Articles filed under Impact on People from Michigan
Bloomfield Township resident Robert Gaffke was one of four members of the public who attended the 16-minute meeting. He urged the board to call Robert Rand of Rand Acoustics, LLC regarding sound testing to address three complaints about wind turbine noise.
Over 200 people crowded into Monitor Township Hall, Monday night, and more were outside listening to the debate over windmills.
The often-controversial wind turbines are stirring up residents in a Mid-Michigan community. Residents worry their leaders are out to change local ordinances to make it easy for utility companies to put up fields of gigantic windmills.
“If someone got a judgment that windmills contributed to some adverse health effects people suffered, I would think that would be a pretty significant ruling,” said Ross Hammersley, a Traverse City attorney with Olson, Bzdok & Howard who specializes in environmental and real estate law. Hammersley, who is not involved in the case, reviewed some of the court filings for Midwest Energy News.
Since April, DTE Electric Company has recorded easements on 276 parcels of agricultural property in Branch County for the purpose of evaluation for wind farm developments. Atwell Engineering, as agents for DTE, has negotiated and recorded documents from 59 property owners mostly in Union, Sherwood and Matteson Townships.
At the end of the two-and-a-half-hour conversation, Glenn said there were two takeaways: conflict of interest at the local level and that the social fabric of Michigan's communities is being destroyed. The point of the meeting was to discuss the future of wind development in the Thumb.
“If they do vote yes, and allow us to continue the development that’s been approved by the (Huron County Board of Commissioners), this is the last wind farm that DTE Energy will seek approval for and development here in the county,” said Trevor F. Lauer, president and chief operating officer of DTE Electric.
Last December, one of the turbines at the Stoney Corners wind facility burst into flames and was completely destroyed. Black smoke darkened the sky and heavy winds spread ash and burning particles on fields and properties nearby. For days the acrid odor of smoldering composites lingered in the air and seeped into my home along with several other homes in the area of the fire.
I signed a wind turbine lease with Heritage Sustainable in 2008. If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have signed. Since the turbines went up, I have had frequent headaches lasting three days. I never had these before.
Robert Gaffke, who owns property near the Big Turtle II project, addressed the Huron County Planning Commission last week regarding a noise complaint he has filed against Heritage Sustainable Energy of Traverse City. ...“It sounds like a guy’s in there with an eight-pound sledge pounding on it, every revolution,” Gaffke said.
The flat fields and scenic farms have been replaced by mechanical monsters with arms spinning in the wind. They dominate the landscape visually, impossible to ignore. ...What’s clear, at least to me, is that something has to change. People are being hurt by these wind developments. Their concerns should not fall on deaf ears.
“It’s important that the community know the short-term, mid-term, and long-term consequences of having turbines in the community,” Tussey said. “It’s not a situation where, if you don’t like it, you can just turn it off. It’s more akin to building a bridge, and once a bridge is built, it’s built.” Tussey plans to work with the concerned citizens in Ellington Township on an educational campaign intended to deliver straight facts about turbines – and not just at public meetings held during major snowstorms.
This year, wind energy developers will push Huron’s turbine count toward 500 and beyond. On Wednesday, residents skewered county planners for allowing that to happen, claiming they aren’t protecting residents and telling of the “hell” and “living nightmare” they’re now stuck with in the state’s unofficial wind capital.
“Day after day, month after month, the wind developers are relentless in trying to force wind turbines in our townships in locations where the turbines will be negatively affecting the residents’ health, safety and welfare,” said Ellington Township resident Bobbie Mozden. “Board members, please revise the wind ordinance and protect our township residents.”
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.
“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,” the letter states. Jeff Smith, the county’s building and zoning director, said it was the first time he’s seen such a letter from a medical professional.
But, she says she follows a routine in order to adapt and “get some sleep.” “Close windows (even in summer, turn on the air conditioner in the window). Then I turn on the TV (usually to CNN) and put earplugs in my ears (helps drown out the turbine sound). It has enabled (me) to get to sleep and have a fairly good sleep pattern,” the letter states.
What would Huron County do if no wind turbines ever came? We would survive as we have for decades before. Yes the additional revenue would be helpful, but understand with the new revenue we’re losing property values, quality of life and our county’s once pristine countryside. We are even losing local residents who are choosing to get out. ...Realtors are already experiencing the rejection of properties near turbines.
In what appears to be the first of its kind ruling in the United States, the Board of Health in Brown County, Wisconsin, where Green Bay is located, has declared a local industrial wind plant to be a human health hazard. The specific facility consists of eight 500-foot high, 2.5 megawatt industrial wind turbines.
“The fact that Sen. Walker would put forth a pair of bills that would largely exempt wind developers from local control for the siting of turbines, as well as exempt them from liability for negligent design, paints a clear picture. Wind development is becoming much harder to sell to rural communities. ...wind developers are having a much harder time convincing people that 50- or 60-story tall turbines are scarcely noticeable in our quiet farming communities.”