How Is The Horse Creek Windfarm Still Being Entertained?

TurbineSize
For most of the frequent readers of my blog, this letter has little to do with what I normally post about. However, it does serve as an example of our need to voice our opinions to local municipalities (and further, our State and Federal governments). We each have a civic responsibility to pay attention to local happenings, and be vigilant. This matter concerns an ongoing endeavor by our Town Board to place industrial wind turbines around my family’s property, of which the nearest 479′ turbine is about 300 yards form our home.

__________________

UPDATE 08.19.2013 – If you are a stakeholder for the Horse Creek project, of you want to read or post comments on the State’s Article 10 proceeding, please visit the public comment section of this site:

http://documents.dps.ny.gov/public/MatterManagement/CaseMaster.aspx?MatterCaseNo=12-F-0575&submit=Search+by+Case+Number

__________________

Clayton Town Board
Town of Clayton
Clayton, NY 13624
Phone: (315) 686-3512

Wednesday, August 14, 2013
*Request for inclusion in Town Meeting Minutes 08/14/2013.

Dear Clayton Town Board,

I’m a proponent of cleaner energy, but in the right locations and of the right kind.

The wide implementation of untested and unproven technologies is not only troubling to me, but something any right-thinking citizen should be vocal about raising awareness of if pursued by a governing, representational body. Similarly, and even more importantly, municipalities considering such implementations should be above board with their actions, intentions and dissemination of information, especially should they ever move to make or amend laws directly or indirectly provisioning such directives.

Putting aside the hasty arguments that rush for the development of green energy, especially those connected with a multi-national corporation or a political agenda who benefits from subsidies, tax credits and/or votes, the only two substantial motivators proposed to communities having already walked this road, are a) the monies generated for the land owners–most notably, farmers, whom I heartily support (and of all parties, are the most deserving of any benefits)–and b) the municipalities. Given modern research, any arguments that wind power somehow adds to the offsetting of existing power supply generated from fossil fuels is clumsy, and comes from entities who have not studied factual data, or have a purely political or economic agenda.

I have championed many causes in the name of progress, but as a non-particiapting resident who’s property line adjoins the intended overlay of the proposed Horse Creek Wind Farm, I am opposed to any further development, and have been since conducting my own research into the direct and indirect effects of these industrial turbines.

My wife and I intentionally purchased property outside of Depauville for the peace and serenity it provides our four children, and the respite it is from our busy international public life. To think that industrialization, at the expense of our property value, sleep, auditory senses, mental health and natural sight-lines is still looming over us is quite unsettling, and does little to strengthen my assurance that my local, elected officials have my family’s best interests in mind. While I certainly would appreciate higher revenue for both our farming communities and our municipalities, I will not abdicate my first responsibility of preserving the welfare of my wife and children for such an endeavor.

If I may be candid, I’m shocked this concept is still being entertained for our area, and that I’m once again writing letters of disapproval. Further still, I’m shocked that the Town has not listened to the recommendations of their own Citizens Wind Committee, made up of both pro- and anti-wind members.

I understand that the Town is duly burdened with evaluating competing interests of land owners. My intent is not to demonize any party, expect should any investigation expose those who are working subversively, or not painting the clearest picture for a community. The only motive of such individuals is personal gain at the expense of willfully ignoring the obvious negative ramifications endured by a community.

The current wind law noise ordinance does not have my family’s best interests in mind, nor does the larger prospect of altering the landscape and living conditions of our surrounding area with the Horse Creek Wind Farm. And if completely omitting the designation of our residence from either map I’ve been presented is supposed to strengthen my assurances of quality and care, the Town would be wrong.

The Horse Creek Wind Farm can be categorized as nothing but a nuisance—a dramatic, negative change in the living conditions of our area.

In Nevada State Supreme Court case Rick Sowers vs. Forest Hills Subdivision (February, 14th 2013), the court upheld a permanent injunction to ban the development of residential wind turbines, citing that the turbines were a “nuisance in fact.” This decision stemmed from extensive research that the turbines would interfere with the other residents of the Subdivision’s enjoyment of their property, as being “injurious to health, indecent and offensive to the senses, and/or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property.” If such a finding can come from a high court’s examination of turbines significantly smaller than the the new 479’ high ones proposed for the Horse Creek Wind Farm, how is our own Town moving forward with additional considerations?

I would hope that a well-educated Board is reading the same peer-reviewed health journals that I am, citing the rising and overwhelming evidences that wind turbines have on the health of residents living in proximity to them. As just one example, in the March 2013 edition of The Journal of Laryngology and Otology, the authors report, “There is ample evidence of symptoms arising in individuals exposed to wind turbine noise.” They go on to state: “The documented (medical) symptoms are usually stress disorder-type diseases…and can represent serious harm to human health.”

