10/13/10 Wind Rules Senate hearing at the Capitol packs the house. We'll post testimony as it comes into us.
BADGERS PACK SENATE HEARING ON WIND SITING RULES
October 13, 2010
By Lynda Barry for Better Plan, Wisconsin
MADISON- The fourth floor hearing room at the capitol building was filled to over-flowing as Wisconsin residents from the counties of Rock, Manitowoc, Calumet, Kewaunee, Brown, St. Croix, Fond du Lac, Dodge, Grant and more turned out in force to testify against the new wind siting rules created by the Public Service Commission. The vast majority testified against the new rules during the hearing which ran over six hours.
Strong testimony against the rules came from county supervisors, many members of town government, the Vegetable Growers Association, Wisconsin Towns Association, the state's airspace manager, real estate appraisers, and the Brown County Board of Health and Human Services.
The most moving testimony came from current residents in Wisconsin wind projects who repeatedly testified that they were suffering and were getting no help. Several broke down in tears during their testimony, trying to explain to the senate committee exactly how their lives have been affected by turbines that have been sited with the same guidelines the PSC is now recommending.
Below, live blogging from the hearing by the BPWI RESEARCH NERD:
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: I'm writing to you live from hearing room 411 south atipi the Capitol building in Madison.
Please forgive typos and spelling errors!
The hearing is about to begin and the room is packed to over-flowing. Senator Plale announced they were waiting for another senator and the hearing would begin shortly.
Considering the number of people here, the room is surprisingly quiet and the mood is pretty serious. People who live in wind projects are here to testify, people who have wind projects proposed for their area are here to testify, and people like me are here, people who are really concerned that the new rules from the PSC don't protect enough protection for residents, wildlife, property values, and rural roads.
The wind industry folks are here too. All the seats are taken and the people are starting to stack up.
11:08 Plale opens the hearing
Roll is being called. All but Senator Kedzie are present. There is feedback on the microphone and a joke was made that 'it was the wind'
This hearing is being broadcast on Wisconsin Eye. If you can access their website you can watch this live.
Here's the link: http://www.wiseye.org/wisEye_stream/wisEye_StreamAir_Video.html
11:22 The first part of the hearing is not about the wind rules.
Town board members from the Rock County Towns of Union, Magnolia, Center and Spring Valley are here today. Each of these Towns adopted an ordinance that will be overturned by the new rules from the PSC. The Town of Union spent 16 months creating their ordinance at a cost of $40,000.
11:28 The hearing on the Wind Rules begins. Senator Plale says this not a re-hash of act 40. He's asking the PSC members to come up first.
Senator Plale says he shares a lot of the concerns and wants to see the rule go back to the PSC. He wanted to say that up front.
Testimony will be limited to 3 minutes per person after Public Service Commission testimony.
Zolnick [spelling] PSC staff: Speaking about the history of and the necessity of Act 40. Says some ordinances were adopted to stop wind development.
He says the new rules still give a lot of power to local government. (This provoked a response from some people in the audience who clearly don't agree.)
He's discussing the history of the PSC rule making, letting us know what a good and thorough job was done by the PSC on this.
He's quoting Dr. Jevon McFadden who has found no health and safety impacts associated with wind turbines.
Talking about setbacks, noise, shadow flicker limits. Letting us know that there is scientific basis (per Dr. McFadden) for the standards set by the rules.
Now the committee members have a chance to ask them questions. They have none.
11:39 Representative Bys [spelling]
Asks the rules be set aside until there is more information about the health impacts. Said there are people here living with turbine today that will help the committee understand the issue. He hopes the state will set the rule aside and do more research.
11:41 Matt Bromley testifies- he is complaining that the setbacks in the new rules will be hard on wind developers. Wants less restriction.
11:45 Representatives of Food growers and vegetable growers in Wisconsin: Concerned about impact of rules on vegetable growers in the state. Fruit and vegetable industry is 6.5 billion dollar industry in the state.
Discussing how wind farms will affect fruit and vegetable growing. How arial application is critical for protecting crops. Arial application is the only way to stop sudden pests. If wind farms are placed in vegetable growing areas there could be massive losses of crops. Suggests compensation for farmers.
Says neighbors of those who are hosting turbines who may be growing vegetables could lose their crops.
Discussing the critical importance of timely application of pesticides in the event of a pest outbreak to prevent. catastrophic crop lost.
Asks for the rules to include protections for growers who may lose crops because of wind turbines.
Arial applicator explains why they can't fly in wind projects. Industry standard is to not fly in wind projects.
