PPM Energy sponsored a bus trip today that was open to anyone and this trip was coordinated through Clayton Township.
We left the Clayton Arena at 9:30 am this morning. There were about a total in all of just 31 residents from the townships of Lyme, Orleans, Clayton and Hammond who took advantage of this tour. I chose to ride the bus while 8 others drove their own vehicles.
PPM offered us a very comfortable coach bus (at PPM’s expense). Bud Baril, Clayton Planning Board, was the only official representative from Clayton Township. This was to be expected as officials from the planning board for the townships of Clayton and Orleans Horse Creek Wind Farm have already been given a personal tour of Maple Ridge which included visits to homes and interviews with residents and as Bud told us on the bus he has been served many wonderful pies during his visits here. Bud informed us that today’s tour was part of Clayton’s ongoing educational experience for residents to get a close up view of the turbines and we will have the opportunity to talk with PPM and we could ask any question we wish. In addition, Twila Cushman, the Horse Creek Wind Farm secretary, handed out cards for residents to list questions that we residents want to ask Clayton’s Planning Board to discuss about concerns of a wind farm. What a joke. We all know these may be discussed at their workshop which is closed for any public response or these members won’t even see them such as what happened to our public comments to the town on the DGEIS.
Officials from the Township of Orleans chose to drive their own vehicles and sad to say they missed Bud’s speeches. However, they were nicely represented with Town Supervisor and members of the ZBA Board. Ben Timmerman brought along his distance calculator machine.
Hammond residents enlighten us that their proposed project will also be PPM Energy owned and Bill Moore informed us that they will have at least 50 turbines in the project but it is really too early to say. Connection to the grid may propose a problem there.
Even though there were only a small number of participants in this tour it really was composed of a well balanced group of individuals: planning board members from Clayton, Lyme and Orleans; Town Supervisor from Orleans; land leasers from Clayton; residents without turbines from both Clayton and Orleans and of course Hammond Township new to the world of industrial turbines being proposed to them.
Now for the “Coup de grace” – THERE WAS NO WIND!
Hundreds of turbines and they were NOT moving and what were moving (very few for the size of Maple Ridge) you felt like you were viewing a picture in slow motion. Every turbine was faced north and normally their wind per Mr. Moore is from the southeast. Normally they are moving an average of 17 rpm and we were lucky to see or find a turbine running at 6 rpm today. NO WIND – NO NOISE.
This was my 5th visit to Maple Ridge and in exactly the same spots we were at today and I have videos of these visits, and the amount of noise and flicker from these previous visits is unbelievable compared to today. There was no noise, a first for me. I was stumped and shocked after all my previous visits going up and down those roads. I have visited with residents there and have stood in their front yards and listened to them tell me how they handle the noise and flicker problem. Even the people of the tour who have also visited here were dismayed too. How could we ask questions about ill effects from turbine noise when there is no noise or spinning from a turbine. You have to laugh.
PPM had residents from Maple Ridge (mostly now employed by PPM) and of course they were all happy with Maple Ridge. Of course we did not expect to hear anything less. I was pleased that members of our tour asked many excellent questions. PPM had Mr. Burke the farmer who changed his life from agricultural farming to the industrial turbine business and even with his profit from turbines now also works for PPM Energy. I hope residents here do not believe for one minute you will get the financial reimbursement or a job like he has. I have to say he is a good spokesman for PPM and he will tell you he no longer has to push cow manure. It’s a wonderful life. He started right out telling us “I live right there, the farm house next to the gazebo and staging site and there is no noise from these machines”. In reference to shadow flicker, I love his response: “it will only bother you if you let it”. Most importantly, beside his home there were huge turbine blades lying on the ground, unpaved roads and a massive amount of wires all over the place and he loves it. He clearly shows the financial side of this industry if you are the right resident in the complex and given the right amount of money anyone can be bought out. It is business. PPM sales speeches as we all knew they would be were all about financial benefits from an industrial wind farm and we expected to hear nothing less than this from them. They told us about the increase in tourism and how wonderful this was. I had to question as to why the majority of these visitors come here? I asked for the percentage of visitors who come here because they too, like me, have “wind proposals in their back yard”. As we expected, PPM’s employees know how to steer questions away from any negative impact these machines will have for residents who find themselves caught up in this mess. Mr. Burke says, as well as each resident with a turbine will tell you, it is all about money. One important comment to mention today that Mr. Moore stated on the bus, “the site for Horse Creek Wind Farm was chosen because … its location will be less harmful to our wildlife because it lacks a migratory path”. I almost fell out of my seat.
