An informational meeting regarding the Palo Alto County Wind Project was held by the Palo Alto County Supervisors on Thursday, Sept. 21 at the Emmetsburg VFW. With well over 50 people in attendance, the meeting was a chance for residents of Palo Alto County to express their opinions as well as for experts in several fields to answer any questions that arose. Anyone that wanted to speak was given the opportunity and a three minute time limit to do so.
Palo Alto County Attorney Peter Hart began the meeting by reminding all to respect the opinions of others and reminded everyone that "the world belongs to those who show up for meetings."
Hart introduced representatives from Invenergy and the experts sitting with them: Kevin Parzyck, Vice President of Development at Invenergy; Dr. Mark Roberts, M.D, a licensed Epidemiologist; Mike Hankard an acoustician (Noise Specialist), Dr. Jeff Ellengogen, a sleep specialist and Nick Matchen, Developmental Lead from Invenergy.
"We have been working on this for 32 months. It started in November 2015 when the Supervisors met to discuss what the county needed as an ordinance for and finally ended on September 27, 2016 when the current Wind Energy Ordinance was adopted," Hart began.
"The Secretary of State is in charge of elections and there has been discussion that we should have had a special election by township, which is not possible under the code. The code is set up to make decisions such as where we want a hospital or where we want a school. To say that we should have had a special election or a straw poll would not fit the code. So to say we should have had an election by township has no factual basis under the code," Hart continued.
Lois Stillman, landowner and resident, was the first to speak regarding health concerns and wind turbines. She stated that after doing a lot of research she discovered what is known as Vibro-acoustic Disease. This disease is caused by low frequency ranges of zero to 20 Hz. She cited studies around the world that discuss various health concerns related to wind turbines.
"I respectfully request that we halt this project. Test our current homes for these emissions. Set the zero emissions standard," Stillman said. "Our community needs to remain a zero emissions zone"
"I hear the concern in her voice," Roberts said.
Dr. Roberts referred to a study of 150 airline technicians exposed to infrasound and the Brown County study.
"I talked to the medical director that did the evaluation in Brown County and reported back to the Brown County Board of Health and she recommended that there were no adverse health effects by wind turbines," Dr. Roberts said. "The County Board of Health decided to disregard the recommendation."
Many others spoke against wind turbines being very critical of the County's decommissioning, how damage to secondary roads would be handled, damage to drainage tiles, etc., with some topics being very important as far as damages to roads and drainage tile.
The County Ordinance does continue sections for secondary roads and decommissioning. There will be a separate agreement between secondary roads and Invenergy, which will be binding by MidAmerican Energy also. There is also a decommissioning agreement, which requires a security bond be in place to cover the decommissioning of each turbine in the event the owner (Invenergy or MidAmerican) abandon or refuse to repair a turbine. The decommission will fall upon the owner first, then the security the County holds, and finally to the landowner. Dr. Jeff Ellengogen, a Sleep Specialist, said the "harm from fear" was more real than the damage from an imagined wind turbine syndrome.
Residents of the county will have another opportunity to have their voices heard during the final meeting scheduled for October 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the VFW in Emmetsburg.