published Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Residents express concerns for proposed wind energy


by Michael Stone

A power company is eyeing portions of Lookout Mountain in Northwest Georgia as a possible location for wind turbines, something that some area residents say they don’t want.

“It’s just a no-no situation anyway you look, not just on Lookout Mountain, but all over the world,” said J.B. Smith, who was approached by Oregon-based Iberdrola Renewables about his property in Cloudland, Ga., atop Lookout Mountain in Chattooga County.

In talks with representatives from the company, residents say Iberdrola proposes about 120 turbines. Company officials, though, said they did not have any figures because the project is still in a developmental stage.

FOR MORE INFO

If you are interested in attending a meeting about wind turbines in Lookout Mountain, Ga., on Saturday at 2 p.m., call Pam Vias at 770-722-8330.

Iberdrola nationwide

* About 40 wind power projects in 17 states

* More than 2,600 turbines nationwide

* Turbines reach up to 400 feet tall when blade sticking straight up

* A project takes three to five years to complete

Source: Iberdrola Renewables

Residents said they oppose the turbines for several reasons, including possible decreases in property values, the noise that has been associated with the turbines, environmental harm and losses in tourism.

“All the reasons that people have moved to this mountain for — the environment, the peace, the quiet, the tranquility and now a lot of tourism — would be gone,” said Carl McCleskey, who also lives in Cloudland.

Iberdrola spokesman Paul Copleman said misinformation about the project, which is in an “extremely early stage,” has created negative perceptions about wind turbines.

“To say that there will be some people who might have questions or concerns isn’t a totally foreign idea,” he said.

Residents said the “hum” generated by the turbines is one of the main reasons behind potential property value decreases.

“The sound of that would just would drive people crazy,” Smith said.

The anti-wind power website wind-watch.org describes negative health effects from the noise, including sleeping problems, headaches and nausea.

Copleman said research disputes the “so-called wind turbine syndrome.” He cited a study from 2009 — done by a group of researchers whose expertise includes acoustics, vibrations and medical fields — that concluded “there is no evidence that the audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects.”

The study was sponsored by the American Wind Energy Association and the Canadian Wind Energy Association.

As the Lookout Mountain project — which may take between three and five years to complete — moves forward, Iberdrola will have public meetings to discuss citizen concerns, Copleman said.

“We have a track record of developing [turbines] well and developing them carefully and answering people’s questions and not hiding from them,” he said.

To build the turbines, the company enters into lease agreements with landowners, Copleman said, and landowners receive an annual payment. No leasing contracts in Georgia have been offered yet, Copleman said.

Contact Michael Stone at mstone@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6673.

Click here to vote in our daily poll: Should wind turbines be allowed on Lookout Mountain?

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whatever said...

I'm sure they'd be just as upset about the coal power plant being built as an alternative. Or the hydroelectric. Or the nuclear.

Anyway, let them try a few turbines, see how thins go.

September 22, 2010 at 12:29 a.m.
KWVeteran said...

Residents are entirely correct. Anyone else would agree that the ugly and bothersome towers would be a major distraction to the natural beauty of our area. Let the greenies and democrats scream how much we need the miniscule amount of electricity that would be added.

September 22, 2010 at 7:32 a.m.
Salsa said...

Much better idea than ripping off the top of a mountain for some polluting coal.

September 22, 2010 at 10:39 a.m.
chattyjill said...

"Let the greenies and democrats scream..." Tis, tis, tis. Such divisive language, KW. How can we have a dialogue about energy if you view it as one side versus another, like a football game?

"Anyone else would agree that the ugly and bothersome towers would be a major distraction to the natural beauty of our area." Are you forgetting about the Kingston Coal Ash spill? Now that is ugly and bothersome. No, it is carcinogenic, hazardous and disastrous. And nuclear - have you heard the loud buzz/hum from the transmission wires? Not many people want to live near a nuc plant.

Energy has to come from somewhere.

September 22, 2010 at 10:41 a.m.
whatever said...

Don't forget the invisible price of the atmospheric particles that cause lung damage.

September 22, 2010 at 11:41 a.m.
Ceithlenn said...

It would also be important to find out where the energy will be used. If it is to benefit the local area that might be a mitigating factor. I ask because my hometown in Indiana now has thousands of these ugly things covering the beautiful praire/farm landscape. But guess what? Not one killowatt of the electricity is used locally. It is all transported via more power lines to urban areas, mostly Chicago.

Not sure if that matters to anyone else. It certainly matters to me. Putting up with the down side might be different if Chattanooga gains an inexpensive and clean means of power from the plan. If they are going to send the power to Atlanta? Hmmm I would think twice.

September 22, 2010 at 11:44 a.m.
whatever said...

Depends on how much money you get for the power.

September 22, 2010 at 12:05 p.m.
rolando said...

That's right, energy DOES have to come from somewhere...if we want to live. So which lives: the "snail darter" [used only as a symbol] or a human? Yes, it IS coming to that...

Problem is, everyone wants it but only if it comes from somewhere else. Secoyah[sp] power is NOT used locally -- most of its output is sold well away from Chatt.

Raised prices are an indicator of what happens when the demand goes up and the supply drops.

