Entries in wind farm shadow flicker (109)

10/27/10 Why send the PSC wind rules back? What are the concerns? 


On Tuesday, November 9th the Assembly Committee on Commerce, Utilites, Energy and Rail will hold a full public hearing at the capitol because of questions raised regarding the  Public Service Commission's new wind siting rules for the state of Wisconsin.

The public is encouraged to attend and to provide testimony regarding specific concerns about the rules.

Tuesday, November 9th at 10:30 a.m. in Room 417 North at the State Capitol Building: Hearing relating to  Clearinghouse Rule 10-057


Note from the BPWI Research Nerd: Concerns now being raised about the new wind siting rules created by the Public Service Commission were clearly outlined in this request from members of local government in three towns in Brown County. This document was submitted to the PSC on June 23, 2010.


TO: Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
Docket No. 1-AC-231 Draft Chapter 128--Wind Energy Systems

Request by the Towns of Morrison, Wrightstown and Glenmore
Brown County, Wisconsin
June 23, 2010

Issue: Request to delay issuing the PSCW wind siting standards until epidemiological studies of health complaints from Wisconsin`s current wind farms are thoroughly completed.

The towns of Morrison, Wrightstown, and Glenmore in Brown County are very concerned about the mounting evidence that there are serious negative impacts on human and animal health caused by wind turbines. It appears it is not only reasonable to delay the issuance of wind siting standards but it would be irresponsible to not do so in light of new studies and ongoing complaints of residents in and near Wisconsin`s existing wind farms.

In general, scientifically and statistically relevant studies have been limited. But, a very important report was published March 2010 by the World Health Organization (WHO) entitled "Night Noise Guidelines for Europe" (available at euro.who.int/en/what-we-publish/abstracts/night-noise-guidelines-for-europe).

The report is based on a six-year evaluation of scientific evidence by thirty-five scientists from medical and acoustical disciplines. WHO indicated that now governments have justifications to regulate noise exposure at night. WHO sets the limit for annual average exposure to not exceed 40 decibels (dB) outside of a residence.

WHO stated, "Recent research clearly links exposure to night noise with harm to health. Sleep disturbance and annoyance are the first effects of night noise and can lead to mental disorders. Just like air pollution and toxic chemicals, noise is an environmental hazard to health". WHO stated that they hope their new report will prompt governments to invest effort and money in protecting health from this growing hazard.

Our towns ask the PSCW to acquire the WHO report and evaluate its application to setting appropriate sound levels for wind turbines.

The PSCW`s draft rules do not address low frequency noise levels. It is not known whether the WHO report addresses this issue but other studies have described the likely effects. This is another area where epidemiological studies are needed before wind turbine setbacks can be reasonably proposed.

Besides sleep disturbance, there are complaints of other physiological problems. It is not acceptable to ignore or minimize the significance of these impacts as just quirks of human imagination.

Also, there is evidence that existing wind farms in Wisconsin are negatively affecting farm animals. Whether it is noise or some other physical phenomena, studies and testing should be done before setting siting standards.

At a public meeting of the Brown County Health Department and the Brown County Human Services Committee, reputable medical and health experts stressed the importance of epidemiological studies to determine the true nature of health impacts of wind turbines.

The State Board of Health pointed out that the lack of funding is a hurdle. But a conviction to do the right thing should prompt the PSCW to make a case to pursue the money issue with state legislators as well as our U.S. senators and representatives. Certainly, our towns would help in this endeavor. That said, it is even more appropriate for the wind developers and their associations to offer funding for independent studies since such studies should reduce future litigation. Electric utilities should have a stake in this effort as well. This is an opportunity to involve the University of Wisconsin research capabilities in both human health and animal health.

It appears that Act 40 does not set a deadline for completing the siting rules. This week a state senator who was one of the leaders in passing the wind siting law agreed that studies should be done to be sure the rules are adequate. If one or two years were used to study the existing wind farms while delaying any new installations, the developers would still have time to help utilities meet their 15% RPS by 2015. Again, if needed, our towns would help in getting the support of legislators.

Our towns implore the PSCW and the Wind Siting Council to not ignore the evidence of potentially serious health impacts and to not set standards until they have done the obvious and reasonable step of studying the health impacts of existing wind turbine installations in Wisconsin. Professional ethics demands no less. We believe our request aligns with the PSCW`s responsibility to protect the citizens of Wisconsin.

Submitted for the towns by Glen R. Schwalbach, P.E.




Health Impacts of Wind Energy Facilities

The Oregon Public Health Division is responding to concerns about the health impacts of wind energy facilities on Oregon communities.  We are working with a broad range of stakeholders to:

  • identify and document the major health concerns related to wind energy facilities
  • use the best available science to evaluate potential health risks
  • work with partners and decision-makers to ensure health is considered during the siting process
  • provide community members with timely and useful information, and opportunities to be involved in our work

A steering committee is being formed to oversee our work in this area.  This committee will include representatives from communities near wind energy facilities, local and state government agencies and decision-makers, and renewable energy developers. 


Get Involved

The Office of Environmental Public Health is conducting general Health Impact Assessment (HIA) on the siting of wind farms in Oregon.  HIA provides decision-makers with information about how a policy, program or project may affect people’s health.

This initial HIA on wind energy is not focused on a specific facility or community.  It will focus more broadly on what is currently known about the health impacts from wind farms, and the policies and standards used to site wind facilities in Oregon. 


We will have a survey available for you to share your input and experiences with us.  This survey is completely confidential, and your individual responses and personal information will not be shared with anyone.

The survey will be available on November 10, 2010.  

Please email us if you would like to be notified when the survey is available wind.hia@state.or.us

Steering Committee

More information coming soon.

Contact Us

Email: wind.hia@state.or.us

Phone:  971-673-0977




An important part of the health impact assessment process is ensuring that the people most likely to be impacted by a development, such as a wind energy facility, have the opportunity to participate in decisions and to express their concerns about how the facility may impact their health and well being.

Community Listening Sessions

We are hosting three community listening sessions to learn about people’s experiences and health concerns about wind energy in their community.

These sessions are open to the public. 


November 3rd, 6:30 PM to 8 PM

Eastern Oregon University

1 University Blvd La Grande, OR

Hoke Union Building

3rd Floor, RM 309

Park anywhere but reserved spaces

Call 541.962.3704 for directions


November 4th at 12 PM to 1 PM

Umatilla-Morrow ESD

2001 SW Nye Pendleton, OR

Directions: www.umesd.k12.or.us


November 4th 6:30 PM to 8 PM

Arlington Grade School Cafeteria

1400 Main St. Arlington, OR

Call 541-454-2632 for directions

Download a flyer for the listening sessions.  

Public Comment

Our reports will be available for public review and comment.  Please check back for updates on our reports, or email us to get on our mailing list for notifications and updates. 


Massive Protest Greets Wind Turbine Developers

FERGUS — A massive protest greeted officials from WPD Canada in Fergus Tuesday evening, and flowed into the renewable energy developer’s open house on the proposed Springwood Wind Project (formerly known as Belwood Wind Farm), a four turbine wind energy system planned for agricultural land in the northwest corner of Centre Wellington. Upwards of 1,000 people, several horses and a wagon filled with manure occupied the front parking lot of the Centre Wellington Sportsplex on Belsyde Ave E.




SOURCE: www.chronicle-express.com

Jerusalem, N.Y. — John Grabski, representing the Jerusalem Preservation Association, brought a seldom explored topic to the subject of wind farms at the Oct. 20 Jerusalem Town Council meeting – economic devaluation.