Asks the committee to sent the rule back to the PSC for consideration and to come up with a workable compensation system. Would prefer not to work with Wind Siting Council because there is no ag representative on the council.
Plale jokes that in his area there aren't a lot of sprayers flying around.
More discussion about compensation system.
Plale: "All the more reason to send (the rule) back"
Now Wind siting council members Doug Zweizig and Larry Wunsch;
Wunsch is member that lives in wind farm. Turbine 1100 feet from home. Accepted the challange to serve on the council. Thought he's bring his experience to the council. Realized that is time on the council was in vain.
Says wind turbines are noisey. They wake him up. Says 45 db is loud. Wanted property value protection plan in rules. House is for sale for a year and a half, no offers because of turbines.
It's all about proper setback. 3000 feet will do it. Most people giving testimony in favor of these rules don't live in wind farm.
Tried to play recording of the turbine noise for the council. The council rejected this request.
Send the rule back.
Doug Zweizig: Professor emeritus, Town of Union P&Z member, Vice chair of Wind sitiing council.
Plale cuts him off- says hurry up.
Zweizig hurries up.
[UPDATE: Scroll down to read Zweizig's full testimony.]
SORRY! The nerd had to run around a little bit.
Now a guy from Cuba City is testifying that the rules are too restrictive. Send it back to PSC.
Wind developer from "Element" is testifying. Says he grew up in a farm in Rock County. Says he's working on a big project in eastern Wisconsin. Says the rules could make his project not viable. Says unless the rules are changed his company is going to not going to stay.
Dislikes the good neighbor payments, dislikes the 1500 foot setback. Says sound and shadow standards are too strict and that curtailment requirements are going to make things hard.
Senator Cowles asks what setback he wants.
He says 1250 feet was workable.
Element rep says there have been no complaints from his other projects. This causes laughter in the room.
Erpenbach asks about the wind in Wisconsin.
Element rep says poor wind in Wisconsin, but there are transmission lines here.
Erpenbach: What's windiest part of state?
Someone says "Right here"
Element says east and west of the state.
12:25 Rick James Accoustician. Time limited. Discuss 45dbA noise limit and 3.1 setback. The problems that are producing complaints are not unique, should not be unexpected. All have similar problems and complaints at 45 dbA. All states where I have clients, problems reported. 2200 feet 3 or more turbines can produce 45 dba. Setbacks do not provide enough protection for people, especially down wind of turbines.
These setbacks will cause harm to people. Chronic sleep distrubances impact health.
It is not right to use standards that will hurt people.
ERPENBACH: What is 45 like?
James: 30 dbA is the level for healthy sleep.
ERPENBACH: So 45 is talking?
PLALE: Not nearly as loud as a Springsteen concert.
12:31 Wind Developer speaking: Wants rule sent back. Doesn't want to pay good neighbor agreements. Says the contracts with landowners are confidential. Says there should be 40 hours of shadow flicker instead of 35.
12:33 Representing Town of Morrison. The rules should be based on scientific data not opinion. Peer reviewed studies that say there is evidence of negative impacts and turbines are harmful. There are no controlled scientific studies. Wisconsin can do a study. We ask the industry to help fund such studies. Engineers have an ethical responsibility. Brown county has ground water issues.
12:38 David Vind: Process has not been set up to get fair and balanced result. Council weighted toward support of wind. Did not protect public. Need setback of half mile, allow developers to buy rights closer.
Drop in property values for non participating neighbors. Uncompensated taking from neighbors. People should be compensated. PSC authorized good neighbor payments.
Support noise standard that will protect people. 45 dbA won't do it. It makes no sense to build turbines first and wait for study.
Proposed rules don't protect health safety and property rights. Act to create balance. Sent it back.
Bembinster: Wind rules don't protect us enough. Goodhue County in MN set half mile setback. Too much emphasis to mitigate after the problem starts. Complaint resolution should not make it so complainers have to go to the wind company. Clear proceedure for enforcement. Wind has are large impact on community.
12:45 Jeff from "Wind for Wisconsin" thank you for holding this hearing, thanks for your leadership for passing act 40. I agree that we're not here to argue act 40. Do the rules meet the requirements of act 40.
Act 40 said PSC should create the rules but they should only regulate health and safety issues. The issue of mandatory neighbor payments might not be part of Act 40. It will increase the cost of the system. Setbacks. The wind siting council considered the safety setback of 1.1 times turbine height. That's the setback he'd like.
