Plan to Fight/Fight to Win: Top Tips On How To Tackle Wind Developers Head On

Fighting back is the only way to tackle Big Wind when its goonish developers are threatening to wreck your community.

America’s rural communities have won a string of victories by working together, getting organised and getting lawyers involved early. As a result, pro-community and pro-reliable energy groups are on the ascendant in the US.

At the heart of their success, is an understanding of their enemy and its deep and insidious connections with government enablers. It also helps to understand the thoroughly flawed economics of intermittent wind power and never concede that there is a ‘right’ place for these things, anywhere, anytime.

Start with the unassailable economic truth that there is absolutely no market for electricity that cannot be delivered as and when power consumers need it, and the argument for intermittent and unreliable wind and solar, falls of the first hurdle.

In the absence of massive and endless subsidies there would be no wind or solar industries. Period.

Then, as Kevin Kitty explains further below, there are so many obvious negatives that tell against wind power that you’ll be spoiled for choice.

With all that in mind, we can only encourage you to get organised, and give them hell.

Wind Turbines Out West
Watts Up With That?
Kevin Kitty
4 April 2022

Background
Wind energy development has exploded in southeastern Wyoming. In just two counties we have now in operation, or permitted to begin construction, some ten wind projects involving 613,000 acres (958 square miles) and offering nameplate rating of 6,300MW. Why has this development accelerated so much lately? I will not delve into the issue of public subsidies at all since these are so well known. Instead I will examine five other factors I can identify.

First, the region undoubtedly has impressive wind energy resources and these installations should, like oil and gas production, follow the resource. However, while average wind speeds in parts of southeast Wyoming are high, the wind displays a great deal of variability on a variety of time scales – exactly the characteristic which makes wind energy problematic.

Second, except for one project which is sited in a region of private residences and businesses there is little local opposition to these projects. Everyone seems aware that these projects will pass the permitting stage easily. There is little statutory guidance. There are no regulations regarding impacts to view shed, for instance, like there is in cities (i.e. limitations on structure height, for instance).

Third, the wind farms are being sited where there are few land owners which is a great aid in organizing leases. In this part of Wyoming property is often owned in very large holdings. Much of it is state or Federal land, especially BLM. One project includes a 50/50 mix of private and BLM. The private land involved here has one private owner of around 250 square miles.

Fourth, there is the perception of coming prosperity. Local engineers expect increasing demand for surveying and civil engineering services as do some construction services such as for porta-potties. There is new tax revenue. What is sold to the county is revenue for facilities upgrades, better wages, and equipment for schools.

Fifth, the most difficult factor to put in a proper perspective is the current popular belief that these so-called renewable energy sources are high-tech and will enhance the environment, in fact possibly save the planet. In one case County Commissioners stated explicitly that their decision to approve was predicated partially on reducing greenhouse gasses.

In Part I of this series I will examine the permitting process itself along with environmental and economic issues; then in Part II we’ll tackle technical issues involving hazards to wildlife and preventing nuisances.

The Permitting Process
The permit applications are enormous documents, 1,700 pages isn’t out of the realm of possibility. One should expect that these put forth the applicant’s best case and so they should be read with an appropriate deal of skepticism because they are, by nature, biased.

Public hearings are scheduled to consider the application. My overall sense is that if one has doubts about renewable energy invading your neighborhood or region, public hearings are not a productive place to voice concerns. By this stage the effort has gained too much momentum for approval. Few people in opposition show up generally and many people who do show up in opposition to these permits present emotional, extreme and poorly substantiated claims.[1] People with more persuasive objections get caught up in the resulting emotion and discounted altogether. Send written comments instead and send them early.

The usual path to approval is to first seek approval from the county commissioners who will rely on the opinion of a planning commission. The planning commission typically has knowledge about construction, but not necessarily industry. The minutes of their meetings makes this clear. However, even with obvious shortcomings, the application is sent to the commissioners with a recommendation to approve.

Local approval now leads to a request for a conditional permit from a state agency such as our Industrial Siting Council (ISC). This council in turn will depend on a recommendation from the Industrial Siting Division of the State Department of Environmental Quality, which in turn gathers opinion from many various state agencies. It is a little like being caught in the infinite regress arm of the Maunchausen trilemma. No one in these agencies is a party to the hearing and so they won’t testify in person.[2] Worse still, their advice lacks independence as the agencies are not immune to politics. One person told me some time ago that there is pressure from above, perhaps only perceived but effective nonetheless, to not push back too hard on wind energy.

