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3/29/09: What a Congressional Research Report says about setbacks: Why not read it? You paid for it. AND Why won't the Wisconsin State Journal tell the whole story?

Why did the people who once lived in this house have to abandon it?

And why won't the Wisconsin State Journal take this issue seriously?

The home in the photo above was made uninhabitable by wind turbine noise and vibration. The family who once lived here were forced to abandon their home in 2006. Three years later, it remains empty and unsold. To read more about this story, click here

When the United States Congress asked the Congressional Research Service to prepare a report on Wind Power in the United States, what setbacks did energy policy experts recommend in order to mitigate problems associated with turbine noise and shadow flicker?

The answer can be found on page 32 of the report: a minimum setback of 2640 feet.

American taxpayers spend nearly $100 million a year to fund the Congressional Research Service, a "think tank" that provides reports to members of Congress on a variety of topics relevant to current political events. We paid for this report. We'd like our lawmakers to pay attention to the results.

While wind developers continue to assert the adequacy of setbacks as close as 440 feet from participating landowner's homes, and 1000 feet from non-participating resident's homes, and as they continue to downplay serious noise and shadow flicker problems documented by residents of wind farms in Fond du Lac and Dodge Counties in Wisconsin, there is pending legislation which would make such setbacks mandatory for the entire state. (click here to find out more)

There is legislation to give Wisconsin State residents considerably less protection than recommended by the energy policy specialists who authored the Congressional Research Report entitled,

Wind Power in the United States: Technology, Economic, and Policy Issues

Download the entire Congressional Research Report report by clicking here

Order Code RL34546

Report prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
June 20, 2008

Page 32:

"All wind turbines produce mechanical and aerodynamic noise. Noise is thus a siting criterion for regulatory purposes.

Early wind turbine models were often loud, especially downwind versions (blades behind the generator). Newer models are designed to minimize noise.

Like visual aesthetics, wind turbine noise is often a matter of individual preferences and tolerances. For residences over 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) from a wind turbine, noise is generally not an issue.

Shadow flicker, also know as shadow casting or blinking, is defined as alternating changes in light intensity caused by the moving blades casting shadows on the ground or objects.

No flicker shadow will be cast when the sun is obscured by clouds or when the turbine is not rotating. This phenomenon can be annoying for residents who live very close to turbines.

Computer simulations can help project developers position turbines so that flicker does not interfere with nearby residences. Shadow flicker generally does not affect residences located 10 rotor diameters or more (about 0.5 miles) from the turbine, except possibly early in the morning or late in the evening when shadows are long.

Jeffrey Logan and Stan Mark Kaplan
Specialists in Energy Policy
Resources, Science, and Industry Division


Why won't the Wisconsin State Journal investigate the source of the PSC's 1000 foot setback? Why won't they send a reporter to investigate complaints of problems with turbine noise, shadow flicker and homes that will not sell in the wind farms of Fond du Lac and Dodge Counties? Why do they continue to use the word "NIMBY"?

To read the Wisconsin State Journal "Nimby" editorial which ran on March 20, 2009, click here.

This editorial cartoon ran on March 23, 2009

Readers sent in their responses, here is one of them:

"Your editorial on Friday, March 20, and your editorial cartoon on March 23 look more like a PR campaign in support of proposed legislation than a reasoned position and would have far more credibility if the WSJ had actually done some reporting on the issue of the placement of wind turbines too close to homes, rather than just editorializing.

It seems inconsistent that the WSJ with its strong interest in public information would not have investigated how the Public Service Commission arrived at their minimal setbacks.

As desirable as wind is as an alternative, non-fossil fuel source of energy, large turbine wind farms have already caused harm to Wisconsin residents where wind turbines have been placed too close to their homes. Anyone wanting to get an idea of living next to a large wind turbine can type in "wind turbines" at YouTube or look at betterplan.squarespace.com.

You trivialize the experiences of these people by your insistence on the NIMBY cliché.

