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Elections board: Ruling on wind energy petition due in mid-August
29 June 2022
Ohio, Wind power, Wind energy
Workers at the Crawford County Board of Elections are in the process of certifying 2,604 signatures on a petition seeking a referendum vote on wind energy in Crawford County.
“It’s like any other petition; we’re going through our due diligence, looking up each individual’s signature and verifying that,” said Kim Rudd, director of the board of elections. “It’s just time-consuming.”
On May 5, commissioners passed a resolution blocking wind farm development in all unincorporated areas of the county, effectively barring construction of Honey Creek Wind, Apex Clean Energy’s planned 300-megawatt industrial wind farm.
But under the terms of Senate Bill 52, which became law in July, wind farm supporters had until June 6 to submit petitions forcing a November referendum vote on the issue, which could overturn the commissioners’ action.
At a special commissioners meeting, Tyler Fehrman of Honey Creek Action submitted a thick stack of petitions he said had been signed by 2,604 people.
Commissioners then handed the petitions over to the elections board for verification.
A final decision on whether to certify the petitions isn’t expected to be made until the election board’s August meeting, Crawford County Prosecutor Matt Crall said. The date for that meeting will be set during the board’s July meeting.
The board will vote on whether to certify the petitions at the same time it decides whether to certify any other issues submitted for consideration on the November general election ballot.
“Aug. 10 is the filing deadline for the November election, so nothing will be certified until after that date,” Rudd said. The deadline for certifying issues is Aug. 22, so “sometime between the 10th and the 22nd of August, we’ll certify.”
The process of checking each signature is “pretty time-consuming,” Crall said. “And they have an election in August that I think everyone’s forgotten about.”
On Aug. 2, voters across Ohio will choose their state central committee members and nominate candidates for state senator and state representative.
In Crawford County, Democrats will choose between Tony Eufinger and Randy Weston for 26th District state central committee man and between Kathleen A. Nalley and Carolyn Weston for committee woman. Republicans will choose between Charles A. Knight, Raymond Metzger and Jonathan Zucker for committee man. Lisa Cooper faces no opposition in her bid for Republican committee woman.
Incumbent state Rep. Riordan T. McClain is running unopposed in the Republican primary for his 87th district seat and will face no Democratic challenger this fall.
Three local liquor options also will be decided on Aug. 2 – two for Buehler’s in Galion and one for Mi Cerrito Mexican Restaurant in Crestline.
SA wind farms, big Tesla battery fined more than $4 million over separate breaches
29 June 2022
Australia, Wind power, Wind energy
The owners of four wind farms in South Australia and the state’s big Tesla battery have been fined more than $4 million over two separate breaches identified during major grid disturbances.
Federal Court Justice Anthony Besanko fined three subsidiaries of AGL Energy a total of $3.5 million for failing to seek approval for critical systems settings on their Hallett 1, 2, 4 and 5 wind farms in the state’s Mid-North for more than three years, including on the day of the 2016 statewide blackout.
He found the company failed to inform the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) about a protective setting within their wind farms, which caused turbines to power down moments before the blackout.
“The resulting harm of this conduct was that AEMO’s ability to determine the secure operating limits of the power system, and ensure its resilience during abnormal conditions, was compromised,” he said in his judgement.
“This, in turn, created a risk of impairing AEMO’s ability to maintain the power system in a secure operating state.”
The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) originally alleged the failure was a “contributing cause” of the blackout, but withdrew the allegation during proceedings.
Three other South Australian wind farms, including those at Snowtown, Hornsdale and Clements Gap, have been previously fined a total of more than $2.5 million for similar breaches.
Tesla battery fails in Queensland outage
In a separate judgement, Justice Besanko fined Hornsdale Power Reserve – which owns the 150-megawatt Tesla battery at Jamestown – $900,000 for failing to provide grid stabilisation services that it had been contracted to provide.
The failure was identified when an unexpected outage at the Kogan Creek coal plant in Queensland in 2019 caused grid disturbances.
At the time, the battery had been paid to be on stand-by to rapidly produce power to help restabilise the grid in the event of such outages.
“In October 2019, there was an unplanned outage at Kogan Creek Power Station in Queensland,” Justice Besanko said.
“In response to the Kogan Creek event, the power system frequency fell, and Hornsdale Power Reserve was required to deliver fast raise services in accordance with the amount it was enabled to provide.”
But he said the battery did not power up when needed.
The court heard that investigations after the Kogan Creek incident had revealed the battery had been unwittingly been under-delivering on promised stability services since Tesla had performed a firmware update in July 2019.
After the event, the battery’s owner agreed to repay more than $3.3 million it had received for providing contingency services that it had not, in fact delivered, over a four-month period.
A warning to energy operators
AER chair Clare Savage said the fine would send an important message to the whole market at a time when many new operators were connecting to the grid.
“It is vital that generators do what they say they can do if we’re going to keep the lights on through our market’s rapid transition to more variable renewable generation,” she said.
“It’s what is expected by every household, small and large business across Australia when they pay their electricity bills.
“AEMO relies on accurate information and compliance with offers and dispatch instructions to ensure it can effectively stabilise frequency deviations.”
Maple Valley Township Board approves wind ordinance
29 June 2022
Michigan, Wind power, Wind energy
MAPLE VALLEY TOWNSHIP – The Maple Valley Township Board in a 4-1 vote on June 13 approved a wind energy ordinance, which will almost certainly go to a voter referendum even as the township supervisor is facing a recall and is also headed to trial for an alleged violation of the Open Meetings Act.
The vote came during yet another chaotic meeting in which the longtime treasurer resigned and the supervisor’s wife was appointed to the position. Meanwhile, a township resident and the zoning administrator got into a shouting match that spilled outside into the parking lot.
Members of the sizable audience present were obviously divided on zoning issues as well, with one side wearing blue in support of Apex Clean Energy’s proposed Montcalm Wind project, while opponents of wind turbine plans wore black and white.
WIND ORDINANCE VOTE
The township board’s vote to approve a wind ordinance (the new ordinance is published on Page 4 of today’s Daily News) came after a board member, who has signed a property lease with Apex, made multiple changes to the ordinance after it was submitted by the Planning Commission.
Trustee Ben Newell previously abstained from voting on a motion to rescind a previously approved wind ordinance in March 2021, due to his property lease with Apex. However, at the June 13 meeting, Newell made a motion to make multiple changes to the new ordinance, as follows:
• Remove avian detection system language, which previously stated, “An avian sensor must be installed on each turbine to monitor and mitigate impacts to airborne wildlife, such as bats and birds; or alternatively, a continuously operating system may be installed in the wind energy facility.”
• Change turbine ordinance sound language by removing “lmax” and adding “leq 10 minute” to the sound limits of 45 decibels from non-participating property lines and 55 decibels from occupied buildings not located on non-participating lots.
• Change language about turbine setbacks from lakes to state that turbines be at least a minimum of one mile from the edge of Muskellunge, Cowden, Coady, Rainbow, Maston and Winfield lakes as measured by the high water mark in the township. The previous draft ordinance language stated that turbines must be located at least a minimum of one mile from the back property line surrounding lakes. Newell’s motion added Maston Lake to the ordinance and removed the following lakes from the ordinance: Rocky, Barnard, Picnic, Black, Cranberry, Spruce, Mahaney, Ward and Mosquito lakes.
• Change the minimum ground clearance requirements for turbines from 100 feet to 75 feet.
The board voted 4-1 to approve Newell’s proposed changes and also voted 4-1 to approve the wind ordinance and to send the final version to their attorney for review. Supervisor John Schwandt, Clerk Cathy Benson, newly appointed Treasurer Marianne Schwandt and Newell all voted “yes” on both motions, while Trustee Lee Frandsen (who is a member of the Planning Commission which worked to create the ordinance) voted “no.”
In the new ordinance, wind turbines are limited to 500 feet tall with setbacks of 1.5 times the tip height from an occupied building not located on a non-participating property; no less than 400 feet or 1.5 times the tip height from public roads (whichever is greater); and three times the tip height from a non-participating property line.
Two of Newell’s changes to the wind ordinance were the same changes recommended by some members of the Montcalm County Planning Commission which reviewed the ordinance in May.
County Planning Commissioner John Johansen in May recommended that the township remove “lmax” from its sound language, calling it “over-restrictive and almost impossible.” Chairman S. Michael Scott also shared comments in May from Stanton Planning Commission Chairman Don Smucker (who is not a member of the county Planning Commission) regarding the township’s wind ordinance. Smucker recommended the township remove “lmax” language and replace it with “leq 10 minute” language. He also suggested the township remove the avian detection system language.
Also during the township board’s June 13 meeting, John Schwandt read a resignation letter from Treasurer June Miller effective May 31 with no reason given. Miller was absent from February’s regular meeting, March’s annual meeting and both the April and May regular meetings and residents have voiced complaints about how she handles tax payments.
After reading Miller’s resignation letter, John Schwandt looked at Benson, who then made a motion to appoint John’s wife Marianne Schwandt as treasurer (Marianne was previously appointed deputy treasurer at the May meeting). Benson’s motion was greeted with groans and scoffs from some audience members (“Quiet!” John told them). The motion passed 3-1 with Frandsen voting “no.” Marianne did not vote on the motion.
PLANNING COMMISSION VACANCY
John Schwandt was expected to appoint someone to the township’s Planning Commission at the June 13 meeting after Michelle Germain resigned, however, “Today at the last minute they backed out on me because they don’t want to put up with all the controversies,” John said.
John said he hopes to appoint someone at July’s regular meeting.
Also during the meeting, Planning Commission Chairman Roger Becker asked the township board to place a moratorium on wind and solar energy “for a couple years” so planners could review their zoning book. The township board didn’t take an action on the request.
The public comment portion of the June 13 meeting was chaotic on multiple levels and at one point went out of control when resident Bill Truss (a former township board member) questioned whether Zoning Administrator David Kelsey was inspecting local sawmills as he is required to do every year.
“I guarantee there has been no inspection of them in the last two and a half years,” Truss declared. “There’s a July inspection required. They’re not supposed to have logs within so many feet. They’re violating that. They’ve got a huge pile of sawdust and wood chunks, which is a violation.”
“The sawmills have been inspected. That’s just another lie he’s making up,” responded Kelsey who was seated in the back row.
“It’s not a lie, it’s the absolute truth,” Truss retorted.
A shouting match then ensued between the two men.
“Liar!” Kelsey declared at one point.
Truss then walked toward Kelsey and Kelsey waved for him to go outside. The two men stormed out to the parking lot of the Maple Valley Township Complex with several other audience members running after them, including John Schwandt.
The meeting remained out of order for several minutes before Kelsey returned inside, eventually followed by Schwandt, who then called the meeting back to order.
Regarding the now-approved wind ordinance, some audience members complimented the township board for their vote, while others expressed disappointment and outrage.
“I’d like to thank the board for having the courage and the fortitude to act in the way that you did,” township resident Roger Betten Sr. said.
“I’m sorry that you have to be demeaned by people that you have worked hard for,” said township resident Jeanne Poulsen (who was drowned out by laughter and scoffing). “You have tried to do the right thing. We do appreciate you.”
Planning Commission Vice Chairman Dennis Delany, who helped create the ordinance, expressed dismay with Newell at the changes he made to the final version.
“Ben, I don’t know why you didn’t just have Apex Albert (Jongewaard) read the letter that he sent to you guys with all of those changes,” Delany declared. “That’s what you did here, in response to Apex. That was an Apex letter that you read to this room here today. It’s not fair to the people who live here. You should be ashamed for what you’ve done to this township.”
“My husband got on the Planning Commission to stand for our people,” added Delany’s wife, Pat Delany. “He has done a tremendous amount of research. The Planning Commission put together an ordinance that they proposed to you. And within two minutes’ time this evening, you undid all the months of planning that they put into it. I am so ashamed to be a part of this township. I am so disappointed. I am ready to put my home up for sale. How can you vote on this when you have money and leases? How is that possible? I just can’t comprehend anything.”
Robert Scott of Sidney Township noted the township board previously adopted a wind-friendly ordinance in November 2020, only to rescind it in March 2021. He questioned why they were repeating history and expecting a different outcome.
“They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again,” Scott said. “You cannot expect a different result. It’s going to go to a referendum. You’ve wasted everybody’s time for the last year and a half. It’s shameful, but what’s more shameful is Mr. Newell. Not only has he signed a lease, but his family has signed leases that cover almost 1,700 acres of your township. His leases would be worth zero if you hadn’t done what you did tonight. Don’t tell me that’s not a conflict of interest. In what universe is that not a conflict of interest? Shame on all of you.”
Jongewaard, the senior project manager for Apex’s Montcalm Wind project, was present and he shared an equalization report from Gratiot County, which has many wind turbines.
“Property values have increased,” Jongewaard said, a statement which was greeted by laughter and scoffing from some.
“There’s facts and there’s hearsay,” Jongewaard continued. “This is a fact. Property values have continued to go up not only in Gratiot County but also across the state and the country where wind turbines are located.”
OLD BUS GARAGE
Also at the June 13 meeting, the township board voted to place the old school bus garage in Trufant up for bid.
The Daily News previously wrote about the old garage in March after questions were raised about the township’s vague process of renting it out as a storage facility
The 40-by-76-foot building is located on .21 acres on First Street with three garage doors that are 12-by-12-foot in size. The building has a sand floor, two service doors, a power supply but no water.
Bids may be sent to Maple Valley Township, PO Box 56, Coral, MI 49322 with “bus garage bids” printed in the lower-left corner of the envelope.
Bids will be opened at the July 11 meeting of the township board. The winning bidder will have seven days from the time of notification to place 10% down with the remaining balance due within 30 days.
Anyone wanting more information may contact John Schwandt at (231) 349-1943.
Glenmont residents sue Port of Albany, Bethlehem over wind turbine project
29 June 2022
New York, Wind power, Wind energy
ALBANY – A group of more than 20 Glenmont residents are suing the Port of Albany and the town of Bethlehem for allegedly clearing 80 acres of land on the Hudson River for a $350 million offshore wind turbine tower fabrication facility without allegedly providing proper notification to local homeowners.
The group, led by attorney R. Christopher Dempf, live near the project site, which is technically called Beacon Island, a man-made parcel of land on the Hudson that is largely industrial in character.
Dempf showed up with many of the plaintiffs on Monday at a regular meeting of the Albany Port District Commission to speak during the commission’s public comment period. Dempf also brought his own videographer and stenographer to the meeting to take video and a transcript of his clients speaking to make sure he had his own copy of the proceedings.
However, the commission’s general counsel, Patrick Jordan, said its meeting room could not accommodate more than a few members of the press or the public, and would only allow two or three people in the room at a time to speak. Jordan gave each speaker three minutes to talk, and the crowd had to rotate in and out of the small room where the commission held the public meeting.