After having passed public hearings, the client may have other conditions to meet such as from the FAA concerning lighting or perhaps some level of rigor of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) because Federal property is involved and so forth, but hearings are a major hurdle to clear.

The public hearing process makes a good example of C.P. Snow’s “two cultures” – one encompassing the scientific and engineering disciplines and the other the humanities.[3] While he identified this divergence in academia and the elite, the same conflict appears almost everywhere.

The scientific engineering ethos is about evidence and making logical arguments based on what researchers have concluded often after a great deal of independent review. Its knowledge is constantly under revision. Someone who has self-reported experience without data or other evidence is arguing “ex cathedra”– argument from authority. Science and engineering are not about authority, and in our culture we view such claims suspiciously.

The culture of public hearings, on the other hand, often is about authority. An argument made from published studies by a person not directly involved in the research is actually providing hearsay.[4] The legal/procedural ethos places great emphasis on eye witnesses, and cross-examination. If the earlier researchers whose work I drew upon for my testimony can’t be cross-examined, well, as the hearing examiner stated in response to objections, the council would consider my testimony “for what it’s worth.”

In summary there is little opportunity to criticize work the applicant does despite its obvious biases or mistakes. Work done by agency advisors is well insulated from criticism. There is nothing like regulatory Daubert in the Administrative Procedures Act.[5]

The Environment
Nothing seems more misplaced than the belief, amplified by the wind energy developers themselves, that wind energy is clean and non-polluting. Says one application,

“Wind power is a renewable and non-polluting source of electricity. It is clean energy that produces no emissions, which means it does not contribute to acid rain and snow, global climate change, smog, mercury contamination, water withdrawal, or particulate-related health effects.”

The emphasis is mine. This is only true with a very narrow view of the phrase “produces no emissions”. We all know that the steel towers, concrete foundations, plastic and glass blades, copper wound generators/alternators, uses of rare earth elements, and on and on, contain an enormous amount of embodied energy, almost all of which comes from coal, petroleum or natural gas, and carries a very large burden on the environment as well during operations and decommissioning. I can say no more than I wish this were more widely appreciated.[6] Moreover these projects present local environmental costs to wildlife and they utterly alter natural views. The reality of a large wind farm out west is shown in Figure 2. Wind turbines dominate the scene and produce a major visual focus from as far away as 18 miles depending on lighting. If a person hates red blinking light then they’ll find the night-time view worse.

Testimony about environmental harms and nuisances carry little weight with hearing officers because they defer to in-house advisors and even the applicant. They limit testimony severely and often for good reason.

Economics
Wind energy developers emphasize that they are coming with many economic benefits for a community. These benefits loom larger the more needy the local area. Indeed, as a Vermont wind energy opponent has noted they tend to target the poorest of counties.[7] The recently rejected Fountain wind energy project in Shasta County, California targeted one of California’s poorest counties,[8] and the two counties I focus on here are among the poorest in Wyoming.

In Wyoming, which has the reputation of a non-diverse economy, these developers offer their projects as an opportunity to escape from the boom-and-bust cycles of the commodities businesses. In fact, wind energy development doesn’t look much different in this regard.

They may claim they intend to maximize benefits to the local communities. Such statements clearly represent applicant bias as they conflict with the entire reason and purpose of a free enterprise firm which is to minimize costs, not to maximize benefits to vendors. Someone’s expectations are likely not to be met.

What supports the applicant’s economic analysis is an input/output model of the local and regional economy which might be augmented with a social accounting matrix, an I/O-SAM analysis. An input/output model predicts how spending in one industry affects others, and the SAM portion of the modeling accounts for personal spending. I will instead depend on some experience gained from wind energy projects in Colorado.

Benefits come in two forms; new tax revenue and more vigor to the private economy. The developers stress new tax revenue heavily. It is easier to estimate as there are only three sources to examine; sales/use taxes, ad valorem tax, and wind energy excise tax. Developers will often stress that impact assistance funds are available too. However, these are not a separate revenue source, but rather sales/use taxes that would have gone into the State general fund, but are redirected to the county. It’s just moving money from one pocket to another. I think people misunderstand this. They fail to see that it affects the general fund which bears on future funds available to these counties or other counties. That this is simply redirected money lies at the heart of current controversies over these funds being too generous and not well supervised.[20]

The long versus the short term
One hope about wind energy development is that it will add diversity to the economy and help arrest the boom-bust nature of being dependent on mineral commodities. Let’s look at the short term construction phase of a project–a hypothetical project of about 600MW nameplate capacity–and then the long term O&M phase.

