Ohio legislators, are you listening? Wisconsin declares BigWind a HEALTH HAZARD!

Is Ohio’s 1300 ft setback enough? On Monday night, the Brown County Board of Health in Wisconsin voted to declare the Shirley Wind Project to be a human health hazard.  The approved motion states:

“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.”

This is an important step forward in the debate about industrial wind setbacks and the effects of low frequency noise.   The study of LFN by four acousticians was underway at Shirley when Union Neighbors United intervened in Everpower’s Buckeye Wind II before the Ohio Power Siting Board.  One of the researchers working on the Shirley Wind study was Everpower’s noise expert, David Hessler.   On the witness stand at OPSB in November, 2012, Hessler responded to a question from UNU’s attorney about LFN as follows:

Q: Low-frequency noise cannot be ruled out as a potential problem at wind farms, can it?


A: Yeah, up until recently my belief was that it could essentially be ruled out, but I’m changing my mind on that a little bit.


Hessler was changing his mind because of what he was learning at the Shirley Wind project. 

The OPSB hearings closed on December 6, 2012.  On December 12th , the Shirley Wind study was concluded and on December 24th the report was issued.  That report concluded two important points.  

Ø  “An important finding on this survey was that the cooperation of the wind farm operator is absolutely essential. Wind turbines must be measured both ON and OFF on request to obtain data under nearly identical wind and power conditions to quantify the wind turbine impact which could not be done due to Duke Energy’s lack of cooperation.”

 Ø  “A most interesting study in 1986 by the Navy reveals that physical vibration of pilots in flight simulators induced motion sickness when the vibration frequency was in the range of 0.05 to 0.9 Hz with the maximum (worst) effect being at about 0.2 Hz, not too far from the blade passing frequency of future large wind turbines. If one makes the leap from physical vibration of the body to physical vibration of the media the body is in, it suggests adverse response to wind turbines is an acceleration or vibration problem in the very low frequency region. The four investigating firms are of the opinion that enough evidence and hypotheses have been given herein to classify LFN and infrasound as a serious issue, possibly affecting the future of the industry. It should be addressed beyond the present practice of showing that wind turbine levels are magnitudes below the threshold of hearing at low frequencies.”

On January 17, 2013, UNU requested that the record in Buckeye Wind II be reopened to allow inclusion of the Shirley Wind Report. (See attached Motion)  Everpower objected and the OPSB denied the request.   Now the Health Department in Brown County, Wisconsin has determined the Shirley Wind project is a health hazard to “residents, workers, visitors, and sensitive passersby.”     The Health Department’s decision was made public on a local radio talk program.   We have provided the link to the radio program.  

 The radio program makes several important points.  First, the State of Wisconsin controls the siting of industrial wind turbines and local governments are unable to put restrictions on them unless they are deemed a health hazard.   The mere designation of health hazard will not shut down the turbines. However, it will force the debate and the wind industry will have to present evidence that LFN does not cause adverse health impacts.  It is believed they will not be able to refuse to cooperate as Duke Energy did previously.  That will be a tall order.  The radio program host asserts that the wind industry  “can no longer put smarmy editorials in newspapers around the state that obfuscate the real issue which is what the wind lobby has done again and again and again.”  “They are not going to be able to do that this time.”  … 

Brown County Board of Health votes Shirley Wind farm a health risk….audio at site: via Brown County Board of Health votes Shirley Wind farm a health risk. – Podcasts – WTAQ News Talk 97.5FM and 1360AM.