Entries in Bill Rakocy (21)

7/13/12 Big Wind VS The Little Guy: Will the Saint Croix HHS Step In?


 Jeff Holmquist

SOURCE: Pierce County Herald www.piercecountyherald.com

July 12, 2012 

The St. Croix Health and Human Services Board will look into health concerns raised by residents of the Town of Forest related to a proposed wind farm in that community.

For the second time in several months, a group of Forest Township residents filled the board room at the Health and Human Services building in New Richmond, Wis. to ask for help.

The HHS Board had previously agreed to send a letter to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services asking for additional study of the possible health impacts of wind energy projects.

Opponents of the Highland Wind Farm project in Forest Township, proposed by Emerging Energies of Wisconsin LLC, say that people living near existing wind farms have suffered varying health impacts ranging from headaches, sleep deprivation and hearing loss.

In a response from Wisconsin Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Kitty Rhoades, the state is relying on three previous studies on wind farms. All of those studies indicate that the impact on a person’s health is non-existent if proper setbacks are followed, Rhoades wrote.

Wendy Kramer, public health officer for St. Croix County, admitted there is a great deal of controversy related to the health impact of wind turbines near homes.

Forest resident Brenda Salseg said state rules require a minimum 1,250-foot setback from existing homes. At least one industry recommendation calls for a minimum of a 1,640-foot setback from homes, she reported.

If the 41 Forest turbines are allowed to be constructed, Salseg said, it’s likely that some residents will have turbines too close to their home and their family’s health will be in jeopardy.

“This is serious stuff,” she said. “This could become a health emergency in St. Croix County.”

Salseg said she also expects more wind farm proposals in the future, which will have an impact on other parts of the county.

HHS Board Chairman Fred Horne said he will distribute the information that Forest residents are circulating concerning possible health effects and the board will discuss any future action at its meeting in August.

If the group chooses, Horne said, county officials could present testimony about health concerns as part of the upcoming Public Utilities Commission hearings in October.

The Wisconsin PUC will make the final determination about whether the Highland Wind farm will move forward. The Forest project is greater than 100 kilowatts in size, making the state agency the one with final say in the matter.

The Highland project was smaller than 100 kilowatts when it was first proposed, but local opponents worked hard to recall Forest Town Board members who were supportive of the project. The new town board eventually rescinded the required approvals, but then developers increased the size of the project to bypass the local approval process.

4/2/12 Their money or your life? Wind Farm Strong Arm Continues: Emerging Energies VS Town of Forest


By Jeff Holmquist,

Source: New Richmond News, www.newrichmond-news.com

March 30, 2012 

About 20 residents of the Town of Forest attended last week’s St. Croix County Health and Human Services Board meeting to seek help in their fight against a wind farm proposal.

Forest resident Doris Schmidt told the board members that residents are concerned about possible health issues that may develop among those living close to the 41 wind turbines planned for the township.

She pointed to a turbine project near Green Bay (Brown County) that was installed by Emerging Energies LLC, the developer seeking to construct the Highland Wind Farm in Forest, as an example of what can go wrong when turbines are close to homes.

Brenda Salseg, Forest, said people living near a turbine often complained of headaches, sleep deprivation, anxiety and other health issues. Stray voltage, low-frequency sound and “flicker” from the moving shadow of the blades are among the impacts of wind energy on residents, she added.

“There is no doubt in my mind that there are health issues related to industrial wind turbines,” she said.

Resident Nicole Miller fought back tears as she talked about the possibility that her family’s life on a dairy farm could be disrupted by a wind farm coming in.

“We don’t know if we can afford to move,” she told the board. “We don’t know if we can afford to stay. Any support you could give us would be wonderful.”

Salseg said the Town of Forest was targeted by Emerging Energies because the municipality is not governed by St. Croix County zoning rules. Now the developer wants to squeeze in a bunch of turbines in a relatively small area, impacting residents for miles around, she told the board.

State siting rules allow for a turbine to be placed within 1,250 feet of a residence. Salseg noted that some research indicated that such turbines should be as much as 2,000 feet away from a home.

According to Salseg, there are 21 landowners in the township who have agreed to have turbines placed on their property. That’s a small percentage of the 170 families and 215 households currently in the Town of Forest, she noted.

Forest resident LaVerne Hoitomt said there are places across the nation that make more sense for wind farms. Large tracts of land in states like North Dakota and Nebraska would allow for turbines to be placed well away from houses, he said.

A wind farm in a densely populated place like the Town of Forest makes no sense, he added.

If the wind farm proceeds, Schmidt claimed, Forest residents would likely see a drop in their property values. Property rights would also be compromised, she said, as setbacks from turbines would likely limit what people can build on their properties.

