Articles filed under Impact on People from Wisconsin
Either way, the sound of wind turbines is making more ears perk up as a bill moves forward in the Legislature that would empower the Public Service Commission to create statewide rules governing wind power and pre-empt local government control over their placement. The rules would govern the distance between turbines and homes along with their noise and the flicker effects of shadows from their turbine blades.
"Governor, I spent the first 35 years of my life in and around Fond du Lac County. "Returning after several years away, I find vast swaths of rural Wisconsin being heedlessly vandalized by industrial wind turbines, monstrosities that produce no useful output except tax breaks and carbon offsets for fat cats in Chicago and New York.
This series of letters appearing in the Wisconsin State Journal provide important insights into how Wisconsin residents feel wind energy facilities in their communities and the State's efforts to assume authority over all siting of wind farms.
To the champions of wind power, the resistance is benighted and intolerable. "In a state that prides itself on its progressive renewable standards," says Eric Callisto, chairperson of Wisconsin's Public Service Commission, "getting our wind resources stymied at the local level is not acceptable." But to wind power critics, those restrictive local ordinances are enlightened and appropriate. Cartoonist Lynda Barry, a fixture in the Reader for years and now a Wisconsin resident, says she used to support wind power but believes its partisans have shut their eyes and ears to its victims, to people suffering physical ailments caused by living near the turbines.
About eight months ago, Melissa Smedema got wind of We Energy's plans to set up a 90-turbine wind farm in the Columbia County towns of Scott and Randolph. She said she went door to door in Wisconsin communities where wind farms already exist, and heard stories of noise, vibrations, headaches, dizziness and sleepless nights.
The more we delve into the massive wind farm proposed by the Wind Capitol Group for Smelser Township, the more our concern grows. Smelser Township is too thickly populated. The land is rich farmland and produces wonderful crops. It would be a shame to ruin it. It should be strictly agriculture.
As wind-power generation has ramped up, so have concerns about the health effects of living near wind farms. Although major environmental groups such as Greenpeace and the National Resources Defense Council have voiced strong support for wind power, opposition from a few grassroots anti-wind power groups potentially could hinder development in populated areas.
You don't have to travel far to investigate the reports of health concerns. In a recent listening session held by state Senator Joe Leibham in Fond du Lac County, over 50 people shared concerns including negative health effects attributed to the turbines since the project went on line. Many report jet engine and wooshing sounds day and night, sleep problems, headaches, dizziness, exhaustion, and depression.
It's sad when those who support wind energy have no engineering facts to back their opinion and often resort to name calling to discredit the Wisconsin Independent Citizens Opposing Wind Turbine Sites (WINDCOWS). Far too often, the effects that farmers face are overlooked. Misled into contracts like rats to poison, they, along with their neighbors, are left at the mercy of the developer.
It is still too early for ITC Holdings Corp. to pinpoint the routes for its Green Power Express, but Dane County representatives already are skeptical of a path through the region. "People try to sell lots of ideas with green trimmings," said Dane County Supervisor Kyle Richmond. "But we'll still want to know who's going to pay for it, if they're guaranteed profit and if there's a reasonable analysis of the need for this project."
Not long after the wind turbines began to spin in March near Gerry Meyer's home, his son Robert, 13, and wife, Cheryl, complained of headaches. They have trouble sleeping, and Cheryl Meyer, 55, sometimes feels a fluttering in her chest. Gerry is sometimes nauseated and hears crackling. The culprit, they say, is the whooshing sound from the five industrial wind turbines near the 6-acre spread where they have lived for 37 years.
Do you live inside an industrial wind farm? I do. I live within the Forward-Invenergy project. It is a tremendous invasion of our life style and a horrible happening to our area. My wife, our 13-year-old son and I have experienced headaches, nausea, light headedness, lack of sleep because we hear them in all rooms of our house ...I trusted the elected officials of the town and county and the state's public service commission. That was a terrible mistake. If you allow large industrial limits closer than the set backs I mentioned above you will regret it. It will divide your community.
Although the 400-foot turbines can sometimes delay air medical rescues, emergency personnel are trained to cope artfully with such situations, said Claire Rayford, spokesperson for Flight for Life ...The pilot decides what is safe and makes a decision based on many different factors at the time of the incident, Rayford said.
It's a plan, not everyone is thrilled about. On a stretch of land, just southwest of Fond du Lac, Curt Kindschuh lives near a windmill farm. It's an area where Flight for Life and Theda Star say landing could be extremely tough, and that's why pilots are being told to avoid it, even if there's an emergency.
The modern windmills may create clean energy but they are a clear and present danger to air ambulances. Milwaukee-based Flight for Life has notified first responders in Fond du Lac County that air ambulances will not land near the windmill clusters here. "They are up in the air," said Flight for Life's Claire Rayford. "We have to be aware of them. Depending on how high they are, they may not be lit."
The state Legislature will try again to establish statewide wind farm standards, but the one-size-fits-all approach faces the same opposition. ..."It's a scary prospect to put (turbines) in here among all the homes," said Mike Luethe, chairman of the town of Ridgeville, which last week joined the town of Wilton in passing an ordinance establishing half-mile setbacks for wind farms. "Local governments should still have a say in the matter."
Wind energy, again. Lately there have been a number of letters to the editor from people living in the city of Fond du Lac advising us, living in the rural area, on what wind turbines are all about. Apparently the turbine noise problem will go away if someone raises enough (hybrid) crickets to cover the wind-blade sound. If anybody is interested enough, our average 12 mph wind does produce a quite audible puffing, which changes with wind direction. At the side of the blades, noise is not too bad. The front side produces the loudest sound; the rear, a little less. Gusting winds increase the noise level.
Fitchburg 's McKee Farms Park could have an added attraction this summer -- a small and what some say will be quiet -- wind turbine. Known as an "urban turbine, " it looks similar to a 30-foot flagpole topped with a 12-foot rotating helix. "This is not one of those big propeller things, " said Fitchburg administrator Tony Roach. Madison Gas & Electric proposed the turbine for the Fitchburg park because it wants a visible spot to demonstrate and monitor the technology that some day customers could use to power their homes or businesses, said John Drury, business development manager for MGE.
I finally decided to write my opinion on the wind turbine towers. Actually it's more my personal experience. ...I would challenge anyone who thinks wind turbines make little or no noise to live next to one 24/7 for two weeks straight. Then they might be qualified to speak accurately on the subject. The wind turbines are noisy!
Jim Congdon said two friends living in the town of Byron are experiencing significant sound problems and constant blade flicker since the $250 million Forward Wind Energy Center began operating. "It's extremely irritating," he said. "What is the company going to do with somebody like that?" Laura Miner, asset manager associate for Chicago-based Invenergy Wind LLC, said it's currently fielding all complaints . "What we did when we built the project was to have a 1,000-foot setback and try to prevent some of those things from happening," she said. "Now we're doing drive-by tests and going up to the houses to try to gauge what's going on."