Category Archives: SFS Speaks Out

SFS SPEAKS OUT

E-MAIL from TODD MORGAN to Tammy Truitt

FAA requested Pioneer Green pull their aeronautical study so they could close the case. Pioneer Green response was :  no they would not.

See Todd Morgan response below.

From: Morgan, Todd <TODD.B.MORGAN@saic.com>
To: Tammy Truitt <jtr1049240@aol.com> Sent: Thu, May 7, 2015 2:25 pm

Subject: Great bay

They won’t go away.

They told the FAA that they would not ‎terminate the aeronautical study.

Waiting on MIT results in December.   Not sure what the next FAA move is.

Tilting at Windmills?

But, unlike Don Quixote, this band of incensed residents has defeated a massive wind farm project set to endanger local citizens and the environment

By Dave Gahary, American Free Press, April 21, 2015

A dedicated group of citizen volunteers on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland have taken on an arm of the powerful wind energy lobby and sent them packing back to the Lone Star state. The group, Safe for Somerset, was formed for that sole purpose. Comprised of average citizens, some with professional degrees in engineering, law and medicine, the organization gathered the facts necessary to educate the residents of the county and told Pioneer Green Energy of Austin to move along.

Pioneer’s plan, to construct a wind farm in a county with barely any wind, had been in the works for over five years in Somerset County, Maryland, and represents a microcosm of what is happening across the United States as aggressive companies scramble to get a piece of the wind pie brought on by the Obama administration’s mandate that wind generate 20% of all the nation’s electricity by 2030. Currently the U.S gets around 3.5% of its energy from U.S gets around 3.5% of its energy from over 400 wind farms. Texas, California, and Iowa are the top three states hosting wind farms.

Longtime AMERICAN FREE PRESS subscriber and supporter Bart Van Ness, a resident of the Eastern Shore, brought this matter to the attention of this newspaper. Bart also introduced this reporter to Tammy C. Truitt, a poultry farmer and the co-founder of Safe for Somerset.

AFP asked why she got involved.

“I became concerned,” she began, “because the people who were already living amongst industrial wind turbines were suffering from a multitude of problems. And those problems ranged from health, lower property values, and environmental damage.”

Pioneer Green arrived in Somerset County late 2009 to early 2010, approaching large, politically-connected landowners to get them to sign wind leases, and carried out secret negotiations with them for around two years without public knowledge.

“They were going to construct 400-foot wind turbines,” explained Mrs. Truitt. “As time progressed, those turbines increased in size to 600 up to 700 feet.”

“The wind resource here in Somerset County is considered poor/marginal for industrial wind,” she added, which is why Pioneer found it necessary to increase the height so drastically.

Why a company such as Pioneer would select such a poor wind area provides a lesson on how these large corporations conduct business.

“Pioneer Green kept harping on how poor our county was and that they would be spending $200 million in our county for economic development,” said Mrs. Truitt. “They target rural counties that are economically stressed.”

Incredibly, Mrs. Truitt explained, “They don’t even factor wind resource into the top three criteria when they’re citing a project.”

“Wind survives on politics,” Mrs. Truitt said, “and part of the politics is the mandate where the government requires x-amount of energy to come from renewables, and then they require the suppliers to purchase the renewable energy no matter what the price.”

AFP asked Truitt to detail why these farms are such a danger.

“It is a scientific fact,” said Mrs. Truitt, “that low-frequency noise impairs people’s health, the audible sound is very annoying, but what makes people sick is the force of the sound. You can watch people [near these wind turbines] immediately take their hand and put it to their chest, without realizing they’re doing it, because their heart is reacting to the frequency’s noise that the turbines are emitting.”

The machines also present structural dangers.

“There have been numerous fires, collapses and there have been numerous blade liberations,” Mrs. Truitt explained. “Liberation” is the innocuous term the wind industry uses for catastrophic failure—when the blade separates itself from the turbine.

Blade separation distances in the United States “have been documented as far as 1,500 feet away,” said Mrs. Truitt.

The blades can also go “rogue,” meaning they spin uncontrollably while the wind facility is unable to stop them. In fact, said Mrs. Truitt, two instances have been recorded where blade debris was thrown over half a mile in 2008 in Denmark and this past January in Ireland.