Doug Zweizig

For residents of Wisconsin wind farms who are having trouble living with the noise and shadow flicker caused by 400 foot tall wind turbines sited too close to homes, the cartoon felt more like this:

This response was sent to the Wisconsin State Journal from the BPWI Research Nerd, who also did the alteration on the editorial cartoon above.,

"Dear Editor,

For the residents of the wind farms in Fond du Lac and Dodge County who are now suffering from turbine noise and shadow flicker problems, whose kids can’t sleep at night, and whose homes can find no buyers, the cartoon you featured of the man screaming the word “NIMBY” added to their hopelessness of ever having their story told.

Personally, that cartoon made me wonder why the Wisconsin State Journal is either ignoring this story or purposefully suppressing it. As journalists, you have an obligation to present the whole story. Instead, you consistently brush off the other side of the story off with the word “NIMBY”.


Even the evening news in Milwaukee at least took the issue seriously enough to send a reporter. Would you like to see what he found?

Here’s the report:


I’m a writer and a cartoonist and I’ve been working in print media all of my life. I’ve never had this experience with a paper before. Your absolute unwillingness to investigate the problems associated with putting turbines too close to homes and too close to sensitive wildlife areas is unlike any journalistic practice I know of. What on earth is behind it?

I’ve done work for NPR, the New York Times, The LA Times, Newsweek, Esquire, Salon.com and many other national and local publications. I tell you this in the hopes that you may pause and at least momentarily regard me as a colleague, before you write me off as yet another NIMBY.

As a colleague, I’m telling you there is a BIG Wisconsin story here. There are big problems. People are in misery. Why won’t you cover this story?

Home for sale, near the Town of Byron, Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin Winter 2008

All of the following photos were taken in the last year in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties.


"I bet none of the pro wind people commenting on sound or health effects live in an industrial wind farm.

I live in the Forward project erected by Invenergy of Chicago, IL. It is h- - -, to put it mildly.

For you who say you drove out and parked under a wind turbine and didn't hear any annoying sound you are not too bright, but you do fit right in to the energy company's way of doing business.

They take people out, park at the base of a turbine and let them to listen.

I thought we all knew sound [...] emanates from the source. In the case of large industrial wind turbines the sound is louder at 1500’ than 1000’ at my house.

To [the person who was] commenting on shadow flicker that “a camera is linear vs. the eye which is logarithmic” is nonsense to the families that are experiencing shadow flicker.

It is somewhat like a child turning the light switch on and off as fast as he can or a camera flash going off continuously.

Energy companies say shadow flicker is minimal and “can” be eliminated by [pre-construction]computer [modeling]programs.

Can be, but won’t be eliminated. Is 41 minutes a day twice a year for six weeks, minimal? [84 days out of the year--]. I don’t think so.

Sound is like that of a jet taking off or flying over, but it continues for days at a time. Often two of the industrial turbines are pounding away with the sound of a Chinook helicopter lifting a heavy load.

Some pro-wind people say “I live near the highway, or train tracks or airport.

First of all those sounds last a few minutes at a time. Industrial wind turbines emit their sound for hours and days-at-a-time emitting low frequency noise that often we may not hear, however the body knows is present, therefore sleep is non-existent, or interrupted.

Some feel their sleep is OK, but no longer dream-- meaning no deep sleep.

Many of the residents of this Invenergy industrial wind farm are experiencing many health affects from the constant sound and vibrations such as: migraines and other headaches, dizziness, nausea, loss of balance, tenseness, anxiety, lack of motivation, loss of memory and ringing and buzzing in the ears to list a few.

Energy companies like to say the sound is about as loud as your refrigerator. That is BS. Or they say it is soothing like the wind blowing in the trees or the waves on the ocean. Absolute BS.

I have already listed what they really sound like. What is most annoying is the pro wind. “green” and renewable people believe the outrageous lies of the energy companies, yet [disregard] the first hand experiences of the people who live in large industrial wind farms.

You see on TV the beautiful golden grain with the slow turning turbines. That is just another lie, but it does influence the uneducated.

Mr. Vickerman of Renew Wisconsin states that at 1000’ wind turbines are barely audible. I know the industrial wind turbines are always very audible at over 1500’ away. The only time the turbines are not audible is when they are not turning.

