Entries in setbacks (3)

5/28/2012 Getting it RIGHT down under: longer setbacks recommended by government health agency

From Australia


By Graham Lloyd, Environment editor,

SOURCE: The Australian | www.theaustralian.com.au

May 28, 2012 

A “growing body of evidence” that wind farm noise could have health effects has prompted Queensland Health to call for caution when approving wind farm developments.

Queensland Health has in effect become the first government health agency to recommend that wind turbines not be built within 2km of homes. In a letter to Tablelands Regional Council, Queensland Health’s director of environmental health, David Sellars, recommended a “precautionary approach” be taken to approval of the proposed $500 million Mount Emerald wind farm near Walkamin on the Atherton Tablelands.

The Mount Emerald application is for up to 80 wind turbine towers, nine of which are within 2km of houses.

Tablelands horticulturalist Steve Lavis said he would like a moratorium on wind farm projects until all noise and health issues had been worked out. Reported symptoms of so-called “wind turbine syndrome” include sleep disturbance, high blood pressure, headaches, tinnitus, dizziness, nausea, a rapid heart rate and panic attacks.

The Queensland Health letter was in response to a request for information from then Tablelands Regional Council deputy mayor Chris Adams.

Mr Sellers said the council had been advised that the Mount Emerald wind farm would meet all noise-level goals.

“Despite the aforementioned findings,” he said, “Queensland Health recommended wind-farm planning applications be carefully considered, given there is a growing body of evidence to suggest there may be adverse health effects associated with the noise generated by wind farms.

“Research into the potential health effects of wind turbines is ongoing and is being undertaken on an international scale.”

Mr Sellars said the National Health and Medical Research Council was reviewing its position on the possible health effects of wind turbines and was aiming to release a public statement by the end of the year.

“Queensland Health would be likely to be guided by the NHMRC statement, resulting from this research,” he said.

“Until such time, Tablelands Regional Council is encouraged to take a precautionary approach to development applications of this type.”

Mr Sellars said the Victorian government’s new planning guidelines, which ban wind turbines within 2km of an existing home, might be considered to be current best practice.

A spokeswoman for the Tablelands council said the Queensland Health advice in wind farms would be considered by planning officers but the council would make no comment.

Mr Adams, who did not stand for re-election at the recent local government elections, said he was grateful for the advice from Queensland Health and would expect council to take note.

“I am not opposed to wind farms but I think there are a number of concerns,” he said.

The advice from Queensland Health reflected health concerns that were being expressed around the world.

Wind farm opponent and Waubra Foundation spokeswoman Sarah Laurie said Queensland Health was “the first health department in Australia to have acknowledged the obvious problems which currently exist”.

“We again call for governments to ensure that infra-sound and low-frequency acoustic pollution is measured – independently of the wind industry – both inside and outside homes and workplaces at existing wind developments, where people are sick,” Ms Laurie said.

The Mount Emerald wind farm is being proposed by RATCH-Australia Corporation, a Ratchaburi Holdings and Transfield Services company. The company said current estimates suggested the wind farm would produce enough clean energy to provide the annual power needs of more than 75,000 North Queensland homes.

A RATCH-Australia spokesman was not available to comment on the Queensland Health letter yesterday.

Mr Lavis said human health issues were not his only concern with the wind farm proposal.

He was also worried about the impact on the region’s banana industry, which relied on aerial spraying that would not be possible within 5km of wind turbine towers.

“All of Australia’s bananas are grown within 200km of here,” he said. “There is no way you can control the diseases without aerial spraying because of the wet season and the inability to get to the crop with a tractor,” he said.

2/6/12 Big Wind's dark side exposed in movie "Windfall". Even National Public Radio and the Wall Street Journal get it: Will Wisconsin legisators? AND Should your money keep feeding wind developer's cash cow?


Via National Public Radio

February 2, 2012

By Mark Jenkins

As is often the case, the outside developer's biggest asset was the local elite, which was certain it knew best. Farmer and town council leader Frank Bachler joined the town's attorney in overruling a skeptical planning commission report about the effects of erecting the turbines.

Not even the most ecologically minded are always keen on the prospect of giant wind turbines near their homes. But Meredith, N.Y., welcomed "Big Wind" when it first came whistling through town. That's what makes Windfall so interesting: The documentary is the story of an education.

In some ways, Meredith seems a natural place for a wind farm. Situated in one of New York's poorest counties, it's in an agricultural area whose principal enterprise, dairy farming, has dramatically declined. But the area is mostly home to small landowners, with few large tracts that could be developed without affecting nearby neighbors. And some of those neighbors are refugees from New York City, where they learned to be skeptical and outspoken.

Director Laura Israel is among the Meredith residents who split their time between the town and the big city 160 miles to the southeast, which explains why she was able to follow the controversy over a year or more, as pro-windmill sentiments gradually shifted to anti-.

This is no first-person piece, though; Israel stays off camera, allowing her neighbors to speak. She doesn't present the views of the wind-power developer, Airtricity (originally Eiretricity, before the Irish firm was sold to Scottish and German interests), but that may be because the company is a low-profile one that didn't address the community collectively, and insisted on confidentiality agreements before it would even enter into negotiations with property owners.

As is often the case, the outside developer's biggest asset was the local elite, which was certain it knew best. Farmer and town council leader Frank Bachler joined the town's attorney in overruling a skeptical planning commission report about the effects of erecting the turbines.

Bachler and other supporters labeled the anti-windmill forces "a vocal minority." But with an election looming, the pro-wind forces had to double-check their math. Even Bachler, one of the principal on-screen proponents of the turbines, would give the whole idea a second thought.

In Meredith, the case against wind turbines turned on their size — about 400 feet high and 600,000 pounds each — not to mention their grinding noise, their bone-shaking vibrations and the flickering shadows they cast, which disrupt light and sleep (and video games). One of the opponents, Ken Jaffe, is a retired doctor who looked into the high-tech windmills' medical side effects.

Also, the turbines sometimes fall over, catch on fire or hurl dangerous ice projectiles. They kill birds and bats in large numbers. And there's more.

To optimize the investment, wind-power developers tend to build a lot more turbines than they initially propose. In Tug Hill, farther north in upstate New York, a proposed 50 high-tech windmills became 195. As skeptics began to investigate, they learned that wind power is too unreliable to replace dirtier forms of generation, and that the wind business is based less on electricity than on tax credits: Big investment companies keep flipping the companies so as to restart the depreciation process.

