Entries in wind farm lawsuit (39)
5/28/10 Why was this home abandoned? Who used to live here? What did the PSC say about their turbine related troubles?
Note from the BPWI Research Nerd: The Fond du Lac County home in the photo below appraised for $320,000 in 2007, the year before the Invenergy turbines went on line.
In 2009 the family abandoned the home because of turbine noise and vibration.
A few weeks ago it was sold at a sheriff's sale. The opening bid was $107,000. There were no takers.
A New York bank paid less than the opening bid and now owns the empty house.
STATE PANEL DISMISSES WIND FAMILY'S WIND FARM COMPLAINT
May 27, 2010
A family seeking payback for health, business and property losses allegedly caused by a wind farm suffered a setback Thursday when the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin rejected the complaint.
PSC Chairman Eric Callisto said the commission is not the proper forum for personal injury claims and said Ann and Jason Wirtz, who now live in Oakfield, should take their case to circuit court.
The Wirtzes in April filed their complaint arguing the Forward Wind Energy Center in Dodge County, which went online in 2008, caused sleep deprivation, headaches and stomach problems as well as the loss of an alpaca-breeding business and a decline in their property value. The Wirtzes moved from their home in Brownsville in September 2009 without selling it.
The family directed its complaint at wind farm developer Invenergy LLC, Chicago, though the Wirtzes have not specified how much money they want from Invenergy. The Wirtzes did not comment on the project prior to PSC approval in 2005.
Madison-based attorney Ed Marion, who represents the Wirtzes, said they chose to go to the PSC first instead of suing because the commission regulates energy companies and is charged with protecting the rights and interests of the public.
“We’re disappointed by the decision,” he said, “but not entirely surprised.”
Marion said he does not know what the family will do next. He said a lawsuit is the likely option, though the family could appeal the PSC decision.
The PSC’s decision Thursday was good news to wind developers. Joe Condo, Invenergy’s vice president and general counsel, said the PSC was right to stay out of a personal injury claim filed by a family.
“I’m not going to speculate on what they’re going to do or how we’re going to respond,” he said. “This is not a normal course of action for us.”
Jim Naleid, a managing partner for Holmen-based AgWind Energy Partners LLC, which was not involved in the Forward Wind Energy project, said allegations of health problems, such as those claimed by the Wirtzes, simply were not an issue in 2005 when the PSC approved the Forward project. He said he doubts such allegations will attract attention from state wind farm regulators.
“The claims of physical impacts are a recent phenomenon and something that comes from the anti-wind folks in particular,” he said. “If there was merit on a wide-scale basis, I don’t think the PSC would issue these permits.”
The Wirtzes’ complaints came too late to merit PSC consideration, said Commissioner Mark Meyer. The family, he said, has the right to make its statement for PSC consideration of an upcoming 100-turbine wind farm Invenergy proposes for Brown County, but he said the PSC’s review of Forward ended a long time ago.
“The commission,” he said, “is not in the business of handling private causes of action against utilities.”
5/26/10 TRIPLE FEATURE PSC Agenda for tomorrow's open hearing includes three big Invenergy items AND Brown County residents push for wind turbine health study
BIG WIND DECISIONS ARE PART OF PSC OPEN MEETING TOMORROW
Thursday, May 27, 2010, at 10:30 a.m.
Flambeau Room, third floor
Public Service Commission Building
610 North Whitney Way
Audio of the meeting will be broadcast from the PSC Website beginning at 10:30. CLICK HERE to visit the PSC website, click on the button on the left that says "Live Broadcast". Sometimes the meetings don't begin right on time. The broadcasts begin when the meetings do so keep checking back if you don't hear anything right at 10:30.
There are many items to be discussed and decided upon at tomorrow's open meeting but three of them are of special interest to those of us who are following the wind issue in our state.
All three involve Chicago-based wind developer Invenergy.
Invenergy wishes to expand its 86 turbine Forward Energy wind project in Fond du Lac and Dodge Counties, it also wishes to construct a large wind project in Brown County which it is calling "Ledge Wind"
The third item involves a lawsuit from the Wirtz family who abandoned their home because of turbine noise.
These items are number 12 of 17 items currently listed on the agenda.
