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Home Values at Risk in Savoy?

September 14, 2017

The letter Wind turbine plan bad for Savoy home-owners, published in the Berkshire Eagle (9/13/17) reports the unintended consequences of the Hoosac Project–no houses have sold at market rates in Florida or Monroe.

“I’ll tell you what you can expect in Savoy,” he said, “If you get a job offer in another state or, God forbid, one of your kids becomes ill and needs your help caring for their children, you may not find a buyer. Your house will suffer from `external obsolescence’ (factors external to the property itself). Wind turbines will definitely have an effect on the marketability of your house.”

 

To the editor:

Seeking a more accurate idea of property devaluation we could expect from Savoy’s wind turbines, I contacted a North County appraiser. He told me that when turbines were built in Florida and Monroe every house in the area went on the market.

“How much depreciation did they suffer?” I inquired.

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?”

“Oh, I have an idea,” he said, “professional appraisals are based on comparative sales, and since the turbines were built, no houses have sold. Oh, a few were let go at a fraction of their value, but you can’t derive comps from short sales.”

“I’ll tell you what you can expect in Savoy,” he said, “If you get a job offer in another state or, God forbid, one of your kids becomes ill and needs your help caring for their children, you may not find a buyer. Your house will suffer from `external obsolescence’ (factors external to the property itself). Wind turbines will definitely have an effect on the marketability of your house.”

Those who want the turbines believe there will be greater benefits for the town. Here’s what I know: Selectmen cannot state the amount the town will receive, as the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) discussions have not yet settled on a number. It’s been reported that payments offered nine years ago are now off the table. Minuteman wants to enlarge the turbines to increase its profits and will not commit to a payment agreement until after the vote. The unknown benefits to the town could be offset by diminished property values, reduced state aid, and the added cost of the electricity passed on to consumers.

The pros and cons for larger blades are also an unknown. Past experience evidenced at other sites indicate a potential for more noise and more serious health concerns. Minuteman needs to specify the exact make and model, as without technical specifications, it is impossible to predict noise levels at neighboring homes. Those with first-hand knowledge in Florida and Monroe can provide direct, witnessed “eye and ear” evidence, as can people living in Falmouth, Fairhaven, Scituate, and Kingston.

There is an unspoken moratorium for permitting new on-shore wind turbines because there is not enough separation distance to homes. Ironically, towns with the greatest wind potential in the state, have no plans for new on-shore wind turbines. Savoy must not vote to enlarge these turbines.

Salvatore Raciti,
Savoy

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Letters Relate Dangers of Poorly-Sited Wind Turbines

September 11, 2017

Small towns in the cross-hairs, little attention paid to predictable impacts, projects helped by closed-door deals–these are the realities of wind turbine siting in Massachusetts.

From Raymond Hartman of Shelburne’s letter in the Berkshire EagleSavoy Wind Turbine Study is Junk Science” (9/8/2017):

“Wind developers are eying our small towns, while unprepared to evaluate the adverse effects that 35 to 50-story wind turbines will have. These include lower real estate values near turbines and negative impacts on the tourism-based regional economy of Western Massachusetts. Would we alter these elevated ridge lines with 35- to 50-story Walmarts?” Read the entire letter

From Dave Dardi of Scituate’s letter

There is a reason why the courts ordered the two turbines in Falmouth to permanently shut down. And why do you think that the town did not appeal that decision. They understood that they had made a mistake in allowing them to be installed in the first place.
Don’t you make a mistake! Read more  in “People of Savoy”

From Louise Barteau of Fairhaven:

Gordon Deane of Palmer Capital put up two wind turbines in Fairhaven, MA, where I live. Most of the work was done behind closed doors and in close financial collaboration with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The neighbors only found out when the land was cleared on Veteran’s Day, 2011. At that time the project was so far advanced that there was little the neighbors could do to stop it although we tried very hard. Read more in “Wind turbines don’t make good neighbors in Fairhaven”

Berkshire Eagle letter to the editor “Savoy Wind Turbine Study is Junk Science” (9/9/2017).
To the editor:
I am a mathematical economist. I have studied alternative green energy sources as a faculty researcher at MIT and have taught energy and environmental economics as an associate professor at Boston University and the University of California at Berkeley.

