Wind Power Talk

Resource site for links discussing issues around wind mill turbines - and particular focused on the Allegheny, West Virginia, projects and protest campaigns

Monday, July 30, 2007

So called environmentalists re-write laws to permit industrial wind farms in ecologically fragile areas

In a classic case of Orwellian 1984 thinking and double speak - the Maryland Assembly has been hoodwinked into accepting the arguments of an industrial wind developer.

There's only one thing to say to the good senators in Maryland. Please go and look at the photographs of what Nedpower is doing in West Virginia and understand what you have unleashed on the mountains in Maryland. Sadly this is not what you think it is nor are the benefits touted for projects worth the money being spent on them. Community based projects to save energy in homes and farms and change peoples consumption habits is proven to be far more effective $ for $.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Jack Mountain project from Liberty Gap Wind Force turned down by PSC

Liberty Gap Wind Force has decided not to ask the state Public Service Commission to reconsider its decision to deny a siting application for a wind turbine facility on Jack Mountain.

Liberty Gap attorney Anthony P. Tokarz informed PSC Executive Secretary Sandra Squire on Thursday that the company would not file a petition for reconsideration. Tokarz did not make any other comment.

According to Frank Maisano, spokesman for a coalition of wind developers in West Virginia, said Liberty Gap still has two alternatives: to appeal to the state Supreme Court within 30 days or to refile the application. "That is still an option," Maisano said of the second choice.

Friends' attorney Justin St. Clair said he "was thrilled to death" for Pendleton County and "took his hat off to everyone who worked so hard" in opposing the wind farm. "The PSC did the right thing," he said. "This case is a good example that citizens can have an impact in Charleston."

Gamesa Turbines found to have misled public with claims

Gamesa, makers of the same Spanish turbines installed on the Mt Storm project have come under fire for their claims in the UK. The Advertising Standards Agency has upheld the complaint against the company intending to install a wind farm on land above Shap, just outside the Lake District National Park. The ASA felt the claims made by Gamesa Energy UK about the amount of electricity that would be generated were misleading and the complaint was upheld.

The compliant upheld reflected the statement by the local committee opposing the project: "Gamesa have misled residents on at least two vital issues: They have implied that our local council will benefit financially from their plans, and they have incorrectly cited as fact figures relating to carbon emission savings and electricity production. The figures are almost irrelevant; the message here is that we cannot believe what we are told by a company seeking to profit at the expense of our landscape and our economy".

Sadly this is a familiar story; promise much, deliver little.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Mt Storm - Nedpower - World's Worst Run Wind Farm Project?!

Nedpower's continuing blundering puts them in strong contention as the World's Worst Wind Power Project. If it was not so sad it would be funny. Their grasp of a what a carbon neutral foot print is would make Al Gore cringe.

Here's the easy "How to run a wind farm project like Nedpower" 20 point check list:

1) First find a remote mountain location next to a national heritage sanctuary site (Canaan Valley)

2) Impress the local authorities with talk of massive tax revenues and construction contracts

3) Skirt and skimp local regulations by using what waivers you feel expedient

4) Sign-up local landowners to dubious contracts with promises of large monthly rental revenues

5) Deflect local nature group concerns by staging cursory impact assessments using a university professor who you put on the mountain side for a couple of days.

6) Avoid any open public debate by posting notices in obscure papers and places and busing in your own supporters and employees to pack any mandated public hearings.

7) Once project is approved - beginning construction in the fall when few local residents are left around and construction labor is cheaper.

8) Completely wreck local state access roads using them to bring in your heavy equipment. Don't risk having to build your own temporary roads or contractors equipment on your roads.

9) Ensure you locate turbines as close to facilities, roads and existing residences as possible. Maximize the human impact profile so local people know they are contributing to solving global warming by their own sacrifices for the planet. Ignore Federal siting regulations were necessary.

10) Buy all your equipment and turbines from as far away as possible. Preferably 5,000 miles or more!

11) Ship everything through a port that is at least 250 miles from your construction site - that way every part incurs a 500 truck mile minimum delivery over mountain roads that really punish trucks and gas mileage.

12) Cut 10 miles of extra wide access roads to make sure you strip the maximum number of acres of existing trees and habitat to really disrupt wild life and boost your carbon foot print.

13) Select a site that is on the annual migration routes for birds to ensure the maximum hazard factors apply to rare and at risk species.

14) Select a site that has significant bat populations because bats are known to be at high risk from large turbine blades.

15) Endanger the financial viability of the project by purchasing equipment that is 30% more expensive than local alternatives.

