Living by wind farms no breeze, some say
November 24, 2009 by Tina Lam in Detroit Free Press
LANSING -- Dozens of angry people showed up at a public meeting Monday to complain to the Public Service Commission about how their lives have been changed for the worse by annoying wind turbines, and to recommend that if the state plans thousands more, they should be built as far as possible from homes.
Some neighbors of 78 turbines in the Thumb area said they are constantly disturbed by vibrations they can feel inside their bedrooms, the inability to sleep and a persistent hum that can't be drowned out by earplugs or masked with background noise.
"I am the collateral damage," said Mary Nowak of Ubly, where a wind farm opened a year ago. Nowak said three giant turbines behind her house have led to pounding sounds she can't escape.
"We've been chased out of our home," said Marilyn Peplinski, whose family spends some nights in an apartment.
The mostly anti-turbine crowd said those pushing for more wind energy in Michigan have paid too little attention to complaints about health issues and that turbine setbacks need to be much farther than Huron County's required 1,000 feet.
The commission is expected to report to state legislators soon on how many wind energy zones it recommends and whether the state should set requirements on setbacks and noise limits. Now, such decisions are made locally. A state wind board has recommended up to 4,000 turbines in four regions, including 2,800 in the Thumb.
Jeanne Henry, a real estate agent in Caseville, said she fears property values will plummet if turbines are closer than a mile to residences.
"We'll be an industrial blight zone," she said.
"If you make the setback a mile, there will be no more wind farms, I guarantee," said James Manning of J.W. Great Lakes Wind LLC, a Cleveland wind developer.
He said Michigan has plenty to gain from more wind development, including manufacturing jobs.