Voters in Savoy will soon decide whether to allow taller wind turbines in the town. In the discussion leading up to the relevant vote, the Minuteman Wind representative told the town that “there is not scientific consensus” about sound issues (Eagle, Aug. 25), citing a submitted noise study. She was likely referencing a state-sponsored January 2012 wind turbine study. Her assertion is a complete mischaracterization of the scholarly research.

As an expert witness, I have professionally reviewed hundreds of quantitative policy analyses and provided leading testimony that ended in landmark legal decisions. I thoroughly evaluated the state-sponsored study and found it to be fundamentally flawed in its analysis and conclusion that wind turbines do not cause negative health effects.

Simply put, the health impact study is not independent science. Rather, it is biased, distorted and in many cases outright deceitful. Several members of the panel were not independent; they benefit from big wind financially or have demonstrated a scientifically unsupported intellectual preference for this technology. The study relies primarily upon four to five articles while ignoring hundreds of other relevant studies. It summarizes health effects of much smaller turbines than the ones proposed for Savoy, for example, and examines the effects in Sweden, Holland and New Zealand, while inexplicably ignoring the serious health effects that have arisen from the many large wind projects in Massachusetts and the rest of New England.

Furthermore, the panel distorts, ignores and misstates the conclusions of the very studies upon which it relies. These studies conclude that industrial wind turbines disrupt sleep, and note that chronic noise exposure is a psychosocial stressor that can induce maladaptive psychological responses and negatively impact health. Furthermore, wind turbine sound varies unpredictably, and the noise does not cease at night.

Wind developers are eying our small towns, while unprepared to evaluate the adverse effects that 35 to 50-story wind turbines will have. These include lower real estate values near turbines and negative impacts on the tourism-based regional economy of Western Massachusetts. Would we alter these elevated ridge lines with 35- to 50-story Walmarts?

I hope voters in Savoy do not rely on this fatally flawed health study as science to evaluate the project. If one of my students had handed it in to me, I would have given it a failing grade.
RAYMOND S. HARTMAN
Shelburne, MA

People of Savoy,
It is wise to learn from your mistakes and even wiser to learn from the mistakes of others. I live in Scituate, MA 3200 feet from a single 1.5 MW wind turbine. Six years ago Gorden Deane came to town and sold a bill of goods to our town officials. He said that the turbine would not have any negative impact on the community and they believe him, for he is a very personable individual. For the last 5 years my neighbors and I have suffered from sleep deprivation, ringing
of the ears, dizziness and shadow flicker. We are woken from a sound sleep and because of the noise cannot get back to sleep. Over that time period we have submitted hundreds of complaints, brought petitions before the Board of Health and Selectmen; but all that has been ineffective in gaining relief. The fight to rid our homes of this intrusive noise seems to have no end.
If you think five, 2.5 MW wind turbines will be quiet you are wrong. You should come to my house and listen to a single 1.5 MW turbine that is 3200 feet away. There is a reason why the courts ordered the two turbines in Falmouth to permanently shut down. And why do you think that the town did not appeal that decision. They understood that they had made a mistake in allowing them to be installed in the first place.
Don’t you make a mistake!
Dave Dardi
Scituate

Wind turbines don’t make good neighbors in Fairhaven
Gordon Deane of Palmer Capital put up two wind turbines in Fairhaven, MA, where I live. Most of the work was done behind closed doors and in close financial collaboration with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The neighbors only found out when the land was cleared on Veteran’s Day, 2011. At that time the project was so far advanced that there was little the neighbors could do to stop it although we tried very hard.