County board member Esther Wentz added that county roads could be in jeopardy if the wind farm goes forward. County and town roads aren’t constructed to a high enough standard to withstand the beating they’d take while the wind farm would be constructed, she claimed.

Pete Kling, director of the county Zoning and Planning Department, said the county has little say when it comes to the placement of turbines in the Town of Forest. The county does have an existing tower ordinance which limits the height of towers to 200 feet, but it’s unclear if that ordinance would include wind turbines. The Forest project would include turbines that could reach almost 500 feet.

Although he had few encouraging words, Kling said county officials continue to research the matter.

“We hear you and we’re working with officials in the Town of Forest,” he said. “These are very complicated issues.”

Ed Thurman, environmental health specialist with St. Croix County, said studies on the health impact of wind turbines is inconclusive. Three studies have been done to date but additional studies are not likely, he said.

Thurman told the board that research seems to indicate that health impacts are “minimal,” so he suggested the officials not take a stand in the matter.

But board member Richard “Buzz” Marzolf said the residents did a good job of laying out their concerns and the Health and Human Services Board should back their efforts to derail the project.

“The research they’ve done is quite apparent,” he said. “I see no reason to delay.”

The board voted unanimously to support a four-part plan of action suggested by the Forest residents in attendance. The Health and Human Services Board, with the help of staff members, will send a letter of “official support” of a Brown County Board of Health resolution on behalf of the Town of Glenmore and the Town of Forest to the State of Wisconsin; file a “Letter of Declaration of Health Concerns” for the Town of Forest residents and residents within the project footprint with the Public Service Commission on PSC Docket 2535-CE-100; petition the state of Wisconsin to “authorize and execute third-party, non-biased health studies in existing wind energy project areas to determine why industrial wind turbines make some individuals sick;” and assist the Town of Forest and residents within the project footprint with a voluntary baseline population health assessment before and after should the Highland Wind project be permitted by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

The residents in the audience applauded following the vote.

“We’ll try to do anything we can to help you,” Wentz said.

After the majority of Forest residents left the meeting, St. Croix County Board Chairman Daryl Standafer told the board that he was “uncomfortable” with the action it took in the matter.

He said his family has had personal experience living near wind turbines and he is not aware of any health issues surrounding them.

“There are two sides to this issue,” he said.

In a telephone interview Monday, Jay Mundinger, founding principal of Emerging Energies, said recent studies indicate that there are no negative health effects of wind turbines near homes. He cited a recent Massachusetts study that there was no health impacts related to wind turbines.

Mundinger said the developer continues to work with state and federal regulators to ensure that the public’s health is not at risk.

He admitted, however, that the comments about health concerns are part of the public process and Emerging Energies welcomes the opportunity to answer any and all questions.

He added that the Highland Wind Farm is “rightly sited” because the turbines would be located in one of the least populated townships in St. Croix County.

2/25/12 Fighting Emerging Energies' Wind Farm Strong Arm 


By Brenda Salseg

SOURCE: New Richmond News

February 24, 2012

I can only surmise two reasons the wind developer, Emerging Energies LLC, a.k.a. Highland Wind, dropped its potential $25 million lawsuit against the Town of Forest for breach of contract: 1. the developer knows it would be unwise to open up township records to legal scrutiny, and 2. the wind developer is trying to improve its image with other townships it may be targeting next for a wind project.

Logically, any township near the Town of Forest would also be ripe for the expansion of an industrial wind turbine project, including the towns of Glenwood, New Haven, Cylon and Emerald. Virtually, any township in the state of Wisconsin can be targeted and county and local ordinances overridden if a developer pushes its project over 100 megawatts, which requires permitting through the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

Emerging Energies/ Highland Wind is attempting to “force” the project on the Town of Forest via the PSC. Yet 70 percent of the residents of Forest are against living within an industrial wind park.

Well documented studies by leading scientists, physicians, acousticians, electrical engineers and appraisers link evidence directly to health problems and property devaluation that result wherever industrial wind turbine projects are sited too close to neighboring homes.

The most compelling evidence is the Shirley Wind Project in the Town of Glenmore, Wis. Go to www.youtube.com and search “Shirley Wind Project.” Watch the video. The families, who live south of Green Bay are suffering negative health effects and livestock deaths they believe are the result of eight 500-foot tall German-made industrial wind turbines sited in their community and installed by the same wind developer, Emerging Energies. Some of these families live more than a half mile from the nearest turbine.

Emerging Energies’ public relations tactics do not fool us who oppose the wind project in the Town of Forest. Industrial wind energy does not work, is a waste of billions of taxpayer dollars, results in few permanent jobs, does not close down coal plants, and siting turbines too close to homes and livestock is negligent and irresponsible.

Bill Rakocy, managing partner of Emerging Energies, has been quoted as saying, “We’re excited to develop as much wind (power) as we can in Wisconsin.” Of course the developer is; the eight turbines in the Shirley Project netted $13 million in taxpayer subsidy.