Jordan also said due to the pending lawsuit, the commission members would not respond to any of the comments that the public made.
The Port of Albany is in charge of getting Beacon Island ready for the offshore wind turbine tower manufacturing facility being built for a consortium of international companies that are constructing wind farms off the shore of Long Island. The facility is being trumpeted by the state and federal government as a major economic development project that will help mitigate climate change.
Those who did speak at the port commission meeting were visibly angry at the commissioner for moving ahead with clearing Beacon Island of nearly all vegetation. They said they were worried not only about the impact on the environment but also the potential health impacts. Beacon Island was created from fly-ash dumped there decades ago from former coal power plants in the area, and residents said their properties have been covered in dust since the tree-clearing took place last month.
“This is a life or death issue,” said Nathaniel Gray, who lives on Anders Lane, which is near Beacon Island. “Our lives are in danger.”
Gray said he is not only afraid of the fly-ash that was disturbed but also all of the trucks that come down his narrow road all the time to get to River Road where the project is located.
“We’re terrified,” Gray said. “That road has to be closed off.”
The lawsuit that Gray and others have filed alleges that neither the port nor the town gave them adequate written notice of the impacts of the project, which has the backing of Gov. Kathy Hochul and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, two of the most powerful political leaders in the state.
The lawsuit is seeking to have the port and the town of Bethlehem reverse previous approvals of the wind turbine tower project.
Bethlehem Supervisor David VanLuven declined to comment about the lawsuit on Monday.
Schumer has been upset with the Port of Albany after the tree-cutting took place last month without the proper review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – an action that may have put a $29.5 million federal grant in jeopardy. The project was supposed to go through an environmental study before it was started, according to federal officials.
Newsom has a plan to keep the lights on in California — using fossil fuels
29 June 2022
California, Wind power, Wind energy
A controversial plan from Gov. Gavin Newsom would reshape how business is done on the California power grid, potentially helping to extend the life of beachfront gas plants and the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, making it easier for solar and wind farm developers to sidestep local government opposition, and limiting environmental reviews for all kinds of energy projects.
State lawmakers could vote as early as Wednesday night on the polarizing legislation, whose text was revealed late Sunday.
The bill would give the Department of Water Resources unprecedented authority to build or buy energy from any facility that can help keep the lights on during the next few summers – including polluting diesel generators and four gas-fired power plants along the Southern California coast that were originally supposed to close in 2020 but were rescued by state officials.
Those decisions would be exempt from the normal public input process under the California Environmental Quality Act – and from approval by agencies such as the California Coastal Commission and local air quality management districts.
A separate provision would allow companies building solar farms, wind turbines and lithium-ion batteries – as well as electric lines to connect those facilities to the grid – to opt in to an accelerated approval process that doesn’t require sign-off from county governments. State officials would be required to conduct environmental reviews and approve or deny those projects within nine months. Legal challenges to any project approvals would need to be resolved by state courts within another nine months.
The legislation is technically a follow-up to the state budget approved by lawmakers earlier this month. It’s part of the Newsom administration’s frenetic effort to address twin challenges: the risk of blackouts and the growing dangers of the climate crisis.
It’s been almost two years since brief rolling blackouts roiled the state on two brutally hot August evenings when there wasn’t enough electricity supply to power millions of air conditioners after the sun went down and solar panels stopped generating.
Electric utilities have managed to keep the lights on since then – barely. But preventing outages is only getting harder as fossil fuel emissions heat the planet, extreme drought drains hydropower reservoirs and worsening wildfires disrupt power lines.
Newsom responded last month by asking lawmakers to approve a $5.2-billion “strategic electricity reliability reserve” that would pay for emergency power supplies over the next few years. But he surprised many observers with Sunday’s proposal to let the Department of Water Resources secure those supplies through a special review process at the California Energy Commission, which critics say could limit opportunities for public input and lead to more pollution in low-income communities of color.
The strategic reserve “is an insurance policy that will only be used when we face potential shortfall during extreme climate-change driven events (e.g. heatwaves, wildfire disruptions to transmission),” the Newsom administration says in a bill summary.
But the governor’s proposal startled climate activists, energy developers and local officials.
In an opposition letter Tuesday, two dozen groups – including the Sierra Club, the California Environmental Justice Alliance, the National Parks Conservation Assn. and Audubon – said Newsom’s plan has gone through hardly any public review.
Alexis Sutterman, energy equity manager at the California Environmental Justice Alliance, called the bill “incredibly dangerous.”
“It’s putting billions of dollars into keeping fossil fuel infrastructure online at a time when we should be doing everything we can to move away from fossil fuels, both for equity and the sake of our climate,” Sutterman said.
Especially controversial are gas-fired power plants in Redondo Beach, Huntington Beach, Long Beach and Oxnard that were supposed to shut down by the end of 2020 under a decade-old policy requiring coastal power plants to stop sucking up large amounts of ocean water – a process known as “once through cooling” that kills fish and other marine life. In a series of decisions after the August 2020 rolling blackouts, the state water board agreed to let those plants keep operating three more years.
If the Legislature approves Newsom’s plan, the Department of Water Resources could buy energy from those plants beyond 2023 – or even buy the facilities outright, critics fear. That possibility has left Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand feeling blindsided.
“We feel double-crossed,” Brand said. “These retirement dates were set 12 years ago.”
Ana Matosantos, Newsom’s cabinet secretary, told The Times the gas plants won’t be allowed to stay open after 2023 without approval from the state water board – an interpretation disputed by climate activists, who say the bill clearly states otherwise.
Matosantos also downplayed speculation that the bill would save the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, currently slated to close in 2026. While she acknowledged that the Department of Water Resources could, in theory, buy some electricity from the nuclear plant, she said keeping it open past 2026 would require additional legislation, as well as approval from federal agencies.
Under Newsom’s proposal, the Department of Water Resources would also be able to contract for large energy storage projects such as lithium-ion batteries. Any newly purchased diesel backup generators would need to stop operating after July 2023.
The bill also includes $200 million for programs that pay people and businesses to use less energy when the grid is stressed.
For longtime clean energy lobbyist V. John White, Newsom’s plan is a necessary evil. The Public Utilities Commission, he said, has put California in an impossible position by failing to line up climate-friendly resources that can provide power after sundown – such as batteries, geothermal plants and long-duration energy storage – even though the agency has known for more than a decade that the coastal gas plants would shut down, and since 2016 that the Diablo Canyon reactors would soon join them.
“These are extraordinary circumstances,” White said. “The tragedy here is we have plenty of wind and solar and geothermal to buy, but we waited so long that now we’re having trouble getting it online in time to meet the needs that we have.”
Even as Newsom scrambles to keep the lights on during the next few summers, White said, the governor needs to show stronger climate leadership and develop a long-term strategy to accelerate renewable energy while avoiding power supply emergencies.
The other controversial provision in Newsom’s proposal could help on that front, by allowing solar and wind developers to seek faster approval from the Energy Commission – although even those companies aren’t sure how much difference it would make.
Local governments have at times emerged as a serious obstacle to clean energy, with San Bernardino County supervisors banning solar and wind farms on more than 1 million acres in 2019 and Shasta County supervisors set to vote next month on a wind farm moratorium. Shasta and Humboldt counties have both rejected proposed wind farms in recent years – an increasingly common occurrence across the Western U.S. as local residents raise concerns about environmental damage and diminished views.
Major solar companies have been focused on building better relationships with local officials rather than pushing to circumvent county approval, several people familiar with the industry’s thinking told The Times. The California Wind Energy Assn., on the other hand, supports Newsom’s plan to let the state handle permitting where developers prefer it, executive director Nancy Rader said.
The plan for speedier solar and wind approvals has also drawn support from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Developers who opt in to the streamlined process would need to hire union workers through project labor agreements.
“We think that’s a wise balancing of an option for developers who have their ducks in a row and want to go to the Energy Commission, which is extremely capable and competent and talented,” said Marc Joseph, an attorney representing IBEW.
Major environmental groups haven’t taken a position on Newsom’s proposal to streamline project approval, after an earlier provision that would have eliminated additional layers of review – including from the Coastal Commission – was removed.
Local governments, though, are furious.
In a letter opposing the bill, the California State Assn. of Counties, Urban Counties of California, Rural County Representatives of California and the League of California Cities said renewable energy facilities “can have enormous impacts on local communities.” They said the Energy Commission approval process is “overly broad, usurps local control, excludes local governments from meaningful involvement in major development projects within their jurisdictions, and could result in even more litigation.”
The Department of Water Resources pathway, meanwhile, is “an unprecedented law change with no policy hearing,” said Catherine Freeman, a legislative representative at the county association. She called it “a complete removal of local permitting.”
Even if the bill passes, California will have plenty of challenges trying to reach 100% clean energy by 2045, as required by state law – a timeline Newsom has said should be sped up. The state will need to build solar farms, wind turbines and other clean energy resources at an unprecedented rate – especially as the growth of electric cars and electric heating drives up power demand.
For the next few summers, all eyes will be on the California Independent System Operator, which is responsible for balancing supply and demand across most of the state – and calling for rolling blackouts if there’s not enough electricity to go around.
So was the grid operator involved in crafting Newsom’s proposal? That’s not entirely clear. Spokesperson Anne Gonzales said only that the agency “offered technical assistance and reviewed specific provisions that would require [our] involvement.”
“The strategic reserves are primarily meant to support reliability beginning in summer 2023,” she said in an email.
Study: Offshore wind development could reduce surf clam catch revenue by as much as 15%
29 June 2022
Maine, U.S., Wind power, Wind energy
Offshore wind farms could reduce the catch of Atlantic surf clams in the mid-Atlantic, according to a new study from Rutgers University.
The research published last week was funded by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Rutgers associate professor Daphne Munroe found that the leases for wind projects could reduce surf clam revenue by 3-15% in the area from Virginia to Massachusetts. The fishery is worth more than $30 million annually.
The study did not include Maine, but adds to a sparse but growing body of research about potential conflicts between offshore wind and fishing.
Munroe says the revenue loss would primarily be caused by fishing restrictions in certain areas.
“It’s not just that they would not be able to fish in a certain part of the ocean, but that they would have to go fish somewhere else, which might mean longer steam times, greater fuel costs, it might mean trips that return to the dock with less than a full catch, and all of that translates through the industry up to the processor level,” Munroe says.
In a climate change conundrum, Munroe says the fishery for Atlantic surf clams is simultaneously at risk from warming ocean bottom temperatures and offshore wind energy development.
Boards should not follow any recommendations on ordinances from Apex
29 June 2022
Michigan, Opinions, Wind power, Wind energy
The brochure from Apex Clean Energy, (the entity trying to bring industrial wind turbines to Montcalm County), makes claims regarding conservation, property values and property rights.
One claim is that the company works in consultation with environmental agencies and uses conservation measures to ensure that wind projects have no significant effects on bird/bat populations. Why, then, must landowners leave the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)?
CRP is a conservation program in which farmers receive yearly payments to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species to improve environmental health and quality. The goal being re-establishing land cover to help improve water quality, prevent erosion, and reduce loss of wildlife habitat. The Apex/Coral Wind lease states in section 4: “Landowner shall cooperate in any effort by grantee to remove all or a portion of any such land from the CRP as needed for construction, operation, and maintenance of the project. After the effective date, landowner shall not enroll any portion of the property in CRP without grantee’s consent, not to be unreasonably withheld.” Section 3 states that “landowner is responsible for removing timber within 30 days in an area that the grantee intends to begin operations on.”
How can Apex support conservation programs but make landowners leave such programs? How can Apex be conservation-minded but contribute to deforestation?
Another claim that the Apex brochure makes is that wind turbines have no negative effect on property values. It cites a 2013 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study (nine years old) to report that “the latest and most robust studies on property value impacts show that wind farms do not have negative effects on property values.” In fact, however, current data from the Michigan Regional Information Center LLC reports the average home price in Gratiot County (many turbines) dropped from $141,500 in 2019-2020 to $118,800 in 2020-2021. In that same time, in Montcalm County (no turbines), the average home price increased from $156,300 to $185,000.
A third claim in the ad is that the “Montcalm Wind easement protects your property rights by requiring landowner site plan review for towers and roads. Farmers maintain control of their property throughout the life of the project.” Once landowners sign, however, they forfeit the right to do projects on their land. The lease gives the rights and control to Apex for up to 55 years. Section 2: “Grantee shall have the right and option to extend the term of the 35 year lease for an additional two 10 year terms.” Section 1 describes all aspects of the project, from feasibility to relocating the towers and turbines. The grantee is also authorized to “replace or repower generating units on property with newer and potentially larger models, or give authorization to a third party.” Section 1 states “either party may authorize third persons to enter the property without obtaining the other party’s permission.” It further states that “when and to what extent to construct, install, or operate or to generate or sell electrical energy shall be solely in grantee’s discretion.”
The lease compels landowner abettance:
• Section 3: “Landowner shall cooperate with grantee as necessary to obtain any governmental or utility approvals or permits, including signing applications and requests for consideration, provided that grantee shall reimburse landowner for all its reasonable out of pocket expenses directly incurred in connection with such cooperation.”
• Section 5: “neither the landowner nor any related person of landowner shall interfere with or impair the unobstructed and natural availability of air flow, frequency, speed or direction of air or wind over and across property whether by planting trees, constructing buildings, or other structures.”
• Section 7: “Grantee shall have the absolute right at any time and from time to time, without obtaining landowner’s consent, to assign, sublease, or grant a sub easement or license in, or otherwise transfer all or any portion of its right, title or interest under this easement and/or in any wind power facilities to any person or entity.”
Section 11 requires cooperation: “Landowner shall fully support and cooperate and shall cause each related person of landowner to fully support and cooperate with grantee in the conduct of its operations, and the exercise of its rights hereunder, and in carrying out and otherwise giving full force and effect to the purpose and intent of this easement including the grantee’s efforts to obtain from any governmental authority or any other person or entity, any environmental impact review, permit, entitlement, approval, authorization, or other rights.”
Additionally, section 11: the “landowner shall promptly, upon request, join in the signing of any protest, appeal, or pleading that the grantee may deem advisable to file, and shall not oppose or permit any related person of landowner to oppose in any way, whether directly or indirectly, any application by grantee for governmental permit, approval, authorization, entitlement or other consent at any administrative, judicial, legislative or other level.”
How do people asserting they have the right to do whatever they want on their own properties accept this surrender of rights?
In light of this information from Apex, township boards should not adopt permissive wind ordinances or follow any recommendations on ordinances from Apex. The citizens want boards to adopt ordinances to protect us, our environment, our peace and our property rights, including the leasers who may have inadvertently assigned their property rights to Apex.
Kathy Craig is a 32-year resident of Montcalm County and currently resides in Douglass Township.