A project of this size will first require materials. At least one-half are manufactured outside the area and represent no local earnings. A substantial fraction of the materials will be cement, aggregates, and water which might be locally sourced. This project will add about $30 million of sales/use taxes to the county over a two year span during which the counties would have collected $204 million anyway. So, there is a temporary 15% jump in local government revenues. In addition, during a two-year construction phase there is a need for perhaps 400 construction (direct) jobs, of which 90% are from out of state. These will go away leaving perhaps 30 permanent jobs. The construction period induces local jobs which occur in retail, insurance, recreation, restaurants and lodging. Modeling estimates of induced jobs are too optimistic for our local area. Experience suggests perhaps one-third as many, but the point is 90% of them go away as the project transitions to an O&M phase. I am not denigrating temporary economic benefits, but they couldn’t look more like a boom-and-bust cycle.

The long term benefits of this project to government agencies will be ad valorem (property) tax, some sales/use tax on supplies and equipment, a minor amount of annual leases on government property, and a wind energy excise tax. To the commercial economy it will be wages paid to personnel, materials and services, sales taxes on consumable or maintenance materials, and leases paid to landowners. There will be some induced job creation as well.

Additional ad valorem taxes amount to about $2.5 million per year. Sales/use taxes are just the county’s ordinary share on the O&M purchases of about $0.4 million per year. State wind energy generation tax revenues are presently set at $1.00 per MWhr but don’t become effective until a wind turbine has been in operation for three full years. This tax is split 40/60 between the State general fund and the county involved.[10]

Figure 1. The O&M costs are based on an NREL report for Rush Creek wind energy facility in Colorado using publicly available information augmented with some I/O modeling. Then I modified it using known local differences. The local earnings pertain to a time more than three years beyond start of operations when the wind excise tax begins.

Figure 1 shows O&M costs of running a facility of this size assuming $45,000 per MW of nameplate rating exclusive of taxes and land leases. Private earnings are much lower than costs because of “leakage” which occurs across the local/regional boundary.[22] Most of the maintenance materials, for example, are not manufactured in the area and will be transported to the site from possibly far away. They may not even be warehoused locally. It’s ironic the extent to which this energy replacement for fossil fuels is going to depend on over-the-road transportation by diesel fuel for operation and maintenance. Earnings are limited by the current structure of the local economy which presents few opportunities to capture the O&M costs. To capture more would take investment by the private economy. I can’t say whether this investment would be wise, or if any local entities would view it so.

Land lease revenues are almost 100% leakage. These are not made to a great many landowners who are likely to spend money locally, but rather are extremely granular payments to people living beyond the local area. One project has only two landowners – the Federal government and someone who lives in a neighboring state. Another project lists five different landowners of which only one lives in the area. Lease payments are not likely to enter the local circulation of money.

Conclusions and suggestions
I will present a more complete list of recommendations at the end of Part II, but at this juncture a few interesting observations are apropos.

First, the figure shows why local governments are so enthusiastic about these projects. A large proportion of local “earnings” pass to government agencies first and then to the public through government services. It looks like how foreign aid works, but we hope it works better.

Second, despite all the silly rhetoric to the contrary these projects offer a boom-and-bust character just like the industrial projects people currently blame for boom-and-bust cycles. People should brace themselves for a boom in years 2023-2025 as numerous projects are constructed, followed by a bust in years 2025-2028 as the induced economy shifts downward to a new equilibrium and before wind energy excise taxes fully arrive.

Third, despite talk of wind energy being an energy source of the future, what it more nearly resembles is ranching of beef cattle which epitomizes an energy source of the past. Ranching beef cattle gathers a low density recurring resource (sunlight and rain) over enormous tracts of land as food energy, while wind energy gathers a low density recurring wind resource over enormous tracts of land as electrical energy.

