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TyronePA e-cafe - Tyrone Pennsylvania Community Forum • View topic - Windmills on Ice Mountain - Gamesa Wind Turbines
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Windmills on Ice Mountain - Gamesa Wind Turbines

Anything in our community you would like to discuss? Post it here.

Posts: 53

Ice Man MVP Member

Posts: 467

Ice Man MVP Member

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My2Cents MVP Member

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Location: Tyrone, PA
Oh, Ice Man.... how tragic !!!

sandstone MVP Member

Posts: 461
Location: Sinking Valley
Green energy land rush

by Bob Marshall in "Field and Stream"

November, 2009 by Bob Marshall in Field & Stream

Large-scale wind and solar projects could exact a toll on wildlife

As the nation begins addressing the problem of global warming by looking at renewable alternatives to fossil fuels, a new slogan is emerging from the conservation community, especially fish and wildlife advocates: Remember ethanol!

That's not a rallying cry. It's a call for caution.

Two years ago most sportsmen would have asked: What could possibly be bad about renewable power sources - ethanol, solar, wind, hydropower, wave, tidal, ocean thermal, and geothermal? What could be wrong with finding energy supplies that don't pour carbon into the air?

Today, leaders in fish and wildlife conservation have a quick answer: Remember ethanol. Made primarily from corn, ethanol was billed as a green fuel that would reduce our carbon footprint as well as our dependence on oil from countries that hate us. It was a win-win: good for the environment and good politics, too.

It was only after refineries were being built in corn country that problems surfaced. Corn-based ethanol, it turned out, actually created more carbon than it saved. It also gobbled up water supplies, polluted water, and increased nutrient loads in streams. Worse of all, as corn prices exploded to meet the new demand, landowners rushed to pull out of their Conservation Reserve Program contracts so they could convert land to cornfields, which would have doomed wildlife habitat in many areas.

Since then steps have been taken to protect CRP, but the energy issue continues to pose challenges for fish and wildlife. Additionally, our persistent dependence on the diminishing supply of oil has been deemed a national security threat. So the nation is forging ahead with subsidies for green energy technologies, and while sportsmen agree that movement is necessary, they're right to be concerned about the cost of unintended consequences.

Those start with the impact on the landscape - and we're not talking aesthetics here.

The demand for land and water

Solar and wind energy projects designed to produce power on scales large enough to light communities do not resemble the photovoltaic panels on your neighbor's roof, nor that windmill on the local farm. The gobble up land on a stunning scale that can make an oil refinery seem like a minor pothole on the migration route of wildlife.

Robert McDonald, a landscape ecologist for the Nature Conservancy, studied the land requirements to produce a terawatt-hour of energy - about the electricity generation by a small power plant. It came to 3.74 square miles for coal, 14.2 square miles for photovoltaic solar power, and 27.8 square miles for wind.

Last July, the U.S. Department of the Interior moved to accelerate large-scale solar power plants on 670,000 acres of public lands in six Western states. The New York Times reported that the government-backed interest in solar has led to a "solar land rush" over the last two years, with the Bureau of Land Management now reviewing 158 lease applications on a total of 1.8 million acres. And this is only the beginning.

Unfortunately, solar power on an industrial scale doesn't go directly from the sun to batteries, like those flat panels on a suburban rooftop. Robert Glennon, author of Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What to Do About It and one of the nation's authorities on water use, noted in a Washington Post op-ed recently that "most large solar power projects use a system called concentrating solar power, or CSP, that heats a fluid that boils water to turn a turbine. CSP just like any thermal power plant, produces waste heat as a byproduct. In most cases, cooling towers release the heat to the atmosphere through evaporation, a process that uses gobs of water."

According to a 2008 study by the U.S. Department of Energy, that water usage amounts to as much as 750 gallons per megawatt-hour. One megawatt can power about 800 homes.

That rate of water usage becomes more critical because large solar farms will be located in areas where the sun shines most of the day -- arid and desert regions of the West. Even a slight change in the water supply there can have disastrous effects on fish and wildlife.

The wind farm in the willows

Wind energy is getting even more attention because it has a proven power-producing track record around the world. Windmills have been standing on hilltops in Europe for decades, and now are sprouting on landscapes across the U.S. But just as with solar, energy companies responding to new federal incentives (such as a 30 percent tax credit) know their profits rise with scale. Investors like the legendary oilman T. Boone Pickens are talking about covering huge expanses of the prairie states with thick forests of windmills; energy companies in wind-whipped areas of the Rocky Mountain West are already negotiating with ranchers to line ridge tops with windmills.

And while the Department of Energy tries to smooth over that footprint by saying that "it is important to note that the land between the turbines - minus the 'footprint' area - is still useable for its original purpose," boosters of fish and wildlife would disagree.

"What impact would miles of windmills or solar panels have if they were placed in a migration corridor for antelope or mule deer?" asks Steve Belinda, who covers energy issues for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, a coalition of sportsmen's groups. "What happens to grouse or pheasants if the windmills or panels are located in a prime nesting or feeding area?

"I've seen these pictures the industry puts out of deer grazing near windmills, trying to claim no harm is done. Well, maybe in that case at that moment. But how many of those energy companies will want guys with guns or bows hunting around their investments?"

The amount of land required for wind turbines and solar panels is only part of the landscape equation. Many more miles will be consumed for power lines to carry the energy to the power grid. It's all part of the environmental cost of environmentally-friendly energy production.

Belinda is careful to stress that sportsmen's groups are not opposed to development of renewable energy; in fact, they see it as necessary for the future of the entire planet, not just fish and wildlife. But they want to make sure solar, wind, wave, and the others do not become another exercise in ethanol.

To that end, sportsmen's groups are developing a strategy to have fish and wildlife values considered on the front end wherever alternative energy development is being discussed. They know they probably can't stop some projects, but they want to ensure that current ecosystems are protected.

"We want to know what fish, wildlife, and recreational values are in a proposed area before development , and what will be needed after development to sustain populations and traditional uses," Belinda says. "If you have 100 sage grouse nests in that area, you may be able to tell regulators we will need 70 left to sustain the resource at levels where it can be used."