Public discussions on wind farms usually include noise, flicker, dead birds and discontented cows. Grabski pointed to those briefly, but his main point was to suggest measures to protect against personal property value loss.
Instead of looking at the big picture of how much money wind turbines could bring to the town and landowners, he pointed out in a detailed approach how money could be lost long term.

“According to expert organizations such as professional Certified Real Estate Appraisers, industrial wind development adversely impacts land values within the immediate wind-zone and a peripheral area of approximately two miles,” according to Grabski.




Three reports, created specifically to guide legislators in wind turbine siting decisions, and alert them to areas of concern, all identify a half mile as the minimum setback needed to mitigate major problems from turbine noise and shadow flicker.

The Reports include:

The National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies of Science Report "Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects". (2007) [Download Document]

The Congressional Research Service Report prepared for Members and Committees of Congress "Wind Power in the United States: Technology, Economic, and Policy Issues (2008) [Download document]

The Minnesota Department of Health, Environmental Health Division In response to a request from: Minnesota Department of Commerce, Office of Energy Security: "Public Health Impacts of Wind Turbines" (2009) [Download Document]


The Noise Heard Round the World - the trouble with industrial wind turbines
1/2 mile more or more setback

Simple guidelines for siting wind turbines to prevent health risks
George W. Kamperman, INCE Bd. Cert. Emeritus Kamperman Associates, Inc. george@kamperman.com
Richard R. James, INCE E-Coustic Solutions rickjames@e-coustic.com
1km (3280 feet) or more setback

French Academy of Medicine warns of wind turbine noise
1.5km (.9-mile) setback

National Wind Watch
1-mile setback

U.K. Noise Association
1-mile setback
U.K. Noise Association: 1 mile setback needed for wind turbines

UK Noise Association - Wind Farms are Causing Noise Problems

Beech Ridge Wind Farm, West Virginia
1 to 4 miles setback

Deal reached in wind turbine dispute - Fayette County
6000 foot setback

Noise Radiation from Wind Turbines Installed New Homes: Effects o Health
2km (1.2 mile) setback

Location, Location, Location. An investigation into wind farms and noise by the Noise Association
1 to 1.5 mile setback

Are wind farm turbines making people sick? Some say yes.
1.5 mile setback

Dr. Nina Pierport
1.5 mile setback, more for mountainous geography
Health Effects of Wind Turbine Noise
Noisy Wind and Hot Air
Wind Turbine Syndrome - testimony before the New York State Legislature Energy Committee
except from rebuttal to Noble Environmental’s draft Environmental Impact Statement regarding noise, shadow flicker, and health

Wind Turbines, Noise and Health
Dr. Amanda Harry
1.5 mile setback

Riverside County, California
2-mile setback

Marjolaine Villey-Migraine
Docteur en sciences de l’information et de la communication, Université Paris II-Panthéon-Assas, Sp&egravecialiste de l’Information Scientifique et Technique (IST)
5 km (3.1 miles)

Microseismic and Infrasound Monitoring of Low Frequency Noise and Vibrations from Windfarms
10km (6.2-mile) setback


Facts About Wind Energy and Noise

“Anti-noise” Silences Wind Turbines, publication date August 2008

New England Wind Forum: Wind Turbine Sound
US Department of Energy

“Noise Radiation from Wind Turbines Installed Near Homes: Effects on Health.”
with an annotated review of the research and related issues
by Barbara J Frey, BA, MA and Peter J Hadden, BSc, FRICS

Noise pollution from wind turbines
September 20, 2007 by Julian Davis and S. Jane Davis

This is a list of publications from the Acoustics Laboratory and the Department of Acoustics from the period from 1974 until now. The list is sorted in chronological order starting with the most recent papers.

George W. Kamperman, INCE Bd. Cert. Emeritus Kamperman Associates, Inc. george@kamperman.com
Richard R. James, INCE E-Coustic Solutions rickjames@e-coustic.com

The “How To” Guide to Siting Wind Turbines to Prevent Health Risks from Sound
George W. Kamperman PE and Richard R. James INCE

Low Frequency Noise from Large Wind Turbines
Delta Project EFP-06. Client: Danish Energy Authority

Second International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise
Lyon, France. September 20-21, 2007

“Noisy Wind and Hot Air,” Nina Pierpoint, MD, PhD
(extract) “There need to be funds to cover damages to the health, property values, and quality of life of nearby residents, should these occur.”

Excerpts from the Final Report on the Township of Lincoln Wind Turbine Moratorium Committee
(extract) “As a result of so many noise complaints, The Moratorium Committee ordered WPS to conduct a noise study. . . . [T]he study established that the turbines added 5-20 dB(A) to the ambient sound. A 10-dB increase is perceived as a doubling of noise level. As soon as the noise study was published in 2001, WPS conceded that these homes were rendered uninhabitable by the noise of the turbines and made buyout offers for the neighboring homes.”

Wind Farm Noise and Regulations in the Eastern United States
Second International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise

Acoustic Trauma: Bioeffects of Sound
Alex Davies BFS Honours

A Review of Published Resarch on Low Frequency Noise and its Effects
Report for Defra by Dr. Geoff Leventhall

Noise Background
DART (Dorest Against Rural Turbines)

Project WINDFARMperception
Visual and acoustic impact of wind turbine farms on residents
Wind turbines more annoying than expected

G.P. van den Berg
Wind turbines at night: acoustical practice and sound research
Science Shop for Physics, University of Groningen, the Netherlands
Effects of the wind profile at night on wind turbine sound
Journal of Sound and Vibration

Vibroacoustic Disease
N.A.A. Castelo Branco and M. Alves-Pereira

Wind Turbine Acoustic Noise
Renewable Energy Research Laboratory


10/24/10 They've known about the trouble since 2004: why is the Public Service Commission still pushing for short setbacks between turbines and homes? 


On Tuesday, November 9th the Assembly Committee on Commerce, Utilites, Energy and Rail will hold a full public hearing at the capitol because of questions raised regarding the  Public Service Commission's new wind siting rules for the state of Wisconsin.

The public is encouraged to attend and to provide testimony regarding specific concerns about the rules.

Tuesday, November 9th at 10:30 a.m. in Room 417 North at the State Capitol Building: Hearing relating to  Clearinghouse Rule 10-057



In 2004 the Energy Center of Wisconsin[1] published a report for the State of Wisconsin Department of Administration Division of Energy entitled, “A Study of Wind Development in Wisconsin, A Collaborative Report”. On page 48, under “Turbine Placement” it states:

The first generation of wind power projects in Wisconsin (particularly in Kewaunee County) showed that unless developers pay attention to the placement of turbines, noise and blade flicker could become significant issues for nearby residences.

The importance of turbine placement and wind farm design cannot be overemphasized. Developers need to make use of visual rendering tools to ensure their project explicitly evaluates the potential effect of noise levels and blade flicker on host landowners and adjacent property owners.

The proposed Wind Siting Rules do very little to ensure the fulfillment of this industry supported recommendation.

Wind development stakeholders will testify that these rules are the strictest wind siting rules in the nation.[2]

Last week, Goodhue County became the second county in Minnesota  in the last year to adopt wind siting rules which included a key provision that would impose a wind turbine setback of 10 “rotor-diameters” or about 1/2mile, from homeowners not participating in a commercial wind project —[3] unless those homeowners agree to less stringent standards.

Some wind siting council members were prepared to discuss other ordinances in the U.S. and internationally as provided in Act 40. The subject wasn’t opened for discussion. In fact, Wisconsin is breaking ground by taking away all local control in the development of wind projects. 

Shadow flicker modeling and noise modeling standards are left to the discretion of each wind developer. This is one area that should have more uniformity set by the PSC for input parameters.  Wind developers are not vetted by the state. There are no consequences for bad actors or modeling errors.  