The opinions expressed in the Guest View do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Daily News.
County to send letter to BOEM, other agencies regarding offshore wind energy
29 June 2022
Oregon, Wind power, Wind energy
Lincoln County has approved a resolution that directs staff to draft a letter with recommendations to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the Oregon Department of Energy, and the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, regarding offshore wind energy.
“Lincoln County recognizes that offshore wind energy has potential in our state and nation’s clean energy portfolio and to help reduce dependency on fossil fuels,” the resolution states.
Last week, the commissioners heard from Bob Eder, co-chair of the Fishermen Involved in Nature Energy (FINE) Committee. Eder presented a letter and draft resolution. The content of the county’s letter is essentially what is written in the resolution.
“Lincoln County values its commercial and recreational fishing fleets for both their economic and cultural contributions to the county and to the state, the resolution states. “Cities, the county, ports, and private businesses have made significant contributions to commercial fishing infrastructure to help retain our commercial and recreational fishing businesses.”
The recommendations to BOEM and the other agencies include: a comprehensive marine spatial planning exercise should be required before any ocean space is put forward for potential lease, call areas should be moved 1,300 meters to avoid the majority of fishing activity, invest in better data sets to understand potential impacts of the marine environments, provide information on potential environmental and economic impacts upfront and at the beginning of the process before leases have been granted, in the absence of a comprehensive peer reviewed economic analysis there is not real understanding of the potential economic impacts to coastal communities and to the state, extend the timeline of lease blocks going out to auction until risks and uncertainties can be better addressed, and either an addition to the PacWave project or creation of an additional Pac-Wave like project to test offshore wind.
“I think this effort needs to be collaborative much as the PacWest project was,” Commissioner Doug Hunt stated during a board meeting Wednesday, June 22.
The commissioners adopted the resolution.
Borrego turbines are too close to local wildlife refuge areas
29 June 2022
New York, Opinions, Wind power, Wind energy
Recently the Town of Shelby hosted a meeting to seek public opinion about a proposed pair of 650-foot-tall wind turbines along Route 63 just south of Medina. We were given very brief notice about this meeting and the proposed site is on the land of the Shelby town supervisor (what? that doesn’t sound right!). I attended the meeting and listened to a lot of theories and promises by the individuals who represented the developer, California-based Borrego (which doesn’t sound like a good thing as that state has a reputation for generating a lot of weird ideas).
Right off I will say that I’m very concerned about these wind turbines. The proposed site is less than 4 miles from Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge and the two adjacent state Wildlife Management areas (Tonawanda and Oak Orchard). These areas, containing more than 19,000 acres, are prime wildlife habitat for all kinds of waterfowl, shore birds, many other types of birds, deer, turkey, fur bearers, reptiles and a variety of unique plant life, and they attract a lot of attention from the public which gets to view and enjoy nature.
These areas contain bald eagles, which not only nest but hunt for food there. Less than a quarter mile from the turbine sites is Oak Orchard Creek, which comes out of these refuge areas. This creek is used by many waterfowl species and raptors, to feed, rest and reproduce.
I have been quite involved with the bald eagle in the area for more than 35 years. I was instrumental in the setup of the camera on one of the local nest sites. Thousands of people got to watch the action at the nest through the TV monitor at INWR headquarters. That nest activity was also recorded at the time and guess who got the job of reviewing all of those VHS tapes (hundreds of hours) and making an hour-long tape of the whole nesting season? I learned a lot about eagles from that task and my fascination with them has only increased with time.
I also have monitored eagle nests in the refuge areas and others nearby for a long time. Lots of observation and photographing has taught me a great deal about eagles and how they hunt. I have seen them in dangerous close encounters with other eagles, as well as trees and vehicles, while hunting. Their attention is on their prey and many times they don’t see other dangers in their path.
There are 11 nests that I monitor for the state, and some are as close as 5 miles from this proposed turbine site. I have real concerns about this as eagles will travel quite far – upwards of 75 miles – to hunt during nesting season, when their job is to obtain food for the eaglets.
Eagles have not had a good 2022 in this area due to poor nesting outcomes, the worst I have ever seen. Lead poisoning, avian flu (to which raptors are very sensitive) and the lack of predator guards on their nesting trees to protect them from raccoons and now fishers … I believe all of this has put the bald eagle in jeopardy again.
It’s a proven fact that eagles are susceptible to wind turbines so why are we thinking of posing more dangers to them?
There is another reason why I’m not happy with this proposed project. Companies in recent years have had the habit of selling out to another outfit when things get non-profitable and then the rules all change. So, down the road, all these “great” things promised to us change. I have heard that Borrego is in the process of selling out right now.
And suppose New York State, or even our country, goes to totally “clean” energy sources to prevent global warming. What about the rest of the world that is growing stronger on fossil fuels, or volcanoes erupting and putting out more “dirty” gases than we are? My feeling is this “clean” air stuff is just a big money-making deal.
Another concern of mine is the noise and light flicker that wind turbines produce. Folks in states that have a lot of these turbines (Iowa, for one) are now starting to complain.
At this meeting the Borrego reps handed out a booklet of pictures showing these huge turbines at various sites. I got a kick out of those pictures as any serious photographer knows how to make things look bigger or smaller than they really are by using wide angle lenses. So, if we’re being deceived about how these things look, what else will we be deceived about?
I live in the Orleans countryside because I really enjoy the views, the wildlife, the sunrises and sunsets. I think many people in Orleans County feel the same way. Put those turbines in the cities and other places where folks don’t appreciate Mother Nature. If I want to see these intrusive, huge, manmade structures, I will travel to the places where they have already destroyed the view.
Doug Domedion, outdoorsman and nature photographer, resides in Medina.
Editorial: We must have a say in offshore wind-energy plans
29 June 2022
Editorials, Washington, Wind power, Wind energy
Few dispute the need to develop alternative ways to generate electricity that don’t produce greenhouse gases, but our local response to a proposed floating offshore wind farm isn’t a straightforward “yes.”
Similar complications arise regarding floating wind turbines off the southern Oregon coast. These prompted the Astoria City Council and the Port of Astoria Commission to recently ask the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Oregon Department of Energy to take their time before granting permission. Clatsop County officials want a demonstration project before grander plans are authorized, along with a full-scale environmental impact analysis.
In Washington, the development being pursued by Seattle-based Trident Winds is generating misgivings among some current users of offshore waters, who fear the wind farm located about 45 miles west of the mouths of Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor – and the cables linking it to the shore – could be one more blow to fisheries and the environment.
To put these concerns in a historical context, hydropower development in the 20th century in the Columbia River watershed came with many promises about preserving salmon runs and small-town economies. We all know how that turned out.
Far from being a vast, little-used zone, the current context of offshore development is that many industries and species live in or travel through the proposed wind farm sites. As reported in the Astorian regarding the two locations west of Coos Bay and Brookings, commercial fishermen and processors have legitimate worries.
“Most fishermen, when they head out to go fishing, love to take a left turn and head south. Some of those fishing grounds that are in those two call areas are our prime fishing grounds for a number of fisheries,” Lori Steele, the executive director of the West Coast Seafood Processors Association, said.
The wind farm north of the Columbia would further impinge on fishing activities already seriously constrained by the Olympic Coast Marine Sanctuary, tribal fisheries and other factors. For the coast’s diminishing number of commercial fisher folk, talk of yet another competitor for ocean space is cause for justifiable anxiety.
Astoria City Councilor Tom Hilton spoke to this concern. “I don’t think we should have one of those off our coast at all. The privatization of the ocean is what we’re looking at. It will definitely devastate commercial fishing.”
Aside from economic considerations, it’s worth noting that keystone species including blue and fin whales spend time in these Pacific Northwest waters, along with more common but no less charismatic humpback and gray whales. In the absence of an intense environmental impact study, we simply won’t know what giant turbines would do to marine species large and small.
Such a study will be difficult, considering the fact that our outer waters are periodically wracked by violent cyclonic storms for months during the late fall and winter. These storms and the powerful atmospheric rivers that smash into us several times a year will require spectacular feats of engineering for at-sea structures to survive.
Weighed against all this, the Seattle Times reports the proposed Olympic Wind project would provide 2,000 megawatts of clean energy to 800,000 homes, according to Trident Winds. Construction could begin in 2028, with power generation starting in 2030. Relatively clean electricity on such a scale is a huge enticement to national politicians – including President Joe Biden – and to some in the environmental community.
Coastal communities must become fully engaged in understanding these plans. The Seattle Times reports the the Olympic Wind project in Washington and the same company’s Castle Wind project in California “would dwarf anything seen elsewhere in the country.”
Too often in the past, coastal concerns have been bulldozed aside to serve the interests of Seattle and Washington, D.C.
So yes, we understand the need for clean power. But if a big chunk of it is going to be built just out of sight on our western horizon, we deserve to have seats at the table where these decisions are being made, and a strong voice in whether they happen at all. We’re nobody’s peons or colony.
Dearth of wind power risks exacerbating Germany’s energy crisis
29 June 2022
Germany, Accidents, Wind power, Wind energy
Little wind in Germany is worsening the energy crisis in Europe’s biggest economy and risking driving prices even higher.
The nation has the region’s biggest wind power capacity, but calm weather forecast to last into the first week of July means that actual output will remain very low. The day-ahead power contract advanced more than 3% on Wednesday to near the highest level since March.
Germany relies more than most nations in the region on renewables and when the wind doesn’t blow or it’s cloudy, prices rise as more expensive coal and gas plants need to be switched on. The slump in wind generation coincides with lower gas flows from Russia, which has sent prices for the fuel rallying again after a lull earlier in the month.
French day-ahead prices also advanced for a second time in three days. The nation is Europe’s biggest producer of nuclear power, but the fleet of 56 reactors is blighted by problems, including longer than normal maintenance.
Total output remains at about 50% of capacity, according to data from grid operator RTE. The French unions have also called strikes that may last until the end of July, which will likely curb output from time to time.
New Mexico inks trust land leases for massive wind project
29 June 2022
New Mexico, Wind power, Wind energy
New Mexico’s public land commissioner on Monday signed nearly a dozen leases that will clear the way for a major renewable energy developer to erect wind turbines across 230 square miles (595 square kilometers) of state trust land.
Officials are billing Pattern Energy’s planned development in Lincoln, Torrance and San Miguel counties as the largest wind energy project in the western hemisphere.
The company at the end of 2021 brought online four wind farms in central New Mexico totaling more than a gigawatt of capacity for utility customers in California. The new leases will be part of the larger SunZia project, which will ultimately have a capacity of 3,000 megawatts to power homes in more populated markets in the West.
New Mexico Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard said that together, the 11 leases signed Monday mark the largest leasing of state trust land for renewable energy development in the state’s history.
“Tripling renewable energy may have sounded like a lofty goal, but we have made it there by executing these leases and we won’t stop now,” she said in a statement.
Pattern Energy has said it plans to invest $6 billion in upcoming wind energy and related infrastructure projects in the state over the next decade.
The company had a total winning bid of nearly $9.3 million for the parcels. State officials said they expect revenue from the planned project to bring in at least $196 million over its lifetime to benefit public schools and other state institutions.
In all, the State Land Office oversees 26 wind energy leases and 12 solar energy leases. The agency said it also has several dozen applications for new renewable energy leases in the pipeline.
Planned wind farms will ‘severely affect sailings’ Steam Packet to UK
29 June 2022
Europe, U.K., Wind power, Wind energy
An ambitious plan to expand clean energy generation in the Irish Sea has been unveiled and people are being asked to give their opinion to the groups behind it.
The offshore wind farm, called Mona, is being developed by EnBW and bp.
Mona forms one half of a pair of wind farms – the other has been named Morgan – that together are expected to generate enough clean electricity to power about 3.4 million UK households.
The wind farms will be located around 20km to 30km from the coast.
A consultation has been launched asking for feedback from the public and other stakeholders on early plans that will help inform and improve the Mona project’s final design. It is running for eight weeks, from June 7 to August 3, with public exhibitions taking place across North Wales.
This consultation is open to Manx residents, presumably due to its potential impact on Steam Packet routes.
The Steam Packet ferries use different routes in some weather conditions.
The construction of wind farms mean the captains have fewer options.
Kane Taha, operations director of the Steam Packet said: ‘The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company can confirm it has been involved in numerous meetings with the wind farm developers and their navigation risk assessment contractors, Nash Maritime.
‘The Steam Packet has repeatedly voiced strong concerns about the impact on its routes. The concerns are not restricted to the Mona development but also the Morgan site of the project.
‘It is expected the two proposed wind farms will severely affect sailings to and from Liverpool and Heysham respectively.
‘We have clearly pointed out that Steam Packet Company routes must considered to be essential lifeline sea routes, providing long established links that serve the community of the Isle of Man.
‘As the recent Covid epidemic has proven, the island population depends on sea lanes for day to day needs including food and medical supplies as well as travel.’
An Bord Pleanála to consent to order quashing its approval for €70m Kildare wind farm
29 June 2022
Ireland, Victories, Wind power, Wind energy
An Bord Pleanála has indicated it will consent to an order quashing its permission for a €70 million wind farm in Co Kildare, the High Court has heard.
Local resident Lorraine Quinn and environmental NGO Eco Advocacy CLG brought a judicial review challenge against the board’s approval in September 2020 for the 12-turbine development at Drehid, near Carbury.
The court heard on Monday that the board would no longer be contesting the action.
Barrister John Kenny said there remained a conflict between his client, developer North Kildare Wind Farm Group, and the applicants as to whether the planning application should be remitted to the planning board.
The developer, a notice party in the proceedings, hopes to see its planning application remitted for fresh consideration and wants a short hearing for determination of this issue, Mr Kenny added. He asked the judge to refrain from making an order of certiorari while this question remained.
Counsel for the applicants, Michael O’Donnell, said it was not entirely clear what aspect or stage of the application the developer was seeking to remit.
The planning board has yet to find out what the proposed remittal pathway is, but it is neutral on application for a hearing, its counsel, David Browne, said.
Mr Justice Richard Humphreys adjourned the matter until next month.
In their action against the board, Ms Quinn, of Drehid in Carbury, who lives close to the proposed development, and Eco Advocacy claimed the decision was flawed on grounds including that it does not comply with wind energy guidelines contained in the 2000 Planning and Development Act.
They further alleged the board failed to carry out an appropriate assessment, in accordance with European Union directives, of the proposed development.
There was also an alleged failure to consider the impact the proposed build would have on a nearby solar power project. Concerns were also raised by the applicants about the level and impact of noise from the proposed wind farm.
The Commercial Court had previously approved fast-track management of the case within the High Court’s strategic infrastructure development list.
North Kildare Wind Farm Group claimed the scheme would cost €70 million to build and connect to the national grid, and any delay would adversely impact the project’s commercial viability.