In the same report, Dr. Amir Farboud of Glan Clwyd Hospital in Wales is quoted as saying, “…there is an increasing body of evidence suggesting that infrasound and low frequency noise (caused by the wind turbines) have physiological effects on the ear.”

While the Town voted to reject its own Citizens Wind Committee’s recommendations of ensuring ambient sound levels rise no more than 6dBa above ambient, and included ample information on subsonic findings, why does the Town’s current ordinance’s reasoning entirely omit any findings on low frequency noise and the ensuing vibratory effects on the human body?

I would like to remind us that a 3dB increase in power is equal to a doubling in volume (10 * log10 (2) = 3.01 dB). As a record producer and audio specialist, my own acoustic measurements taken on my property show an ambient, night time measurement average of 25 dBa, and a daytime average of 35 dBa, where a 10mph wind establishes an average 55 dBa reading.

According to peer-reviewed health research, and the lack of satisfactory, technical reasoning behind the Town’s current noise ordinance, pursuing any wind farm—now, or in the future—certainly can not be motivated by the ensuring of my family’s quality of life. So I can only assume motivations are then financial.

The Board’s promise of local labor, construction materials and indigenous revenue are tentative at best, and grossly misleading when set within the context of Article 10, giving New York State permission to usurp any shortcomings of our local agencies provisions with that of the State’s own prerogatives, ones I doubt will ever be locally beneficial. For our leadership to even propose such promises, while fully knowing this legal loophole exists, is subversive at best, and insulting to those less informed on the issues at worst. The Board, in effect, could “promise” anything that appeases people, knowing full well it does not need to stand behind said promises as a higher authority is involved.

In all of the financial promises made to communities I’ve researched, no net figures are presented, only gross. Nor do the informing bodies ever explain that the windfall monies are generated by taxpayers and ratepayers of the locality. Likewise, deals between the wind industry and municipalities are premised on enormous property tax giveaways, something no other citizen gets. The reality is, there are profits for the developers, profits for the municipalities, and expenses for the taxpayers.

I greatly fear that our home value will drop significantly should this industrial wind farm be allowed to move forward. Who will assure we are able to retain the value upon immediate sale? The National Association of Realtors has amply recognized the definitive reductions on property values; is this something the Town is prepared to compensate my family for? Not only are the turbines taller than when I last wrote the Board in 2008, but there are additional poles for cabling, far higher than existing telephone cables.

Pursing this course any further jeopardizes the health, safety, welfare and property values of the residents living adjacent to this proposed industrial wind farm. I urge the Town to amend our local law noise ordinance to reflect the recommendations of their own Citizens Wind Committee, and desist in the pursuit of this political project.

As a job creator and owner of numerous restaurant franchises, a co-pastor of the area’s largest church, an executive in professional audio, publishing and marketing, and certainly as a husband and father of four, I have lived a life that esteems human life and seeks to generate revenue for worthy causes; as such, in my personal and professional opinion, I can not ascertain how the pursuit of this wind farm betters our community, strengthens relationships, or adds value to the next generation beyond the detrimental repercussions proven in previously tested environments. I look forward to further public communications from the Town as to why it esteems the advancement of any wind developer’s requests in our area.

Cordially,

Mr. Christopher K. Hopper

Insiders Newsletter

Sign up to become an insider today and get a digital copy of my "Handbook to Self-Publishing" sent to you for free!

  • Tom

    You Sir, are an idiot!

    • http://www.christopherhopper.com Christopher Hopper

      You don’t need to resort to name calling, unless that’s the only recourse at your disposal.

    • Anthony

      Name calling – What people do after years of not reading a single book, and relying strictly on Wikipedia. Better pause World of War Craft and get upstairs. I think your Mom has dinner ready. PBJ (no crust) and Mac-n-Cheese! Heck yes! ;)

    • Tom Jr.

      You told him, Dad! He’s so stupid. Look at all those big words that he used. I’ve never even seen them, (the oxford comma) and you never say them, Dad. I know he must be stupid because I don’t understand what peer reviewed is and I’ve learned everything from you, Dad. Thanks for setting a great example of what it is to be an adult, Dad. Thank you for the lesson on civil discourse, Dad.

      Tom. Disagree with a man if believe differently. That is America. Name calling is for undereducated and inarticulate mental minions. Should you have facts which you would like to present as the basis for a counter argument than we would all love to see them. (Plagiarism off of Wikipedia will be vetted) My guess, Sir (yes the comma comes before ‘Sir’) is that you are a bully. Bullies hope to silence. Good luck!

      Hey Tom – Don’t take offense take an argument. To take offense is weak. We are all waiting, Tom. No pressure, I’m sure it will be thorough, concise and could pass peer revision.

