Frequent Comments and Responses

FREQUENT COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

sPower and the Chevelon Butte Wind Farm team have heard your comments and we’d like to address each of them here. If you have additional questions or comments that are not listed in this grid, please submit your comments here.

Comment Type

Response

Visual Impact

Please see the Visual Simulations page of this website, which depicts the tallest turbine model being contemplated from various viewing points on the landscape. In Navajo County, existing property owners to the east are currently bisected from the planned Chevelon Butte Wind Farm site by 3 existing transmission lines, and the closest legally classified residence is over 2.5 miles from the nearest planned wind turbine. In Coconino County, the closest residence, which is located in Mogollon Ranch, is located nearly 8 miles from the nearest planned wind turbine.

Visual Simulation Accuracy

Preliminary visual simulations were provided at the public meeting held on July 15, 2019. As pointed out by meeting attendees and commenters, turbines in one of the simulations did not appear tall enough as compared to the height of Chevelon Butte itself. In fact, an error occurred in that particular model that was used to prepare these preliminary simulations. Some of the turbines shown in front of Chevelon Butte in one simulation at the open house are actually located behind the butte, hence the actual estimated impacts are much less than what was presented at the open house at this single key observation point. This error was discovered and rectified in the final set of visual simulations shown on the Visual Simulations page of this website.

Additional Visual Simulations – Mogollon Ranch Views

The Visual Simulations page presents three visual simulations from the Mogollon Ranch area. These additional visual simulations were posted to chevelonbuttewind.com in August 2019.

Wind Turbine Height

For visual simulations, setback analysis, and other siting considerations, we assumed the tallest turbine model that could be deployed at the site. Though we are seeking approval for several turbine specification options, the tallest and most conservative model is being presented for public input and permitting. It is worth noting that if larger machines are deployed, less turbines will be required to achieve the required electrical output; therefore, the project footprint and certain impacts would be commensurately reduced.

Property Values

In 2009, the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory published a study titled The Impact of Wind Power Projects on Residential Property Values in the United States: A Multi-Site Hedonic Analysis. This study analyzed data from approximately 7,500 sales of single-family homes within 10 miles of 24 existing wind facilities in nine different states and found “no evidence… that home prices surrounding wind facilities are consistently, measurably, and significantly affected by either the view of wind facilities or the distance of the home to those facilities.” The author of this study completed a second study on this topic at the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 2013 entitled A Spatial Hedonic Analysis of the Effects of Wind Energy Facilities on Surrounding Property Values in the United States. This study is based on more than 50,000 home sales within 10 miles of 67 different wind facilities in 27 states and found “no statistical evidence that home prices near wind turbines were affected in either the post-construction or post-announcement/ pre-construction periods.”

Project Location

The project and all components, including the interconnection switching station, will be located within the project area and will not encroach on adjacent properties. Please see maps on this website for details of the project boundary.

Local Electrical Distribution Service

Under Arizona law, Arizona Public Service Electric Company has the exclusive right to serve retail customers within its service territory, and therefore the project is prohibited from providing service to nearby residential areas in Navajo County.

Jobs Benefitting Arizona Residents

This project would create state and local jobs, as further described on this website.

Continued Ranching

The wind farm is a compatible land use with the existing livestock ranching operation, and we are working with the landowner families to minimize impacts to existing ranching operations. Ranching and other agricultural practices coexist with wind farms throughout the United States.

Cultural and Historic Resources

The entire planned project footprint has been surveyed for cultural resources and the project design intends to avoid impacts to all cultural sites identified as eligible by the National Historic Preservation Act. Despite no clear legal nexus requiring such, we have voluntarily surveyed all infrastructure footprints on private land, in addition to state trust land, to identify cultural resource sites.