After the giant blades (total turbine height is 394 feet) began to spin, the turbine neighbors turned to the MA Department of Environmental Protection for relief from the intrusive turbine sounds. Testing showed that the turbines exceeded the noise limits set by the state. Residents submitted over 850 complaint forms to the local Board of Health but nothing was done to help those who were suffering. Instead, Gordon Deane’s company, the MA DEP and the MA CEC met behind closed doors to come up with a non-protective mitigation plan that only turns off the turbines occasionally between 12 and 4 am in light winds and never in the rain. Not helpful.

To date, those who actually live next to the turbines have been excluded from every decision involving the turbines and the impacts of the turbines on their lives. Based on the experiences of turbine neighbors in Fairhaven, Falmouth, Scituate, Kingston, Plymouth, and the Hoosac project in the Berkshires, the Commonwealth of Mass and your local government will not help you after the turbines are turned on.

Industrial wind turbines are power plants that run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The sound they emit is intrusive and harmful. Gordon Deane has not seemed to care about the very real physical distress that is caused by living next to his industrial wind turbines in my town. And the turbines in my town are smaller than the five turbines proposed for your town.

To understand more about the destructive results of Deane’s wind turbines in the communities of Fairhaven and Scituate I suggest that citizens of Savoy go to wind-watch, a website that collects news stories and documents about industrial wind turbines from news sources around the Commonwealth, the nation and the world.
And then do everything they can to prevent these turbines from ever being erected.
Louise Barteau
Fairhaven

Savoy’s Hearing Brings Out Concerns

August 26, 2017
tags:

About 70 people attended the hearing on an amendment to change the Commercial Wind Energy Facility bylaw. The height of the five turbines in the Minuteman Wind project and their clearance from the ground are changes that must be made so the company can use the blades it wants.

This reconfiguration will allow the project to generate more electricity, and therefore revenue, according to the Berkshire Eagle. While this may assure the town a higher figure on a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, it also means that “The taller these turbines are, the more people are going to be impacted,'” town resident Susan Rosenthal said.

The August 24, 2017 hearing was held in the fire station and instead of being conducted with a list of speakers allowed to make statements without rebuttal, the session was held as a Q&A. One townsperson who attended said the audience did not let the moderator cut off speakers–the residents were interested in hearing from other residents, as well as abutters and two people who have the experience of living near 2.5 megawatt turbines.

Residents later said they were impressed with the turnout and want questions raised about the economic soundness of the venture to be considered.

The scale of the project is represented graphically at the Savoy Song website’s page “Blades that slice through a town:”

1280_blades_chapel_rd-1

 

 

Savoy’s Wind Bylaw in the News

August 20, 2017
tags:
Hoosac on Crum Hill

Hoosac turbines at Crum Hill

The Planning Board of the tiny town of Savoy will hold a public hearing on August 24, 2017 at 6:00 pm at the Fire Station. Minuteman Wind, the project developer, says taller turbines are needed to generate the desired output, according to the Berkshire Eagle.

Larry Parnass reported the comments of John Tynan, chairman of the Select Board (“Hearing postponed on Savoy wind power bylaw change“):

The requested change is driven in part by the fact that turbine blades used for the lower height project are no longer available, Tynan said.

“That causes a problem with them reaching the capacity they wanted,” he said of the company’s intended electricity output. “A little bit higher is quite a lot of energy produced.”

The “Commercial Wind Energy Facilities” bylaw currently calls for a maximum height of 425 feet to and a ground clearance of 100 feet. The hearing will consider raising the height to 455 feet and lowering the clearance to 70 feet. The date of the town meeting when Savoy’s voters will be called upon to amend the zoning bylaws has not been announced. The amendment requires a two-thirds majority to pass.

The Board of Selectmen’s meeting on Tuesday, August 22, will also discuss the payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT), which the town authorized them to negotiate at a June 30, 2017 special town meeting. Parnass reported of that meeting:

Though the issue had once drawn over 200 residents to meetings, the recent town meeting was sparsely attended. The article giving the Select Board authority to handle the tax matter passed 13-5, according to Town Clerk Brenda Smith.