12:50 Appraisor: My opinion of turbines effect on property values. Studied for two years. Fond du Lac and Dodge Counties. Two areas in particular of interest. Realtor survey: they are sensitive to thing that impact values. Half had already had experiences trying to sell property. Overwhelming majority agreed major impact on property values. Emperical study supported this. 11%-59% loss of value in BS/GF project. Negative influence. $200,000 home would have a $24,000 to $50,000 loss.
12:53 Gary Dikkers. State airspace manager. Job to protect airspace. No one on WSC represent airspace concerns. The height of the structure itself, wind turbulence like that of a 747. Turbulence is a concern. I want to protect airports in our state. Catagory of airports in the state with no protection. Privately owned airports. Private use airports get permission from local government. My concern is that the rules take away the local goverments ability to protect private airport. Rule is 2500-3000 feet from airport to allow turbulance to die down. The current 3.1 setback is not enough.
12:58 George Krause: Property owners should be able to enjoy their whole property. Council divided on property value impacts from wind turbine. Close proximity to turbines clearly has an impact. The study the developers use is flawed. The minority found credible the Appraisal One.
Plale and Erpenbach are gone. 1:01 Plale comes back. Misses Krauses testimony.
1:02 Brown County Supervisor: sound public health policy, responsible for health and well being on people. Reject rules. Concern about proposed wind farm. Strong, formal and public stance against wind farms. Not against wind farms. Has worked with turbines. Reject rules and sent them back. Southern Brown county wind farm will create a problem with drinking water. Trenching will create direct conduit into ground water. This will cause problems. It's not if or when. Don't put them by people. Don't let them ruin the water.
Reads resolution from Brown County Board of Health and Supervisors: 2460 feet setback and 35 dbA limit.
Important you sent this back the people of Brown County have spoken unanimously.
1:07 Stadelman: Towns Association: Sent it back. Setback does not protect residents, noise limit doesn't protect residents. Draft rule provides lesser greater or different standards. There has to be language clarification. Monetary compensation. It's good to have neighbor payments. 25% cap on non-participating resident should be lifted. The wind company must provide emergency service training. The rule says the wind company can change ownership with 30 days notice. Local government should be able to approve the sale.
1:10 James Mueller. Living with turbines. Jet noise. Waked at night. Go to basement to get away from noise. We should have the right for a good sleep. If a complaint is received the wind owner has two years to do it. There is no enforcement. We are awakened at night even at wind speeds that too low. We Energies has not been responsive. Allowed a screeching turbine to go on for 6 months.
1:14 Elizabeth Eberts--Marshfield. Turbines 2000 feet from my home woke me up. Sept 18 noise complaint was not on WeEnergies list. I know of other people reporting the turbines making noise. How can you make the correct decision about noise levels if you do not receive information. My son had major surgery and stayed with me. He couldn't sleep because of the noise. Granddaughers can't stay over because of noise. I have a garden I can't go out because of pressure builds in my head. Those are a few of the noise issues my family has experienced. I feel like I'm at the edge of a cliff and nobody cares.
NOTE: This testimony was very upsetting. Crying in the room because of it. I'm going to stop for a little bit here.
1:24 Representing Town of Brown County: Issue unique to my community is ground water protection. Rules don't consider terrain. Dangers of well contamination, proceeding without protections. 9 of 15 members of wind siting council had financial interest. Rules are not based on science. Place health and safety of entire community.
1:28 Kristin Morehouse, licesned engineer. Done a lot of research looking at this. Siting rules are inadequate. Driven more by desire for development. Siting turbines agressively, shaving off factors of safety. If i design a building you can save money by taking out factors of safety but they don't protect people. We call that negligence. Factors of safety removed. 1.1 is not a safety setback. Major flaw is self policing, having developers do their own modeling.
1:32 Lynn Korinek: Thank you. Issue of takings was discussed by WSC. But staff said unless 100% is taken it's not a taking. Low frequency not addressed. Safety setbacks 2460 at property line.--
(It's hard to type this because her testimony is good and I'm listening!)
1:36 Dean Anholt (spelling): supervisor, ability to use my land affected, developer has wind rights on my land. Latest wind developer has guidelines I'm going to have to live by. Nuclear power works for our area. 200 megawatts wind farm proposed for our area. Do we need more power production in our state? Wisconsin has significant excess capacity. Leaders should use commons sense. Setbacks should be from property line.
