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Resource Documents: U.S. (136 items)

RSSU.S.

Documents presented here are not the product of nor are they necessarily endorsed by National Wind Watch. These resource documents are provided to assist anyone wishing to research the issue of industrial wind power and the impacts of its development. The information should be evaluated by each reader to come to their own conclusions about the many areas of debate.


Date added:  September 26, 2017
U.S., WildlifePrint storyE-mail story

Factors associated with bat mortality at wind energy facilities in the United States

Author:  Thompson, M.; et al.

Description: Hundreds of thousands of bats are killed annually by colliding with wind turbines in the U.S., yet little is known about factors causing variation in mortality across wind energy facilities. We conducted a quantitative synthesis of bat collision mortality with wind turbines by reviewing 218 North American studies representing 100 wind energy facilities. This data set, the largest compiled to date, provides further support that collision mortality is greatest for migratory tree-roosting species (Hoary Bat [Lasiurus cinereus], Eastern Red Bat [Lasiurus borealis], Silver-haired Bat [Lasionycteris noctivagans]) and from July to October. Based on 40 studies meeting inclusion criteria and analyzed under a common statistical framework to account for methodological variation, we found support for an inverse relationship between bat mortality and percent grassland cover surrounding wind energy facilities. At a national scale, grassland cover may best reflect openness of the landscape, a factor generally associated with reduced bat activity and abundance that may also reduce turbine collisions. Ecologically informed decisions regarding placement of wind facilities involves multiple considerations, including not only factors associated with bat mortality, but also factors associated with bird collision mortality, indirect habitat-related impacts to all species, and overall ecosystem impacts.

Purpose/Objective: Wind energy development is a rapidly growing technology within the U.S. economy and energy sector. However, wind turbines have been shown to kill both birds and bats. Thus, as wind energy continues to develop, proper understanding of the risks of turbines is critical for ecological risk assessment. This manuscript provides a meta-analysis of bat mortality at wind energy facilities across geographic regions of the US. The analysis and results will prove useful for local communities, ecological risk assessors and scientists interested in collision mortality.

Thompson, M., J. Beston, M. Etterson, J. Diffendorfer, and S. Loss
National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory

Biological Conservation, 215:241-245 (2017)
doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2017.09.014

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Date added:  September 22, 2017
Aesthetics, Impacts, IowaPrint storyE-mail story

Rural Iowans Reject Industrial Wind

Author:  Swanson, Janna

For over 4 years now I have been working every day to protect rural Iowa from the onslaught of Industrial Wind Turbines. Beginning with the day our family received a certified letter that the Rock Island “Clean” Line, a 500 mile wind energy power line, was seeking a 200 foot easement by the threat of eminent domain through our farm. Now I and many other Iowa residents are seeking to halt the hundreds and hundreds of Industrial Wind Turbines being proposed throughout our communities. I am a member of the Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance, a grassroots organization started in Clay County Iowa that stopped the Rock Island Clean Line and now I am a board member of the Coalition for Rural Property Rights started in Palo Alto that seeks to stop MidAmerican’s and Alliant’s wind energy goals because those goals are destroying the land and the peace of our homes.

Everyone loves wind turbines you say? Iowa’s government supports Industrial Wind? The farmers love the land payments? No, the closer you get to wind installations the more you will find out how much industrial turbines are losing favor. This last year I have received phone calls from all over the Midwest. People are distraught. People have been going door to door talking to neighbors, putting up signs, writing letters to newspapers, holding meeting, starting groups, starting webpages and talking with their County governments.

For the most part the people that support Industrial Wind live in town or don’t live here at all. In Palo Alto and Clay Counties an average of 4 residences per affected townships have signed up to have Industrial Turbines on land parcels where they live. In Sac County only 12% of the landowners that have signed contracts for industrial turbines actually live on the land. In Blackhawk, Poweshiek, Mahaska, Ida, Greene and Boone Counties it is all the same story. The rural residents don’t want the installations, have no vote yet will have to live with the negative impacts every day for as long as the turbines last.

The people who live in the footprint stand to make the most money but they refuse to sign because they have heard the testimonies of others that signed before they knew of the negative impacts. Many of these people would not sign if they had to do it all over again.

There are many, many reasons why people do not want Industrial Wind and none of those reasons have anything to do with the turbines being renewable energy.

Industrial Wind Turbines can be loud. In rural areas we generally have a nighttime decibel reading of 25 dBA. Wind turbine companies in our state have been seeking to raise that level to 45-60 dBA. Many times people have not just one turbine, but multiple turbines surrounding their homes. The noise is likened the sound to a jet plane that never lands.

Wind turbines create wakes and turbulence for miles. The pressure changes in the air from wind turbines can cause some people to feel dizzy or have headaches, vertigo. Between the pressure and the noise, sleep can be difficult. A growing number of experts are studying these claims and finding that the people with these claims are indeed not “making it up” as the wind industry claims.