Impacts should be mitigated with proper siting. There is too much emphasis on band-aid methods to comply and mitigate after the turbine installation instead of being confident that the PSC has put forth accurate siting rules.

Having a rule for notice of process for making complaints sent to all residents within a ½ mile before construction just signals the community that problems are most certainly expected.

Under the complaint process in the wind siting rules, the rule states that a complaint shall be made first to the owner of the wind energy system pursuant to a complaint resolution process developed by the owner.

It further states that after 45 days the complainant may then petition the local government for review of a complaint.

The permitting authority is the local government. Complaint resolution should be administered by them.

Unlike a wind turbine owner, the town or county boards are elected officials who have the intrinsic responsibility to protect the health and safety and welfare of their constituents even if the rules remind them that they are restricted by statute 66.0401.

The rules should be clear on what procedural methods and tools the local governments have to investigate complaints.

For example how do they determine if noise limits are exceeded? What is the definition of “curtailment” and how shall that be measured?

There should be a stipulation for funds to be collected before project construction, and held in escrow to address investigation of complaints after the project is operational, as provided for in the permitting and construction process.  In addition there should be a clear procedure for an appeal process to the PSC if the wind turbine owner determines the complaint resolution is unreasonable and refuses to comply.

The rules are silent on mechanisms of enforcement. Local governments need to know what their enforcement authority is. Most towns do not have authority to issue citations for non-compliance in operations in their towns. What tools does a local government have to ensure that the siting standards are met without burdening the community with litigation costs for 25 years?

A wind project may be the single most intrusive development that engulfs a community.

Have the Wisconsin legislators carefully reviewed the evidence that wind energy will live up to the marketing rhetoric; reduce our dependency on foreign oil, reduce C02 emissions and reduce imports of fossil fuels?

If so, then more lessons need to be learned from our existing installed wind projects to make continuing development sustainable. Accepting the same methods of planning developments as in the past has done nothing but fuel opposition. The wind siting rules as written have done nothing to minimize this.

Cathy Bembinster

Evansville, WI 53536


[1] http://www.ecw.org/prod/231-1.pdf

[2] http://renewwisconsinblog.org/2010/08/30/vickerman-wisconsin-poised-to-adopt-the-strictest-statewide-siting-rule-on-large-wind-turbines-in-the-nation/

[3] http://www.republican-eagle.com/event/article/id/69492/


Better Plan would like to thank Cathy Bembinster for providing us with a copy of their testimony so we can share it here.

CLICK HERE  to watch Wisconsin Eye video of the Senate Committee wind rules hearing. After you click on the link, click "Watch" under 10.13.10 Senate committee on Commerce, Utilities, Energy and Rail.

Better Plan would also like to thank Wisconsin Eye for making this video available to the public.


10/21/10 Which way did the money go? Wind developers dream, home owner's nightmare: short setbacks and big stimulus dollars

Butler Ridge Project, Dodge County WIsconsin-- home of the 1000 foot setback


SOURCE: The Republican Eagle, www.republican-eagle.com

October 20n2010

By Eric Ludy,

With high transmission capacity and adequate wind levels, southeastern Minnesota is poised to be one of the next hot spots for wind development, according to wind resource analysts.

“Almost all the way across is very good,” said Dan Turner, an analyst with Windustry, a Minneapolis-based wind advocacy group.

But as large-scale wind development moves from places like the sparsely populated Buffalo Ridge in Minnesota’s southwest corner to more densely settled areas like Goodhue County, what sorts of problems develop? Are people willing to live among wind turbines?

That question has taken on special bearing in Goodhue County, where the proposed Goodhue Wind project has sparked two years of heated public meetings. Opponents of the project say the 50 400-foot tall turbines would be sited too close to many neighboring homes.

Developers have countered that they have voluntarily agreed to 1,500-foot setbacks from homeowners not participating in their project, above the state-mandated 750 feet.

Both supporters and opponents are expected to make one final case to state regulators Thursday in St. Paul as the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission decides on the fate of the project.

Living in the shadow

Among those there will be Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, and Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa. In a recent letter, they called on Gov. Tim Pawlenty to speak out against the Goodhue Wind project, arguing that the region’s dense settlement and topography make it unsuitable for large wind development.

Those opposed to the project would be forced to “live within its shadow” against their will, they wrote.

In an interview with the R-E Monday, Kelly argued that the state takes a “cookie cutter” approach to the permitting of large wind projects, ignoring regional differences.

“They’ve already developed on the best areas,” he said. “Now, we’re encroaching on spaces that are maybe higher in population density.”

To correct the issue, he’s seeking legislation that would give increased control over permitting to local government bodies like townships and counties.

But not all area legislators agree.

Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, said that giving too much control to local governments would result in hodgepodge development that limits the state’s ability to meet renewable energy goals. The state adopted a “25 percent by 2025″ green energy goal in 2007.

He argued that under safe setbacks, people in more densely settled areas could and should be able to live near wind turbines.

“I actually think it’s a good thing that we’re trying to develop wind in places where we need the electricity,” he said.

‘Issue of annoyance’

As wind development has accelerated across the state — capacity jumped from 273 megawatts to 1,810 from 1999 to 2009 — state officials have struggled to come up with clear answers to questions about the impacts of wind turbines on people living within their footprint.

In early 2009, the state Office of Energy Security responded to concerns about the proposed Lakeswind Wind Power Plant in northwest Minnesota by commissioning a “white paper” from the Minnesota Department of Health evaluating possible health effects of wind turbines.

The report, titled “Public Health Impacts of Wind Turbines” and conducted by MDH toxicologists Carl Herbrandson and Rita Messing, found that annoyance from noise levels and “shadow flicker,” caused when turbine blades spin in front of the sun, were the biggest complaints from people living near the towers.

“It really is, in a lot of ways, an issue of complaints, an issue of annoyance,” Herbrandson told the R-E Tuesday.

He said people generall start complaining about noise around 35 to 45 decibels, comparable to a humming refrigerator.

According to noise models conducted by National Wind, the company that manages Goodhue Wind, 12 percent of the 482 homes in or near the project area would see noise levels between 40 and 45 decibels under “worst-case” conditions.

Ultimately, Herbrandson said, complaints are subjective and rely on a variety of factors, particularly if an individual is participating in a project or not. He said complaints tend to reduce with distance from turbines.

“As you move away from it, there’s a place where that stops. And that’s going to be a different place for everybody,” he said.

Conflicting opinions

Supporters and opponents of the project are, predictably, divided on the health impacts.

National Wind senior wind developer Chuck Burdick said that annoyances have been reported, but aren’t any more severe than those associated with feedlots or other agricultural uses.

The company develops projects as far east as Ohio and has heard few complaints, he said.

He equated public criticism of the Goodhue Wind project over the past two years to “misinformation and fear.”

“The kinds of worst-case scenarios that opponents present are simply not represented by community’s experiences around the country,” he said.

Opponents, however, have repeatedly argued that Goodhue County’s population is simply too dense to support the scale of wind development Goodhue Wind proposes.

Marie McNamara of Belle Creek Township said the large towers would clearly affect the quality of life of her family and others living throughout the project’s area.

“They do affect people, and people don’t want to live with them,” she said.



Administration claims 50,000 jobs created, but many projects were completed before funds were handed out


By Russ Choma
Investigative Reporting Workshop
American University 

The Obama administration is crediting its anti-recession stimulus plan with creating up to 50,000 jobs on dozens of wind farms, even though many of those wind farms were built before the stimulus money began to flow or even before President Barack Obama was inaugurated.