The developer claimed the proposed wind farm went through a lengthy planning process.
Paul LePage opposes wind-energy farm that would be sited about 30 miles off Maine coast
29 June 2022
Maine, Wind power, Wind energy
Former Gov. Paul LePage says if reelected in November, he would not proceed with Gov. Janet Mills’ application to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to site a wind-energy farm about 30 miles off Maine’s coast.
“My minimum is 40 miles out. If you’re out 40 miles or 50 miles I’ll be all supportive. In the fishing waters I will not support windmills,” he says.
LePage spoke at an event in Windham, where his candidacy was endorsed by Associated Builders and Contractors.
He also says he would oppose a new bulk transmission line the Legislature this year mandated for construction in northern Maine.
State regulators are seeking bids for that project, which would aim to encourage development of renewable energy resources in Aroostook County.
LePage, like incumbent Mills, is a supporter of the controversial western Maine transmission line initiated by Central Maine Power. A state Supreme Court decision on whether that project can proceed is pending.
Wind farm, environmentalists agree on ways to protect whales
29 June 2022
New York, Rhode Island, Wind power, Wind energy
The developers of an offshore wind farm and three environmental organizations announced Monday that they have reached an agreement to further protect rare North Atlantic right whales during construction and operation of the energy-generating project.
The agreement involving Orsted and Eversource – developers of South Fork Wind off the coast of New England and New York – was signed by the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Conservation Law Foundation, the groups said in a joint statement.
The agreement promotes the development of sustainable energy while protecting wildlife, said Alison Chase, a senior policy analyst at the NRDC.
“We don’t need to choose between clean energy development and wildlife protection, and this agreement shows how we can do both,” she said.
There is estimated to be fewer than 340 North Atlantic right whales remaining, according to marine scientists. They are threatened by changing prey and habitat caused by climate change, entanglement in fishing gear and vessel strikes.
Under Monday’s agreement, South Fork Wind will adopt monitoring measures to help ensure right whales are not close to the site during active construction. South Fork Wind will also work to reduce noises made by pile driving and implement a 10-knot speed limit for project-related vessels to cut the risk of vessel strikes.
“The vessel speed restrictions and adaptive management measures agreed to by South Fork Wind will go a long way toward protecting these whales from being injured or killed by project vessels,” said Priscilla Brooks, vice president and director of ocean conservation at the Conservation Law Foundation.
South Fork Wind will also test newer technologies, such as thermal cameras and acoustic sensors that have the potential to track whale movement, gathering data that could be used in future projects.
“This agreement enhances our existing ability to protect marine life based on 30 years of experience building and operating offshore wind farms, while trialing new technologies that will further strengthen our ability to both combat the threat of climate change and build projects that coexist with our ecosystem,” said Rob Mastria, Orsted’s project development director of South Fork Wind.
The South Fork Wind project will be located about 19 miles (30 kilometers) southeast of Block Island, Rhode Island, and 35 miles (56 kilometers) east of Montauk Point, New York. It’s expected to provide roughly 130 megawatts, enough power for about 70,000 homes. Its transmission system will connect to the electric grid on Long Island, New York, making it the state’s first offshore wind farm and jumpstarting the offshore wind industry there.
The project broke ground early this year and is expected to be operational late next year.
Developing offshore wind energy is a key policy of the Biden administration, which wants to wants to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030 – enough electricity to power more than 10 million homes. Some in the commercial fishing industry have said planned offshore wind projects off the East Coast would make it difficult to harvest valuable seafood species, while some fear that the large turbines would kill birds.
Sandbridge residents oppose high-voltage cables from offshore wind project near Outer Banks
29 June 2022
Virginia, Wind power, Wind energy
VIRGINIA BEACH – A wind energy company’s proposed project off the coast of the Outer Banks is ruffling the feathers of Virginia Beach residents 36 miles to the north who don’t want high-voltage cables in their beachfront neighborhood.
Avangrid Renewables, based in Boston, is still in the early stages of developing its Kitty Hawk Offshore Wind Project. The company plans to build a wind farm 27 miles from Corolla, North Carolina, and is proposing to bring the transmission cables ashore in Sandbridge, a residential and tourist beach community south of the Oceanfront resort area.
The company could route the transmission cables to the Outer Banks, but Sandbridge is the most efficient location.
Avangrid has not obtained the federal, state and local permits needed to proceed with construction yet.
At a meeting earlier this month, members of the Sandbridge Beach Civic League voted unanimously against the project, citing concerns about potential hazards from high-voltage underground cables and electromagnetic fields near their homes, civic league representative Andrew Horne said.
Scientific studies have not clearly shown whether exposure to electromagnetic fields from electrical cables increases cancer risk, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“We are not against clean energy, we just want it done safely,” Horne said. “There’s got to be a better way.”
Under Avangrid’s proposal, several underwater cables would route under a Sandbridge parking lot. The company would then extend the cables underground in the public right-of-way along a route that borders dozens of residential areas and eventually connect to a substation on city-owned land in Corporate Landing Business Park off General Booth Boulevard.
The 2,500 megawatts of electricity generated from the project could power 750,000 homes in Virginia and North Carolina, according to Avangrid, which will pay a lease fee to Virginia Beach of approximately $1 million per cable. Construction could begin by 2024.
The company’s construction plan, currently under federal review, identifies several other options along the North Carolina and Virginia Beach coastlines where the cables could be routed.
But North Carolina’s beaches aren’t stable enough due to erosion and lack sufficient transmission infrastructure. Sandbridge is the company’s preference because it’s the shortest of the northern cable routes and doesn’t cross any existing submarine cables, according to the plan.
Avangrid spokesman Craig Gilvarg wrote in an email that the company identified Sandbridge as a strong option because of its “proximity to transmission infrastructure, sufficient space, and minimal environmental impact.”
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is conducting an environmental review, which is scheduled to be completed by 2024.
Avangrid is continuing to gather public input.
Taylor Adams, Virginia Beach’s director of economic development, briefed the City Council in January about the Sandbridge landing point. Councilwoman Barbara Henley, who represents the Princess Anne District, had questions about the route after landfall.
“We’re at the very beginning of this process,” Adams said at the meeting. “There’s a whole lot of meat on this bone between landing and having a working solution here.”
Henley said this week that questions still remain about Avangrid’s proposal to place cables under established neighborhoods. She’s waiting for the company to provide details of their plans to the city.
“I think they’re ahead of their process,” Henley said. “They haven’t really shown us how they’re going to deal with these impacts.”
In support of townships, large solar and wind farms banned by Butler County
25 June 2022
Ohio, Wind power, Wind energy
The Butler County commissioners said while they understand the need for supporting alternative energy sources, they want to respect the wishes of their township trustees so they voted unanimously to ban industrial solar and wind farms.
Last week they conducted a required public hearing after 12 of 13 township trustee boards passed resolutions asking them to ban the utility-grade energy generating farms. Several people spoke out against the ban and Commissioner T.C. Rogers said he heard them, but believes the issue may be moot anyway and “we have a natural tendency to support our trustees.”
“The people opposing this made some good points but the only thing is on this particular item we are voting on it is unrealistic, based upon the minimum assemblance of acres in the entire county that anybody could put a deal together,” Rogers said. “Sot hat’s why I don’t believe we’re actually taking the rights of property owners in the reality of this.”
Last October, Senate Bill 52 took effect, allowing county commissioners to prohibit utility-scale solar and wind facilities within the townships. Zeb Acuff, the commissioners’ planning administrator, said there doesn’t appear to be a market for wind turbines in this area because gusts aren’t adequate, but solar facilities are a different matter. He said facilities large enough to meet the criteria of the commissioners’ banning authority would have to have the capacity to generate 50 megawatts or more.
Last week Oxford Twp. Trustee Gary Salmon, who is head of the county township association and on the board of directors for the Ohio Township Association, told the commissioners representatives from the solar industry told the OTA a facility that can generate 50 megawatts would take up 400 acres.
Commissioner Cindy Carpenter said she understands as a public official she has a responsibility to consider ways of reducing reliance on fossil fuels, but they also have a responsibility to the wishes of their township officials. Lemon Twp. is the only township that did not ask for the ban.
“We respect that they are the elected officials closest to the citizens, that they speak to us as the voice of the citizens,” Carpenter said. “So I have decided to support their request.”
The residents who spoke out against the ban urged the commissioners not to ban the solar facilities because they are necessary for a sustainable future and they should leave the decisions to the people who own the land. Margaret Branstrater of Oxford Twp. was one of them and she told the Journal-News she is disappointed the commissioners decided to enforce the ban.
“I think it’s a mistake, I think it will do more harm than help and I think it’s going to hurt the farmers the most,” Branstrater said. “Because climate is happening, farmers are being hurt already by it and we have to get off of fossil fuels and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. If that includes using some farmland for solar I think that’s what we’ve got to do. I’m sorry they’re not looking further down the road than what they are.”
Commissioner Don Dixon also said he doesn’t believe there is enough available land within the county for one of these facilities, but the ban isn’t necessarily written in stone.
“We can always go back and revisit this if the trustees or an applicant comes to us with a viable project that we would consider acceptable to the environment and to the area around it,” Dixon said. “Being a former township trustee I know that they hear from the residents directly, so I’m sure their recommendation came with a lot of input from their constituents.”
Prior to this new legislation, power facility locating was the purview of the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB), and that entity will still be involved. According to a map on its website there are two solar facilities in pre-construction phase in Preble County and one under construction on the Clermont and Brown County border, but nowhere else near Butler County.
Jon Honeck, senior policy analyst with the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, told the Journal-News he only knows of a handful of counties that have enacted bans or some version thereof. The legislation was introduced to limit the OPSB’s power.
Reily Twp. Trustee Nick Schwab thanked the commissioners for helping him keep his promise to his constituents.
“I think Reily was the first township to come to the commissioners with this problem,” Schwab said “It wasn’t that we were looking for something to do, but when you go to a trustee meeting and you’ve got about 25 residents sitting there it tends to get your attention.”
Ocean City continues battle against offshore wind farm
25 June 2022
New Jersey, Wind power, Wind energy
Ocean City intensified its fight against a proposed ocean wind energy farm by criticizing plans by the project’s developer to build an underground transmission line that would come ashore at the beach and run through town.
During an online hearing Friday held by the state Board of Public Utilities, the city’s lead attorney accused Ocean Wind LLC of proposing a route for the transmission line at 35th Street simply because it would be the least expensive option for the company.
“It appears that Ocean Wind is promoting the most economically expedient route. This is a self-serving approach at the cost of Ocean City,” City Solicitor Dorothy McCrosson said.
On Feb. 2, Ocean Wind filed a petition with the BPU to install the transmission line through Ocean City to connect the offshore wind turbines to a substation next to the decommissioned B.L. England Generating Station in Upper Township.
Orsted, the Danish energy company overseeing the wind farm, plans to run a transmission line under the seabed and bring the electricity onshore through the cable at the beach lots of 35th Street. Orsted has not publicly disclosed how much the transmission line would cost.
The underground cable would travel west to Bay Avenue, north on Bay Avenue to Roosevelt Boulevard, west across Peck Bay at Roosevelt Boulevard Bridge and then continue on to Route 9 to property near the former B.L. England Generating Station, according to Orsted’s petition.
Ocean City officials have been among the most ardent opponents of the wind farm project, fearing that it would harm tourism, real estate values, the commercial fishing industry, migratory birds and marine life. They are also worried that the gigantic wind turbines that would pass by Ocean City 15 miles offshore would create a visual blight when viewed from land.
Heightening the battle with Orsted, McCrosson argued during the BPU hearing that the transmission line would disturb environmentally sensitive areas of Ocean City’s beachfront and wetlands. Ocean City officials want Ocean Wind to instead run the transmission line through what they believe would be a less harmful route that would take it across the Great Egg Harbor Inlet.
“The failure of Ocean Wind to even consider the opinion of the elected officials of Ocean City, the affected community, as to the preferred route should be startling to this board when Ocean Wind has other options,” McCrosson told the BPU commissioners.
Ocean Wind’s attorney, Gregory Eisenstark, repeatedly stressed that the company believes the proposed route along 35th Street would be the best option for running the transmission line through Ocean City and would have only a minimal impact on local residents.
“All of the portions within Ocean City will be underground,” Eisenstark said. “Once construction is completed, the lines won’t be visible – you won’t see them, you won’t hear them. You really won’t know that they’re there.”
In response to Ocean City’s proposal to run the transmission line through Great Egg Harbor Inlet, Eisenstark said that plan would be fraught with environmental and construction challenges and would also interfere with boating traffic in the waterway.
The BPU is considering Ocean Wind’s petition to approve the transmission line along the 35th Street route based on whether the plan is “reasonably necessary” for the construction of the offshore wind farm. A decision will be made later, but the BPU did not announce a date.
“The board takes this responsibility very seriously and is committed to providing a fair and transparent process,” BPU President Joseph Fiordaliso said during the nearly 90-minute hearing Friday.
McCrosson argued that the BPU lacks the authority to make a decision on the transmission line and said the dispute should instead be referred to New Jersey’s Office of Administrative Law.
“The city respectfully questions the authority of the BPU to consider Ocean Wind’s petition seeking authority to obtain an easement over the city’s fragile beach and wetlands and its environmental permit consents,” she said.
The wind farm is currently in the planning and permitting phase and is scheduled for completion by 2024. It would run offshore from Atlantic City to Stone Harbor, passing by Ocean City in the process. Orsted is planning to build an 1,100-megawatt project that would create thousands of construction jobs and power over 500,000 homes.
Orsted and Ocean City officials have been negotiating on and off for the past three years over the wind farm, but have been unable to reach a settlement.
“Unfortunately, the parties have not been able to reach an agreement, and that’s why we’re here today,” Eisenstark said.
Last August, Ocean Wind submitted a formal, written request to Ocean City seeking local approvals for the project. However, they were unable to obtain the required easements, consents and associated actions from Ocean City, according to Orsted.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill into law last year allowing for offshore wind farm projects to receive their regulatory approvals without having to go through local municipalities for their consent.
The result has generated anger from some local officials in Ocean City and other towns. Members of City Council have repeatedly complained that the bill stripped Ocean City of its right to “home rule.”
McCrosson raised strong objections to the state bill, denouncing it as “hastily adopted” legislation that broadly purports to supersede all other laws, rules and regulations.
“It strips elected municipal officials of the power to decide whether Ocean Wind, a private corporation, may take municipal property rights within Ocean City in complete disregard of the will of the governing body and its constituents,” McCrosson said.
In rebuttal, Eisenstark asserted that Ocean City was trying to inject a series of issues into the hearing at the last minute and that most of McCrosson’s “feigned objections” to the Ocean Wind project should be stricken from the record. He said Ocean Wind plans to file a formal objection with the BPU to McCrosson’s statement.