We no longer live in a state-centered environment but a national environment -- if Maobama/Reid/WitchLady have their way, we will be a world environment. Watch what happens to our electrical prices then... You DO know that gold [the world standard] is pushing $1,300.00 per ounce, right? And still rising...

September 22, 2010 at 12:14 p.m.
whatever said...

When what you can do impacts people in the same room, you have a family. When what you do impacts people in the next house, you have a neighborhood. When what you do impacts people down the street, you have a town...and so on and so forth until you realize what you do goes around the world.

Don't want to be part of a global community? Then don't expect the rest of the world not to screw you over in other ways.

Don't want it to exist at all? Well, I don't think you're going to get that genie back in the bottle.

September 22, 2010 at 12:24 p.m.
dave said...

I would like to see who conducted and funded the studies that said that the wind turbines caused no ill effects. If they were funded by green power advocates, equipment manufacturers,etc. or even Universities with "green" leanings I would be suspect of them. I have seen many reports of people being driven off their family farms due to the constant" woosh,woosh,woosh of the rotor blades. Perhaps in a short term study they would see no ill effects but given months or years it might be a totally different story. I am also a little skeptical about the towers and generators ability to withstand the cyclonic winds that we sometimes experience here. Remember most of these companies that build and install the turbines are European and have little experience with such. I am sure they can come up with all sorts of engineering data but I have seen one video of a collapse of a wind generator from an over-speed condition. It was reported that the braking system failed. In our compact communities do we want such towering structures? There is more to consider than "free" power.

September 22, 2010 at 5:04 p.m.
whatever said...

I believe this would be the study mentioned:

http://www.awea.org/newsroom/releases/AWEA_CanWEA_SoundWhitePaper_12-11-09.pdf

And how many reports have you seen of asthmatics having to move because of being too near the exhaust of a coal power plan? That's something to consider too. Sympathetic though I am to the plight of people claiming to be bothered by wind farms, at least they can move and get out of the troublesome area.

Also, America not as densely populated as you might think. There's plenty of empty space.

September 22, 2010 at 5:26 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

I dunno-I like them. I find them fascinating. I especially like to see the large collections of them at a distance. Texas and NM have hundreds of them in big farms; wish we had some near here. If I had enough property, I'd put one in.

September 22, 2010 at 7:02 p.m.
Humphrey said...

just think what would happen if there was a wind spill.

September 22, 2010 at 7:20 p.m.
deltenney said...

Opposed.

September 22, 2010 at 7:28 p.m.
whatever said...

just think what would happen if there was a wind spill.

Dear god! What will we do with all that air? It'd smother us!

September 22, 2010 at 7:53 p.m.
Sailorman said...

While it's true that there is plenty of open space, wind patterns aren't always conducive to power generation. In some areas where it is favorable, other concerns appear. Witness the sage grouse issue Wyoming is wrestling with in one of their biggest projects. Then there is the issue of transmission lines - cost and even more environmental issues. Is nothing easy anymore?!

lkeithlu - you're right there is something fascinating about them. I've watched them in Montana - they're like those spinning disk hypnotists used to use :)

I like nukes!

September 22, 2010 at 8:04 p.m.
whatever said...

Is nothing easy anymore?!

When you can cause a great deal of havoc with a single misstep, it's never easy. Not if you care about the consequences anyway.

Anyway, even if the wind patterns aren't suitable in one place, maybe it's suitable for people to live in instead. As a part of energy policy, wind energy at the least can offset some fossil fuel usage. Would it be wise to coat the countryside with towers? Probably not, but if there's anybody suggesting that I've never met them. Assuming they exist, I'll let them hang out with the guy suggesting every house has its own nuclear pile.

September 22, 2010 at 8:13 p.m.
Sailorman said...

That was a rhetorical question.

Maybe people can live there but I was talking about suitability for wind farms.

September 22, 2010 at 8:50 p.m.
whatever said...

That was a rhetorical question.

So was my answer.

Maybe people can live there but I was talking about suitability for wind farms.

Try this map here:

http://www.nrel.gov/wind/systemsintegration/images/home_usmap.jpg

Most of it is not developed.

Plenty of capacity to build up to, especially when you consider that Wind farms are best used diffusely on the ground so you can also dual-purpose the land with farming or grazing animals.

Try doing that with other forms of power generation.

September 22, 2010 at 9:44 p.m.
SavartiTN said...

Sailorman said, "I like nukes!"

Let's put a nuclear plant on Lookout Mountain! It would quieter than the wind turbines.

September 22, 2010 at 9:47 p.m.
Sailorman said...

Better to locate a wind farm offshore from Washington DC - plenty of windbags there to turn the things.

Re nukes - read this

Small Reactors Generate Big Hopes

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703444804575071402124482176.html

Then read the comments a portion of which is one of the detractors (mentioned in the article) attempting to bash the idea - unsuccessfully.

September 22, 2010 at 11:18 p.m.
whatever said...

Better to locate a wind farm offshore from Washington DC - plenty of windbags there to turn the things.

With that much power we'd probably put all the electric companies out of business.

September 22, 2010 at 11:25 p.m.
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