About sPower: Sustainable Power Group (sPower) is an industry leading owner and operator of over 160 renewable energy projects. With new offices located in Spotsylvania County and Richmond, Virginia, our footprint and team continue to expand where energy resources are needed most. sPower portfolio consists of 13 gigawatts (GW) of development and operations assets across the United States and has generated nearly 4 billion kilowatt hours of carbon free electricity. For more information, visit www.spower.com

Wind Turbines and Wildlife

Scientific studies show buildings, cars, power lines, and radio cell phone towers cause far more deaths to birds than wind turbines – and that house cats kill 1.3 to 4 billion birds a year alone. Nevertheless, wind farm developers take protection of wildlife very seriously. Developers typically conduct robust pre-construction bird and bat use surveys; the results of these studies are used to place wind turbines where fewer impacts will occur.

Wind farm operators are also required to conduct post-construction fatality monitoring for birds and batsand must work with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Arizona Game & Fish Department on corrective measures if fatalities exceed estimates.

sPower is an active member of several scientific organizations, including the American Wind Wildlife Institute and the Wind and Wildlife Research Fund. Through working with these groups, we voluntarily support, fund, and participate in long-term wind-wildlife research to reduce the wind energy industry’s impact on wildlife resources. 

Wind Farms and Property Value

In 2009, a Berkeley National Laboratory researcher published a study analyzing data from approximately 7,500 sales of single-family homes within 10 miles of 24 existing wind facilities in nine different states and found “no evidence… that home prices surrounding wind facilities are consistently, measurably, and significantly affected by either the view of wind facilities or the distance of the home to those facilities.

His second study in 2013 examined more than 50,000 home sales within 10 miles of 67 different wind facilities in 27 states and found “no statistical evidence that home prices near wind turbines were affected in either the post-construction or post-announcement/pre-construction periods.

Wind Turbines and Noise

Modern turbine designs have greatly reduced the mechanical sounds to where the normal wind farm sound is a light whooshing as the blades pass through the air.

Other factors do play a part, such as distance from the turbine, height, topography, vegetation and wind conditions, but overall wind farms are remarkably quiet. In fact, because the wind is blowing whenever the turbines are spinning, the sound of the blades’ movement is often lost in the sound of the wind itself.

The Chevelon Butte Wind Farm will comply with all applicable noise standards and is not expected to be heard at any surrounding residential properties in Coconino and Navajo Counties, due to the remote location of the project and lack of nearby residences within several miles.

Wind Turbines and Low-frequency Sounds

One common question about wind turbines concerns the effects of infrasound – sound at frequencies outside the range of normal human hearing.

Infrasound comes from a number of sources, including wind, ocean waves, breathing and even your beating heart. Scientific studies have found no causal link between sound patterns generated by wind turbines and health conditions.

By contrast, Scientific American recently reported that particulate pollution from fossil-fueled power plants caused more than 30,000 premature deaths, 600,000 asthma attacks and 5 million lost workdays.

Shadow Flicker

Shadow flicker occurs when the blades of a turbine pass in front of the sun to create a recurring shadow on an object.  Shadow flicker is not expected to impact any surrounding residential properties in Coconino and Navajo Counties, due to the remote location of the Chevelon Butte Wind Farm and lack of nearby residences within several miles. 

In 2009, the American Wind Energy Association and the Canadian Wind Energy Association established a multidisciplinary scientific advisory panel to review current literature on the perceived health effects of wind turbines and found that shadow flicker is not harmful to persons with epilepsy.

The Cost of Wind Energy Production

A World Economic Forum white paper published in 2016 reported that the costs of wind and solar energy are lower than the costs of building new coal or other plants.

New technologies often take time to become competitive with more mature alternatives, but wind energy is developed to the point where it has become very competitive, and costs continue to decline.

Wind Turbine Syndrome​

A self-published book by an anti-wind activist named Nina Pierpont coined the term “wind turbine syndrome” in 2009. However, Pierpont’s conclusions have been debunked by independent scientific studies from government research bodies around the world.

A 2014 scientific review published in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Public Health strongly refutes the existence of wind turbine syndrome, and numerous reviews of peer-reviewed scientific studies have concluded that wind turbines do not cause health problems.