Docket number: 9300-CE-100 – Application of Forward Energy LLC for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to Construct a Wind Electric Generation Facility and Associated High Voltage Electric Transmission Facilities, to be Located in Dodge and Fond du Lac Counties
9554-CE-100 – Application of Ledge Wind Energy, LLC for a Certificate of Public
Convenience and Necessity to Construct a 150 MW Wind Electric Generation Facility and
Associated Facilities, to be Located in the Towns of Morrison, Holland, Wrightstown and
Glenmore, Brown County
9554-EI-100 – Complaint of Ann and Jason Wirtz, Seeking Compensation for Injuries
Sustained as a Result of the Operations of the Forward Wind Energy Center (suggested
minute) (DL memorandum of 4/27/10)
Wind turbine foes press Brown County to ask Wisconsin for further studies
SOURCE: Green Bay Press-Gazette, www.greenbaypressgazette.com
May 25, 2010 By Tony Walter
The citizens group contesting the proposed locations of wind turbines in southern Brown County has asked county officials to take an active role in convincing the state to further study the health and safety impact.
In more than two hours of presentations before a joint meeting of the county’s Human Services Committee and Board of Health, group members cited sleep disorders, physical danger and well contamination among their reasons.
The Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy is challenging the proposed Ledge Wind project sites of Invenergy LLC in the towns of Morrison, Glenmore, Wrightstown and Holland.
The state Public Service Commission has the final say on the locations and has appointed a wind siting committee to establish the guidelines that are expected to be announced this summer.
“This is a very significant matter for our leadership to discuss before installation,” said Carl Kuehne, a spokesman for the citizens group. “We want to make certain that they’re properly sited.”
The group made four requests:
* That the County Board or Board of Health prohibit erection of wind turbines until a study of the health effects can be completed.
* That the county ask the state Department of Public Health to conduct a formal and independent study of the health effects of wind turbine noise on existing farms in Wisconsin.
* That the county ask the PSC to defer any applications for siting wind turbines anywhere in the state, particularly in Brown County, until the study is completed.
* That the Board of Health establish appropriate setbacks and noise level guidelines for wind turbines in Brown County.
The group submitted a petition with 900 signatures.
Morrison resident Tim Harmann showed a video in which he interviewed residents near Fond du Lac who were dissatisfied with the wind farm project in that region.
Ann Wirtzsaid her family had to move away from wind turbines near Fond du Lac because of health issues created by the turbines. She gave an emotional review of her experience.
“Don’t do this to people,” she told the committees. “I beg you.”
Jon Morehouse, a member of the citizens group, said there were dangers from broken blades and fallen turbines, adding that one collapsed last week in Illinois.
Kristin Morehouse said the construction of turbines in Morrison presented serious well contamination issues to a community that has already been beset with such issues.
Matt Thornton, a spokesman for Invenergy, said the evidence of health and safety with wind turbines is extensive.
Reading from a prepared statement, he said, “There is prodigious evidence nationwide that wind turbines are safe and produce no negative health effects. There is already a body of evidence in Wisconsin showing wind farms are safe, healthy and beneficial, including the recent Glacier Hills case decided by the Public Service Commission.”
Home in the Butler Ridge wind farm, near Iron Springs, Wisconsin
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Wind farms threaten countyGreenbay Press GazetteJanuary 15, 2010
CLICK HERE to visit the BCCRWE website.
Brown County Citizens for Responsible Energy (BCCRWE) is a grass roots organization of local residents in Brown County where Invenergy is proposing to build the Ledge wind farm.
CLICK HERE to visit the Public Service Commission docket for this project.
Type in case number 9554-CE-100
Home in a wind farm, Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin. Photo by Gerry Meyer
Turbine Noise Annoys: Expert says people are suffering health problems from being too close to structures
By PAUL SCHLIESMANN
THE WHIG-STANDARD, www.thewhig.com
January 16 2010
"Some people are definitely suffering from the noise. Some people suffering are keeping quiet about it because of family ties. They can also see that some people are revelling in it. They're making money. There are technicians coming over to work. Some shopkeepers made a lot of money. It's been a shot in the arm, if you like. There's a party line."
-John Harrison retired Queen's University physics professor
Some might accuse John Harrison of tilting at wind turbines, but the retired Queen’s University physics professor says he’s got the science to prove that wind farms are bad for people’s health.