A veteran film editor making her first feature, Israel emphasizes the area's low-key beauty. She conducted most of the interviews outside to show the landscapes. When the movie finally gets to Tug Hill, the contrast is all the more striking. Meredith, N.Y., may not be paradise, but it's clear why residents didn't want to sacrifice its rustic appeal to the steady whomp of industrial windmills.

 Second Feature


By John Anderson,

Via The Wall Street Journal, wsj.com

February 3, 2012 

Speaking of horror movies, the monsters are 400 feet tall in “Windfall,” easily the more haunting film of this week and a sublimely cinematic documentary by the film editor-cum-director Laura Israel. Her subject is the battle waged over wind power in the tiny upstate New York town of Meredith. What’s so scary? Industrial wind turbines, the fetish objects of the green-minded, those sleek, white, propellered and purportedly eco-friendly energy collectors that one might have seen dotting the desert outside Palm Springs, and which may soon be sprouting out of Nantucket Sound. They’re sustainable, they produce no emissions and they’ll reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil. Right? Not quite. And living next to one seems like a nightmare.

Ms. Israel’s movie proves, once again, that the best nonfiction cinema possesses the same attributes as good fiction: Strong characters, conflict, story arc, visual style. The people of Meredith, be they pro or con the wind-turbine plan being fast-tracked by their town council, are articulate, passionate, likable. The issues are argued with appropriate gravity, and even though Ms. Israel, a Meredith homeowner herself, is clearly antiturbine, the other side gets a chance to speak its piece: Farmers, an endangered species, need income. Turbine leases are a way to it. But not only do the energy and ecological benefits fall short of what they’re cracked up to be, the turbines themselves are an environmental disaster: The monotonous whoosh of the propellers, the constant strobing effect caused by the 180-foot-long propellers, the threat of ice being hurled by the blades, the knowledge that it’s never going to end, all adds up to a recipe for madness. And that’s just during the movie.

“Windfall” is thoroughly engaging, educational and entertaining; the neo-blues music by Hazmat Modine is a real plus. Ms. Israel might deny it out of respect for her collaborators past and future, but documentaries are all about the editing. Many filmmakers might have been able to assemble the parts of “Windfall.” Far fewer would have produced as stylish a result.



via New York Post, www.nypost.com

February 4, 2012 

The battle in Meredith (population: 1,500) pitted landowners who stood to profit by putting the wind turbines on their property against those who didn’t. Israel interviews one couple, Ron and Sue Bailey, who took money from a wind company, a move they soon came to regret. The couple said they “were blinded by the money” and “never thought about what our neighbors across the road would think.”

Documentary makers are always hoping that their film will come out at just the right moment, when a favorable news cycle and popular sentiment are converging so that the public is primed for their message.

In 1989, Michael Moore made his career with “Roger & Me,” a documentary that pinned the decline of his hometown — Flint, Mich. — on General Motors. By focusing his fire on GM’s chairman, Roger Smith, Moore tapped into the public’s anger at tone-deaf corporate bosses as well as the growing disenchantment with the American car industry.

Laura Israel’s new film, “Windfall,” has the same sort of fortuitous timing. Her documentary — which focuses on the fight over the siting of wind turbines in the small upstate town of Meredith — premieres at the same time that “green energy” stimulus failures fill the news, and the wind-energy industry faces an unprecedented backlash from angry rural residents.

Consider this Nov. 1 story from The Village Market, a news outlet in Staffordshire, England, about 150 miles northwest of London. The paper’s reporter, covering the staunch local opposition to a proposed wind-energy project near the tiny village of Haunton, wrote, “Huge numbers of people in rural areas are rising up against the technology, despite government assuming they would support it.”

Throughout the UK — indeed, all over the world — fights against large-scale wind-energy projects are raging. The European Platform against Windfarms lists 518 signatory organizations from 23 countries. The UK alone now has about 285 anti-wind groups. Last May, some 1,500 protesters descended on the Welsh assembly, the Senedd, demanding that a massive wind project planned for central Wales be stopped.

Although environmental groups like Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and Greenpeace claim that wind energy is the answer when it comes to slowing the rate of growth in carbon dioxide emissions, policymakers from Ontario to Australia are responding to angry landowners who don’t want 100-meter-high wind turbines built near their homes.

Last September, CBC News reported that Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment has logged “hundreds of health complaints” about the thumping noise generated by the province’s growing fleet of wind turbines. In December, government officials in the Australian state of New South Wales issued guidelines that give residents living within two kilometers of a proposed wind project the right to delay, or even stop, the project’s development.

Back here in the States, many communities are passing ordinances that prohibit large-scale wind energy development. On Nov. 8, for instance, residents of Brooksville, Maine, voted by more than 2 to 1 in favor of a measure that bans all wind turbines with towers exceeding 100 feet in height.

Meanwhile, the promoters of Cape Wind, a large offshore wind project proposed for Nantucket Sound, are still hoping to get their project built. But they continue to face lots of well-heeled opposition, including, most notably, environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Well-known for his advocacy of renewable energy, Kennedy opposes the wind project — because it will be built a few miles from his family’s estate in Hyannis Port.

As “Windfall” is premiering this week in New York, wind-energy lobbyists in Washington are desperately hoping to convince Congress to pass a multi-year extension of the 2.2-cent-per-kilowatt-hour subsidy for wind energy. Without it, the domestic wind business, which is already being hammered by falling natural-gas prices, will likely end up becalmed.

Israel’s portrayal of the bitter feuding that happened in Meredith over wind-energy development is similar to fights that have occurred in numerous other rural communities around the world. The battle in Meredith (population: 1,500) pitted landowners who stood to profit by putting the wind turbines on their property against those who didn’t. Israel interviews one couple, Ron and Sue Bailey, who took money from a wind company, a move they soon came to regret. The couple said they “were blinded by the money” and “never thought about what our neighbors across the road would think.”

The landowner faction in Meredith was led by the town’s supervisor, Frank Bachler. Israel portrays him as a well-intentioned man who, in favoring the wind development, is trying to help the area’s struggling farmers. Bachler dismisses the opponents of the wind project as “a minority of people who are very aggressive.”

