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9/24/08 How close is too close? Wind turbine Noise and Shadow Flicker in Wisconsin, How Wind Developers in Our Community Play with the Truth, and a letter from a pastor and his wife who are living with turbines.

In Rock County, wind developers have presented plans to put as many as 67 wind turbines in the town of Magnolia's 36 square miles. Each turbine is 40 stories tall. They have plans for at least three turbines in the town of Union, and they have been prospecting in Center and Spring Valley as well. Because developers tend to be secretive and often change their stories, it's hard to know exactly what their plans for our community are, and sadly the people who will be most affected are usually the last to know.

Yesterday the Janesville Gazette reported that EcoEnergy wind developer, Curt Bjurlin ,claimed he had permission from three landowners in Center township to submit applications for FAA clearance for  turbines on their property. When the Gazette contacted the three landowners, all of them said they had not given EcoEnergy or Mr. Bjurlin permission to do this.

One of the landowners is the Chairman of Center township. Wind developers often contact board members of townships with offers of hosting turbines on their land. We assume it's in the belief that the permitting process will then be made easier. 
(click here to read the Gazette story)

In January, there will be a big push in Madison to take away local control over where turbines can be in our communities and hand it to the Public Service Commission. The PSC believes 1000 feet is an adequate setback from our homes, though an open records request has revealed that not a single bit of scientific or medical data was used to come up with this number. There is plenty of scientific and medical data to show that a forty story tall turbine with known noise and shadow flicker problems should not be 1000 feet from a home.  Common sense will tell you the same thing.

Watch this video and see why. For those whose internet connection isn't fast enough to view the video, please email us at betterplan.rockcounty@gmail.com with your address and we'd be happy to send you a copy. You can also write us at Better Plan, Rock County  P.O. Box 393, Footville, WI 53537.

If your township doesn't already have an ordinance to protect residents, why not drop your town clerk a line asking that work on an ordinance begin? Better yet, why not attend a town meeting and make the request in person? Your future could depend on it.

Here's a letter from someone living with turbines on the East Coast. The story they tell is strikingly similar to the stories that are coming to us from Fond du Lac County. This letter was written on 3/26/08 by Mark and Kate Harris, Mars Hill, Maine. Mark is a pastor and Kate is a hospital administrator.

"You have asked for a description of how our lives have been affected by the wind farm on Mars Hill. These comments may be used in any way you please in assisting your town in making their decisions. I serve three congregations here as their pastor and my wife is an administrator in the area hospital. We moved here four years ago, coming from Vermont. We reside in the town of Bridgewater, Maine, which is eight miles from Mars Hill. We have purchased eighty acres on Mars Hill with the intention of building a home and living there when we retire. Unfortunately this cannot happen with the wind farm destroying the peace and safety of the residents all along the east and north sides of the mountain.

What has convinced us that we [can]not invest ourselves and our life savings here are our own observations, not what someone else has said. Over the past four years we have been working on establishing our boundaries, cutting in roads, developing a potable water source, thinning and pruning a maple sugar orchard, releasing and pruning apple trees, and establishing the best site for our house. In the last year, it has become increasingly clear that we will not be able to tolerate the intermittent and intense sounds coming from the turbines. When the wind comes from the west or the northwest, there is a rhythmic pounding that exceeds the permitted level of sound, namely in excess of fifty decibels. The nature of the sound is that it has a major low frequency component that makes the sound penetrate homes. My own experience is that when I am cutting with my chainsaw, when I put on my helmet with the hearing protectors, the sound actually penetrates the protectors. They [hearing protectors] block out the sounds of birds, wind, tree in the wind, brook babble, but not the relentless pounding of the turbines. The sound penetrates Wendy Todd’s home when we have meetings there, as well as Merle Copperwaithe’s home when we meet there.

We are greatly disappointed that there is no one to address our plight. My neighbors along the Mountain Road are discouraged with the lack of integrity of the town fathers, the Department of Environmental Protection, and UPC, the [wind]farm’s developers, who all have just abandoned us to our plight. The notion of this being “clean power” is untrue. It is morally and ethically unclean. The town was lied to by representatives of the investors, the town fathers did not read the application before they co-signed the application, the DEP did not and still does not have the expertise to assess or monitor the wind farm and UPC cannot be trusted. We do not have wind-farm specific laws to protect us from these uncontrolled forces. You are at great risk if you let these people into your town. With an investment of eighty-five million dollars, people’s judgment begins to erode.

I was trained as a biologist and worked in medical research and the food industry, and my wife is a hospital administrator. The health field is an unanswered question when it comes to turbines near homes. We have seen research that is coming out regarding the health problems involved with long-term exposure to the wind turbines. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have more documentation than we do. The World Health Organization has recommended a two kilometer distance between a turbine and a dwelling. We have turbines within a thousand feet of a dwelling, with children in the family.

Your risk at the hands of these uninformed and overzealous and unscrupulous people is large. Let them put the turbines in wilderness areas and not near dwellings. Better safe than sorry, as my grandfather used to put it.

I hope this letter may be of some use to you. There are others in our group who have better firsthand experience than I. I hope they will assist you. Wendy and Perrin Todd have given of themselves to this community and you can trust them. They are good people and not just some whacks. They have integrity in our community and you can trust what they tell you. Any mud slung at them will not stick. They have served this community well.

If there is anything else we can do, let us know. May God help you as there is no one else presently able to if you should let these turbines come to town.

Mark and Kate Harris

Posted on Wednesday, September 24, 2008 at 08:15AM by Registered CommenterThe BPRC Research Nerd | Comments Off

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