X is for FIX what's broken: Why these Johnsburg and Malone wind farm residents are asking for help -- UPDATE
Blue Sky Green Field Windfarm 2008.
The wind developers and the PSC assured the people of Johnsburg and Marshfield that the turbines sited 1000 feet from their homes would not be loud enough to bother them or keep them up at night, that shadow flicker would not be a problem, that they would suffer no negative health effects, that there would be no impact on wildlife or property values for that matter.
Over a year later it's clear to residents of yet another PSC- approved Fond du Lac County wind farm that none of this is true:
Contributed by Bob Nelson-KFIZ
The message Marshfield Town residents gave the Town Board Monday night was clear; they don’t believe their concerns about a local wind farm are being addressed. WE Energies operates the 88 turbines of the Blue Sky Green Field Wind Farm in Fond du Lac County’s Calumet and Marshfield Townships. Among the concerns expressed at the meeting were problems with noise from the turbines, shadow flicker, radio and television reception, dead bats and water fowl and more.
At the meeting was State Senator Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac). He says he’ll certainly keep the comments in mind as policy workers in the Capitol look at expanding alternative forms of energy.
Town Attorney John St. Peter will pass along the concerns to WE Energies officials and get back to the Board on what remedies they might have. He says without the benefit of a local agreement called the joint development agreement with the utility company they wouldn’t be able to do that.
Someone who lives among the turbines doesn’t feel the local elected officials are doing anything to address their problems. “We need to get new Town Board members because I believe that would be a huge benefit to look out for our best interest, rather than look out for WE Energies best interests,” says Bruce Dalka.
About 70 people attended the meeting in Mt. Calvary.
Contributed by Bob Nelson-KFIZ
3 March 2009
RED ALERT: This week, Wisconsin State Senator, Jeff Plale, (D-South Milwaukee) will introduce a bill which could hand over all siting of wind turbines to the PSC. The PSC approved the siting of turbines 1000 feet from homes in the wind farm. Residents are having a hard time living with the results. After you read this post, please go to the phone and call your legislators and ask them not to support Senator Plale's turbine reform bill.
Several residents living in the wind farm pictured above went on the radio today to talk about problems they are having with noise, shadow-flicker, loss of TV and radio reception, and the run-around they've been getting from when they ask for help.
A transcript of this interview is provided below. All pictures in this post are of the windfarm where these residents live.
Bob Nelson: Hello everyone — This morning on the Morning Show with Bob Hoffmaster [Bob Nelson is filling in], we’re going to spend some time talking to a group of residents from the Malone and Johnsburg area [Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin].
They'll be appearing at the Marshfield town board, at 8:00 on Monday evening, and the group is concerned about--- well-- they have some issues with wind farms in the area. Let's start out with Bruce first of all.
Bruce, maybe you can just make some opening remarks if you would.
Bruce: First, I'd like to thank you Bob, for letting this group come into the show and inform other residents regarding the concerns that we have been continuously dealing with the wind turbines and the town board: television reception, noise, flight for life, setbacks, just numerous situations that have been brought forth to the residents in the area ... and as we stand right now, we are in desperate need of the town board, local and state government to step forward and make major decisions on behalf of the residents, to see that not only us, who are affected already, but other local communities, do not get the same situation that we have been forced into.
And we actually have been forced into this. We've asked for referendums regarding the circumstance and we were turned down, straight out, point blank.
And we're asking for the residents in the near by area to come forward to this meeting so that they can be educated [about] the circumstances that we are forced to deal with.
And these things are not going to go away. They are here to stay. This is a life-term commitment to the residents that has devastated numerous things in our life and we need to have the other residents in the surrounding areas be aware of what they could possibly be looking forward to from the wind farm developers.
Bob: You already have the wind turbines there, what's-- why speak out now?
Bruce: How I see it, we've been bamboozled from day one. The wind farm developers snuck around, got gag orders signed from farmers, for the last-- probably close to three years.
Our town board never informed us properly of the possible situations, investigations were never done [about] the possible and known problems that could exist.
And for the residents, including me, the noise is just horrendous.
I got one 1012 feet from my house and three to four nights a week I am woken up on a regular basis. The noise, the shadow flicker, the health issues, low frequencies, and these things are devastating and they just destroyed my livelihood out there in what used to be a peaceful-- --you [could] open the window at night-- beautiful landscape. And that is no longer allowed.
Bob: We also have Chris, Larry, Jim and Elizabeth with us and maybe if one of you wants to talk-- Bruce had mentioned the shadow flicker do any of you—all right--Chris maybe you could talk about the impact that's having on you and on your life.
Chris: That issue directly affects my life. In about two weeks it will really being affecting my home.
What shadow flicker is basically it's when the sun rises up in the morning and gets right behind the blades. The blades kind of cut out the sunlight, if you will, and create this shadowing effect.
So when you're inside a home or even on the property it's as if there is a strobe light going on. And it can occur for about two hours. That's what I've experienced. You can't tolerate it. I can't tolerate it. Within a couple of minutes I become almost disoriented, nauseous, I have to leave the property.