“They had the ability to raise these issues months ago. They failed to do so and they shouldn’t be given the opportunity to prolong this proceeding because of their own inaction,” Eisenstark said of Ocean City.
McCrosson responded that her objections simply expanded on concerns that were previously raised by Ocean City about the project. She also said some of the city’s concerns were based on the conclusions of a 1,400-page environmental impact study of the wind farm that was released this week by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
“BOEM will review this Draft Environmental Impact Statement and consider public feedback as they work to make a final decision on the fate of the project by April 2023. Whether you’re for it, against it, or not sure, it’s worth looking at this report to learn more,” Mayor Jay Gillian said in a statement Friday urging Ocean City residents to read the study.
More information on how to view the BOEM document and to comment is available here.
Rapp’s solar, wind teardown bill passes house
25 June 2022
Pennsylvania, Wind power, Wind energy
Legislation sponsored by Rep. Kathy Rapp to require solar and wind energy decommissioning plans has been passed by the House of Representatives.
The legislation heads to the state Senate for discussion.
Rapp, R-Warren, introduced the bill in December. Any alternative energy agreement will be required to include a decommissioning plan and proof of financing from a banking institution to pay to remove the solar panels or turbine. The plan would have to be updated regularly with money held in escrow for the eventual decommissioning. The bill was amended before passage. Industry and landowner groups asked for bond requirements to be lessened and for the bonding to be required for 25 years instead of 20 years.
House approval came in a 121-79 vote largely along party lines, though 11 Democrats did cross the political aisle to support the proposal.
“Pennsylvania must always strive for clear and uniform regulatory policy for all industries,” said Rapp. “This statewide decommissioning legislation is extremely necessary to establish a higher standard for addressing long-term concerns generated by the rapid and largely unregulated growth of solar and wind energy installations.”
“I wasn’t around 100 years ago,” Rapp said during an April committee meeting. “You may think I was representative (then) however I guess nobody thought 100 years ago we should up front have a plan for making sure that oil, gas and any other form of energy had a plan 100 years later. So this was the genesis of this bill, making sure we have a plan that will make sure that the next generation 20 or 30 years from now does not have to deal with the disposal of solar panels and wind turbines, which by the way wind turbines are lubricated with oil, about 60 gallons, I think, per turbine.”
House Bill 2104 would specifically assure the proper bonding and reclamation of lands leased to solar and wind energy facilities. Proof of the bond would be held with the county Recorder of Deeds and reported to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). It also aims to protect farmland.
“This legislation also recognizes the need to implement further protections for ‘prime farmland’ and leased lands greater than 10 acres,” Rapp said in April. “During a time when a decommissioned turbine or non-functioning solar panel leaking toxic chemicals can irresponsibly be tossed into the nearest landfill, waterway or some other unidentified location, landowners deserve assurance that their leased property will not be marred by the remnants of so-called alternative energy development 20 years from now.”
Niyol wind turbine comes crashing down; NextEra is investigating
25 June 2022
Colorado, Accidents, Wind power, Wind energy
NextEra Energy is investigating the toppling of a wind turbine south of Fleming Wednesday.
Steve Stengel, a spokesman for NextEra, said the company is looking into what caused the mast of the 300-foot turbine to buckle.
Emergency responders first were notified late Wednesday afternoon that blades were falling off of a wind turbine in the Niyol Wind Farm near the intersection of County Roads 16 and 59, roughly 10 miles southeast of Sterling. When they arrived the found that the mast had buckled in half and the nacelle and blades were on the ground.
Stengel said it is too early to know what caused the failure, but noted that it’s extremely rare for a turbine to fall over like that.
“We don’t know the root cause, and of course we’re looking into that,” Stengel said. “The rest of the site is operating normally. We have thousands of (turbines) in our fleet, but it is a rare occurrence for this to happen.”
Stengel said it’s not yet known how long it will take to remove the damaged turbine and replace it, but that it would be done.
“As you know, this involves some very large pieces of equipment that have to be moved around, so we don’t know how soon (the turbine) can be replaced, but it will be done,” he said.
It’s hard to know exactly how often wind turbines fail, but a commonly-cited statistic, originated by Engineering News-Record, is that, in any given year, about 3,800 turbines suffer blade, generator or gearbox failure. That’s less than one-half of one percent of the total number of turbines in the U.S. Those failures rarely result in catastrophic damage to the turbines, according to ENR.
Ocean City seeks to divert wind power plan
25 June 2022
New Jersey, Wind power, Wind energy
OCEAN CITY – City attorney Dorothy McCrosson took aim at plans to run a power line across the city at 35th Street at a Friday morning hearing of the state Board of Public Utilities, arguing there are other options to bring wind power to shore.
The BPU board heard oral arguments in a request for Ocean Wind 1, planned as the first large-scale offshore wind farm off the coast of New Jersey that is projected to power a half-million homes.
First, the wind-generated power needs to get to shore. As attorney Greg Eisenstark said, speaking on behalf of the applicant, there are no power customers in the ocean.
He added there are few practical options along the coast to bring electricity from the ocean to the power grid. As proposed, the project would bring power to the former B.L. England plant on the bank of the Great Egg Harbor Bay in Upper Township, with another landing site at the former Oyster Creek nuclear plant in Ocean County.
Ocean City is not OK with the plan, and has refused permission to cross its jurisdiction. Last year, the state Legislature took the matter out of the city’s hands, approving a law that allowed the BPU to approve the request.
The law angered Ocean City officials when it was approved, with members of City Council describing it as overriding democratic rule. Speaking to the BPU board Friday, McCrosson questioned whether the BPU had the authority to decide the matter, and criticized the law as hastily adopted and overly broad.
“It strips elected municipal officials of the power to decide whether Ocean Wind, a private corporation, may take municipal property rights within Ocean City, in complete disregard of the will of the governing body and its constituents,” she said, adding the law has not been tested in court.
In the remotely held meeting Friday, the BPU heard arguments on whether to allow the power lines to cross under land purchased with funds through the state Green Acres program, which typically protects against future development.
Eisenstark said it would include about half an acre of Green Acres-protected land, adding the applicants would contribute 10 times the assessed value of the property to the Green Acres fund.
There was no decision made Friday. BPU President Joseph Fiordaliso said that would come at a future meeting, the date of which has yet to be determined.
McCrosson asked the board to hold off on deciding anything, or at least consider alternative routes. She pointed to an alternative that would run the power lines into the Great Egg Harbor Inlet and out to the power plant in Beesleys Point.
“The city’s pristine beach and wetlands would not be disturbed, the streets would not be excavated,” McCrosson said. “Ocean City would still bear the aesthetic effects of this project, and whatever consequences they may bring. However, the island would not be defaced, and the activities of the people of the island would not be interrupted.”
Eisenstark said the applicant does not need to offer the best plan, but rather present a reasonable plan to the BPU. As proposed, the route for the line would be drilled about 60 feet under the beach at 34th Street, then run along the streets, put in place like water lines or other utilities before crossing underneath Crook Horn Creek to enter Upper Township.
“Once construction is completed, the lines won’t be visible. You won’t see them, you won’t hear them, you won’t even know that they’re there,” said Eisenstark. Later in the hearing, McCrosson added that residents will not be able to smell them, either, but will know they are there, and if it moves forward they will have been placed there without the consent of the local elected representatives.
Eisenstark said Ocean Wind would have rather negotiated an agreement with the city but was unable to reach a deal. He argued the city declined to be a part of the process earlier, and accused McCrosson of presenting evidence in her closing arguments that should have been brought by witnesses at earlier hearings.
He suggested that much of what McCrosson said should be stricken from the record, saying she was an attorney, not an expert.
McCrosson responded that much of what she presented was included in a lengthy draft of an environmental impact statement, which was only made available this week.
In that statement, she argued, Ocean Wind lays out plans to run a power line to the former Oyster Creek plant similar to the route rejected for the Great Egg Harbor Inlet.
She added the city could not have brought that information up earlier, because the report had only recently been made available.
“I believe it’s only 1,400 pages long, so I presume everyone has read it cover to cover,” Fiordaliso deadpanned at the hearing.
Ocean Wind is a joint venture between Ørsted and PSE&G, with a plan to place close to 100 large turbines about 15 miles offshore. New Jersey selected the project in 2019. It is set the be the first of several large-scale wind power projects for the Northeast, with the adjacent Ocean Wind 2 also moving through the permitting process.
Plans call for the turbines powering homes by 2024.
Gov. Phil Murphy, a wind power proponent, wants a huge increase in New Jersey’s use of renewable energy. He cites the environmental impact, including the danger of rising seas and warming temperatures as fossil fuels continue to add carbon to the atmosphere, but also says the projects will mean thousands of new jobs.
The proposal is deeply unpopular in Ocean City and other shore towns. Opponents cite the visual impact – turbines will be visible from the beach as proposed – and also say the plan will damage the environment and the commercial fishing industry.
At several points during the hearing, McCrosson suggested the proposal would face a similar process in getting approvals to cross areas owned by Cape May County.
End-of-life plan urged for wind turbines
25 June 2022
Australia, Wind power, Wind energy
Tens of thousands of wind turbine blades could be destined for landfill by the end of the decade unless end-of-life programs are established.
The giant aerofoils, which are constructed of carbon fibre or glass fibre composites, are expensive to break down and the recovered material has little worth, researchers say.
“The same features that make the blades cost-effective and reliable for use in commercial wind turbines make them very difficult to recycle in a cost-effective fashion,” University of South Australia Professor Peter Majewski says.
“It is not realistic to expect a market-based recycling solution to emerge, so policymakers need to step in now and plan what we’re going to do with all these blades that will come offline in the next few years.”
The race is on to find alternative solutions, with estimates suggesting there will be more than 40 million tonnes of blade waste globally by 2050.
In many parts of the world, blades continue to be dumped in landfill but the practice has been banned in some European countries.
Prof Majewski says there’s limited potential for re-using blades in niche construction settings and a small market for some reclaimed materials.
However it’s likely the costs of disposing of the blades in a sustainable way will need to be factored into their production and running costs.
“Our research indicates the most likely viable option is a product stewardship or extended producer responsibility approach,” he says.
“Either the manufacturer must take responsibility for what needs to be done with the blades at the end of their useful life or the wind farm operators must provide end-of-life solutions as part of the planning approval process for their business operations.”
While self-regulation might work, the long lifespan and high cost of blades means official frameworks would be required to ensure a transition of responsibility.
“If manufacturers disappear or wind farms go broke, we need to ensure processes are still in place for the turbine blades to be disposed of properly,” Prof Majewski said.
Consumers would bear some cost through energy tariffs but it’s hoped market competition between energy producers would help minimise the impact.
Without such solutions, he believes, energy options like wind and solar may prove no more sustainable than the old technologies they will replace.
By late 2019 there were 101 wind farms in Australia, the largest at Coopers Gap in Queensland featuring 123 turbines.
A further 10 farms were commissioned in 2020, according to the Clean Energy Council. However 21 were under construction or financially committed nationally by year’s end.
It’s generally accepted turbines have a working life of 25-30 years. While around 15 per cent of Australia’s farms are more than 15 years old, some built before 2000 are already spinning towards decommission.
‘We don’t want this’: Five Sutherland communities come together with simple message over Meall Buidhe Wind Farm
25 June 2022
Scotland, Wind power, Wind energy
Objectors to a controversial Sutherland wind farm have sent a strong message to Highland councillors in advance of a special planning meeting next week.
Campaign group No Ring of Steel (NORoS) has released striking images of a protest meeting held against the proposed Meall Buidhe wind farm as well as the proliferation of wind farms in the Rosehall area.
Residents from five Sutherland communities most affected by the development – Rosehall, Altass, Brae, Durcha and Linside – are shown holding banners with slogans against the wind farm.
North councillors are expected to decide the planning application for the eight-turbine development at next Wednesday’s meeting.
NORoS secretary Tracey Smith said: “Local residents wanted to make sure the council understood the local feeling so they staged a protest to make their voices heard.”
Meall Buidhe Renewables LLP is seeking to erect the turbines, measuring 149.9 metres to blade tip, on the side of the hill facing Altass and Rosehall. The site is 4km south west of Rosehall and 12km west of Ardgay.
The land lies on Croick Estate and the site is 8km from the operational Rosehall and Achany wind farms and 10km from the consented Braemore wind farm.
A total of 306 objections have been lodged with planners with NORoS saying the development would further “industrialise” an area already burdened by wind farms.
There are also concerns about the visual effect of the turbines on the landscape, the likely noise nuisance, road access and other worries.
In its objection, the proprietors of the Lower Oykel have warned that the wind farm has “potentially serious consequences” for their angling business.
Newly elected north, west and central Sutherland councillor Michael Baird is on record as having previously objected to the development.
However, Highland Council planners are recommending that the application be approved, despite acknowledging that it would have a significant visual effect.
NORoS said the protest meeting was held at Rosehall Trails when the Meall Buidhe application was set to go to planning a year or so ago.
However, after it was delayed due to issues caused by Covid, it was decided to hold back the images until it again reached the decision stage.
The special planning meeting has had to be arranged to meet the timescales for determination of the application.
Ashley Smith of NORoS said: “We urge councillors to listen to the concerns of residents and take notice of the objections raised by their constituents.
“At the moment the west side of the River Oykel is a landscape of gentle, rolling hills.These turbines and other proposed applications would destroy the visual amenity not only for residents but the many visitors that return to the area year in and out.
“They will turn our rural landscape into an industrial one and the character of our village will be lost forever.
“This is such a small development that it would offer little contribution towards renewable energy generation, but would cause huge landscape and visual impacts, which in turn would cause so much harm to residents, businesses and the local economy. Is it worth it?”
Mr Smith added: “We feel that our small Highland village is facing a tsunami of wind farm applications, with apart from Meall Buidhe, two other applications – Achany extension and Strathoykel – currently with the Scottish Government; plus Braelangwell with the Highland Council.
“After 25 years of seeing application after application being submitted, our villages have said enough is enough. Something urgently needs to be looked at in the planning process to make sure that there is a limit to how many wind farms a small community can accommodate.”
Vestas turbine collapses at Iberdrola wind farm in Australia
25 June 2022
Australia, Accidents, Wind power, Wind energy
Operations at Iberdrola’s Walkaway wind farm at Alinta in Western Australia have been temporarily halted after a Vestas turbine collapsed at the site last week, with the cause still unknown.
“No one was near the wind turbine at the time of the incident and there are no injuries. The project’s remaining wind turbines have been temporarily paused,” Vestas said in a statement sent to Recharge.
“The area is secured, and Vestas will undertake investigations in close cooperation with Iberdrola to confirm the root cause of the incident.”