Harrison became an expert critic of wind technology — and an ally of those who oppose it — after learning that his retirement community of Amherst Island could become the site of a wind farm like the one on nearby Wolfe Island.
“My first reaction was I thought it would spoil the island for the looks. I didn’t realize the noise problem,” said Harrison.
“I learned that they really should be kept away from where people live.”
So began what has amounted to a self-funded second career.
Two years ago, Harrison travelled to the western Ontario community of Kincardine to monitor an Ontario Municipal Board hearing into a proposed wind turbine project there.
He came away with the impression that, in order to get the project approved, industry representatives and provincial government officials were paying little attention to the science that linked the giant machines to health concerns.
“There were two experts,” he said. “Their testimony made no impact on the OMB hearing because, for one thing, the company had a very talented lawyer.
“I know the lawyer had no idea what was going on but had this amazing expertise to orient facts.”
Harrison recalled that the 100 or so residents opposing the Kincardine project had no money to hire a lawyer of their own and no ability to pay for independent studies.
“That was a real eye-opener for me,” he said. “First that there are noise problems, that there is a valid scientific basis for the noise problems, and that the ministry of the environment and developers are not interested in hearing about the noise problem.”
The scientist began poring over the research literature. He sent his analyses and critiques to anyone connected with wind projects, including Ontario’s environment minister, John Gerretsen, who is also MPP for Kings -ton and the Islands.
At the time, Wolfe Island, in Gerretsen’s riding, was about to become home to an 86-turbine facility built by Canadian Hydro Developers.
It officially opened last summer and was soon purchased by TransAlta.
Canadian Hydro had been considering a second wind farm on Amherst Island.
“I came back from Kincardine and started reading original reports, original science,” said Harrison.
One study, by a Dutch researcher on the topic of background noise, stood out.
At the time, Ontario’s regulations limited the noise effect from wind turbines on nearby residents to 40 decibels. At a wind speed of 50 km/h, however, up to 50 decibels were allowed, the theory being that wind blowing through surrounding vegetation such as trees and shrubs would mask the additional 10 decibels.
Harrison said the Dutch study showed that “at nighttime there is no masking noise.”
This would be especially true in places like Wolfe and Amherst islands, which are rural and quiet.
“This thesis was a thorn in the side for the Ministry of the Environment because it made nonsense of their thesis,” said Harrison. “It really rattled the Ministry of the Environment. Politically, it wasn’t good because it meant the regulation wasn’t very good.”
Gerretsen says the regulations that were subsequently written into Ontario’s Green Energy Act — with a 40-decibel maximum and 550-metre minimum setbacks — exceed all other jurisdictions and make the Dutch study irrelevant.
“He’s wrong about the masking,” said Gerretsen.
Despite his criticisms, Harrison was asked to sit on an environment ministry working group made up of about 40 people — ministry personnel and engineers, acoustic consultants, municipal staff, planning consultants, as well as himself and two other citizens.
When the working group endorsed a report written by a Ryerson University professor dismissing the Dutch study, Harrison was perturbed and, typically, responded with his own critique.
When a group of Wolfe Island residents asked for his help reviewing the environmental study for the new 86-turbine project in their community, again he found what he considered flaws in the data and dutifully told the consultants, Canadian Hydro and the ministry.
“They just ignored the whole thing. There was no check and balance in the system,” he said. “Those measurements were worthless. The ministry accepted them.”
Harrison said Wolfe Islanders today are more divided over the issue than many let on.
“Some people are definitely suffering from the noise. Some people suffering are keeping quiet about it because of family ties. They can also see that some people are revelling in it. They’re making money. There are technicians coming over to work. Some shopkeepers made a lot of money. It’s been a shot in the arm, if you like. There’s a party line.”
Harrison says he isn’t opposed to wind energy, though he feels it will never supply more than 4% or 5% of Ontario’s power.
He is against putting them near people. “My intention has been, let’s install renewable energy, but let’s install it away from people.”
Gerretsen said most wind-energy companies would probably prefer to be situated in remote locations to avoid conflicts, but the cost of getting the energy to the grid would become prohibitive.
“If you find more remote places, then you get into the problem of transmission lines,” he said.
In a recent interview with the Whig-Standard, Gerretsen endorsed an industry-funded report by the Canadian and American wind energy associations that characterized most of the health problems documented by people living near wind turbines as psychosomatic.