Getting seats at the table during development is essential.

We may be able to urge alternative sites for wind farms or transmission lines, based on the needs of wildlife and sportsmen," Belinda says. "This is all coming at us pretty fast, and from all sides. But it's an issue we can't ignore."

Just remember ethanol.

Web link: http://www.fieldandstream.com/

Ice Man MVP Member

Posts: 467
Hundreds of miles of new heavy-duty gravel roadway have been constructed on the Allegheny Front between Tyrone and Maryland to accomodate 400 industrial-scale wind turbines. Here's an article about the effects of such roads:

Forest Roads Facilitate the Spread of Invasive Plants


Thursday, December 10, 2009

University Park, Pa. -- Invasive plants are advancing into Eastern forests at an alarming rate, and the rapid spread has been linked by researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences to forest road maintenance and the type of dirt and stone used on roads.

Perhaps predictably, according to David Mortensen, a professor of weed ecology who has been studying the spread of invasive plants for nearly two decades, humans are unwittingly accelerating the relentless march of invasives into even isolated forests. The findings are especially significant in the face of massive forest road-building efforts expected to support greatly expanded natural-gas drilling operations into the Marcellus shale formation. Hundreds or even thousands of gas wells could be established in Eastern forests in the next few years, depending on the market price of gas.

In a paper titled "Forest Roads Facilitate the Spread of Invasive Plants," published in the August 2009 issue of Invasive Plant Science and Management, Mortensen detailed some eye-opening revelations about the process by which invasive plants advance so quickly.

"Roads can play a profound role in the spread and growth of invasive species by serving as corridors for movement and by providing prime habitat for establishment," Mortensen explained. "For example, forest managers have reported that the borders of hundreds of miles of forest roads have been invaded by Japanese stiltgrass in a period of less than 10 years."
As part of his research, Mortensen -- who was assisted by post-doctoral researcher Emily Rauschert and doctoral candidate Andrea Nord -- performed a large-scale survey of the presence and abundance of 13 invasive plants and found that the most abundant species, Microstegium (Japanese stiltgrass) is strongly associated with proximity to roads. He then focused his attention on trying to determine the reasons and devise a strategy to slow the spread.

The researchers discovered, to their amazement, that Japanese stiltgrass on its own does not spread quickly. To better understand why the invasive plant is achieving such a high rate of spread in Eastern forests, they deliberately introduced Microstegium patches in a forested site similar to the one in which the survey was conducted and allowed patches to naturally expand over four years before controlling all patches.

"Through this multi-year study, we found the natural spread rate was surprisingly slow, several orders of magnitude slower than that observed by the forest managers we work with," Mortensen said. "We also found that spread was greatest in habitats adjacent to forest roads.

"It is clear that the rates of spread occurring in forests throughout the study region are aided by management practices such as road grading, which is employed frequently to maintain the dirt and gravel roads."

Japanese stiltgrass seed becomes mixed with the dirt and gravel and then is carried along as graders push the crushed stone to fill holes and smooth road surfaces. Mortensen also suspects invasive plant seeds may be picked up and transported by equipment, so he suggests spread could be limited by carefully cleaning the undersides of construction vehicles and other machines before they travel from one road job to another.

"Management of this troublesome invasive can be enhanced with a multifaceted, integrated approach," he said. "Particular attention should be paid to infestations that serve as sources for seed dispersal into uninvaded or environmentally sensitive areas. The primary vectors of long-distance dispersal, such as road maintenance activities or vehicle traffic, should be identified and mitigating steps taken. Finally, it is important to minimize road-edge disturbance to the extent possible, as such disturbance provides an ideal seedbed for the newly dispersed Microstegium seed."

Perhaps the most startling finding of Mortensen's research relates to the nature of dirt and gravel on forest roads that enables invasive plants such as Japanese stiltgrass to thrive.

"The crushed limestone used to surface many forest roads and to line culverts and drains along those roads are creating ideal conditions for the invasives to spread rapidly," he said. "The high alkalinity sediment from the stone, mixed with water running off the roads during storms, eventually spills out into the forests, carrying invasive plant seeds and creating areas for them to grow quickly. The high alkalinity prevents native plants that have become adapted to acidic forest soils from growing, and invasives such as Japanese stiltgrass fill the void."

Ironically, the crushed limestone is being used on many forest roads and in ditches and drains that parallel mountain streams precisely because the material leaches a high-alkalinity slurry that improves the productivity and water chemistry of the streams. That benefits the wild trout and other aquatic organisms that have suffered in many mountain streams after decades of acidic atmospheric deposition (acid rain).

"That only complicates the battle against the spread of invasive plants into Eastern forests and shows the interconnected nature of ecosystems," Mortensen said. "But measures need to be taken to slow the spread of invasive plants such as Microstegium, because over the long run they will change the nature of our plant communities by outcompeting native plants."

Ice Man MVP Member

Posts: 467
PLSC 135: Politics of the Environmental Crisis Final Draft

Case Study: Wind Turbines

by Erin Nachtman

Case Study: Wind Turbines in Our Region

In recent years central Pennsylvania has been exposed to some major controversy on the topic of wind turbines. What is a wind turbine? Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines the wind turbine as a wind-driven turbine for generating electricity. It sounds harmless enough if one finds a particular community constructing these in their backyard. In fact, with this new aged energy crisis that societies are facing, at a rapidly growing pace, at first glance one might think that this is a great idea with advanced “green” technology. What if that first glance took your eyes straight up to about 400 feet facing 120 foot metal blades cutting through the sky like a knife? This is just the first thing a person would notice when facing them head on, whether standing at the base of this metal machine or miles away, because you really can see them from vast distances.

Obviously these advanced wind generating machines are located in areas in the community where they are easily seen from afar. To many people these locations are referred to, quite simply, as their pristine mountain ridge tops. Whether a resident of Pennsylvania or not, most people are aware of the Appalachian chain of mountains, especially in central Pennsylvania, where this chain of ridges and valleys sweeps across the state. It is a beautiful, pristine part of the country and these wind energy machines are now lining the ridge tops; they are taking away this natural beauty that residents have been used to viewing for generations.