Iberdrola said turbine number 43 out of 54 Vestas V82 turbines collapsed at the site, with only limited property damages on the agricultural land on which the wind farm is built some 35km southeast of Geraldton, Western Australia.
The local landholders and their representatives were notified after the incident last week Wednesday. Iberdrola has also notified applicable regulators and WorkSafe WA has inspected the site and provided clearance for remediation works to start.
“The failure of Turbine 43 at Alinta Wind Farm is a serious event,” Iberdrola Australia chief executive Ross Rolfe said.
“We are currently working closely with regulatory bodies and the operations and maintenance contractor, Vestas, to understand the factors that have contributed to the failure of the turbine.
“The safety and wellbeing of our communities and our people will always be our first priority. At the proper time, the learnings from the investigation will be shared with industry to promote safe operations across Australia’s large and growing fleet of wind farms.”
Some Sandbridge residents vote against offshore wind project
25 June 2022
Virginia, Wind power, Wind energy
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Some community members in Virginia Beach are pushing back against an offshore wind project.
A company called Avangrid Renewables wants to bring subsea cables above the ground in Sandbridge.
“You know, people spend their life savings and they come down here and they buy houses to enjoy the beach,” said Sandbridge resident Andrew Horne.
Horne is a member of the Sandbridge Beach Civic League. He said he worries the offshore wind project on the horizon will change the place he calls home.
Avangrid Renewables is behind the Kitty Hawk Offshore Wind Project. The project website said the company plans to place wind turbines about 27 miles off the Outer Banks coast.
It said they will run the cables on land through Sandbridge and connect to a power station in the Corporate Landing Business Park. The page said the project will produce enough electricity to power about 700,000 homes.
Horne said more than 100 members met Monday and voted against Avangrid’s current plan. He said the cables are set to go underground right through town.
“Come underneath the dunes, and underneath Sandfiddler Road,” Horne said.
Then, he said the cables will run under Sandbridge Road.
“Which is the only ingress and egress road into this area,” Horn said.
Horne said folks are concerned about the construction time. A spokesman for Avangrid said Sandbridge Road will not close, and crews will work between October and mid–May.
Horne said he and other residents aren’t against renewable energy, they just want to see a different path for the cables.
“We are all for wind energy,” Horne said.
Research by Avangrid Renewables on the Kitty Hawk Offshore Wind Project said it is projected to generate nearly $2 billion in total economic impact over the next decade in Virginia and Northeast North Carolina.
A spokesman for Avangrid gave the following statement:
“AVANGRID continues to work closely with the Virginia Beach community, including the City Council, neighborhood associations, businesses, maritime organizations, labor and workforce development officials, and other local leaders to understand the needs of the community and ensure that Kitty Hawk Wind is developed in a manner that minimizes impacts and provides significant local benefits. We remain committed to that work and will continue to engage with local leaders and stakeholders to bring this substantial, clean, and cost-effective energy to the region.”
Crews are scheduled to begin laying the cables in Sandbridge in 2024.
Cumberland County restricting, not banning wind power in Wentworth, N.S.
25 June 2022
Nova Scotia, Wind power, Wind energy
WENTWORTH, N.S. – Cumberland County is going to restrict the development of large wind turbines in the Wentworth Valley, but has opted not to ban them altogether.
Cumberland municipal council’s proposed changes to its land-use bylaws regarding wind turbines passed second reading during its June session on Wednesday. But instead of a 3.5-kilometre ban on wind turbines on both sides of Highway 4 in the valley, council has opted to restrict development to 3.2 kilometres on each side.
“I look at where we were a year ago, the size of these turbines, their power and how the community views them, we knew we had to change the rules to protect the community and I believe this is a good compromise,” Mayor Murray Scott said following the meeting. “We are a county that supports renewable energy and that includes wind turbines in the right places.”
Scott said there has always been a concern about the decommissioning of wind turbines once they reach the end of their lifecycle.
“There will be a surety in place so that when they are no longer usable, there’ll be the ability to take them down,” Scott said. “We’ve also addressed their distance from homes by extending the setbacks.
“We’ve been at this for months and I think we’ve reached a point where we’re at a compromise that’s respectful of landowners and residents and, at the end of the day, these companies, who want to put turbines in the county, will have to come to us. There’ll be a chance to question them on it and make sure they follow the rules.”
Under the changes, the setback between turbines and dwellings is being increased from 600 metres to 1,000 metres (or a kilometre).
There is also a mandate for minimum public engagement requirements and decommissioning bonds for new turbines.
Last week, during a public hearing, county councillors were told their proposed restricted overlay of 3.5 kilometres from each side of Highway 4 through the valley would make a planned wind farm on Higgins Mountain less viable.
At issue, is a plan by developers to place a 100-megawatt wind farm on Higgins Mountain. The county placed a six-month moratorium on wind projects back in January while it updated its land-use bylaws.
The project has been opposed by the citizens’ group Protect Wentworth Valley, which said the turbines would impact the area’s ecosystem as well as the population of the endangered mainland moose.
Earlier this week, Dan Eaton, director of project development for Elemental Energy on behalf of Higgins Mountain Wind Farm Limited Partnership, wrote the county proposing a change to the overlay that allows them to proceed while responding to resident concerns.
“Community support and social licence are incredibly important to our partnership. Our approach has all along been to find common ground with the community and today we are requesting that council accept a compromise to the restricted overlay developed as part of the Cumberland County wind turbine bylaw review,” Eaton said in a letter to county CAO Greg Herrett.
Eaton said during the public hearing that the Higgins Mountain partnership is aware of community concerns and has already self-imposed a 2.5-kilometre buffer from Highway 4. It has completed an analysis of the 3.5-kilometre buffer and suggested the 3.2-kilometre buffer instead.
“While there are not insignificant financial impacts of extending the buffer from 2.5 kilometres to 3.2 kilometres, we are confident that at this distance the project maintains its feasibility while ensuring that the important visual aesthetics of the Wentworth Valley, prioritized by the community, are maintained,” Eaton said in his letter. “Higgins Mountain Wind Farm Limited Partnership also re-iterates its extended commitment to not placing turbines within the zone of visual impact restriction as presented on Dec. 4, 2021 at our second open house.”
Paul Pynn, representing the wind project, said Thursday the partnership is appreciative of the opportunity to participate in the process.
“Higgins Wind has always been committed to developing our project in a responsible manner that respects the uniqueness of the Wentworth Valley and the interests of the community,” Pynn said in an emailed statement. “With the adjustment to the restricted overlay, we anticipate that the project is able to meet or exceed all requirements in the amended Cumberland County Wind Turbine Bylaw and will minimize potential effects to the visual aesthetics of the Wentworth Valley.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the Mi’kmaq Nations, Municipality of Cumberland, Municipality of Colchester as well as residents and community stakeholders to advance the project through a provincial environmental assessment and municipal permitting processes allowing Higgins Wind to build a project that will help Nova Scotia Power deliver clean, reliable and affordable energy while providing meaningful economic benefits to the communities within which we work.
Coun. Kathy Redmond, who represents the Wentworth area on council and opposed the initial project plan, said she can live with the compromise.
“I’m glad there is protection for the Wentworth Valley,” Redmond said. “Even though it’s dropping down to 3.2, that’s only 300 metres in difference. I think with what we have in place now, we have a very good bylaw.”
Redmond said she still questions whether the company will be able to “hide” the turbines and not disturb the view of the valley, but she supports the compromise.
Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk pylon proposal could hit house prices ‘by a third’
25 June 2022
England, Wind power, Wind energy
An estate agent has warned house prices could fall by a third if a 112-mile pylon scheme to carry offshore wind power through East Anglia is approved.
Paul Beresford, chief executive officer of Essex-based Beresfords, said the proposal was already impacting property sales.
Campaigners said the idea was “horrific”, while some residents have claimed it was “terrible”.
National Grid said it was attempting to hit government green energy targets.
Mr Beresford said: “There have been studies in the past that as much as a third of the property’s value can be affected.
“It’s just such a retrograde step. Why on earth would you be putting pylons up in this day and age?
“It’s something from the last century – there are far better options. We just don’t need to blight the beautiful countryside with pylons.
“Of course everybody wants to see green energy but not at the cost of scarring the landscape.”
Kevin Pallett, of Roxwell, near Chelmsford, lives close to the proposed route of the pylons.
He said: “The thought of having 50-metre steel pylons right outside our backdoor is not an attractive proposition.
“What is most frustrating about the proposal is that underground and offshore routes weren’t even considered fully as part of the consultation.”
A consultation period ended on 16 June and a petition has been launched and councils have come out in opposition.
National Grid said increased renewable demands by 2030 meant existing power lines did not have the capacity.
It has proposed to run the cables underground through the Dedham Vale area of outstanding natural beauty on the Essex/Suffolk border.
The publicly-listed utility company said there would be another opportunity to comment on the proposals before an application was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in late 2024.
Windy promises don’t rate in the real world: Energy Security Board
25 June 2022
Australia, Wind power, Wind energy
Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio’s assurances that offshore wind would provide a backstop to the energy market are undermined by the real-world experience of capacity markets around the world.
Evidence published by the Energy Security Board this week shows that operators of capacity mechanisms in the UK, Ireland and US routinely impose severely diminished reliability ratings on wind and solar generators
Based on the figures presented by the ESB, Victoria’s ambitious future offshore wind power capacity could be “derated” to as low as 6.3 per cent – which is what the UK market asserts – and no more than 33 per cent, as per California’s example.
By contrast, coal and gas generators receive ratings of between 79 per cent and 100 per cent – underscoring their reliability.
“Wind and solar on the other hand may make only a minimal contribution,” wrote experts in the ESB’s report, which also questioned the reliability of hydropower.
“Storage and hydro can also receive a wide range of derating factors dependent on the level of storage and their controllability during the compliance periods e.g. run of river hydro may not be dispatchable.”
The report’s evidence adds pressure on Ms D’Ambrosio to support a solution for the East Coast energy market, also known as the National Energy Market (NEM).
Amid rocketing prices and an unprecedented regulatory suspension of the NEM last week, federal, state and territory energy ministers agreed to press ahead with designing a mechanism that would see energy users pay generators to maintain spare capacity.
But opposition from Victoria and the ACT – which both have bold renewable energy targets – to backing fossil fuel energy generators threatens to derail the process and leave the NEM vulnerable to future shocks. Any new system requires approval by both jurisdictions, plus the Commonwealth, South Australia, Tasmania, NSW and Queensland.
Ms D’Ambrosio, whose government faces a state election in November, hit back this week at warnings Victoria faces blackouts during so-called “renewables droughts” in winter months.
She said the state’s new offshore wind projects “will blow any shortfall out of the water”.
“We will bring online at least 2 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2032, enough to power 1.5 million homes, with the potential to support an enormous 13GW of capacity by 2050 – five times the state’s current renewable energy generation,” she said.
Danny Price, managing director of Frontier Economics, said Victoria’s position was unfeasible.
“It’s nonsense to think that you can reliably supply a modern economy with wind and solar,” he said. “The sheer volume and cost of batteries is breathtaking. It’s tens and tens of billions of dollars for Victoria.”
Mr Price noted that the Victorian government has adopted a populist stance in the past and blocked the market regulator’s decision to dispatch power to NSW during previous crises.
“If she doesn’t want to keep coal, that’s fine, but she can’t also then ask for the other states to back her up when things go bad,” Mr Price said.
Ms D’Ambrosia’s forecast wind capacity figures assume that power will always be available in full and at the right times. Overseas capacity markets demonstrate the complexity of trying to factor in renewable sources.
The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) assigns wind power a derating factor of 8 per cent to 33 per cent, implying the energy source is reliable on one in 12 days and no more than one in three days.
On the other side of the US, the PJM – one of the world’s largest integrated wholesale energy markets taking in 13 states and the District of Columbia – assigns wind a derating factor of just 15 per cent.
In the UK, the figure is even lower, at 6.3 per cent, while in Western Australia it ranges from 7 per cent to 28 per cent.
Energy experts continue to debate the “derating factors” of renewable energy because there is considerable disagreement over how to measure their reliability.
Part of the problem is that many of the world’s existing capacity markets were designed in an era when all the dominant sources of power generation – chiefly coal, gas, nuclear and some hydro – were available 100 per cent of the time.
“In power systems with coal and gas, and a bit of renewables, we basically have to keep about 25 per cent capacity in reserve to make up for all the things that go wrong,” Mr Price said. “And things do go wrong, even in a very good power system.”
“In a system that is mostly renewable, you’re approaching having to have close to a 100 per cent reserve margin.”
Grand Forks County drops wind farm moratorium
25 June 2022
North Dakota, Wind power, Wind energy
The Grand Forks County Commission has lifted a moratorium on wind farm applications after tweaking a series of local siting requirements.
The revised document includes moving the setback for wind turbines from one-quarter to one-half mile. The changes also define the tower height setback from property lines and right-of-ways. Another provision involves the so-called shadow flicker – or the amount of time rotating wind blades can cast shadows on nearby dwellings. The max time would be 30 hours per year – or an average of five minutes per day.
The revisions are designed to alleviate concerns shared by property owners and those in the wind farm industry. The 90 day moratorium was scheduled to run out in early July.
Bloomer Township Planning Commission tables wind ordinance, again
25 June 2022
Michigan, Wind power, Wind energy
BLOOMER TOWNSHIP – The Bloomer Township Planning Commission continues to be in no hurry to vote on a wind and solar energy ordinance.
The Planning Commission held a public hearing Wednesday evening on the draft ordinance – the second public hearing that’s been held on the matter. The 16-minute meeting adjourned with the Planning Commission once again declining to take action in advancing the ordinance to the township board.
“I have on the agenda a call for a vote, but I’m not going to do that tonight,” Chairman Doug Proctor said at the conclusion of the brief meeting. “We’re going to do some more discussion.”
The Planning Commission has been working on a wind and solar ordinance for more than three years now – since the spring of 2019 – with the assistance of attorney Bill Fahey of Okemos-based law firm Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes. The township board was set to vote on adopting the ordinance in January 2021, but they voted to table it based on concerns of future litigation and sent it back to the Planning Commission.
Most recently, the Planning Commission agreed to remove the following language regarding commercial turbine height limits: “the township board may approve a turbine height greater than 500 feet if the applicant clearly demonstrates that such greater height would be in the interest of persons and properties within and surrounding the wind park.” The removal of this language means turbines will be limited to 500 feet with no exceptions unless a wind developer takes the matter to the township’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
“We didn’t like that loophole in there, we thought we’d keep it at 500 feet,” Proctor summarized.
“We’ve added a lot of restrictions, we’ve made it more restrictive, we’ve asked our lawyer to make it more restrictive,” he added. “I’m not saying we’re trying to run them (wind developers) away from us, but we wanted to make things difficult if they do want to come here. I think we’ve got a pretty good ordinance here. It’s pretty restrictive.”
