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NWW's submitted comments to House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development

March 31, 2006

Summary

National Wind Watch does not oppose funding of research and development for wind energy, but stresses that any increases in monies allocated be correctly focused. Most of any future research and development should now be focused on the detrimental impacts and mitigation techniques of wind development including, but not limited to: actual impacts on property values in areas where wind development occurs; actual net impacts on employment; life cycle analysis of environmental impacts (positive and negative); grid system stability and reliability under increasing penetration of wind, and within lower quality wind sites. Given the inherent and perceived conflict of interest, National Wind Watch recommends that the National Renewable Energy Laboratory NOT hold responsibility for such analysis but only be permitted to participate.

I. INTRODUCTION

National Wind Watch™, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of the risks and related impacts of industrial wind energy development on the environment, economy, and quality-of-life. The organization represents local citizen groups and individuals seeking to protect their property rights and community values, maintain nationally significant scenic resources and protect America's wildlife. The organization advocates an intellectually honest and scientifically sound assessment of the benefits and costs of industrial wind development with the objective of becoming a resource of information and assistance for individuals, local groups, and decision-makers seeking the facts about industrial wind power. Far too often, debates about wind power have over stated its potential benefits and ignored its tremendous costs.

II. SUMMARY OF POSITION

National Wind Watch does not oppose funding of research and development for wind energy, but stresses that any increases in monies allocated be correctly focused. Most of any future research and development should now be focused on the detrimental impacts and mitigation techniques of wind development including, but not limited to: actual impacts on property values in areas where wind development occurs; actual net impacts on employment; life cycle analysis of environmental impacts (positive and negative); grid system stability and reliability under increasing penetration of wind, and within lower quality wind sites. Given the inherent and perceived conflict of interest, National Wind Watch recommends that the National Renewable Energy Laboratory NOT hold responsibility for such analysis but only be permitted to participate.

III. SUPPORTING COMMENTS

During the debate leading up to passage of the Energy Bill in 2005 there was discussion as to whether the United States should adopt a Renewable Portfolio Standard or RPS. The Senate passed the RPS as an amendment, but the House voted it down. Senator Lamar Alexander correctly noted at the time that the RPS was "all about wind" citing factors that would limit implementation of other renewable sources including solar, hydro, and geo-thermal.

Senator Alexander also noted that, according to testimony before the Energy Committee and other sources, in order for the United States to achieve the standards in the RPS, it could "require building more than 100,000 of [the] new, massive wind turbines." Today, there are less than 7,000 such wind turbines in the U.S. The US Treasury Department is on record stating the wind subsidy, if renewed each year for the next five years, would reimburse wind investors for 25 percent of the cost of wind production and cost taxpayers $3.7 billion over those 5 years [Sen. Lamar Alexander, introduction of the Environmentally Responsible Wind Power Act of 2005]. General Electric Wind, one of the largest manufacturers of wind turbines, experienced a 500 percent growth in its wind business in 2005 due to the renewal of the wind production tax credit in 2004. On a unit production basis, wind is subsidized more than 10 times any other energy source, yet contributes least to our energy security. Further, as the amount of wind generation increases, negative grid stability impacts grow exponentially.

National Wind Watch has watched the recent surge in wind development throughout New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and elsewhere in the US and the impacts of this development on rural communities. Town boards and local officials are ill equipped to evaluate the true impacts of these facilities. At the State level, some form of RPS has already been put in place in 23 states. This translates into additional State pressure on the community to embrace the wind plant, quiet opposition, and degenerate the permit process.

In the face of this development, the September 2005 GAO Report titled Impacts on Wildlife and Government Responsibilities for Regulating Developing and Protecting Wildlife stated, "that the impact of wind power facilities on wildlife is more studied that other comparable infrastructure, such as communication towers, important gaps in the research remain. First, relatively few pre-construction monitoring studies have been conducted and made publicly available. It appears that many wind power facilities and geographic areas in the United States have not been studied at all." Where they have been studied (e.g. Altamont Pass in California) the studies find significant work to do to reduce continued and on-going decimation of wildlife, including endangered and protected species.

While requests for additional pre-construction studies may be made, the local communities often do not have the money to pay for original research at a site. In many cases, the research should not be confined to the limited hundreds of yards area where the turbines are located, but would involve a regional review to cover secondary impacts related to erosion, impacts to water quality, tourism and the economy, and bird migration patterns. In the absence of local funding, National Wind Watch has found multiple cases where wind companies have agreed to conduct such studies, but also assume authority over the parameters of the studies and, in so doing, predetermine the outcome.

Continued installation of wind turbines throughout our rural and mountainous landscapes without scientific, impartial review of the impacts of this industrialization would have devastating effects of some of the most precious ecosystems in the world. After decades of government subsidized research and implementation, it is time for the wind industry to no longer be treated as an "infant industry." Rather, it is time for the industry to start paying for much of its way, consistent with the maturation of the technology. Any money now should go to research, once and for all, the impacts of these massive turbines on our wildlife, open spaces, property values, health and safety of residents living in the vicinity of turbines, and the quality of rural life.

National Wind Watch respectfully requests that you deny further funding for wind energy research and development, and direct this funding to the detrimental impacts and mitigation techniques of wind turbines. We also recommend the National Renewable Energy Lab NOT be in charge of such analysis but only allowed to participate.

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