1/18/09 DOUBLE FEATURE: How will you know if a wind farm is going to be built around your home? Will it be before the trucks start hauling the turbine blades past your house? AND In Brown County Wisconsin, the Dr. is IN
How will you know if wind developers have targeted your community? If you're lucky there may be something about it in the local paper, or something may be listed on the published agenda for the Town board meeting.
In the past, developers were very open with the community about their plans. They changed that once people began to oppose projects. Now they are more likely to keep news of wind farms a secret from the community until key landowners are signed up.
Wisconsin's recently passed turbine siting reform legislation requires that only neighbors directly adjacent to a hosting landowners property be notified that wind turbines are about to go in near their homes.
This notification does not have to happen until the wind developer submits a formal application for the project to the Town board and/or the Public Service Commission.
A developer won't file an application until enough landowners are signed up, so by the time you find out about it, the project may well be on its way. That's what happened to one of our neighbors to the north who tells us his story here
Commentaries: Study of wind project may blow you away
By: Erin Logan, Zumbrota,
January 17, 2010
I found out by pure accident my home is in the Goodhue Wind Project area by looking at the map published Dec. 9 Zumbro Shopper. What a surprise. Why wasn’t I notified?
I received a packet in the mail sometime around Dec. 15 from a Twin Cities attorney; let’s just call it “notification.” I decided I better read the information to find out what it means to be in the Goodhue Wind Project.
The 212-page document is a dry read, but some interesting information caught my attention. It includes a site map identifying homes and proposed placement of the 400-foot tall wind turbines.
To my surprise my home does not exist on the proposed project map, but it does show a wind turbine 100 feet from my home and two more within 1,500 feet. I wonder how many other homes have been omitted from or wiped off the map?
Let me share a few things I have learned since I read through this packet.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has jurisdiction over this project due its size. The public can submit comments regarding the permit application until Jan. 22. I will definitely take advantage of this opportunity, although I’m not sure how much good it will do.
I understand the PUC was made aware of homes not included in the project application, but were not concerned with the detail of the site plan.
Reading through information on the PUC Web site I learned a state statute allows our county commissioners to adopt more stringent zoning ordinances for Large Wind Energy Conversion Systems. This means our local elected officials have the authority to define what is best for Goodhue County residents regarding this project.
The purpose of the setback is to protect adjacent landowners if the turbine falls over, mitigate noise levels and shadow flicker that may be imposed on their homes. It will also provide protection if any ice builds up on the blades, breaks off and plummets 400 feet to the ground.
I have learned that current Goodhue County zoning setback requirements do not allow a wind turbine to be erected within 750 feet of a dwelling. This is reciprocal in that a dwelling cannot be constructed within 750 feet of a wind turbine.
Hmmm, I think I just lost the right to build an attached garage or an addition between my house and that wind turbine 750 feet away.
The property line setbacks are less stringent: 500 feet for a 400-foot tall wind turbine.
I encourage anyone who has an unoccupied residence or temporary dwelling in place to speak up. This project could restrict where you are allowed to build on your property.
Gaps in the system like this make it clear to me we are not prepared to endorse a project of this magnitude. This is new territory that warrants some education in lieu of assuming we can rely on outdated regulations to provide safety, health and well-being to Goodhue County residents.
As I read through this permit application I see inaccurate data, incomplete information and open-ended statements. There are far too many to include in detail, so I’ll share a few of the items that seem fairly important to me.
• Actual wind turbine size — The permit application states that this can be changed to meet the needs of the project. Will they be 300 feet, 400 feet or taller?
• Equipment specifications — The application identifies the sound level created by the smallest wind turbine they would choose to install. This data is used to determine the distance the wind turbine can be located from your residence while ensuring they don’t exceed the maximum amount of noise pollution you can be subjected to.
• Project decommissioning — As stated in the application, all above-ground equipment and foundations, to a depth of 4 feet, will be removed. This does not meet Goodhue County Ordinance, Article 18, Section 5, Subd. 10.
• Economic impact — This is such a multi-faceted topic, but it is good to note the claim that the local economy will benefit from the dollars the project will pay in state and local taxes and the long-term beneficial impacts to the counties’ tax base. Take a look at the corporate Web site — http://www.nationalwind.com/minnesota_wind_facts — which lists the financial incentives for wind projects. The way I read that information, this project will be exempt from both property and sales tax.
I would also like to know what kind of long-term impacts this will have on local and county roadway lifecycles.
I hope enough people encourage our commissioners to update zoning ordinances to adequately mitigate the impact of a Large Wind Energy Conversion System on Goodhue County residents.
For anyone who thinks this doesn’t affect them, keep in mind wind conditions are similar throughout Goodhue County and there is a lot of land out there. Implementing this project may open the door for wind turbines in your neighborhood.
I need more information before I can make an educated decision on whether this project will be a benefit or a detriment. Perhaps others in and around the Goodhue Wind Project area have received more information.
This is a community-based project, yet I have never had one of the local representatives stop by during one of the many trips they’ve made past my home. I believe that a good idea is worth talking about, so why all of the secrecy?
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: Law firms are beginning to directly address the issue of wind farm leases and land rights on behalf of landowners. To read a post called "Reasons to be Careful with Wind Leases" on the website of one such law firm in Minnesota, CLICK HERE.
For more on Wind Power Law, visit
This comes to us courtesy of another Wisconsin group-- Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy ( BCCRWE.)
If you know anyone in Brown County, you may want to let them know that a big wind farm is coming their way. To link them to the BCCRWE website CLICK HERE
The following letter was written and read by Dr. Herb Coussons before the Morrison town board a their last town board meeting:
January 8, 2010
RE: Proposed Ledge Wind Project
TO: The Town Boards of Wrightstown, Morrison, Holland and Ledgeview
I am writing to summarize what I believe are real and previously unconsidered effects of building wind turbines among populated residential and farming areas.