If Emerging Energies succeeds in the installation of a 41-wind turbine project, it would be a hostile take-over of our community and de facto eminent domain of nonparticipating properties, some 20,000 acres not under lease. One would have to question what it means to live in the United States of America if corporate interests can supersede constitutional rights.

The people of Forest that stand together against industrial wind will not stand down and allow our township to be taken over by greed under the guise of noble-sounding, planet-saving rhetoric which is not based on the facts. Nor were residents intimidated by Sunday night’s vandalism and theft of more than 30 “No Turbines” signs located on individual private property.

As taxpayers and residents of northwestern Wisconsin, if you turn a blind eye to an industrial-scale wind project in the Town of Forest, how will you respond when Big Wind comes knocking on your township’s back door and attempts to take your property as project foot-print acreage to site industrial wind turbines next to your home without your agreement?

Brenda Salseg

Town of Forest

St. Croix County

2/8/12 Dear Town of Forest, um, let's forget all about how we tried to sue you for $25 million dollars! It's almost Valentine's day. Let's be together! Love from the Wind Developers that are tearing your township apart


How do wind developers tear communities apart? Watch this trailer for "Windfall", the award-winning documentary on the darker side of Big Wind. For Wisconsin communities facing wind developers like "Emerging Energies" the scenes in this film will feel all too familiar.

'Highland Wind' group drops $25 million dollar claim against Town of Forest

VIA www.rivertowns.net

February 7, 2012 

The development group that wants to erect 41 wind turbines in the towns of Forest and Cylon announced Tuesday that they’ve dropped their $25 million claim against town officials on the basis “we owe it to the greater good to work together, figure this out and deliver the economic, social and environmental benefits that this project offers,” said Highland Wind Project spokesman Jay Mundinger.

“This project too important to the economic vitality of the region and Wisconsin’s commitment to developing “green” energy for the future,” Mundinger continued.

Township and Highland project representatives have been discussing the proposed project for about four years but after voters removed the entire town board in a recall election and the new board moved to rescind the previous wind farm agreements, claiming that previous meetings related to the Highland Wind Project were improperly noticed and failed to meet state laws guidelines for open meetings, Emerging Energies LLC filed a $25 million claim against the town for backing out of agreements and permits.

Emerging Energies subsequently revisited its plan and upsized the proposal, prompting oversight for the project to move from local governance to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

Last week, Emerging Energies received correspondence from the PSC that its application needs further details before the commission will take it under consideration. The PSC asked for clarification or additional information on 60 different items.

Mundinger told the New Richmond News the company is working to answer the questions and file the completed 1,800-page application within the next month.

“We are on track and I believe we’ll have a resubmittal,” he said.

Jamie Junker, current Forest town chairman, told the News if Emerging Energies would follow the town’s recently adopted rules, there would be no reason for local residents to object to the plans. He did admit, however, that following the township rules would require a significant change in the Highland Wind Project’s plans.

Junker said he wouldn’t comment at length about the project, but referred to the town board’s continuing efforts to protect the community from development that would change the face of Forest forever.

“It’s a big issue,” he said. “Clearly most of the residents of the town aren’t happy with the project.”

Junker said the wind licensing ordinance that the board adopted would provide the protection and safeguards that most people want, like regulations on turbine setbacks, noise levels and “shadow flicker.”

The PSC will invite public comment on the project once it deems the application complete.

The application has been posted to the PSC’s website: psc.wi.gov. The HWF docket number: 2535-CE-100.

The Highland group also launched a new web site — www.highlandwindpower.com– which carries more information about the project.

 NOTE: Scroll down to read an interview with a Wisconsin man whose family had to abandon their home after this same wind developer put up turbines in his community. This company is well aware of the misery they've already caused. Does it matter to them? Not as much as money does.

2/7/12 Why this Wisconsin family abandoned their home after Brown County wind turbines went up

500 foot Nordex turbine in same project that forced the Enz family to abandon their home

Photo: Home in the Shirley wind project, Town of Glenmore, Brown County Wisconsin. Project developed by Emerging Energies, a company co-founded by Bill Rakocy who, as a member of the Public Service Commission's Wind Siting Council helped write Wisconsin's pending wind siting rules.


by Robert Bryce via robertbryce.com
During my reporting on the problem of wind-turbine noise, I have interviewed a number of homeowners who have abandoned their homes due to the noise. One of those people: Wisconsin resident Dave Enz. After talking with him on the phone, he sent me the following statement. I edited only for punctuation. I have added some follow up questions at the bottom of his statement. -- RB

My name is David Enz. My wife and I used to live about 3,000 feet from the nearest wind turbine driven generator. There are five more within about one mile of our home. These Glenmore turbines are some of the tallest in the state at 492 feet.