Part 2

Completeness
The purpose of an applications process at the county level followed by a similar one at the State level is to ensure that a project not present hazards to the health, safety, or welfare of citizens or wildlife. Albany county zoning for example states its purpose as

“To assure that any development and production of wind-generated and solar-generated electricity in Albany County is safe, effective, and that it will minimize impacts to wildlife; … To acknowledge that these facilities are clearly visible and cannot be hidden from view, however, design consideration should include minimizing the degradation of the visual character of the area”

To achieve this the zoning regulations demands an application should address these selected items

“…general nuisances, specifically such as noise, vibration, that may affect off-site property owners. And show that the WECS Project or the solar energy facility will not be a significantly negative impact on wildlife species in the area…” [8]

in a complete manner. If I were to add “fire safety” to my list of concerns, these would cover virtually all of the local complaints and concerns about wind energy generally.[2] Let me speak about each.

Impacts to wildlife
The widely known problem with wind turbines is they kill birds, and particularly soaring birds with small populations often at risk. Altamont Pass in California is an especially egregious example that is a black-eye for the wind energy industry. A recent essay here addressed some of these concerns.

A lesser qualified wildlife threat is to big game. In southeastern Wyoming these include Wapiti and Mule Deer populations, but mainly pronghorn populations which in this neighborhood are vast – perhaps 100,000 individuals. These pronghorn have no documented migratory paths to other winter ranges in the state, and appear to be permanent residents to this particular area.[3] One might suspect they are in a sort of equilibrium among other grazers and browsers according to the carrying capacity of this home range.

In addressing impacts to big game one recent application noted that they expect no permanent harm to survival, and for big game to return to this range during operations when there is minimal human activity, noise, and traffic within the project. They cited two documents in support. Naturally I had a look.

While a guidance document from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department stated essentially that “little is known about the impact of wind energy on big game” it gave some guidance on reducing impact such as how to construct proper fencing.[4] A research paper concluded wind energy presented no threat to survival of pronghorn,[5] but they listed limitations of their study not mentioned in the application including:

  1. The study area involved a small wind farm (12 sq. miles) thus could not say much about larger facilities. All other facilities are larger ranging from 40 square miles up to 500. We are thus in unknown territory as far as impacts go.
  2. The study duration was only 3 years and so could not state much about long term operations.

To these I could add that during their baseline winter they were still netting and collaring animals. Therefore their baseline data is partially censored.

The scientific literature on big game and wind energy is thin, but there do exist a couple of studies done at Wyoming field sites that focus on pronghorn alone. What seems to be the most robust finding of this research is first, that wind turbines are placed in the same ground pronghorn prefer for winter grazing; and second, that pronghorn tend to avoid wind turbines long after the construction is over and operations begin.[5] This indicates a behavioral change for unknown reasons, but behavioral changes can lead eventually to demographic changes. All research suggests a need for longer term monitoring.

There is a population of about 4,600 pronghorn that are permanent residents of a lune-shaped region of land bound by I-80 on the south and the Union Pacific mainline and US 30/287 on the north. The Rock Creek wind farm will cut across the center of this territory, and itself contains about 15,000 acres of what the Wyoming Game and Fish calls “critical winter range.” The applicant in this case has produced a draft Monitoring Plan for wildlife. Yet the plan is so carefully worded and vaguely aspirational that I do not know if any longer term monitoring plan will actually occur.

The Clear Air of the West
Visual impacts that turbines present include flicker, viewshed, and aircraft warning systems. Some time ago I wrote an essay regarding flicker and why rules of thumb which may be reasonable to use at sites in the midwest and eastern U.S. are not appropriate to the clear air of the West. I won’t repeat that discussion.

Applications contain a section on view impact. In one case the photographs provided were terrible. The views were overwhelmed by smoke and haze from forest fires in Colorado. Several views chosen were not representative of the visual impact the project will make. This should have been easy to correct and that it wasn’t is probably due to there being no standard or measurable regulation to meet – no one cares, in other words.

There are three points to make about viewshed.

First, photographs do not present a scene in the same way that a human sees it, so photographs cannot inform a commission about visual impact. A study done by Argonne Labs in 2011 to assess the visual impact of wind farms in Wyoming and Colorado noted that photographs consistently under-represent the degree of visual impact observed in the field.[6]

Second, people simply have no idea how visually arresting 600+ foot tall turbines with turning blades are going to be under morning or evening light with a dark sky behind. One person at a county hearing explained that no one would even notice these turbines at a distance; this person had no idea. I have yet to find a way to make this apparent, but the aforementioned Argonne Lab study noted that in the clear air of the West 383 foot tall turbines were likely to become a visual focus at a distance of 12 miles, and scaling up to 600+ feet puts that out to 18-20 miles. In more plain language, once the current permitted plants are built wind turbines will be a focus of visual attention along a continuous stretch of 180 miles of I-80 for 18 miles either side of the highway – 6,480 square miles of territory.