Out of 70 major wind farms that received the $4.4 billion in federal energy grants through the stimulus program, public records show that 11, which received a total of $600 million, erected their wind towers during the Bush administration. And a total of 19 wind farms, which received $1.3 billion, were built before any of the stimulus money was distributed. ( See a list of the projects here.)

Yet all the jobs at these wind farms are counted in the administration's figures for jobs created by the stimulus.

In testimony to Congress earlier this year, the Department of Energy's senior adviser on the stimulus plan, Matt Rogers, touted the wind farm program for creating as many as 50,000 jobs. He acknowledges that these figures were provided by a wind industry trade and lobbying group. The trade group, in turn, cites a government study, which found that most of the jobs are short term.

The Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University fact-checked that claim, using the federal government's own documents. Not only were 19 of the wind farms already in place before the first stimulus payments were made, but 14 of them were already sending electricity to the grid.

First comes the project, later the stimulus
Here's how we checked the administration's claim: Wind towers are tall — hundreds of feet tall — making them dangerous to low-flying planes. The Federal Aviation Administration requires every structure over 200 feet to be recorded in a database, including the date each structure was built. We reviewed these records filed by the wind farms that received stimulus grants. We also checked records kept by utility regulators, showing when wind farms began producing electricity.

In western New York, for example, in the hills near the economically hard-hit cities of Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, the Canandaigua Wind Farm could have created the sort of green-collar jobs that the Obama administration promised would be generated by the stimulus package. The feathery blades of the farm's 88 gigantic turbines reach more than 400 feet in the air. Each turbine contains 8,000 components and is almost as sophisticated as a jet engine. Hundreds of construction workers were needed to haul and erect the steel towers, each weighing hundreds of tons.

The wind farm was built in two phases. The developer, First Wind, received a total of $61.8 million in stimulus grants on Sept. 1, 2009, when the administration began rolling out money for the program. But FAA records indicate both were completed at least 15 months earlier — by May 20, 2008.

There are other examples.

In the coal country of eastern Pennsylvania, FAA records show, the last turbine on the 51-turbine Locust Ridge II wind farm in Mahanoy City, Pa., was erected on Jan. 1, 2009, the first day a project could be eligible for a stimulus grant. But the other 50 turbines were built in 2008 — 31 of them before Obama was elected. The farm's developer, Iberdrola Renewables, the subsidiary of a Spanish utility, collected $59.1 million in stimulus money.

High above the rolling plains southeast of Lubbock, Texas, the 166-turbine Pyron Wind Farm represents the new wave of American wind farm development. In the heart of the country's "wind belt," it's far larger and more labor intensive than the projects in Pennsylvania and New York. German developer E.On Climate and Renewables estimated that 620 construction jobs were created, and on Sept. 22, 2009, the project received $121.9 million in stimulus money. FAA records show the last tower had been built on Dec. 11, 2008.

The program, known as the Section 1603, reimburses developers of renewable energy facilities, such as wind and solar farms, up to 30 percent of the project's cost. Applicants need only prove they built the facility and are automatically awarded the money. Unlike other stimulus programs, the wind farms aren't judged on job creation or required to abide by "Buy American" clauses. The money also comes with virtually no strings, and there is no obligation to reinvest it.

Administration officials and the companies did not dispute that much of the work on the wind farms occurred in late 2008 or early 2009, but said the stimulus money was vital for creating jobs down the line. Even if the wind farms that received the grants had been completed, they said, the money was vital to ensure that the next generation of wind power plants is built.

As the stimulus program continues to be hotly debated on the campaign trail, the Obama administration's record of touting all these grants for creating "real jobs" continues.

"These programs were particularly effective in getting money out the door quickly to put people back to work on great projects that would otherwise have been idled in the face of the Great Recession," Matt Rogers, the Department of Energy's senior adviser on stimulus, testified to Congress in April of this year. At other points in his written testimony, Rogers said the Section 1603 program was responsible for "50,000 additional jobs in 2009."

In an interview in late September, however, Rogers did not dispute the records showing that a large portion of work on many projects was completed before 2009. But he defended the grant program as a vital tool to ensure the recipients continued to invest in wind farms in the United States.

"With the first set of projects that were done before the passage of the Recovery Act — in almost every case, what they did was reinvest in the next set of projects," Rogers said. "Because we now have a set of incentives, project developers and sponsors are reinvesting in the U.S. market, instead of seeing a lot of that money go to other places. That's one of the most exciting parts of the job creation story."

Because of the way the law was written, the Section 1603 grant program has no language requiring that recipients reinvest their grant money in the United States. Rogers said he was basing his claim on the fact that many companies have reported to the administration that they reinvested their grants in future wind projects in the U.S.

Most of the job gains are short term, study finds
Although the administration has described 50,000 new jobs, Rogers, when pressed, speaks of 40,000 to 50,000 jobs being created, saved or supported. He said these figures were provided by the American Wind Energy Association, an industry lobbying group. In February, for example, that group said, "Were it not for the Recovery Act, we estimated a loss of as much as 40,000 jobs."

The association, in turn, cites a study by the Energy Department's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which estimated that the grant program supported more than 51,600 short-term jobs during the construction phase, the equivalent of that many people working full time for one year, and an additional 3,860 long-term full-time jobs. The study assumed that all the projects finished in the first half of 2009 were not caused by the stimulus. ( Read the study here.)

When the wind association and the Obama administration cite such figures as 50,000 jobs, however, they don't mention that the study found that most were short-term jobs.

Since it gave out its first grants on Sept. 1, 2009, the renewable energy stimulus program has handed out more than $5 billion to more than 1,100 projects, many of them small solar-energy projects. The largest amount of money, $4.4 billion, has gone to big wind farms.

The Investigative Reporting Workshop previously reported that the majority of the money was going to foreign-owned developers, and that the majority of turbines being installed were built by foreign-owned manufacturers. ( Read those stories here.) The Treasury Department has rejected Freedom of Information requests by the Investigative Reporting Workshop seeking grant applications, citing trade secrets.

Only one of the companies identified by the Investigative Reporting Workshop as having finished construction on a project before Jan. 1, 2009, disputed the date its turbines were listed as built. The FAA records show that the final turbine on the Wheat Field wind farm in Gilliam County, Ore., was built on Nov. 10, 2008. But in a statement, Horizon said construction on the project began in September 2008 and the first turbine wasn't "mechanically completed" until Feb. 2, 2009. In the statement, Horizon said the FAA information was filed in February 2008, and the November 2008 date was only an estimate to make sure the FAA had the structure on its maps by the time the tower was built.

Power generated during Bush administration
The Investigative Reporting Workshop also reviewed publicly available data on each wind project's electrical generation. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission keeps records of nearly all commercial energy transactions — recording the time, quantity of power, price and total cost of the transaction.

The records show that at least 11 wind farms were generating at least some electricity and selling it into the grid by March 1, days after the stimulus bill was passed in late February. And 14 wind farms were generating electricity and selling it into the grid by the time the stimulus money was first given out in September 2009.

For example, the Locust Ridge II wind project, in Pennsylvania, first sold electricity to PJM Interconnect on Oct. 24, 2008, at 11 a.m. Between Oct. 24 and Dec. 31, 2008, the holding company that owns the facility sold 687.6 megawatt/hours of electricity to PJM, charging a total of $32,788.

Paul Copelman, a spokesman for Iberdrola, said the Locust Ridge II wind farm wasn't in full commercial operation until March 2009. The electricity generated in 2008 was the result of testing, he said.

How they qualified
These wind farms qualified for the stimulus grants for two reasons.