There is also the issue seen by long time residents and conservationists, that bats and raptors are being killed by the score from the blades of these machines. These ridge tops are along major migratory paths of many bats and birds. These issues are being met with controversy and many people and organizations are speaking out to prevent species endangerment due to the wind turbines that already exist. Not only are there arguments over the damaged beauty of ridge tops and species endangerment for the turbines in place, but companies seek to build 90 more in the upcoming year. Many people are extremely concerned and are speaking out.

Public and private sectors, official and non-official leaders, and organizations and individuals are voicing their emotional and objective opinions and there is a lot to be heard. There is also a lot of information readily available on the topic and to truly understand all sides to the story it is a good idea to sort through all that there is available. There is a particular cycle that is involved in any political issue. The following will cover each step of the issue at hand, first reviewing the problem that has been identified. There are many supporters of the continued construction of the turbines being met by those who are against construction. It is important to understand that even those against the turbines, for reasons cited briefly above, are not against renewable energy altogether; it is the problem of placement that has most up in arms.

Problem Identified: Pristine Ridges Interrupted & Species Dying

The ridge tops in Blair County are one of its defining characteristics. As one looks in any direction, the mountain ridges dominate the landscape. They demonstrate the power and constancy of the natural forces that shaped them. Development along ridge tops should be discouraged so that their imposing beauty is preserved.

That quote was taken from The Areawide Comprehensive Plan for Blair County, 2005; Blair County Planning Commission. This quote refers to the exact area, particularly the Allegheny Front, which will be discussed.

It is difficult to imagine why these organizations and residents are so upset unless one has looked at these mountains first hand or grew up in any of these areas for a lifetime. These residents have settled here for a reason, tourists have long come to this area for a reason; to view this unbelievable landscape that is unique to this part of the country. If one day, one looked out his or her window and saw these gorgeous rolling mountains interrupted by huge steel towers with blades cutting through the sky, it may get emotional. Dr. Stan Kotala, President of the Juniata Valley Audubon writes:

A hundred years ago, people who opposed the damming of the Hetch Hetchy were denounced as unrealistic preservationists, who failed to see the benefits of nature from sacrificing a few areas in order to save many others from impacts of coal mining and burning. [And now with] better science and more knowledge, we now know just how devastating large hydroelectric dams can be. [We are allowing] a similar scenario [to unfold] with industrial windfarms.

Many who oppose the construction of the windmills are not from the city; they are from rural America who has chosen to settle in the heart of these mountains; mountains that have blueprints for even more turbines to be built on them.

In June of 2006 Gamesa Corp., a Spanish wind-energy company opened its first manufacturing facility in Ebensburg, PA. On December 29, 2006 in an article by the Tribune-Democrat it is cited that Gamesa Corp. then transferred ownership of the Allegheny Wind Farm to Australian-based Babcock & Brown. The sale is just the first of three phases of construction through the mainline area of Cambria and Blair County by Gamesa. By the end of 2008, there hope to be 90 windmills generating power within 13 miles from Blue Knob to Portage Township. The second phase includes construction of 15 in Portage, Washington, Cresson, Juniata and Greenfield Townships. The third phase will involve 35 turbines in the surrounding areas of Cresson. Just one of these turbines can generate enough power to supply over 600 homes; nearly 96,000 homes just in one area of Pennsylvania.

Between the county lines of Blair, Cambria and Bedford counties today, there exist approximately two dozen wind turbines all along the mountain ridge. As one drives along this section of the mountain its compelling to take in the beauty of the area, until out of nowhere up pops a few dozen of these contraptions. Yes, the beauty of the mountain has been interrupted but it has brought about 234 jobs to the manufacturing plant, not to mention the potential amount of renewable energy at our fingertips. No, Pennsylvania does not even rank 20 in all the states for wind energy potential but when up on these ridge tops it is hard to argue that the potential is not there. The US Department of Energy estimates that wind power alone could generate three times the amount of electricity being used in the US today. Knowing that, with the combined figures from above, it is hard not to consider the positive energy potentials especially as current energy costs are on the rise. Even though most of the rural mountain residents oppose the flux of turbines coming in; there are still a number of people from the mountainous coal country region who are interested in the “green” possibilities that are near in their future.

A lot of people who have kept an open mind on the subject, have a difficult time deciding for or against the turbines in the mountainous area, especially based on facts that people simply do not want to look at them. That is why it is important to discuss the major environmental impact that turbines will have on the surrounding species of the area. Pennsylvania’s mountains are distinct in that they provide an exceptional migratory path for over 21,500 birds; that is just the 2005 season alone. Among this number include 14 species of raptors and two species of vultures. Due to the fall and spring migratory seasons, Pennsylvania attracts thousands of people each year among bird watchers and lovers not just from the surrounding area but from all over the world. The same 2005 season set a record high for number of Merlins, Turkey Vultures, Bald Eagle, Cooper ’s Hawk and Golden Eagle. Most of these sites that anticipate these numbers in birds each year are called IBAs or Important Bird Areas. Among IBAs, three routes are of the utmost important including Tussey Mountain, Bald Eagle Ridge and the Allegheny Front. Not only are these areas important in large part due to migration of the birds listed above, but also because of the interior species who nest in these forests during spring and summer during peak breeding seasons. Raptors will occasionally stop on the mountain to prey which causes them to fly very close to the tree tops before they catch their prey.

“The mission statement of the Audubon PA is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds and other wildlife, and their habitats, for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.” This statement is taken from an article written by Kim Van Fleet and Stacy Small both of the Audubon PA. They play a key role in the future planning of wind turbines as the construction of them are being set up along the major migratory paths of the birds mentioned above. Not to mention, the intact blocks of forests that sustain an assortment of breeding many songbirds that will be devastated when the placement of future towers go up. The Audubon PA does support renewable energy to shift dependency away from fossil fuels. However they cannot support the placement of these towers along major migratory paths. What the Audubon PA is proposing is that a standard set of guidelines be enforced when constructing the turbines to maintain a safe habitat for the species that live in the forests and the species that travel through them. These guidelines have been set and used by several government and non-profit organizations such as the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s “Interim Guidelines to Avoid and Minimize Wildlife Impacts from the Wind Turbines”, the American Bird Conservancy’s “American Bird Conservancy Wind Energy Policy”, and a position statement by the Hawk Migration Association of North America.