“The wind industry likes to place the machines, no matter how tall they are, 1,000 feet from people’s residences, and a lot of times they measure not from property lines but from the foundations of the residences,” said Mrs. Truitt.

A fire in the nacelle cannot be reached by firetrucks and must be allowed to burn itself out. The nacelle is the housing that holds the wind turbine’s engine and is the size of a school bus.

So serious has this issue become, that “banks in Scotland and Canada have stopped financing properties that are located in close proximity to wind farms,” said Mrs. Truitt.

Besides the obvious danger to humans, many birds pay the ultimate price.

“Our land consists mostly of marshlands and we are home to a migratory path called the Atlantic Flyway,” said Mrs. Truitt. “Our area is ranked number three in the United States for bald eagle population.”

The Atlantic Flyway is a bird migration route that follows the Atlantic Coast of North America and the Appalachian Mountains, utilized by birds since no mountains or hills block the entire path.

“Wind turbines wreak havoc on raptors,” like the American bald eagle, she said.

For this project’s 30-year life span, it was calculated that over 600 eagles would be killed by the machines.

“The wind industry reports and monitors its own kills,” said Mrs. Truitt, and they use methodologies and modeling favorable to the industry, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is woefully unprepared to deal with this accelerating technology.

It’s not just birds being slaughtered.

“Turbines are a very big killer of bats,” said Mrs. Truitt. This results from something known as barotrauma, or a change in barometric pressure.

“When a bat gets in close proximity to a wind turbine their lungs will explode,” detailed Mrs. Truitt. The bats are also attracted to the red, blinking lights on the units which attract bugs.

Somerset County residents depend heavily on their huge and vibrant bat colonies because of the “massive mosquito populations that begin in April till October,” due to the many marshes and bogs of the Eastern Shore.

Besides the dangers, wind power currently makes little sense, due to its inefficiency, mainly due to the fact that wind is intermittent and unreliable.

“Wind requires 42% of energy subsidies to produce 3.5% of energy,” revealed Mrs. Truitt, and “even when the wind produces energy, the grid cannot accept it.”

Even worse, Mrs. Truitt explained, “it makes the cost of the other forms of energy rise because it makes them less efficient.”

The Obama administration’s policy is “any and all costs when it comes to renewable energy,” said Mrs. Truitt, and “to meet these mandates, there is going to be a wind turbine in your county.”

AFP asked if the pro-wind lobby has had an impact on news reporting of the issue.

“The Tri-County newspaper tried to diminish our story as much as they could, and they promoted wind every chance they got,” explained Mrs. Truitt.

Ms. Truitt revealed how closely politics is interwoven with the push for so-called “green” energy.

Pioneer’s “head honcho attended Barack Obama’s 50th birthday party,” explained Truitt.

Dave Gahary, a former submariner in the U.S. Navy, is the host of AFP’s ‘Underground Interview’ series.

E J MONHEISER: A Thank You for Senator Mikulski

April 8, 2015

Dear Senator Mikulski,

I just had to write to tell you how much the grassroots group in Somerset County known as SAFE FOR SOMERSET applauds you for your fearless actions concerning those very important words you added to the legislation that prevented Great Bay Wind Energy Project’s invasion of industrial wind turbines into Somerset County. Our group attended the HB 1168 hearings in Annapolis last year and were disappointed that the bill passed but was later vetoed.

Our group has been working for almost 3 years to keep this developer’s turbines at bay, and your creativity finally did what we couldn’t do.

We are all so very disappointed that you have decided not to run again. It’s not often that constituents really RESPECT and ADMIRE the work performed by their legislators. We really appreciate all the hard work that you, Sen. Cardin, Congressman Hoyer and our Southern Delegation have done for Pax River and the residents of Somerset County.

We wish you all the best with your future endeavors.

Sincerely,

E.J. Monheiser

and all the 400 members of the SAFE FOR SOMERSET GROUP

Commentaries: DR. RANDY GEORGE – A plea the ethics board can help restore trust

February 4, 2015   Crisfield Somerset County Times

Dr. Randy George of Marion Station presented the following remarks Feb. 11 to the Somerset County Ethics Commission as it begins to review financial disclosure forms submitted by the County Commissioners.
                                                                    * * *

“I have been very troubled by what’s going on with regards to this wind ordinance. The underlying reason, I think, why you’re here today is that wind ordinance.

