Ongoing noise problems associated with Mitsubishi turbines operating at the Pinnacle Wind project in Mineral County WV are being investigated by the West Virginia Public Service Commission, following a formal complaint from residents.
The following are excerpts from the WV PSC FINAL JOINT STAFF MEMORANDUM, dated May 17, 2012:
“In its latest filing, Pinnacle makes many arguments that Staff believes are largely irrelevant that Staff will not address in this memorandum. Staff will focus on what it believes to be the main thrust of this case, which is the fact the Pinnacle project is generating unpredicted and objectionable noise. The existence of this unpredicted and objectionable noise has been verified by the Staff Engineer in this case using the most appropriate scientific measuring methodology available, his own ears.”
WV PSC Staff continues: “One other issue Staff must address is Pinnacle’s argument this complaint is preventing its permanent financing from closing, thus costing Pinnacle money and adding uncertainty to the certificate process. Staff would posit that it is not this complaint that is preventing the financing from closing, but the unpredicted and objectionable noise generated by the project.”
Regarding the financial issue raised by Pinnacle owners, the WV PSC Staff suggests that, “As long as the project is producing this objectionable noise, it is highly subject to complaints both before this Commission and in Circuit Court and as long as there is still a possibility of further complaints, the future operational parameters of this project are in question and the financing will not close.”
Pinnacle’s owners have financial issues? Really?
Speaking of money … I do wonder if this little skirmish might be holding up a $40 million dollar windfall Pinnacle owners are likely eligible to receive under the 1603 Federal Grant (taxpayer subsidy) program. It’s not clear if Pinnacle’s owners – Edison Mission – has moved forward in pursuing the massive taxpayer subsidy, but $40,000,000 is a lot of cash. Just ask the taxpayers!
But, should they apply for the 1603 funds, another issue surfaces. In earlier testimony before the WV PSC the project developer’s representative David Friend told the PSC that “no public funding or property tax abatement was involved with this (Pinnacle) Project.” If that changes, the instruction in the WV PSC Siting Certificate issued to the owners is quite clear: “In the Application, Pinnacle indicated that the federal government is considering programs that could provide funding to foster the development of renewable energy projects, Pinnacle might seek funding under the program, and if it does so, Pinnacle will promptly make any disclosures required by the Commission’s Siting Rules. It is reasonable to require Pinnacle to advise the Commission if it receives any public funding for the project so that the Commission can reopen this proceeding and perform the Part Two analysis that W. Va. Code 5 24-2- 1 1 c requires.” (WV PSC Siting Certificate)
We are very pleased that the WV PSC Staff is standing up for the neighbors who complain that “The noise from these windmills is so great that it is impossible to live near them.” These neighbors are to be commended for taking on this quality of life issue. The WV PSC must insure these folks are protected from this horrible intrusion, regardless of the cost to the large corporation which is making their lives miserable.
Full text of the most Staff Memo here:
Braithwaite v Pinnacle Wind, LLC – WV PSC Staff recommends further investigation.
“In the Application, Pinnacle indicated that the federal government is considering programs that could provide funding to foster the development of renewable energy projects, Pinnacle might seek funding under the program, and if it does so, Pinnacle will promptly make any disclosures required by the Commission’s Siting Rules. It is reasonable to require Pinnacle to advise the Commission if it receives any public funding for the project so that the Commission can reopen this proceeding and perform the Part Two analysis that W. Va. Code 5 24-2- 1 1 c requires.” (WV PSC Siting Certificate)
The annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Edison Mission Energy reported two-thirds of project achieved commercial operation in December 2011. The remaining one-third of project achieved commercial operation in January 2012. EME announced to its stockholders that the Pinnacle Wind qualified for the US Treasury grant.
Links to the SEC 2011, EME Annual Report:
Learn more about the US Treasury Grants awards. (This is updated frequently
Currently, the EME (Pinnacle Wind, LLC) has not received their cash grant. Originally, the Pinnacle Wind was a $131 million investment; based on a 30% return EME (Pinnacle Wind) will receive nearly $40 million.
Maybe EME has not received its cash award because the final price tag for the project is incomplete. Jackson and Kelly, PLLC , on May 4, 2012, filed their response to the PSC of WV. “ Pinnacle invested approximately $150 million to build the same facility, with the same turbines in the same locations, that the Commission authorized in the Siting Certificate.”
http://www.psc.state.wv.us/, use Case No. 12-025 1 -E-C, Richard L. Braithwaite v. Pinnacle Wind, LLC
Cost overruns: $19 million. WOW!. This is an expensive muffler system except EME reports the cost to install the 23 turbine mufflers will be $500,000. This is only $22,000 for each muffler. There is still over $18 million dollars overrun. Perhaps an audit is necessary.
AFA ask the US Treasury Grant Award to seek an accountability and transparency audit. No wonder EME is crying financially difficulties, 19 million dollars cost overrun. Let’s hope the public will ask elected Congressional officials to mointor this cash award.
Then again, maybe the real issue why EME has not filed their cash grant award is because:
“In December 2011, EME completed through its subsidiary, Tapestry Wind, LLC, a nonrecourse financing of its interests in the Taloga, Buffalo Bear and
Pinnacle wind projects. A total of $97 million of cash proceeds received from the $214 million 10-year partially amortizing term loan was deposited into an escrow account as of December 31, 2011. On February 22, 2012, a neighbor of the Pinnacle project filed a formal complaint with the West Virginia Public Service Commission requesting that the Commission order the project to shut down at night due to alleged noise emissions. The release of the loan proceeds in escrow is subject to resolution of the complaint or further due diligence from the lenders. EME expects the loan proceeds to be released in the second quarter of 2012.”
(Source: Edison International: Quarterly Report, filed 05/02/2012)
It true…it all comes down to money.
As a member of the AFA, I attended the PSC of WV hearings for the Pinnacle Wind Project. AFA legal counsel, Mr. Brad Stephens, asked multiple questions related to project noise.
The PSC of WV, Commissioner Albert also questions Dave Friend, project developer, on the issues of noise, and possible effect related to nearby residences. This is the testimony regarding noise, presented October 26, 2009, from Dave Friend, Project Developer.
You talked about the project — its proximity to residential areas.
You say the homes located closest to the turbines are project participants and have executed agreements. What do those documents provide? Are they — do they — in the law we call it run with the land. Are they recorded instruments so that subsequent purchasers know that they’re buying subject to whatever outfall there may be from having those turbines in place?
Dave Friend: A.
Yeah. I believe there’s a memorandum filed with the county for each of those leases. The actual lease is not. But if a purchaser were looking at it, they would find the memorandum and be able to ask further questions and get the information. Essentially what the agreement is to provide is a revenue stream to the landowner. And for that, they provide us certain protections that allows — prohibits them from building a 40-story office building, blocking the wind.
Dave Friend: A So there are things like that. They’re maybe not real obvious things, but there are certain things like that that are going into the lease to protect them and to protect us.
I presume that it provides that they know what they’re getting into
Dave Friend: A.
and they’re agreeable to it and all that?
Dave Friend: A
It just specifically talks about noise, potential flicker, all those kind of things.
It appears that EME is now balking at during further noise studies. Question: explain why US Wind Force did not contact other homeowners to make them project wind partners?
EME selected the specific turbines.
Question: Is EME reckless and negligent, because they failed to visit the project site, to determine if the noise studies were reliable and valid?
EME now realizes, there is no financial remedy with the developers, the Pinnacle Wind Force, LLC no longer exists.