Category Archives: Wisconsin

Wind News – Wisconsin

WI – Shirley Wind’s Human Health Hazard Declaration

November 28, 2014

At the October 14, 2014 Brown County Board of Health meeting,  a motion was made to declare the Shirley Wind turbines a Human Health Hazard. The motion was unanimously approved by the Board:

“To declare the Industrial Wind Turbines at Shirley Wind Project in the Town of Glenmore, Brown County, WI  A Human Health Hazard for all people (residents, workers, visitors, and sensitive passersby) who are exposed to Infrasound/Low Frequency Noise and other emissions potentially harmful to human health.”

Waubra Foundation RE: Brown County Declaration    Video from NBC Channel 26 in WI

Brown County is located in Wisconsin, USA.

Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy (BCCRWE) has issued a press release regarding this Human Health Hazard declaration, which can be seen at: http://bccrwe.com/index.php/8-news/16-duke-energy-s-shirley-wind-declared-human-health-hazard .   BCCRWE is requesting your words of support for this action.

Research indicates that industrial wind turbines can negatively affect the physical, mental and social well-being of individuals if placed too close to homes. BCCRWE has been working intensively for the past 5 years with professional researchers, physicians, acousticians, and legislators to protect citizens of Brown County, the state of Wisconsin, the United States, and those in other countries from the negative health impacts resulting from industrial wind turbines being built too close to people.

BCCRWE welcomes and encourages individuals, organizations, and governmental agencies from around the world to send their words of support regarding the Board of Health’s action. BCCRWE will pass your emails on to the Brown County Board of Health as support for their courage, integrity, responsibility, intellectual honesty, and care in declaring the industrial wind turbines at Shirley Wind to be human health hazards.

If you or others you know have experienced negative health impacts from living in close proximity to industrial wind turbines and would like to share that experience along with your words of support with the Brown County Board of Health, please do so.

Send your words of support, and if applicable your experiences, to: BOHsupport@bccrwe.com

Thank you.

WI – Wisconsin Wind Siting Council — Minority Response

(As presented in Appendix F of the Wind Siting Council October 2014 Report)

Authors:  Amstadt, James; Kuehne, Carl; Meyer, Tom; and Schwalbach, Glen

Executive Summary

In 2009, Wisconsin Act 40 directed the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (Commission or PSC) to appoint a Wind Siting Council (Council or WSC) to provide advice to the PSC during the rule- making process for the siting of wind turbines. Act 40 also requires that Council to submit a report to the Legislature every 5 years to provide updated information about health research and regulatory developments, as well as to provide recommendations for legislation if needed.

Act 40 specifies the makeup of the membership of the Wind Siting Council and it created a bias in the form of a majority made up of several pro-wind energy interests and pro-wind environmentalists versus a minority of others who would focus on safety and health. Because of that built-in pro-wind bias, the Council’s minority created this Minority Report to reveal the information that the Council majority omitted from the Wind Siting Council report to the Legislature.

The pro-wind bias, as found on the Wind Siting Council, is found on the PSC staff as well. One reason for the PSC’s bias is that it seems they deem that the statute for Renewable Portfolio Standards requires them to “go easy” on safety and health restrictions for wind energy projects. This bias has created wind siting rules in Wisconsin that are not as protective as they should be. Wisconsin’s wind siting law and rules (PSC 128) require local units of government to process applications for all but the largest wind projects. These wind projects are extremely complicated and are often unique to the local land features. But local governments are not allowed to consider safety and health protections that are more restrictive than PSC 128. So, they cannot require protections to suit the local circumstances, to adopt the recommendations of their medical or technical experts or engineers, to accommodate the latest science, or to require the latest protective technologies. Wisconsin law and PSC 128 require local government units to approve these wind projects with noise restrictions and setbacks that the Council’s current regulatory review would consider to be some of the least protective in the country.

This Minority Report highlights areas in PSC 128 that differ from health standards and best practices found in the documents reviewed by the Council for the Majority Report, differences that were downplayed by the pro-wind Council majority. These health standards and best practices are designed to protect non-participating homeowners’ health and property rights. These best practices strike a balance between protecting residents and creating a regulatory environment that the wind industry can use to get approvals that work for both the industry and the communities where they are built.