“The drafting of an ordinance was commissioned by the County Commissioners to the Planning and Zoning Commission, and I think this whole discussion centers around the prestige of office, around the use of that.  And that’s the underlying theme that I hear through it all.

“ You are at some disadvantage, because you were not, like many of us, sitting through these long Planning and Zoning Commission meetings.  Maybe that’s an advantage.  But we do have, and the county does have audio/visual records of every bit of it, it’s out there.

“When Pioneer Green, we all know who that is, came into the county, it had very clear requirements. It was never vague about those requirements for what it had to have in order to be here.  It needed to plant a series of turbines in an agricultural-residential area, because we are closely tied geographically to each other that didn’t leave a lot of area.  People live quite close to each other even though it’s an agricultural region.

“Pioneer Green wanted to place these turbines 700 feet away from people. They finally conceded that it would be a 1,000 feet, otherwise they would have to walk. The height had to be a certain height, and if it were to be restricted, they would have to walk. If the sound were not allowed to be too loud, they would have to walk, they required it to be in the range of airports and train sound levels permitted by the state of Maryland, otherwise they would not stay.

“This company had paid for its own impact study for the county, and there’s never been another one done. This impact study in general states there’s no problem with the turbines being here. In general our county regulations allow buildings, industries, activities, that allow industry to come into the county,  but to also to protect the people and the process.  It has to be a balanced procedure.  And in this particular case, having to do with this particular wind turbine process, many of us believe that was not done.

“The Planning and Zoning Commission required, depended upon and listened to Pioneer Green for guidance about how this turbine ordinance was to be drawn up.  There were two commissioners, one was the head of the commission, Dr. Mary Fleury, and another one Tammy Truitt, who actually has a family member who stood to gain by the presence of turbines, who raised flags about this particular process, showing that there was risk, risk having to do with sound, health, property values, and both of these ladies presented volumes of information to the commission from other places, from other studies, showing that there were risks, and even how to mitigate those risks simply by placing turbines farther away from people as had been done elsewhere.  It’s called setback, the distance between people and the turbine.

“Mr. Pusey,  Mr. Porter,  Mr. Taylor,  all presented alternative wording to this ordinance to try to make it easier for the commission to arrive at a balance. They even presented other ordinances from other areas to use as models.  All of these presentations, and you must look to the record since you weren’t there, were publicly dismissed, ignored, voted down.

“We think if you had been there you would have been disappointed with the process. Maybe embarrassed, maybe appalled.

“The final draft followed the Pioneer Green script.  With that it was logical for those of us who were watching it, and there were many, to question what was going on here.  What led to such a lopsided result, favoring a commercial interest, and apparently disallowing safety interest for the community?

“Because of that, several of us went into the public record, to try and see if there were some kind of conflict of interest.  Well, we were looking for relationships between the leaseholders, the landholders who would be getting money from Pioneer Green, and our county officials. These findings, which are really preliminary since the search is ongoing, were presented in a letter that you have now, that was sent on Jan. 9. And I won’t go through that. We’re sorry that this has come to this point. Very sorry. We’re sorry that you even have to be here. We’re glad you are.

“If you should find, this is our plea, that there has been any tainting of that ordinance that was being drawn up, any corruption of it, by any confl ict of interest, by any apparent conflict of interest, we request that you disallow that ordinance, that you just scrap it, that you advise that it be scrapped at the very least. And the reason is because trust in this local government has been lost to some extent of late. And by your actions, you are able to restore it to some extent. I thank you.”

SBY BLOG: An Interesting Find – February 22, 2015

This is the Salisbury News Blog run by Joe Alburo.  It displays the Relationship Chart created for the Press Conference which SFS held on January 28th, and also has the speech made by Dr. Randy George at the Ethics Commission Meeting on February 11th.   As of 2/26/15, around 4pm it had 358 comments.

The items below are PDF print files that can be downloaded in order to read or keep them on your computer.  Some of the beginning pages were overprinted with ads, so those comments were copied and placed in a separate file so you wouldn’t miss anything!  Have fun trying to figure out who is doing the commenting!

