1/28/11 UPDATED: Life in a Wisconsin wind project: who is listening to the residents? AND Update on Big Wind lawsuit in Ontario AND Wind project resident suffers heart-attack during presentation about turbine noise violations AND Stray Voltage and Wind Turbines
THE NOISE MOVED IN NEXT TO THE HOMEOWNERS
SOURCE Journal Sentinel, www.jsonline.com
January 27, 2011
By Patrick McIlheran
In Thursday’s Journal Sentinel, I talk with the neighbors of some wind projects. Frankly, I think wind turbines are pretty atop the ridge south of Fond du Lac, but I don’t live near them. Gerry Meyer does, and he recounts just how loud they are — like a jet plane flying over, or like boots in the clothes dryer.
That’s why, he tells me, he thinks the 1,800-foot line specified in Gov. Scott Walker’s bill on wind turbine siting makes sense. It isn’t a setback — rather, the bill simply requires that anyone putting a wind turbine closer than 1,800 feet to a property line get the permission of the owner on the other side.
Wind advocates say that will kill wind power in Wisconsin. It’s “highly unlikely,” said Clean Wisconsin’s Keith Reopelle, that developers would want to negotiate with neighbors, much less pay them compensation, the likely means by which such permission would be gained.
Besides, said Reopelle, it’s not as if wind turbines are the only noisy thing out there. He mentioned how he used to live along the edge of Interstate 90 south of Madison.
“We’ve never talked about monetary compensation for people who live near highways,” he said.
True enough, but there’s a critical difference: I-90 was a freeway long before Reopelle ever moved next to it. By comparison, rural southern Fond du Lac County was field and wood until about two years ago. Characteristic noises would include the footfalls of deer. “I have not seen a deer here since construction began,” said Meyer, and the owls and hawks that used to frequent his woodlot are gone, too. While someone choosing to live near a freeway is moving next to the noise nowadays (since we’re not building new freeways), in the case of wind farms, the noise is moving in.
FAIR AND OPEN PROCESS? MORE LIKE OUTNUMBERED AND IGNORED SAY TURBINES' NEIGHBORS
SOURCE: Journal Sentinel, www.jsonline.com
January 27, 2011 By Patrick McIlheran
If you look at my column in Thursday’s Journal Sentinel about wind turbines, you’ll notice one of the people I talked to is Larry Wunsch, who lives 1,100 feet from a turbine near Brownsville.
Wunsch was on the panel that the Public Service Commission assembled to advise it on wind turbine siting rules. The PSC was told by the Doyle administration to trump town and county rules on how far turbines should be from houses, and it picked a number, 1,250 feet, that wind advocates say is plenty far enough.
In fact, say advocates, the number is a compromise — tougher than they wanted but less than what wind farm critics sought. “A fair decision arrived at,” said Denise Bode, head of the American Wind Energy Association. The number was arrived at via an open process involving all kinds of stakeholders, she said.
It’s true that wind turbine critics wanted a farther setback — one figure that gets thrown around is a 2-kilometer setback, or more than 6,000 feet. But that the PSC’s figure is less than critics wanted and more than developers did proves nothing about the process that produced the PSC’s rule.
Was, in fact, the process fair? Not really, says Wunsch. For one thing, the PSC’s panel was heavy with advocates of wind, he notes. By law, it had to include two wind-farm developers, two utility representatives (utilities favor easier wind-farm siting), one university expert, one township official, one county official, two real estate reps (who generally want tighter limits), two wind-farm neighbors, and two members of the general public. In this case, one of the members of the public was a former Doyle functionary; the other was Jennifer Heinzen, who happened to be an offical with RENEW Wisconsin, a pro-wind group. It mean RENEW had two people on the council.
“A member of the public should be Joe down at the bait shop,” said Wunsch, and while you might think so, state law made no such specification.
As for whether the council did much listening, again, Wunsch contends it didn’t. He contends he tried playing recordings he made outside his home of turbine sounds — along with sound-meter readings of between 50 and 60 decibels — and was turned down. He says he later suggested just playing an hour of turbine noise he recorded in his backyard during the proceedings as a show of what neighbors endure. “I was told by chair that I could not do that. Any experiment I tried to bring to them they weren’t interested.”
Obviously, a majority of the council disagreed with Wunsch, but that doesn’t lessen the fact that, however lawful and public the process, the neighbors of wind farms felt they weren’t consulted so much as outnumbered and trumped.
Click on the video above to hear what wind turbines sound like. Video recorded by Gerry Meyer who lives in the Invenergy Forward Energy Wind Project. Video camera microphones aren't sensitive enough to fully record wind turbine noise. Even so, the distinct quality of wind turbine noise is very clear here.
CONCERNS ARE ADRIFT IN THE WIND
SOURCE: Journal Sentinel, www.jsonline.com
January 26, 2011
If anyone had to ask Gerry Meyer for permission to install a wind turbine 1,560 feet from his house, it isn’t clear he’d have said no.