But Bachler is proven wrong. The anti-wind faction quickly gains momentum and the resulting feud provides a textbook example of small-town democracy. Three wind opponents run for election to the town board with the stated purpose of reversing the existing board’s position on wind. In November 2007, they win, and a few weeks later pass a measure banning large-scale wind development.

Israel’s film also features a colorful interview with Carol Spinelli, a fiery real-estate agent in Bovina, a town of about 600 people located a few miles southeast of Meredith. Bovina passed a ban on wind turbines in March 2007. Spinelli helped lead the opposition, and she nails the controversy over wind by explaining that it’s about “big money, big companies, big politics.” And she angrily denounces wind-energy developers “as modern-day carpetbaggers.”

That’s a brutal assessment. But it accurately portrays the rural-urban divide on the wind-energy issue.

Lots of city-based voters love the concept of renewable energy.

But they are not the ones who have to endure the health-impairing noise that’s created by 45-story-tall wind turbines, nor do they have to see the turbines or look at their red-blinking lights, all night, every night.

So many want to make the world green — so long as it’s not them who have to suffer for it.



by Marita Noon,

via finance.townhall.com

February 5, 2012 

On February 1, an urgent alert was sent to supporters of wind energy. It stated: “The PTC is the primary policy tool to promote wind energy development and manufacturing in the United States. While it is set to expire at the end of 2012 … the credit has already effectively expired. Congress has a choice to make: extend the PTC this month and keep the wind industry on track…”

The wind energy industry has reason for concern. America’s appetite for subsidies has waned. Congress is looking for any way it can to make cuts and the twenty-year old Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy is in prime position for a cut—it naturally expires at the end of 2012. Without action, it will go away.

The payroll tax extension will be a hot topic over the next few weeks as it expires on February 29. Wind energy supporters are pushing to get the PTC extension included in the bill. Whether or not it is included will be largely up to public response—after all, regarding the PTC’s inclusion in the payroll tax extension bill, the February 1 alert stated: “our federal legislators heard us loud and clear.” In the December payroll tax bill negotiations, the wind energy PTC was placed on a “short list of provisions to be extended through that bill.” Wind supporters are worried—hence the rallying cry.

Due to a deteriorating market, Vestas, the world’s largest manufacturer of industrial wind turbines, is closing a plant and laying off workers. Everyday citizens, armed with real life information gleaned from the wind energy’s decades-long history, are shocking lobbyists and killing back room deals by successfully blocking the development of industrial wind plants in their communities.

As news of actual wind energy contracts are coming in at three and four times the cost of traditionally generated electricity becomes widespread, and natural gas prices continue to drop due to abundance, states are looking to abandon the renewable energy mandates pushed through in a different economic time and a different political era. American Wind Energy Association spokesman, Peter Kelley, reports: “Industry-wide we are seeing a slowdown in towers and turbines after 2012 that is rippling down the supply chain and the big issue is lack of certainty around the production credit that gives a favorable low tax rate to renewable energy.” All of this spells trouble for the wind energy industry.

The PTC is part of a push for renewables that began in the Carter era. Enacted in 1992, the twenty-year old wind energy PTC was designed to get the fledgling industry going. However, after all this time, wind energy is still not a viable option. Even the industry’s own clarion call acknowledges that government intervention is still needed to keep it “on track.” If the training wheels are removed, it will topple.

Wind energy lobbyists have a plan: HB 3307 will extend the PTC for another four years. If the PTC extension passes, it will add an extra $6 billion to the $20 billion in taxpayer dollars the wind industry has already received over the past 20 years. These are monies we borrow (typically from China) to give to Europe—where most of the wind turbine manufacturers are located.

With advertisements featuring blue skies, green grass, and the warm and fuzzy images of families (and not one shot of a 500-foot wind turbine looming over their home), it is easy for the average person to be taken in and think we should continue to underwrite this “new technology”—after all, there is an energy shortage. “What will we do when we run out of oil?” Wind energy is electricity and electricity doesn’t come from oil—even if it did, we don’t have an oil shortage. Electricity comes from clean-burning natural gas and coal—both of which we have in abundance and know how to use effectively. They don’t need an expensive replacement.

Wind energy supporters often tout turbines because of the misguided belief they will get us off of fossil fuels—when, in fact, they commit us to a fossil fuel future. Optimistically, a wind turbine will generate electricity 30% of the time—and we cannot predict when that time will be. Highly variable wind conditions may mean the turbine generates electricity in the morning on Monday, in the middle of the night on Tuesday, and not at all on Wednesday. A true believer might be willing to do without electricity at the times when the wind is not blowing, but the general population will not. Public utilities and electric co-ops cannot—they are required to provide electricity 24/7 and to have a cushion that allows for usage spikes.

So, during that average 30% of the time that the turbine blades are spinning, the natural gas or coal-fueled power plants continue to burn fossil fuels—though possibly slightly less in an extended period of windy weather, and full-steam-ahead the remaining 70% of the time. (Research shows that turning up the heat on power plants, and then turning it back down, and up again actually increases the CO2 emissions.) Absent a major breakthrough in expensive energy storage, wind can never save enough fossil fuel to make any significant difference. After twenty years of subsidies, wind energy has not replaced one traditional power plant.

Some argue that many new technologies got their start through government support. This might be a good viewpoint if wind energy were “new.” But after twenty years of subsidies it is little better now than it was in the late 1800s. Windmills produced electricity then, and modern industrial wind turbines generate electricity now. It is not that they do not work, they do. They just don’t do so effectively, economically, or 24/7—and they still need Uncle Sam to prop them up.

Those who favor free markets need to seize upon this opportunity to push for the government to get out of the business of picking winners and losers. Clearly the “green” experiment has failed. Billions have been lost in the effort.

If we truly believe in free markets, why stop at just cutting the subsidies to wind energy? Stop the subsidies to all energy! May the strongest survive! The fact is, such a move is afoot. While HB 3307 aims to stretch out the subsidies for wind energy, HB 3308 will stop subsidies for all energy sources—wind and solar, oil and gas. The playing field will be level; billions will be saved!

A congressman I spoke to fears that, in the current political climate, his colleagues will cave on the wind energy subsidy, as they seem unwilling to take a strong stand on any issue. While wind energy supporters are calling their representatives, free-market advocates and everyone who believes the government-gone-wild spending must stop has to place a call, too.