First, the stimulus bill allowed a wind farm to qualify if it was "placed in service" on or after Jan. 1, 2009. The money didn't start flowing until Sept. 1, 2009, so it was inevitable there would be payments for work previously done, particularly for large wind farms that can take years to develop. To get the money, these companies didn't have to create new jobs; they just filled out an application after the fact.

Second, "placed in service" has a peculiar meaning. Generally, it means a piece of equipment, like a wind turbine, is ready to be used for the purpose it was intended. But, when a developer finishes building the tower and attaching all the parts — the labor intensive part of the process where most jobs are created — there are several more steps, including testing and installing the equipment that regulates the flow of electricity and feeds it into the grid, before it is deemed "in service."

In the operation of other federal incentive programs for wind energy, each turbine in a large wind farm is evaluated individually before being "placed in service." However, under the Section 1603 program, tax attorneys and the companies contacted by the Investigative Reporting Workshop said that developers were allowed to count all of their turbines on a wind farm as one. In other words, what counted was when the last turbine was "placed in service," and the whole farm was ready to operate at full capacity.

Tax attorney Jeffrey G. Davis, a Washington partner at the law firm Mayer Brown, where he specializes in representing renewable energy firms, said it's not uncommon for a wind farm to generate electricity — and even sell it — before being "placed in service." Wind farms may need to start turbines and generate electricity to test them or prove viability for commercial production.

In addition, all the wind farms contacted stressed that the process of qualifying a wind farm as "placed in service" involves a number of steps, like testing and building associated transformers and transmission equipment. Iberdrola also noted that it was required to submit third-party certification of the "placed in service" date.

Rogers, the Energy official, said that some of the wind farms cited by the Investigative Reporting Workshop could have been left half-built during the recession, but that once Obama was elected in November 2008, developers decided to finish the work in hopes of a stimulus package. When pressed for examples, Rogers declined to name any projects.

"It's a question you've asked; I've answered. It's an incredibly successful program," Rogers said.

Several of the companies contacted by the Investigative Reporting Workshop said they had considered halting construction during the recession. These include Iberdrola, which considered halting construction on half of its projects, spokesman Paul Copelman said, regardless of how far along they were in the construction process. And E.ON Climate and Renewables said it had considered halting the giant Pyron Wind Farm in Texas, which was substantially constructed in 2008. Neither company ultimately halted construction.

When asked how to reconcile claims from the administration that the jobs associated with these projects were a result of the stimulus — even though the work was done months before the stimulus was passed — Rogers did not offer a direct response.

"I think it's the simplest thing. You can talk to the 40[,000] to 50,000 people who have been working on these projects since they were passed," he said, "and ask if they are pleased."

The Investigative Reporting Workshop is a professional journalism center in the School of Communication at American University in Washington. More about the program.

Russ Choma is a Washington reporter who writes frequently about climate and energy issues, transportation and stimulus spending. His previous articles on the wind farms grant program are here.


10/14/10 The testimony wasn't heard: Wind Siting Council Vice Chair Doug Zweizig on how the Wind Siting Council Failed.


CLICK HERE  to watch Wisconsin Eye video of the Senate Committee wind rules hearing yesterday. 

After you click on the link, click "Watch" under 10.13.10 Senate committee on Commerce, Utilities, Energy and Rail

BELOW: Video testimony of Dr. Herb Coussons on the wind siting rules. Unfortunately video testimony was not accepted at the hearing. It has been accepted in the past. No reason was given for the change.

Click on the image above to hear Doug Zwiezig ask the Wind Siting Council a simple question about the rules they were approving. It was a simple question no one was able to answer correctly.

Residents from the counties of Rock, Manitowoc, Calumet, Kewaunee, Brown, St. Croix, Fond du Lac, Dodge,  Grant and more who turned out in force at the Capitol to testify against the new wind siting rules created by the Public Service Commission, were surprised that Senator Plale gave the Vice Chair of the Wind Siting Council just three minutes for his testimony about what went wrong on the council.

This critical testimony (below) from Wind siting council Vice Chair Doug Zweizig was cut short at the senate hearing yesterday by the three minute rule.

We are glad to present it here

To Senate Committee on Commerce, Utilities, Energy, and Rail

From: Douglas Zweizig, Ph.D., Vice Chair, Wind Siting Council

Re: Clearinghouse Rule #10-057; PSC Wind Siting Rules proposed Chapter 128

Date: October 13, 2010

Good afternoon. My name is Douglas Zweizig. I am retired from teaching at the UW—Madison School of Library and Information Studies where I taught in the areas of management and research methods. I am also a member of the Town of Union (Rock County) Plan Commission, and I chaired that Plan Commission through a sixteen-month process as it developed a licensing ordinance for wind energy systems.

I am an advocate for alternative energy use and have installed geothermal and solar photovoltaic systems at my home. I am speaking today from my experience as Vice Chair of the Public Service Commission-appointed Wind Siting Council.

At the formation of the Wind Siting Council, I was hopeful that this broadly representative group could work together to recommend responsible uniform rules for the siting of wind turbines, but I came to see that the process being followed was flawed, and I was one of the authors of the Council’s minority report.

It seems appropriate for your committee to be holding a hearing on the Public Service Commission-proposed rules as there is considerable evidence that the Public Service Commission did not take seriously the directives in Act 40, the legislation that directed the PSC to appoint the Council and that instructed it in the work that the Council was to carry out. I know that there were a lot of statements made in support of the legislation about the intentions for the Wind Siting Council, and there are descriptions in the Council report of the working of the Wind Siting Council that sound like it worked the way it should have, but the behaviors do not fit that description.

Others will present concerns with the substance of the rules proposed by the Public Service Commission. I want, as a member and Vice-Chair of the Wind Siting Council to report to you on the process of the Council and the ways in which that process did not match the requirements of Act 40.

When the members appointed to the Council were announced, there was widespread objection to the appointments. The minority report of the Wind Siting Council (selection appended on pages 9-14) details some of these concerns, but in brief, even though Act 40 was clear in specifying a balance of interests in the Council, the appointments heavily favored persons with financial interests in the development of large wind energy systems in Wisconsin. I am aware that the Commissioners believe that the legislature desires increased development of wind energy systems, but I don't believe that the legislature desired a bias in the Council that would pre-determine rules favorable to the wind industry and harmful to the health and home values of Wisconsin residents.

I’m going to touch on several aspects of what Act 40 called for the PSC to do with the Wind Siting Council and report on what, in my view, happened. For example, in Act 40, you clearly specified the make-up of this critical committee, the Wind Siting Council. You asked for a balanced Council that would address the concerns of the various parties and that would provide recommendations that accommodated those concerns to the degree possible. What you got was a Council front-loaded in support of wind development, that contained an imbalance of those with financial interests in the development of wind energy systems, and that did not seek to evolve creative solutions to the tensions, only to override any opposition. In choosing a Chair for the Council, the Public Service Commission could have used its opportunity of appointing two public members to appoint someone with stature, skills, and neutrality who could serve as Chair—someone who could help the different interests in the Council listen to each other and craft recommendations that the Public Service Commission and you could move forward with. The appointments of public members that the PSC made squandered that opportunity. Instead, the PSC put forth as Chair someone who was an executive with an electric utility, who had previously issued permits for wind farms as a PSC chair, and who was chair of CREWE (Clean, Responsible Energy for Wisconsin's Economy), an organization even at that time lobbying for an extended and increased Renewable Portfolio Standard. While the Chair did make some efforts to urge members to work toward solutions, there was no effort made by the wind industry block to negotiate solutions that would have begun to adequately address non-industry concerns.