Potential Alternatives: Guidelines for Species Protection and Ideas for Placement

There is the issue of what suggestions are being made to avoid placement of turbines due to pristine mountain landscape disruption. Dr. Stan Kotala of the Juniata Valley Audubon suggests placing the turbines on abandoned stripmines or farm fields or basically any non-forested location out of threat to any birds or bats. This is not just due to the outrage of rural residents who wish not to look at these contraptions, but out of the fact that birds and bats get so disoriented even if there were a two-story building in their path of flight that certainly a 400 foot high, 120 blades slicing through the sky would completely disorient them. So to place the turbines out of these migratory paths not only will please many residents due to the natural landscape but again will be saving many bird species. Another reason to place these wind farms on already existing farms or abandoned stripmines is for the construction of just 8 turbines will require a one mile 30-50 foot wide ridge top roads devastating ridge top intact forests. So the issue of bird and bat loss aside, one would still see a devastation in permanent forest loss.

There is also the risk that building the turbines in these specific paths will cause direct mortality and route avoidance which may result in disrupted patterns and cause the birds to use more energy than they need to. Enforcing guidelines suggested above should help deal with that problem for the birds in flight. Then there are the species which rely on Pennsylvania’s un-fragmented forests. Pennsylvania has always had the responsibility to support and protect the breeding of the many species of interior forest birds. Again, the guidelines laid down above should take care of any problems arising out of the turbine placement for those birds which rely on unfragmented forests. Not only is the Audubon PA interested in enforcing these guidelines pre-construction but also in the post-construction timeframe. Ongoing monitoring and risk assessment will be conducted by biologists among other independent industry specialists. “Multi-year pre-construction monitoring is critical because of annual variation in migration routes, due to variation in bird species distribution, weather fronts, and resulting wind conditions.” (This was taken from an article entitled “Ridgetop Important Bird Areas, Raptors, and Wind Turbines” by the Audubon PA coordinator Kim Van Fleet and Director of Bird Conservation Stacy Small.)

Action/Outcomes: Enforcing Guidelines on Turbines Built and Those about to be Built

Some conservationists believe a way to attack global warming would be to redirect substantial tax subsidies for wind energy to fund conservation. Pennsylvania for example seeks to sacrifice 500 miles of intact ridge top forests to place 4,000 wind turbines to provide energy needs for the entire state only to provide 10% of what the state actually uses. To even make a difference this would require the United States to build millions of turbines all across the country. A major influential factor (which could shift thoughts into not building in Pennsylvania) is that over 95% of the United States’ wind energy is west of the Mississippi River including large amounts located offshore.

People on all levels are speaking out about the issue. Local leaders and organizational heads are coming to the forefront, as they have been since the first ones were going up, to try and prevent the rest from being built or enforce guidelines to protect the species from the ones that are already functioning.

[However], in Pennsylvania the only regulatory oversight of wind plants is at the local level (townships), so it’s very important that residents express their concern to their township supervisors. Unless strict township ordinances controlling wind turbine placement are enacted, both people and wildlife [may] suffer the consequences.

These suggestions come from Dr. Stan Kotala of the Juniata Audubon.

In December 2006, the PA Game Commission suggested a voluntary agreement with the wind farm developers. It is an intermediate step to help monitor the important bird areas, set up by the Audubon Society, to eliminate bird deaths and devastation. It is not yet where William A. Capouillez, director of the Bureau of Wildlife Habitat Management, would like to be, but it is a step in the right direction and it is better than having no monitoring involvement in place that Pennsylvania lacked when construction first began. Pennsylvania is the only state with wind-farms who has proposed monitoring guidelines. The voluntary agreement would set up monitoring protocols for 18 months before construction and would continue after the turbine goes into operation. Many wind developers were not initially on board with signing the agreement but once they realized they could not get bank financing without it, they had no choice but to sign. Other developers even went as far as to request that language be added to the contract stating wind development is actually a benefit to some bird species and that it addresses global warming.


Being a wildlife enthusiast as well as a conservationist when it comes to energy, I am torn between whether there is a right or wrong to the issue at hand. If I were asked whether I was for or against wind turbine construction for a goal towards cleaner renewable energy, without given the facts at hand, I would say yes, I am all for it. However, if I were asked if I were for or against wind turbine placement in an area of our community where many species of birds and bats will be killed and the energy production doesn’t even amount to 10% of what the state consumes, I would say I am against it since the costs out way the benefits. It is a difficult decision to make.

I am proud to live in a state in this country where renewable energy from wind turbines truly is a rather new concept for our area. Although, at the same time it would make more sense to place these turbines in many different areas both locally and nationally to get every last piece of wind energy available without devastating so many species at the same time. That is basically the whole issue that surrounds the topic; placement so as to eliminate species detriment and get the most out of these wind farms. There has got to be a middle ground that all people, organizations and officials can agree on. It does begin with encouragement and motivation of the people no matter who they are or what there background is, to speak out against the issue. The more people, whose voices are heard, will have a stronger argument over the issue.

Since it seems that construction is going forward with plans of building up to 90 turbines in our local area and so far there is only a voluntary agreement monitoring, I feel that perhaps it would be in the residents’ and species’ best interest to not build in our area. I feel that even with monitoring there will be species loss and upset residents. The more turbines that go up, the more damage we will look forward to in the future. It makes more sense to put these turbines in abandoned strip mines, but I have not heard of the potential wind energy being there for construction to be worth it. If the best wind potential lies west of the Mississippi River then it makes sense to build wind farms there and not on the ridge tops of central Pennsylvania.