If wind energy is viable let private industry develop it without our tax dollars and production incentives. It wouldn’t happen because it is extremely expensive and horribly inefficient.

The Forward project in the second and third quarter of last year produced at 28 and 17.5% of its capacity respectively. At the same time the Point Beach nuclear facilities produced at 99 and 87% of it’s capacity. One quarter was lower due to shut down for refueling.

The project engineer at the Blue Sky project in Johnsburg told me the turbines are designed to be 27 to 30% of their capacity.

Wind energy is clean? Do you think about where the iron ore comes from? Do you think about the energy to smelt the 100,000’s of thousands of pounds of steel for each turbine?

Do you think about how those components get to the leased land to be erected and the trucks used to haul all the gravel for the access roads and the concrete bases to name just a few of the [construction requirements]? Do you think wind energy reduces carbon output? Maybe it increases it?

The environmental impact statement for this project says that wildlife will not be negatively impacted.

In the last year I have seen one turkey and no deer. We used to see 16 to 20 turkeys almost daily and deer in our gardens. Other neighbors have experienced the same findings.

Another lie of the energy companies is that property values actually go up in an industrial wind farm.

Properties for sale in this wind farm for sale since last spring don’t even get lookers or as soon as they ask about the turbines they leave.

What the State of Wisconsin needs a moratorium on industrial wind turbine construction until all the health issues can be understood, reduce the renewable portfolio standards our legislature has required and leave the siting of the industrial wind turbines to local governments.

The Public Service Commission is responsible for the inexcusable set backs and sound standards we now are forced to live with. There no longer is quality of life for those that live in the industrial wind farms of Wisconsin."

Another Response:

"The last thing that industrial wind power can do is stop the burning of coal in coal burning power plants.

What industrial scale wind turbines can do is give a funny looking greenish hat to a coal dependent electrical utility industry.

Lets face it Industrial wind turbines are the green energy (ENRON) scam we have all been fearing. Wind turbines aren't base load, wind turbines aren't reserve load. They are just intermittent load that the transmission grid people (ATC), has to deal with,

This why Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPS) wants to build a power line up to Manitoba Hydro's reservoirs north of Lake Winnipeg, in Canada, so it doesn't have to pay to put WPS wind generation on the grid at night at a loss.

Industrial wind is such a loser of a renewable energy option for Wisconsin. Check out the Wisconsin Wind Resource Assessment Program (WRAP) Final Report, available at the Focus On Energy website. Wisconsin rate payers pay for this site.There is also the AWS Truewind report. Both play up winds potential, but end only showing a "marginal" to "fair" wind resource, especially when compared to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) wind maps. Oh, and the WRAP report states, yeah, guess what the wind blows a lot at night in Wisconsin. So that noise, loss of sleep, health and safety. Yep, thats all real as steel when your operating industrial scale machinery at night.

The safe and reliable answers for Wisconsin are solar and biomass cogeneration and biorefining. Coal is biomass. You replace biomass with biomass. You get jobs. You get money staying in state, and not going to the Powder River Basin. Solar power is grid independence, and insurance against for when the grid goes down. When the grid goes down no industrial wind turbines will turn...or maybe can't stop turning. Nobody has ever heard a solar panel sound like a jet.

Hold on tight Wisconsin, and let this Industrial Wind Scam blow on by."

Another response:

"We all know who the PSC is so let’s look at the definition of stakeholder.

stakeholder : a person or group that has an investment, share, or interest in something, as a business or industry.

Do you seriously believe that The PSC and their friends the stakeholders are going to do anything to develop standards that will restrict the amount of turbines they can install?

Mr. Vickerman at Renew Wisconsin has stated several times that if siting setback distances are increased it will be the end of wind turbine development in Wisconsin.

Most recently he stated that if the distance from a property line was increased from 440’ to 1000’ there would not be a single commercial wind project operating in Wisconsin today.

If the PSC gets control of siting the setbacks will decrease if anything. Any increase in setbacks would be an admission that they have been doing it wrong so far, and that will never happen.

The irresponsible shoehorning of 400’ tall industrial wind turbines must stop.