 

 

 

REPLY to Paul HARRIS: Claim that Turbines do NOT affect health or sleep

REPLY from Professor Ryan TAYLOR to Paul HARRIS of Pioneer Green

Professor Taylor is an Associate Professor of Biology and Bioacoustics at Salisbury University and is also a Research Associate for the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Apartado 0843-03092 Balboa, Ancón, Republic of Panama.
February 23, 2015

Dear Paul:
With regards to your Feb 22nd piece in the Daily Times, you made the claim that there is scientific consensus that wind turbines do not affect human health or sleep.  I asked for a list of your 20 peer-reviewed studies and it turns out that you don’t have a list of 20 peer-reviewed studies.  On the other hand, there are 30+ peer-reviewed studies that indicate wind turbines affect nearby residents when placed in proximity to homes.  These studies include noise measurements, surveys, and auditory physiology studies that demonstrate noise effects on hearing.  I’m hardly “ignoring an extensive body of scientific research”, nor have I “picked and chosen facts.”   If any consensus exists in the scientific literature, it is that turbine noise influences nearby residents (see list below).

You also attempted to discredit me by suggesting I am only an expert in frog behavior.  An important focus of my lab is using frogs and bats (which are acoustic specialists)  to address questions regarding vertebrate and human auditory perception.  If you read my Science, 2013 paper, I address this directly.  I use animal models to address questions that are not feasible with direct human testing.  So claiming that I lack expertise because I study frogs is like claiming a medical researcher who conducts experiments in mice is not qualified to discuss human disease.

In addition, at the University, I teach courses in Human Anatomy & Physiology for students majoring in the health professions (pre-med, nursing, etc.).  So yes, I am well-versed in human auditory physiology and perception.

Finally, you end your article by effectively blaming the victim.  This is the same type of tactic that the cigarette industry used for so many years.

I am copying the county commissioners on this correspondence because it is important that they see that your claims of “scientific consensus of no harm” are not true.  See the list of full peer-reviewed studies highlighting potential problems with Industrial Wind Turbines.

Regards,

Ryan

cc:  Somerset County Commissioners

References: Wind Turbine Noise

1) Nissenbaum, M.A., Aramini, J. J., Hanning, C. 2012. Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health. Noise & Health, 14:237—243.

2) Shepherd, D., McBride, D., Welch, D. Dirks, K.N., & Hill, E.M. 2011.  Evaluating the impact of wind turbine noise on health-related quality of life. Noise & Health, 13:333—339.

3) Moller & Pedersen. 2004. Hearing at low and infrasonic frequencies. Noise & Health. 6:37—57.

4) Bian & Watts. 2008. Effects of low-frequency biasing on spontaneous otoacoustic emissions: amplitude modulation. J. Acoustical Society of America.  123:887—898.

5) Leventhall, H.G. 2004. Low frequency noise and annoyance, Noise & Health. 6:59—72.

6) Alves-Pereira, M. & Branco, N.A.A.C. 2007.  Vibroacoustic disease: biological effects of infrasound and low frequency noise explained by mechanotransduction and cellular signaling. Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology.  93:256-273.

7) Dommes, E., Bauchnect, H.C., Scholz, G., Rothmund, Y., Hensel, J. & Klingebiel, R. 2009. Auditory cortex stimulation by low frequency tones – an fMRI study.  Brain Research. 1304:129—137.

8) Farboud, A., Crunkhorn, R. & Trinidade, A. 2013. Wind turbine syndrome: Fact or fiction? Journal Laryngology & Otology. 2013:1—5.

9) Hanning, C.D. & Evans, A. 2012. Wind turbine noise seems to affect health adversely and an independent review of evidence is needed. British Medical Journal. 344:1527

10) Harrison, J.P. 2011. Wind turbine noise.  Bulletin of Science, Techology & Society. 31:256—261.

11) Hensel, J. Scholz, G., Hurttig, U., Mrowinski, D., Janssen, T. 2007. Impact of infrasound on the human cochlea. Hearing Research. 233:67—76.