Posts: 53
HEY COUNCILWOMAN BRYAN AND COUNCILMAN KOSOGLOW (since they're the only 2 councilpersons who still support the Ice Mt windplant!) READ THIS:


Wind energy looked promising before we learned that it was just a scheme put forward by Enron in the late 1990s to swindle the ratepayers out of billions of dollars. A huge transfer of wealth from the ratepayers to market participants whose windfall profits ultimately have been socialized through wholesale and retail rates for electricity nationwide. Enron’s plan was to use renewable wind energy to “green wash” its plan to build more gas fired power plants throughout California. Rob Bradley who was a known whistleblower at Enron worked at Enron for sixteen years, almost as long as Ken Lay himself; from September 1985 to the mass layoff of December 3, 2001.

In my last seven years at Enron, my title was corporate director, public policy analysis. In this capacity, I worked on natural gas, electricity, and environmental issues, as well as prepared speeches for Enron's CEO Ken Lay. (I only occasionally worked on speeches for Jeff Skilling--he generally prepared his own presentations.)

In this period, I grew very disenchanted with the corporation's positions on renewable energy and climate change. Fortunately, I had my own 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the Institute for Energy Research (IER), to allow me an independent voice to speak and write against climate alarmism and corporate welfare. My outside views caused controversy within Enron, and I was not shy about expressing my opposition within Enron either.

The memos below are some examples of my principled opposition to Enron's rent-seeking activities relating to "sustainable" energy. If Enron had been more free-market-oriented, I believe that the company would be a going concern today. [1]

Enron knew what most politicians and bureaucrats are unable to understand that most forms of renewable energy (except for hydro power) are intermittent and unreliable during periods of peak demand. Even hydro is unreliable during a draught. Solar has the highest capacity factor during peak demand when people are operating air conditioners, while wind power has the lowest capacity factor during peak demand because its highest production occurs in the early morning, late evening, and the middle of the night. This means increased emissions will be incurred by new wind projects in the form of more reliable gas turbine power during periods of peak demand; and therein lays the premise behind Enron’s swindle. Industrial wind technology is a meretricious commodity, attractive in a superficial way but without real value—seemingly plausible, even significant but actually false and nugatory.

Those who would profit from it either economically or ideologically are engaged in wholesale deception. For in contrast to their alluring but empty promises of closed coal plants and reduced carbon emissions are this reality: Wind energy is impotent while its environmental footprint is massive and malignant.

A wind project with a rated capacity of 100 MW, for example, with 40 skyscraper-sized turbines, would likely produce an annual average of only 27 MW, an imperceptible fraction of energy for most grid systems. More than 60% of the time, it would produce less than 27 MW, and at peak demand times, often produce nothing. It would rarely achieve its rated capacity, producing most at times of least demand. Whatever it generated would be continuously skittering, intensifying, magnifying the destabilizing effects of demand fluctuations, for wind volatility is virtually indistinguishable from the phenomenon of people whimsically turning their appliances off and on.

Moreover, the project could never produce capacity value—specified amounts of energy on demand, something that should be anathema to regulatory agencies, with their task of ensuring reliable, secure, affordable electricity. The ability of machines to perform as expected on demand is the basis of modernity, underlying contemporary systems of economic growth, wealth creation and well-being.

Adding wind instability to a grid may be an engineer’s idea of job security, but it is criminal for ratepayers, taxpayers, and a better environment. For the grid is then forced to extend itself. As the wind bounces randomly around the system, operators must continuously balance it to match supply precisely with demand, compensating for the ebb and flow much in the way flippers keep the steel ball in play during a game of pinball. Windball expends a lot of energy. In real life on the most American grids, more than 70% of any wind project’s rated capacity must come from the flippers of reliable, flexible, fossil-fired generation, constantly turned up and back inefficiently to compensate for wind fluctuations. These inefficiencies will result in substantial carbon emissions and increased consumer costs.

Yes, engineers can make-work by adding wind flux to the system. They can lead a horse to water; but they can’t make it change its spots…. By its nature, wind will require lots of whips and whistles, even at small levels of penetration, in ways that will negate the very reason for its being. This is why people quickly switched to steam 200 years ago. Retrofitting modern technology to meet the needs of ancient wind flutter is monumentally backasswards, a sure sign that pundits and politicians, not scientists, are now in charge. It would take more than a smart grid to incorporate such a dumb idea successfully.

Because of wind’s unpredictable variability, it can never replace the capacity of conventional generation. Twenty-five hundred 450-foot wind turbines, spread over five hundred miles, can mathematically offset a large coal or nuclear plant; but they cannot do so functionally–for what must happen when 5,000 MW of volatile wind is only producing 100 MW at peak demand times, a common occurrence?

This business is absurd. The whole point of modern power systems has been to move beyond the flickering flutter of variable energy sources. Prostituting modern power performance to enable subprime energy schemes on behalf of half-baked technology is immoral. As is implementing highly regressive tax avoidance “incentives” to make it appear that pigs can fly. No coal plants will be shuttered and little, if any, carbon emissions will be reduced as a result of this project—or thousands of them.

Indeed, wind technology mirrors the subprime mortgage scams that wreaked havoc with the economy. Both are enabled by wishful thinking; bogus projections; no accounting restraints, accountability, or transparency; no meaningful securitization; and regulatory agencies that looked the other way, allowing a few to make a great deal of money at everyone else’s expense while providing no meaningful service.


[1] His expose and memos are at http://www.politicalcapitalism.org/enron/

Ice Man MVP Member

Posts: 467
Sunday, Jan. 24, 2010

Finding a fix for the energy crunch: Nuclear option

http://www.centredaily.com/news/local/s ... =email_msg

By Judy Pasternak- Investigative Reporting Workshop

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration soon may guarantee as much as $18.5 billion in loans to build new nuclear reactors to generate electricity, and Congress is considering whether to add billions more to support an expansion of nuclear power.

These actions come after an extensive, decade-long campaign in which companies and unions related to the industry have spent more than $600 million on lobbying and almost $63 million on campaign contributions, according to an analysis by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University.

