Energy

Swanton Wind developers offer buyouts to neighbors

Proponents of a long-awaited wind power project near Swanton have filed an application with the Public Service Board for a construction permit.

The developers have offered to buy properties owned by neighbors living within 3,000 feet of the project if the property owners take up the offer within six months after the project is completed.

Swanton Wind LLC filed the application Thursday for a 20-megawatt project made up of as many as seven wind turbines standing as tall as 500 feet. Developers estimate the turbines could be producing electricity as soon as 2018.

The buyout offer would apply to about 20 households located within a 3,000-foot radius of the project, said Swanton Wind representative Anthony Iarrapino. It would pay homeowners fair market value for their homes, although that value wouldn’t be appraised until after the turbines are erected, he said.

Some vocal opponents of the project live near Fairfield Pond; Iarrapino said the sound they hear outside their homes from the project will in many cases be lower than the sound limit that applies to those homes’ interior.

Wind turbines in Vermont may emit noise no louder than 45 decibels, as measured outside neighboring homes, or 30 decibels measured inside neighboring homes. The Swanton Wind project will for many Fairfield Pond homes produce 30 or fewer decibels as measured outside those homes, Iarrapino said.

Iarrapino said the buyout offer represents confidence on the part of the developers that neighbors won’t feel a need to leave once the turbines are built.

The 20 megawatts the project will generate once complete could power around 7,350 average Vermont homes, according to documents provided by Swanton Wind.

The project is being spearheaded by the Belisle family, who live and plan to remain on the land where the turbines are to be put up, Iarrapino said. They currently operate a maple sugaring operation on the property.


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  • Nadia Nichols

    Appraisal of property to be made AFTER the wind turbines are erected? What a scam. These wind developers are all the same.

    • ‘The developers have offered to buy properties owned by neighbors living within 3,000 feet of the project.”

      Now why would the developers be willing to make such an offer?

      The only rational reason is that the developers believe building the industrial wind turbines will cause harm to the neighboring homeowners and they would be liable.

      So due to their liability, the developers are offering compensation for the loss of home value. But this only addresses compensatory loss of home value while ignoring punitive damages.

      It seems that facing the trauma of moving from your home because of another party’s actions would warrant the payment of punitive damages in addition to compensation for a the house.

      So what do you say industrial wind developers? Ready to triple the size checks to be written?

      • Willem Post

        Peter,

        “”‘Now why would the developers be willing to make such an offer?””

        If the developers had offered buyouts for all residences within one mile (5280 ft), it would have been more reasonable, because the infrasound from 500-ft tall wind turbines travels long distances.

        BAVARIA, in Germany, just enacted a setback of 10 times turbine height, i.e., 10 x 500 ft = 5,000 ft, almost one mile. In Germany, the IWT nighttime noise limit is not to exceed 35 dBA, outdoors
        http://www.germanenergyblog.de/?p=19852

        VERMONT requires a maximum of 45A dB (outdoor), averaged over one hour, as measured at a nearby residence (allows long periods above 50 dBA and many spikes of 60 – 70 dBA), and a maximum of 30 dBA (indoor, windows closed), averaged over one hour. The averaging makes disappear 50 dBA sounds and even louder spike sounds.

        Vermont’s indoor limit is 30 dB, Denmark’s 20 dB, much stricter.

      • Willem Post

        Peter,

        Here is a write-up by Christine Lang, in Swanton, that spells out more of the details of Swanton Wind LLC offering to buy nearby houses.

        It was printed in the St. Albens Messenger, in case below link does not work.

        The offer has many conditions, each of them could cause disqualification.

        https://mail.google.com/mail/?shva=1#inbox/1571f90830e22c7a

    • Willem Post

      Nadia,

      Those properties lost value as soon as there was talk of 500-ft turbines.

      To protect against infrasound, wind turbines must be at least one MILE from a residence, because infrasound travels much longer distances without much attenuation.

      However, roaming animals would continue to be exposed.
      http://wcfn.org/2014/03/31/windfarms-vertebrates-and-reproduction/

      The 45 dB standard is for industry comfort, but too high for nearby people, especially at night, because of the way it is AVERAGED over one hour.

      BAVARIA, a state in Germany, just enacted a setback of 10 x turbine height, about 5,000 ft. In Germany, the max. nighttime noise limit is 35 dBA.