“At one time, I supported this, because I didn’t know any better,” said Meyer, who lives amid the 86-turbine wind farm south of Fond du Lac, near Brownsville. “I was naive.”
But no one had to ask Meyer anything. As turbines and their neighbors are back in the news, with wind proponents saying Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed change to siting rules will kill wind power in Wisconsin, one thing is becoming clear: Wind backers aren’t doing enough asking or listening to neighbors.
Neighbors are listening, whether they want to or not, to the turbines. Builders say they’re quiet, and Meyer said he believed that – until he stepped outside and looked up for the jet flying over. It was the new turbine nearby. Depending on wind and humidity, any of the five turbines within a mile of his house obtrude on the quiet, whining or thumping “like boots in the dryer.”
Within weeks, his wife and son started having chronic headaches. His wife now suffers constant ringing in her ears. It vanished on vacation. Meyer no longer sleeps much – “The only time I dream is when we go to our cabin,” he said – and he says his blood chemistry’s now a mess. His cortisol returned to normal, and he lost 21 excess pounds when the turbines were off for three weeks. “That should raise a red flag,” he said.
A mail carrier, Meyer talks of dogs grown surly and neighbors who have abandoned farms. One neighbor, Larry Wunsch, 1,100 feet from a turbine, cites “shadow flicker,” when sunlight shines through the blades. “It looks like someone is turning the lights on and off,” he said. The state “says you should be able to put up with that for 40 hours a year.” He can’t. He’s been trying to sell for more than a year.
Elsewhere near Fond du Lac, turbines’ neighbors mention the jet-like noise. “Sometimes it sounds like a racetrack or a plane landing,” Elizabeth Ebertz, 67, of St. Cloud, told the Wisconsin State Journal in August. “They’re just too close to people.” Allen Hass, 56, a Malone farmer, told the paper the rent he got for hosting a turbine couldn’t make up for headaches. “I wish I never made that deal,” he said.
Distance is at issue now that Walker proposes changing the uniform setback the state adopted last year. The Public Service Commission overrode stricter local rules, saying turbines had to be at least 1,250 feet from homes. Walker proposes 1,800 feet from property lines, a distance backers say will kill the wind industry. The existing standard is strict enough, says Denise Bode, head of the American Wind Energy Association, and changing it leaves little room for turbines.
Except Walker’s bill doesn’t say turbines must be 1,800 feet from anything – only that if they’re closer, the neighboring owner must grant permission.
Wind backers feel that’s not workable, says Keith Reopelle of Clean Wisconsin, a group favoring turbines. Neighbors would demand payment, “raising the price of wind power and making wind power less competitive,” he said.
Well, yes, neighbors do complicate things. So do lawsuits, like the one Clean Wisconsin joined to try stopping We Energies’ new low-pollution Oak Creek power plant; the settlement will raise your power bills by $100 million. There are lots of trade-offs in generating electricity, and wind is no exception.
The difference is that with wind, the burden falls heavily on people right next door. It lowers theirproperty value, it affects their health in ways not yet understood and it can be alleviated by paying neighbors for their trouble, a deal that Walker’s bill encourages.
But wind backers aren’t inclined to bargain or even acknowledge a problem. “We live with lots of noises,” such as from roads, said Reopelle. Bode, asked about complaints, replied, “There are always going to be some folks who don’t want development.”
Nothing wrong with development, said Meyer, “but what about our health?” The wind farm, he said, “has completely taken away our quality of life.” Of such complaints, wind’s proponents hear nothing.
SUPPORT SENATE BILL 9: WALKER'S WIND SITING REFORM
Better Plan encourages you to take a moment right now to contact Governor Walker's office to thank him for the provisions in Senate Bill 9, (CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE BILL) which provides for a setback of 1800 feet between wind turbines and property lines. Let him know you support this bill.
Governor Scott Walker
115 East Capitol
Madison WI 53702
It's very important that you contact these key legislative committee members and urge them to support this bill and vote to move it forward. Every phone call and email to these committee members matters.
Members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Utilities, Commerce, and Government Operations.
