Several environmental agencies have now commented on the inadequacy of the environmental impact statement prepared by Invenergy for the proposed Stony Creek Wind project in Orangeville. The agencies’ concerns are identical to those raised by citizens’ public comments. For example, U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s comments to Orangeville Supervisor Susan May.
A general description of the project area (Stony Creek industrial wind energy project) indicates that agriculture and forest dominate the 14,500-acre study area. Centrally located in Wyoming County, the project area contains some of the largest remaining blocks of forest habitat – 7,438 acres in total.
Approximately 41 percent of the turbines would be built in forest habitat. Roads, buried electric cable, and turbine pad installation within forests can result in reduced habitat quality, smaller forest patch size, and changes in vegetation structure. Fragmentation can also lead to increased predation, lower productivity, and the spread of invasive species.
The DEIS indicates that the project will reduce sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide, pollutants, and displace the use of fossil fuels. A recent report by the National Research Council (NRC 2007) found that wind energy projects do not deliver the environmental benefits typically described by the project sponsors. For example, turbines generally produce 30 percent of the rated capacity due to lack of wind (EIA 20040).The intermittent nature of the wind results in electricity being generated only periodically and, therefore, other types of generating facilities must be operating to meet the demand. Therefore it is inaccurate to state that this project will displace the use of fossil fuels at existing power plants.
In summary, the U.S. Department of the Interior finds that Orangeville’s DEIS does not contain adequate information regarding potential impacts of the project on wildlife, and additional environmental review is necessary. We find the U.S. Fish and Wildlife states that there is insufficient or missing data regarding wind resource data, and project alternatives should be reviewed to limit impacts. It appears that additional information on streams and wetlands is needed, including mitigation options.
Our recommendation for wildlife studies at wind projects specifies that data be collected over multiple seasons and years to determine average annual conditions. Because of variability in migration and weather, collecting data for one year likely does not reflect typical wildlife use in the project area. Therefore, we find that insufficient data currently exist to adequately conduct a risk assessment and predict wildlife mortality for this project.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation commented: “Based on a preliminary review of GIS resource maps as well as the preliminary wetland location maps, prepared by the applicant, approximately 20 unmapped freshwater wetlands (i.e., wetlands exceeding 12.4 acres in size that are not currently mapped as state-regulated wetlands) are likely to be present in the project area. The areas in question include the immediate vicinity of the following turbines: T-01, T-02, T-04, T-09, T-16, T-27, T-32, T-33,T-37, T-38, T-43, T-44, T-45, T-51, T-53, T-54, T-56, T-57, T-58. (For maps of proposed turbines in Orangeville, check the Clear Skies Over Orangeville website, www.csoo.info.)
Clear Skies Over Orangeville is hosting a public information symposium on Aug. 31 at the Bryncliff Inn, Route 20A, Varysburg, on “The Inconvenient Truths of Wind Energy.” Gary Abraham, an environmental lawyer, will be speaking on many of these issues with special consideration on the noise issue.
Invenergy is having legal trouble over their Willow Creek turbine facility, in Ione, Ore., concerning noise issues, according to a recent New York Times article (“Turbines too loud? Here, take $5,000,” July 31). And Caithness LLC’s Shepard’s Flats project, also in Oregon, has a representative from New York offering people living in close proximity to their project $5,000 to sign noise easements, so the turbine noise can exceed noise limits set up by ordinances, but what about the people who won’t sell their health, safety and welfare?
Invenergy in the DEIS, has admitted that 163 Orangeville residents will be negatively impacted by noise, at levels that the DEC’s guidelines have classified as intolerable. In its comments, DEC advised the Town Board to apply the agency’s noise guidelines. However, this is how the Town Board responded to DEC:
Dear Mr. (Rudyard G.) Edick,
I (David DiMatteo, town attorney) received your e-mail dated May 14, 2010. (Deadline for comments was April 23, 2010, however, Mr. Edick is in the U.S. Reserves, and was out of town in service of our country). Your anticipated comments are nearly a month late and will not be accepted or considered.
Thank-you for your anticipated co-operation.
People of Orangeville, take your town back. Tell the Orangeville Town Board: “No! My town is not for sale to Invenergy or anyone else! Go home Invenergy!” We, the people of Orangeville are not going away. We love Orangeville.
Cathi Orr is founder of the Clear Skies Over Orangeville Rural Preservation Coalition. She lives in Orangeville.
[The Stony Creek Wind Energy Center DEIS is available at www.invenergyllc.com/stonycreek/
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