16) Alienate local politicians by buying everything from a foreign country thus making it impossible for them to back you.

17) Furlough your construction teams for weeks at a time (see #10 buying parts from 5,000 miles away) so you incur huge equipment rental costs on cranes and other heavy equipment and make the work teams feel insecure so you can hire them for the least money.

18) Bring in a high profile partner like Shell Oil so the Nedpower executives can make big windfall payments and local authorities can be all placated.

19) Make sure that you compromise your position in any law suits brought against you by following items 1 through 18.

20) Continue to make glowing executive pronouncements about the project and how green it is even as it hits more installation delays, environmental issues and cost overruns.

The executives at Shell Oil can hardly be pleased at having a partner like Nedpower show case their environmentally green credentials with wind power projects as badly executed as this one.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Nedpower Mt Storm Project Illegal Turbine sitings diagrams

The Nedpower project seems to be managed with complete distain for people's rights and for federal regulations.

The latest findings are that three turbines located at the intersection of the Grass Ridge road and the local access road shown above are almost certainly within 800 ft of at least one residence. As shown in the map diagram above.

The map shows the sitings involved and the photograph below shows the construction occurring of the upper two turbines.
The impact of turbines this close to peoples homes is likely to be devastating on their living conditions - see report and real peoples experiences here.

Once again Nedpower's claim to be a "Good Neighbor in Grant County" that misled the WV PSC in their original decision is looking completely transparent. When given an entire mountain top on which to site turbines - they immediately choose locations that are cheapest for them - namely directly next to existing roads and properties. Instead of trying to minimize the impact on residents, that is the last thought on their engineers minds. In fact given the blatant siting of these turbines - the engineers have clearly been given carte blanche to disregard any aspects relating to impacts either human or environmental.
Notice all these turbines are within a few hundred feet or less of the roads themselves.

Nedpower were obviously also counting on the nuisance law suit against them to be dismissed. Instead the case is back in court and Nedpower now have to answer not only nuisance charges but also illegal siting charges.

View of the turbines located adjacent to Grassridge Road, looking down the hill from the corner of the access road:

Where have all the deer gone? Turbine construction impacts.

This year the Nedpower wind project at Mt Storm has began construction of access roads along some 10 miles of the total 14 mile length of the project.

The effect on the deer population has been devastating. Residents report only 10% of the deer that should normally be active on the mountain top.

Whole meadow areas that usually support feeding herds of 30 or more deer every evening are empty. Social groups of 5 to 10 deer that move around cabins and property areas are gone. Occasional single females with one of last years young can be seen - but no fawns from this year.

Speculation is that the huge wide access roads (photo'd above) have been a disaster for the deer. Exposing them to predation from coyotes and just preventing them from moving to traditional feeding grounds.

If this is the impact that construction clearing and road building is having on the deer population, then the impacts on more vulnerable species is hard to imagine. Habitat fragmentation is a major threat that is well known and documented.

Two reports available here - cover these aspects of habit change impacts.


Nedpower / Shell Oil buy Spanish Turbines for Mt Storm

Nedpower / Shell Oil contracted with Gamesa to supply the turbines for the Mt Storm Wind Power project.

This led to speculation that the turbines would come from the new factory in Pennsylvania.

Instead Gamesa are supply the turbines direct from Spain - see photos of Spanish turbines on Mt Storm. This is obviously good for Gamesa and their partner Shell Oil (Shell WindEnergy).

However - this is obviously a very bad deal for the American taxpayer - with $280M therefore being spent in Spain rather than West Virginia or Pennsylvania.

One could speculate that the Bush adminstration would be happy with Coalition Partner - Spain - landing a windfall for their previous support in Iraq. However that does little to nothing for employment in West Virginia. They could have purchased generator and supporting electrical parts and also the steel towers in West Virginia - but as is clear from the photographs - all the equipment is being shipped in from Spain - not just the turbines.

It also raises the question about how many turbines Shell Oil now intends to install? Each turbine is being paid for in Euros - and with the US dollar now at 1.35 to the Euro - this represents $100M of cost esculation since the project started. And of course there is the expense of bringing the turbines from Spain as well.

Then in addition - the original PSC approval assumed that $300M was being spent in West Virginia. Now that it is clear that most of the money is going overseas - I'm sure that the PSC decision is going to be seen as a political disaster. Once again West Virginia resources have been sold out to big corporations with little compensation actually occurring in State, but all the impact, fallout and knock-on of course is being picked up in State.