Even though you sought a Council that would contain knowledge and experience from a variety of perspectives, this knowledge and experience was either missing or for the most part unused and sometimes misused. Fortunately, there is an almost complete record of the over 30 hours of Wind Siting Council meetings, from observers' videos and, from midway through the process, on Wisconsin Eye (wiseye.org), so observations about the conduct of the Council can be verified.

 Here are some examples of how the knowledge and professionalism of Council members was neglected.

One would only have to look at a randomly-selected hour of video of a meeting to see the lack of critical thinking that was operating, and this is the process that produced the recommendations of the Council.

You also directed the Council to inform itself about local government regulations, about health impacts, and about regulation in other states and countries. For example, you asked in Act 40 that there be "one member representing towns and one member representing counties," (15.797 (1) (b) 2.) and said that "the initial member of the wind siting council [appointed as a town or county representative] shall represent a town or county that has in effect . . . an ordinance regulating wind energy systems." (Section  14 (2) (b).) It seems clear from this requirement that you wanted the Council to consider and benefit from the local ordinances that had been developed for the regulation of wind siting. Since the major argument made for the need for state-level uniform standards for wind turbine siting was the existing “patchwork” or “hodgepodge” of local ordinances and since the statute stipulated that a member of the Wind Siting Council should have direct experience with such an ordinance, it may be surprising to you that no examination or consideration of these local ordinances occurred. I had provided copies of my Town of Union’s ordinance to members of the Council, but it was never taken up in a meeting. While it was easy for frustrated wind developers to rail against having to understand and comply with local government concerns, the fact is that local governments spent considerable time and resources to carry out their responsibilities to their constituents. In the case of my small township, sixteen months and an estimated $40,000. was spent preparing a licensing ordinance for wind energy systems. We did not take this task lightly, and we believe that our investigations and work resulted in an ordinance that would allow wind development in our township while being protective of our citizens, but our experience and the experience of other local jurisdictions were not considered as anything other than impediments.

The Wind Siting Council ignored the work that had been done by local governments across the state because it seems the focus of the Council was on the needs of the wind industry and not on the equally legitimate concerns of local jurisdictions.

In a specific case, when I tried to address the issue of complaint resolution and provided language from our ordinance that described our approach (appended pages 15-17), it was not taken as a motion or seriously discussed. Instead, the Chair repeatedly asserted that the approach used by WE Energies should be taken as a model to be used throughout the state.

You asked that "one member who is a University of Wisconsin System faculty member with expertise regarding the health impacts of wind energy systems" (15.797 (1) (b) 8.) be on the Council.

It is pretty clear that you were asking for the best qualified person to be found in public higher education in Wisconsin to inform the recommendations of the Wind Siting Council on this issue of central concern. We now have hundreds of Wisconsin families who are living adjacent to large wind turbines, we have reports of serious health concerns and suspected consequences among these families, we have households abandoning their unlivable homes in order to avoid the effects of wind turbines—it is important to be as sure as we can be that policy decisions on wind turbine siting will not result in compromising the health of wind farm hosts or neighbors. This is why you specified clearly that you wanted to be guided by the highest quality of information.

What you got was not a University of Wisconsin System faculty member but someone who had been hired to teach a course in the medical school, someone whose highest research qualification is a masters degree, someone who had begun to investigate the literature on the "health impacts of wind energy systems" just a few months before being appointed to the Wind Siting Council, and someone who had done no independent investigation of the health impacts of exposure to wind energy systems. It is difficult to understand how this appointment came about, but it is clear that the Public Service Commission did not, as was asked for, look throughout the UW System, but only at the UW—Madison and then, finally, in the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

To further underscore your concern with health impacts, you specified that the Wind Siting Council "shall survey the peer-reviewed scientific research regarding the health impacts of wind energy systems" (Section 12,  (e).)

The Wind Siting Council did not conduct any such survey. One member of the Wind Siting Council, having a masters degree in Public Health and working for a state agency that had already taken a position denying the health impacts of wind energy systems, was asked to prepare a presentation to be given to the Wind Siting Council. Immediately following the PowerPoint-assisted presentation, there was a limited time for questions. The written text of the presentation was initially promised to be provided, but then was withheld. It is now taking a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain a copy of this paper prepared by a state employee as part of his work. Without this text, the basis for the presentation cannot be evaluated. The Wind Siting Council was not provided access to any of the research studies by either copies or links, and the section on Noise in the report of the Wind Siting Council cites studies that were not part of the presentation and that were unknown to the Council. This critical part of your direction was simply not carried out.

In addition, you required that the Wind Siting Council "shall . . . study state and national regulatory developments regarding the siting of wind energy systems." (Section 12,  (e).) How did that go? I don't believe that state or national regulations ever appeared on an agenda for the Wind Siting Council. There were no briefing materials prepared or provided to WSC members. When I provided information on New Zealand's reconfirmed and revised noise standard of 5 decibels over background sound levels (appended pages 18-19), a standard that they have found workable and that is supported by both the government and the industry-based New Zealand Wind Energy Association, consideration of it was dismissed by a wind developer by saying that we should not consider any standards from other countries.  The Chair, and other industry supporters, thought that was an adequate response.

The only report on regulation from any other states that I have seen from the PSC was appended to the Rules sent to you at the end of August as Attachment A1, "Comparison with Similar Rules in Surrounding States." This information was not provided to the Wind Siting Council. So, for example, we never learned that Michigan PSC has recommended that "setback requirements and noise limitations should continue to be decided at the local level where feasible so that the needs of local citizens can be appropriately considered." We never learned about the Michigan PSC’s recommendation that the noise standard should be measured from the property line, not the residence. We never learned that in Minnesota "a county may adopt standards for large wind systems that are more stringent than those in Minnesota PUC rules or permit standards." And given these differences found in neighboring states, there is a good chance that we could learn a great deal from an unbiased survey of state and national regulatory siting regulation, but that survey was apparently never conducted or at least was not shared with the Council.

While I have been impressed with the professionalism and diligence of the PSC staff, it is clear that the PSC-directed process of the Wind Siting Council has failed to comply with the requirements you included in Act 40

  • in making appointments to the Council,
  • in learning from local government experiences with regulation of wind energy systems,
  • in responsibly investigating the concerns with health impacts, and

 This outcome is not what Chairman Callisto promised this committee in May of last year when he said, "I pledge to you a rule-making process that will be open and inclusive. I have no desire to send you a rule that gives you heartburn. My job is to get the rule done right the first time."

I think that you and I would agree that the health and property of Wisconsin citizens and the energy future of the state are all important issues and deserve better attention than they received in the Wind Siting Council. It is sad that the Public Service Commission was not able to make better use of the opportunity provided by Act 40 to develop rules that would promote sustainable wind development for Wisconsin, that would be fair to all parties, that would be workable, and that would promote community acceptance of wind energy systems.

I respectfully request that the rules be sent back to the Public Service Commission to improve the Council membership and process and to carry out the charge contained in Act 40.

 Thank-you for this opportunity to report to you. I would be glad to respond if you have any questions at this or any other time.



SOURCE: Wisconsin Radio Network, www.wrn.com

October 14 2010

by Andrew Beckett,

Critics of proposed statewide rules of permitting wind farms in Wisconsin unloaded complaints on legislators, during a hearing at the Capitol Wednesday. A state Senate committee is reviewing the rules from the Public Service Commission, which would create statewide standards for the construction of wind farms.

Larry Wunsch, who served on the PSC advisory panel, says proposed setbacks for wind turbines still leave them too close to homes. Wunsch was also critical of the process the Commission used in crafting the rules, arguing that the panel was stacked with pro-wind advocates who ignored opposing viewpoints.

