"It can sound like a freight train going through the other end of town. The problem is that freight train don't have a caboose. It don't stop. It just keeps rolling and rumbling on and on and on, for hours and hours,"
-Al Haas, farmer hosting turbines on his land
Wind blowing up storm of strong opinions
100 wind turbines proposed for Brown County
Wednesday, May 5 2010, 7:20 PM CDT
Reporter: Lou Hillman
MALONE - If you walked out of your home every morning and saw wind turbines in every which direction, is it a site you would get used to?
"You don't even notice them anymore. They've been here two years and it's just a part of life now, I guess," said Ken Krause, a farmer in the Fond du Lac County town of Marshfield.
Or, is it a site you would grow to hate?
"Not these big, industrial turbines. They just don't belong here," said Al Haas, a farmer in the Fond du Lac County town of Malone.
It's something many neighbors in Fond du Lac County will never agree on. Opinions are even more polarized among those who live on the Blue Sky Green Field wind farm . With 88 wind turbines, it is currently the largest wind farm in the state.
Haas has three turbines spinning on his farmland. He makes about $15,000 a year just for having them there. That's a nice side income with no extra work involved.
"We were told we would basically be able to farm right up to it. We were told there would be basically no land loss to speak of, it just sounded like a good deal," said Haas.
That extra money? Haas now says it isn't worth it. He blames the wind turbines for damaging his crops and interfering with his TV reception.
But his main complaint is the noise. He says it keeps him up at night and has led to stress.
"It can sound like a freight train going through the other end of town. The problem is that freight train don't have a caboose. It don't stop. It just keeps rolling and rumbling on and on and on, for hours and hours," said Haas.
"There are probably 3 or 4 days out of the month where they are loud but I think it's a small prices to pay," said Ken Krause.
Krause stands on the other side of the wind debate. He even likes the look of the two turbines on his farmland.
"If each community in the country was doing what we are doing, we wouldn't need foreign oil ... Not as much anyway," said Krause.
Krause points to the pain at the pump two summers ago.
"Some people are already forgetting the $4 (a gallon) gas we had a couple years back. This is helping," said Krause.
So, are all the wind turbines worth it? That's what people in Brown County want to know. Some have even contacted people on both sides of the issue in Fond du Lac County to hear first hand with it's really like living inside a wind farm.
"Is there a place for wind? Maybe. But I don't think it's in Wisconsin," said Jon Morehouse, the spokesman for Brown County Citizens for Responsible for Wind Energy .
The group represents more than 200 people who are opposed to large-scale wind development in Brown County. Many of those people say wind turbines blemish the landscape and pose health hazards.
"We need to slow down, we need to slow down until things get put into place to regulate these industrial monsters to a safe and healthy level," said Morehouse. "People are going to have to put up with them for 30 years."
100 turbines are proposed in southern Brown County, with 54 turbines going in the town of Morrison, 22 in Holland, 20 in Wrightstown and 4 in Glenmore. It would be the largest wind farm in the state.
The project is being developed by Invenergy, a private firm from Chicago . The company says the location is one of the best places to harness wind in Wisconsin.
"Wisconsin has very good places for good wind and good transmission capabilities near where the power is going to be used," said Kevin Parzyck, the wind development manager for Invenergy.
Invenergy is still modifying its application for the project. It will ultimately go to the state Public Service Commission for a decision.
That process will likely take several more months which gives people in Brown County more time to research the issue.
"We want people to go. Go to a turbine, stand under a turbine, see what it's like, the proof is in the pudding," said Parzyck.
Though, there are many farmers in Fond du Lac County who say a few days in their shoes would turn most people against wind development.