Resource Documents: Photos (41 items)
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.
Author: Hemmel, William
Photos by William Hemmel, Aerial Photo NH
Author: Hales, Roy
Ocotillo, in Imperial County, has been inflicted by massive dust storms ever since 112 turbines were built around it. The desert surface was scraped clean of vegetation as a preparation for the project. Now there is nothing to hold the dust down.
That’s not the only complaint. Since the project went online, less than two years ago:
- 3 turbines have had their gear boxes replaced,
- 9 turbines have had blade replacements
- a 173-foot-long-blade flew off one turbine
- Ocotillo residents have also documented oil leaks in 40% of the turbines. The Department of Toxic substance control subsequently gave the project a summary of violations.
Two Ocotillo residents, Jim Pelley and Parke Ewing, have documented this project on the web. There are hundreds of videos on Pelley’s Youtube site “Save Ocotillo” and Ewing’s Facebook page Ocotillo Wind Turbine Destruction is a visual chronicle of this project and related materials.
(October 23, 2014)
The Ocotillo wind farm went online almost five years ago. Were they not documented in such meticulous detail, some of the reports coming from the tiny desert community this project surrounds would be difficult to believe. I once received a constant stream of YouTube videos and reports from this project. It was one of the sites that shaped my perception of the energy sector. To some extent, I’ve moved on from this story since then, but I always knew I would be revisiting Ocotillo.
Parke Ewing has not been able to move on.
Last May, I asked him for an update.
Ewing replied, “It’s about 9:30 – 10:00 o’clock in the morning. Not one wind turbine is spinning. There is no wind. Their capacity factor, since they became operational, is only about 21.3%. Pattern Energy stated the wind farm would be 34% and they also said it would produce 891 gigawatts (GW) per year. So far, the most they’ve ever generated is 536 GW. So it is substantially less than what they proposed to get approval on this project …”
Update On Mechanical Failures
This is the beginning of a four minute clip, which you can listen to on the podcast. Some of the details include:
- “About 70% of the turbines leaked oil. They had a crew out here cleaning all the turbines. They did a lot of them and I am sure they fixed some of the leaks.”
- On November 21, 2016, turbine #126 crumpled and fell over. “They’re in the process of replacing the entire turbine right now. The nacelle came in today and the tower sections and they are unloading those as we speak,”
These are just the latest in a litany of problems.
Six months after the project officially went online, a 173 foot-long-blade flew off one of the turbines.
There was a turbine fire in 2015.
Since this project went online:
- 10 turbines underwent blade replacements
- 9 turbines had their gear boxes replaced
- 2 turbines were replaced
Contacting The Developers
Attempts to contact the turbine manufacturer, developer and local utility have been futile.
Ewing says, “We’ve tried to talk to Pattern Energy [the developer], of course we always get a generic reply that they’re working on this or checking on that, but we never get an answer on the noise, or the lights, or anything. They really just write us off. They don’t talk to us. We get an email reply sometimes, that’s about it.”
I phoned Jeff Grappone, of Siemens USA after the turbine caught fire in 2015. He suggested I send an email. I did this, asking:
- Do they know what caused this fire?
- How often turbine fires occur? Are they, for example, as common as traffic accidents are for automobile drivers?
- What about the oil leaks? the blade replacements? the three replaced yaw gears? Is this normal for a two year old wind farm?
- There are also some extreme conditions at Ocotillo. I have seen videos of those incredible dust storms. There are good winds at times, but they are more often 0-4 mph and there are occasionally incredible blow ups. Is this a an exceptionally difficult location?
Grappone never replied.
Maybe I asked too many questions.
I recently tried a different tactic, when asking Pattern Energy about the dust storms that have plagued Ocotillo since the site was built. I sent them the video you see below and asked for an explanation.
Matt Dallas emailed back, “Ocotillo Wind operates its equipment in accordance with our permits. The dust in the video was created by the wind, not by the turbines. You’ll see many of the turbines are not operating in the video because the wind speeds that day were so high they exceeded our maximum operating capacity.”
He was not aware that I had previously interviewed a site developer about dust storms on utility scale wind and solar sites.
According to Harvey Stephens, Vice President of Operations at World Wind & Solar, fugitive dust problems are caused by scraping large areas of the desert crust clean of vegetation. This leaves the underlaying soil exposed to the wind. There are remedies, such as planting grasses, windflowers and other materials as a protective blanket to stabilize areas disturbed by grading operations. When developers follow these procedures, the dust storms normally cease after a year or so.
Ocotillo has been inflicted by dust storms since construction began. In the video below, you can see one from August 2012.
I pointed this out to Matt Dallas, who did not reply.
