Library from Wisconsin
One chapter of the Shirley Wind Farm saga ended this past week, but the story needs to continue for the sake of the people living near the wind turbines — and those living near turbines elsewhere. ...The focus now needs not to be on assigning blame. It needs to be on helping the people who can't shake their illnesses — and who in a number of cases are trapped because they can't sell their homes and couldn't afford two mortgages.
Brown Co. Board of Health in 2014 declared turbines in the Shirley Wind Farm emit low-frequency noise that poses health risks. About 20 families experienced health issues they blame on the turbines. In a devastating setback for people living near the Shirley Wind farm, Brown County's health director on Tuesday declared that insufficient evidence exists to link wind turbines to illnesses suffered by people who live near them.
Judge Vlack ruled that more explanation by the PSC was due as to why six sensitive residences with health conditions were selected for lower noise standards while eleven other similar residences on record were denied consideration. Judge Vlack also made note of apparent ex parte communications between PSC staff and the wind developer in the selection of the six sensitive residences that excluded participation by the Town and the Forest Voice in those determinations.
The issue has long plagued local health boards in Massachusetts. Fairhaven, Mass., for example, in June 2013 shut down the town's two turbines at night in response to complaints about sleep deprivation. Falmouth, Mass., found in 2012 that one turbine was violating local ordinances because it was too close to a home and emitting too much audible noise -- not infrasound. But the controversy spurred studies by acousticians, including Rand, that concluded the turbines produce sounds capable of disturbing nearby residents and may lead to annoyance, sleep disturbance and other impacts. That led multiple residents to file lawsuits seeking damages for their health problems, claiming the turbines were to blame.
The Town has long fought and will continue to oppose the Highland Wind Farm project, which would place 42 500-foot tall wind turbines close to homes. The Shirley Wind Farm project, a wind farm designed by the same company behind the Highland Wind Farm project and which uses similar turbines, has been declared a public health hazard by the Brown County Board of Health after its excessive noise led families to abandon their homes.
Judge Ed Vlack said the PSC created a new compliance standard that amounted to rule-making that exceeded its authority and that the PSC failed to provide a full hearing on the selection of certain residences for additional protective standards.
At issue for the court was the PSC's finding that the wind developer would be considered in compliance with state noise standards if measurements of noise from turbines demonstrate that they are within maximum decibel levels 95% of the time — or just under 23 hours a day. Vlack said the commission had previously expressed concern that more information was needed before imposing that kind of standard, and because of that said it's important for the PSC to ensure it has sufficient grounds for allowing the 95% standard.
Despite the fact that St. Croix County Judge Edward Vlack Wednesday ruled that Highland Wind Farm’s noise curtailment plan “ensures compliance” with state wind siting regulations, the judge stated in an order this week that the Public Service Commission did not provide, among other things, “proper notice and hearing” for discussion of the state’s compliance standard.
An investigation by the state Department of Natural Resources found there were protected bird species along a one-mile stretch near the grasslands, and construction is still blocked from continuing in that area, according to Jeffrey Ripp, Public Service Committee gas and energy administrator.
State authorities have halted work on part of a high-voltage power line under construction between Alma and Holmen after contractors violated a no-work agreement designed to protect threatened bird species.
Abbie Church, conservation director for the conservancy, said she was driving in the area of the grasslands last month when she saw construction crews working and power poles already up. The conservancy had worked to negotiate a restriction on construction activities during the nesting season when it agreed to an easement for the power line project. Nesting generally takes place from April through July.
In a 5-2 decision, the court upheld lower court rulings that determined a housing impact report did not need to be prepared before the PSC submitted its wind tower siting rules to the Legislature. State law requires agencies to prepare reports for any agency rules that "directly or substantially" affect development, construction or cost of housing.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is developing an environmental impact statement to evaluate the potential of issuing incidental take permits for protected bird and bat species if regional wind industry development grows. According to a news release by the service, the states within the plan are Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. It is called the Midwest Wind Energy Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan.
Three or four decades ago, we were all warned that the world would soon run out of oil, so we should pursue alternative energy – solar power, wind power, nuclear power, tidal power. All the talk about alternative sources of energy was exciting. I thought then an electric car would be neat, if it could travel more than 40 miles or so. I also thought it would great to have a roof that converts sunlight into all the electricity one needs to run a home.
A bald eagle found dead earlier this spring in St. Croix County was felled by a bullet, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. ... According to the DNR. the bird was found in an area occupied by a significant eagle population.
Sanchez, a nurse appointed to the board last month, questioned Krogh's credentials. Krogh was scheduled this past week to deliver a presentation entitled "Harm from Wind Turbines: What Has Been Known for Decades," at the University of Waterloo in Canada.
Numerous residents living within, or in the environs of Duke Energy's Shirley Wind project in the Town of Glenmore, WI are now displaying 4' x 4' yard signs stating what the Brown County Board of Health officially declared, namely, that the Shirley Wind turbines are "a human health hazard" There are now 20 families displaying the signs, many of which are shown on this page. Visitors to this page are encouraged to share these photos with others. The photos can be downloaded in high resolution by clicking the links below.
They met for 90 minutes behind closed doors with their attorney Tuesday, but members of the Brown County Board of Health were unable to agree on their next step regarding a wind farm they say poses a health threat to its neighbors.
The Wisconsin Realtors Association asked the state Supreme Court to invalidate a 2009 rule establishing setback requirements for building wind turbines near residential housing because, they said, it doesn’t go far enough.
The two-year, $68 billion budget proposal Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker unveiled Tuesday includes a request for $250,000 to study the health impacts of wind turbines. "The request for a Wind Energy Health Issues Study was included with the intent to provide the Public Service Commission with comprehensive information to consider as they receive requests for future wind energy projects," said Laurel Patrick, Walker's press secretary.