M is for Members of the Committee
and also for Mills FarmLife.
When a wind developer approaches your town board with the news that they plan on siting an industrial wind farm in your community, your local elected officials have two choices:
They can do nothing at all and allow the development to go forward with the wind developers setting the terms-
They can create an ordinance which protects the health, safety and welfare of residents and also protects the township roads from the inevitable damage that will occur during the turbine construction phase.
When a town decides to create an ordinance, they often declare a moratorium on wind development in order to have the time it takes to research and create the best ordinance possible.
They also often appoint study committees to look deeply into the issue and make recommendations to the Plan Commissioners.
Members of these committees are often residents of the community who volunteer their time to research these issues thoroughly.
When members of the Town of Union's Large Wind Turbine Study Committee were asked how they first heard about this issue and why they decided to volunteer for the study committee, here is what they had to say:
(To download the town of Union's Large Wind Ordinance, click here)
“When I was asked to chair this committee, I made it clear that I would only do so if the committee agreed that it would 'go where the evidence takes us'.
At the time, many of the as yet uncontested arguments in favor of local wind turbine siting were persuasive; and besides, there was the PSC-approved, state 'model ordinance' to protect us.
Well, when the committee's hard work almost immediately produced uncontroverted evidence that the model ordinance had absolutely zero influence from scientific or medical research, and was in fact, written almost entirely by the wind industry itself, and blessed by the PSC, I realized that the whole proposed project was built on a foundation of sand.
More importantly, I realized that since the state government could not be counted on to provide credible guidance, it would be up to the local community to do its own homework on the issues.
I couldn't be more proud of the individuals and professionals I had the privilege of working with in pursuit of an ordinance that actually does protect the health and safety of my neighbors, as well as the legitimate interests of the wind industry.”
Professor of Criminal Justice, Rock Valley College, Rockford
Judge, Evansville Municipal Court
Chairman of the Town of Union’s Study Committee
Resident of the Town of Union, Rock County, Wisconsin
December 23, 2008
“I got involved because a neighbor brought the issue to my attention. I was all for alternative energy, and I still am.
However, the wind developers spoke only of how positive these were and I know from 22 years of law enforcement experience that there are two sides to every story so I agreed to research the issue and I was absolutely stunned at what I found out.
There not only is another side to the turbines, but it is a side nobody from the wind development camp will talk about. I also was shocked at the high level of deceit and deception used by those trying to develop wind turbines. This absolutely shocked me, and it still does.
What I uncovered, was that there was clearly no consideration for those living near the turbines and the consequences involved for those that have to live near these huge industrial machines.
There was no medical and scientific research used in determining setbacks, as the erection of turbines was based solely on financial gain and/or financial motivation. ”
Evansville Chief of Police
School Chair of Criminal Justice at
ITT Technical Institute in Madison Wis.
Resident of the Town of Union, Rock County, WI
December 9, 2008
“We first heard about the wind turbines from a family member. He had heard that someone in the Town of Union was talking to a wind developer.
I called a neighbor who farms and asked what he knew about the turbines. He told me that he was going to be a turbine host and his sister and cousin were also interested.
The first and biggest red flag was that the wind developer refused to acknowledge that there were any issues with the turbines. We decided we better find out more. We started collected information from groups around the world that had experience with industrial wind turbines. The more we looked into the issue, the more concerned we became.
The wind developer and the power provider made their first presentation to the Plan Commission and at the next Plan Commission meeting there was a public hearing about wind development. The outcome was a consensus of opinion to take the necessary time to explore wind turbines and develop an ordinance.
A Plan Commission member suggested recommending a moratorium to the Town Board. The Town attorney said a moratorium can be enacted so an ordinance can be developed without pressure of applications. The first moratorium was for 12 months.
After the Plan Commission discussed the idea of forming a citizens committee to research information to use to develop an ordinance, a notice was posted for people to apply for this committee. Since we had already done several months of research, we decided to apply.
