HURON COUNTY — DTE Energy says it won’t build a wind turbine near a resident whose doctor says it would be disorienting and potentially harmful to her health.
The utility’s decision comes less than two weeks after the county received a letter from Chandler resident Deb Ruth. She said if a wind turbine planned for DTE’s newest Pinnebog project is erected about a quarter-mile from her home, it could trigger dizzy spells.
Ruth attached a letter from Scott Baker, a Bay City ear, nose and throat specialist, who wrote Ruth has Meniere’s disease in both ears, leaving her without balance functions in either ear. Meniere’s disease is a disorder that causes severe dizziness and a roaring sound in the ears called tinnitus — a common cause of hearing loss, according to the National Institute of Health. There is neither a known definite cause of the disease nor cure.
“When she is exposed to visual stimuli such as a Ferris wheel or a windmill it causes what is call(ed) visual vertigo, which would be very disorienting and potentially harmful to her. She has asked me to speak on her behalf in regards to this matter and I think that her concerns are reasonable and valid,” Baker’s letter states.
Last week, a spokesperson could not confirm if DTE planned to still build the turbine.
On Friday, after the article published, DTE contacted the Tribune to request publishing a letter to the editor, which appears in today’s edition.
“As planning for the proposed Pinnebog project progressed, we identified some construction challenges with the turbine in question. Based on those challenges, as well as with this resident’s concerns, we have decided to remove this turbine from the proposed Pinnebog Wind Park layout,” the letter states.
Ron Ruth contacted the Tribune on Friday. He said he was thankful to see the article, and that DTE had called him and said they do not plan to build the turbine.
County Commissioner Rich Swartzendruber, whose district includes Chandler Township, said he got a call from Ron Chriss, a DTE regional manager. Chriss said the utility did some re-engineering and isn’t citing the turbine near Ruth’s home, Swarzendruber said.
“So hopefully the health problems for Mrs. Ruth will be avoided,” Swartzendruber said during a Tuesday board meeting.
DTE utility recently got the go-ahead to build 30 turbines in Chandler, Oliver and Colfax townships. Initial plans put the majority in neighboring Meade Township; however, in a referendum triggered by Meade resident Rita Parsch, a friend to the Ruths, residents reversed the township board’s decision and voted against the project.