Third, travelers, vacationers and hunters would all probably prefer to see natural scenery. This is borne out by surveys of highway travelers.[7] In other words, wind turbines might have bad implications for other local income.

Aircraft warning lighting presents another problem to address. Even people who are quite favorably disposed toward wind energy tell me they dislike the red blinking lights all over the countryside at night in the clear air of the West. In response to this the wind energy applicant usually promises to seek permission from the FAA to install an aircraft detection lighting system (ADLS) that operates only when an aircraft flies within an envelope 3 nautical around the perimeter of the wind farm and from 200 feet above ground surface to 1,000 feet above the tallest obstruction. However, permission for this is solely at the discretion of the FAA who care neither about the feelings of residents towards blinking red lights nor for the needs of the wind industry.

Even granting a request for ADLS does not completely solve all problems. The Roundhouse wind farm along I-80 west of Cheyenne has an ADLS running, but there is so much air traffic that the lights are on often anyway. If the FAA does not grant the request for ADLS then the applicant will ask for a variance to fall back and install the usual aircraft warning lights. This will probably be granted.

Acoustics
Everywhere wind turbines are proposed noise becomes a concern. I have written an essay about wind turbine noise here before, so I will keep this short. The problem as I see it is three fold:

  1. expected noise levels are calculated using a standard that does not pertain everywhere,
  2. local noise ordinances are often poorly written, and
  3. rarely does anyone check actual noise levels against these projections to learn about their deficiencies.

ISO9613-2 has become a U.S. customary method for calculating noise from wind turbines. This is so largely because it can be employed when one knows few details about the site. This ISO 9613-2 standard is not specific to wind turbines and is rather a general means of noise calculation “applicable, directly or indirectly, to most situations concerning road or rail traffic, industrial noise sources, construction activities, and many other ground based noise sources.” (ISO9613-2 p. 1) How does a customary method work when so few details are available? Because it makes numerous simplifying assumptions.

The terrain and weather of the western U.S.often violate these assumptions. On top of this, turbines are becoming taller and more powerful which violates assumptions further.[22] It isn’t that the standard is worthless, but each violation of its many assumptions renders the calculations made with it increasingly uncertain.

The following violations of these assumptions make its use at many Western locales problematic and are backed up by wording in the standard or by published research.[20]

  1. A noise source height limit of 30m as noted in the literature and implied by Table 5 in the standard itself.
  2. Geometrical diverge leads to attenuation at 6dB per doubling, but meteorological conditions common to the West in winter could lead to something more like 3dB decline per doubling. This is especially so for high capacity turbines.
  3. As turbines become more powerful they emit mechanical noise of lower frequency (6MW turbines likely shift their noise spectrum by ½ octave). Thus more of the noise lies below the A weighting scale of the ISO9613-2 standard.
  4. Ravines and arroyos common in western terrains can duct sound in a manner that leads to even less than 3dB per doubling of distance.
  5. Ground attenuation assumed to result from reflections with the ground interfering destructively with direct sound. Tall sources can violate this.
  6. Ground attenuation requires ground that is flat or is a level slope per the standard itself. See item 4, above.
  7. Note 24 of the standard suggests uncertainties in Table 5 (see item 1, above) may be exceeded greatly at a given site on a given day – the result of weather and terrain.

Peer-reviewed literature has documented deviations from ISO9613-2 estimates by 5-6dB for octaves and 4dB overall A weighted. Weather alone can induce deviations by 7-14dB.[21] Figure 2 shows weather related issues, common to much of the mountainous west which lead to 3-D influences on sound propagation, and which ISO9613-2 cannot account for. Figure 3 shows several deep ravines within an otherwise constantly sloping peneplain which leads to very strange acoustic surprises.


Figure 2. Right hand panel shows the typical daytime temperature profile along with wind shear increasing rightward both of which cause phase fronts to bend away from the surface, leaving a quiet zone downwind. Left hand shows a typical night time profile and shear increase with height to the left, both of which cause phase fronts bending toward the surface and enhanced noise downwind.