(Plale is eating)
(Erpenbach still gone)
[The research nerd is tired now and needs a break}
Video testimony Dr. Herb Coussons (below) was not accepted today at the hearing. In the past video tesimony has been accepted. This hearing did not provide an opportunity. This testimony is powerful and Better Plan urges all who are interested in health issues related to wind turbines to take the time to view it.
MORE TESTIMONY PRESENTED AT THE HEARING TODAY WILL BE POSTED AS IT BECOMES Available
My name is Lynda Barry-Kawula and I live in the Town of Spring Valley in Rock County. I’m a writer and a cartoonist. I’ve written 17 books and my last one received the Wisconsin Library Association’s 2009 Book of the year award. I am currently working on a book about residents of wind farms in Wisconsin.
My interest began right here, at a hearing like this about two years ago. That’s where I first saw wind farm residents testify about the problems they were having with shadow flicker and nighttime turbine noise. They were asking for help, asking for someone to just come and spend the night in their homes to experience what they were going through.
After the hearing I went up to a few residents and said, “I’ll come stay at your house.”
And they said, “Who are you?”
I said, “Um, I’m a cartoonist?”
It must have been like someone calling for an ambulance and then a clown car shows up. But they were so desperate that a clown car was fine.
I’ve spent about ten nights in three homes in two different wind farms in Fond du Lac County and I’ve interviewed people from 20 households and have been following their stories over the last two years.
I now can tell you from first hand experience, no family should have to live with the nighttime noise, vibration and shadow flicker these families live with. These rules are nearly the same as the ones used to site those projects. They don’t fix the problem. They don’t even acknowledge a problem exists.
The standards in this rule are deemed safe based on a review of available medical literature that finds no direct link to negative health effects.
But how can the literature identify a problem unless someone talks to the people who are living with turbines. So far no one in the state is willing to do that. Not the health department, not the PSC, not even the doctor appointed to the wind-siting council. Dr. Jevon McFadden said he would not speak to wind farm residents. He said self-reported complaints and symptoms are not reliable and speaking to these people could bias his findings. He also refused to provide anyone with a written copy of the report he prepared and read to the council. Why?
His report found, not surprisingly, that the current literature indicates there are no problems.
To me this is like walking past someone who has been beaten and robbed on the side of the road and they are asking you for help and you say, “Don’t worry, I’ve done a thorough review of the literature and it indicates there is no crime on this road, so the good news is you’re fine.”
Dr. McFadden did not explain why his recommendation for nighttime noise limits is louder than the standards of the World Health Organization.
The World Health organization has also reviewed the literature, and their conclusion is 40dbA is the top nighttime noise limit for healthy sleep.
McFadden’s recommendation for rural Wisconsin is 50% louder. Why?
I mean, bless his heart, but Dr. McFadden just graduated from medical school a year ago and he openly admits he is not an expert on wind turbine noise. Yet the PSC is taking his recommendation over that of the World Health Organization. Why?
I was bothered that during council meetings Dr. McFadden had no questions for council member Larry Wunsch, who lives with a wind turbine 1100 feet from his door. I was bothered that the majority of the council expressed no interest in what Mr. Wunch has to say about his first hand experience and ignored his recommendations. I was especially bothered that the council would not allow Mr. Wunsch to play a recording he made of the turbine noise outside his door at 4AM. Why?
I am very concerned that while we are all in the middle of this rule making, there are Wisconsin wind farm families who are suffering right now because of pour siting and they are getting no help. They are told by the state to go to the wind company for relief and the wind company tells them state standards allow the noise and shadow flicker.
The new rules say the same thing: If you have a problem, call the wind company, talk to their answering machine. Make an appointment and take time off of work so they can come to your house and tell you that according to state standards you have no problem.
Over the past two years I’ve seen families whose general health is declining because of lack of sleep. There is more stress in the home, more worry about loss of property value, and no way to get out because of homes that won’t sell. And there is an increasing feeling of bitterness and anger. These rules will make for more of the same.
You know, the beginning of these hearings feel like a big wind power parade. At the front is the brass band: The PSC, the utility guys, wind developers, lobbyists, union guys, construction guys all saying rah rah jobs power money rah rah, wind power is the best! That’s the front of the parade. And I feel like I’m following behind it, seeing the mess that’s left behind-- sort of like—what do you call it, the honey bucket crew? The guy that follows at the end the parade with the pail and shovel? I’ve seen what’s left behind.
I’ve seen the damage done by siting standards like these and my hope is not only you all back up and take another look at this, but you’ll find a way to send help to the wind farm families who are suffering right now because of standards like these. They are in this situation through no fault of their own and they deserve whole lot more than a clown car.