12) Janssen, S.A., Vos, H. Eisses, A.R. & Pedersen, E. 2011. A comparison between exposure-response relationships for wind turbine annoyance and annoyance due to other noise sources. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 130:3746—3753.

13) Krogh, C.M.E. Industrial wind turbine development and loss of social justice? Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society. 31:321—333.

14) Lee, S. Kim, K. Choi, W. & Lee, S. 2011. Annoyance caused by amplitude modulation of wind turbine noise.  Noise Control Engineering. 59:38—46.

15) Pedersen, E. & Waye, K.P. 2004. Perception and annoyance due to wind turbine noise—a dose-response relationship. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.  116:3460—3470.

16) Pedersen, E. & Waye, K.P. 2007. Wind turbine noise, annoyance and self-reported health and well-being in different living environments. Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 64:480—486.

17) Pedersen, E. & Waye, K.P. 2008. Wind turbines—low level noise sources interfering with restoration? Environmental Research Letters. 3:1—5.

18) Pedersen, E. 2010. Health aspects associated with wind turbine noise—Results from three field studies. Noise Control Engineering. 59:47—53.

19) Salt, A.N. & Hular, T.E. 2010. Responses of the ear to low frequency sounds, infrasound and wind turbines. Hearing Research 268:12—21.

20) Salt, A.N. & Kaltenbach, J.A. 2011. Infrasound from wind turbines could affect humans. Bulletin of Science Technology & Society. 31:296—302.

21) Salt, A.N. & Lichtenhan, J.T. 2014. How does wind turbine noise affect people? Acoustics Today. 10:20—28.

22) Salt, A.N., Lichtenhan, J.T., Gill, R.M., & Hartsock, J.J. 2013. Large endolymphatic potentials from low-frequency and infrasonic tones in the guinea pig. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 133:1561—1571.

23) Schomer, P.D. 2013. Comments on recently published article, “Concerns about infrasound from wind turbines.” Acoustics Today. 9:7—9.

24) Shepherd, D., McBride, D., Welch, D. Dirks, K. & Hill, E.M. 2011. Evaluating the impact of wind turbine noise on health-related quality of life.  Noise & Health. 13:333—339.

25) Waye, K.P. & Öhrström, E. 2002. Psycho-acoustic characters of relevance for annoyance of wind turbine noise. Journal of Sound and Vibration. 250:65—73.

26) Waye, K.P., Clow, A., Edwards, S., Hucklebridge, F., & Rylander, R. Effects of  low frequency noise on cortisol response to awakening and subjective sleep quality. Life Sciences. 72:863—875.

27) Hansen, K., Henrys, N., Colin, H., Doolan, C., & Moreau, D. 2012. Wind farm noise- what is a reasonable limit in rural areas? Proceedings of Acoustics. 2012:1—8.

28) Kugler, K., Wiegrebe, L., Grothe, B., Kössl, M., Gürkov, R., Krause, E., & Drexl, M. 2014. Low-frequency sound affects active micromechanics in the human inner ear. Royal Society Open Science. 1:140166.

29) Salt, A.N., DeMott, J.E. 1999. Longitudinal endolymph movements and endocochlear potential changes induced by stimulation at infrasonic frequencies. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 106:847—856.

30) Wisz, C.J., Lehar, M., Hiel, H., Glowatzki, E. & Fuchs, P.A. 2012 Synaptic transfer from outer hair cells to type II afferent fibers in the rat cochlea. Journal of Neuroscience. 32:9528—9536.

31) Dallos, P. 1986. Neurobiology of cochlear inner and outer hair cells: intracellular recordings. Hearing Research. 22:185—198.

References:  Bat Kills, Wildlife Noise & Economics

1) Baerwald, E.F., D’Amours, G.H., Klug, B.J., and Barclay, R.M.R. 2008. Barotrauma is a significant cause of bat fatalities at wind turbines. Current Biology. 18:R695—696.

2) Barclay, R.M.R., Baerwald, E.F. & Gruver, J.C. 2007. Variation in bat and bird fatalities at wind energy facilities: assessing the effects of rotor size and tower height. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 85:381—387.

3) Boyles, J.G., Cryan, P.M., McCracken, G.F. & Kunz, T.H. 2011. Economic importance of bats in agriculture. Science. 332:41—42.