Nuclear power generates about 20 percent of America’s electricity, but many existing reactors are aging and no new plant has been authorized since the 1979 incident at Three Mile Island, when small amounts of radiation were released and authorities feared for days that a huge surge might escape. That’s in part because it can cost as much as $8 billion to build a nuclear plant, and in part because the problems of nuclear waste and safety remain unsolved.

But the problem of global warming remains unsolved, too, and as the nation struggles to rebound from a deep recession, building new nuclear reactors increasingly looks to some like a big jobs program.

The industry, capitalizing on both developments, argues that nuclear energy must be part of any effort to curb heat-trapping carbon emissions.

Its longtime foes — environmentalists, labor unions, Democrats — increasingly agree. “This is nuclear’s year,” said House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., who in recent years has become one of the industry’s champions on Capitol Hill.

Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, of California, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has pledged that the climate bill that’s making its way through Congress will include new government help for the nuclear industry. Sen. Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, says he’d provide a much-sought Republican vote for the bill if its energy provisions include help for the nuclear industry.

Some Republicans, who historically have been friendlier to nuclear power, are pushing a plan to build 100 reactors during the next 20 years. The industry considers the forthcoming $18.5 billion in guarantees a down payment on a more ambitious expansion. Getting to this point has taken lots of time and lots of money, and the debate over the safety and economics of nuclear electricity is far from settled.

During the Bush administration, the nuclear industry got more in electricity-related research and development funding than coal and other fossil fuels did combined, and Congress approved the loan guarantees.

More recently, the industry has been reaching out to newly empowered Democrats, among them Clyburn, whose state is among the nation’s leading nuclear-power producers. (President Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois is the biggest, and he and some of his closest political allies have long relationships with Exelon Corp., the country’s biggest nuclear power company.) The industry also has begun to build strong ties to important labor unions.

Intense lobbying

In the first half of last year, when Congress was considering whether to add nuclear loan guarantees to the economic stimulus package and was starting to work on the climate change bill, companies and unions interested in nuclear energy spent more than $55.8 million on lobbying, the analysis found.

Federal Election Commission records also show that industry trade group the Nuclear Energy Institute donated a total of $99,000 to 63 candidates in the first half of 2009. Sixty percent of the money went to Democrats. As a group, nuclear interests gave $3.5 million to congressional candidates in the first six months of last year.

It hasn’t hurt that all these efforts have coincided with a big run-up in energy prices and growing concern over the effects that coal-fired power plants have on the buildup in carbon emissions and global warming.

“We don’t believe that nuclear energy is the answer, but as you look at needs for clean energy and the need to protect the environment, there isn’t a solution without nuclear,” Areva spokesman Jarret Adams said. Areva’s reactors would power many of the new plants that are on the drawing boards.

Still, many environmental groups worry about the safety of nuclear power. “The nuclear power industry is always going to remain several minutes away from serious accident and disaster,” said Tom Clements, the Southeastern Nuclear Campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth, a global environmental group.

The Price-Anderson Act, passed in 1957, limits industry liability for a nuclear accident. Most recently renewed in 2005, it requires a private operator to buy the most private insurance possible — currently $300 million — and assesses fees on the industry for a fund to pay out damages above that amount if necessary. If the fund, which now stands at more than $10 billion, isn’t enough, Congress would decide whether to require more industry contributions or appropriate public money. The law is now in force through 2025.

Opponents also question why nuclear power needs federal subsidies. “If nuclear power is the right path to go down, why can’t it pay for itself?” Clements said. “Nuclear power is going to be dependent on subsidies and handouts, and we still get nuclear waste and the threat of accident in return.”

The waste issue remains perhaps the biggest stumbling block. Generating nuclear power produces huge quantities of radioactive waste, including plutonium, a key ingredient for nuclear weapons. When many of the current reactors were put into place, there was an assumption that the federal government eventually would create a national repository. After decades of debate, however, that promise appears no closer to being met, and the plants have become de facto storage facilities.

Efforts paying off

In many ways, the nuclear power industry’s efforts to win support are a textbook case of how the influence game is played in Washington. Besides the money spent on lobbying and campaign contributions, the industry, led by the Nuclear Energy Institute, has created a network of allies who give speeches, quote one another approvingly and showcase one another on their Web sites. The effect is an echo chamber of support for nuclear power.

While energy lobbies such as big oil and big coal have taken turns in the spotlight, big nuke flies largely under the radar. Alex Flint, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s chief lobbyist, summed up the strategy last year at a luncheon with utility officials from Southeastern states: “Quiet.” He likes to let surrogates make the case.

For instance, Patrick Moore, who played a leading role in Greenpeace during the 1970s, now helps lead the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, known as CASEnergy Coalition. His partner is Christine Todd Whitman, a former New Jersey governor and Environmental Protection Agency administrator. Both have touted nuclear power at gatherings of members of Congress and on national television.

Left unmentioned in these settings is that the Nuclear Energy Institute paid a public relations company to create CASEnergy, an example of the so-called “Astroturfing” techniques that many industries have adopted to give the appearance of grass-roots support.

Moore, who runs a consulting company based in Vancouver, British Columbia, acknowledged the ties in an interview, referring to the Nuclear Energy Institute as “my biggest client.” He declined to divulge his fees. Whitman’s firm, the Whitman Strategy Group, says on its site that it was hired by CASEnergy, but the coalition’s Web site doesn’t mention the financial relationship. Neither does the Nuclear Energy Institute’s site, where Whitman and Moore are quoted on the merits of a nuclear future.

Labor is another new ally. The Nuclear Energy Institute and 20 unions co-sponsored a “Welcome Back, Congress” bash in a House of Representatives office building in January 2009. In March, Mark Ayers, of the AFL-CIO, arranged a meeting between the Nuclear Energy Institute’s president and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman to talk about the climate bill. The liberal California Democrat is leading the effort to pass the measure.

It seemed to work like magic.

“Now, Mr. Waxman has not been somebody who’s been particularly open to our agenda in the past, and yet he was very much so this time,” the institute’s Flint told nuclear executives in May. Flint credited union help for the changed atmosphere, quoting his boss’s description of labor allies as “bulletproof gear.”

