The residents of Michigan's Thumb area have been writing about their experience living near industrial scale turbines. Their individual stories are remarkably consistent regarding noise, flicker, sleep interruptions, and feelings of helplessness. The testimony of one Thumb resident is included on this page. Many others can be found by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.
My family and I live and farm in the Thumb area. We have three turbines within a half mile of our farm. The nearest is about 1500 ft. from our house. Since the turbines began turning this fall, we have been amazed at the amount of noise they create. The sound is like that of a distant jet. The sound can often be heard indoors- especially at night. The nature of the noise is so out of place it is hard to mask. When we're outside, the noise created by the turbine echoes off the buildings and seems to be amplified. When the wind is strong, the noise is masked, but about 75% of the time, the turbines are the dominant sound outside. A big concern we have at this time, is that as the weather improves (which we hope it will soon) windows will open, weather proofing will be removed and the noise that dominates the outdoors will intrude on the indoors even more. At 1500 ft, we thought we may be safe, but we were mistaken. I don't know what the answer is for setbacks, but 1500 ft. is to close.
The key to a successful wind farm is placement. Once these structures are erected, there is no turning back! If a turbine at 1500 ft. causes a disturbance when it's new, how much more will it disturb when the components begin to deteriorate. I know some have the view of "it's my land and I'll do what I want", but I'd like to believe the Thumb is different. We are all friends, neighbors and stewarts of the land. As farmers, we control erosion with cover crops, safely apply chemicals, plant filter strips, follow manure management guidelines to reduce the impact on our neighbors, etc.... all in an effort to care for the land and our community. As land owners we have a responsibility to our neighbors as well. We are all part of this peaceful area we call home. It is often said you don't know what you've got till it's gone. Be assured, you may not realize how peaceful this area is until one day, for what ever reason, the turbines aren't turning and you hear the quiet- it's a quiet we've become much more aware of in recent months. A quiet that is to rare.
We were all made promises during the development phase of this project. Two important ones were jobs and money. Jobs came- and then just as quickly went. Many of the jobs were from Wisconsin and other states. They took their paychecks and likely sent them home to their families. Some Michigan people were granted temporary construction jobs, but they have also gone back to their own areas too. There are only a handful of permanent jobs.
Money. Where to begin, Money is the driving force of wind development. It seems the only green part of wind development is the money. Subsidies and tax breaks are freely given to developers, and land owners are promised large payments. As for the actual benefit to the area- it remains to be seen. The minimum amounts promised to us (yes- we were offered a contract and after having it reviewed by a land use attorney decided not to sign it) were quite insignificant in the farm industry- less than $3000. Is the promise of more with a guarantee of so little worth the impact on our friends and neighbors? I know first hand of two homes that have been put on the market because of the windmills. Both homes are over a half mile away from the nearest turbine. Noise and other elements such as strobing and flicker are a concern, even at this distance, and has lead to their decision to sell.
Doctors are still learning about the effects windmills have on the human body. It seems quite clear that there is a direct link between health and the proximity of homes to turbines. There are so many questions and so few definitive answers. My experience with developers is that they use a lot of words like- shouldn't, we don't expect, probably, may, etc. Do you feel comfortable with these answers? Are you willing to sacrifice you peace and quiet and possibly your health for these types of answers?
Green energy may be critical to our future, but it needs to be done correctly. Families should not have to suffer because they don't own enough land to make the decision for themselves.