Clearly Nedpower have felt no restrictions in destroying five miles of State roads during the initial construction - as reported here.

Nedpower Destroys 5 Miles of State Road

Nedpower and its contractor - Mortenson Construction have wilfully driven heavy vehicles and tracked construction equipment on five miles of the state GrassRidge road - leading to its destruction.

Huge lengths of the road are now just bare dirt and gravel, with the remaining surface showing severe cracking and crumbling which with further ice and freeze this winter will simply remove that as well.

These 50 photographs show the extent of the damage. They are taken at roughly 100yd to 200yd intervals along the whole road - for its entire length - so there simply is not a section of the road that has not been damaged. Safety is also a major factor. The road is not marked as hazardous, but many sections are now only passable at 5mph. Also many people are driving on the only remaining tarmac thus restricting the width to just one-lane. Gravel chips are a significant hazard for people checking their mailboxes and for car windshields.

Nedpower boasted to the WV PSC that - "we will be a good neighbor in Grant County", and Mortenson construction boasts "Integrity" in their corporate catch-phrase. Clearly these are just empty terms and their modus operadi shows their true corporate culture - profits ahead of everything.

The state transportation and road department needs to immediately issue an injunction against Nedpower and Mortenson to prevent their further use of the road. Also - the State needs to take court action to recover the costs of replacing the road.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Is Nedpower's Mt Storm Project in Financial Jeopardy?

In electing to purchase turbines from Gamesa in Spain for the Mt Storm project has Nedpower sown its own seeds of demise for the ill-fated mountain top project?

The US dollar is now 1.35 to the Euro. This means that the $280M originally planned for turbine purchase now requires another $100M! Will Shell Oil (Shell WindEnergy) pay the $380M knowning they will never recover those costs? Seems highly unlikely Shell Oil executives will do that.

Next - what happens if they install fewer turbines than planned? Will the US government still pay the full $300M subsidy, or will that be prorated or cancelled?

Similarly - now it is revealed that Gamesa is supplying the turbines direct from Spain - the whole argument of providing US jobs in West Virginia is gone! Will the Republicans risk election fall-out in 2008 from continuing to fund the project? Seems this would be a surefire vote loser - sending $280M of taxpayer money to Spain.

To make matters worse, the law suit against Nedpower is now headed back to court, and their prospects look grim. Illegal turbine sitings, massive damage to miles of State roads and emerging evidence of environmental impacts are all set to make the court case a huge pitfall with significant costs and major delays. Not to mention those Spanish turbines are going to make it very tough go keep local support.

Nedpower and Shell Oil are clearly hesitating. Unfinished turbines litter the mountain top. Construction teams have been furloughed for two weeks, with no firm word when work will resume. Expensive construction cranes sit idle, further adding to project costs. The long term parts and maintenance from Spain to the remote harsh mountain environment looks tenuous and expensive. The extreme conditions in winter are bound to cause continuous equipment failures.

The state of West Virginia needs to step in and demand answers from Nedpower. First, their destruction of five miles of state road needs to be paid for. Next clarification of the Spanish turbine purchase, how many turbines are they now planning to install? And then last but not least, the illegally sited turbines that are in breach of federal siting requirements - when will they be removed or relocated?

Shell Oil executives should rightly be very nervous, and the state executives should be monitoring the situation to ensure the State is not left with a massive clean-up operation if Shell Oil pulls out aburptly.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Review of California Wind Turbines - 4,000 in San Gorgonio Pass

The experience in California appears to be a harbinger of what West Virginia is now experiencing. The costs of repairing the Grassy Ridge Road in Mt Storm destroyed by Nedpower could well top $1M. This value assessment below is from Californian experience of "wind power".

Wind Power has about 4,000 windmills in the San Gorgonio Pass, which amounts to approximately 375 MW of installed capacity. For 25 years we've been told what a significant contribution wind energy could and is making to our energy supply. Since most people have little knowledge of how the electrical system works, they are being misled as to the benefits, merits and capabilities of wind power, unfortunately, most have believed what they have been told.

As a homeowner in the Pass for 30 years, and familiar with the wind patterns, I had reservations as to all the amounts of power that the wind developers claimed that they could generate and that this was even considered a 'good' wind area. I began my research some years ago, as I became suspicious of all the claims made by this industry, by collecting data from many knowledgeable and reliable sources, as well as the California Energy Commission, which at one time published their actual production records. The Wind Industries actual production records were so dismal and at variance with what they projected, they lobbied the CEC into not having to reveal their production records anymore. Nevertheless, I still obtained 15 years of their production records and time of generation from 1998 until 2006. This data confirmed what I observed visually.