Wind power is expensive, subsidized $23.37 per MWh compared to $0.25 for natural gas. As taxpayers and rate payers we deserve a better bang for our buck.

Wind power is unreliable and not dispatchable so no coal plants will ever be shut down no matter how many turbines are installed. Coal plants continue to run at full power when wind power is on line, the gas and hydro plants are throttled back, and that is our cleanest form of electric generation.

If the PSC and their stakeholders get their way they will cover over one million acres of land in the next few years. A few of the adverse effects of this large taking of private land are:

1 Loss of Med Flight service for sick or injured citizens.
2 Farmers will loose the ability to crop dust their fields.
3 Wind turbines and tornadoes look the same on Nexrad radar. Meteorologists will not be able to accurately predict the path and location of tornadoes or severe storms.
4 Property values inside wind facilities and a 5 mile boundary outside will decrease by 50% or more.
5 Serious adverse health effects will plague residents especially children under 6 years and adults over 65 yeas.

The good thing is Wisconsin can produce all the clean renewable energy we need without any wind turbines. We have a tremendous bio fuel and bio mass resource. We do not have a wind resource. Wind developer can extrapolate their wind data till they are blue in the face, but they can’t make the wind blow.

Contact your State Representatives, and Senators and tell them not to support the siting reform legislation that will eradicate local control of industrial wind turbines. Your Town, City, and County Board members that you elected know the best way to protect your health safety and welfare.

Nimby: a person who wants to put a turbine in everyone’s back yard except his"

Another Response:

"A picture says a thousand words. Here’s the link to the Governor’s Global Warming Task Force final report. http://dnr.wi.gov/environmentprotect/gtfgw/documents/Final_Report.pdf

On the report page labeled 15, you will see a pie chart showing predictions of electric generation in 2024. Wind turbines do not appear to be the silver bullet that rids us of coal plants and carbon emissions that wishful thinking and unsubstantiated statements claim it to be.

If you look at the pie chart that illustrates wind energy contributions by 2024, the wind share of percentage of output is based on a 29% capacity factor, which other previous posters would acknowledge would be exaggerated.

That information is available on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission site. The chart implies that it's reflecting generated power and not installed capacity.

I think if I’m calculating this correctly, and it of course depends on the size of the turbine, if you take the total amount of projected electricity generation in GWh for 2024, the projected 6% contribution of wind at the projected capacity factor of 29% would be equal to well over 10,000 wind turbines installed by 2024.

Right now if we look at the acreage taken for a new wind project in the state, we have Blue Sky Green Field with 88 turbines stretching over 10,600 acres, that’s an average of 120 acres per turbine.

Over 10,000 wind turbines is over 1,200,000 acres of land under wind turbine owners control, many of them foreign investment companies (look at a land host contract).

That also means $4000 per year per installed megawatt in shared revenues over the life of a project which is 25 to 30 years sponsored by Wisconsin tax payers.

If we take the theoretical 10,000 wind turbines X 1.5MW each that’s 15000 MW X $4000 X 25 years. That’s $60 million a year for 25 years for an energy source that’s not dispatchable, can’t be stored, uses grid power for operations and false starts and does not appear to be freeing us from our dependency on coal or foreign oil at 6% of the total, (coal is still at 56% and look at gas and oil up 15%).

The decisions made concerning this type of electric generation requires a big costly long term commitment with insignificant returns. This of course is on top of the human and wild life impacts which are supported by substantiated documentation."

Another Response:

Industrial wind power has nothing to do with national security, or energy independence from oil. Wind is about a lot of infrastructure dollars being spent in the wrong place for the wrong equipment. Our state government needs to look very carefully at what the wind industry is saying and what it will actually means for the state, it's citizens, and the quality of life going into the future. ... For everyone.

The Governor's Task Force on Global Warming (GTFGW)was working with a chart that showed Wisconsin's electrical generation would reach a total of 92,704 GWh in 2024. Wind generation would be 6% of that total, or 5,562.24 GWh. Now, if the wind turbines are 29% efficient like the GTFGW hopes, each 1.5 MW turbine would generate .435MWh. In order to reach the 5,562.24GWh stated you would need 12,787 wind turbines!

