Reno County is considering a proposed wind power facility. That consideration should include the harm as well as the benefit. Wind towers are beautiful engineering marvels but located too close to homes they come at a cost.
Businesses take the profits from their activities and are expected to bear the costs. It doesn’t always work that way. Some industries are allowed the right to take waste products they produce and dump them on their neighbor’s property without penalty. The carbon industry has been accused of taking the profits from their activity and dumping the costs in the atmosphere to be borne by others. A large poultry processing plant can create a stench that goes to their neighbors but avoids the cost to those other property owners. This happens when government chooses winners and losers and allows one kind of property owner to damage another without bearing all the costs.
Wind power also creates a waste product that is dumped on neighbors. That waste is the light flicker and rhythmic thumping that travels to the next property owner. The harm caused by this waste is real and sometimes severe. It is absurd and offensive for the wind industry to claim these effects are imaginary. An estimated 90 percent of people are motion sensitive to some degree; 10 percent of whom are very sensitive. This is not a problem that affects only a very few. The 10 percent of people like me who are not motion sensitive may not be bothered if we are far enough away. However, that significant percent of the population that is motion sensitive and vulnerable will find this waste product insufferably harmful. People too close to the towers, or farther away but more sensitive, will find their homes unlivable.
The county should consider whether there will or even can be adequate compensation for those forced from their homes. Will the landowners who receive the royalties share with those whose nearby properties lose value? Will the profit receiving company bear that cost, or will they just wrongly deny there is a cost? Will the cost be absorbed by some family that just sunk their life savings in a home or by those forced to leave a place they spent a lifetime building?
The phrase “inconvenient truth” has been used with regard to the carbon industries. There is an inconvenient truth with wind power too. Pretending this is not so may be good business, but it is neither good practice nor good government.
Mark Rogers is a resident of Pretty Prairie.