Montcalm County Commissioner Michael Beach of Carson City was present and referenced Monday’s Montcalm County Planning Commission meeting at which county planners voiced their frustration that some local townships are declining to send draft ordinances to the county for review before those ordinances are voted on at the township board level.
“I assume most of you read the article that was published in today’s Daily News in regards to our Planning Commission meeting on Monday,” Beach said. “There was at least four if not five representatives, especially from Cato and Douglass townships, in regard to their (wind) proposals to us. The Planning Commission of Montcalm County can’t dictate what you’re doing here tonight. That’s still up to you as individuals. All we’re doing as the Planning Commission for Montcalm County is just reviewing and offering suggestions on changes for things that we see.”
“When we come to a vote, this copy will go to the Montcalm County Planning Commission … for any feedback from them before we move forward,” Proctor said.
“I thank you for that,” Beach responded.
The Bloomer Township Planning Commission is next scheduled to meet on July 12.
The Bloomer Township Board is next scheduled to meet on July 18.
A CLOSER LOOK
Bloomer Township’s solar ordinance as drafted (not yet approved) calls for:
• Large solar arrays limited to 15 feet in height with other components limited to 35 feet in height.
• Large solar arrays must be located on 10 acres or more and are exempt from maximum lot coverage limitations.
• Large solar arrays must have setbacks of 100 feet from all non-participating property boundaries.
• Large solar array sound is limited to 50 decibels as measured at the outside perimeter of the project and may not be exceeded for more than 6 minutes (L10) in any hour of the day.
Bloomer Township’s wind parks ordinance as drafted (not yet approved) calls for:
• Large wind turbine height limited to 500 feet.
• Large turbine setbacks of 2,000 feet from non-participating property, unless the township board otherwise expressly provides in a special use permit.
• Large turbine sound limited to 45 decibels for participating properties and 40 decibels for non-participating properties.
• Large turbine shadow flicker limited to 30 hours per year.
Citizens want energy industry to listen to concerns about placement of wind turbines, transmission lines
25 June 2022
Australia, Wind power, Wind energy
As industry held its fourth annual Tasmanian Energy Development Conference in Devonport this week, about 40 citizens stood outside in the rain with handheld signs to advocate for Tasmanian energy issues.
As the state’s “largest energy event of the year”, the two-day event cost $2,000 per ticket and claimed to bring together key industry stakeholders from Tasmania and interstate for networking opportunities, including drinks and a conference dinner, as part of the “all-encompassing industry experience”.
Outside the private conference at the Paranaple Arts Centre, advocates were raising issues such as the location of wind turbines and transmission lines in the state.
One of the community members was David Ridley, who said he felt locked out of the conversation.
As chair of the No Turbine Action Group Central Highlands, he has been fighting for two years to get a representative at the conference.
“On one hand the government is saying ‘community matters, we’re a pillar of renewable energy development’, and on the other hand there is no community representative that is a local, that can speak at the conference and help that group get a social licence,” Mr Ridley said.
Tasmania’s Minister for Energy and Renewables Guy Barnett was the conference’s opening keynote speaker.
He told the ABC while it was important to listen to the community he could not intervene to help the group as the event was private.
Secretary of Respect Stanley Peninsula – No Wind Turbines Incorporated, Kerry Houston, said she organised the protest to raise awareness about the failings in current Tasmanian renewable energy policies.
“We’re looking for 5-kilometre buffer zones between communities and these massive infrastructure projects,” Ms Houston said.
“Our special landscapes that make Tasmania so iconic need to be protected with no-go zones.
“It’s not an unreasonable request.
“The 5-kilometre buffer comes from the energy infrastructure commissioner so there is research behind this. Our government is simply not listening.”
Another person rallying outside the event, Malcolm Crosse, was the past director of operations for the World Fly Fishing Championships held in Tasmania in 2019, and said he was a great believer in the renewables industry.
But Mr Crosse said a development at St Patrick Plains, which is set to build 47 wind turbines in central Tasmania, “came of out nowhere” two years ago.
He said he was greatly concerned for Tasmanian flora and fauna, including the wedge-tailed eagle and the orange-bellied parrot.
“I’m a great believer of renewable energy, but it’s in the wrong place,” Mr Crosse said.
“We haven’t had the opportunity to be able to have a conversation. We want a seat at the table upstairs, but we were ignored.
“I’m a passionate fly fisherman and I’m greatly disturbed by the fact there is going to be a visual impact, and a noise impact, on this area recognised worldwide for its fly fishing and ambience.
“I just need to be here to voice my concerns.”
Organisers of the Tasmanian Energy Development Conference declined to answer questions put to them by the ABC.
As feds eye more wind leases off Virginia, fishing industries fear losses
25 June 2022
Virginia, Wind power, Wind energy
Today, two wind turbines turn off Virginia’s coast. But by the middle of the next decade, hundreds more may have joined them.
With a major push underway by President Joe Biden’s administration to develop 30 gigawatts of offshore wind as a way to reduce U.S. reliance on fossil fuels, federal officials are looking to dramatically expand the areas where wind farms can be built in U.S. waters.
Virginia is an epicenter of interest: Of 4 million acres of ocean identified as potential wind energy areas in a new Central Atlantic call area, most lie off the Virginia coast.
For the commonwealth’s fishing industries, already wary of what their business will look like once Dominion Energy’s 188-turbine Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project is constructed, the prospect of a much more expansive buildout of wind power throughout the rich fishing grounds off Virginia is sparking fears that the new industry will drive out the old.
“We know that when these lease areas are built out, it is going to be displacing fishermen, who are then going to be working smaller and smaller areas with more and more boats, which is going to lead to localized depletion,” said Tom Dameron, government relations and fisheries science liaison for Surfside Foods, a New Jersey-based commercial clam fishing company that last year landed roughly 10 percent of the East Coast’s entire surf clam harvest in Cape Charles.
For Virginia, which has made major commitments to decarbonizing its electric grid by 2050 and sees offshore wind as a major engine for economic growth in Hampton Roads, the challenge will be how to build out wind while also preserving its valuable fisheries.
Wind is an important solution to climate change, said Rachael Peabody, director of coastal policy, restoration and resilience for the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, but “you don’t want it to impact a healthy resource that is being managed well now.”
Farther north, other states have struggled to balance the two industries. Offshore wind development has sparked intense fights in New England and Mid-Atlantic states with vocal and well-organized fisheries groups worried about losing their livelihoods.
So far, Virginia has largely sidestepped the worst of those conflicts. The state has only one offshore wind farm under development – the Dominion-owned CVOW planned to be built 27 miles off Virginia Beach – and fewer than two dozen commercial fishers harvesting black sea bass and whelk have been identified as working in the lease area.
Todd Janeski, a fisheries coordinator with the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, said fisheries representatives are “still working through the pieces” with the utility.
As the federal government opens up new call areas where wind energy can be developed off Virginia, however, the potential for sharper conflicts may be growing.
Fishers impacted by offshore wind in Virginia to date have tended to be “less involved in policy and regulatory-type stuff,” said Annie Hawkins, executive director of fishing industry group Responsible Offshore Development Alliance.
“With the new call areas, that’s going to change,” she said. “Whichever of these call areas go forward, if any of them go forward, each of them overlap with fisheries that are already affected by offshore wind projects. You’re really expanding the scope in terms of who’s going to be impacted in terms of numbers and voices.”
Who could be affected is still an open question. The Central Atlantic Call Area being developed by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is still in draft form, with the federal government actively soliciting feedback on where its boundaries should be drawn.
“The effort here is to winnow this down into smaller areas to eventually focus in on areas that are compatible with both wind energy use offshore as well as with many of the other ocean users,” said BOEM biologist Brandon Jensen said during an agency presentation at Fort Monroe last week.
While fisheries aren’t the only limiting factor for offshore wind – existing shipping lanes, highly sensitive ecosystems and regions where certain naval activities are conducted also curtail where turbines can be built – they are perhaps the most complicated one, if only because no fishery is alike.
For the recreational fishing business, attitudes are more cautious than negative.
“We have no objection to the offshore wind farms. In fact, it’s a good thing for us, because they’re going to provide structure, and you’re going to have sea life all around them,” said John Bello, chair and co-founder of the Virginia Saltwater Sportfishing Association. “The thing that we don’t want is access to be restricted.”
But for commercial fishers, who operate bigger boats and heavier equipment, and who rely on the existence of particular populations of fish, the situation is more fraught.
“We’re not against wind power. We’re not against renewable energy,” said Bill Wells, a fourth-generation scallop fisherman, at BOEM’s Fort Monroe presentation. “We just want to operate as much as we can in the way we’ve been operating.”
“Coexistence” has become a watchword for many fishers. But at the same time, they are acutely aware that turbines – and especially large swathes of turbines – will inevitably change how fishing boats operate.
“We pretty much know after the turbines are in we’re going to lose those areas to fishing. … With turbines between six-tenths and a mile apart, you don’t have the space that we operationally need to run an efficient boat,” said Dameron.
Consequently, commercial fishers are eager to see the most productive parts of the ocean where they work excluded from the new Central Atlantic call area. At Fort Monroe, BOEM representatives urged fishermen to pinpoint especially active regions where boats operate.
Complicating that work is both the fluid nature of fisheries – surf clams, for example, have only recently resurged off Virginia after a roughly three-decade hiatus – and climate change, which is driving many populations northward in search of cooler waters.
“In order to make those plans, we have to have models to show us where they think those fisheries will be in the future,” said Peabody. “We just don’t have that yet for all our species.”
Fishery impacts, whether from climate change or from offshore wind, are likely to have ripple effects through the state’s economy. According to data from the National Marine Fisheries Service, Virginia’s commercial fishers took in $184 million in landings revenue in 2019, with scallops the most valuable species. (Those numbers don’t reflect the recent reappearance of the surf clam industry.) Recreational saltwater fishing produced hundreds of millions more in economic activity.
Virginia officials aren’t eager to see the state’s fishing industry constricted in any way. But when it comes to creating new wind energy areas, Peabody said the state’s power is limited.
“We don’t have legal authority over the approval or what’s going to happen out there, so we have to kind of play this role of trying to guide development through either commenting on projects or trying to give the commercial fishermen the platform they need in order to give good data and air out their concerns,” she said.
Hawkins said the “diffusion of responsibility” is one of the major challenges the fishing industry faces when it comes to grappling with offshore wind.
“It’s very, very difficult, because between the developers, the state and the federal government, every single one of the three is pointing the finger in a circle and saying, ‘Why don’t you ask them about that?’” she said.
County comments on state climate plan
25 June 2022
New York, Wind power, Wind energy
The public comment period on a document assembled by the state Climate Action Council, known as a draft scoping plan, is coming to an end on July 1. The plan dictates how goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act – the state law mandating abandonment of fossil fuel energy sources and reduce emissions below 85% of 1990 levels by 2050 – will be achieved.
Niagara County’s formal comment on the plan has been drafted by environmental coordinator Dawn Timm, who finds that the plan would have impacts on daily life in Niagara County that are disproportionate to the effects on other New Yorkers.
Timm suggested in an interview that the effects of CLCPA implementation will be harder on Niagara County residents in part because it’s a largely rural county.
“For someone living in a single-person home who can walk to work, this plan is not a bad one,” she said. “But for the family that lives in Wilson where the mother works at Starpoint and the father works in Buffalo – and the kids need to get places – we can’t afford everything this draft scoping plan is asking for.”
Timm’s draft comments, which are being reviewed and approved by the county legislature before they’re sent to the Climate Action Council, hone in on six “sectors” – transportation, buildings, industry, electricity, agriculture and waste.
Of transportation, Timm noted: To meet decreased-emission timelines, zero-emission vehicles will be pushed on the public by the state imposing a fee on “carbon intensive vehicles”; other strategies are to discourage driving by possible means including a per-mile fee system that would “impose fees on higher mileage.”
About buildings: “By the end of this decade, the expectation is that two million homes will become electrified with electric heat pumps, starting with Disadvantaged Communities first, followed by 250,000 homes each year after 2030. As of today, it is estimated a heat pump will cost single family home owners two to three times the rate to install when compared to furnace/air conditioning replacement.”
On Industry, Timm is critical of the plan to: “create an incentive-based strategy for mitigating direct emissions from certain industrial activities.” While these activities are in Niagara County, including production of food, paper, bulk chemicals, glass, cement, etc. Timm said it “remains to be seen the impact the draft scoping plan strategies would have on Niagara County’s ability to continue to conduct and attract industrial activity.”
Agriculture and Forestry: This is an area of real concern for the county, Timm wrote. The ability for a farmer to farm will be impeded by these plans assembled by the state. These include having a zero-emissions “farm fleet” as well restrictions to herding animals.
Waste: Here Timm criticizes the state on not moving forward with plans to force packaging and printed paper producers to change designs to reduce waste.
Regarding electricity from renewable sources, Timm suggests a lot is being asked of Niagara County to meet CLCPA’s timetables, and with little to no representation.
“Niagara County, by proximity and land use, should not tolerate a disproportionate cost to meet the state’s aggressive renewable energy goals without the option of local governments weighing in on the siting of these projects,” she wrote. “Our farmers should not be told how to raise their cattle or manage their crops, our shores should not sprout wind turbines and our fields should not produce electricity rather than a local food source without community.”
Timm notes under agriculture concerns, that land is being taken out of commission to house solar arrays and under Waste, the uncertainty of solar panels being recycled.
In both sections, the history of events such as the Love Canal are invoked to explain Niagara County’s reluctance to move forward with such projects.
Public Information Officer Kevin Schuler said the county’s formal comment will be released for public scrutiny before it’s sent to the Climate Action Council on July 1.
Oregon offshore wind developers rebuff push toward deeper waters
25 June 2022
Oregon, Wind power, Wind energy
Offshore wind power developers are rebuffing Oregon seafood industry efforts to nudge their development opportunities into deeper waters farther off the coast.
The viability of siting projects in deeper waters has emerged as a key question after federal ocean energy managers outlined two zones, one off Coos Bay and the other Brookings, for leasing consideration.
Those “call areas” begin about 14 miles from the coast and extend from 46 to 65 miles offshore, with water depths ranging up to 1,300 meters. The seafood industry and backers, including the bipartisan Oregon Coastal Caucus, say development there could disrupt valuable fishing grounds.
“The best available data suggests (locating turbines beyond 1,300 meters in depth) would reduce the impact on the California Current and upwelling,” the group of state lawmakers said in comments submitted in an Oregon Department of Energy study process.
Upwelling brings colder, nutrient-rich waters closer to the ocean surface, helping produce good fishing conditions.
But at least two developers eyeing Oregon say the deeper waters aren’t currently realistic for offshore wind, even for the floating turbines that would need to be used in shallower, closer-to-shore waters.