My goal today was specifically to talk with Bill Moore and I got my chance. I wanted him to know that in the past six months since we met him ECCO was formed. I told him that residents of the townships of Clayton and Orleans along with other residents in neighboring townships close to us are becoming much more educated and informed regarding installation of these machines in and around residents and their homes. We discussed ECCO’s presentation held in LaFargeville and I informed him that ECCO was very disappointed that PPM was not a participant in our presentation. We had an excellent turnout. He was taken back – you asked us? I said of course we wanted you there. He said he would have liked to have had the opportunity and what happened. I told him I went to Mr. Dan Murdie and even Dan thought it would be great. Dan told me I had to go to the town, Mr. Justin Taylor and Bud Baril. I spoke both to Bud and to Mr. Taylor. Mr. Taylor said that they would not participate with us. He said that they would do their own education. I explained to Mr. Moore that residents in these two townships have received no educational presentations by the town. In fact we now know that they do not intend to have any. What we have by our planning board are group discussions of the turbine committee with NO public input. These are not voting sessions these are just group discussions. This is their educational format. I told Mr. Moore, residents would like to hear from PPM both landowners and residents especially on construction issues. I explained other townships that do not presently have proposed wind farms but will in the future are just as anxious for this information as we are. I told Mr. Moore that it is critical that ECCO share facts that are supported by documentation and reliable sources about industrial wind farms to all residents in Jefferson County and everyone needs to be informed. Maple Ridge can not be compared to northern Jefferson County along the St. Lawrence River. Mr. Moore stated he wants the opportunity to speak and that we can privately ask to have his company speak to residents at a community meeting or presentation. He said that we would have to inform the towns by (cc) so that they were aware that we requested PPM Energy.
It was a very long day.
Every time I visit Maple Ridge Wind Farm I become more depressed about wind energy development. I can never seem to find where the pros of these projects outweigh the negative effects of this business. Today I learned the most valuable reason why I oppose this industry.
Maple Ridge is 12 miles long by 3 miles wide. Up and down roads we went today and I viewed this industrial plant once again. In viewing all the entire expanse of this area I found that there is no sense of a living community of routine life. You saw no people walking their dogs, no hikers, bicycles, no children laughing and playing (school was out), no clothes hanging out to dry, no school buses, no dogs barking and very few birds no one out on their four wheelers on their own lands enjoying the environment. There were no roadside stands selling pumpkins. There was no sense of serenity of a community living in the rural life like we all know and love here in northern Jefferson County. What I saw were massive machines located all over on both sides of the road. This is Bill Moore’s world and PPM literally owns it all. There are no leasers here that will continue life for the next generation of citizens. There is no beauty here. Today a resident asked me “Don’t you think that children who will grow up around these machines will stay here because they are used to it?” I thought about it and I had to say no I don’t. I told her this is an industrial complex and there is no fun here for children. Look around, all this is owned by someone else a foreign company. These residents may have a piece of paper that is a deed but it is only a piece of paper, from what I can see I feel the land is no longer theirs only on paper. I truly believe that every American’s greatest achievement is to own a piece of land and the ability to speak out. There is no ability here to speak out, those who have tried are worn down. This land has been taken over by an industrial plant and this is not a normal way of life. You saw the huge trucks going on the road, the constant work on the machines, the equipment lying all around, all the poles and wires. There is no place here to have a ball field for kids to play. This is not normal living. Mr. Moore told you himself he doesn’t even live here he lives in Massachusetts. This woman said wow I guess I never looked at it that way. I felt sorry for her as she too has a very hard decision to make. As we drove out of the complex of turbines I could only imagine how the southern parts of the townships of Clayton and Orleans will look. I understand why Americans must do something regarding the fight against fossil fuels but I do not believe installing large industrial wind turbines so close together is the right way to go.
October 16, 2007
(Environmentally Concerned Citizens Organization of Jefferson County, New York)
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