  • Thomas Paro

    Mr Hopper I think you raise some good solid points, however; some of your points i have to disagree with. I am an average citizen, I have no political ties or agendas. I firmly believe that political parties hinder the process of government decisions, In our system the power is supposed to be in the peoples hands and represented by our elected officials, but political parties have agendas that, in most cases the constituents are not in agreement with the political decisions made by their elected officials. i understand why people are for and against the windfarms.I see both sides of the fence so to speak. I live in the Cape Vincent area. I’ve seen the windmills on Wolfe Island, they are, I’m estimating at the closest point about 350 to 400 yards away. We cannot hear any noise generated from them. Another issue people most frequently bring up with the windmills is the environmental issues. I’ve seen the windfarms both in the Lowville area and Wolfe Island, I have yet to see a pile of dead birds under each individual windmill. I honestly think the environmental impact is minimal compared to what most people think or are told. It’s my opinion that New York State is currently in a financial crisis. Our area economically is mostly agricultural and a summer tourist attraction. The winter months in our area, are economically dead. With the introduction of windfarms, money generated from them is sustained all year round. The company pays, basically a rental fee to the land owner per windmill for use of the individuals land where the windmill is placed. Another unfortunate trend that has been happening, not just here but all throughout New York State is that little family owned localized farms are giving way to larger industrialized corporate farms. If you drive down any country road you will see that farming in general is becoming extinct. Bringing these windfarms into our area would help the small family owned farms, most of which are holding on by a thread financially. Giving these less fortunate farmers an extra source of income would help them survive. Farming today is a dying profession,allowing these windfarms could have a rejuvenating effect on farming in general. Bringing back the farms would have a positive effect on our local economy. As a result dairy prices would go down, for items such as milk, cheese, ice cream, and butter. The windfarms not only help the farmers economically it also helps the economy all the way around. As i said before, our area depends on the summer tourist trade. This being said, it means that during the late spring and summer months are when the population here grows and the economy starts to flourish. Most year round residents call the people that have seasonal residence in this area,and commute back and forth when the weather changes ” The Snow Birds.” These people bring in money to the area, but only for 3 to 4 months out of the year. Allowing the windfarms would guarantee that money would stay in this region all year long from the land owners who’s land would be the basis of these such farms. The windfarms would also create jobs in our region. Someone has to maintain these turbines and the equipment related to the windmills. If i had a choice I would have the windmills in my backyard. The technology is a relatively old idea. I Europe they used windmills as the pioneers used rivers here in America in the 16th and 17th centuries. In Europe where there were no rivers they used the windmills to produce flour. They used them much like they used the water wheels in the factories in America. The technology is constantly changing and could eventually end up powering our homes or can become smaller, quieter, and more efficient. These windmills are not untested they are currently being used not only in Lowville and Wolfe Island, but also near Syracuse, parts of California, off the coast of Cape Cod and all over Europe, just to name a few. I didn’t write you to offend you or start an argument, but to validate the points of the opposite side of your concerns. They are both important sides of view and one should always keep an open mind when dealing with political positions. It could be worse we could be discussing nuclear power in your backyard instead of something that is proven relatively harmless.

    • http://www.christopherhopper.com Christopher Hopper

      @Thomas: thanks for the intelligent reply.

      Great points, the strongest of which is the idea that local farmers and their increased pocket books have the potential to revitalize an area’s economy, though I have not seen that in action personally. Many farmers who’ve benefited financially from the wind turbines have become snow birds, or have left altogether. And I would wager the small number of farmers in the benefiting region are an extremely small percentage of an impacted demographic. I still would argue that I’m not willing to devalue my property or health to accommodate such corporate benefits; again, I cite the peer-reviewed health resources I’ve mentioned above.

      As for environmental impacts, I have not seen a pile of birds either: however, I would ask: where have all the deer, turkey, raccoons and other large mammals gone to? Ask any hunger about the absence of wildlife on Wolf Island and in Loweville.

      I agree that changeling technologies could indeed make wind energy much more feasible and impact-friendly. But putting such turbines in my front yard unequivocally devalues my property (National Realtors Association findings) and decimates sights lines. From my numerous trips to Holland over the past decade (given my Dutch heritage), the technology you’re referring to is fractionally smaller and less invasive than the industrial wind turbines we’re discussing, and I can’t even put on the same level.

      You’re not offensive in the least, and I value your conversational tone. Your comments are welcome here any time.