He said the Wolfe Island wind farm opponents were promoting not-in-my-backyard activism because they didn’t like the looks of the turbines.
Harrison dismissed that review as “an industry association convened and sponsored attempt to deny the adverse health effects being reported.”
He said the symptoms are real — people are losing sleep, becoming stressed and experiencing various health problems.
“Other families in Ontario are using safe houses maybe 20 km away. When they need a good night’s sleep, they go to these safe houses,” he said.
Harrison takes credit for helping a woman and her husband near Kindcardine get a settlement from the wind farm company.
“I sent in a report that the noise was far in excess of the Ontario noise regulation. The result was the company bought her out and made her sign a gag order,” he said.
“I think down the line you will see this on Wolfe Island.
1/15/09 Thumping with a 100% chance of loud jet sounds: Forecast from Fond du Lac County Invenergy windfarm.
The Meyer Family live in the Invenergy Forward Energy Wind farm near the Town of Byron in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin. Gerry Meyer has been keeping a noise log since the turbines went on line near his home in March of 2008.
In yesterday's entry he talks about noticing the thumping sound from the turbines is louder inside the pole shed than it is out of doors. He mentions Ann Wirtz whose alpaca herd sheltered in a pole shed and began to fail once the turbines went on line. The Wirtz family have abandoned their home because of wind turbine noise and vibration. To read the story of why the Wirtz Family abandoned their home, CLICK HERE
Scroll down to read yesterday's noise log entry. Click on the image above to hear the turbine closest to the Meyer home. This was recorded with a hand held video camera from the Meyer's porch
Jan 14, 2010 7:15AM,
Wind SW, [turbine spinning at] 18 rpms. Loud jet sound or thumping sound. I can hear it in the house as well.
I can hear it in the driveway 20’ from an idling diesel pickup truck and while an 800cc 4- wheeler is pushing snow. This sound is mainly from turbines # 4 and #73. At one point thismorning the sound, while outside, seemed to be coming from everywhere.
Again in my opinion this should not be a “sacrifice” we should endure, one that is taking away our quality of life and health to satisfy the wants of the PSC.
I have noticed recently that when I am in my new wood shed the thumping and pounding is louder. I can hear it over the radio as I fill the wood furnace. I think of Ann Wirtz’s alpacas and what they must have endured in the metal pole shed that they lived in until they had to be moved off the property.
Today the thumping and pounding from the turbines was loud, similar to what we often hear in the house. I thought that I would check the speed of the turbine blades when I left the shed. The turbine is directly north of the wood shed and about 1585’ away.
When I walked out of the shed and closed the door I realized that the thumping sound outdoors was not as loud as IN the shed. This must be the low frequency noise issue or effect I have heard about. This is the decibel (dbC) reading the wind companies won’t talk about and the PSC ignores.
9:30 PM Wind NW. Jet sound and pounding sound continues especially from turbine 4 plus turbine 6.
“We lost a lot of money on the sale of the house, but it was better to get away from (the turbines),” Ernest says. “We are not against wind power. We were for it. But they shouldn’t be near people.”
STUDY FUNDED BY WIND ENERGY INDUSTRY QUESTIONED:
By SUSAN HUNDERTMARK and DAN SCHWAB,
Today's Farmer, www.todaysfarmer.ca
Still poised to respond to any renewed efforts by CASA Engineering and Construction to build a wind project in the St. Columban area, Huron East Against Turbines (HEAT) is cynical about a report from the wind industry stating that wind turbines have no adverse effect on human health.
“This study is no big deal and no surprise. We still need an independent health study,” says HEAT member Rob Tetu.
The study — funded by the American Wind Energy Association and the Canadian Wind Energy Association — involved a seven-member international panel that reviewed all current peer-reviewed scientific literature on sound and health effects.
“There is no evidence that the sounds, nor the sub-audible vibrations, emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects on humans,” says a press release released by CanWEA, quoting Dr. Robert J. McCunney, one of the study’s authors.
“We’ve got no peer-reviewed studies. All we’ve got is a bunch of sick people,” responds Tetu, referring to the over 100 people documented by Wind Concerns Ontario to have suffered ill effects from living too close to wind turbines since 2007.
“I have very little faith in a study released by the wind industry,” he says.
Tetu says HEAT’s mandate is to fight the project proposed for the St. Columban area and is preparing a document to send to the province in response to its definition of a “point of reception.”