Cathy & Jim Bembinster
Small Business Owners
Manufacturers of Commercial Cabinetry
Residents of the Town of Union, Rock County, Wisconsin
December 10, 2208
“I first heard about the proposed Industrial Wind Turbine project for Union Township from a member of our Plan Commission. He informed us the developers had already contacted landowners in the area and offered contracts for siting the turbines.
This prompted me to go on-line to get some information about industrial wind turbines, the pros and cons of these machines. After reviewing the State Model Ordinance for siting these giant turbines, it was clear there wasn't any research done on the health consequences of placing these turbines close to homes. I was convinced more study needed to be done to protect the Health and Safety of Wisconsin residents and volunteered for the study committee.”
Mrs. Susan Pestor
Client Support Analyst II for WPS Health Insurance
Resident of the Town of Union, Rock County Wisconsin
December 10, 2008
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: In the upcoming weeks we will be hearing from other members of similar study committees from all over our state. The map below shows where wind developers have already proposed development in our state or are currently prospecting for sites.
(Scroll down to read Parts One and Two of this series)
Today we feature two more letters printed in the most recent issue of Mill's Farm Life regarding concerns about siting industrial wind turbines too close to homes.
But before we look at those two letters, let's look at one of the letters sent to Mills Farm Life that didn't get printed. This one is from someone who is living in the middle of a windfarm in Fond du Lac County where the setbacks are 1000 feet from the home of a non participating landowner and as close as 440 feet for a participating landowner.
Dear Doug Peerbolt,
I am hoping this email reaches you.
I pulled the address out of a publication called FarmLife that is circulated here in Wisconsin through Mills Fleet Farm.
I wanted to take a minute and respond to your article on Wind Turbines.
I live in south Fond du Lac County in a wind farm project built by Invenergy LLC.
It consists of 86 wind turbines which is supposed to be phase one of a 133 wind turbine project.
This project alone with 2 other neighboring projects makes up close to 300 wind turbines now standing in our area.
Your article reflected both sides but leaves the reader with the impression that wind turbines are the answer to our electrical needs.
Wind turbines in Wisconsin is nothing but a scam, and here’s why.
When the energy companies state that they will provide enough electricity for thousands of homes, they are taking the rated capacity of the wind farms and dividing it by average home use.
Homes use very little electricity compared to the overall usage on the grid which is around 700 kilowatt hours per month.
It takes almost a 30 mile per hour to produce the rated capacity of a GE wind turbine which is 1.5 megawatts.
Some people have a hard time standing in a 30 mile per hour wind.
When the winds are lower, the capacity drops off sharply.
How many homes are provided with electricity when the wind isn’t blowing?
This summer there where many days of light winds when the turbines were turning. This is because they were powered until the winds became strong enough for the turbine to produce its own electricity.
That’s right, they were using electricity.
Imagine, 86 wind turbines using electricity all day, waiting for wind.
The real drive for wind energy in Wisconsin is money. There is a ton of money out there that the wind energy companies will use to line their pockets. And to make this happen they will pay off the State, County, Townships and landowner to build wind farms.
I am angry at a lot of people these days, mostly for allowing a wind turbine to be placed 1100 feet from my home. This has changed the quality of my life.
Watch this video that I made. It is called “The Wind Isn’t Free”. This 8 minute video tells some of my story.
There is so much to tell but I have taken up enough of your time. I wish that when they talk about Green Energy in Wisconsin that they would put a dollar sign behind the Green.
Thanks for the time,
(Click on the image below to watch the video made by Larry Wunsch)
From Stockbridge, Wisconsin:
While reading your article about wind turbines, I looked at one of the phonts which depicted domineering wind turbines over a farmstead.
Growing up on a dairy farm, this created a huge conflict for me.
When I think of "green". I don't think of giant spinning industrial machines consuming my farm or a township, a maze of underground high-voltage lines criss-crossing fields, and continuous noise or hundreds of red flashing lights reflecting off of everything in my yard or in windows of my house every night.
I think we all understand the need to develop alternative energy, with the recent uncomfortable feeling about the supply and cost of energy, however, it has brought attention to our current unsustainable energy appetite which has forced us to curb energy use and pay enough to make alternatives viable.
