Gallery: Could Laura Israel’s New Film ‘Windfall’ Damage Wind Energy’s ...


We all know the impact of documentary films: Super Size Me changed how many people looked at McDonald’s, The End of the Line warned of the threat of overfishing, and Grizzly Man taught us that wild grizzly bears are not to be messed with. Now a new film from Laura Israel is set to shine some light on what happens to a community when they bring wind turbines into their town.

To quote Windfall‘s official synopsis: “Wind power… it’s sustainable … it burns no fossil fuels…it produces no air pollution. What’s more, it cuts down dependency on foreign oil. That’s what the people of Meredith, in upstate New York first thought when a wind developer looked to supplement the rural farm town’s failing economy with a farm of their own — that of 40 industrial wind turbines.”

Windfall documents how this proposal divides Meredith’s residents as they fight over the future of their community. Attracted at first to the financial incentives that would seemingly boost their dying economy, a group of townspeople grow increasingly alarmed as they discover the impacts that the 400-foot high windmills slated for Meredith could bring to their community as well as the potential for financial scams. With wind development in the United States growing annually at 39 percent, Windfall is an eye-opener that should be required viewing for anyone concerned about the environment and the future of renewable energy.”

The film, which was an official selection at the Toronto Film Festival, shows both the pros and cons of living with turbines — from the noise to the  positive environmental impact. However, what it highlights most is how the technology bitterly divides a community.

Granted we haven’t seen the film yet, but from what we gather from the trailer, the major concerns seem to range from inconvenience to landscape changes to damaging the habitat of local wildlife to an enormous noise footprint and power lines running through private properties.

The film will be released Friday, February 3, 2012 at New York’s Quad Cinema, with other cities following shortly after, as well as availability on select VOD platforms. Click here to see if it is showing near you.

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+ Windfall Official Website


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  1. David Howard November 1, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    They do not ‘burn no fossil fuels’. In fact a conventional power station is on permanent standby as consumers need a constant source and wind is not constant. They consume potentially as much electricity as they produce, for the motors, brakes and heaters etc. Here are pretty well all the figures.

    Yaw mechanism to turn the rotor into the wind. 20kW
    Pitch mechanism to adjust the blade angle to the wind 15kW
    Lights, controllers, communication, sensors, data collection, etc. 10kW
    Heating the blades during winter. 250Kw
    Heating/cooling and dehumidifying the nacelle. 10kW
    Oil heater, pump, cooler and filtering system of the gearbox 25kW
    Hydraulic brake to lock the blades when the wind is too strong. 5kW
    Thyristors for power conditioning and connection. 25kW
    Magnetizing the stator to keep the rotor speed constant 25kW
    Using the generator as a motor to help blades start to turn when wind speed is low or, as many suspect, to create the illusion the facility is producing electricity when it is not, particularly during site tours. It also spins the rotor shaft and blades to prevent warping when there is no wind. 50Kw.
    TOTAL Installed. 435kW.
    Not all items will be used at the same time, although they may be. However, we can generously assume 50% usage, for a parasitic consumption of approximately 215 kW.

    Turbine rated wind speed is 12 mps. Cut in speed is 4 mps. Rated power is 2 mW. Power varies as cube of wind speed.
    Therefore Power at 4mps is 2,000,000/3x3x3 = 74kW
    Nett output is â??141kW
    Power at 5mps is 144kW Nett output is -71kW
    Power at 6mps is 250kW
    Nett output is +35kW
    This shows that the machine does not start to produce useful power until wind speeds reach around 6mps, assuming that 35kW from a 2mW machine can be considered as useful.
    Published figures for average wind speeds locally (Banbury area. It will vary depending on actual location) at masthead height are 6mps.
    There are subsequent losses such as transformer inefficiencies and transmission losses to take power from turbine to grid. We can assume approximately 6% to 15%, depending on the type of equipment and transmission line lengths.

  2. davidmmusgrove June 17, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    i have seen the film. it is unclear to me whether or not there may have been industrial soft money involved.much ado is made about the carbon footprint of the pedestal. however no calculations are shown regarding concrete consumption in coal, gas or nuclear facilities. how many windmills can you erect versus….without this key point of datum the statement is meaningless! which of these technology should be chosen is a matter of cradle to grave carbon footprint including facility retirement carbon footprint. the one strong tip of the hat i would give regards the fact that you shouldn’t build a windfarm in the middle of any urban setting rural or otherwise. i wish i knew whether or not there was a reason for the lack of comparative data every time negatives were applied to the windmills but not to the other modes of power generation. this left me with the feeling that what i was watching was a really slick hatchet piece on what could and should be one part of our energy solution…!

  3. RedwoodHugger January 17, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    I have seen this movie. I live in a town also slated for 400 foot wind turbines in an area of great natural beauty… maybe you’ve heard of the Redwood Forest of northern California?

    Some people in our town arranged for a showing of this movie. Over 100 people showed up at the Veterans Hall. As the film went on, the whispers amplified each other… “That’s just like here…” “They did that here too…” Wind energy is an awesome idea. Right now, however it’s more than 50% government subsidized and local residents have little to no voice in keeping their rural communities rural… unless they do what the folks in Meridale did, which is – through elections – take over the town council.

    The alternative is also shown in the movie, when residents of Tug Hill are interviewed about the shadow flicker, noise, vibration and other effects of living with turbines.

    Landowners receive a nearly insulting $5,000 per turbine, while the wind companies receive about $750,000 in subsidies for that turbine. One of the speakers in the film pointed out that is an insult.

    But that wee bit of money is enough to turn landowner against his/her neighbors. And of course that “us versus them” attitude is pushed by the wind energy. You’ve either drunk their Koolaid or you haven’t, but in most states, the laws are on the Utility side, even if that Utility is a private, foreign, multinational oil company.

    As one resident of Tug Hill said (paraphrase) “If the wind company contracts are that great, why do they all contain a Gag Clause?”

    She has a valid point. Too much about this industry is done in secret, by forcing populations to accept things they do not want.

    I hope this movie opens a more rational debate than the one I have seen locally where life long environmental supporters are now being branded NIMBYs for working against the greatest rape of the redwoods proposed since PALCO took over Pacific Lumber.

  4. guestcommentator January 13, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    It’s more than eye-opening. You need to see it before you make your decisions on wind energy for the future of this world.

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