Call, or e-mail, your Congressman, and as many others as you can take the time for, and tell them to stop subsidizing energy: “Do not include HB 3307 in the payroll tax extension bill. Support HB 3308 which will repeal the PTC and numerous other renewable energy tax incentives including the investment tax credit, the cellulosic biofuel producer credit, the tax credit for electric and fuel cell vehicles, and tax credits for alternative fuels and infrastructure. Additionally, HB 3308 will also repeal the enhanced oil recovery credit for producing oil and gas from marginal wells.”

Instead of propping up energy policy based on politics rather than sound science, we have to prop up our representatives and give them the backbone to do what is right.

Tell them to end energy subsidies.

9/9/09 Success is in the eye of the lobbyist: Let's take another look at what happened in Kewaunee County.

In a recent letter to the editor of Madison's weekly paper Isthmus, a lobbyist who receives money from wind developers and major Wisconsin utilities angily takes the paper to task for an article entitled "The War Over Wind"

[Click here to read "War over Wind"]

[click here to read the entire letter to the editor]

In an unusual step, the lobbyist even writes a headline for his own letter: 

Anti-wind article damages Isthmus credibility:

To the Editor:

There’s a word to describe the unexamined regurgitation of antiwind talking points sprinkled throughout Brian McCombie’s article “The War Over Wind,” September 11, 2009), but journalism isn’t it. Stenography is much closer to the mark.

But this one-sided article raises an unsettling question: why did the reporter, and by extension Isthmus, leave out so much counterbalancing material in its haste to present windpower in an unambiguously negative light?

Why, for example, was there no mention of Madison Gas & Electric’s Kewaunee County wind energy project? This 17-turbine installation has produced emission-free electricity since 1999. Much of its output feeds MGE’s hugely successful Green Power Tomorrow program.

[The letter goes on and you can read the rest of it by clicking here]

 [NOTE: Though the lobbyist has posted the letter on his own website, Isthmus says they had not yet recieved it. The editor tells us, "It hasn't crossed my desk, and I'm the person who edits letters. We have gotten other letters that have made similar points." ]

The BPWI Research Nerd followed the suggestion and took a look at the history of the Kewaunee County wind projects, and is puzzled, saying, "Only a wind lobbyist or a utility could call what happened to wind farm residents in Kewaunee County a success."



Consider this: At least two homes in Kewaunee County were made uninhabitable by wind turbine noise, purchased by the utility and bulldozed.

Complaints about noise and shadow flicker were so frequent they resulted in the Town enacting a moritorium on any further wind development. A survey was sent to residents in the wind farm and the Town then issued the following report.

Even skimming the report quickly will give you an idea of why the lobbyist's use of the word "success" is so puzzling.

EFFECTS OF WINDFARMS – Lincoln Township, Kewaunee County, Wisconsin

[Download the entire report by clicking here]

Here are excerpts from the Final Report of the Township of Lincoln’s Wind Turbine Moratorium Committee.

Prepared by Elise Bittner-Mackin, former Chicago Tribune reporter.

For additional information Dale Massey, Lincoln Township clerk: 920-837-7298


After the wind turbines went online in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin, the Lincoln Township Board of Supervisors approved a moratorium on new turbine construction. The purpose of the moratorium was to delay new construction of wind turbines for eighteen months, giving the township the opportunity to assess the impacts of the 22 turbines installed by Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPSC) and Madison Gas and Electric (MG&E), which went online in June, 1999.

The following document summarizes some of the problems the Moratorium Committee faced in trying to address problems the township hadn't faced prior to turbine construction and some of the resulting changes the committee proposed as a result of its study. Verification of this information can be obtained from Lincoln Township officials.

The Moratorium Committee met 39 times between January 17, 2000, and January 20, 2002, to 1) study the impact of wind factories on land, 2) study the impact on residents and 3) review conditional use permits used to build two existing wind factories in Lincoln Township.


The committee conducted a survey on the perceived impacts of the wind turbines that was sent out to all property owners residing in the township. Each household received one vote. The results were presented on July 2, 2001, to the town board, two years after the wind factory construction.


a. Shadows from the blades
b. TV reception
c. Blinking lights from on top of the towers
d. Noise
e. Other problems
-increased lightning strikes
-hazardous traffic conditions during and after construction
-being awaken by sound of wind turbines
-how close would you consider buying or building a home?
Wind developers (WPSC)’s buyout offers
Property values
Stray Voltage

Question: Are any of the following wind turbine issues currently causing problems in your household?

(The first percentage number is from residents within 800 ft to 1/4 mile of a wind turbine
The second percentage number is from residents within 1/4 mile to 1/2 mile of a wind turbine)

a. Shadows from the blades
33% yes 41% yes
Here are additional write-in comments from the survey:

• "We get a 'strobe effect' throughout our house and over our entire property (40 acres)."
• "Shadows are cast over the ground and affect my balance."
• "We installed vertical blinds but still have some problems."
• "They catch my eye and I look at them instead of the road. They are dangerous."
• "Strobe light, headaches, sick to the stomach, can't [shut] everything up enough to stop the strobe coming into the house."

An additional comment from Lincoln Township Supervisor John Yunk:
•  "The strobing effect is so terrible that turbines should not be any closer than 1 mile from schools, roads and residences . . . They should never be set on East-West."

Dr. Jay Pettegrew, researcher, neurologist and professor for the University of Pittsburgh, testified before the Bureau County Zoning Board of Appeals that strobe effect could cause drivers to have seizures, which could result in fatal traffic accidents. At the very least, drivers could become disoriented and confused, he said. He testified that the turbine spacing (sited on top of hills instead of in a single field in orderly rows) would increase the likelihood of seizures.

It is important to know that according to Lincoln Township Chairperson Arlin Monfils, the wind developers publicly stated that strobe and shadow effect would not occur once the turbines were operating. In reality, strobe and shadow effects were problem enough that residents vehemently complained and the power company anted up for awnings, window treatment blinds and small trees to block the light at certain times of the day. Strobe and shadow effects take place for about 40 minutes during sunrise or sunset if the angle of the sun and the light intensity create the right conditions. Mr. Jeff Peacock, Bureau County highway engineer, has recommended denying permits for 8 turbines due to safety concerns, including strobe effect.

