NSW gets world’s toughest wind farm rules

PEOPLE living within two kilometres of proposed wind farms will have the right to veto them, under a NSW government proposal.

Planning and Infrastructure Minister Brad Hazzard says NSW remains committed to being part of the Federal Government’s 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020, despite proposing what he has described as the world’s toughest wind-farm guidelines.

Under the proposal, a company wanting to set up a wind farm in an area where landowner consent has not been given will have to go to an independent regional planning panel if there is community opposition. ”That means 100 per cent of neighbours have to be happy within that two-kilometre zone,” Mr Hazzard told reporters in Sydney.

Mr Hazzard said he hoped the idea would find a balance between residents living near wind turbines and supporters of renewable energy.

”Today I am announcing that the NSW coalition government is putting out for public discussion some of the toughest wind-farm guidelines in the country, possibly the world,” he said.

The Victorian coalition government this year gave residents within a two-kilometre radius a right of veto over wind turbines.

But Mr Hazzard said the NSW proposal was different to Victoria’s and that wind-farm proponents would get a bigger say.

Planning panel approves Auwahi wind farm

WAILUKU – The Maui Planning Commission unanimously approved permits Tuesday for Auwahi Wind Energy to build and operate eight 428-foot-tall wind turbines on Ulupalakua Ranch land.

Two dozen people testified on the proposed special use and special management area permits, and none were opposed to the project, according to planner Ann Cua. Some testifiers shared concerns about traffic, safety and visual impacts of the wind farm.

The project would have the capacity to generate 21 megawatts, which would be enough power to supply electricity to 10,000 homes. The $140 million project’s infrastructure includes an energy storage system; a 9-mile, 34.5-kilovolt power line; an interconnection substation; a microwave communication tower; and a construction access road. Each generator pad would require about 2.4 acres of cleared area, while the entire project would cover 1,466 acres, almost entirely on Ulupalakua Ranch land.

The project aims to provide power for Maui island only. It is not part of the “Big Wind” project, which calls for wind farms on Lanai and Molokai to provide power to Oahu via an underwater cable.

Commission members attached conditions to Auwahi’s permits, including one that requires Auwahi Wind, a division of Sempra, to work with the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and Ka Ohana O Kahikinui Inc. to develop a community benefits package. The groups would develop a plan and sign a memorandum of agreement addressing the roadway improvement and other needs of the Kahikinui homestead community.

The project area contains more than 1,100 archaeological features on 174 sites, and the developer has designed the turbines and power lines to avoid culturally sensitive burials and heiau.

Wind farm paid £1.2 million to produce no electricity

A wind farm has been paid £1.2 million not to produce electricity for eight-and-a-half hours.

By Edward Malnick and Robert Mendick

9:00PM BST 17 Sep 2011

Comments102 Comments

The amount is ten times greater than the wind farm’s owners would have received had they actually generated any electricity.

The disclosure exposes the bizarre workings of Britain’s electricity supply, prompting calls last night for an official investigation into the payments system.

The £1.2 million will go to a Norwegian company which owns 60 turbines in the Scottish Borders.

The National Grid asked the company, Fred Olsen Renewables, to shut down its Crystal Rig II wind farm last Saturday for a little over eight hours amid fears the electricity network would become overloaded.

The problem was caused by high winds buffeting the country in the wake of Hurricane Katia.

In total, 11 wind farms were closed down last week, receiving a total of £2.6 million. The money – detailed in calculations provided by National Grid – will be added on to household bills and paid for by consumers.

As Britain pushes for more and more wind farms, critics claim the size of the ‘constraint payments’ will grow accordingly – raising serious concern about the long-term suitability of wind power to meet Britain’s energy needs.

Crystal Rig received by far the largest single payment because the National Grid runs an auction, inviting energy companies to say how much they want in compensation for switching off.

Crystal Rig’s owners asked for £999 per megawatt hour of energy they would have produced had they been switched on. Incredibly, the figure Crystal Rig had bid was accepted by the National Grid.

Wind farms under fire for bird kills

Six birds found dead recently in Southern California’s Tehachapi Mountains were majestic golden eagles. But some bird watchers say that in an area where dozens of wind turbines slice the air they were also sitting ducks.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating to determine what killed the big raptors, and declined to divulge the conditions of the remains. But the likely cause of death is no mystery to wildlife biologists who say they were probably clipped by the blades of some of the 80 wind turbines at the three-year-old Pine Tree Wind Farm Project, operated by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

As the Obama administration pushes to develop enough wind power to provide 20 percent of America’s energy by 2030, some bird advocates worry that the grim discovery of the eagles this month will be a far more common occurrence.

Windmills kill nearly half a million birds a year, according to a Fish and Wildlife estimate. The American Bird Conservancy projected that the number could more than double in 20 years if the administration realizes its goal for wind power.

County, Life of the Land to intervene in wind case

The Public Utilities Commission has allowed Maui County and the organization Life of the Land to become intervenors in Hawaiian Electric Co.’s proposal to charge customers for a $4 million study on “Big Wind.”

