4/22/09 A Tale of Two Newspapers with the Initials WSJ: Why won't the Wisconsin State Journal talk to local wind farm residents about noise problems but the Wall Street Journal Will?
Better Plan, Wisconsin has been trying to get even one reporter from the Wisconsin State Journal to head up to Fond du Lac and Dodge Counties to speak face to face with wind farm residents who are having trouble with turbine noise. So far, no luck.
Though the WSJ is happy to write editorials in support of the PSC siting wind turbines 1000 feet from homes in our state, they have not been able to tell us what this support is based on, or why they are completely unwilling to speak to state residents now living in wind farms sited by the PSC. [Click here to read more about this]
However, another 'WSJ' newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, wrote about this issue and did their job as journalists by contacting Gerry Meyer, who lives in a wind farm near Byron in Fond du Lac County.
Gerry Meyer and many others in this wind farm would be glad to talk to reporters in Madison about their experiences. We can't help but wonder why they are so willing to support PSC setbacks but unwilling to speak to people who now have to live with them.
Click on the image below to hear what Gerry Meyer's family has to live with and then read the Wall Street Journal article posted below.
Noise, Shadows, raise hurdles for wind farms
NEW YORK (Dow Jones)–Another obstacle for wind-powered energy has appeared on the horizon: Some people are claiming that living near wind farms is hazardous to their health.
The development of wind farms — a collection of turbines that turn wind energy into power — has boomed over the past few years as policy makers tout wind-generated electricity as a cleaner alternative to that of fossil fuels. U.S. wind-power capacity increased 50% in 2008, according to the American Wind Energy Association, a Washington D.C.-based industry group.
As wind-power generation has ramped up, so have concerns about the health effects of living near wind farms. Although major environmental groups such as Greenpeace and the National Resources Defense Council have voiced strong support for wind power, opposition from a few grassroots anti-wind power groups potentially could hinder development in populated areas. That could spell trouble for clean energy companies trying to build wind farms in places such as the densely populated Northeast, leading to project delays and cost overruns and throwing into doubt the viability of wind energy as an alternative to fossil fuels.
Insomnia, headaches and tinnitus are creating quality-of-life issues for people living near wind farms, these groups argue.
Such concerns are an additional worry for wind developers, who are already facing opposition from property owners concerned obstruction of views and from animal advocates who have raised the alarm about potential injury to birds or bats that may fly into the turbines.
‘Like A Chinook Helicopter’
Gerry Meyer and his family live within 1,500 feet of a wind farm developed by Invenergy LLC, a Chicago-based renewable energy company, in Fond du Lac County, Wis. The power generated by the wind farm is bought by utilities throughout Wisconsin. The turbines began turning about a year ago and, since then, family members have suffered from sleeplessness and headaches, Meyer said.
Some days, the turbines sound “like a Chinook helicopter taking off,” Meyer said.
Wind farms are required to comply with local noise ordinances, but the turbines still create low-frequency sounds that can create vibrations, said Eric Rosenbloom, president of National Wind Watch, a nonprofit group that opposes placing wind farms in populated areas.
Wind farms can also create “shadow flicker,” a strobe-light effect that sometimes occurs when the sun hits wind turbines at a certain angle. Although shadow flicker doesn’t have any scientifically verified health effects, it can be a significant annoyance for people living near wind farms, Rosenbloom said.
“Distance is the only solution,” Rosenbloom said.
No national standard regulating the distance between wind farms and nearby homes exists, although some state and local ordinances have enacted rules. National Wind Watch advocates building wind farms at least a mile away from homes.
Nuisance Or Health Hazard?
Although no major scientific studies have documented the potential health effects of living near wind farms, developers recognize that turbines could be considered a nuisance.
Nina Pierpont, a New York pediatrician, has coined the term “wind turbine syndrome” to refer to a constellation of symptoms, including sleep problems, headaches and dizziness, that she says are experienced by some people living near wind farms, based on her surveys of such individuals. Pierpont’s research hasn’t been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, and wind-energy advocates point to peer-reviewed studies in Canada and the U.K. that dispute any impact on human health from wind turbine noise or vibrations.
Pierpont didn’t return calls for comment.
Still, wind developers acknowledge that turbines can create shadow flicker and a “whooshing” noise that can be heard by people in the vicinity of the wind farm. Because state and county permits are often needed to construct wind farms, local opposition to such projects can delay or cancel them. That has been the case with Cape Wind LLC’s plan to build a 130-turbine wind farm in Massachusetts’ Nantucket Sound, which has been mired in delays for a decade amid objections from influential residents including Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
“Turbine sounds and shadow flicker often come up in public hearings when developers are trying to get wind farms sited,” said Laurie Jodziewicz, manager of siting policy for the American Wind Energy Association. “It’s definitely something developers are aware of.”
Invenergy does “extensive siting studies” before building turbines, measuring noise levels from receptors located at various distances from the project site, spokeswoman Susan Dennison said. Issues such as shadow flicker can be resolved by adjusting the angle of the turbines as the wind farm is constructed, she said.
Wind-farm developers’ assurances are little consolation to the Meyer family, however.
“I never go into deep sleep anymore because of the noise from the turbines,” Meyer said. “I only dream when we’re away from home.”
By Christine Buurma
Red Alert, Wisconsin
A bill that would allow the Public Service Commission to decide where wind turbines can be sited in your community has been introduced by Senator Jeff Plale, (D- South Milwaukee) CLICK HERE to download the bill
Note from the BPWI Research Nerd: Better Plan, Wisconsin urges you to contact your legislators as soon as you can and let them know that Senator Plale's Turbine Siting Reform bill will allow the PSC to approve the of siting of industrial scale wind turbines much too close to homes and sensitive wildlife habitat.
Though the bill mentions no specifics about setbacks, noise limits, and other siting concerns, it is very clear about giving turbine siting approval to the PSC.
The PSC approved the siting of turbines 1000 feet from non-participating residents homes, and a noise limit of 50 decibels. Families in the PSC approved wind farms of Fond du Lac and Dodge Counties are now having a hard time living with the disastrous results.
Please contact your legislators (click here to find out who they are and how to contact them) and let them know if they want wind turbine siting reform, it should be based it on the Town of Union's Large Wind Ordinance. The guidelines used by the PSC were provided by an out-of-state utility with a keen interest in siting as many turbines as possible in any given area, and no interest in protecting public health, safety, welfare, property values or wildlife.
(Click here to download the Wisconsin draft Model ordinance, which has since been pulled from the PSC website. This is what the PSC used to site the turbines in the wind farms which are bringing people such misery)
Having trouble with turbine noise or shadow flicker? Want to get your story told? Contact us by clicking here. Better Plan, Wisconsin is ready to help!