Diane Heling, whose property is adjacent to the WPSC turbines, said the utility purchased blinds for her home, but especially in the spring and fall when there are no leaves on the trees, the strobing is at its worst in her home. "It's like a constant camera-flashing in the house. I can't stand to be in the room," Mrs. Heling said. Her neighbor, Linda Yunk, whose property is adjacent to the WPSC turbines, describes the strobe effect as unsettling. "It's like somebody turning something on and off, on and off, on and off . . . It's not a small thing when it happens in your house and when it affects your quality of life to that extent," Mrs. Yunk said.

residents w/i residents w/i
800 ft. - 1/4 mi. 1/4 mi. - 1/2 mi.
b. TV reception 33% yes 37% yes
Additional write-in comments from survey:

•  "Ever since they went up our reception is bad."
•  "At times you can see shadowing on the TV that imitates the blades' moves, also poor reception."
• "Minimum of 50' antenna tower proposed but no guarantee that would be high enough. Such a tower is unacceptable."
• "At times we get black and white TV. Two channels come in hazy!!"

residents w/i residents w/i
800 ft. - 1/4 mi. 1/4 mi. - 1/2 mi.
c. Blinking lights from on top of the towers 9% yes 15% yes
Additional write-in comments from survey:

• "Blinking red lights disrupt the night sky. They make it seem like we're living in a city or near a factory."
• "At night it is very irritating because they flash in the windows."
• "We have to keep drapes closed at night."
• "Looks like a circus, live in the country for peace and quiet."

residents w/i residents w/i
800 ft. - 1/4 mi. 1/4 mi. - 1/2 mi.
d. Noise 44% yes 52% yes
Additional write-in comments from survey:

• "Sounds like a gravel pit crushing rock nearby."
• "Sometimes so loud it makes it seem like we live in an industrial park. The noise dominates the 'sound scape.' It's very unsettling/disturbing especially since it had been so peaceful here. It is an ongoing source of irritation. Can be heard throughout our house even with all the windows and doors closed."
• "The noise can make it impossible to fall asleep. It makes an uneven pitch not like the white noise of a fan. Can be heard through closed windows making it hard to fall asleep anytime of the year."
• "You can hear them at times as far as two miles away."
• "It is the annoyance of never having a quiet evening outdoors. When the blades occasionally stop its (sic) like pressure being removed from my ears. You actually hear the quiet, which is a relief."

The most illustrative description of turbine noise was that of reverberating bass notes from a neighbor's stereo that penetrate the walls and windows of a home. Now imagine having no recourse for asking anyone to turn down that noise, whether it's during the day or in the middle of the night.

As the result of so many noise complaints, WPSC paid for a noise study. However, residents are still upset that the study was inadequate in that it measured decibel levels for a maximum of five days per season, sometimes only for a few minutes at some sites, and included days when rain and high winds blotted out the noise from the turbines. In addition, many measurements were taken when the turbines were not running. WPSC claimed it did not have the funds for a more comprehensive study, according to resident Mike Washechek, whose home is victim to some of the worst noise caused by the turbines, due to its location downhill and downwind from the WPSC turbines.

e. Other problems

On the survey, several residents showed concern over the perceived problem of increased lightning strikes in the area.
Additional write-in comments from survey:

•  ". . . bring lighting (sic) strikes closer to our home."
•  "More concern over seeing more lightening (sic) than in the past -- before generators were erected."

According to Township Chairperson Monfils, the wind developers declared prior to construction that lightning would not affect the turbines; however, lightning later struck and broke a blade that had to be replaced.

In addition, Mrs. Yunk said that one month after the turbines went online, in July, 1999, a lightning and thunderstorm sent enough electricity through the power grid that Mrs. Yunk and Mrs. Heling both lost their computers to what the service technician called a "fried electrical system" -- even though both computers were surge protected. The reason that Mrs. Yunk attributes the electrical surge to lightning striking a turbine on that particular night is that on the night of the storm, her relative, Joseph Yunk, whose television set was also "fried" that same evening, reported seeing lightning move from one of the turbines along the power grid to the nearby homes, which is a common occurrence with wind factories since nearby strikes to either turbines, external power systems or the ground can send several tens of kilovolts along telephone and power lines. Replacements for the computers and television were paid by the residents.

e. Other problems (continued)

On the survey, several residents showed concern over hazardous traffic conditions during and after construction of the turbines.
Additional write-in comments from survey:

•  "People driving and stopping."
• "While they were being installed the destroying of the roads, noise, and extra traffic have been negative."
• "More traffic and have to back out of driveways (live on hill, hard to see)."
• "More traffic. I used to feel safe walking or riding bike (sic)."

In addition, Mrs. Yunk said that especially when the turbines first went up, other drivers would be looking up at them and they would "dead stop in front of you." She said she narrowly avoided colliding with a car that had stopped abruptly in front of her.

Question: In the last year, have you been awakened by sound coming
from the wind turbines?
residents w/i residents w/i
800 ft. - 1/4 mi. 1/4 mi. - 1/2 mi.
67% yes 35% yes
Additional write-in comments from survey:

• "Enough to go to the doctor because I need sleeping pills. Sometimes it absolutely drives you 'nuts.' "
• "I wake up with headaches every morning because of noise. Causes my (sic) to have very restless sleep at night!"
• "We have no way of knowing long-term affects (sic). Growing concerns with stray voltage and its affect (sic) on health. We've had frequent headaches, which we didn't have before. Especially in the morning, after sleeping at night. We need answers!"
• "Not awakened but found it hard to fall asleep!!!"

Question: How close to the wind turbines would you consider buying or building a home?
The results for all survey respondents in the study, including those living over 2 miles away are as follows:

• 61% would not build or buy within 1/2 mile of turbines
• 41% would have to be 2 or more miles away from turbines in order for them to build or buy
• 74% would not build or buy within 1/4 mile of turbines

These are people who know first-hand about the problems caused by the wind factories. They have lived with the turbines for three years. Again, 74% responded that they would not build or buy within 1/4 mile of turbines. Common sense dictates that if a 38-story skyscraper is built next to any home and it obstructs the view, that home would not be as valuable on the market as an equivalent home sited away from such an obstruction. Common sense also dictates that if the skyscraper had moving parts that contribute to or have the potential to contribute to blinking lights, strobing, noise, stray voltage, ice throws, and health problems, that home would not be as valuable as it had been previously. The above numbers from Lincoln Township corroborate that common sense.

