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Wind turbine siting impact, decommissioning bonds discussed  

Credit:  Nick Walton, Staff Writer | Urbana Daily Citizen | 11/16/2012 | urbanacitizen.com ~~

COLUMBUS – A township trustee from Van Wert County testified about the township’s wind project during Friday’s Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) Hearing.

Among the topics Hoaglin Township trustee Milo Schaffner discussed regarding wind energy included a turbine near his house, how its construction affected roads, and visiting the site of the Paulding County turbine incident. According to his written testimony, Schaffner states 38 wind turbines were installed and are operated in Hoaglin Township through the Blue Creek Wind Farm. The project is an Iberdrola Renewables Project.

Referencing similar concerns of wind energy opponents, Schaffner said the closest turbine to him, located a mile from his home, has caused personal issues including noise and shadow flicker as well as the sense of feeling the turbines. Schaffner said the noise and feel of the turbine was as if someone was beating a bass drum on his chest.

Schaffner added he did not expect to deal with shadow flicker because of the distance between the turbine and his house. Schaffner was called to testify on Friday by Union Neighbors United (UNU), which is intervening in the case due to safety and setback concerns.

“I was foolish and believed what I was told that after 1,000 meters (or) 3,200 feet light dissipates so that you don’t see shadow flicker,” he said. “My house is a mile away and thank God our garage is on that side – you can see the shadow flicker in the garage.”

Schaffner said when he approached the developer about shadow flicker the response was an offer to sign a good neighbor agreement and buy shades. Schaffner declined the offer.

In addition to being a township trustee Schaffner is also a grain farmer and general manger of Schaffner Tool and Die, Inc.

Schaffner’s response to how development affected township roads was that concrete trucks and trucks hauling turbine parts damaged the township’s roads during construction, leaving potholes. In addition to driving on bumpy roads, Schaffner expressed concern over safety issues for driving automobiles and farm equipment on the roads.

Without the bonds to help fix the roads, Schaffner said there is still an issue with the roads and the patches the wind company has tried to apply to the road have contributed to the road’s bumpy conditions.

A few days after the Timber Road II Wind Farm incident, where a Vestas turbine suffered a blade shear, Schaffner said he visited Paulding County in the spring. Schaffner said he observed debris 30 feet off the edge of the roadway at the site of the incident.

When asked by Champaign County Assistant Prosecutor Jane Napier what his opinion was for a recommended safe setback for an occupied structure, Schaffner said 1 1/4 mile, or 2 kilometers.

Following Schaffner’s cross examination, councilman Jonathan Knauth answered questions about decommissioning costs and salvage value. Knauth testified on behalf of Champaign County, which is also intervening in the case.

A councilman in Litchfield, N.Y., Knauth is also a technical director of Critical Imaging LLC in Utica, N.Y. Knauth said he has studied wind projects for the past three years as part of a local Wind Law Committee.

In his written testimony, Knauth states using scrap value to determine adequate financial assurance is too much of an unknown quantity as the prices fluctuate, often not covering different costs.

“You’re looking at a product – if it’s going to be re-used – that’s probably 20 years old or 25 years old,” Knauth said. “It’s probably old technology and I just don’t know of a comparable example that I could use to say that there is a viable market or that there will be one in 20 years.

“I would think I would sell the parts of the turbine if I could, but looking ahead 20 years I find that difficult to believe that I could rely on that as a security vehicle,” Knauth said.

When asked by Champaign Wind attorney Howard Petricoff when the proper time to decommission a wind turbine was, Knauth responded when it could not be operated given the legal and market climate, state of the equipment and when it is no longer viable to operate.

As the questioning transitioned to decommissioning bonds, Knauth acknowledged the bond amount has to be equal to the expenses of decommissioning.

The proposed decommissioning bond in the Buckeye Wind II project is $5,000 per each turbine. When Napier asked Knauth if this was an adequate amount, an objection by Petricoff was sustained as administrative law judge Jonathan Tauber said the question exceeded the scope of cross examination.

Other individuals who were scheduled to be cross examined Friday included engineer William Palmer and Urbana resident Don Bauer. The hearing is scheduled to resume on Monday for two days before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Source:  Nick Walton, Staff Writer | Urbana Daily Citizen | 11/16/2012 | urbanacitizen.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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