FARMERSVILLE — Alle-Catt Wind Farm opponents took heart Thursday in a new State Department of Public Service staff Statement of Issues letter citing a number of deficiencies by Invenergy, the developer of the proposed 340 megawatt project.
Attorneys for Farmersville and Freedom United said the litigation documents filed by DPS attorneys contained “powerful criticism of the Alle-Catt Wind Turbine developers.”
The attorneys for the Department of Public Service (DPS) listed several issues for litigation at a December hearing, including that Invenergy had failed in “fully characterizing the nature and probable impacts of the construction and operation” of the project. The letter said without more “mitigation measures,” the Siting Board could not approve the request for a certificate.
The letter also states: “Invenergy, as the applicant, is required to provide sufficient evidence to the Siting Board to assist the Board in making findings that include whether the cumulative impact of the construction and operation of the Facility results in a significant and adverse disproportionate environmental impact, in accordance with regulations promulgated by the NYSDEC.”
The DPS attorneys also noted that Invenergy has failed to obtain all of the land rights they need to build the project and stated that its’ latest application update “indicates the incomplete nature of the status of property rights acquired by the applicant…” and that it is “apparent that many key parcels are indicated as “in negotiation,” and thus not necessarily available to support the proposed Facility design.”
The DPS submission stated that Invenergy plans to take state forest for portions of the project for which they have not secured appropriate permission.
Farmersville United President Mark Heberling said, “We think it is wrong that this private developer should take state forest, which is a public resource meant for all of us to enjoy by hunting, hiking and camping and convert it to private use for their profit. That is just one of the many problems with this project.”
The DPS also noted that absent from Invenergy’s application is “any evaluation of cumulative sound impacts including the potential for annoyance” at homes and other locations, “perceptible vibrations on building components and the absence of consideration of uncertainties for low frequency sounds.”
Peter Lounsbury, the unopposed candidate for supervisor in Farmersville, stated “we have been saying all along that there are very serious problems with this project and with this application. We are fighting tooth and nail with our own town board, a majority of who have personal or family financial interests in this project. They are not reading Invenergy’s application or any of these DPS documents and it is incredibly frustrating to see them ignore the real evidence.”
Heberling agreed, saying, “They are just blinded on the money Invenergy keeps throwing around. They did not even know that the application update has Invenergy moving a concrete batch plant into Farmersville that will take up to 52,000 gallons of water a day out of our ground water and that new plant is right next to farms that struggle for water. It is infuriating!”
Stephanie Milks, president of Freedom United, who has been concerned with the shadow flicker reports from Invenergy, noted that the new application update provides for even worse impacts on residents, including increased shadow flicker.
This fact did not go unnoticed by DPS lawyers, who stated that Invenergy’s new amendment “indicates that flicker exposure exceeding 30 hours annually increases dramatically from 39 residences in the original Application Facility design, to 93 residences in the revised Facility design.”
Gary Abraham, the lawyer representing the Citizens Coalition and advocating for the concerns of the Swartzentruber Amish in the Farmersville area, also filed an extensive issues statement on a myriad of issues of concern to the coalition, including noise, wetland, seismic risk and other impacts.
Abraham said, “These are not the Bliss and Eagle turbines. People who point to those and say, ‘hey, they are not that bad’, have no idea what they are talking about. These are up to 200 feet higher, 600 feet in total height. The town board votes in Freedom and Farmerville to put these 700 feet from residents’ property lines should be criminal.”
Abraham noted that in Iowa, a state that has been host to numerous industrial wind farms, officials are taking note of wind turbine health impacts.
His submission to the DPS cited a resolution on the negative health effects of wind turbines passed by the Board of Health of Madison County in Iowa on Aug. 8, which highlighted the effects of infrasound and light flicker. The resolution was inspired by a health paper authored by Peter Thorne, a professor and director of the Environmental Health Sciences Research Center at the University of Iowa; David Osterberg, lead researcher at the Iowa Policy Project and professor emeritus at the University of Iowa; and Kerri Johannsen, Energy Program director of the Iowa Environmental Council.
The health paper outlines how current evidence suggests a person’s exposure to wind turbine noise can cause feelings of annoyance, as well as a limited connection between exposure to wind turbine noise and sleep disturbance. The report stated current evidence is inadequate to determine whether there is a link between exposure to wind turbine noise and stress or other health outcomes, and that there was no evidence between hearing loss and exposure to noise at any distance at the sound pressure levels that are associated with wind turbines.
Valessa Souter-Kline, the Alle-Catt project manager, said, "Issue statements are a routine part of the Article 10 review process that frame the next steps of the yearlong proceeding. We look forward to productive participation by all parties in the Article 10 process as we work to bring good paying jobs, American made energy, and over $7 million in annual revenue to the towns, counties, schools and fire districts in Cattaraugus, Allegany and Wyoming counties.”