Additional write-in comments from surveys:

• "Ugly, would not buy in this area again."
• "25+ miles. They can been seen from this distance."
• "Would never consider it. Plan on moving if we can sell our house."
• "No where near them never ever!! Not for a million dollars."

A sampling of some of the overall write-in comments from the survey is as follows:

• "I live approximately 1 1/2 miles from the windmills. On a quiet night with the right wind direction, I can hear the windmill noise. People living within a 1/4 mile should probably be compensated for the noise and the nuisance."

• "The noise, flashing lights, interrupted TV reception, strobe effect and possible effect of stray voltage has created a level of stress and anxiety in our lives that was not present before the turbines' installation. From the beginning there has been a lack of honesty and responsibility."

• "Let other counties or communities be the guinea pigs with the long-term effects or disadvantages of having the windmills. All the landowners who put the windmills up have them on property away from their own homes but on the fence lines and land near all other homeowners."

• "Our whole family has been affected. My husband just went to the doctor because of his stomach. He hates them. We have fights all the time about them. It's terrible. Why did you put them so close to our new home and expect us to live a normal life. If it isn't the shadows it's the damn noise. The only people that think they are so great and wonderful are those who really don't know."

• "When we were dating back in the 1970's we always said that someday we were going to build a home here. It was great and then you guys did this . . . This should have never happened. If only you would have taken the time and study this more. Everyone was thinking about themselves and money. No one cared about anything else."

WPSC's buyout offer

During the two years of the Moratorium Committee work, Wisconsin Public Service Corporation made offers to buy houses and property to six property owners around the WPSC wind factory site. Offers were made to property owners who vocalized complaints about the wind factory's effects on their quality of life after construction. According to Lincoln Township Supervisor John Yunk, some of these residents were identified on the Noise Complaint Log record kept by the township. Over 90 complaints were logged in one year.

According to the Moratorium Committee report, WPSC publicly stated the buyout was to establish a buffer zone around the wind factory. The Noise Complaint Log was discontinued by WPSC after the buyout offer.

According to the Moratorium Committee report, WPSC's intention was to bulldoze the houses and subsequently keep the property from being developed for rural residences. Owners were allowed only one month to consider the offer.

According to the Moratorium Committee report, "This tactic did not sit well with the Committee. In response the Committee drafted and approved a resolution condemning the WPSC ploy, and requesting that WPSC meet with the town board to develop a better solution for the township."

WPSC officials met with the town board and concerned citizens at the August 6, 2001, regular board meeting, reiterated their policy to purchase property and destroy the homes, and stated that they had no intention of meeting with the town board or changing their policies at the request of the town board.

Mrs. Heling was offered the buyout, but she said she and her family were allowed only one month to make the decision and only six months to move. In addition, the buyout offer was based solely on an appraisal by someone hired by WPSC. Mrs. Heling said WPSC refused to consider independent appraisals. Mrs. Heling said she couldn't obtain another property within six months, so she and her family rejected the buyout.

• The Gabriel household was set back 1000 feet from the nearest turbine. The family took the buyout. The county no longer receives property taxes on that raised homestead. The family no longer lives in the area.

• The Kostichka household was set back 1200 feet from the nearest turbine. The family took the buyout. The county no longer receives property taxes on that raised homestead. The family no longer lives in the area.

• Four remaining homeowners are suing WPSC.

The most recent development is that one homeowner contacted Township Supervisor Yunk during the week of September 11, 2002, and asked what the process would be to request MG&E to buy out her home. She said she has a new baby and two other young children and that she does not want to live in her house any longer because she is too scared about the effects on her family by electronic radiation, stray voltage and other electricity associated with the turbines.

Property values

The following information will directly refute the "Market Analysis: Crescent Ridge Project, Indiantown & Milo Townships, Bureau County, Illinois" report submitted by Michael Crowley to this board.

Mr. Crowley, a paid consultant to the Crescent Ridge developers, alleges in his report that property values won't be affected in Bureau County, based on his analysis, in part, of property values in Kewaunee County.

However, Town of Lincoln zoning administrator Joe Jerabek compiled a list of properties that have been sold in the township, and their selling prices. The list compared the properties' selling price as a function of the distance to the wind factories, using real estate transfer returns and the year 2001 assessment roll.

Conclusions were as follows:

• "Sales within 1 mile of the windmills prior to their construction were 104 percent of the assessed values, and properties selling in the same area after construction were at 78 percent, a decrease of 26 points."

• "Sales more than 1 mile away prior to construction were 105 percent of the assessed values, and sales of properties 1 mile or more after the construction of the turbines declined to 87 percent of the assessed value, an 18 point decline."

Furthermore, not taken into account in Mr. Jerabek's conclusion are the homes that were bought out and bulldozed by WPSC.

Also not taken into account is the fact that of the homes that sold within one mile of the turbines since their construction, four of them were owned within the Pelnar family as the family members shuffled houses. One brother sold to another brother. One brother purchased his father's home. The father built a new home. And a sister purchased land from one brother and built a home. It is important to note that two of the family members are turbine owners themselves.

Subsequent to the zoning administrator's report, homes have gone on the market that are still for sale.

• 1 home, sited across the road from the wind factory, was constructed after the turbines were built and has been on the market for over 2 years.
• 2 homeowners adjacent to the turbines are contemplating selling to WPSC, which may bulldoze the homes, according to neighbor Scott Srnka.
• 1 homeowner is in the process of finding out if MG&E will buy out her home.
• 1 homeowner, Mrs. Heling, who previously was offered the WPSC buyout, said she would sell if she thought she could get fair value for her home and if it would sell quickly enough that she wouldn't be paying on two properties at once. She said she doesn't believe that can happen, so she has not put up her home for sale.
• 1 homeowner, Mrs. Yunk, who lives across from the WPSC turbines, said she and her husband have decided that after having lived in their home for 28 years, they will be putting it up for sale to move to property farther away from the turbines. She said they are worried about selling their current property because of its proximity to the turbines. They will have to find a buyer who doesn't mind the turbines, she said.