Ewing and his wife suspect, but can not prove, that infrasound noise from the turbines might be the reason that are “tired all the time.”
He describes the sound made by the turbines, when they are turning, as “… the most irritating sound I have ever heard.”
(There is a recording on the podcast.)
“One of Pattern’s project managers came by and listened to the sound once and said he would take it back to whoever is in charge. We never heard another word about it,” says Ewing.
“We like to be outside. That’s why we are here in the desert. We have a fairly nice place here, with a lot of trees and stuff that we need to keep watered. It is difficult to do when they are making noise. It is kind of like a noise trespassing, that really shouldn’t be happening on your property.”
What’s The Problem?
Parke Ewing believes the problem is wind technology.
I agreed with him, until I saw some German sites in 2014. [NWW still agrees with Ewing.]
The problem at Ocotillo does not appear to be so much with the technology, as how it was used. This is not a good location for wind turbines. The site was politically expedient and there were massive tax credits in 2012, but should never have been built. Now the manufacturer and developer have made their money, and people like Parke Ewing are left with the mess.
September 3, 2017, Roy L Hales, theecoreport.com
Author: Northern Ireland Environment Agency
What impact can a wind farm have on groundwater?
The development of a wind farm has the potential to impact on groundwater quality, groundwater quantity and/or the established groundwater flow regime. Figure 1 shows the scale and extent of the foundation of a single wind turbine which could potentially impact on the aquatic environment. Changes to the local water environment can affect receptors such as wells/boreholes, springs, wetlands and waterways, and can also have implications for groundwater dependent ecology and/or land stability.
The key impacts to groundwater that can result from the construction, operational and decommissioning stages of wind farms are summarised in Table 1 below.
Table 1: Potential impacts on groundwater from wind farms
|Construction Phase||Operational Phase||Decommissioning Phase|
|Groundwater Flow Regime||Earthworks and site drainage:
• Reduction in water table if dewatering is required for turbine foundation construction or borrow pits;
• Changes to groundwater distribution and flow.
|Physical presence of turbines and tracks:
• Possible changes to groundwater distribution;
• Reduction in groundwater storage.
Reduction of forestry in site area:
• Changes to infiltration and surface runoff patterns, thereby influencing groundwater flow and distribution.
|Physical presence of former turbines and tracks:
• Possible changes to groundwater distribution;
• Reduction in groundwater storage.
• Disturbance of contaminated soil and subsequent groundwater pollution.
• Pollution from spills or leaks of fuel, oil and building materials.
• Pollution from spills or leaks of fuel or oil.
|Use of vehicles and machinery to remove infrastructure:
• Pollution from spills or leaks of fuel or oil.
Download original document: “Wind farms and groundwater impacts”
VCE’s Investigation into the Environmental Health of the Lowell Mountains with Industrial Wind Turbines – July 2016
Author: Vermonters for a Clean Environment
1. The “wet” ponds are predominantly dry or are not holding the volume of water necessary to provide water quality treatment as required by the VT Stormwater Management Manual. Further, it is highly probable that instead of flowing through the outlet structure, stormwater is simply passing through the rock berms bypassing the water quality and peak flow attenuation necessary. This seepage is also highly likely causing the iron seeps to form (see below).
Stormwater ponds and level spreaders receive sedimentation that is regularly cleaned out and deposited uphill and seeded.
2. The iron seeps that are being found at the project perimeter, and specifically downslope of stormwater management features is being caused by stormwater or intercepted groundwater flowing over sulfide bearing rock and leaching out metals, and in particular iron.
When this occurs, the seep is comprised of a low pH (acid) floc that will both smother vegetation, wetlands and stream substrates, but also create an environment that will preclude vegetative growth. The preclusion of vegetative growth will lead to more soil instability and subsequent erosion.
See the geologic report prepared by a geologist retained by Princeton Hydro in 2011 and a paper on acid mine drainage and sulfide-bearing rock. The extensive and irreversible changes to the surface and groundwater hydrology of the mountain will continue to cause environmental damage well beyond the perimeter of the area of disturbance of this project.
BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS
PHOTO BEFORE – MAY 2011
PHOTO AFTER – JULY 2016
The headwaters of this mountain will be irreparably harmed. The monitoring thousands of feet downstream of the project to comply with the Water Quality Certificate will not detect the impacts to the headwater streams.
3. The photographs also reveal that the level spreaders and the wet ponds are causing erosion of the hillside and, in particular, the “vegetated buffers” that were claimed by KCW to reduce the flow of stormwater and prevent erosion. In fact, downstream of the level spreaders, the opposite is occurring.
The concentration of water in the vegetated buffers and other mountainside areas is exactly what Princeton Hydro stated would happen, not sheet flow down to the receiving wetlands and streams.
