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Wind projects should require environmental studies

From expert testimony during Chowan and Perquimans counties’ conditional use-application hearings on the Timbermill Wind project we keep coming back to environmental assessments.

The Timbermill Wind project affects eight regional National Wildlife Refuges (within 130 driving miles of Edenton), but Apex, the company that wants to build the wind farm, says a federal environmental assessment is not required. Will the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service go to court before Chowan County votes on the conditional use permit application to stop future bird kills? I don’t know.

Blade span for this project is reported to be 200 mph, likely 100 revolutions per minute. Nevertheless, bat kills reduced the blade speed on operating wind farms from 30 rpms to 15 rpms. A 100-rpm blade speed apparently is acceptable in the county ordinances because bats are relatively unimportant to the agricultural eco system. If bats and birds are being killed because of blade tip speed, isn’t this a concern for an environmental assessment? Further, what if low-frequency or electric and magnetic field noise interferes with a bat’s radar reception? This is an issue for an environmental assessment. Additionally, Apex won’t turn over its two-year bat study to the Chowan Board of Commissioners.

There has been no consideration of European noise and flicker standards. Maybe their noise standards don’t have anything to do with environments surrounding wind turbines?

Were World Health Organization standards adhered to? At this time, all we have is Apex’s word that we don’t need environmental assessments from the state or federal governments.

The impact of pumping millions of gallons of water from the water table surrounding a turbine base during its construction leads to saltwater encroachment, according to the hydrologist expert opposing Apex’s plans. Apex’s rebuttal testimony was not from an expert hydrologist’s perspective. The opposition hydrologist said saltwater encroachment was already at the edge of Chowan County. We must assume Chowan and Perquimans’ taxpayers will want to spend several million dollars for a reverse-osmosis water plant because of water table depletion.

Like “Obamacare,” Apex asks us to approve something before we know what’s really in it and what it will do to our eco system. And we all know how well Obamacare’s working out.

Patrick Flynn