We raised our children in this house we built in 1978. It was a great place to live but we can no longer live there. We are now living with children, friends and in our RV. So far we have received no offer of compensation. We get sick in an hour or less most times when we return to get food or different clothes. Other people also get sick when they spend time at our place. We found new homes for our dog and chickens so they could be cared for. We try to go to our home when the turbines are down because we are fine then. The turbine owners are going to sound test our home, but it doesn't matter what the test results are, the results for us are we can no longer live in our home. We and others get sick outside and inside the buildings. From the research I have done our symptoms are consistent with the other folks who are driven out of their homes.

Some of the symptoms we experience are headaches, ear pain, nausea, blurred vision, anxiety, memory loss, and an overall unsettledness. This is no way to live in one's own home! I believe there needs to be health studies done to find out what the cause of the serious health issues is, and what rules need to be in place to protect people. The present rules do not address this problem. I think different types and sizes of wind turbines produce these effects over greater distances, therefore measurements should be in place based on what is causing the adverse health effects on people. I cannot understand how the people sworn in to protect the citizens can let companies profit from the pain of the people.

We are not like some other countries where people don't have rights and freedoms. This is America where the goal is to have liberty and justice for all, not a country where the rich and powerful rule over them. The wind industry claims their turbines are not the problem but throughout the world when wind turbines go on line the problems show up. I believe if this was in any other industry they would be shut down, until they proved they were not the cause. I am not a rocket scientist, but if the health issues are present when the turbines are running and gone a while after they shut down, it sure would cause me to think maybe there is a connection. Why doesn't the turbine industry have to prove they are not the problem instead of the people proving they are?

With so many people with the same or similar health symptoms, I think if this was a drug that would be evidence enough to remove any drug from the market. The people that are hurt aren't getting any government funding to pay for a study but the industry sure is. These health issues are so unbearable they are forcing us and others from our homes. Do wind companies have this right to take away our freedom to live in a house we built, raised our family, and planned to enjoy?

-- Dave Enz, October 22, 2011

Questions emailed to Enz by Robert Bryce. Replies received October 25 and 30, 2011

Q: May I publish all or part of the note you sent me?

A: Yes, you may.

Q: How old are you? How old is your wife?

A: I am 68 my wife is 66 years old.

Q: I assume you are now retired. Is that so? What was your occupation prior to retirement? In what town did you work?

A: Yes I am. I worked as a millwright in a paper mill for over thirty years. I worked in Green Bay.

Q: Have you sued the company that owns the wind turbines? If not, are you planning to?

A: We haven't been approached yet to settle and don't know if we will be.

Q: Could you sell your house in Glenmore if you attempted to do so? Or have your neighbors and others been alerted to the problems you are having?

A: We have been very open about our health issues with the neighbors, town,county and state.We thought about selling but if the new owners got sick.the money wouldn't be worth it. I don't think anyone would buy it at it's pre- turbine value even if it would sell.

Q: Are other people in your area experiencing similar problems?

A: I believe there are at least two other families that need to leave their homes to get relief from their symptoms.

Q: How did Senator Lasee become familiar with you and your story?

A: I don't know for sure but they called and asked if I would do an interview with Senator Lasee for TV. I did it because people need to be informed.

Q: What is the best outcome for you? That is, what would be a fair resolution of the situation you now face with your home?

A: First of all the industrial wind turbine setting rules would be in place to protect peoples health. That means health studies need to be done and a measurement system developed that can insure setbacks are right. As to your question, either move us with fair compensation or move the turbines. We don't think we could ever regain what has been lost by our family due to this injustice.

Q: You said you built the home in Glenmore in 1978. Do you own it free and clear or do you still have a mortgage?

A: We built it and own it. Have a small equity loan now to purchase our motor home we now call home. Makes the wife nervous since she doesn't like debt.

Q: What's the approximate value of the home?

A: Don't know because we never had it appraised. Best guess: $300,00 to $500,000.

Q: You said you and Rose raised your children in the house. How many children did you raise there?

A: Nine wonderful children. They also feel the loss because they helped build the house and out buildings. As a family, we have a lot of memories connected to this property.

Q: How many acres is your place?

A: A little over forty.

Q: On whose land were the turbines built?

A: Our next door neighbors.

Q: Are you getting any royalty payments from the turbines? If so, how much?

A: Not a dime thankfully

Q: If you are not getting payments, who is and how much are they getting?

A: Some of the neighbors received a good neighbor payment of $1,000 one time I was told. I was also told if you live within 1/2 mile you receive a small yearly payment. The turbine host have a well-kept secret. Maybe the

Town of Glenmore could shed more light on this. You can find them at townofglenmore.wi

Q. Do you have a lawyer? If so, could you provide me with his/her name?

A: I do not have a lawyer at this time.
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