As I can see them from my house, when they work and mostly don't. Every time the wind developers went to get another permit to put up more windmills, the developers always stated how many MW they were installing and how many homes they could provide energy for. What they would do is add all their generation as if it was generated 24/7 and divide it by the average household. This is very misleading and deceptive, as the records indicate: Only 5-6 % of their generation is at peak need time, 33% mid peak and the balance of 60% is generated when we need it the least and this off peak generation is deemed as of lesser value, but we must keep in mind that they can only generate about 25% of the time, intermittently. And another big draw back is that it is not constant. One minute it may be blowing and the next couple of weeks or months there may be none. Even with the volatility of wind, windmills really don't generate that much power. I became curious as to exactly how much power they were contributing to Edison. These are the results:

  • Wind Power has about 4,000 windmills in the San Gorgonio Pass, which amounts to approximately 375 MW of installed capacity.

  • Because the wind is only good enough to generate power 25% of the time, their generation amounts to an average of 93.5 MW per year, that they sell to Edison [Edison is mandated to purchase all that they generate].

  • Edison uses on average about 13,000 MW per year in their service area.

  • The astounding fact that has never been revealed is, this amounts to about only about 7 tenths of 1% of what Edison uses. This is all, after 25 years of exaggerated promises. But, it even gets worse.

  • If you take their average annual production of about 93.5 MW and subtract the 60% off peak generation, this leaves a miniscule amount of about 2.8 tenths of 1% that is meaningful, if you can call it that, that is generated when we really need it, after billions and billions of ratepayer and tax payer dollars in subsidization and even today they still get a portion from our monthly electric bills. I don't think the people got much bang for their bucks!

  • I also learned that when this "off peak" generation can't be sold [because demand is low and it can't be stored] the Utility gives it away for 0 cents, but pay the WE their contract price and charge this cost back to the ratepayers... legal double dipping? This off peak generation is deemed as of "lessor" value. How often this happens is another unknown.

  • Another finding is that wind is useless as capacity. Because of winds volatile nature, the utilities need a constant, reliable source of power to prevent power disruptions, including in their "spinning reserve" which is power on stand by to accommodate any instantaneous demand.

  • In order to accommodate wind into the grid, the California ISO turns down hydro and gas turbines [both fairly clean], because they are the easiest to manipulate the inconsistencies of wind power, the unreliability, constant on and off and the volatility nature of wind. Also, you can see how small the amount of wind energy really is to the amount that Edison uses. Edison does not use oil. At best, there is some natural gas savings. In Public Hearings, they always refer to our reliance on Middle East oil and how Wind Energy will help alleviate that need. Their statement is simply not true.

  • Another drawback is that wind power cannot be stored and cannot be called upon at will.. when we need it, it does not match the "time of need profile". So, then exactly what good is it? Except to feel good!?

  • The bottom line is that wind energy is a DUPLICATION of capacity that the utilities already MUST have to provide a steady flow of power, without interruptions and blackouts. Because of winds intermittent nature...wind won't work, it is really inconsequential.

  • In Tehachipi, for many years there was a curtailment program, where the windmills were overbuilt for the grid and was to small to handle the surge. Edison made an agreement with the wind industry to just shut the machines down and paid them over $12 million which was also charged back to the ratepayers.

  • I am very concerned that this big push by government officials for more wind power when I really don't think they really understand how it works. They can cover the entire country with wind mills and they would do nothing for our capacity.. if you stop and think about this... when the wind stops... then what? Edison will have to come on line with the same amount of power that they always need to cover the instantaneous demand, we can't be waiting for the wind to start blowing again.

  • But, most alarming is the misleading claims and out right misrepresentations made by the wind industry itself, with no one verifying what they say.

  • Because of the wind industry, our power bills have skyrocketed and will continue to do so with each new windmill, while Edison can provide the same power for 2 cents per kWh.

  • Unfortunately, the powers that be chose to believe the developers, without ever checking out their veracity or production records. Because of this hysteria for "green", it appears that they would rather put our power supply at risk and have the ratepayers pay double and triple than what is necessary for an illusion. While they have scraped miles and miles of desert, obliterated our views, rendered adjacent property valueless and impacted us with noise and dust for this miniscule amount of useless energy is beyond belief... and have so far gotten away with it. The only transmission has been the $'s from our pockets to theirs.

Alexandra Weit

Whitewater, CA 92282

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