Chris: No. I do not get the headaches. Some people have claimed that they do but no, I do not get the headaches. Just the disorientation, dizziness and the nauseousness.
And it does take hours to recoup from that. It's not like once you walk away, you're good. It takes a few hours to recover from it.
Bob: Have you had to go to see a physician for any of those problems?
Chris: I have not. Because I 've just opted to not be there when it's occurring. I know what the problem is. But what am I to do? I can't shut off the turbine.
Bob: Any of the rest of you have problems with the shadow flickering?
Jim: I've had shadow flickering happen. Generally it will happen for half an hour at a time. It wakes me up in the morning because it'll come up with the sun. Very early in the morning for probably a good half a year.
And I've also experienced my birds losing production and eggs and that kind of stuff. You can't recoup from that. And how do you tell a bird to ignore it. You can't.
And I can't be there to put a shade in front of it to block out the sunlight and then open the window back up, because I'd have to take a lot of time out of my day to run home from work and back to work again.
Bob: Bruce mentioned the noise. Do you find a problem with that too?
Jim: Yeah. I've had a lot noise. During the summer I have to shut the windows and turn the air conditioning on in order to overcome the problems and I take sleeping pills to help sleep at night.
Bob: You have anything to add over there, Elizabeth?
Elizabeth: Yes I do. This last week or so we've been getting a lot of grinding sound on the turbines. Along with the wind I woke up [from] a dead sleep, and I couldn't get back to sleep anymore.
It is just-- I don't know what word to use to describe the noise that it makes. And it's just continuous. It just doesn't stop at all.
Bob: Does it cause any kind of electrical problems at all?
Elizabeth: Not that we're aware of yet. We have a lot of problems with our TV.
I have yet to watch TV without being interrupted. There are times it will black out, and I'll call Dave, Dave Ransom, to come and fix it, and he'll tell me to reboot it and I have to disconnect it for twenty minutes and then I can watch my TV show again.
But in that twenty minutes, I miss my TV show.
Bob: Is that a satellite?
Elizabeth: Yes. I had just satellite up and that was not good. So he put two more up.And he thought that would take care of the problem.
But that didn't take care of the problem either. So he put in another receiver, and he said that should take care of it. Well, that hasn't either.
So the other day, Monday, I was watching the weather and the screen just turned all yellow. Then it came back in a few minutes again. That was it.
Bob: Larry, we haven't heard from you yet. Maybe you want to pipe in.
Larry: I live out there also and I've got towers on all four sides of me.
We did have a lot of trouble with the TV. He has fixed it. it seems to be working now.
We get the flicker--just to get a perspective on the flicker, if you've driven down a road with a bunch of trees next to it and the sun is coming through the trees and it's an on/off thing-- that's what the flicker is but with 1.4 second frequency.
You get the shadow for a jiffy and then the light and then the shadow and the light. It's very distracting.
Bob: It's doesn't sound like you're going to get much time to talk to the town board about what you want to say. If you had the chance to do that here, what would you tell them? Who wants to start? Bruce?
Bruce: Regarding the town board. I don't know if they have been bamboozled as much as we have.
I know some officials on our town board do in fact have wind turbines on their property, which the town board has to realize-- that this is a serious issue.
And we're hoping that the town board, local, statewide, will see to it that the possibility of the town board being biased in any way shape or form for or against future wind turbines and-- the possibility of more coming into the area-- that they should not be allowed to vote for the wind turbine project to be developed.
This must go to a referendum to the residents in the area. Along with when we do have an issue that we're begging the town board to please help us.
We need to come to them for help because when we call the wind farm developer, WE Energies, we get shuffled around,
we have to make long distance phone calls on a regular basis, then we get shuffled from-- this is the problem with the TV issue,--OK, we'll come out, take a look at it, --he'll sit an watch TV for three hours, OK, then he'll change one wire around, OK, then he wants to come back and sit and watch TV again.
I'm on my third receiver.
There's absolutely no sense to what we the residents have to put up with when the town board virtually forced us, with no opposition what-so-ever, any say-- now we're coming to the Town board for their help.
And I hope and pray they will give us the time that we deserve, and honestly, deep-down inside understand that this is an issue that is not going to go away.
Bob: Who is actually benefiting from the electricity produced by the wind turbines?
Bruce: Numerous stories that I was told-- that who is actually benefiting -- we could talk for hours regarding that.
The farmers are benefiting. They've signed contracts to lease the land to the wind farm developer.So they are benefiting but they are losing just as much as we are because they have to tolerate everything that we have to tolerate, let alone the loss of their crops for the mega-driveways they put in, the turbine land itself.
I don't think they are benefiting as much as they should have benefited, like the turbines down south, the farmers down there are benefitting close to twice as much as the farmers around where we are.
We're not looking to benefit, as residents around here. We discussed this through the residents. We just want the things that are broke to be fixed.
And according to my understanding, WE Energies, it is their responsibility to see that these things are fixed and they are not fulfilling their responsibility.
Bob: I don't know what kind of remedy you guys are trying to get. Are you asking the board to kind of act on your behalf?
