Word of today’s NYT article came in over the wire today, and it’s an interesting concept to deal with a very real problem, but not nearly enough!!!

Turbines to Loud?  Here, Take $5,000

My clients raising noise issues in wind project dockets at the PUC, including the “Public Health Impacts of Wind Turbines” (09-845) have noted, “how will we be compensated for having to live with all this noise?”  In our capitalist culture, $$$ is compensation.  Offensive projects aren’t shut down, money is offered.

Minnesota Noise Rules don’t take into account ambient noise, they just set standards for noise, a binary limit on certain types of noise.

Minnesota’s legislature acknowledged that people don’t want to live by transmission lines, and enacted “Buy the Farm” (in full, below)which gives landowners facing a transmission line on their property can opt out, and force the utility to buy their full parcel, not just an easement.  Why not the same with wind projects?

Here’s the actual waiver that the wind developer is asking them to sign:

Noise Easement – North Hurlburt Wind, Caithness Corporation

And check this sentence, regarding the Compensation which is outlined in “Exhibit C” attached to the agreement:

Exhibit C shall be redacted from the recorded version of this agreement.

It seems to me that for the blanket “right to offend,” the offers reported are way too low, and waivers are one-sided.  From the article:

Ms. Pilz, the local Caithness representative, did not volunteer the information that Caithness offers people money to sign noise easements, though she eventually confirmed in an interview that it did. She also would not say how much money it offers, though several property owners said she had offered them $5,000.

“What we don’t do in general is change the market price for a waiver,” Ms. Pilz said. “That’s not fair.”

Some people who did not sign said that Ms. Pilz made them feel uncomfortable, that she talked about how much Shepherd’s Flat would benefit the struggling local economy and the nation’s energy goals, and that she suggested they were not thinking of the greater good if they refused.

Don’t change the market price?  Well, that says there’s a price and that there’s a market.  Caithness does not control the market — they’d better get clear on that right quick.  I’ would presume that as this becomes more of an issue the price will go up!  LET THE MARKET DECIDE!!!  I love it when that happens…


Minnesota’s “Buy the Farm” law:

Minn. Stat. 216E.12, Subd. 4.Contiguous land.

When private real property that is an agricultural or nonagricultural homestead, nonhomestead agricultural land, rental residential property, and both commercial and noncommercial seasonal residential recreational property, as those terms are defined in section 273.13 is proposed to be acquired for the construction of a site or route for a high-voltage transmission line with a capacity of 200 kilovolts or more by eminent domain proceedings, the fee owner, or when applicable, the fee owner with the written consent of the contract for deed vendee, or the contract for deed vendee with the written consent of the fee owner, shall have the option to require the utility to condemn a fee interest in any amount of contiguous, commercially viable land which the owner or vendee wholly owns or has contracted to own in undivided fee and elects in writing to transfer to the utility within 60 days after receipt of the notice of the objects of the petition filed pursuant to section 117.055. Commercial viability shall be determined without regard to the presence of the utility route or site. The owner or, when applicable, the contract vendee shall have only one such option and may not expand or otherwise modify an election without the consent of the utility. The required acquisition of land pursuant to this subdivision shall be considered an acquisition for a public purpose and for use in the utility’s business, for purposes of chapter 117 and section 500.24, respectively; provided that a utility shall divest itself completely of all such lands used for farming or capable of being used for farming not later than the time it can receive the market value paid at the time of acquisition of lands less any diminution in value by reason of the presence of the utility route or site. Upon the owner’s election made under this subdivision, the easement interest over and adjacent to the lands designated by the owner to be acquired in fee, sought in the condemnation petition for a right-of-way for a high-voltage transmission line with a capacity of 200 kilovolts or more shall automatically be converted into a fee taking.