A citizen’s group based in Glenville, Minn., has been taking a keen interest in the issues raised over wind farms in Chatham-Kent.
Sue Madson, a member of the Association of Freeborn County Landowners, contacted The Chatham Daily News Wednesday requesting news articles about the concerns raised by local residents over the impact of local wind farm projects.
She said the 100-member strong citizen group is opposing the planned Freeborn Wind Farm project, part of which is to be located in their rural community in south Minnesota. However, more than half the project will be located in Iowa.
“Maybe we can use some of your information … which can hopefully help other people see our concerns in this case,” Madson said. “I have read that the wells have been affected there, so of course that’s a worry here too,” she said, noting the rural residents depend on private water wells.
Madson is also worried about “ice throw” from the spinning turbine blades, as well as her TV and internet reception being impacted. Her other concerns include noise, shadow flicker and the impact this could have on her daycare business and property value of her home.
Dorenne Hansen, founder of the citizen’s group, has also read stories in The Daily News about some Chatham-Kent residents having water well issues near where a wind farm is being constructed.
“The four townships that are involved in this wind project in Minnesota all have private wells. … There’s a concern with all that digging going on, would it contaminate ours as well?” she said.
Members of the citizen’s group have formally filed complaints against the wind project with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, which gives approval for wind farms.
“I brought up worries about the water because of what I have read happened up there (in Chatham-Kent),” said Madson.
“As the organizer of the Association of Freeborn County Landowners, I already submitted testimony and I included in that testimony the concern about the wells and the Chatham-Kent news articles,” Hansen said.
There are similarities to other issues raised by the citizen’s group members that have been heard in Chatham-Kent, such as the size of the proposed wind turbines and setback distances.
Hansen said some of the turbines planned for the project are Vesta 116 models, which are 453 feet (138 metres) high from base to top.
“They’re much larger than other turbines that are in the area,” she said.
Hansen said she sent a request to the project manager of the Freeborn Wind Farm asking where she could go to view this turbine in operation.
“I couldn’t. There isn’t any,” Hansen said. “That’s a big concern for us, too, with the noise that comes from them.”
She added it is her understanding that modelling is always underestimated for noise.
While the rules in Ontario have minimum setbacks that require turbines to be at least 550 metres away from residences, Hansen said the minimum setback for the project they are fighting is 1,000 feet, which is just under 305 metres.
“It is definitely much too close to a home,” she said.