Bruce: Yeah. I think an awesome solution would be the Town Board has to step in and put someone in the middle between the town board and WE Energies to oversee the issues and be a separate entity to go around and get actual true facts from people and go to WE Energies and say
'these are the problems, these are the issues from this person, this person, this person. And these are on record and we need something done to remedy this.'
And that has to be followed through by the town board to keep a regular agenda of the issues .... so that they don't fall through the cracks.
I believe, I honestly believe, they think we're just going to forget about this and we're going to go away. Well. We're not going to go away. We're there just as long as the wind turbines are.
Bob: Have you tried to approach any of our state legislators about this?
Bob: Yes sir. Senator Liebham has come to a meeting in Pipe. A very nice gentleman.
He understands our issues. Has been to numerous visits in our area. He is working on legislation to make certain ordinances law, which they have to be. [Issues about] Setbacks are huge.
I have documentation from WE Energy that states none of their employees are allowed to be within 1300 feet from a wind turbine that is running. If one of the turbines catches fire, anyone within 1300 feet is mandatory-evacuated. I have documentation right straight from them.
... And I don't see --If they don't feel their employees are safe within 1300 feet from any running wind turbine--- how they can allow to have these things 1000 feet from any someone's house. It just don't make no sense. Let alone you got kids running around out playing in the yard.
Possibility of ice throw that's been documented. Wildlife has been destroyed around us. This whole thing has--
I think WE Energies has opened up a huge can of worms. They did not, were not aware of all the issues that [have] arisen. You know.
We're not here to beat up WE Energies or the town board. We just want the issues repaired. That's the only thing we're asking for.
Bob: Again, the meeting is Monday night at eight, Marshfield town board, and where do they hold their meetings?
Bruce: They generally only have a very small crowd. It might be just the board or maybe maximum of five people attending. This is the reason we appreciate you having us on here.
Surrounding areas, in my opinion, it's mandatory you come to this meeting, and find out how these things can devastate your life not just by the sound and shadow flicker and wildlife going away, but in this economy, Bob, it's hard to identify the loss of value of a property but if you got property, similar house, we've got documentation from people saying the aint gonna build or buy anyones house near a wind turbine.
To prove it now with the economy it's hard to do. Common sense tells you that if you're living a thousand feet from a wind turbine that sounds like a jet on a regular basis, they're not going to buy the house. You're going to have to drop the value of your house, twenty, thirty thousand dollars to get rid of it.
Bob: Again, where is the meeting going to be?
Bruce: It's the Marshfield Townboard meeting and it's in the Town of Mt. Calgary, it's on the east side of town, on Fond du Lac Avenue, the address is 999 Fond du Lac Avenue, I believe. At the fire station.
Bob: Before we wrap things up any of you want to add something, maybe I didn't ask a question you wanted to bring up?
Chris: I'd like to just add onto what Bruce is saying. Basically, what we are trying to do is raise awareness. When we talk to people that are not from the area, they are surprised that they make noise. "Really, the wind turbines make noise?" They are just so surprised at that.
We want to make clear to the residents too that we were never told about Flight for Life not being able to land as they once were.
We were told there would be minimal interference with our televisions and radios, and it's obviously different than we were told.
And we're hoping that people who are having problems, or are not aware of the Flight for Life issue, that's a huge issue, we hope they'll come out and just listen to Bruce and some of us talk and maybe learn something.
Larry: We were also not informed about the red lights. And I suppose they can see that from town, maybe. But out there it's pretty obnoxious.
Bob: You mean on top of the turbines?
Larry: They're not on top of all of them, but they are around the perimeter. We were also informed that the sound would be equivalent to a refrigerator in your bedroom. Well, I don't have a refrigerator in my bedroom, but it's a lot noisier than the one I have in my kitchen, the towers are.
Bob: Jim you look like you wanted to add something there so we're gonna throw it to you for a second here.
Jim: We'll, I do a lot of work in my shop at home and the biggest problem for me is the radio reception because now I cannot listen to some of my favorite radio programs. Like I said, TV reception, I've had people looking at my TV receiver for the dish and there's no fix for it. And what kind of life will you live if you're not able to enjoy your home values
Bob: Elizabeth, you want to pipe in one last time?
Elizabeth: Yes I would. I was wondering how about if we have all this interference how are we going to get any signals through when there is a distress time?
You know if we had a tornado or something?
I don't get the waves coming through to have my TV or like you said, even the radio.
How are we going to get anything to take care of that? What are we going to have for that? What will we need?
Bob: Do you have sirens in the area?
Elizabeth: Yes we do.
Bob: Can you hear them over the wind turbines?
Elizabeth: I don't know.
Bob: Well let's hope you don't find out this coming spring and summer.
Elizabeth: But I would like to know an answer to my question.
Bob: Ladies and Gentlemen thank you for being on the show.
March 2, 2008
KFIX, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: Click on the image below to watch someone all the way across the country telling the same story. Unexpected noise and other trouble and the run-around from the developer and the town board. There are more and more stories like this every day.
Click on the image below to see examples of wind turbine shadow flicker in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin.