5/8/09 Earaches, emergency rooms and motels, AND Wind farm resident asks us to SAVE THE DATE: Tuesday, May 12: Turbine Siting Reform Bill Hearing at the Capitol! AND in Columbia Country, residents want safe setbacks, feel wind farm strong-arm
Click to watch video: Two Bruce County parents think a nearby wind farm is to blame for their daughter's chronic earaches. The wind company doesn't agree. But as Scott Miller reported tonight on A-News at Six, it is still paying to house the family in a local motel. ATV-News
RED ALERT WISCONSIN! SAVE THE DATE:
TUESDAY MAY 12
At the Capitol
Room 411 South
Joint hearing of Assembly and Senate Energy Committee on SB 185: regarding Turbine Siting Reform
Here's a letter from Larry Wunsch who is a resident of the Forward Energy wind farm near the Town of Byron in Fond du Lac County. He lets us know why attending this hearing is so important.
Many of you know that I and others have spent the last 4 years fighting for responsible siting of wind turbines.
Some people have asked me why I continue the fight when I have a wind turbine 1100 feet from my home and that no matter what you do it’s not going to go away.
My response to this is, “My wife and I have had a quality of life taken from us and I don’t want this to happen to anyone else”.
I used to be the person that kept to himself and flew with the times. This wind turbine project has opened my eyes to the fact that if I don’t get off my ass and speak out, other fellow Wisconsinites will suffer the same thing that I am going through now.
That is an obligation that all of us have and should exercise.
Remember, that governments should be run by the people for the people.
As most of you know there is a hearing at the State Capital next week May 12th, at 1100 hours.
The hearing is about giving the Public Service Commission the rights on wind turbine sighting throughout the State of Wisconsin and take away local permitting power.
Giving the PSC this power would be a big mistake. The PSC set the rules in my project and now don’t even have the respect to answer my concerns.
The State of Wisconsin PSC needs to keep their ideas in Madison where there are no wind turbines.
I know it is a lot to ask, but you need to take the time and join me in Madison to testify against such control.
Please take time and prepare your statement in writing to read at the hearings. That is the best way to deliver you concerns.
I don’t need the help to change things where I live, that damage is done. Do it for yourself and others in Wisconsin. I hope to see you there.
Town of Byron
Fond du Lac County
Click on the image below to watch Larry Wunsh talk about life in the wind farm and then scroll down to read more about the turbine siting reform bill
Please come to the Capitol on Tuesday May 12 at 11:00 am to take part in a hearing for a bill that would strip local government of its power to write protective local wind ordinances and allow the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin to decide where 400 foot tall wind turbines can be sited in your community.
WHY YOU NEED TO CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS TODAY!
Though the turbine siting reform bill mentions no specifics about setbacks, noise limits, and other siting concerns, it is very clear about stripping local government of its power and 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)
Wind farm issues arise;
residents question health issues
By Lyn Jerde
Beaver Dam Daily Citizen
May 4, 2009
About eight months ago, Melissa Smedema got wind of We Energy's plans to set up a 90-turbine wind farm in the Columbia County towns of Scott and Randolph.
She said she went door to door in Wisconsin communities where wind farms already exist, and heard stories of noise, vibrations, headaches, dizziness and sleepless nights.
"I'm not against renewable energy by any means," said Smedema, who lives in the town of Randolph. "But I wouldn't want these wind turbines operating around here unless they're a safe distance from homes."
Smedema said she and other wind farm opponents plan to attend Monday's Randolph town board meeting, scheduled to start at 6 p.m. at the town hall, 109 S. Madison St., Friesland.
She said she'll be coming to the meeting with two petitions she's helped circulate - one signed by outright opponents of wind farms near their homes (which she said had about 60 signatures as of Friday), the other calling for stringent conditions for the wind farm if it is located in Columbia County. The number of signatures gathered for the latter petition is not known, Smedema said, because it was still circulating as of Friday afternoon.