4) Horn, J.W., Arnett, E.B. & Kunz, T.H. 2008. Behavioral responses of bats to operating wind turbines. Journal of Wildlife Management. 72:123—132.

5) Arnett, E.B., et al. 2008. Patterns of fatality of bats at wind energy facilities in North America. Journal of Wildlife Managment. 72:61—78.

6) Barber, J.R., Crooks, K.R., Fristrup, K.M. The costs of chronic noise exposure for terrestrial organisms. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 25: 180—189.

REPLY to Ryan TAYLOR: Consult peer-reviewed/Public health experts on wind issue

February 22, 2015

I am writing in response to Ryan Taylor’s February 18th letter to the editor in which he seeks to educate readers on the scientific process and value of peer review.

I agree with the statements stressing the importance of sticking to the science, but not his attempt to discredit peer-reviewed scientific evidence representing the most credible body of science on the health effects of wind turbines.

The fact is that there is scientific consensus that wind turbines have no negative health impacts.

In accusing me of offering poor scientific sources, Dr. Taylor is ignoring an extensive body of scientific research and acting contrary to his own statements by picking and choosing his facts.

But the reader should neither listen to me, a wind farm developer, nor to Dr. Taylor, whose scientific bona fides comes from the exhaustive study of frog behaviors.  Instead, readers should look for answers from experts in public health, epidemiology, toxicology, neurology and sleep medicine, neuroscience, and mechanical engineering.

A number of exhaustive studies and literature reviews of peer-reviewed research has been conducted to address claims by wind skeptics, many of which are available on our website www.greatbaywind.com. Each of these exhaustive reviews has repeatedly found the same conclusion: There is no association or causation between wind turbines and the human vestibular system, or any form of physical or psychological distress as claimed by Dr. Taylor.

Perhaps the two most interesting and informative findings regarding what anti-wind activists call “ wind turbine syndrome” come from two studies conducted by medicine and health science researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

These studies essentially found that the only people who have actual or perceived negative effects of “ wind turbine syndrome” are those who have anxious and irritated personalities in their normal lives (you know who they are), and that these people essentially worry themselves sick.

Absent actual scientific evidence to support them, it may be prudent for believers in wind turbine syndrome to look not out the window, but in the mirror.

Until then, please remember that there is consensus among real experts in this field that wind turbine syndrome has more to do with certain types of personalities than it does with actual wind turbines.

Paul Harris, Development Manager Pioneer Green Energy, LLC

YOUR VIEW: Peer-reviewed literature supports anti-wind sentiment

Salisbury Daily Times
February 11, 2015  – YOUR VIEW
By  RYAN TAYLOR

In a recent WBOC newscast, Paul Harris, development manager for Pioneer Green’s Somerset County wind farm project, said there are “more than 20 peer-reviewed scientific studies that dispel health concerns related to turbines.”   I asked Harris to provide a list of these publications, which he did.  Upon inspection, however, the list included only seven peer-reviewed literature reviews, none of which were experimental studies.   Most of the list consisted of non peer-reviewed reports, some written by paid consultants for the wind industry.

Peer-reviewed experimental studies are important because they are the gold standard for scientific knowledge.   As scientists conduct studies, they gather evidence, interpret the results and write a paper that is submitted for publication in a scientific journal.  Prior to publication, the journal sends the paper to anonymous reviewers who are experts on the topic.  The expert reviewers are asked to provide a critique of the paper to ensure it meets rigorous scientific standards. If the paper does not stand up to such scrutiny, it is not published.  This process ensures the data provide the best information available and are as unbiased possible.

Contrary to Harris’s claims that industrial wind turbines pose no health risks, a quick literature search turned up more than 30 peer-reviewed studies showing negative health impacts from wind-turbine noise.  Specifically, these studies include multiple human experiments demonstrating that industrial wind turbinetype noise affects human ear function and interferes with sleep.

The fact that communities continue to sue wind developers and utilities on the grounds that their quality of life and health has been compromised further reflects this reality. Sadly, wind developers and local governments continue to ignore known health hazards and put profits before citizens.

Ryan Taylor of Westover is an associate professor of biology and bioacoustics at Salisbury University.

