Library filed under Impact on People from Minnesota
The county board Tuesday adopted rules that require large wind turbines to be at least 500 feet from homes whose owners have signed agreements with the wind energy company. That's actually less than the 750 feet the county's old ordinance required.
Orono resident Jay Nygard believes installing a small wind turbine in his yard would be an energy saver, but he has run into opposition from the city. ...Nygard admits he poured a concrete pad for the turbine after the city rejected his application for a building permit. But he and his attorney claim the city is overstepping its authority and discouraging a homeowner and entrepreneur from helping the environment.
Wind companies argue that the newer generation of turbines is quieter, but you can't capture the wind with 270 foot diameter blades chopping through a two acre vertical air space without disturbing the air, i.e., generating audible and inaudible noise.
Then I got hit over the head. I was reading the New York Times and came upon an article about multiple lawsuits against wind farms all over the United States because of health concerns, and I said to myself, "What health concerns?" Three hours of intense Internet research later, I was shocked.
In an interview with the Monday, Rep. Tim Kelly argued that the state takes a "cookie cutter" approach to the permitting of large wind projects, ignoring regional differences. "They've already developed on the best areas," he said. "Now, we're encroaching on spaces that are maybe higher in population density."
The cities of Zumbrota and Goodhue may soon find their hope for expansion blocked by new wind turbines, and they don't appear to have much say in the matter. Zumbrota Mayor Richard Bauer and Goodhue Mayor Arland Voth have both requested two-mile wind buffers around city limits in recent months to allow for economic expansion.
As wind-farm developments turn up around Rochester, so have "wind truth" groups in three southeast Minnesota counties. So far, Goodhue Wind Truth, Olmsted Wind Truth and Dodge Wind Truth organizations have popped in southeast Minnesota counties of the same names. All three groups maintain websites that contain video of huge wind turbines erected perilously close to homes.
My husband and I were contacted by National Wind and the AWA Goodhue Wind project late, too. ...they wanted us to sign a wind lease contract for a minimal amount to compensate us for having the wind turbine close to our home. We decided there was not a good reason to sign away our land rights for 20, 30 or possibly 50 years for any amount of money, let alone a pittance. The two representatives from National Wind came to our house twice. We had many questions and never felt like we got answers to those questions.
Rural, suburban or urban, headlines across Central and southern Minnesota show that as much as some Minnesotans want to harness the renewable power of wind, others are decidedly in the NIMBY camp. What's the answer? There isn't one. At least a one-size-fits all answer. However, as a starting point, the Legislature should make it a higher priority to update the state's setback requirements on wind-energy systems.
A man who suffers from Tinnitus is worried if a wind farm goes up near his home, his ears would never stop ringing. "I'll be like a man in a torture chamber," said Bernie Hagen. Wisconsin based Allina Energy will begin building the Bent Tree Wind Farm in Freeborn County in April. 122 turbines will sprout up across 32,500 acres.
I am writing to dispel misinformation presented as fact by a representative of Farm Bureau Insurance to Goodhue County officials on the behalf of 484 families that belong to Goodhue County Farm Bureau. That letter is untrue and not endorsed by all those members. In fact, they are almost entirely unaware of this representation.
Scott Logan felt fortunate when he and his wife found their home in rural Goodhue County. "This is the place literally I want to die in. We've got the walking trails down here, the quality of life is great and the neighbors are great,"he said. But now Logan is worried that the home life he has come to enjoy is in jeopardy. A 75-megawatt wind development has been proposed in the area that includes 52 wind turbines.
Minnesota Public Utilities Commission staff members recommend longer setback requirements and noise monitoring of wind turbines in response to growing health concerns. The recommendations, made in a report released this week, will be considered by the five-member commission when it meets Monday to discuss the issues.
The most common complaint from neighbors or prospective neighbors of wind turbines seems to be the noise. "My biggest concern is the noise," said Goodhue resident Rick Conrad said. "I don't mind looking at them, but I worry that if I'm out in my yard I will be hearing these things."
To Carol Lantow, it feels like her home is slowly becoming enveloped by wind farms. On a clear day, she can see the whirling blades of turbines on two distant wind farms from her home in rural Rose Creek. And even closer to home, a neighboring farmer is planning to erect a single wind turbine on his property about a quarter mile from the home Lantow shares with her husband, Jim.
To drive through the Minnesota countryside is to drive through contradiction. Those vast rolling fields -- are they busy engines of production for the agriculture industry? Or are they places of natural beauty, serenity and tranquility? It's harder nowadays to have it both ways. The rapid advance of wind farming, for example, has transformed the rural landscape.
Just as they are being touted as a green, economical and job-producing energy source, wind farms in Minnesota are starting to get serious blowback. Across the state, people are opposing projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Opposition is also rising in other states. It's not likely to blow over quickly in Minnesota, which is the nation's fourth-largest producer of wind power. ...The rising numbers of complaints have taken Minnesota regulators by surprise.
"I think it would be a little more fair if the people who are affected by this have an opportunity to listen and put their views forward," Emil Schwarz said from his Des Plaines, Ill., home Monday. Schwarz said he is not opposed to wind energy, but does not want wind turbines near his summer home in Pentwater.
Concerned residents have relentlessly questioned how far wind turbines should be set back from other structures in rural Goodhue County. Commissioners learned Tuesday that addressing those concerns locally regarding two proposed wind farms could be difficult. ...[County Attorney Stephen] Betcher said state law now allows counties to step in and regulate wind farms between 5 and 25 megawatts as well with PUC's help. In doing so, commissioners could impose stricter standards - including for setbacks - than the state currently does on mid-range and larger projects.
Industrial wind turbines, utility-scale turbines -- whatever you call them, they are popping up all over the state. Minnesota is requiring utility companies to be using 25 percent renewable energy by 2025. When I ask most people what they know about turbines, most reply, "They are green energy!" When I probe for more information, they know nothing more. I'd like you to join me on a short journey to see what it is like to live near a wind project.