Last week, attorney Rufus Brown filed a brief on behalf of aggrieved neighbors of the Vinalhaven (ME) wind turbines with Maine Superior Court. The filing represents a summation of the case related to noise from the turbines that has turned the lives of nearby residents upside down.
The full brief is available, here:
Petitioners’ Rule 80C Brief (as filed)
For additional information and background, click this link.
In its December 2012 newsletter to ratepayers, FIW and Fox Islands Electric Cooperative prepared ratepayers on Vinalhaven to pay more to fund an anticipated appeal of the court’s eventual decision mid-2013. They wrote, (sic) ratepayers should invest in appealing a ruling in favor of the neighbors, rather “than have the industrial turbines so overburdened with regulation that these higher costs would continue through the life of the project.”
Sadly, when Fox Islands Wind and the Coop rail about regulations, the fact is that ratepayers are paying for FIW’s own mistakes in siting the project too close to homes. The turbine developer ignored the advice of its own consultant during the permitting phase and avoided disclosing the noise issue to either neighbors or the wider Vinalhaven community that was swept up in orchestrated enthusiasm at the time.
The petition lays out a series of requests to the court. Here is what the neighbors are asking:
1) that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection be directed to formulate a new enforcement order that requires the wind turbine operator to reduce operations “under all conditions of significant vertical or directional wind shear”. FIW clings to fictions about the direction and source of the intolerable wind turbine noise. Wind shear conditions are most likely to cause noise excedences based on extensive testing and facts presented by consultants to FIW which FIW ignored,
2) that the state should treat the noise issues at Vinalhaven the same way it has, in other installations around the state,
3) that the state address the prior, uncooperative and obstreperous behavior of the wind turbine operator by requiring sound, operational and meteorological data to be available on a 24 hour basis so that any ratepayer can monitor the actions of both the operator and the state. Importantly in 2012, according to the turbine operator’s own report, its equipment failed more than 30 percent of the time. In other words, even while litigating, the wind turbine operator did not even take care to fix its own data collection efforts when broken, proving the point that the court must retain jurisdiction for a limited time to monitor Vinalhaven turbine operations, and
4) neighbors request an award of attorney’s fees for the portion of the case that constitutes alleged violations of the neighbors’ constitutional rights. (By clicking on the links, above, you can learn more about these issues.)
It is now fully three years since the three 1.5 megawatt industrial wind turbines disrupted the lives of neighbors, forcing a protracted, costly battle by citizens against the state. FIW and George Baker, the turbine operator’s top spinner, instead of negotiating with neighbors, pursued political advantages to avoid accountability for noise violations that began as soon as the turbines began spinning.
Neighbors want peace and quiet and equitable relations with the town of Vinalhaven restored.
Please consider the facts and decide for yourselves whether Vinalhaven wind turbine neighbors have been treated fairly.