Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Proposed NJ Legislation Would Kill Wind Power Projects Across State

A proposed bill by a South Jersey Republican State Senator, Sean Kean, would have the effect of killing wind power projects around the state because of its overly restrictive language that would prohibit the construction of wind power projects within 2,000 feet of a residential zoned property.

Considering that the state is the most densely populated in the nation, finding properties that would be ideal for wind power projects that aren't within 2,000 feet of a residential zoned parcel would narrow the number properties to such an extent that it would essentially kill the industry.

I don't think that this bill has much of a chance of being passed in New Jersey, and it again highlights that NIMBY trumps everything including environmental concerns. Opponents to wind power projects routinely cite the potential damage to migratory birds and the noise generated. Some will even claim that the wind power turbines cause all manner of mysterious ailments:
The bill (S2374) would not affect proposed off-shore wind power projects, which would usually be a longer distance from shore. While the state Energy Master Plan calls for the lion’s share of wind power to be generated off shore, environmentalists say everything counts in developing clean, renewable energy.

"Our off-shore wind potential is much greater than our on-shore wind potential, but beggars can’t be choosers," said David Pringle, political director of the New Jersey Environmental Federation. "We shouldn’t be putting unnecessary restrictions on this resource."

Kean (R-Monmouth) drafted the bill after a proposed 325-foot windmill by Department of Military and Veterans Affairs at the National Guard training center in Sea Girt drew protests from hundreds of residents concerned it would threaten birds, cause noise, pose health risks and decrease property values. The Sea Girt council in September passed a resolution opposing building the turbine on the state-owned land.

While his bill faces an uncertain future — Assembly Environment Committee Chairman John McKeon (D-Essex) says he doesn’t plan to give the lower house version a hearing — Kean says it shows there can be considerable blowback from wind projects.

The bill says it is meant to prevent "wind turbine syndrome," in which close proximity to a turbine allegedly causes a host of health problems, including insomnia, headaches and learning disabilities. But the science behind the phenomenon, first published in a study by Dr. Nina Pierpont, is heavily debated.

"I don’t know what wind turbine syndrome is. I don’t think there’s any scientific basis for that claim," said Fred DeSanti, a consultant for The Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority, which is building a windmill slated to begin operating in January at a treatment plant in Union Beach, Monmouth County. "It’s a fan that blows in the wind and creates electricity. This is not some alien device."
The article uncritically claims that a study found close proximity to wind turbines caused wind turbine syndrome, but a search of medical literature found no such references. Instead, it's from a woman who opposes wind power projects near her Western New York home and came to her conclusion after studying all of 38 people in her area (10 families). If this were truly a study that found causality, it would have been conducted according to rigorous protocols. Other studies have found that while a segment of the population is sensitive to certain low sounds (infrasound), wind power projects do not produce those sounds in sufficient volume to cause the said problems.

This is yet another attempt to kill an industry and deployment of technologies that improve air quality, reduce pollution, and reduce reliance on foreign sources of energy.

Here's hoping that this bill dies a prompt death in the Senate.

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