The article, “Long-debated $31M Savoy wind power project revived,” reports

Deane-Mayer [of Palmer Capital–a new investor in the project] said that with greater use of natural gas to produce electricity, energy prices have come down. She declined to say whether the $220,000 figure was still a reasonable estimate [for a PILOT for Savoy].

“We’re looking for stable income through the period of the permit,” Tynan said of the tax agreement. “With renewable energy this is your best avenue to get something more favorable to the town.”

A PILOT agreement, as it’s known, can also benefit a developer by lowering initial payments, which would normally be high before depreciation reduces the value of the investment.

JD Allen also reported on the $31 million project for WAMC’s Midday Magazine (“Wind Turbine Project In Savoy Starts Up, Again,” 7/11/17) that, “Some residents have expressed concerns about how the turbines could impact their health.”

Project Location

Minuteman Wind location in Savoy MA

Turbine location identified by Minuteman Wind

Equation Reveals Falmouth’s Error

July 13, 2017

Take a Google Earth snapshot. Use its tools to indicate distance. Chart that against industry turbine ratings. Voilà! Anyone can figure out that most of the wind turbines in Falmouth are too close to homes.
Ambrose-Falmouth-Distance
In this first infographic, acousticians Stephen Ambrose and Robert Rand demonstrate the distance of homes from turbines. They reveal that anyone could have anticipated the noise would be too great at nearby property lines by using standard industry data.

The larger the turbine, the greater the sound power levels and therefore the greater the distance needed to reduce noise to the maximum MassDEP allows.

If the size of Wind-1 had been kept to the level of the Northwind (Woods Hole Research Center, 100 kW), its noise footprint would not be disturbing neighbors.

The second fact sheet assesses whether the standard developed by the Cape Cod Commission would protect residents near a turbine.
Ambrose-Falmouth-CCCom-guidance
If distance provides the only protection from wind turbine noise, is a 10-rotor diameter setback enough to prevent residents from being disturbed when they garden in their yards, or when they try to sleep?

The graph at right offers an industry analysis showing that larger diameter rotors produce greater sound power levels (higher dBAs).

Again, a small turbine like the Northwind meets the CCC distance standard for reducing noise level. The larger turbines do not.

Net Neutrality Action Day July 12, 2017

July 12, 2017

Many of the videos supplied by Wind Wise Massachusetts are housed on the Vimeo website. Here is a plea from Vimeo to keep an open Internet. If the Federal Communications Commission rules reduce access, sites like ours may get less traffic as readers are frustrated in loading documents, images, and links to content like videos and news websites

Fight-for-Net-Neutrality

Why we need net neutrality from Vimeo Staff on Vimeo.

Falmouth Selectmen Bow to Court Ruling

July 11, 2017
Hoosac-Don't get fooled like

Hoosac Wind ribbon-cutting December 2012. Photo credit: Virginia Irvine

Louise Grabowski, President of Wind Wise~Massachusetts, noted the import of the June 20, 2017 ruling from Barnstable Superior Court:

“We are confident the Superior Court’s ruling that these massive wind turbines  ‘constitute a substantial and unreasonable interference’ with the lives of those living near them will discourage other towns from erecting these industrial machines too close to people.”

According to Cape Cod Times reporter Adam Lucente, the Board of Selectmen chose not to appeal the decision because it would further divide the town (“Falmouth won’t appeal order to shut down wind turbines,” 7/10/17). Falmouth has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs and has lost revenue from court-ordered shutdowns. Residents had filed many suits, one of which resulted in the turbine operating on a reduced schedule. In this recent decision, the judge ruled against the town’s appeal of a “nuisance” ruling by the Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals.

Wind Wise has been following the efforts of residents in communities across Massachusetts, where wind power plants have been sited. Grabowski said,

“The Board of Selectman’s decision not to appeal the court’s ruling is a decisive and hard won victory for those in Falmouth who have suffered for years from the harmful health impact of the wind turbines too close to their homes.

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