Safe For Somerset Press Conference, Jan 28, 2015

PRESS RELEASE:  

New Concerns Warrant Wind Project Delay, Local Group Says.
Safety, Ethics and Nat’l Defense Cited.                   

PRINCESS ANNE – Today, the local group, Safe For Somerset called on Somerset County Commissioners to delay plans for a Somerset County wind project because of new health and safety concerns, threats to national security, and new evidence of possible ethics violations by elected officials who are considering approval of the project.

Named “Great Bay Wind” by wind project developer Pioneer Green, the project would erect 29 wind turbines 400’-700’ tall near the communities of Marion Station and Westover in Somerset County with plans for additional turbine installations in later project stages.

Regarding health and safety, Harvey Kagan, the group’s spokesperson cited medical literature which documents sicknesses linked to wind turbines. These health claims were recently given new credence when the Brown County, Wisconsin Board of Health declared their industrial wind turbines a public health hazard, he said.

Kagan referred to reports of blade failure, ice throw, tower collapse and fire resulting from turbine mechanical failure. Although relatively infrequent, the risk and severity of these accidents increases with turbine height, according to Kagan. The 400’-700’ turbines proposed by Pioneer Green would be among the tallest in the nation.

Kagan referred to a decision last August by Pioneer Green to withdraw plans for projects in Alabama because the company could not meet minimum requirements for health and safety established there. “If Pioneer Green’s safety standards are unacceptable in Alabama, why are the same standards acceptable here?” Kagan asked.

Regarding “setbacks” or distances deemed safe between turbines and human activity, he said, “During the deliberations about this project, voices on the Commission that rose to increase setbacks to scientifically-established safe distances were publicly ridiculed, and eventually silenced. Distance from turbines was decided in favor of the developer,” Kagan said. “Our officials have cast a blind eye and dismissed the risks, placing in harm’s way the citizens they represent.”

Ethical standards of the County Commission were also called into question. According to Kagan, the commissioners were found to have completed the wrong financial disclosure forms and were found not in compliance with the County Ethics Ordinance or State Ethics Laws. Although they were notified of these violations last December, proper financial disclosure still has not been provided by the commission, according to Kagan. He said that Pioneer Green has actively solicited elected leaders without required disclosure of fees, expenses or registration of their lobbyists.

Direct conflicts of interest by county commissioners may also exist, according to Kagan. He said that the group has identified several county officials who have made or will be making critical legislative decisions on this project who have close family or business ties with holders of wind turbine leases. He said that the group submitted those concerns to the Ethics Commission last November and again in early January, 2015, but the Ethics Commission has not made a determination. A flow-chart displaying possible relationships between lease holders, and public officials was displayed.

Kagan also criticized commissioners’ lack of openness and transparency in consideration of the project, claiming that the commissioners have intentionally kept residents uninformed, particularly about the proximity of the turbines to homes. “This has purposely been done to make residents believe the construction will not affect them,” Kagan said as he displayed new maps prepared by the group showing wind turbine leases and locations of proposed wind turbines. “These maps show the locations of properties that will be within 1 mile of proposed wind turbines. The County Commissioners should have made such maps available to the public.”

Kagan reviewed what his group deems as serious problems with the poor economics of wind power, the project’s marginal economic benefits, and its cost to electricity users and tax payers. As evidence, he cited production data from a wind turbine at the campus of Chesapeake College which shows that the turbine has operated at only 16 percent of its rated capacity at a cost of 30 cents per kilowatt hour, which he stated is approximately 3 times the Maryland’s average residential and commercial rate.

“If Great Bay Wind is built,” Kagan said, “Somerset County residents will be forced to subsidize wind’s high cost and poor efficiency through their taxes and their electricity bills,” He cited U.S. Energy Administration data showing disproportionate subsidies for wind power compared to other energy sources. “Subsidies and mandates are the only reason to build them,” he said, quoting investor Warren Buffett.

With respect to jobs, he said that only a few non-specialized jobs would be available for residents of the county during the construction phase and that only a few caretaker jobs would remain after the project was complete.