No one expected Waxman to lead the charge for nuclear, Flint said.

Rep. John Dingell, a veteran Michigan Democrat who was Waxman’s predecessor as committee chairman and the top recipient of nuclear-interest campaign contributions — more than $600,000 since 1999 — was offering an amendment to the climate bill that would create a clean-energy bank, which would help finance an expansion of low-carbon energy technologies. In addition to renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal power, the capture of emissions from coal and nuclear energy plants would be eligible for help.

The Nuclear Energy Institute had merely hoped that Waxman wouldn’t squelch Dingell’s proposal without a vote. Waxman not only let the amendment in, but also voted for it.

Ayers received a call from the Nuclear Energy Institute’s then-president soon after he took up his AFL-CIO post in 2007. Ayers listened to his plea for help, he recalled in an interview, while thinking that many proposed new units would be in the South and in remote areas, generally not union-friendly territory. So he offered “a quid pro quo here: I help you, but I want to build these plants.”

Later, a requirement in the House climate bill’s bank amendment for “prevailing wages” at projects that receive government-backed loans helped Ayers’ construction unions. More explicitly, the Nuclear Energy Institute took a pro-union position for nuclear construction sites and gave Ayers access to utility officials to pitch labor contracts. Cementing the relationship, the institute hired one of Ayers’ lobbyists and last May, elected Ayers and an officer of the electrical workers’ union to its board.

Third Way, which describes itself as a moderate progressive policy organization, also has come out in favor of nuclear power. After the Nuclear Energy Institute sent Third Way Vice President Matt Bennett to France in July 2007, he wrote, “We all came back with the faith of the converted.”

Two months later, Bennett and Third Way trustee John Dyson wrote a Boston Globe column headlined, “Just say ‘oui’ to nuclear power.” In the second-to-last paragraph, they noted that Third Way got less than 1 percent of its budget from nuclear industry donations.

The nuclear wish list is controversial. Electric utilities want more than $100 billion in guarantees for construction that’s expected to cost $200 billion. The Nuclear Energy Institute contends that the guarantees wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime because the recipients would pay fees that should cover the cost of defaults, much the way that auto insurers cover the cost of accidents with premiums paid by safe drivers. However, the Congressional Budget Office concluded in 2003 that the risk of default on a nuclear loan would be “very high — well above 50 percent.”

Critics of nuclear power say these sums would divert resources from other low-carbon sources of electricity that don’t have nuclear’s safety or waste issues. These include wind, solar, biomass and geothermal generators. The clean energy bank as proposed would “be a big nuclear-coal slush fund,” charged Michele Boyd, who lobbies for Physicians for Social Responsibility. Carbon capture for coal and nuclear construction are so expensive that there would be little left over for renewables, she thinks.

Read more: http://www.centredaily.com:80/news/loca ... z0dfuN1RmP

Ice Man MVP Member

Posts: 467
The brewing tempest over wind power

March 1, 2010 by Robert Bryce in Wall Street Journal

People living near turbines increasingly report sleep deprivation, headaches and vertigo. The wind lobby says there's no proof

Imagine this scenario: The oil and gas industry launches an aggressive global drilling program with a new type of well. Thousands of these new wells, once operational, emit a noxious odor so offensive that many of the people living within a mile of them are kept awake at night. Some are even forced to move out of their homes. It's easy to predict the reaction: denunciations of the industry, countless lawsuits, and congressional investigations.

Now substitute wind for oil and gas and consider the noise complaints being lodged against wind projects around the world.

The Obama administration has made the increased use of wind power to generate electricity a top priority. In 2009 alone, U.S. wind generation capacity increased by 39%. But more wind power means more giant turbines closer to more people. And if current trends continue, that spells trouble.

In 2007, a phalanx of wind turbines were built around Charlie Porter's property in rural northern Missouri. Soon, Mr. Porter began to have trouble sleeping. So did his wife and daughter. The noise, he told me, made sleeping almost impossible. "We tried everything-earplugs, leaving the TV station on all night." Nothing worked. Late last year he moved his family off their 20-acre farm.

Mr. Porter's story is no isolated event. Rural residents in Texas, Maine, Pennsylvania, Oregon, New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, France and England have been complaining about the noise from wind turbines, particularly about sleep deprivation. Dozens of news stories-most of them published in rural newspapers-have documented the problem.

I've spoken to nine other people in New York, Wisconsin, Ontario, New Zealand, Nova Scotia and England who live, or lived, near wind turbines. All complained of the noise, with sleep deprivation being the most common complaint. For example, Janet Warren, who raises sheep near Makara, New Zealand, told me via email that the turbines near her home emit "continuous noise and vibration," which disturb her sleep and are causing "loss of concentration, irritability, and short-term memory effects."

Complaints about sleep disruption-as well as the deleterious health effects caused by the pulsing, low-frequency noise emitted by the giant turbines-are a central element of an emerging citizen backlash against the booming global wind industry.

Lawsuits that focus on noise pollution are now pending in Maine, Pennsylvania and New Zealand. In New Zealand, more than 750 complaints have been lodged against a large wind project near Makara since it began operating last April. The European Platform Against Windfarms lists 388 groups in 20 European countries. Canada has more than two dozen antiwind groups. In the U.S. there are about 100 such groups, and state legislators in Vermont recently introduced a bill that will require wind turbines be located no closer than 1.25 miles from any residence.

In theory, big wind projects should only be built in desolate areas. But the reality is that many turbines are being installed close to homes. Wind developers put a turbine within 550 meters of Mr. Porter's house. Hal Graham, a retired office manager in Cohocton, N.Y., complains about the noise pollution caused by a turbine 300 meters from his home. Tony Moyer, a plumbing superintendent in Eden, Wis., grumbles about the noise generated by three turbines built within 425 meters of his house.

Doctors and acoustics experts from the U.S. to Australia report a raft of symptoms that they blame on wind turbine noise, including sleep disturbance, headaches and vertigo. Dr. Nina Pierpont, a pediatrician in Malone, N.Y., has studied 36 people affected by wind turbine noise since 2004 at her own expense. The people she interviewed were widely dispersed; they lived in the U.S., Canada, England, Ireland and Italy. She found that the collection of symptoms she calls "wind turbine syndrome" disappeared as soon as people moved out of their noise-affected homes and into new locations at least five miles from any turbines.