Would ‘significantly increase the cost of a project’
“The ramifications of going deeper than 1,300 meters off the Oregon coast are not incremental but are a step-change with respect to the technical demands of both the mooring system and the export cable, which would significantly increase the cost of a project and the time horizon in which it would be economically viable,” TotalEnergies SB US said in its comments to ODOE.
The company cited “seafloor slope conditions” beyond 1,300 feet as a key limiting factor, a point echoed by Aker Offshore Wind.
“Oregon projects deployed beyond 1,300 meters would need to accommodate depths of approximately 3,000 meters to avoid the very steep and technologically challenging continental slope,” Aker said.
Some in the fishing industry have pointed to call areas off the U.S. Atlantic Cost that extend to depths of 2,600 meters. But Peter Cogswell, government affairs director for Total Energies SB US, said the industry wasn’t keen on those areas.
“You’re going to see comments that are consistent with our comments in the letter to ODOE,” he said.
TotalEnergies SB US plans to nominate areas
Comments to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on the Oregon call areas are due by next Tuesday. Cogswell said TotalEnergies SB US would nominate zones within the call areas for leasing consideration. He was hopeful that narrowing the possibilities could ease concerns among ocean users.
“Right now, it’s so broad, 1,800 square miles, and everyone is reacting, and some people envision a huge impact,” he said. “We’re trying to say, ‘Look, here’s what we’re specifically interested in’ … then have some of the conversations with people about how did we do, what are further things we need to understand about these particular locations.”
The Oregon leasing process is part of a Biden administration effort to clear the way for 30 gigawatts of U.S. offshore wind power by 2030, enough to meet the energy needs of about 10 million homes.
Two to three of those gigawatts could be built off Oregon without the need for substantial transmission system upgrades, a national laboratory study showed. Advocates say climate change practically demands offshore wind come to Oregon, taking advantage of a superior natural resource, and say it would bring economic development to coastal communities.
Tama County farmer challenges Board of Supervisors action reaffirming outdated commercial wind energy ordinance
24 June 2022
Iowa, Press releases, Wind power, Wind energy
TOLEDO, Iowa – On June 22, Plaintiff Richard W. Arp, a fourth-generation Tama County crop and livestock producer who farms near Clutier, filed a petition for declaratory judgment against the Tama County Board of Supervisors in the Iowa District Court in and for Tama County.
A declaratory judgment is a binding judgment from the Court to determine the rights and obligations of each party.
Arp, a member of the Tama County Against Turbines LLC (TCAT) coalition asks the Court to declare the May 16, 2022, Tama County Board of Supervisors’ re-adoption of the 2010 Tama County Zoning Ordinance VI.I Amendment Number 1, regulating commercial wind projects, as illegal and void as the Supervisors failed to provide required notice or to hold the requisite public hearing to allow for public input.
Supervisors reaffirmed the ordinance May 16 without any changes, despite the public outcry by hundreds of residents calling for a comprehensive revision and modernization of the ordinance.
Hundreds of petitioners have called for significant changes to the ordinance last approved 12 years ago, in 2010, after first being a part of the County’s master zoning ordinance adopted in 1998.
“Nothing of substance has changed in Tama County’s ordinance requirements for industrial wind projects for 24 years,” said Tama County Against Turbines Chairman Jon Winkelpleck, a fourth-generation crop and livestock farmer from rural Dysart. “Wind turbines now can tower 65 stories or more, operate at much greater speeds, and can cause more potential interference with communications signals like emergency 911 and other communications systems. That’s why ordinances must be updated to better protect public safety,” he said.
Arp said, “The minimal Tama County ordinances don’t provide safe setbacks from property lines which are necessary to better protect the property rights of non-participating landowners who have not signed easements for wind projects. Tama County’s current ordinance also allows far too much sound to be emitted from wind turbines.”
About the lawsuit and Tama County wind energy ordinance regulations
The lawsuit claims the Board has used the outcome of the May 16 vote “as a weapon to stifle further discussion on the matter.” For example, despite numerous public requests, the Board has refused to include concerns about the Wind Energy Ordinance on any meeting agenda since May 16, and essentially claims that the concerns by Arp, as the Plaintiff, and other residents of Tama County are now moot.
The lawsuit seeks to require the Supervisors to follow Iowa law, by providing the required public notices and holding a public hearing to allow for public input, before adopting the County’s Wind Energy Conversion System ordinance (WECS).
The wind ordinance was later separated out from the master zoning ordinance, as the Tama County Zoning Ordinance VI.I Amendment Number 1, including the Tama County Wind Energy Conversion System (WECS) Ordinance was approved and adopted in 2010.
Coalition calls for a moratorium on wind projects, changes to County ordinances regulating them
“Despite packing the Tama County Board of Supervisors meetings each week since April 25, with the largest total and sustained crowds to attend their meetings in 27 years, the Tama County Board of Supervisors still refuses to enact a moratorium or to update ordinances regulating any new industrial wind project approval, as requested by the Tama County Against Turbines’ (TCAT) coalition, which includes more than 1,000 members,” Winkelpleck said.
“The current ordinance setbacks for turbine placement from structures is a bare minimum that means wind turbines can create danger zones on the property of landowners who have not signed easements with wind project developers,” Arp said. “It’s not right that wind turbines can be allowed to encroach on the property rights, and negatively impact the safety and property values of those who choose not to sign an easement,” Arp said.
“Tama County’s ordinances must be strengthened to better protect all Tama County residents from the noise pollution, shadow flicker, the flashing red lights at night that disrupt sleep for people and animals, and to ensure that they do not disrupt emergency communications systems, among the many other concerns taxpayers have about living near industrial wind turbines,” Winkelpleck said.
Benton County doesn’t allow industrial wind or solar projects on highly-productive farmland
Neighboring Benton County, Iowa, does not allow industrial wind turbines to be placed on ag farmland with a Corn Suitability Rating (CSR), which measures potential soil productivity, of 70 or higher. TCAT speakers pointed to Benton County’s land use regulations as an example of how to update and enforce Tama county’s ordinances to protect highly-productive farmland from being used for industrial purposes like wind turbines. On June 7, Benton County Supervisors swiftly rejected a proposal by a Canadian wind project developer who sought approval to build an industrial wind project in Benton County.
More information about TCAT is available on the group’s Facebook page: Tama County Against Turbines.
Tractor motorcade makes point
23 June 2022
Australia, Photos, Wind power, Wind energy
Farmers and landholders rallied with a convoy of tractors to protest against the proposed Mumblin wind farm.
Farmers took about 15 tractors adorned with signs such as “No Wind Farms Here,” and “No Turbines Near our Homes” to the Ecklin community hall on Saturday where the windfarm proponents were holding drop-in meetings with local residents.
The Ecklin-Elingamite-Glenfyne Community Association Stop Mumblin Wind Farm group organised the rally.
The group has maintained it was not opposed to wind farms but objects to the proposed location, fearing the turbines will impact on existing farming operations, damage the rural lifestyle, threaten swamps and local birds, cause noise and shadow problems and reduce land values.
RE Future has lodged an application for the Mumblin Wind Farm which would feature 10-15 wind turbine generators in the Ecklin, Elingamite and Glenfyne regions with a combined capacity to generate power for up to 35,000 homes.
The Stop Mumblin Windfarm Facebook group has more than 225 members and a community meeting late last year attracted nearly 200 people.
Elingamite North dairy farmer Linda Morgan said Saturday’s rally demonstrated the depth of community concern.
“RE Future set it up for one-on-one consultations but it was an opportunity for us to bring our tractors and show this is agricultural land and we want to protect it,” she said.
“We’ve written to the company and asked questions but had no response, so we’ve come here today to get some answers.”
“This could have been avoided with earlier consultation.”
Mrs Morgan said group members were not against wind farms.
“We like the idea of renewables, it’s just a matter of where wind farms go and we want to help RE Future find suitable sites,” she said.
Glenfyne dairy farmer Dennis Rosolin said the proposed turbines were too close to homes, would take away prime agricultural land and create a “visual eyesore”.
“We’re not opposed to wind farms, just the location,” he said.
The Ecklin-Elingamite-Glenfyne Community Association Stop Mumblin wind farm represents more than 70 families.
The group was concerned some farmers – many of who utilise helicopters for dispersal – would not be able to use fertiliser in spring because of the blades and buffer zones would impact on adjoining farms.
Local resident Bob Donovan said south west Victoria was home to an increasing number of wind farms, but was a vitally important intensive agricultural region.
“There are a lot of people living in this area,” he said.
“If the wind farm went further north, there are huge properties and they won’t bother anybody.”
“There are also lakes and swamps with native birdlife here; one of the turbines is only one kilometre from Lake Elingamite.”
Farmer Melissa Cardwell said the turbines would be in the middle of an intensive farming and lifestyle area.
“We don’t know what noise will come from them,” she said.
“It’s going to affect our income, our land values, our sleep, possibly our health.”
“The buffer zone is one kilometre off the neighbouring property from the edge of the property with the turbines, but we say the buffer zone should be within the host farm’s property, not the neighbour’s land.”
Ms Cardwell said the blades, if the wind farm was approved, would be 250 metres high and 162 metres wide.
“The blade span wouldn’t fit in the MCG,” she said.
If approved at the current specifications, the turbines would be the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.
The group said its was not happy with responses from RE Future on Saturday and it would continue to object to the plans.
The group has employed lawyer Dominica Tannock from DTS Legal in Melbourne who successfully represented Bald Hill wind farm opponents in South Gippsland.
Mrs Morgan said the group would continue to build information about the impact on flora and fauna and farming operations.
RE Future project director Severin Staalesen said so far more than 70 face-to-face meetings had been conducted in the local area and the offer to meet with anyone who wants to talk about the project was still in place.
He said the open day on Saturday was held so local residents could talk directly to company representatives about the wind farm.
“After listening on Saturday we have committed to hold another open event in the coming month or two in consultation with the Corangamite Shire Council,” Mr Staalesen said.
“This site was chosen for a number of reasons.
“It has a good wind resource, it has good access to major roads, it’s located in an area dedicated to intensive farming, it’s located away from areas dedicated to rural living, it’s located away from important infrastructure like airports and telecommunications facilities, and finally it has good setbacks to dwellings.”
RE Future acknowledged some residents have raised “serious concerns about the compatibility of wind energy with dairy farming”, according to Mr Staalesen.
“However, experience both locally and around the world shows that the two land uses are entirely compatible,” he said.
“Wind farms are located in dairy farming regions all over the world, including in Europe and North America, and dairy farming has continued around them without a problem.”
“In the local area, there are two wind farms currently operating in dairy farming country (Timboon West Wind Farm and Ferguson Wind Farm in Cooriemungle), and neither wind farm has had any impact on the dairy farming operations that surround them.”
Mr Staalesen said the project was at the beginning of the development process.
“We’re currently carrying out technical studies that will inform the planning permit application,” he said.
“As with all wind farm developments, when it’s ready the planning permit application will be assessed against the provisions of the planning scheme.
“The planning scheme sets independent and objective standards that all wind farms must meet, including sound emissions, impacts to aviation, shadow flicker, impacts to flora and fauna, impacts to cultural heritage, and electromagnetic interference.”
“At the appropriate time in the planning process we’ll make all the planning documents publicly available on our project website.”
Wind turbine collapses near Ames
23 June 2022
Oklahoma, Accidents, Wind power, Wind energy
AMES, Okla. – Authorities are looking into what caused a wind turbine to collapse in Major County.
Ames Fire Chief Mike Willey said a resident who lives about a mile away from where the turbine stood heard a thud, looked over and saw the downed turbine and reported it. Ames Volunteer Fire Department responded at 6:45 p.m. Monday.
There was no fire, and firefighters contained the scene while waiting for company representative to respond, which they did in about half an hour, Willey said.
The turbine is part of Maverick Wind Farm and is located 3 miles east and 1.5 miles south of Ames near the intersection of county roads 274 and 55.
Wind farm owner Invenergy directed questions about the turbine to Public Service Company of Oklahoma.
No injuries were reported from the downed turbine, PSO spokesperson Wayne Greene said in an email Tuesday afternoon.
“Engineers and safety team members will thoroughly assess the situation in coordination with local officials,” Greene said.
Willey said it was the first time his department has responded to a fallen turbine.
Wind farm’s connection to power grid causes lights to flicker across South Australia
23 June 2022
Australia, Complaints, Wind power, Wind energy
A connection between Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park and the national electricity grid is under investigation for causing lights to flicker and dim across South Australia for hours this morning.
Energy distributor ElectraNet said the privately-owned power generator connected its new wind farm to the grid in South Australia’s north about 1:30am, causing a “voltage issue”.
There have been widespread reports of house and street lights flickering across the state as a result.
South Australian Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the issue was not related to AEMO’s gradual end to its intervention to wholesale price caps, which started from 4am and would go for 24 hours.
The minister stopped short of assigning blame but said it could be “a connection issue”.
“We don’t know what the actual cause is. We know the source of the problem but we don’t know who was causing it,” he said.
“It could have been [the] renewable energy park, it could have been ElectraNet.”
ElectraNet said it worked with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to identify the cause and the third party was disconnected from the network.
It said power supplies returned to normal about 5:30am.
ElectraNet interim chief executive Rainer Korte said the fluctuations had less of an impact than they otherwise would have because the wind farm generator concerned was only in the commissioning phase.
“We don’t like to see these impacts, but the reason we take a cautious approach to commissioning the gradual release of capacity is exactly for this reason – to identify any issues and limit the impact of any issues that may be identified,” he said.
Mr Koutsantonis said large operators such as GFG and BHP noticed the “voltage fluctuations”.
He denies there was an inherent problem with renewable energy.
“I don’t think it was anything malicious or dangerous. I just think it’s probably testing, probably either a new generator that’s attempting to establish its connection to the grid after commission,” he told ABC Radio Adelaide this morning.
“There was testing and as demand started to increase into the day, they pulled the testing and the flickering stopped.”
Premier Peter Malinauskas said ElectraNet controlled the transmission lines from power stations to localised networks.
“The transmission lines issue sits with ElectraNet and apparently there’s a frequency issue there with one of their feeders,” he said.
“I understand there is an investigation underway from AEMO with ElectraNet.”
AEMO last week suspended the market and directed generators to pump power into the network to keep lights on.
Wind turbine snaps in half in Northeast Colorado
23 June 2022
Colorado, Wind power, Wind energy
In Northeastern Colorado a sea of wind turbines spins to provide renewable energy for thousands. Fleming Volunteer fire department says they received a call Wednesday of blades falling off one turbine. When crews got on scene they found an entire tower had snapped in half and collapsed.
Sterling Fire says it happened in the area of county road 16 and 59. There is no word yet on what caused the break to happen or how the turbine will be repaired or demolished.