      VERMONT’s code 45A dB (outdoor), averaged over one hour as measured at a nearby residence (allows long periods above 50 dBA and many spikes of 60 – 70 dBA), and a max. of 30 dBA (indoor, windows closed), averaged over hour. The averaging makes disappear the 50 dBA sounds and even louder spike sounds.

  • “The buyout offer would apply to about 20 households located within a 3,000-foot radius of the project, said Swanton Wind representative Anthony Iarrapino. It would pay homeowners fair market value for their homes, although that value wouldn’t be appraised until after the turbines are erected, he said.”

    If this is suppose to be a joke, I’d bet the farm those 20 household located within 3000′ of the project won’t be amused by that proposal? Why not the current appraised value before the turbines are erected? Just another reason in a long list of reasons to reject Swanton Wind.

    • Jeff Noordsy

      While I certainly agree with the specifics of your post Glenn,it confounds me that you find homeowners living along the path of the VT Gas pipeline to be “nuisances” while decrying the impact upon folks affected by wind turbines. Bad siting is bad siting, be it for solar, gas, wind or oil. Any of these very profitable companies should be willing to pay MORE than fair market value for households impacted by their projects, even if it’s not your energy of choice. It’s not difficult to apply the same standards to all of these energy giants.

  • Rob Pforzheimer

    GMP, VEC, & BED have all said they don’t want or need to buy any more wind power, The Belisles will need Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) in order to get the financing they said they will need. The Belisles may have to find another way to save the world from climate change.

  • Bruce S. Post

    With Native Americans resisting a pipeline’s invasion of their lands in North Dakota right now (calling attention to the U.S. government’s sorry legacy of making promises to native peoples and tribes and then breaking the treaties), Swanton Wind and its hired gun, Anthony Iarrapino, sound, despite their coy promises, a lot like the Great White Father of years gone by. All sweetness and light now, but watch out later.

    Maybe Amy Goodman, Sue Minter’s sister-in-law, who just went to North Dakota to report on this protest, can come out here and cover similar betrayal, Vermont-style.

  • Rob Pforzheimer

    Iarrapino’s claim that, “turbines in Vermont may emit noise no louder than 45 decibels, as measured outside neighboring homes, or 30 decibels measured inside neighboring homes” is not true. The PSB allows the sound to be averaged over an hour, so there will be times that sounds will be louder than 45 or 30 decibels.

    • Willem Post

      Rob,
      Here is some more info:

      VERMONT, with an ad hoc wind turbine code, i.e., applied on a project-by-project basis, requires a maximum of 45A dB (outdoor), averaged over one hour as measured at a nearby residence (allows long periods above 50 dBA and many spikes of 60 – 70 dBA), and a maximum of 30 dBA (indoor, windows closed), averaged over one hour. The averaging makes disappear the 50 dBA sounds and even louder spike sounds.

      In both cases, there is no distinction for daytime and nighttime, even though people might want to have open windows, especially during warm nights. This compares with typical rural nighttime ambient noise of 20 – 40 dBA, and typical urban residential nighttime noise of 58 – 62 dBA. However, in many rural areas of Vermont nighttime noise averages about 20 dBA.

      Vermont’s code has NO required buffer zone, and NO required infrasound limit, and NO 5 dB annoyance penalty, and an indoor limit of 30 dB, whereas Denmark has 20 dB.

  • christopher hamilton

    ” It would pay homeowners fair market value for their homes, although that value wouldn’t be appraised until after the turbines are erected, he said.”
    Huh? If the home values drop due to the noise or proximity of the turbines, the homeowners still get hosed, not the developers who cause the devaluation. How is that right?

  • Steve Woodward

    So…The developers are acknowledging a 3000 ft. “fall out zone” for their project? Does sound magically stop at 3001 ft.? What about those who will affected at 3500 ft.? They know that there is no way those sound numbers can be achieved this close to homes, so just offer a buyout. Problem solved. It is a nothing but a PR stunt.

    Their attorney claims that in the filing, sound levels will not exceed 43 db. I haven’t heard of a single wind generating project in Vermont that has accomplished what the sound models claim that they will.

    They are giving a six month window AFTER the turbines are erected, whether or not to accept a so called buyout. Why won’t the properties be assessed until AFTER construction? Who will do the appraisals? Who will the realtor be? There is just too many unanswered questions.