Stray voltage

Another issue addressed by the Moratorium Committee is that of stray voltage and earth-current problems that may be exacerbated by the wind factories. This issue was brought to the attention of the Lincoln Town Board by the committee and concerned residents. An ordinance was passed by the Town Board to study the potential effects and to declare a moratorium on any further turbine development. The Committee agreed that any study of earth currents and stray voltage issues must include an analysis of the distribution system, analysis of the wiring from the utility's grid to the wind turbines, and an analysis of the grounding system used for the wind turbines. They also drafted a request for proposals to identify an expert that could help pinpoint the issues surrounding stray voltage and earth currents. The issue has yet to be resolved.

In the meantime, farmers and their livestock in Lincoln Township have been suffering. There are over four farms that are battling -- among other problems -- herd decline due to diseases that were not present in the herds prior to turbine construction, but are present now, according to farmer Scott Srnka. These problems are not limited to non-participating leaseholders. Farms with turbines have been affected as well, as evidenced by the trucks, which have grown more and more frequent, hauling away animal carcasses, Mr. Srnka said.

Mr. Srnka is a former supporter of the WPSC wind power project that is across the road from his family farm. His dairy herd is about 175 cows on 800 acres of land. Mr. Srnka said, "Thirteen turbines were proposed for my land, but we decided to wait. Thank goodness we did or we'd be out of farming."

Mr. Srnka has traced the decline of milk production and increase of cancer and deformities in his formerly award-winning herd to an increase of electrical pollution on his farm after turbine construction. He also has seen the same chronic symptoms that are in his herd in his family.

Animal health problems in the Srnkas' formerly award-winning herd include cancer deaths, ringworm, mange, lice, parasites, cows not calving properly, dehydration, mutations such as no eyeballs or tails, cows holding pregnancy only 1 to 2 weeks and then aborting, blood from nostrils, black and white hair coats turning brown, mastitis, kidney and liver failure.

Within a few months in the first year after the turbines were erected, 8 cows died of cancer. No previous cases of cancer were detected ever before in the Srnka herd, which is a closed herd, according to Mr. Srnka.

Mr. Srnka also detected a change in well water on his property, and there has been a definite change in taste, he said, which has contributed to the decrease in water consumption by his herd. In the past his cows consumed 30 gallons of water a day, but that figure declined to 18 to 22 gallons of water a day after turbine construction. As a result, cows became dehydrated and terminally ill.

Video: What the Zoning Board of Appeals members saw was a brief, unedited video interview with Mr. Srnka in his dairy barn, taken this spring. In it there were some of the cows in his herd and Mr. Srnka talking about some of the rewiring that he has had to install to try to combat problems of electrical pollution. Mr. Srnka said that he has had to resort to insulating the farm through electrical wiring to put his farm, in effect, on what he calls its own island.

Dr. Pettegrew, testifying before the Bureau County Zoning Board of Appeals, said he would be remiss as a doctor if he didn't tell the board that he thought the weaknesses and illness he saw in the cows in the video were most likely caused by EMFs or electrical pollution. Dr. Pettegrew also said the risk would be greater in Indiantown and Milo for animals and humans to become ill than in Wisconsin because the proposed turbines would be taller and would produce more electricity.

Back to what Mr. Srnka has personally experienced. Mr. Srnka and neighbors report serious health effects on not just dairy cows. Health problems in residents include

• sleep loss
• diarrhea
• headaches
• frequent urination
• 4 to 5 menstrual periods per month
• bloody noses: Mr. Srnka had cows bleed to death from uncontrollable bleeding from the nostrils
• inability to conceive

Sometimes even short-term visitors to the farms or homes contract the symptoms, including construction workers on the Srnka property who broke out in nosebleeds after only a few hours. One of the workers left and refused to return.

The Srnkas are so concerned with health effects that they "aren't going to have kids anymore because we're so afraid."

At the time of his testimony before the Bureau County ZBA in October, Mr. Srnka said he had spent upwards of $50,000 of his own money to try to remedy the electrical pollution in his home and on his farm. Mr. Srnka stated that in his opinion, there were three other farms in the area facing enough problems with their herds in the aftermath of the turbines going online that those three farms are "almost ready to sell out."

Representatives of WPSC have denied that there are stray voltage or earth currents affecting Mr. Srnka's family or livestock and will not compensate him for his family health bills, electrical system upgrades, loss of herd or decrease in milk production.

How did the situation become so grave when wind factory developers swore there would be no problems?

Even if a wind developer may claim that the wind factories, substations and power grids will not contribute to stray voltage or electrical pollution because 1) insulated cable will be used, 2) all cable will be buried feet beneath the surface, and 3) cables are laid in thick beds of sand -- these statements should be viewed with suspicion because of poor project track records, according to Larry Neubauer, a master electrician with Concept Electric Inc., in Appleton, Wisconsin. Mr. Neubauer, who has customers who are dairy producers, who are homeowners with stray voltage problems, and who are farmers with turbines on their property, said that currents from each ground on the cables and project substations, as well as the regional transmission lines that receive electrical energy and that are electrically tied together, do not harmlessly dissipate into the soil. Energy disperses in all directions through the soil and these currents seek out other grounded facilities, such as barns, mobile homes and nearby residences. Only in California is it illegal to use the ground as an electricity conductor. In the rest of the country, including Wisconsin and Illinois, power companies are allowed to dump currents into the ground, according to Mr. Neubauer.

Residential properties that are in a direct line between substations and the ground conduits are particularly at high risk since electricity takes the path of least resistance. Mr. Neubauer said that burying the cables, as the Illinois Wind Energy, LLC, project intends to do, "makes it worse," citing the short lifespans of buried cables, frosts that wreak havoc on the cables, and the problems of locating trouble spots that cannot be seen without digging up the cables.

Two of Mr. Neubauer's clients, who were interviewed in October, are dairy farmers who have spent over $250,000 and $300,000 trying to rewire their farms to reduce stray voltage. That cost does not included herd loss or losses from diminished milk production. Mr. Russ Allen owns 550 dairy cows in DePere, Wisconsin. His farm is in a direct line between nearby WPSC turbines and a substation. Mr. Russ said he was losing one or two cows a day during the three years prior to his installing electrical equipment to help reduce currents on his farm. About 600 cows died, he said. Mr. Russ said he has so much electrical current on his farm that he laid a No. 4 copper wire around his farm for 5,000 feet. The wire is not attached to any building or additional wires; yet it can light up a lightbulb from contact with the soil alone. Mr. Russ has scheduled a media day on October 24 to draw awareness to the problems of stray voltage and he said to encourage everyone in Bureau County to attend.

