How close to our homes should 40 story industrial wind turbines be built? The wind developers want to build them 1000 feet from our doors. A 1000 foot setback will make the project very profitable for them. But in a populated area like ours, safe set backs are a must. They won't be living amid the turbines for the next 40 years. We will. And we believe that any renewable energy plan worth supporting must first preserve and protect our four most important NON-RENEWABLES. Our Families, our Homes, our Community and our Land.
How tall is 40 stories? That's 11 stories taller than our state capitol dome. There is only one building in the state of Wisconsin taller than that, and it's in Milwaukee. It takes an average person less than 350 steps to cover 1000 feet. The members of our community who were part of the Town of Union's Large Wind Turbine Study Commitee found that for reasons of health and safety associated with noise, shadow flicker and other concerns, commercial scale wind turbines should not be built any closer than 2640 feet from our homes, and this is the recommended setback in their ordinance.
Here is more testimony from residents of the Town of Union, presented at the public hearing in support of the wind ordinance which includes a safe setback of 2640 feet.
We agree with every word of this well written document!
May 29, 2008 -- Town of Union Plan Commission Public Hearing. Written Comments Regarding the Town of Union Draft Large Wind Energy Ordinance
I am in favor of the Town of Union Draft Large Wind Energy Ordinance for primarily two reasons.
First, the ½ mile setback and sound level requirements in the draft ordinance protects Town of Union residents. The problems with siting large wind turbines too close to homes are very real and should not be discredited. Please consider the following facts:
• The study by Eja Pedersen cited by Eco Energy in its March 2008 Large Wind Turbine Health and Safety Report, titled Wind Turbine Noise, Annoyance and Self-Reported Health and Wellbeing in Different Living Environments, confirms that noise from large wind turbines is an adverse health effect. This study suggests that the closer people live to wind turbines, and especially at distances proposed by Eco Energy/WPPI, the more likely people will experience adverse health effects.
• The abstract of several PubMed Journal articles attached to my April 18, 2008 letter to the Plan Commission and Town Board demonstrates that noise and its effect on health is substantiated and well documented. (While few studies have been done concerning the direct effect of wind turbine noise on health, the lack of research does not and should not equate to safety. Technology often develops at a pace faster than society’s ability to adequately test and ensure its safety. Therefore, until the effects of wind turbines are adequately studied, the town should proceed cautiously and conservatively.)
• The World Health Organization – a respected and unbiased organization concerned with human health around the world – acknowledged the adverse effects of wind turbines by recommending that night noise should not exceed 30db.
• The National Research Council – a private, non-profit institution that provides science, technology and health policy advice for the National Academy of Sciences - prepared a report last year titled Environmental Impacts of Wind Energy Projects which concluded that noise is not a major concern if wind turbines are beyond ½ mile or so from homes.
• Finally, countries that have extensive experience with wind turbines recommend larger setbacks than those proposed by the State of WI and Eco Energy. For example:
• France recommends .93 miles from homes;
• Australia recommends .62 miles from homes;
• UK recommends 1 mile from homes.
The second reason why I support the Town of Union Draft Large Wind Energy Ordinance is that the ordinance does not prohibit wind energy development in the Town of Union as Eco Energy claims. The ordinance complies with Wis. Stat. 66.0401. The ordinance allows landowners to sell their rights to wind developers for the installation of wind turbines. The ordinance allows wind developers to make a profit and reap the government incentives for wind turbines. The ordinance even provides for non-participating landowners to enter into an agreement with wind developers for lesser setbacks to their homes. Most importantly, the ordinance establishes rules so that wind energy development in the Town of Union is done responsibly, sustainably and in a manner that provides a healthy and safe living environment for Town of Union residents.
In conclusion, a 2004 report co-authored by Michael Vickerman, titled A Study of Wind Energy Development in Wisconsin, advises that “for clean energy technology to be sustainable, it must be acceptable to the majority of people, and particularly to those who live near it”. I think the ordinance you are considering tonight, having been written by citizens of the Town of Union, fulfills this study’s advice.
[A note of thanks from the BPRC research nerd to the authors of this testimony.]