Because Wisconsin’s wind siting law is so dysfunctional, wind turbine development plans are met with great opposition by the communities where they are proposed. The communities that object are aware of the health concerns that are described in the Minority Report. Wind turbine noise is linked to chronic sleep disturbance, which is linked to more serious physical maladies. Wisconsin law does not allow setbacks that adequately prevent harmful noise impacts to homeowners. Officials are not permitted to set wind turbine setbacks any farther than an arbitrary 1250-foot or 3.1 times the total height, whichever is less, from a neighbor’s occupied structure.

The Council’s regulatory review also found that, because Wisconsin’s setback is from a wind turbine to a neighbor’s occupied structure, some of that neighbor’s land is now inside the “safety setback” distance from the wind turbine. This “safety setback” can overlap as much as 800 feet of that neighbor’s property. This is a “taking” of the owner’s property right to use their land for intended purposes because it is no longer possible to build with local building setbacks near their property line and stay outside of the “safety setback” due to a turbine being located nearby. In other states there is a trend to create setbacks a safe distance from the neighbor’s property line instead of the neighbor’s structure.

A significant study done by a member of the Council showed that the towns in which wind projects have been built in Wisconsin have population densities generally much higher than towns or townships in neighboring states where similar projects have been built. Couple this with the fact that the wind resource in Wisconsin is much less than in these neighboring states, and it is like forcing a square peg into a round hole, whereby there is likely to be some severe damage. Wisconsin’s existing wind projects have been permitted in our more populated areas, and thus, are more often too close to residences with more resultant negative health impacts than in other states.

This Council minority concludes that Wisconsin’s wind siting law needs revision for noise protection and property rights protection. Also, a restructuring of the Wind Siting Council makeup is needed to eliminate bias, as is a restructuring of what information the Council is allowed to review in order to advise the Legislature about wind energy systems. Rewriting the wind siting laws to offer better protections for non-participating residents and correcting the bias of the Wind Sting Council will restore the public trust in the wind-siting laws of Wisconsin, creating a win-win situation for both the wind industry and non-participating residents.

To proceed wisely, the minority, the majority and numerous technical and public policy experts agree that more acoustic and epidemiological studies are needed. Wisconsin wind projects are ripe for such studies before more damage is done, but government funding is needed.

Also, Wisconsin needs a process to compensate those citizens who had to abandon their homes to get relief from negative health effects, who have not moved and suffer negative health effects, or who have taken a financial loss due to a neighboring wind project.

Prepared by Dr. James Amstadt, Carl Kuehne, Tom Meyer, and Glen Schwalbach, P.E. Additionally signed onto by Mary Brandt and Tim Roehl

October 2014

(As presented in Appendix F of the Wind Siting Council October 2014 Report)

 

WI-Brown County Health officials weigh next step in wind turbine battle

The Health Department doesn’t know what if any action it can take to enforce the finding that wind turbines are a public health risk. The wind farm has been operating in Shirley since 2009. Three families have moved out because they say they can’t endure the low-frequency noise.

By  Paul Srubas, Press-Gazette Media, October 26, 2014, greenbaypressgazette.com ~~

Brown County health officials have declared wind turbines a public health risk, but they haven’t determined how to put their declaration into action.

The county’s Health Board this month declared the Shirley Wind Farm operated by Duke Energy Renewables poses a health risk to its neighbors in the town of Glenmore. Three families have moved out of their homes rather than endure physical illness they blame on the low-frequency noise the wind turbines generate, according to Audrey Murphy, president of the board that oversees the Brown County Health Department.

“We struggled with this but just felt we needed to take some action to help these citizens,” Murphy said.

Murphy called the declaration a first step, but “the second step is up to the director of our Health Department, Judy Friederichs, and corporation counsel.”

WEBSITE-10-27-14-WI-BROWN Cty-gpgwindturbines026

Wind turbines in the town of Glenmore in southern Brown County

The Health Department has statutory authority for licensing, inspection and enforcement for businesses where health and environmental problems are at issue, but just what that means for the wind farm has not yet been determined, Friederichs said.WEBSITE-10-27-14-WI-BROWN CTYgpgwindturbines010-400x533

State health officials have expressed interest in participating in Brown County’s discussion of the issue, Friederichs said. She, board members and the county’s lawyer need to put their heads together to determine the next step, she said. No timeline has been established.  “We’re all saying the same thing here: Now what?” Friederichs said.   “There aren’t a lot of alternatives to mitigation. It really depends now on where this goes, what type of referrals we get, etc. There’s ongoing concerns. We’re going to have to really look at it, and it’s more of a legal question.”

