front page exposé in the New York Times of another problem of industrial wind—coming on top of Robert Bryce’s eye-opening Wall Street Journal piece on air emissions relating to firming wind energy—presents another problem for Big Wind and Big Environmentalism.

Windpower’s noise problem is nothing new–it has just been swept under the rug by the industrial wind complex. The oft photoshoped pictures of wind turbines skip the sound–that would ruin the idyllic facade of the energy source that is radically uneconomic and an inferior energy source compared to conventional electricity generation.

Small wind has a noise problem too. Big wind? Suffice it to say you don’t want to live or work near an industrial wind park, or even a solitary wind turbine, unless you have to.

Property values will work to internalize the externality over time, which is bad for existing owners and good for new owners. And some existing land owners will receive land royalties to put up with their discomfort. But what about victimized neighbors? And in a free society, wind turbines would not exist for the noise problem to be an issue. (Funny how government intervention has unintended consequences.) Electricity would be generated in much greater quantities indoors in power plants.

Tom Zeller’s “For Those Near, the Miserable Hum of Clean Energy(New York Times, October 5, 2010, p. 1)  brings wind’s noise problem to the attention of the environmental Left, in particular. Wind has not solved this problem, one that Paul Gipe spent 20 pages (pp. 371–91) discussing in his 1995 book, Wind Energy Comes of Age (New York: John Wiley & Sons).

Gipe confronts the noise issue squarely (p. 371):

“Next to aesthetic impact, no aspect of wind energy creates more alarm or more debate than noise…. Wind turbines are not silent. They are audible. All wind turbines create unwanted sound, that is, noise. Some do so to a greater degree than others. And the sounds they produce—the swish of blades through the air, the whir of gears inside the transmission, and the hum of the generator—are typically foreign to rural settings where wind turbines are the most often used.”

“The people who choose to live in [rural, wild] locations do so primarily because the land is unsuitable for other urban uses,” Gipe explains in his book (described as “the most complete reference ever published on generating electricity from wind”). “They reasonably expect that the area will remain rural and undeveloped” (p. 324).

Zeller’s NYT piece is reprinted in its entirety due to its historical importance. [Read more →]

October 11, 2010   9 Comments