The current zoning standards do not take into consideration the growing evidence regarding the adverse health risks of placing wind turbines closer than 1.5 miles from residences.
Multiple studies and case reports are being published that systematically record a group of symptoms that seems to occur in about 10% of individuals who live within 1.5 miles of wind turbines.
These symptoms included but are not limited to: sleep disturbances, chronic headaches, migraines, ringing in the ears, visceral vibratory vestibular disturbance, decreased abilities in memory and concentration, fatigue, irritability and upper respiratory ailments.
Many of these symptoms were not present prior to individuals living in the vicinity of the wind turbines and resolved when the affected people were able to move away from the turbines. Most of the case reports show that the individuals have no emotional disturbances that would lead to anxiety and fear as a cause of their new symptoms. Children seem to be affected by the same symptoms only they are manifest in different ways such as nightmares and bedwetting or decreased school performance and behavior problems.
There are now many published reports in the US, Canada, England, Europe, and New Zealand that refer to this consistent cluster of symptoms as “Wind Turbine Syndrome.” There are also governmental agencies and health organizations that have spoken out on the topic, including: Health Canada, the NIH, the French National Academy of Medicine, The Maine Medical Association, the Minnesota Department of Public Health, the Government of the State of Victoria Australia, the Japanese Minister of Environment, and the US National Research Council.
The symptoms experienced by humans may also be seen more seriously and widespread in animals leading to adverse consequences. Wild animals that have highly developed senses of hearing and vibration (bats, snakes, deer, turkey, and birds) virtually disappear from large wind developments. Domestic farm animals such as chickens, goats, and cattle are all reported to display adverse behaviors, as well as reproduction abnormalities and even death. There are many case reports of decreased dairy production and egg production in farm animals that are reversed when the animals are moved away from wind turbines.
Animal studies and human data are mounting that the adverse symptoms are related to several direct effects of the wind turbines. 1) Audible noise, 2) Low frequency noise, 3) Shadow flicker, and 4) Mixed sensory input (confusing and unrelenting sensations that conflict in the brain).
The audible noise above 30-35dB (A-weighted measurements) is enough to disturb sleep. Chronic sleep disturbance can lead to fatigue, decreased memory and concentration, chronic headaches, weight gain, hypertension and cardiovascular deterioration. 30dB is the limit recommended by the World Health Organization as the maximum noise level at nighttime outside of a home. Most of the local ordinances allow up to 50dB up to 10% of the time, and exclude measurements if the wind is blowing greater than 30mph.
The Low frequency noise (C-weighted measurements) is not always audible yet the body feels the vibration and it stimulates the hearing and balance parts of the inner ear. This type of noise may also resonate in body cavities leading to chest pressure and a sense of motion. The results are nausea, vomiting and motion sickness. In fact such low frequency noise is so unpleasant, it has been used in the Middle East as a weapon for crowd control. The recommended maximum intensity of C-weighted measurements is 20dB outside of a home. Most of the local ordinances do not mention C-weighted measurements despite the fact that most wind turbine noise is low frequency.
Shadow-flicker triggers a reflexive response in animals that results in a flight or flight response leading to an increased heart rate, muscle tension and a sense of movement. Shadow-flicker and noise can be reduced by increasing the distance from the wind turbine.
These sensory inputs, audible noise, low frequency vibration/inaudible noise, and shadow flicker present conflicting sensations to the brain resulting in worsening symptoms of migraines, anxiety, nausea, vomiting.
There are other practical risks as well. According to the Caithness Windfarm Information Forum, from 1999 through June 2008 there were over 500 accidents around the world, including North America, involving ice throws, blade disintegration, fire and tower failure from large wind turbines. If improperly sited, wind energy systems produce electro-magnetic radiation that can interfere with broadcast communications and signals. They even create signals on Doppler weather radar simulating severe weather thereby making any weather warnings in our area limited. There are dangers and restrictions in flight activity due to potential collisions with aircraft. This limitation has resulted in rescue helicopters not landing in wind farms.
Much of this information has been understood as wind turbine developments grow across Europe, Canada, Australia and the US.
As I have read the studies and case reports from across the US and the world, as well as listening to residents of the development around Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, I have become convinced that the health and safety of those living closer than 2500 feet to wind turbines will be adversely effected. Some living within 1.5 miles may show severe signs of wind turbine syndrome.
These facts were not well known or considered prior to 2007 when many of the ordinances were written. Now due to greater knowledge and more experience, we must consider the more recent conservative site requirements for example in the Town of Union in Rock County Wisconsin. http://www.tn.union.wi.gov/Docs_by_cat_type.asp?doccatid=200&locid=123 <http://www.tn.union.wi.gov/Docs_by_cat_type.asp?doccatid=200&locid=123>
I would recommend anyone to review their ordinance, which has extensive documentation on the rationale behind their more restrictive requirements when compared to the state of Wisconsin. Their diligence in research and enacting an ordinance based on the current evidence should be respected and imitated.
If the current setbacks of 1000 feet and maximum audible noise measurements of 50dB are utilized, then I believe that up to 80% of people exposed to these levels of audible noise, low frequency noise and shadow flicker will feel some adverse health symptoms. Because of these conclusions, I would hope that our local town boards will consider a moratorium on wind development until they can consider the evidence that shows the health and safety risks of wind developments such as the Ledge Wind Farm and provide the leadership by enacting ordinances that reflect the current understanding of these health and safety risks imposed by wind turbines sited close to residences and businesses in our communities.
Herb Coussons, MD
6649 Ledgetop Dr