However, because we allowed energy to become an emergency, governments "cut red tape" and inadequate model wind ordinances were created in haste to deal with the "emergency".
Wind turbine industrial parks quickly consumed townships, lakeshore communities, making this a huge test plot without any provisions for the unknown which took many residents by surprise at the lack of organization or regulation.
Because of lower energy costs we now have a second change to develop wind energy in a much more responsible manner without the looming threat of unobtainable energy or an "energy emergency".
We should decided who is ultimately responsible for outcome and TOTAL cost, and have a system in place to enforce this before we, as a community or country decide what is responsible, cost-effective and is in the best interest of the community as a whole.
I don't think anyone is naive to the health risks, the property value issues, possible environmental [issues], the development potential issues, not to mention the impact on the aesthetics of pristine lake shore areas, the impact on wildlife.
We just need someone to step-up and accept responsibilities for these risks.
It has always been my view that for every right someone may have, there is a matching responsibility that should not be separated or allowed to be ignored.
Ask government, wind developers or landowners to hold to this basic ethic. I would ask my fellow landowners, energy consumers who sponsor wind energy, wind developers, and local-through-federal government to consider taking a lot at what total responsibility associated with sponsoring a turbine might entail, and then take personal responsibility to follow through with that responsibility.
Joel D. Portman
Another Reader Writes:
The issue of industrial wind turbine is very serious to each and every one of us, but is an extremely serious issue if you live too close and are being subject to low and high frequency noise, shadow flicker, ice throws, and loss of property values.
At one time I was in favor of anything considered "green" without really knowing all the facts.
On viewing the wind association's sites, it looks great but I realized this is a big industry that wants to make big money.
Most people do not really care as long as it produces electricity, keeps the cost down and helps to stop global warming and the energy crisis. Would you care about [wind turbines] if they did none of these things or did it very poorly?
This spring at the Calumet County Board meeting in Chilton, Wisconsin, the LLC Wind [developers] were asked the efficiency rate of turbines in this county.
The answer was 33 percent, which means that 67 percent of the time we would receive our electricity from other sources.
We will pay more for our energy bills, not less, since the other sources can not be shut down and expected to be on line when needed.
If our country and we as taxpayers wold be paying four and a half million a turbine, we should expect to get the same efficiency as we do from natural gas, coal, hydro, and nuclear power.
Wind energy can never be depend upon to be available when we need it as [wind farms] are being built in areas that do not support enough wind.
[At the wind plant in neighboring] Brownsville, efficiency was at 17% in the Invenergy Quarterly Report, so 33% is most likely high.
Problems with efficiency is not the only issue.
People who live too close to turbines are developing health issues due to noise.
These problems range from problems sleeping, headaches, exhaustion, nausea and more.
Google "Wind Turbine Syndrome" and "University of Wisconsin's Noise Survey- Lincoln Township Wind Turbine Survey"
Wisconsin, many other states, and Canada allow turbines to be built 1000 feet from homes against the recommendations made by scientists and doctors in the US and Europe who recommend a minimum setback of up to one and a half miles.
Even [wind lobbyists] RENEW Wisconsin at one time recommended such setbacks.
Without safe setbacks people must deal with high and low frequency noise.
From Ad Hoc Committee Member:
"In my studies as a member of the Calumet County Ad Hoc Committee on Wind Energy and the Township of Chilton's Wind advisory Committee (to help create ordinances to control the construction of industrial wind turbines) we reviewed material on many issues, both pro and con.
But the impact of wind turbine sound was the greatest concernthat people had.
We looked at many different siting setback distances in addition to the 1,000 feet used in the State of Wisconsin's Model Wind Ordinance.
Based [on] Dr. Nina Pierpont's research into health effects on people living near wind turbines, many sound engineers now recommend at least one and one half miles to protect people from the effects of low frequency sound.
Low frequency sounds can not be heard but are felt by people who live near wind turbines. They have described it as a "feeling " in their chest.
Often the sound that the industrial wind energy developers say a wind turbine makes is the same as your refrigerator running- a sound we hear every day.
I would like to give you the real story.