Shadow flicker sounds innocuous enough but often it is allowed for rural residents to have to put up with the large shadows that are thrown by the blades for every day for weeks on end all within their homes and on their property. It is like a strobe light you cannot turn off. This can also make people feel ill.

The look of the turbines. Maybe a few are not horrible but when hundreds are shoved in one area it clutters the whole landscape and the night sky is filled with blinking red lights. It can ruin the beauty of the entire countryside for 30 miles in every direction from an area half the size of Des Moines for one installation. The largest reason why we have only 5 offshore wind turbines (these were built behind an island) in the US is because people do not want turbines in their coastal views. Iowans love their views as well. Town and city residents want to have attractive surroundings and so do rural residents.

Wind turbines complicate farming. Gone is any hope of straight rows and that decreases efficiency. Gone is efficient aerial applications. Gone is the soil that is world class and the staple of our economy. Many Ag pilots refuse to fly within half a mile of turbines. Ground rigs don’t work if the ground is soggy or the crops are leaning. The large equipment used to build turbines can damage tile and often it is not fixed in a timely manner or not at all when the wind company disagrees that the damage is their fault.

Turbine failures are inevitable. Failures are also far more common than the wind industry claims. GCube Insurance is a renewable energy insurance provider. On their website they claim “there are an estimated 3,800 incidences annually of blade failure – a rate of 1 in 184, or, put more simply, 1 incident per 61 turbines in operation.” Turbines that throw blades or fall over could harm people working the fields. Turbine fires burn for days and local fire crews are not equipped to fight them.

Wind turbines kill birds. The wind companies like to say that they only kill a small fraction of our birds. They cite buildings, cats and cars as other things that kill birds. How many of those things are there compared with the relatively small amount of turbines? We have 261.8 million cars and 86 million cats compared to 50,000 or so turbines yet the last administration felt the need to give wind companies the right to kill 4,200 eagles each year. That number does not include the rest of the birds or bats.

Our communities are fighting. The local town-based governments that have control over the rural areas want the money. That money, provided by the Production Tax Credit, is driving this whole mess. Even Warren Buffett is quoted saying “I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire’s tax rate. For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”

The American Wind Energy Association has done a great job of telling about how much the rural areas love Industrial Wind and the farmers love their payments. That is likely how they got our legislators to agree to this debacle. Now that the offers have been made and the numbers are in it looks like Iowans would rather preserve and protect our land and landscapes instead of giving MidAmerican or Alliant, that are planning to buy these projects from the wind companies, easement over thousands and thousands of our acres to control.

Many other communities across the US and around the world are voting Industrial Wind out of their communities or instilling restrictive zoning that makes installations unprofitable. Iowa is lagging far behind in protecting its people. They are allowing our utility monopolies to run over our rural communities to satisfy their own back-patting goals.

Wind companies often say that the mountain of evidence in the form of testimony and studies that speak to the problems people have living near industrial Wind turbines are all lies. Even we will admit that not everyone has these problems. I would respect the Industry more if they admitted the problems though they do list them in their contracts. Here is an excerpt from an Invenergy Neighbor Agreement contract that they offer non-participating residents within half a mile of their projects. For a small one-time payment their contract gives the developer an “exclusive easement on, over, under and across all of the Owner’s Property to permit Generating Units or other wind energy conversion systems on adjacent property or elsewhere to cast shadows or flicker onto the Owner’s Property; impact view or visual effects from the Owner’s Property; and cause or emit noise, vibration, air turbulence, wake, and electromagnetic and frequency interference.” If a company feels the need to offer these contracts then their turbines are too close. If a neighbor does not sign one of these contracts they will still receive the negative impacts. When communities instill zoning that protects homes and properties, there is not enough room for these 50–70-story-tall turbines.

People may say that farmers don’t like progress. If that were true many of us would still be farming with horses instead of machines with 250 horsepower. Farmers understand the cost of restoring our world-class soils after the turbines and the PTC have expired. The US does not make 4% of its energy from wind, only 4% of its electricity. That 4% has cost us billions. What we cut in greenhouse gases according to AWEA is 159 million metric tons of CO₂ worldwide. That is less CO₂ than the 290 million metric tons US forest fires release annually, just a tiny fraction of the 40 billion tons of CO₂ humans are responsible for every year. When you count the cost to our peace in our homes, loss of property values, harm to our wildlife, the harm to the land and agricultural businesses, the price of decommissioning, the loss of community relationships, the cost has been and will continue to be staggering.