One puzzling thing is that despite estimates of uncertainty stated within the standard itself, and additional ones known from turbine manufacturers – no one seems to use this to make reasonable design margins in a way that engineers should. As Moller and Peterson say, “A safety margin must be incorporated at the planning stage in order to guarantee that the actual erected turbines will comply with noise limits.” [22] The process of building such a margin I outlined in an earlier essay. In many places this is not an easy process to accomplish credibly.[23]


Figure 3. The red arrows indicate the location of deep ravines in what looks otherwise like an ideal terrain for the application of ground attenuation calculations in ISO9613-2. These ravines intersect downslope and then intersect with others connecting to other parts of the wind turbine plant.

While noise is not a direct cause of health problems, it is a contributor to sleep disturbance which can become an indirect cause. About 5% of turbine installations account for a majority of noise complaints according to a 2012 study.[21] However, as more wind energy plants invade residential areas in the west, where ISO9613-2 can be expected to provide uncertain noise calculations, these problems will probably grow, and public backlash will hopefully increase. As this study wisely suggested

“Efforts directed at evaluating models used to predict noise levels from wind turbines–in contrast to actual measured noise levels–would be valuable and may be helpful in informing and reassuring residents involved in public discussions.”

Certainly this would be helpful, but so would writing useful noise ordinances in the first place. For example, in the two counties of southeastern Wyoming I have referred to, one has no ordinance at all except to say the noise should not present a nuisance. The other county has a noise limit of 55 dBA but with no metric stipulated. Thus, applicants apply a metric they prefer. I would suggest instead using one that meaningfully addresses the problem like Lden, which applies a penalty for evening (5 dBA penalty) or night-time (10 dBA penalty) which are the time periods of most concern with regard to noise.

Alternatively one would hope to have counties without specific limits at present, mandate ones tighter than is typical. For example, Washington County, Colorado has noise limits at the property line of a non-participating property not to exceed 45 dBA for more than 6 minutes of any hour or not to exceed 50 dBA (Leq,60).[24] These are not as stringent as most European standards, but are better than what we have in Wyoming.

References:

