Airtricity’s €1.4bn sale of its North American subsidiary could prove to have been perfectly timed with the Irish firm looking set to exit its investment before opposition to wind power gathers momentum.
With opposition to the burgeoning wind farm business gathering pace, industry experts are questioning whether German-buyer Eon will ever justify the massive price it is paying a business still in early stage development.
“There has not been much focus on opposition to wind turbines in the States, maybe Airtricity are getting out before it becomes an issue,” one consultant said last week.
He was speaking in the wake of a meeting held by residents of Orleans County last week where an outpouring of negative criticism against Airtricity’s plans to build 55 to 80 wind turbines in the towns of Gains and Albion emerged.
Residents listened to guest speaker Jerry Borkholder, a Hamlin resident serving on the Wind Tower Committee who has spent many hours researching the 400-foot turbines, as he spoke of the negative impact they have had in communities around the world.
He called on Orleans County residents to take action before it is too late.
“Your job is to make sense out of something that, on the surface, makes no sense … If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Mr Borkholder said. “Wind developers lie. They mislead … They are very close lipped about what they are going to do.”
The biggest problem with wind turbines, he said, is that they do not work. Problems with intermittency, when the turbines shut down from too much or not enough wind, have yet to be ironed out.
A “back-up” natural gas-powered generator is needed to restart them, thereby negating the claim that they are 100 per cent green. They are most efficient off-shore, he said, where they operate at 90pc efficiency and are miles away from people. “Green energy costs more,” Mr Borkholder said.
“The only ones they make sense to are the ones who are making money.” Turbines could have a direct impact on the area’s wildlife, he said. The blade tips move at speeds of 120 to 180 miles per hour, killing birds and bats instantly, which could affect the mosquito population and the incidence of disease.
By Pat Boyle
29 October 2007
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