Whatever happens, residents “are grateful to the Board of Health for reviewing the research and listening to the people of Brown County,” said Susan Ashley, who also lives in the Shirley area and who has helped rally opposition to the wind farm through the years.

Twenty families in the town have documented health issues since the wind farm started operated in 2009, Ashley said.

Duke Energy Renewables was not invited to the health board’s discussion and would have cited tests that determined sound levels from the wind generators were low and could not be linked to adverse health impacts, company spokeswoman Tammie McGee said. The company has not received any formal word about the board’s declaration, McGee said.

Dr. Jay Tibbetts, vice president of the Brown County health board and its medical adviser, said he knows of no science that proves there isn’t a link between health problems and the low-frequency noise the giant fans produce.

“There’s been nothing that’s debunked anything,” he said. “As far as what’s happening to these people, it doesn’t make a difference whether you’re in Shirley or Denmark, or Ontario, Canada. Forty people have moved out of their homes, and it’s not just for jollies. In Shirley, three people have moved out of their homes. I know all three. They’re not nuts. They’re severely suffering.”

People might not be able to hear the sounds the Shirley turbines produce, but Tibbetts said he knows of a teenager living in the area who can tell when the turbines are off or on without being able to see them. Area residents or former residents report headaches, nausea and other symptoms they say are brought on by the turbines, and those symptoms clear up when the residents move elsewhere for a time, Tibbetts said.

The board’s declaration may be cutting edge and controversial, but it wasn’t made lightly or without the weight of science behind it, Murphy said

“This is a serious step,” she said. “We didn’t make it lightly. There is science from around the world — the World Health Organization, Denmark, Poland, Germany. We believe there’s enough science.”

Darrell Ashley, who is Susan Ashley’s father-in-law and lives within a mile of the Shirley turbines, said his wife moved out of the house for several months until her symptoms disappeared. She has since moved back, and her symptoms are coming back, he said.

“I’m getting worse and I can’t afford to move out,” he said. “I’m just getting weaker — my legs, back, feet. My concentration is gone, head pressure, ear aches, headaches, it just goes on and on.”

Prior to 2009, when the turbines weren’t operating, he and his wife had no such problems, he said. He praised the health board and said he appreciated that someone finally listened to residents’ complaints.

Murphy said Brown County is probably the first governmental body in Wisconsin and perhaps the first in the country to make the formal declaration.

The board has been wrestling with the issue for about the last four years, Murphy said. While some scientific studies have failed to find a link between health risks and the low-frequency noise that wind turbines generate, two studies done recently on the Shirley Wind Farm specifically say otherwise, Murphy said.

“While there may still be debate about the precise mechanism that causes these sounds to induce the symptoms, it is clear from (these studies) … that acoustic energy emitted by operation of modern wind turbines is at the root of adverse health effects,” Murphy said.

 

 

WI-Health Board says Shirley Wind Project is Health Hazard

By Eric Crest | NBC Ch 26 | Oct 17, 2014 | www.jrn.com ~~ GLENMORE, WIS – This week the Brown County Health Board went on record declaring that wind turbines “are a human health hazard.” Folks living in the Glenmore area near the Shirley Wind Project have been saying this for years though, and now they have the health department on their side. By state statute wind turbines can be within 1250 feet of a home. The Brown County Board of Health says that’s too close for comfort. But Duke Energy, the company that owns the Shirley Wind farm disagrees. Glenmore farmers won’t touch this topic with a ten foot pole. But Audrey Murphy the Chairman of the Brown County Board of Health says it’s her duty. “We didn’t take this lightly this was a serious thing and we all struggled with it,” says Murphy. Continue reading

WI – Duke Energy’s Shirley Wind Turbines declared a “human health hazard”

Credit:  Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy, October 16, 2014, bccrwe.com ~~

DENMARK, WI – At the October 14, 2014 Brown County Board of Health meeting, a motion was unanimously approved declaring the Shirley Wind turbines a “Human Health Hazard”. The text of the unanimously approved motion reads:

“To declare the Industrial Wind Turbines at Shirley Wind Project in the Town of Glenmore, Brown County, WI, a Human Health Hazard for all people (residents, workers, visitors, and sensitive passersby) who are exposed to Infrasound/Low Frequency Noise and other emissions potentially harmful to human health.” Continue reading