Tamas Houlihan with the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association voiced concerns about restrictions on aerial crop spraying, warning it could cause delays in treating plants. Houlihan was joined by several other farmers who say they need to react quickly to potential pest threats, and only aerial spraying allows them to do that.

Lawmakers also heard from supporters of the rules, who argue that clear guidelines are needed to keep local governments from creating conflicting standards.

Michael Arndt of Element Power says setback guidelines that are too strict could severely limit where wind farms can be built. Arndt says there’s a misconception that there are large strips of land out there waiting for wind development. However, he says forcing turbines to be built a half mile or more from neighboring properties quickly reduces the amount of land available.

State Senator Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee), who chairs the Senate Committee on Commerce, Utilities, Energy, and Rail, told dozens of people who turned out to testify Wednesday that lawmakers will likely send the proposed rules back to the PSC for changes.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:16)



SOURCE: Journal Sentinel, www.jsonline.com

October 13 2010

By Thomas Content of the

Wind farms built in certain areas of the state could end up preventing farms growing potatoes and beans from using airplanes to spray their fields with pesticides and insecticides, agricultural representatives told a state Senate hearing in Madison on Wednesday.

“If large-scale wind energy plants would be sited in areas of intense vegetable production, the result could be devastating crop losses,” said Tamas Houlihan of the state Potato and Vegetable Growers Association.

The group is seeking “some kind of system for compensation in the event of losses due to siting of wind energy facilities that prevent the use of aerial application,” he said.

At issue is a set of rules that the state Public Service Commission developed this summer after a series of public hearings and recommendations by a wind siting advisory council.

Developers are concerned that some of the restrictions may force them to develop wind projects out of state instead of here. And they left opponents of wind farms critical that the PSC didn’t go far enough to restrict how close wind turbines can be built to nearby homes.

Sen. Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee), chair of the Senate commerce, energy and utilities committee, said he wants to see the rules sent back to the PSC for more work. Plale was the author of a bill that led to the rules created by the PSC. If the Legislature does not send the rules back, the rules would take effect.

Nick George of the Midwest Food Processors Association, said sending the rules back would help the agency incorporate a compensation system that the farm groups have developed in consultation with other stakeholders.

Wind developers object that setback rules will make it impossible to build some projects, and deprive the state of economic development opportunities.

Michael Arndt of Oregon-based Element Power said his company is proposing a $300 million project that would create 150 construction jobs and 15 maintenance jobs as well as $2 million in revenue for local landowners.

“And the project may not be viable if the proposed rules are adopted as they stand today. It will force us to basically deploy our development dollars in neighboring states.”



 Bob Ziegelbauer, County Executive

 Senate Committee on Commerce, Utilities, Energy, and Rail

Senator Jeff Plale, Chair

Wednesday, October 13, 2010, 11:00 AM

411 South, State Capitol

RE: Opposition to Clearinghouse Rule 10-057, relating to the siting of wind

energy systems.

Dear Senator Plale & Committee Members:

As I testified at the public hearing held over a year ago on SB 185/AB 256, I was opposed to the wind siting bills then, and am opposed to Clearinghouse Rule 10-057 now.

I continue to strongly support that the siting of wind towers must be made by the local units of government where wind towers will be located.

I strongly encourage the Committee to send the rule back to require local input and decisions.

In the Manitowoc County area we are very interested in efficient new energy technologies. We host two valuable highly efficient nuclear plants (and if you’re really serious about producing low cost electricity for a long time we would love to put one more between those two).

Our workers manufacture the towers that support the wind turbines. And, the City of Manitowoc operates a new clean coal power plant in the middle of town, a block from my house, three blocks from the Courthouse.

We are “all in” on the energy economy.

The issue here is actually a fairly simple one. “Do you trust people in their local communities to make serious land use decisions on important issues?”

Nearly five years ago when it became clear that the demand for wind power sites would include our area, Town and County government embarked on the intense process of trying to make the difficult land use policy decisions contemplated under existing state law.

After a failed first attempt to create a suitable county wind power ordinance, the County Board took a “time out” by declaring a moratorium on projects while it convened a special study committee to write a new ordinance.

That committee, a balanced mix of citizen and elected officials encompassing all the principal points of view, took significant public input and agonized over the implications of making wind tower siting decisions.

After more than a year of serious deliberation their work product, a comprehensive wind power ordinance was overwhelmingly passed into law by the Manitowoc County Board in 2006.

That both sides of the debate came away from the process a little unhappy with the results speaks highly of the quality of the work they did.

It continues to be tested, defined, and refined according to the appropriate due process that is available at the local level for these issues.

This would throw all that work away.

I encourage you to stand up for those local officials and the process of making local decisions throughout the State.

Their work and the work of similar groups of local officials, who took their

responsibilities seriously and in good faith waded in to try address controversial issues in their communities should stand; not be washed away because “Monday morning quarterbacks” from 150 miles away don’t like the result.

This proposal tells local people to get out of the way, tells local officials to dodge the tough issues, and because people in Madison know better, you’ll decide.

I urge you to not support the rule and send it back for modifications.

 Bob Ziegelbauer

Manitowoc County Courthouse 

1010 S. 8th Street


Manitowoc WI 54220


For some reason the Senate committee yesterday did not allow short video clips to be shown as part of testimony. In the past this option has always been available for citizens. No reason was given for the change. This is one of the videos that was not allowed to be presented which is unfortunate because it clearly illustrates a key problem with then new rules.

After listening to 6 hours of testimony, including very moving and upsetting testimony from residents now living in wind projects in our state, out-going senator Plale, who was quite jovial during the proceedings, ended the hearing by saying he would send the rules back to the PSC which was not surprising. What is surpising is, given all he heard during the hearing, he will send the rules back with no recommendations.

10/11/10 UPDATE: Come to Madison for the wind siting hearing on Wednesday AND Lawsuit filed against PSC regarding wind rules AND a closer look at the thought processes behind the wind siting rules AND what a doctor is saying about people living near turbines


Senate Committee on Commerce, Utilities, Energy, and Rail

The Senate Committee on Utilities, Energy and Rail will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, October 13, 2010 11:00 AM, 411 South at the State Capitol in Madison relating to Clearinghouse Rule 10-057 siting of wind energy systems.

Senator Jeffry Plale, Chair




NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: The public is encouraged to attend and and speak at the hearing regarding the PSC's wind siting rules. Get there early to get a good seat!




An Eau Claire attorney is suing the Wisconsin Public Service Commission on behalf of a rural Arcadia family for failing to conduct an environmental review of proposed wind energy siting rules.

Attorney Glen Stoddard said the rules favor the wind energy industry at the expense of property owners living near wind turbines. He is representing David and Delores Vind, who own a farm near Arcadia. It's an area, they say, that has been considered for wind energy development.

"My wife and I decided to file the lawsuit after the PSC adopted the rules in their current form without doing an environmental assessment on the rules or evaluating the adverse environmental impacts of wind energy projects," David Vind said in a news release.

Stoddard said the commission violated the Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act and the state's smart growth law by not conducting an environmental analysis.

Earlier this year the Legislature passed a law to establish uniform statewide rules for wind turbine siting. It was an attempt to simplify the current patchwork of local wind turbine rules.

The regulations, adopted by the PSC in late August, set specific requirements for wind turbine siting, including restrictions on noise, setbacks and "shadow flicker" -- a strobe light-like effect caused by rotating turbines. The rules also would allow local governments to require "good neighbor payments" to residents who live within a half-mile of wind turbines.

The state Senate Committee on Commerce, Utilities, Energy and Rail has scheduled a public hearing for next week about the issue.

PSC spokeswoman Lori Sakk said the organization stands by the existing rule.

"The commission has approved this rule consistent with it's statutory obligations," she said. "It will vigorously defend it against this lawsuit."