Among the conditions called for on the petition:
- Wind turbines should be at least 2,600 feet (about a half mile) from the property line of any resident who did not sign an agreement to allow a turbine to be placed on his or her property.
- Property owners whose property value goes down after the windmills are built should be reimbursed for the difference by the energy company.
- A public meeting should be held before either the Randolph or Scott town boards sign a joint development agreement with the utility that would set the parameters of how the wind farm would be constructed and operated.
- If a turbine is placed closer to a home or lot line than is specified in a joint development agreement, the turbine should be taken down at the utility's expense.
We Energies applied in late October to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin for a permit to build a 90-turbine wind generating facility on about 7,500 acres (or 250 parcels) in the towns of Scott and Randolph. The facility, called Glacier Hills Wind Park, would generate about 207 megawatts of electricity, enough to provide electricity for about 45,000 homes.
Of the 90 turbines, 55 would be in the town of Randolph and 35 in the town of Scott.
We Energies spokesman Brian Manthey said the company has made lease deals with about 45 landowners for Glacier Hills.
Smedema is not one of these landowners, but she said at least one turbine is likely to go up on a neighbor's property, within 2,000 feet of her home.
Smedema is part of a new organization, called Neighbors Caring About Neighbors, that formed to discourage locating the wind farm in the area, or to at least to set conditions to minimize its effects.
But Manthey said at least one of those conditions - the minimum 2,600-foot setback - likely would be a deal-breaker.
At the existing Wisconsin wind farm for We Energies, Blue Sky Green Fields in Fond du Lac County, the joint development agreement calls for a minimum 1,000-foot setback for property whose owners are not leasing their land for the operation and 450 feet for participating property owners.
A setback requirement of 2,600 feet, he said, "would likely make this project a non-starter. You would not be able to build a wind farm with that kind of distance."
Setback is one of many issues that We Energies would have to work out between the governments of the towns of Randolph and Scott before construction starts.
Each town could sign on to the same joint development agreement, or they could adopt separate but similar agreements, covering issues such as restoration of the town's roads after construction, ways to address TV interference that might result from the turbines, noise levels, and other operating issues.
According to Smedema, it's the sound emitted by the turbines - including the sound that can't be picked up by the human ear - that causes her the greatest concern.
Typical development agreements set a maximum average decibel level at which the turbines may operate, she said, but that would not prevent them from sometimes operating at much louder levels for some days, provided that the sound levels are low enough on other days to meet the average.
Also, she said, wind turbines create vibrations that may not be heard, but which can cause dizziness, headaches and other physical distress, especially in very young children.
"Some of these homes that would be near the turbines have kids," she said. "If it's a matter of my children's well-being, I'll do what's best for them."
Timothy Le Monds, director of governmental and public affairs for the PSC, said a public hearing on the proposed We Energies wind project is tentatively scheduled for July 13, at a location in or near the towns of Randolph or Scott.
The public hearing is held before an administrative law judge, and anyone who speaks for or against the project testifies under oath.
A similar procedure was held in Portage in late September regarding an Alliant Energy proposal to build a coal-fired power plant at either Cassville or Portage. In November, the PSC rejected the plant at either location.
Le Monds said a joint development agreement between the towns and We Energies is not required to be in place before the public hearing, but it should be in place before the commission to a decision on whether the grant a permit for the wind facility.
Asked whether the towns of Randolph and Scott were chosen because they are the only Columbia County towns that have not adopted the county's zoning ordinances, Manthey said that's unlikely.
The location, he said, was chosen by another power company, Florida Power and Light, and We Energies bought the rights to pursue the project from that company. Because few municipalities or counties have zoning rules that specifically address wind farms - Columbia County does not - it's more likely that Scott and Randolph were chosen because of the quality and quantity of wind available in the area, he said.
A strong joint development agreement, Manthey added, provides stronger and more specific protection for the interests of residents in the area of a proposed wind farm than would be offered by any zoning rules, by themselves.
Smedema said she knows now that the wind farm has been in the works for several years.
"It might be too late for us anyway," she said, "but a lot of us feel like our rights were taken away."