A different spin

Citizens group in Portland lists turbine concerns

OBSERVER Photo by Natasha Matteliano From Thayer Hill Road, a view of the lake may include wind towers.

PORTLAND — The Concerned Citizens group in Portland wants full transparency when it comes to installing wind turbines in the town.

In an interview with the OBSERVER, Dale Carlson, Doug Walter and Bill Westin came armed with facts that Emergya Wind Technologies (EWT) has not been forthcoming with. EWT claims that their project has pretty much no negatives, but looking further into the matter, the Concerned Citizens group of Portland has uncovered a lot of other factors not mentioned by the company.

The group has been working with John Droz, a physicist and environmental advocate based out of North Carolina who also has a summer cottage in the Adirondacks. Over the last 40 years, Droz has specialized in wind energy and is helping out the Concerned Citizens of Portland with their main goal in making sure the public knows the whole truth, not just EWT’s side.

Droz and the group have taken claims that EWT has promised Portland residents and put them to the test. Are these claims true, or just half true? Is there another side to the story?

Some of the claims they are questioning include:

¯ EWT promises up to $1.1 million per year in benefits to Portland taxpayers.

When actual numbers are calculated, according to Droz, the amount drops to barely $100,000. Further, when all the negative aspects are considered, which EWT neglects to publicize, the net financial effect on the town will be a loss of about $4.5 million per year, if not more. This includes agricultural losses due to bats and weather changes, residential property devaluation, tourism reduction, adverse health effects, hydrogeological impacts, ecological impacts, and other miscellaneous impacts.

¯ EWT ensures residents that if Portland allows them to build wind towers, National Grid will allow up to 10% discount on their electric bill.

According to Carlson, National Grid customers can already sign up for a 10% discount through other community energy projects (NexAmp and Abundant Solar are two examples) without the turbines. “There’s really no benefit in this regard because the discounts can not be stacked,” Carlson said. “Also, Brocton residents would not be eligible for this program.”

¯ EWT will not sell or assign any portion of the project to any other company.

According to the group, this is a commonly used tactic to unload unprofitable projects to others who then claim bankruptcy and leave the town with millions of liability and decommissioning costs. “This is a 25-year long project, what happens to the turbines if EWT goes bankrupt?” Westin asked rhetorically.

¯ EWT says there is no infrasound because of direct drive technology and infrasound is not backed up scientifically.

According to the group, infrasound and its negative health issues are not caused by mechanical drive mechanisms but is the effect of the blades slicing through the air causing negative air pressure pockets and sound that is not audible by human ears. Some studies have proven that infrasound can cause physical and mental disabilities, especially from constant sources. This is still a heavily controversial topic among scientists, but studies are being done to provide more data on whether the infrasound is harmful.

¯ EWT promises there is no negative effect of wind towers on property values.

According to Carlson, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of studies by independent professionals of large property devaluations caused by wind towers too close to residences. In fact, more than 100 residents of Cassadaga, Fredonia, and Forestville residents filed lawsuits in state Supreme Court in Mayville against the developers of the Arkwright Wind Power Project. These residents are “asking for unspecified damages related to loss of property values, compensatory damages for destruction of homes and lifestyle, loss of use and enjoyment of their properties, damages for relocation costs and time spent relocating, mental anguish, destruction of scenic countryside, physical pain and suffering, difficulty sleeping, nuisance, trespass, interference with electronics in their homes such as satellites, telephones and televisions, loss of business profits, special damages for stress, anxiety, worry and inconvenience, and the effects lights and noise from the turbines have on their properties”.

¯ EWT says a 1,200 feet setback distance from any tower to an existing home is acceptable.

The Chautauqua County Health Department has issued a letter to all towns recommending a mile and a half (7,920 feet) setback due to health concerns of infrasound. Thomas Erlandson, President of the Chautauqua County Board of Health wrote, “This board urges municipalities to pass a proper wind law that restricts wind turbines to a minimum of 1.5 miles from any property lines and 35 or fewer decibels in sound frequency.”

All in all, the Concerned Citizens group of Portland and Carlson, Westin, and Walter encourage the Town Board to look into the effects of turbines more before making a decision on their upcoming drafted law and also encourage community members to be more engaged and stand up for what they believe in. According to Westin, it all comes down to a properly worded wind law that includes all of the points we have found in our research. “If they’re (wind turbines) going to go anywhere, put them where people can’t see them,” Westin said. “They don’t belong here, not this close to residences. If I wanted to live in an industrial area, I would have moved to the city.”

The information in this article was gathered by the Concerned Citizens of Portland group, Droz, and can be found in more detail on their website, https://portlandwind.yolasite.com/. The group also has a Facebook page, which is called Concerned Residents over Portland Windmill Proposal.

“Our intent is not to solely go against EWT, it’s to make sure our community stays healthy and economically sound,” Carlson said. “We want to make the people aware of the negatives of the turbines, instead of just the positives coming from EWT. We want them to call and email the Town Board to express their opinions.”


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