Your refrigerator gives a very monotone sound and it does not run 24/7, located in the kitchen where we are active and other noises fill the room.
If it were in your bedroom and turned on and off every few seconds would it be hard for you to sleep? Of course it would!
Wind turbine sound can easily go from being part of the normal background sounds to annoying and possibly hazardous noise pollution.
They have been described by some as a concrete truck constantly mixing, and a jet that is coming but never gets here and never goes away.
It has been said the sound of the wind in the trees and other vegetation will mask the sound of the wind turbine. However, it is not unusual for the wind to be calm at ground level and the wind turbine will still be running full speed up on it's 240 foot pedestal.
These problems can be reduced through proper placement of wind turbines and consideration of nearby homes and businesses.
"Noise Produced by Wind Turbines is Not A Major Concern for Humans Beyond a Half Mile" This is from a book titled: Environmental Impacts of Wind Energy, Published in 2007 by the National Academy of Science, commissioned by the executive office of the President's Council on Environmental Quality.
I feel that a half a mile sould be the minimum distance from a home.
Nobody should be allowed to enter into an agreement to reduce this distance because we may all have to bear the future medical needs of that person or their family. The individual's health is the most important issue.
We have a duty to protect everyone while we find ways to use renewable energy sources.
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: Wind developers are often comparing industrial turbine noise to that of a refrigerator. But where did that comparison come from? After some research, a colleague of ours traced it back to Tom Gray of the American Wind Energy Association.
Click on the image below to find out more:
In the most recent issue of Mills Farm Life, along with a cover story on the dairy farming practices of one of our favorite Wisconsin cheese makers--The Crave Brothers---, there is a feature called
"Wind Turbines on the Skyline: Are they too close for comfort?
This feature is in response to a story on wind farms which ran in the winter issue. After Farm Life received a number of letters from people who had concerns that the whole story wasn't being told, Mills graciously decided to let a few of these letter writers have an opportunity to tell us more.
We thank people for taking the time to write these letters to Mill's Fleet Farm about this important issue and we thank Mill's Fleet Farm for printing them.
The first letter is from a retired physics teacher:
"I read your article and think you did a good job of informing the public about wind turbines. I was one of the two physics teachers on the Calumet County Wind Turbine Study Committee.
We read material from many different sources, visited wind farms, and listened to experts on various topics connected with wind turbines. We debated articles that we read as to whether they were fact or opinion.
The United States needs wind turbines as a source of energy but the wind turbines should be kept far enough away from the people who live there so that they are not exposed to excessive noise.
The 1000 feet [setback] was OK when turbines were 0.6 megawatts but modern wind turbines are larger and noisier.
The distance should be at least 1800 feet and in some cases 5000 feet.
If a temperature inversion occurs over the wind farm (when the air next to the ground is cooler than the air above the wind turbines) it will produce much more noise than normal because it causes the sound to be refracted (bent) back toward the ground.
The sound gets very loud at distances up to four miles and can last for a day or two.
The wind turbine builders know exactly what they want in a contract; the farmer does not and needs a lawyer.
These are some of the things that should be in the contract:
How far from the house will the turbine be?
How many roads, wires and pipes will be put on and into my land?
Is there any inflation payment which increases with time?
How long is the contract in force? (some leases are for 30 to 180 years)
How large and noisey of a turbine will be constructed?
How many decibels of noise will my family be exposed to?
If the noise is excessive, how is that problem solved?
Will the ground be returned to normal (top soil on top and sub soil below) after construction?
Who pays for the removal of the wind turbine?
Will the replacement turbine be larger and noisier than the present one?
Farmers will find it difficult to get the necessary information about wind turbines. When farmers sign leases, they apparently agree not to say anything negative about their wind turbines.
Many counties and towns in Wisconsin are passing ordinances involving wind turbines but wind turbine companies (most of which are owned by foreigners) have gotten around this by building wind farms larger than 100 megawatts, at which point, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin takes over regulation of the project and the county and town ordinances are ignored.
TOMORROW, another letter to Mill's Fleet Farm from a study committee member.