6/17/10 When there is so much money to be made, who cares about the neighbors? Who wants to listen to the Brown County Board of Health?
HEALTH OFFICIALS WEIGH IN ON WIND FARM
June 16, 2010
By Becky DeVries
BROWN COUNTY – A Brown County committee makes a recommendation against an area wind farm because of worries it may be unhealthy for people nearby.
Brown County’s Board of Health says it believes the risk is too high, and is recommending a proposed wind farm not be built.
Invenergy is the Chicago-based company, planning to build 100 wind turbines in southern Brown County. The wind farm is not a done deal yet. The state Public Service Commission is still taking public comments on the topic, and has yet to give final approval.
“Behind me there would be at least three of them I believe, possibly more, and there will be some on this side also,” Jeff VanRossum explained near his Town of Wrightstown home.
The view from VanRossum’s front yard could soon change if plans are approved to put up 100 wind turbines in southern Brown County.
“There’s too many variables, too many health issues,” said VanRossum.
VanRossum does not want the wind farm in the area, his main concern is health.
“We’re saying that this is not a safe place to cite a wind farm,” said Audrey Murphy, chair of the Brown County Board of Health.
The board is formally recommending the wind farm not be built. Murphy says the main concern is the risk of water contamination that could happen as a result of an underground system that would connect the windmills.
“The greatest threat to this wind farm is the ground water situation,” said Murphy. “This is an area that has a historical record of having ground contamination.”
However, Invenergy, the company proposing the project, says it has addressed ground water contamination concerns in the past, and has not had problems.
“We’re confident that it will be shown that our project is a safe and reliable facility that is going to generate great economic benefits,” said Kevin Parzyck, development manager for Invenergy.
The Wisconsin Public Service Commission says its three commissioners will review all the information regarding the wind farm and make a decision based on that. The recommendation from the Brown County Board of Health is just one piece of information the commission will review. It doesn’t necessarily hold any more or less weight than any other piece of information.
“We have to start making a step toward cleaner air,” said Dave Bining.
Bining lives just down the street from Jeff VanRossum, and welcomes the windmills.
“I’m for it,” said Bining. “We can’t keep pumping pollution into the air. At some point there’s got to be an alternative. Wind mills may not be the answer, but right now they’re available.”
Just which neighbor gets his way remains to be seen.
The Wisconsin Public Service Commission is still accepting public comments. It will review them, and other information and then make a decision, on allowing the plans to go forward. Invenergy hopes to start construction on the Brown County wind farm next year.
BROWN COUNTY BOARD OF HEALTH OPPOSES WIND TURBINE PROJECT
June 17 2010
By Marcie Kobriger
Plans in motion to build a 100-wind turbine farm in southern Brown County will be at a standstill if the Public Service Commission accepts a recommendation from the county board of health.
The board says digging in to put up the turbines could put the public’s health at risk.
Whether the complaints are that they’re noisy, ugly, or emit stray voltage, the arguments against building wind turbines in Brown County have been stacked high.
But it’s what’s beneath the ground that’s convinced the Brown County Board of Health that this type of green energy is not the way to go in the southern part of the county.
Well water in the Town of Morrison and other southern Brown County communities has been plagued for years.
“Over 30 percent of our wells in the Town of Morrison right now are over the drinking water standard for nitrates,” Bill Hafs of the Brown County Land and Water Conservation Department said.
E. coli and other bacteria have also been found in the wells.
The project would require digging 81 miles of trenches to bury cable to carry power from the wind turbines to the electrical grid.
With farms as far as the eye can see — providing plenty of manure to spread– conservation experts say the Town of Morrison, with less than one foot of top soil above bedrock in places, is susceptible to well contamination.
“Once you’ve disturbed that and hit the bedrock, then if you land apply any waste over the top it’ll hit that cable and go down into the bedrock and cause a ground water contamination,” Hafs said. “We’ve created a conduit to bedrock, a conduit to ground water.”
But the board of health’s recommendation has done little to reconcile friends and families who’ve been at odds over the issue of wind turbines since the wind farm was first proposed.
“We till fields, we till swamp holes, we till sink holes, we till frog holes, and none if it affects the ground water. How could a wire?” neighbor Harvey Hafeman responds. “How could that affect groundwater? That’s a myth.
Hafeman believes the recommendation has less to do with water concerns than the concerns of his neighbors who oppose wind turbines.
“It’s all because these people don’t want a tower in their back yards.”
Hafeman says he has the acreage to put many wind turbines on his property.
He doesn’t believe the four-foot cable trenches would pose any additional threat of well contamination.
“If they did go nine feet, the basement of this house is nine feet deep and they don’t go that far even if they don’t have to,” Hafeman said.
“You typically don’t spread animal waste or industrial waste close to buildings,” Hafs responded.
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: To read more about Wisconsin wind issues and the latest on what is happening in Brown County, visit the Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy (BCCRWE) website by CLICKING HERE
HAVE YOU REACHED OUT AND TOUCHED YOUR PSC TODAY?
The PSC is asking for public comment on the recently approved draft siting rules. The deadline for comment is July 7th, 2010.
The setback recommended in this draft is 1250 feet from non-participating homes, 500 feet from property lines.
SAVE THE DATE: The PSC will be holding public hearings for the wind sitting rules on
Monday, June 28 @ 1PM & 6PM in Fond Du Lac at the City Hall on 160 S. Macy Street
Tuesday, June 29 @ 1PM & 6PM at Holiday Inn in Tomah on 1017 E. McCoy Blvd.
Wednesday, June 30 at the PSC in Madison on 610 North Whitney Way, 1pm and 6pm
The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin has scheduled several hearings throughout the state regarding the creation of statewide wind turbine regulations.
The new regulations apply to wind farms that will generate less than 100 Megawatts of power. Specifics about turbine height, noise and distance setbacks, shadow flicker, signal interference and when residents and government agencies must be notified about proposed projects are included in the 53-page document.
To view the document, go to www.psc.wi.gov, enter docket number 1-AC-231 into the case search bar and download the document titled “Notice of Hearings” with the Public Service Commission reference number 131882.
Comments are due on Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at noon and must be mailed to: Sandra J. Paske, Secretary to the Commission, Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 7854, Madison, Wis., 53707-7854.
Comments can also be faxed to (608) 266-3957 and are due by Tuesday, July 6, 2010 at noon.
Online comments can be submitted at http://psc.wi.gov using docket number 1-AC-231.