The rule was based largely on recommendations from the state Wind Siting Advisory Committee. The committee, as required by the Legislature, was comprised of two wind energy developers, one town representative, one county representative, two representatives from utilities, two environmentalists, two real estate agents, two landowners living near wind turbines who have not received compensation for the turbines, two public members and one UW System faculty member with expertise regarding the health impacts of wind energy systems.

Ryan Schryver of the environmental group Clean Wisconsin, an advisory committee member, said the panel presented the PSC a good set of recommendations that were reached through compromise and public input. However, the commissioners made the siting rules more restrictive, getting away from the Legislature's intent, he said.

"We're hoping that after the hearings the PSC gets the message that they're not following the intent of the law," Schryver said. "The intent of the law, it was pretty clear, was to open up the door for renewable energy, not shut it."

An Assembly committee is likely to hold a hearing on the siting rules after the elections, he said.

Stoddard said he hopes the combined result of the lawsuit and the upcoming Senate hearing would result in changes to the rules establishing longer setbacks, stronger noise restrictions and better protection of property rights.




Dr. Michael Nissenbaum reports on

Wind Turbines, Health, Ridgelines, and Valleys
Montpelier, VT, May 7 2010

It is a medical fact that sleep disturbance and perceived stress result in ill effects, including and especially cardiovascular disease, but also chronic feelings of depression, anger, helplessness, and, in the aggregate, the banishment of happiness and reduced quality of life.

Cardiovascular disease, as we all now, leads to reduced life expectancy. Try and get reasonably priced life insurance if you are hypertensive or have suffered a heart attack.

If industrial wind turbines installed in close proximity to human habitation result in sleep disturbance and stress, then it follows as surely as day follows night that wind turbines will, over the long term, result in these serious health effects and reduced quality of life.

The question is, then, do they?

In my investigation of Mars Hill, Maine, 22 out of about 30 adults (‘exposed’) who live within 3500 feet of a ridgeline arrangement of 28 1.5 MW wind turbines were evaluated to date, and compared with 27 people of otherwise similar age and occupation living about 3 miles away (Not Exposed).

Here is what was found:

82% (18/22) of exposed subjects reported new or worsened chronic sleep deprivation, versus 4% (1 person) in the non-exposed group.

41% of exposed people reported new chronic headaches vs 4% in the control group.

59% (13/22) of the exposed reported ‘stress’ versus none in the control group, and 77% (17/22) persistent anger versus none in the people living 3 miles away.

More than a third of the study subjects had new or worsened depression, with none in the control group.

95% (21/22) of the exposed subjects perceived reduced quality of life, versus 0% in the control group.

Underlining these findings, there were 26 new prescription medications offered to the exposed subjects, of which 15 were accepted, compared to 4 new or increased prescriptions in the control group.

The prescriptions ranged from anti-hypertensives and antidepressants to anti migraine medications among the exposed.

The new medications for the non exposed group were anti-hypertensives and anti-arthritics.

The Mars Hill study will soon be completed and is being prepared for publication. Preliminary findings have been presented to the Chief Medical Officer for Ontario, and have been presented to Health Canada, by invitation.

Earlier partial results were presented to the Maine Medical Association, which passed a Resolution calling for caution, further study, and appropriate modification of siting regulations, at its annual meeting in 2009.

There is absolutely no doubt that people living within 3500 feet of a ridgeline arrangement of turbines 1.5 MW or larger turbines in a rural environment will suffer negative effects.

The study was undertaken as a pilot project to evaluate for a cluster of symptoms after numerous media reports, in order to present data to the Maine Medical Association, after the Maine CDC failed to more fully investigate.

While the study is not perfect, it does suggest a real problem that warrants not only further more detailed investigation, but the tenderest caution, in the meantime, when decisions on how to site industrial wind turbines are made.

What is it about northeast USA ridgelines that contribute to these ill effects, and how can they be avoided?

Consider, the Northeast is prone to icing conditions. Icing will increase the sound coming off of turbines by up to 6 dbA. As the icing occurs symmetrically on all blades, imbalance detectors do not kick on, and the blades keep turning, contrary to wind industry claims.

Sound is amplified coming off of ridgelines into valleys. This is because the background noise in rural valleys is low to begin with, increasing the sensitivity to changes, particularly the beating, pulsatile nature of wind turbine noise, and sound sources at elevation do not undergo the same attenuation that occurs from groundcover when noise sources are at ground level.

The noise travels farther and hits homes and people at greater amplitude that it would from a lower elevation. Even though this is not rocket science, it was conclusively proven in a NASA funded study in 1990.

Snow pack and ice contribute to increased noise transmission. Vermont valleys have both, I believe.

Preconstruction sound modeling fails to take the tendency of the homes that people live in to respond and vibrate perceptibly to sound at frequencies that the occupants of the dwellings cannot necessarily hear. They hear, and feel, the walls and windows rattle, and the floors vibrate, in a pulsing manner at a frequency or the turbine rpm.

When pre construction modeling fails to take the pulsatile nature, propensity for icing, and ridgeline elevation into account, as well as a linear as opposed to point source of noise, problems can be expected.

What distance is safe? It depends on the terrain, the climate, the size of the project and the turbines themselves. Accurate preconstruction modeling with safe targets in mind is critical.

The WHO says that 30dbA is ideal, and noise levels of above 40dbA have definite health consequences.

At Mars Hill, where affected homes are present at 3500 feet, sound levels have been measured at over 52.5dbA. The fiasco there has been acknowledged by the local wind energy company, and by a former Maine governor.

Vermont would do well to learn from the affected people in Mars Hill.

I have seen the preliminary plans for the planned Deerfield Wind Facility, and have particular concerns regarding the dwellings to the north and northeast of the northernmost extension of the turbine layout.

These homes are well within a mile, generally downwind, and downhill from what I am told may well be 2 MW turbines (or larger?), in a snowy and icy part of the Northeast.

The parallels to Mars Hill are striking.

We know that preconstruction sound modeling failed at Mars Hill. No matter what the preconstruction modeling at Deerfield shows, the real world experiment at Mars Hill suggests that there will be problems for homes at the setbacks that seem to be planned for Deerfield on the attached image.

The people who live within 3500 feet at Mars Hill are truly suffering. Learn from Mars Hill. It is not a matter of not having wind turbines. It is a matter of putting them where they will not affect people’s health.

Newer technology to accurately measure sound at a quantum level improvement in temporal, frequency and amplitude resolution over commonly used acoustician’s equipment now exists, though it is costly and not readily available.

But it will be widespread, soon, well within the tenure of the individuals responsible for making siting decisions today.

Avail yourselves of these findings and familiarize yourselves with the new technologies. You will not only be future proofing your current decisions, you will also be helping people who would otherwise end up too close to industrial wind turbines escape the fate of the exposed residents of Mars Hill, and many other sites in North America (Mars Hill, Maine, merely represents the first small ‘controlled’ study).

I have seen the results of this cutting edge equipment, and how it has revealed drastic short duration excesses over allowed sound levels, levels that set homes vibrating and rendering them unlivable, but also levels of lower frequency transient noise at the audible level, that demonstrates not only failure of preconstruction sound modeling as currently practiced, but also the inadequacy of the measuring tools in the toolkit of the everyday practicing acoustician-consultant who generates reports for industry and local government.

Michael A. Nissenbaum, MD
University of Toronto (MD), McGill University (Specialty Diagnostic Imaging),
University of California (Fellowship)
Harvard University Medical School (junior faculty, Associate Director of MRI, BIH)
Currently, Radiologist, NMMC, Ft. Kent, Maine