10/16/10 Testimony presented at the Oct 13th Senate Committee Hearing on PSC wind rules from Carl and Sandra Johnson.
FROM CARL JOHNSON, TOWN OF HOLLAND, BROWN COUNTY
My name is Carl Johnson. I live in the Township of Holland, inside the boundaries of the proposed industrial wind energy project in southern Brown County. Thank you for this opportunity to speak today.
I oppose the wind siting rules, because they are not based in scientific and medical research and will fail to protect human health and safety.
A letter from Public Service Commissioner Azar accompanied the final siting rules this committee received. In it she states the following:
“There is substantial evidence that noise from Wind Turbines could negatively impact the health of a small percentage of the population. To better ensure compliance with Act 40’s mandate, I proposed the following safety net: under limited circumstances, the owner of a Wind Turbine must purchase, at fair market value, the home of someone who can prove that a nearby Wind Turbine is directly causing a significant adverse health outcome.
Unfortunately, at this time, we cannot accurately identify the precise line between safe levels of noise from Wind Turbines and those levels that will negatively affect human health. Nor do we know why a small percentage of the population is affected more negatively by Wind Turbines than the rest of the population. As new information becomes available, the Commission can revise this rule.”
I am thankful to Commissioner Azar for acknowledging that industrial wind turbines cause health problems, but I must condemn the public policy of continuing to expose families to these harmful effects to see how many become sick enough to qualify for a property buyout. This is tantamount to using people as lab rats.
The State Division of Public Health has declared that it has reviewed 155 documents and can find no substantial evidence that links wind turbines to human health problems.
This is confusing. Are there health problems, or not?
If the Division of Public Health is of the opinion there are not, who will review the cases in Commissioner Azar’s safety net program? Who will gather the data Commissioner Azar says is missing and needed to understand turbine related health issues?
Harvard educated epidemiologist, Dr. Carl Phillips, testified at the Wind Siting Council hearings. I am submitting a transcript of his oral testimony.
It was his assessment that the health problems reported by wind facility residents are real and the data is significant enough to warrant study before moving forward. He said the necessary health studies could be done easily in existing facilities, and that it was not a situation that requires more years of exposure to get the required data. Dr. Phillips states: “The only reason we don’t have better information than we do is that no one with adequate resources has tried to get it.” End quote.
The Wind Siting Council never reviewed, discussed, or considered Dr. Phillips’ expert testimony. Why not?
I think it was because seven of the fifteen members of that panel can be labeled as having financial or organizational interest in the promotion of wind energy systems. It was counter to their interests to conduct health studies, in spite of the fact that they could have requested the time and resources.
The voices of the four members of the council, who took their responsibility to protect public health and safety seriously, were drowned out or disregarded during the council process. I am submitting a copy of the Minority Report they filed with the PSC for your examination.
I am a retired social studies and environmental studies teacher of 31 years, and I never dreamed I would be involved in a fight like this to preserve the health and safety of my community - not in Wisconsin.
As the Public Service Commission and the State Division of Health have abdicated their responsibilities, and as Act 40 has rescinded the political power of Wisconsin’s rural citizens, and has given it to the wind energy companies, my faith in the governmental institutions charged with protecting us is withering, and my disappointment has given way to anger.
Thank you for your time.
TESTIMONY FROM SANDRA JOHNSON
I wish to thank the Senate Energy Committee for the opportunity to speak today.
I am a retired Green Bay Public school teacher. I earned my first degree here at UW - Madison in Natural Science with an emphasis in Biology.
This past summer, my husband, Carl, and I attended five of the Wind Siting Council meetings. As an observer, I could hear the back and forth discussions, including comments by the pro-wind members who have a vested interest in promoting and ensuring the construction of turbine projects.
This makeup of the Council presented problems when trying to read and consider various documents and take an unbiased look at reported health and safety problems. On occasion, I was surprised at the blatant disregard for the current and potential problems reported by wind project residents. For example, Bill Rakocy stated at one of the early meetings quite abruptly, “ Yeah . . . we can talk about human health issues, but it better be real illnesses, not those fake ones you hear about and are hard to prove.”
Our Brown County Board of Health concluded, after seeing an epidemiological study of the changes in the blood cortisol levels, etc. in a resident in one of the wind projects after the turbines went online, that siting distance may be the cause of these problems.
They listened to other residents testimonies who were dealing with shadow flicker, low frequency noise from the moving blades, interrupted sleep, etc. The gut-wrenching story of the Wirtz family who eventually had to walk away from their $320,000 farm due to sleeping problems, as well as lesions in the GI system of their teenage daughter, gave credence to their claims.
Our Brown Board of Health saw these symptoms as “real”. The neighboring Kewaunee County Board of Health drew the same conclusion, as did the Manitowoc County Board of Health most recently.
At one of our Brown County Board meetings in early 2010, it was announced by one of the supervisors that the city of Green Bay had hired an acoustical engineer and his firm to do c-weighted tests to measure and assess the Low Frequency Noise produced by the blades of industrial fans, the airport and the cooling systems at the mega-grocery stores.
The city government wanted to see if the LFN’s might be making some city residents sick who live nearby. And, if needed, they would rewrite their city noise ordinance to include new safe standards to include LFN’sand protect their urban residents.
Doesn’t it make sense to have acoustical testing and sleep studies done in current Wisconsin industrial wind projects? Don’t we as rural residents deserve the same safeguards for our families and farms?
Last week, I spoke with Mr. Tom Tanton, who is an energy analyst and former member of the California Energy Board for 35 years. He is President of T2 & Associates providing consulting services to the energy and technology industries.
He got right to the point in his e-mail to me. Quote: “Living too close to wind turbines imposes health and safety risks to the public. . . . noise from wind turbines can cause health effects, as documented by Dr. Nina Pierpont and others. Dr. Oguz A. Soysal, Professor and Chairman of the Dept. of Physics and Engineering at Frostburg State University in Maryland measured sound levels over half a mile away from the Meyersdale, PA, 20-turbine wind farm. . . audible plus low frequency c-weighted dB were 65-70 range. . . represents a significant amount of low frequency sound by World Health Organization standards. Noise-induced sleep disturbances can result in fatigue, depressed mood or well-being, decreased performance. . .increased blood pressure and heart rate, changes in breathing pattern, and cardiac arrhythmias.
Have you all been listening? These are only some of the “red flags” that have popped up in Wisconsin wind project areas. There is not enough time to talk about our overwhelmed electrical grid system and the effect of pulsating non-linear power produced by these huge wind turbines known to create ground currents, sometimes called “stray voltage” by the utilities, that can travel into homes and barns through wiring and/or the plumbing.
The time for studies is now, rather than to blindly proceed with a public policy that could harm the people and wildlife resources of Wisconsin.
Thank you for your time.
Sandra L. Johnson
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD:
Better Plan would like to thank the Johnsons for providing us with a copy of their testimony so we can share it here.
CLICK HERE to watch Wisconsin Eye video of the Senate Committee wind rules hearing. After you click on the link, click "Watch" under 10.13.10 Senate committee on Commerce, Utilities, Energy and Rail.
Better Plan would also like to thank Wisconsin Eye for making this video available to the public.