-Chairman Senator Rich Zipperer (R) Sen.Zipperer@legis.wisconsin.gov
(608) 266-9174 Capitol 323 South
-Vice Chair Senator Neal Kedzie (R) Sen.email@example.com
(608) 266-2635 Capitol 313 South
(608) 266-2502 Capitol 409 South
Senator Fred Risser (D) Sen.firstname.lastname@example.org
(608) 266-1627 Capitol 130 South
Senator Jon Erpenbach (D) Sen.email@example.com
(608) 266-6670 Capitol 106 South
Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities
Representative Mark Honadel (Chair)
(888) 534-0021 (414) 764-9921 (South Milwaukee)
Representative John Klenke (Vice-Chair)
(888) 534-0088 (Green Bay) new
Representative Kevin Petersen
(888) 947-0040 (Waupaca)
Representative Gary Tauchen
(608) 266-3097 (Bonduel)
Representative Thomas Larson
(888) 534-0067 (Colfax) new
Representative Erik Severson
(888) 529-0028 (Star Prairie) new
Representative Chad Weininger
(888) 534-0004 (Green Bay) new
Representative Josh Zepnick
(608) 266-1707 (414) 727-0841 (Milwaukee)
Representative John Steinbrink
(608) 266-0455 (262) 694-5863 (Pleasant Prairie)
Representative Anthony Staskunas
(888) 534-0015 (414) 541-9440 (West Allis)
Representative Brett Hulsey
(608) 266-7521 (Madison)
And be sure to contact your own legislators and encourage them to support the bill.
TURBINES, GREEN ENERGY ACT, FACE COURT CHALLENGE
SOURCE: Orangeville Citizen, www.citizen.on.ca
January 27, 2011
By WES KELLER Freelance Reporter,
The fate of Ontario’s Green Energy Act (GEA), as it relates to wind turbines, might hinge on whether a Divisional Court panel of three Superior Court judges rules that the government should have sought proof that there are no harmful health effects from turbines or rules that the government considered adequately whether a standard setback of 550 metres is safe.
An application for a judicial review, brought by lawyer Eric Gillespie representing Prince Edward County resident Ian Hannah, was heard Monday in Toronto over objections from government lawyer Sara Blake, who argued that the court had no jurisdiction as it involves a wind farm proposal that should be subject to the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) process.
The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) is a party to the hearing but only as “a friend of the court” and so far only apparently to the extent of submitting information. But its position reflects that of the government.
“In our view this application has no merit and should not be before the court. The proper forum for issues related to setbacks for wind turbine projects is through the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) process. The REA is designed to ensure that renewable energy projects are developed in a way that is protective of human health, the environment, and Ontario’s cultural and natural heritage,” said CanWEA’s media relations officer, Ulrike Kucera in an email response.
The judges have reserved their decision to allow time to review the complex submissions from both sides, but Wind Concerns Ontario is considering that a victory. It says essentially that to have had the case heard at all was a win, and cites three hurdles that it consider it has overcome.
First hurdle: having the case heard;
Second hurdle: the court heard evidence from experts whom the government side said were unqualified;
Third hurdle: the fact of the reserved judgment, as an indication that the panel is reviewing all submissions – including those of the turbine opponent.
Mr. Gillespie’s submissions generally were that the provincial ministry did not consult doctors and did not follow what is known as “the precautionary principle” by which a proposal should be rejected if there is uncertainty about its effects.
Ms. Blake defended the process of the GEA drafting as, she said, the minister reviewed scientific studies. She said the doctors cited by Mr. Gillespie lacked the (expert) qualifications required, and described one of them as “an advocate against wind farms” because an area near his home is being considered for a possible wind farm.
On Tuesday, Mono council unanimously passed a motion by Councillor Fred Nix, asking the provincial government undertake independent third-party clinical research on the health effects of low-frequency noise from wind turbines on nearby residents.
In an interview, Mr. Nix said the motion was largely symbolic, since municipalities have limited authority under the Ontario Green Energy Act.
“This says to the government what a rural municipality thinks,” said Mr. Nix. “They say a safe setback for turbines is 550 metres.
“Do we have a research that says this is safe? I say we don’t.”
While he admitted a motion passed by a single, relatively small municipality bears practically no weight, Mr. Nix was hopeful the message would bring other towns and cities on side and they could make their collective case through the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) or the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA).
“There is strength in numbers, he said,” he said. “We will have a lot more powers if we can get more municipalities on our side.”
The outcome of the court hearing is of vital interest to the Whittington Coalition for Our Right to a Healthy Living Environment, the group opposing a 6.9 megawatt wind turbine installation at Mono- Amaranth Townline and 15 Sideroad, in large part because they believe the 550-metre setbacks are inadequate.
But it is of critical interest to the Ontario government itself as it has been relying on a deal with Samsung and a South Korean turbine service proponent to create thousands of industrial jobs while bolstering Ontario’s production of green wind energy.
SOURCE: Wind Turbine Syndrome News
Lindgren had been in the midst of an evening presentation about the reporting by Fox Island Electric to ratepayers and ongoing complaints about violations of state noise standards. The informal entity Mr. Lindgren leads—Fox Islands Wind Neighbors—has urged the State of Maine to enforce the law against Fox Islands Wind, the turbine operator.
At considerable effort, cost, and often under severe weather conditions, Mr. Lindgren mastered complex acoustic measurements, providing data from wind turbines from this rural, quiet area in Maine.
Lindgren was airlifted from Vinalhaven, ten miles from the Maine coast, by LifeFlight helicopter last night after being resuscitated by observers.
He is under treatment at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, ME.