Janna Swanson
Ayrshire, IA
Coalition for Rural Property Rights

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Date added:  September 9, 2017
Environment, U.S.Print storyE-mail story

Footprint of Energy: Land Use of U.S. Electricity Production

Author:  Stevens, Landon

Modern society requires a tremendous amount of electricity to function, and one of this generation’s greatest challenges is generating and distributing energy efficiently. Electricity generation is energy intensive, and each source leaves its own environmental and ecological footprint. Although many studies have considered how electricity generation impacts other aspects of the environment, few have looked specifically at how much land different energy sources require.

This report considers the various direct and indirect land requirements for coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, wind, and solar electricity generation in the United States in 2015. For each source, it approximates the land used during resource production, by energy plants, for transport and transmission, and to store waste materials. Both one-time and continuous land-use requirements are considered. Land is measured in acres and the final assessment is given in acres per megawatt.

Specifically, this report finds that coal, natural gas, and nuclear power all feature the smallest physical footprint: about 12.5 acres per megawatt produced. Solar and wind are much more land-intensive technologies, using 43.5 and 70.6 acres per megawatt, respectively. Hydroelectricity generated by large dams has a significantly larger footprint than any other generation technology, using 315.2 acres per megawatt.

While this report does not attempt to comprehensively quantify land requirements across the entire production and distribution chain, it does cover major land components and offers a valuable starting point to further compare various energy sources and facilitates a deeper conversation surrounding the necessary trade-offs when crafting energy policy.

June 2017, Strata

Download original document: “The Footprint of Energy: Land Use of U.S. Electricity Production

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Date added:  September 8, 2017
Impacts, MainePrint storyE-mail story

Resolution in opposition to industrial scale wind development in Somerset County, Maine

Author:  Somerset County, Maine, Commissioners

Please be advised that the purpose of this letter is to express the Somerset County Commissioners’ opposition to additional industrial scale wind development and its associated facilities in Somerset County or the Moosehead Lake Region for the following reasons:

  1. The adverse visual impact of 500+ foot wind turbines and associated transmission required for interconnection and other supportive facilities on the world class scenic beauty of Somerset County, the Moosehead Lake Region and its surrounding communities.
  2. The permanent destruction of ridgelines along with the adjacent development areas caused by the construction of over two hundred turbine pads, hundreds of miles of access roads, bridle path transmission corridors, plus utility substations and facility control centers.
  3. The adverse impact on dark/night sky by turbine aviation navigation lighting. The Moosehead Region is renowned for its dark/night sky and has already been effected by the aviation lighting from the Bingham Wind facility 26 miles to the southwest.
  4. The adverse economic and visual impact of the currently proposed industrial wind facilities in the Moosehead Lake Region and surrounding towns and townships. The proposed projects are: NRG’s Somerset Wind, EverPower’s Northwest Wind, Next Era’s Alder and Moose Wind and EDF’s Timberline Wind. Together they could install 231 turbines covering hundreds of thousands of acres.
  5. The potential to permanently alter ridgeline aquifers due to excessive blasting to create 60 foot craters for turbine pads. Many of these aquifers supply sensitive ecosystems. The Moosehead Lake Region is home to exceptional trout ponds and streams and highly diverse wildlife populations including Canadian Lynx, Bald Eagles and the endangered Bicknell’s Thrush. Disruption to these habitats could permanently alter the region’s wildlife populations.
  6. The danger turbines present regarding the many gallons of flammable liquids contained in each turbine and the very real possibility of a fire being ignited in these remote areas. These areas do not have the resources or the manpower to fight a large fire should one occur in one of these remote locations.
  7. The devastating economic impact on local tourism economies throughout the region and surrounding communities. The Moosehead Lake Region is the largest contributor of tourism revenue for Somerset County and a large contributor to Maine’s economy. Tourism is one of the largest employers and revenue generators in Somerset County.
  8. Widespread concern from residents of Somerset County and specifically the Moosehead Lake Region, both full-time and seasonal, for their way of life, their businesses, and their property values.
  9. The results of a recent (May 2017) tourism study underwritten by the John Muir Trust sighting travelers are unwilling to visit areas heavily impacted by wind farms and utility transmission lines. The study states that 55% of respondents would not visit an area subjected to large scale wind farms and their associated utility transmission.

Therefore, the Somerset County Commissioners hereby request that no further industrial wind facilities be permitted or approved in Somerset County and the Moosehead Lake Region.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.

Respectfully,

Dawn M. DiBlasi, Esq. Somerset County Administrator
41 Court St.
Skowhegan, ME 04976
Fax: 474-7405; Tel: 474-9861
Email: DDiBlasi@somersetcounty-me.org

Somerset County Commissioners
Newell Graf, Chairman (Dist 4)
Lloyd Trafton, Vice-Chairman (Dist 5)
Cyprian Johnson (Dist 2)
Robert Sezak (Dist 1)
Dean Cray (Dist 3)

To:  Governor LePage, Somerset County Delegates, State of Maine LUPC, DEP, MA Electricity providers

Opposition to Industrial Scale Wind Development in Somerset County, Maine

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