Across the border, Ontario-based orthopedic surgeon Dr. Robert McMurtry has been researching wind turbine noise for the past 18 months. Dr. McMurtry, a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, counts more than 100 people in Ontario he believes are experiencing adverse effects from turbine noise. "It has compromised their health," he says.

The wind lobby has publicly rejected these claims. In December, the American Wind Energy Association in conjunction with the Canadian Wind Energy Association, issued a report titled "Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects: An Expert Review Panel." It declared: "There is no evidence that the audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects." It also suggested that some of the symptoms being attributed to wind turbine noise were likely psychosomatic and asserted that the vibrations from the turbines are "too weak to be detected by, or to affect, humans."

Yet the report also noted that in "the area of wind turbine health effects, no case-control or cohort studies have been conducted as of this date." True enough-but it means there are no studies to prove or disprove the case. It also says that "a small number of sensitive people" may be "stressed" by wind turbine noise and suffer sleep deprivation. But who gets to define "sensitive" and "small number"? And if turbine noise and sleep disturbance aren't problems, then why are people in so many different locations complaining in almost identical ways? Such questions are only going to be pressed with more urgency in the future.

By 2030, environmental and lobby groups are pushing for the U.S. to produce 20% of its electricity from wind. According to the Department of Energy, meeting that goal will require the U.S. to have about 300,000 megawatts of wind capacity, an eightfold increase over current levels. Installing tens of thousands of new turbines inevitably means they'll be located closer to populated areas.

The health effects of low-frequency noise on humans are not well understood. The noise in question often occurs at, or below, decibel levels that are commonly considered a public nuisance. And detecting low-frequency noise requires sophisticated acoustic gear. For all of these reasons, this issue should be investigated. If policy makers are serious about considering all of the impacts of "green" energy, then an impartial, international study of the effects of wind turbine noise should be undertaken without delay.

Mr. Bryce is the managing editor of Energy Tribune. His fourth book, "Power Hungry: The Myths of 'Green' Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future," will be published in April by PublicAffairs.


My2Cents MVP Member

Posts: 1132
Location: Tyrone, PA
Well, they are on a roll.... it's appearing as though everything has been hashed out, all the homework has been done, all the CYA's are taken care of and the read between the lines dialogue is sounding good. It's time to cut thru our mountainside and destroy everything along the way. I may be wrong, I believe I read that this company will eventually sell this farm to someone else once it is built.... they did it in other places. A new lease with a new company will be drawn up with the new company that buys it. This company who is building it, who says they will take care of any problems that arise.... will be long gone and no longer responsible for anything. Things, if they are going to happen, may take a long time before it's even noticed. In doing their water testing they actually found some acid rock, wouldn't you think that would be enough to stop this disaster. So, they are gonna' redirect the road around that area. Then they say something like, it should not become a problem or endanger our water supply. "Should not," whew.... those two little words could ruin our happiness in living in our beautiful little town forever. What a chance we are taking.... it's a shame. By the way, they say they are going to implement a new way to redirect the water to take care of, run off, etc., sending it deep into the earth. I don't have the exact article in front of me.... anyway, please correct me if I'm wrong.... no matter what you do to water to send it off into a new direction.... over time, it does not work.... it always finds its way back. Besides, I believe that whole area is full of underground streams.... they all go somewhere. Hey, I may be completely wrong with all of the above, if so please correct me. Maybe I'm out here reading too much into this and looking at this picture the wrong way. None of this is going to affect me, I won't even have to look at them.... why should I even care ?? I care because I love my little home town and I believe we are about to get taken.

One lone voice New Member

Posts: 17
Location: TYRONE
Has anyone else noticed a lack of information about the truck driver who lost his brakes coming down off the mountain and was killed? What I have been told is that it was his first day driving one of the water trucks for GAMESA hauling water off the mountain. And I'm curious about the lack of any pictures on the TV news or the paper of the wrecked vehicle. Frequently pictures of fairly minor accidents make the front page news, but a fatal accident like this , and no pictures of the wrecked vehicle?? No mention of who he was driving for? Hmmm.

Another question is why these trucks always run in convoys? And where is all the stuff they have been hauling being disposed of? They head south on I 99 and come back empty. They have to be dumping that waste somewhere.

Another question... when they have finished clearing off the mountain, where are the animals going to go for water and shelter? The dry season is coming up and with no shade or water, the wildlife, including snakes, bear, and deer will probably come down off the mountain, and end up in somebody's backyard. (Watch where you put your hands and feet.)

Another question. Considering how much timber has already been taken off the mountain, where is all the money from it's sale going? It's sickening and depressing to see just how much of our beautiful mountain has been stripped. So somebody has got a LOT of money coming in. Wonder who?

Another question. What happened to the Pyrite (acid rock) that was found up there? Is it being covered up with cement, or hauled away and dumped? Once they uncover it, they have to do something to cover it or remove it to prevent the runoff from entering the water supply. Don't they?

As far as pumping all the wastewater deep underground, I for one, do not want that stuff flowing under my home. Tyrone sits on lots of little springs, and unless they go at least 2500 ft down or more, so that it's well below the water table here in town, it's probably going to show up under our homes, and in the Bald Eagle creek and the Little Juniata.

Don't you just love the new water rate hike we just got? Now we are having to pay for all the extra cleanup required to meet clean water standards, instead of letting the trees,stone and dirt work their magic on filtering the water before it gets down to the reservoir. It is a known fact that a water supply that is filtered that way uses less chemicals and spends much less maintaining their water, than one that is vulnerable to increased turbulence from runoff.

coldsprings New Member

Posts: 16
so...how these things working out anyhow?

coldsprings New Member

Posts: 16
so....how are those windmills working out for y'all?

Bill Latchford User avatar
MVP Member

Posts: 602
Location: Tyrone, Pa

They are still spinning


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