"What scares me more is that I know . . . they're pumping current through people. They're pumping current through kids," Mr. Allen said.

It is important to note that Mr. Noe and his electrical engineer, Mr. Pasley, deny that there will ever be EMFs or stray voltage resulting from the proposed Indiantown/Milo turbines. Just as WPSC has dismissed any problems in the face of mounting evidence, Mr. Noe testified that he will never implement electrical pollution studies and that he thinks they would be a waste of money.

Moratorium Committee findings

As a result of the aforementioned concerns and problems with wind factories in Lincoln Township, the Moratorium Committee recommended, in brief, the following changes from the original conditional use permit:

Insurance. The town is named as an additional insured and the town is held harmless in any litigation.

Fees. Wind developers pay for all costs associated with the permitting process, including hearing costs plus attorney fees -- up front.

Wells. Residents' wells are protected against damage from any type of foundation construction, not only blasting, within a 1-mile radius of each turbine. This includes the requirement that wind developers will pay for independent testing of wells within 1 mile of the project for flow rate and water quality. Developers also must pay for remediation and fix problems within 30 days of complaints.

It is important to note that no well water studies of properties adjacent to the proposed Indiantown/Milo project are planned to assure that all well wills retain the same quality of water before and after turbine construction.

• TV reception. Wind developers will pay for testing of television reception prior to construction and pay to correct degradation of TV signals. Wind developers will expand the potential problem area to a 1-mile radius for all complaints -- period.

It is important to note that despite claims that television reception would not be affected, the wind factory developers in Lincoln Township had to pay for power boosters and reception equipment to counteract the effects of the turbines. The residents also had to fight with the utilities when an additional local station was added and the utilities refused to pay for any more TV reception improvements for the duration of the 30-year turbine contract. Residents had to fight to get the power company to add the station. Three years later, residents are still unhappy about how the turbines continue interfere with their reception, in many cases observable in unclear stations and in the color flashes that coincide with the turning of the blades, according to Mrs. Heling.

It also is importation to note that no television reception testing is planned prior to turbine construction in Indiantown or Milo townships and that Mr. Noe said steps taken to correct reception problems would have to be reasonable.

• Noise. 50 decibels for noise is too great. Noise shall not exceed 40 to 45 decibels, though 35 decibels was recommended unless there is written consent from affected property owners.

It is important to note that the noise study submitted by Illinois Wind Energy, LLC, uses theoretical generalizations about topography and noise conduction and does not use the same height or turbine models proposed for Indiantown and Milo.

As a side note, according to Walgreens Drug Store Web site, the "most sensitive" earplugs they sell only block out noise at 30 decibels.

• Tower removal. Turbines and all relegated aboveground equipment shall be removed within 120 days after the date the generators reach the end of their useful lives, the date the turbines are abandoned, the termination of the landowner lease, or revocation of the permit. An escrow account will be established or bonding provided by the wind developers to ensure tower removal.

• Tourism. Wind developers are banned from promoting the project as a tourist destination, will not provide bus or tourist parking and will not provide promotional signs located at the projects or elsewhere.

It is important to note that despite the ordinance prohibiting promotion of the wind turbine project, WPSC was caught red-handed by Township Supervisor Yunk last month in August filming a promotional video with child actors riding bicycles in front of the turbines. Mr. Yunk ordered the film crew to leave, but they refused and continued filming. The township has found that once the turbines were constructed, it has been practically impossible to enforce the ordinance or gain cooperation from WPSC or MG&E.

• Road damage. Wind developers will pay for the total cost to return the towns' roads to town standards, not just pay for damaged areas. Any road damage caused by the wind developers during the repair, replacement, or decommissioning of any wind turbines will be paid for by the wind developers. An independent third party will be paid by the wind developers to pre-inspect roadways prior to construction.

It is important to note that Township Chairperson Monfils said that it's not a matter of "if" there will be road damage. There will be road damage. The wind factory developers in Lincoln Township said originally that they would fix the roads if there were damage. But when it came time to fix the roads, the township had to "scrap with them to get it done," according to Mr. Monfils. He said the developers disputed the costs and he had to battle with them two or three times to get repairs paid.

• Periodic review. Every year the project will undergo a periodic review for the purpose of determining whether wind developers have complied with the permit and whether wind projects have had any unforeseen adverse impacts. Any condition modified or added following the review will be of the same force and effect as if originally imposed. Wind developers will send a representative at least once a year to report the operating status of the projects and to receive questions and comments from the governing body and township residents.

It is important to note that even with the review, Lincoln Township residents reported being dissatisfied with the developers' response to their complaints. Mrs. Yunk said the developers were readily available prior to construction, but afterward were scarce. She said she fielded calls from residents who could not reach developers and residents who were given the run-around, being told they needed to contact other people within the organization. She said residents' concerns and problems were deflected by the developers, who said residents had to prove that problems did not exist previously and residents had to prove that without a doubt the problems were the result of the turbines.

• Health and safety. If a serious adverse unforeseen material impact develops due to the operation of any of the turbines that has a serious detrimental effect on the township or a particular resident, the township has a right to request the cessation of those turbines in question until the situation has been corrected.

• Strobing effect, blade shadows and stray voltage earth currents are some other issues to be addressed.

In effect, with these guidelines, Lincoln Township is making construction of new turbines unattractive to further development. They are finding it almost impossible to remedy problems with the current turbines and restore a former quality of life to residents. However, they are trying to ensure no more mistakes will be made.

As Mrs. Yunk plainly said, "Anyone that thinks there aren't going to be problems resulting from the turbines has got another guess coming." She said that she and other residents felt like the bad guys for opposing the turbine project and warning other residents that the project would spell disaster. She said she hates now that what they feared has come true; there isn't any self-satisfaction in being able to say, "I told you so."

The board must weigh heavily the situation of Kewaunee County and the voices and experiences of residents who have no vested interest in wind development in Bureau County. They have no vested interest in telling anything but the truth. They are telling it like it is, and unfortunately, like it was.

For additional information

Dale Massey, Lincoln Township clerk: 920-837-7298

Prepared by Elise Bittner-Mackin, former Chicago Tribune reporter
Click on image below to hear the Lincoln Town Board Chairman speak about his experiences with the Kewaunee wind farm.