Henry Curtis of Life of the Land said customers should not be forced to finance the studies, because past rulings by the PUC clearly ordered HECO to evaluate alternatives to the massive wind-power project. The commission’s decision and order, which was signed Wednesday, said HECO’s review of the project should have also evaluated alternatives such as expanding residential or large-scale photovoltaic systems, biomass, biofuel and concentrated solar energy.

But although they granted the interventions, the commission also cautioned Life of the Land and the county that their involvement would be limited to the issues currently on the table.

“The commission will preclude any effort by them to unreasonably broaden the issues,” the decision stated.

It then inserted a curious and unusual note that the commissioners said they expect the intervenors “will comply with the commission’s rules and orders.”

County Energy Coordinator Doug McLeod said the language was “interesting,” but he believes there will be some latitude “in what we can legitimately discuss.”

The county’s principal concern from the start, he said, has been “the lack of community benefits from Big Wind.”

Viewpoint: Big Wind project clarifications offered

The June 14 article about Maui County’s powerful letter to the Public Utilities Commission – and the county’s decision to intervene in Hawaiian Electric Co.’s request to be reimbursed by ratepayers to the tune of $4 million – contained a number of inaccuracies.

The article identifies two organizations that were denied intervention by the PUC: Life of the Land and Lanaians for Sensible Growth. That is incorrect. The two parties denied intervener status were Friends of Lana’i and Life of the Land.

The article states that the Big Wind project will likely have an enormous impact on Lanai and possibly Molokai. True enough, but one look at the state’s project maps (www.hirep-wind.com/documents/EISPN_PROJECT_AREA_22NOV2010.pdf) confirms for all Maui residents that the state plans to run a cable to/from Maui as well. And First Wind Hawaii, the developer that was unsuccessful in its attempt to develop a wind power plant on Molokai, stated in an April 26 Pacific Business News article that it has now turned its sights to Maui, suggesting that “Maui be included in the interisland cable project.”

The June 14 article’s comments about the deal struck between Castle & Cooke and Pattern Energy also requires clarification

Big Wind must be transparent – Hawaii Editorials

Wind energy is cited among the green alternatives to fossil fuel, but environmental and community groups are irritated about the handling of a massive project to transmit energy to Oahu from windmills on Lanai and Molokai. They should be provided more access to preliminary work on the plan by state agencies and Hawaiian Electric Co., and hold project members to promises of full access and participation at future venues.

HECO is seeking a “power purchase agreement” from the Public Utilities Commission to recover $4 million from ratepayers in costs for studies associated with the Big Wind, or Interisland Wind, project. The PUC has endorsed the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, which mandates that 40 percent of the state’s energy come from renewable sources by 2030, so the studies are consistent with the state’s goals. The path to getting there, though, has the potential to keep lay people in the dark until it emerges as a fait accompli.

Even Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa is complaining that “no one can tell us where the cable will run, its overall cost or how it would interconnect with the grids on the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai.… We need a clear, complete, accurate, detailed analysis for the cable system before we agree to finance it on the backs of the ratepayers.”

Kahuku wind farm idled during work on battery system

First Wind LLC said it has temporarily idled the turbines at its Kahuku wind energy project while it works on the battery storage system.

The 12 wind turbines were shut down on May 22 and are expected to be brought back online in stages starting later this week, company spokesman John Lamontagne said in an email from the company’s headquarters in Massachusetts.

“We are conducting a diligent and thorough review of the operating issues for the battery facility at the Kahuku project. During that time, the project is offline,” he said.

The 30-megawatt project — Oahu’s only commercial-scale wind farm — began feeding electricity into Hawaiian Electric Co.’s grid in March. The turbines produce enough energy to power about 7,700 homes, according to First Wind. First Wind sells the electricity to HECO at a fixed price of 19.9 cents per kilowatt-hour under a 20-year purchase power agreement.

Kahuku wind farm idled during work on battery system – Hawaii News – Staradvertiser.com

Molokai Anti-Wind Group Forms

I Aloha Molokai (IAM) News Release

The acronym IAM represents “I Aloha Molokai,” a newly formed working group comprised of Molokai residents opposed to the proposal to develop a 200 megawatt industrial scale wind power plant to serve the energy needs of Oahu. IAM’s mission is to share information, as well as educate the general public to the potential impacts of the project. This is a grassroots effort to raise awareness and provide balance as the developer and proponents of the project move forward in their attempt to persuade the island community to support the project.

IAM is fortunate and pleased to announce that on June 2 at 6 p.m. at the Kulana `Oiwi Halau, Robin Kaye from Friends of Lanai (FOL) will be sharing the “Lanai Wind Fall Out” video and their experience with the Big Wind and undersea cable project. IAM invites the public to join us to talk story and learn how others are proactively engaged in mitigating efforts to challenge the Big Wind and Undersea Cable project.

Numerous testimonies, letters printed in the local paper and a recent voting survey reveal major concerns and opposition to the proposed project. IAM stands firm on the position that the cultural, social, economic and environmental impacts far outweigh the benefits and opportunities of the project. “NO DEAL” is worth sacrificing our integrity and island for.