The environment, landscape and the cultural heritage of Somerset County are also endangered by the project, according to Kagan. “Turbines ranging from 440’ to 700’ tall will dominate our beautiful landscapes of field and marsh, transforming them for the next generation and possibly forever,” he said.

Relating to national defense concerns, Kagan cited a recent report by the Department of Defense that the project will impair or degrade radar operations at Patuxent River Naval Air Station and “create an unacceptable risk to national security,” quoting the report. The report also says that mitigation strategies to reduce or eliminate the project’s impact on the Navy are being researched by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the results of the report will not be available before December 2015.

“The title of the report says it all”, said Kagan, “There is a determination of “unacceptable risk to the national defense.” Will our elected leaders proceed with consideration of a project which threatens our national security?” Changes in the Navy’s defense operations to mitigate these risks should also be questioned, according to Kagan. “Multi-million dollar mitigation strategies will be at taxpayer expense and represent another subsidy to Pioneer Green,” he said.

According to Kagan a delegation of southern Maryland lawmakers will be reintroducing a bill to put a moratorium on the project until completion of the MIT study. A similar bill, HB 1168, was passed in 2014 but was vetoed by Governor O’Malley. “We are calling on all members of the Maryland General Assembly representing Somerset County and the entire Eastern Shore to support this legislation. We are calling on our new governor, Larry Hogan to sign it when it reaches his desk,” he said.

“We respectfully ask that the Somerset County Board of Commissioners not proceed with consideration of this project until these issues are resolved.”

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OPINIONS: Dan Ervin – Wind energy poses economic challenges

Salisbury Daily Times – OPINONS – DAN ERVIN | December 29, 2014 | www.delmarvanow.com ~

A recent letter indicated states with more wind energy have lower electricity prices for customers. The facts do not support this statement.Dan-Erwin-150x150[1]

Wind energy proponents usually omit several cost components when discussing the price customers pay for electricity. The electricity output from wind turbines is very volatile. The output is constantly changing and these changes can be large.

As result of the output volatility, primary plants must be ready to provide electricity in a very short time frame. Primary plants lose fuel efficiency as they cycle up and down to maintain the electric grid.

Finally, improvements to the transmission grid are required. The Department of Energy estimates onshore wind energy retail price will be 8 or 9 cents per kilowatt-hour. The hidden costs bring the true retail price to approximately 15 to 19 cents per kwh. The cost related to the renewable portfolio standards requirements are not included in this estimate. The price for electricity generated by coal is 8 to 9 cents and natural gas is 6 to 7 cents per kwh.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration, an agency of the Department of Energy, collects energy data for the United States. This data includes the amount of energy generated by different generation technologies, including wind at the state level.

The Energy Information Administration also collects price data at the state level. Several categories of price data are available and the data classified as “All Sectors” is used in this analysis. The states with wind energy are identified and compared to states with no wind energy in 2013. This is the most recent annual data. Then the average price per kilowatt hour is calculated for the two groups.

Wind turbines generated some electricity in 37 states. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia did not have any wind energy. The average price for the wind state was 10.79 compared to 10.08 cents per kwh for the states (and the District of Columbia) with no wind energy.

To more fully understand the price issue, it is interesting to compare the rate of change in electricity prices.

The price change from 2012 through 2013 is positive for 32 of the 37 (86.49 percent) wind states. The average increase is 2.78 percent. Of the remaining 13 states (and the District of Columbia), nine (69.23 percent) experienced increases and four saw decreases. The average price increase for these states is 2.64 percent. The price in DC did not change from 2012 to 2013.

This analysis supports the view that wind energy increases, not decreases, electricity costs to the consumer.

The factors that impact the level of a state’s electricity prices and the changes in price are many and can be complex. This simple analysis is a starting point for more in-depth studies. However, this simple analysis should provide a basis to question statements concerning the cost of wind energy on the Eastern Shore and the Mid-Atlantic region.

Electricity production and distribution is a complex endeavor. This region and United States have enjoyed reliable systems in the past. It is vitally important to remember the advantages of reliable, economical and safe electricity.

Electricity has driven the economic progress of the region and country in addition to saving millions of lives. Let’s be sure any changes we make to the system are in the public’s best interest.

Dan Ervin is a professor with the Perdue School of Business at Salisbury University.