    By offering a buyout before the project is even started, tells me that they know that there are going to be issues with sound.

  • Christine Lang

    Swanton Wind is offering a buyout with their filing? I guess they know there will be noise problems.

    But, what is the point of this buyout if it is the appraised value of the home AFTER the turbines are erected? In the wind industry this is known as a Property Value Guarantee. A developer that proposes a well-sited wind project can guarantee that the neighbors won’t lose property value. In most cases, the comparables for the property are done at homes that are not near a wind project. That is how you show the neighbors that you are confident that your project won’t affect their home values. And, to add insult to injury, the neighbor who is being forced out of their home pays the cost of the appraisal and probably all of the other moving costs.

    And, where is the filing? The PSB didn’t receive it last week.

  • Steve Woodward

    For all of you out there who think we are nothing but complainers and NIMBYs, keep this in mind. If the PSB gives the green light to this project, it will set the precedent that NO home is too close. That then will open the floodgates to uncontrolled development anytime, anywhere in the state. The subsidy gold rush is in full swing, so beware of what you wish for.

  • Swanton Wind is a $40 million dollar project! So, they buy out 20 homes undervalued at $250K, that’s $5million dollars. The town loses another $100k in annual tax revenue off their “gift” of $150K annually for hosting the massive electrical generation station in a neighborhood development. Why? Because the homes will be uninhabitable. People suffer at 3,800′, 6,200′ and even further. The other victims from Swanton and Fairfield Pond will continue to suffer after the 20 homes are abandoned. What does that say about these projects? They have nothing to do with “green energy” and everything to do with “green backs”! It’s all about the developer getting rich. The developers admit that sound over water acts as pavement and rock. You need to deduct the water between the turbines and your home to get the actual “feels like” distance. That’s puts many homes within 1 mile of the project. Fairfield doesn’t get any financial benefits though, only a beautiful oasis and recreational area ruin

  • What about the property owners on Fairfield Pond on the east side of the ridge? The closest towers will be about 4000 feet away from the pond and will dominate the view and southwestern part because of the massive 499 ft. height Everyone will have to look at them, especially the people on the southeastern shore, where this will now be the close view. When the sound hits the water surface, it will travel directly across this not-very-wide pond without being dampened. Camp owners expect their quality of life and real estate values to be adversely affected and the Town of Fairfiled tax base to take a hit. (The Pond lies in Fairfield). Also, the vibrating very low frequency noise will be transmitted over a wide area through the ledges. The fish, bats, and birds, including loons, blue herons, kingfishers, Canadian geese, and ducks may all be adversely affected by that infrasound; the low air presssure from the blades, noise, etc. Talk about bad projects.

  • Annette Smith

    The PSB received the petition late Friday afternoon. You can download it here
    https://app.box.com/v/SwantonWind248

  • Tom Grout

    The point hear is that the developers are realizing the error of their perceived noise problems.However the value after the units are installed appears to be at odds with common sense.
    I am pro wind and hopefully these smalls steps toward realizing a potential problem will have a better impact in the future. How you may ask? The answer is the developers must demand quieter units from the manufacturer.much in the same way the miles/gallon of gasoline is mandated to car manufacturers.

    • Willem Post

      Tom,
      When a blade passes the mast, at 1 Hz, a burst of sound happens, dominant frequency 1 Hz, and other infrasound frequencies, similar to the natural frequencies of human organs, which start vibrating.

      Nearly people are discomforted by this intrusion. They abandon their homes. When I think about it, the less I am for wind energy using 500-ft tall IWTs.

      The wind turbine damage to the mountainside by a 100-ft wide swath of clear-cutting, blasting and leveling, for a winding, 50-ft wide, paved, industrial-grade road, about 3 miles long, to haul 205-ft-long rotor-blades, with multiple tractors, to about 2500-ft elevation, is enormous.

      Then the road continues, up and down, in a winding manner, along the ridge line, with more clear-cutting, blasting and leveling, for at least another 4.0 miles, to place the wind turbines about 800 ft. apart (800 x 27 spaces / 5280 = 4.09 miles). Any nearby resident, or Legislator, voting in favor of that has to be totally bonkers, IMHO.

  • Candy Moot, Morgan, VT

    And what if the Vermonters close to this industrial development don’t want to leave their homes under ANY conditions? I’d be devastated! How would you feel?