Monday, April 24, 2006

not in my backyard

James Hall of Cohocton Wind Watch casts his hooks into the “manure of absentee corporate carpetbaggers (…) the cronyism of agribusiness avarice”. He has cast his baleful gaze on the evil wind suckers and their toadies.

The arrogance and capricious disregard for community opposition to an ill-conceived wind turbine project on a scale that would rival the intensive concentration of a worm farm, is down right criminal. If you think wind turbines are benign free energy producers, do your homework. Look to the leadership of the adjacent township of Prattsburgh (…) Their site Advocates for Prattsburgh is a treasure chest for sound and rational data

The often invoked treasure chest of rational data. Let us take a peek.

Key Issues:

Viewshed – 384’ towers 80’ taller than the Statue of Liberty with 230’ diameter rotors, dominating the skylines and visible up to 10 miles and beyond.

Shadow flicker – Potentially dangerous strobe effect from reflections off the rotating blades at sunrise and sunset, which can cause seizures.

Safety zone – Ice throws as far as 1500' - 1800', lighning attraction and resultant fire hazard, and potential injury from disintegration of the rotating blades.

Light pollution – Strobe lights atop each tower flashing 24 hours/day.

Groundwater – Towers weighing more than 200 tons can damage the geological structure above the water table, leading to groundwater contamination by agricultural residues.

Property values – Protect the value of residences, future home sites and recreational real estate from the inappropriate siting of these huge industrial machines.

I get it. Build them wind turbines, and one early spring day, frost still on the ground, I might walk out to a turbine only to be impaled into the ground by an ice shard flung off a turbine. As the ice melts, and I weakly crawl to my feet, a thunderstorm will zoom in out of nowhere, and I’ll be struck by lightening attracted by the nearest tower.

Hair a bit frizzy now, I’ll begin to totter away when a turbine above me will suddenly disintegrate. A spinning blade thus shall chop my arm away. Spewing blood, as I am glancing frantically about, the thrumming turbines will induce a seizure, causing me to collapse again. Mortally wounded, a cow will find me muttering about my cherished - - property values.

The record is very clear what happens when a wind farm is located in the mist of a residential community. When it is slated to be in full view of a pristine historic village the reason for a visit vanishes. Property values are in serious jeopardy and will sink like a rock. What exactly is the benefit to individual households when they will be saddled with the burden of the adverse fall out from an economic albatross?

Let’s all step back and take a deep breath! Slow down this fast track process and conduct some real, serious and independent science and economic impact studies that go to the heart of the issue. Will wind farms truly benefit the ordinary taxpayer and protect the regional community in which we all live?

I take Hall’s point about tourism, and I think SOME of his points about careful placement of a wind farm are issues that any community should consider. I just wonder if he has looked into his crystal ball, and considered what might happen to those precious tourism dollars a few years down the line when gasoline costs five dollars per gallon?

Will wind farms be so ugly then? Or will people find them beautiful, when natural gas electricity plants start dropping off the grid, for lack of fuel? When the Appalachian mountains have been turned into the Appalachian flatlands? The alleged health risks of a humming turbine pale in comparison to the mercury heaving out in our air every second from coal furnaces around the globe.

James Hall doubtless hasn’t considered any of this. He’s a property values guy, a “baby boomer,” in the American parlance. Perhaps he drives an SUV, perched so fearfully high off the ground, so high up in heaven, that he doesn’t realize that the road below is paved with the bones of his grandchildren.

Too harsh? Too imaginative?

Having read the entirety of Mister Hall’s dyspeptic essay, no slack shall be granted. There are consequences for consuming the world. One itsy bitsy consequence would be the freedom to live foolishly is no longer possible. Wind turbines are not optional for those wishing to run with the “Energy Set” in the future.


At 3:38 AM, April 24, 2006, Blogger Big Gav said...

Beautiful :-)

(the post that is)

I'm assuming your photo is the Californian wind farm in the mountains. Must admit I found it quite hideous - but I think I found most of the central valley even worse.

Normally I like the sight of turbines - graceful things they are...

At 10:32 PM, April 24, 2006, Blogger WHT said...

Agree, those are pretty weak arguments IMO. And to top it off, the dangers for once are concrete and avoidable, unlike all those silent killers we have gotten used to. Actually it sounds kind of exciting.

At 2:16 PM, April 25, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never having been to Prattsburgh I may be mistaken...but if you're concerned that construction of a tower is going to contaminate your groundwater with agricultural residues...maybe you've got some groundwater issues you should be addressing and this windfarm probably isn't one of them.

The other arguement I like... a gas fired plant could be sited on a city block (instead of 8 square kilometers)so it would be a better use of space. (hey...let's propose building that downtown and see if they have a fit)


At 10:23 PM, April 25, 2006, Blogger monkeygrinder said...

Actually, many of the best wind spots are quite desolate, due to -- wind.

I think the pic is from california.

At 12:46 PM, April 28, 2006, Blogger Engineer-Poet said...

It's too flat to be Tehachapi Pass, doesn't look quite like what I saw in Altamont Pass, but it could be in the area out by Sacramento or maybe west of Palm Springs.

At 1:02 PM, May 05, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The farmers of Cohocton are all in it for the money! They have no idea what's involved, not sure if they can even read any of the fine print. They could care less about any other issue - It's all dollars to them. Big Egos - Small minds!!

At 1:15 PM, May 10, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So the real issue is N.I.M.B.Y.s,and their complaints about placing the turbines too close to them. I don't see anyone complaining about the noise level of airports,highways or seaports or the ugliness of them.

At 8:54 AM, June 29, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny how the "it's just NIMBY" folks including this poster, don't have a 400' turbine in THIER backyards --- thier subdivision neighborhoods or apartment complexes wouldn't allow it. Secondly, what specific dangers is industrial wind power going to address? Is it going to decommission a single gas or nuclear power plant? Has all the wind power in the EU decommissioned a single power plant? That's the rub isn't it. Symbolic environmentalizm? Put that big trophy in YOUR OWN BACK YARD!

At 4:18 PM, June 29, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK so maybe they won't decommission a nuclear or oil fired plant Hmmm is it possible it may reduce the need to build more nukes or oil fired plants. Plain and simple get out of your own selfish little mind and step into the real world Oh and hey we could put one of the gas fired plants in a city Guess what the still produce emissions that pollute the atmosphere. WAKE UP !!!!!!!

At 3:48 PM, July 16, 2006, Anonymous naturefreak said...

Wind power is a great idea, BUT NOT ON PRIVATE PROPERTY! Wind turbines placed properly on industrial parks would impact less private land owners. Get real- do you want wind turbine in your back yard?

At 9:24 AM, August 14, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's my problem with the way wind farms are being pushed in rural NY communities: it's a rip off! The wind companies target poor communities and negotiate PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) programs that don't yield much of anything for the towns. Nothing compared to a project that would be taxable. So the power generated by the wind turbines leaves town, along with most of the income. Is there some economic benefit? Yes, some large landowners get rich, and some money does go to the school systems, town & county. A better solution is to look at Community-owned wind projects: these projects are typically smaller scale (10-12 mw) and are locally owned -- rather than by the likes of Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers. New York State should be supporting the development of Community Wind projects that are right-sized for the towns, and provide real economic benefit that stays in the community.


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