He says the definition needs clarification since it’s not yet clear if barns, cabins and trailers will be considered points of reception along with houses.
Tetu says that while HEAT has determined that CASA will be subject to the new setback distances under the new Green Energy Act, the group has not been able to find out if CASA is working at redeveloping its plans from its original setbacks of 450 metres and reapplying to continue with a wind project for the St. Columban area.
The Green Energy Act sets a minimum 550-metre setback for wind turbines for projects of five turbines and under and 750 metres for projects of six to 10 turbines.
“CASA is not communicating with us but they are obligated to make contact with the community if the project is on the go,” says Tetu.
The Green Energy Act did not require an independent epidemiological study to prove that the setbacks stated in the regulations are not harmful to human health, a request made by Huron East council several months ago and a request that was recently made by Grey County council in a resolution approved by Huron East council.
While HEAT has raised $61,000 in the local community to pay for its legal bills, Tetu says HEAT is supporting “in spirit” a legal battle happening in Prince Edward County where farmer Ian Hanna is suing the Ontario government and asking for an independent health study on the effects of industrial wind turbines.
“We can’t support it financially but we can encourage local people to do so. They’re looking for $250,000 to do it — it’s a provincewide project,” says Tetu, adding interested people should access the Wind Concerns Ontario website.
Seaforth residents Ernest and Sharon Marshall say they were “forced off (their) farm in Goderich” after the elderly pair began experiencing health problems, which they believe were linked to living next to wind turbines.
In April 2006, a wind turbine was erected 548 metres from the Marshall’s property. Four turbines surrounded the house, with 11 turbines in total within a two-mile radius, Ernest says.
After that, the couple both began experiencing health issues.
The couple also says the horses they owned at the time started acting strangely after the wind turbines were built.
Ernest says after years of raising horses he’d never seen them act so bizarrely.
In April 2008, after exactly two years of living next to the wind turbines, the Marshalls moved out of the home they’d live in for 30 years and into a house in Seaforth.
“We lost a lot of money on the sale of the house, but it was better to get away from (the turbines),” Ernest says. “We are not against wind power. We were for it. But they shouldn’t be near people.”
RESIDENTS NOT SWAYED BY WIND PROJECT REPORT
Vol. 34, No. 1,
North Gower and Richmond residents worried about a proposal for industrial wind turbines near the villages are not reassured by a report on health effects from the noise produced by turbines.
The report, released last month and sponsored by both the Canadian Wind Energy Association and the American Wind Energy Association, is titled Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects.
The panel of expert reviewers concluded that there is “no evidence that audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects.”
It doesn’t sit well with opponents of a proposal to build eight industrial wind turbines more than 600 feet tall in their area.
“We have joined a coalition of 41 citizens‚ groups throughout this province,” says North Gower Wind Action Group chair Gary Chandler in a press release issued by his organization.
“I can tell you that people in Ripley, Essex, Melancthon, Amaranth and on Wolfe Island are saying that the constant noise and vibration from these huge structures is very disturbing,” Chandler alleges. “These reports are real and very worrying for us.”
He asserts that the most recent report is not a true health study, but merely a review of existing reports.
“As far as I can tell, this is just a re-reading of information we had before, nothing new. And certainly, none of the reviewers ever consulted with people who are experiencing the effects from turbine noise, or their family doctors. In our view, this report is a reaction to the just-released book by Dr. Nina Pierpont, The Wind Turbine Syndrome, which is a peer-reviewed account of real experiences.”
He says his group and others continue to ask government to sponsor independent research on the health effects of exposure to industrial wind turbines, and enact a moratorium on industrial wind turbine developments until that research has been completed.
“It just makes sense not to subject more people to this noise until we know the truth,” Chandler adds. “These turbines can be a welcome source of energy, but they should not be located close to people’s homes.”
The North Gower Wind Action Group points to a Dec. 13 report in The Sunday Times of Britain that UK officials covered up warnings that wind turbines generate noise damaging to people’s health for miles near such installations. As a result, hundreds of turbines were erected and allowed to generate higher levels of noise than should be allowed.
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: The industry-funed health study focused mainly on homes located a half mile from wind turbines. The latest wind farm approved in Wisconsin has a setback of just 1250 feet from homes.