This is important for two primary reasons:
A) The concentrated flow means the stormwater model that KCW used to show that they met the stormwater peak flow attenuation requirements of the VSMM is fatally flawed and is not meeting the standards and is increasing stormwater runoff from the KCW site. The Water Quality Certification monitoring thousands of feet downstream of the project will not detect increases in flood waters that could impact downstream properties.
B) The concentrated flow is clearly eroding the forest floor in the vegetated buffers and mountainside receiving areas. This will continue to degrade the hillside and create larger and larger rills and gullies.
EXISTING STREAM CHANNEL
Existing stream channel is being overwhelmed. Sides are eroding.
In May and October, 2011 we visited this beautiful wetland near turbine 8 which be seen at the end of Energize Vermont’s video.
The wetland is mostly dry now, with a die-back of sphagnum moss. This wetland was very special because it flowed both north and south. While parts of Vermont are in drought, this area is experiencing relatively normal rainfall.
The evidence of the extensive use of herbicides on the site shows that the project is promoting the growth of invasive species of plants, which will likely be required to be eradicated in perpetuity. The project is promoting the growth of such invasives that will eventually spread deep into the prior relatively unfragmented forest.
According to the 2015 Invasive Species Report,
“A total of 51.5 gallons of mixture was applied at the designated sites across the entire KCW invasive plant monitoring area including the restored logging roads (see 2015 Invasive Vegetation Monitoring Maps). A two way mix was used for the application: Milestone VM Plus and Rodeo at 4 percent.”
Milestone VM Plus contains chemicals that are moderately toxic to aquatic organisms and have very high potential for mobility in soils.
Wildlife on the Lowell Mountains are being exposed to wind turbine noise at very high levels. Click on these two images to hear what the wildlife are exposed to now.
The areas shown in these two photos have been completely destroyed.
Montane Yellow Birch forest is now turbine 13
Serpentine boulder is now turbine 18
The forest edges around the roads are dying.
ANR’s Eric Sorensen testified to the PSB in the GMP Lowell Wind case:
This project will result in the construction of 6.5 miles of 65 to 205 foot wide, mostly rock- blasted road and turbine pads in mature montane forests along a ridgeline in one of the larger blocks of unfragmented habitat in the region.
At the construction site for this Project there will not merely be a change in vegetation type, but instead there will be a complete conversion from mature montane forests to industrial wind farm.
This area will be permanently altered by removal of soil, bedrock blasting, and regrading. We cannot predict what will grow on this disturbed site after decommissioning, but we can be confident that it will not be the mature Montane Spruce-Fir Forest or Montane Yellow Birch-Red Spruce Forest that occurs there now.
Ecologist Sorensen’s testimony is proving to be accurate. The Montane Yellow Birch Forest is experiencing group mortality which is not normal.
From ANR’s Eric Sorenson’s testimony about the Yellow Bird-Red Spruce Forest
This image from the 2015 invasive species report shows the area of the intersection of the access road with the ridgeline road, along with the chart from the same report that shows that the invasive species are increasing and spreading every year. These invasives will eventually make their way to the interior forest.
WIND PROJECTS IN VERMONT – OPERATING, PROPOSED, DEFEATED
Red Square: Operating: Georgia Mountain, four 2.5 MW 440 foot tall, Lowell Mountain, twenty one 3 MW 459 foot tall, Sheffield sixteen 2.5 MW 420 foot tall.
Orange Square: Actively Proposed: Swanton Rocky Ridge seven 2.5 MW 490+ foot tall, Irasburg, two 2.5 MW 490+ foot tall, Holland one 2.5 MW 490+ foot tall, Windham/Grafton twenty eight 3.45 MW 490+ foot tall, Searsburg/Windham fifteen 2.0 MW 417 foot tall.
Green Circle: Successfully Defeated: Glebe Mountain, Little Equinox, Ira, Pittsford Ridge, Northfield Ridge, Derby Line, Newark/Brighton/Ferdinand.
This report was compiled by Annette Smith, Executive Director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment. Most of the narrative was written by Princeton Hydro. Photos are by VCE’s field investigator, who will be writing more about his findings. Information is from public records.
About Vermonters for a Clean Eenvironment: VCE’s mission is to raise the voices of Vermonters and hold corporations accountable for their impacts on our people, our land, our air and our water. We are united in the belief that Vermont’s future lies in conserving its clean, rural, small-town environment. We have joined together to pursue the common goals of encouraging economic development with minimal environmental impacts and preserving Vermont’s natural beauty. VCE is committed to providing facts and information so that people can make informed decisions. We encourage your participation.