  1. McCunney, Robert J. MD, MPH, et al, Wind Turbines and Health, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: November 2014 – Volume 56 – Issue 11 – p e108-e130 (doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000313). This is a very detailed meta study which wind energy proponents cite approvingly, because it dismisses most claims of health injury. Yet actually it hurts their claims in the instance of noise and sleep disturbance being nuisances.
  2. These plans are always stamped by a Wyoming PE, who may or may not attend any of the hearings but whom I have never seen called as a witness.
  3. C.P. Snow, Rede lecture of 1959, and Cambridge press book (1965). While Snow’s thesis was originally about a failing of the British education system versus that of the Germans and Americans, the divide he spotlighted has now diffused more widely through all societies.
  4. Or at least the attorney from the wind energy applicant warned me he was going to object to my testimony as such. As an example about the divide between the two cultures, in rebuttal to my testimony summarizing all available research about wind energy impacts on pronghorn, a rancher stated that he observes pronghorn take shelter behind turbine towers in hail storms.
  5. Daubert refers to Federal Rule 702 pertaining to technical/scientific testimony, saying, in effect, that scientific testament has to meet the accepted standards of scientific method.
  6. One of the applicants in response to local concerns about decommissioning sent out a mailer stating that 90% of wind turbines could be recycled – implying that 90% would be. This is not how things work currently. Repowering old wind plants leads to lots of landfill.
  7. Jim Motavalli, The NIMBY Threat to Renewable Energy In Vermont, everyone loves clean energy—when it comes from someplace else, Sierra Club Magazine, Sep 20 2021
  8. Robert Bryce, Here’s The List Of 317 Wind Energy Rejections The Sierra Club Doesn’t Want You To See Forbes Business, Sep 26, 2021
  9. Recent legislative hearings raised both the issue of lowering the limit to 2.25%, and of auditing how the funds are spent in fact. One legislator suggested the funds could be spent on popcorn machines and no one would know. See “Lawmakers move to limit state aid to communities stressed by large construction”, by Dustin Bleizeffer, Wyofile, January 18, 2022
  10. Cooper McKim, Proposal To Raise Wind Tax Dies Again In Committee, Wyoming Public Radio, December 18, 2020 It is notable I think that when the legislature made an attempt to increase this tax two $2.00 per MWhr, the industry, through the American Wind Energy Association, lobbied hard against it.
  11. Jeremy Stefek, et al, Economic Impacts from Wind Energy in Colorado Case Study: Rush Creek Wind Farm, NREL report, 2019. I used many of the estimates and actual numbers from this report to produce the figure, while then making adjustments for local tax, population, and private economy structures.
  12. Albany county zoning sections found in ZoningUpdated_1-20-22_202201201614459171.pdf
  13. Safety concerns killed the Fountain project in California. The Roundhouse plant in eastern Wyoming had a turbine catch fire about six months into operation. It’s a real concern.
  14. Kauffman, et al, 2018, Wild Migrations: Atlas of Wyoming’s Ungulates, Oregon State U Press.
  15. WGFD 2010. This is a guidance document from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for minimizing wind energy impacts on wildlife. Colorado guidelines are essentially the same.
  16. The original study cited by the applicant in this case was: Kaitlyn L. Taylor, Jeffrey L. Beck, Snehalata V. Huzurbazar, Factors Influencing Winter Mortality Risk for Pronghorn Exposed to Wind Energy Development,  Rangeland Ecology & Management 69, 108–116, 2016. But see these following studies adding more detail: Smith, Kurt T., Taylor, Kaitlyn L., Albeke, Shannon E., and Beck, Jeffrey L., Pronghorn Winter Resource Selection before and after Wind Energy Development in South-Central Wyoming, Rangeland Ecology and Management, 73(2) : 227-233, 2020. And, Milligan, M. C., A. N. Johnston, J. L. Beck, K. T. Smith, K. L. Taylor, E. Hall, L. Knox, T. Cufaude, C. Wallace, G. Chong, and M. J. Kauffman, Variable effects of wind-energy development on seasonal habitat selection of pronghorn. Ecosphere 12(12), 2021.
  17. Robert G. Sullivan, et  al, Wind Turbine Visibility and Visual Impact Threshold Distances in Western Landscapes, Environmental Science Division Argonne National Laboratory Argonne, IL found online.
  18. William C. Gartner and Daniel L. Erkkila, Attributes and Amenities of Highway Systems Important to Tourists, Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 1890, TRB, National Research Council, Washington, D.C., 2004, pp. 97–104.
  19. Stephen E. Keith, Katya Feder, Sonia A. Voicescu, Victor Soukhovtsev, Allison Denning, Jason Tsang, Norm Broner, Tony Leroux, Werner Richarz, Frits van den Berg, Wind turbine sound pressure level calculations at dwellings, The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 139, 1436 (2016); doi: 10.1121/1.4942404
  20. See for example Hansen C. and Hansen K., Recent Advances in Wind Turbine Noise Research. Acoustics, 2(1):171-206, (2020). https://doi.org/10.3390/acoustics2010013.Or, Stephen E. Keith, Gilles A. Daigle, and Michael R. Stinson, Wind turbine low frequency and infrasound propagation and sound pressure level calculations at dwellings, The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 144, 981 (2018); doi: 10.1121/1.5051331
  21. McCunney, Robert J. MD, MPH, et al, Wind Turbines and Health, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: November 2014 – Volume 56 – Issue 11 – p e108-e130 (doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000313) This is a very detailed meta study which wind energy proponents cite approvingly, but actually does not aid their case in the instance of noise being a nuisance and sleep disturbance.
  22. Henrik Møller, and Christian Sejer Pedersen, Low-frequency noise from large wind turbines, The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 129, 3727 (2011); doi: 10.1121/1.3543957
  23. The general methodology is explained in the Guide to Uncertainty in Measurements (GUM), but I provided an example in my earlier essay.
  24. (95-2021) Wind Energy Regulations for Unincorporated Areas of Washington County, Colorado, “95-2021 Wind Solar Regs.pdf” accessed February 15, 2022. This standard, as it turns out, is mal-written in one regard. It says that “If the ambient sound pressure level exceeds 45 dBA, the standards set forth in the preceding sentence shall be the ambient sound pressure level plus 5 dBA.” Surely plus should actually be minus as a SPL plus 5 dBA above ambient would be exceptionally noticeable. Minus 5 dBA would put it just noticeable within the background. or perhaps minus 5 dBA down to the minimum of 45 dBA.

Watts Up With That Part 1 and Part 2

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May 1, 2022 at 02:31AM

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