  • http://emmaesquared.blogspot.ca emmaesquared

    Usually I am all for clean energy but you raise a valid point. We in New Brunswick are facing similar worries with the government’s plan to start fracking for natural gas (a temporary solution for a temporary problem, debt, that will cause permanent damage). Also, after visiting the North Cape of Prince Edward Island, I can attest that the white noise generated by the wind farm there did indeed cause illness and forced some people to move. Wind power does have its place if we are to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, but these farms risk causing only more harm unless they are located in isolated regions away from where people live.

    • http://www.christopherhopper.com Christopher Hopper

      @Emma: thanks for your comment. Appreciate your observations, experience, and deductions. Hoping your community is able to steer clear of this kind of fiasco. I couldn’t agree more: wind energy is great, but in the right locations and right regions.

  • Eric Pignone

    Christopher,
    I can tell you this as a man who used to work on Maple Ridge Wind Farm in Lowville for a year and a half as a tec. I only seen 3 dead birds in that time and one I’m thinking was shot from a hunter it was a goose and I had seen hunters in the area that week. I had no health issues during that time and I was around them all day every day. I would see deer and turkey daily around them and a lot of them. I have nothing to gain by the comments I just made. These are just the facts that I know from what I had seen first hand. I also hunt in Lowville around the area’s that the towers are in and the hunting is very, very good still for deer, turkey and duck/goose. Take it for what it’s worth but I know this to be factual.

    • http://www.christopherhopper.com Christopher Hopper

      @Eric: Thanks for your comment. I really appreciate it, and—while I don’t know you—I certainly have no reason to doubt your observations. They are clearly your experiences, and duly noted. Nothing beats first hand experience.

      Regarding the wildlife, that’s the first I’ve heard to the contrary, and extremely heartening. I will look into it further (which is why I didn’t place that data in my original letter, and admit it’s only what I’ve heard).

      As for any effects on your health, I’m curious to know if your time there was spent in habitation within direct proximity or just working regularly around the area? I have a hard time denying peer-reviewed medical findings (assuming you understand the high standards “peer-reviewed” findings purport).

      Thanks again for writing.

    • jasonjclement

      I think the health issue may be something that doesn’t necessarily have an effect on everyone, however, that doesn’t simply prove that people aren’t getting sick. For example, I can walk through a field of poison ivy with out having any issues at all. My brother, on the other hand, can drive by a field in his car with the windows rolled up and awake covered with blisters the next day. My wife eats citrus fruit and ends up with an migraine she can’t tolerate… I have no problems. I just hope people don’t take the “it’s not in my back yard, so who cares” approach to all this.

    • http://www.christopherhopper.com Christopher Hopper

      Well said, and great comparisons.

  • http://williamjepma.wordpress.com Billy Jepma

    I’ve heard and read more opinions on this topic than I care to count, and I think this is one of the most level-headed, intelligent pieces I’ve seen. Thank you for expressing your opinion on this matter, and I can only pray that more people stand up and do the same.

    • http://www.christopherhopper.com Christopher Hopper

      Thanks, Billy. I appreciate your “level-headed” comment. I think fanatics get pushed aside and forgotten, while people who stay silent don’t get heard at all (for obvious reasons). It’s those who can use their platform sparingly but effectively that have the most impact.

  • http://WiseEnergy.org Energy Expert

    Mr. Hopper:

    Thank you for trying to write an objective piece about industrial wind energy.

    Electrical energy issues are very complex technical matters, and it is little wonder that most citizens do not grasp the key elements going on.

    Instead that often identify with something they can relate to — someone getting sick near a turbine, birds being killed, etc.

    IMO to see that the right things is done here we MUST take the time to properly understand this matter (e.g. by studying EnergyPresentation.info).

    The view of AWED (Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions) is simply this:

    We fully support considering alternative electrical energy sources.

    However, putting an alternative energy source on the PUBLIC power grid is a privilege, that needs to be earned. Things like “renewable” energies have no pre-ordained right to be on the grid, and they do not get a free pass from being properly evaluated first.

    The way to accomplish this evaluation is straightforward: provide scientific proof that the alternative energy source in question is a NET societal benefit.

    Note: Scientific proof would consists of a:
    1) comprehensive [i.e. technical, economic & environmental],
    2) objective,
    3) transparent, and
    4) empirical assessment.

    The issue with industrial wind energy is that no such assessment exists anywhere on the planet.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with looks, NIMBYs, etc.

    Please see our website, WiseEnergy.org for more details.

    • http://www.christopherhopper.com Christopher Hopper

      @EE: Thanks for the insightful comment, and for the link. Valuable premises to take into consideration.

      Since posting this, I’ve also been approached by some, who stay behind the scenes for various political and monetary reasons (which I understand), that have gone on to explain some of the immense economic factors that few seem to take into consideration. I plan on writing a new piece on these factors next, and with your added resources, possibly on the public/private power grid issues as well.