The wind developer in our area stated the turbines would only be 25% efficient, or generate .375MWh each, per year. At that efficiency rate the wind industry would need to install 14,750 1.5mw wind turbines.

And, they'd all be noisy at night, and the noise would get worse as they aged and got dirtier. Much like the wind industry's arguments.

The developer also stated, to the newspaper not to the public, his 100MW ( 67, 1.5MW wind turbines) wind facility would 'cover 6000 to 8000 acres'. If wind turbines that size require 100 acres of 'wind resource', the wind developer's 67 turbine wind farm would gobble up 6,700 acres of Wisconsin farm, home, and wildlife habitat. The wind turbine lease contracts signed by fellow citizens, or school boards, or townships, municipalities, or political subdivisions not here yet mentioned would be binding, and any violation there of would be subject to legal action by the wind developer, which may not find financial compensation sufficient. i.e. the lease signers land too!

When you add all the GTFGW required turbines together that means 1,278,700 to 1,475,000 Wisconsin acres would be bound into wind development contracts for decades and generations.

This doesn't sound like security, this sounds like servitude. When you add in the fact that land owners who sign a wind development lease are being paid $50 per acre of resource, while the wind developer gets between $2,000 to $3,000 per acre of resource, it starts to sound like share cropping.

If Wisconsin wants independence and security it requires the responsible investment in solar. Biomass will replace coal, and oil. The wind industry is no friend of Wisconsin. Oh and if industrial wind is going to be 90% of an eventual 25% renewables by 2025 you have to multiply the number of wind turbines and land grabbing by 4.

Another Response:

" In the opinion article "Don't blow chance for wind power", the phrase "not in my backyard" is used to describe a negative attitude of being resistant to wind farm development.

It's also stated that local governments lack the expertise to evaluate these developments.

So where should a local government turn to if they lack this expertise, to wind companies with financial implications in the development, or doctors and scientists who don't stand to make much, if any money from their expertise?

I would choose the doctors and scientists, which is what the local governments that are adopting stringent ordinances have been doing.

With increases in research and personal accounts of the health problems, property value losses, and even environmental issues caused by wind turbines, there's no wonder why local governments are adopting ordinances which increase the distance that the turbines can be built from homes and businesses.

Even without the issues that are documented by doctors and researchers, all a person has to do is look at articles which are written by people who live by, and deal with the turbines.

It seems almost every area that has a wind farm, also has a great deal of personal accounts of the problems they cause, and this information can be easily found on the internet.

Another question is why are we even talking about wind turbines? With all the issues they cause, their inefficiency, and other options with very few documented issues (solar, geothermal), why are we not putting money towards other options?

It seems that the discussion continues because wind farm developers have a huge financial stake, and have marketed wind as being the best option.

I agree we need to reduce our use of coal and oil, but bringing in another problem energy source is not the answer. Because of all the above, I also agree, NOT IN MY BACKYARD!!!"

CLICK ON THE IMAGE BELOW TO SEE just how close to homes the PSC allows turbines to be sited. Then click on the image below that to see how close they allowed wind developers to site tubines along side Wisconsin's Horicon Marsh, National Wildlife refuge.

Then contact your legislators to let them know the PSC approved the siting of turbines 1000 feet from non-participating residents homes, 440 feet from hosting landowner's homes, with a noise limit of 50 decibels. They allowed turbines to be sited too close to the Horicon Marsh. Residents in the PSC approved wind farms of Fond du Lac and Dodge Counties are now having a hard time living with the disastrous results. Post construction studies are showing bat and bird kills. (Click here to read more about this)

Let your legislators know if they want wind turbine siting reform, it should be based it on the Town of Union's Large Wind Ordinance, not not on numbers provided to the PSC by a Florida Utility. (Click here to read more on this)

(Click here to download the Union Ordinance)

(Click here to download the Wisconsin draft Model ordinance, which has since been pulled from the PSC website)


Click on the image below to see just why shadow flicker is so maddening: These images were filmed in various locations inside of the Invenergy wind farm near the Town of Byron, 2008

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