(Life sucks) In the Shadow of Wind Farms

Screen Shot 2017-12-21 at 9.04.56 AM

This is a very comprehensive study, investigating individuals from all over the USA, regarding the negative effects of living in the shadow of BigWind…

A six-month GateHouse Media investigation found that wind developers representing some of the world’s biggest energy companies divide communities and disrupt the lives of residents forced to live in the shadow of their industrial wind farms.

Reporters interviewed more than 70 families living near three dozen current or proposed wind farms. They also spoke to 10 state and local lawmakers, read hundreds of pages of public-service-commission records about wind projects, reviewed court filings in seven wind-related lawsuits and inspected lease agreements from at least eight wind farms.

GateHouse Media also identified through public documents and media reports an additional 400 families living near industrial wind turbines that have publicly complained about shadow flicker, noise, health problems and/or misleading statements by wind companies in an effort to solicit land agreements.

The investigation found that companies convince landowners to sign away their property rights for generations based on the promise of potential profits and the minimization of potential problems associated with wind turbines.

Those problems include shadow flicker, loud noises and low-frequency vibrations that have driven dozens of families from their homes. Many of them claim to have suffered serious health issues from the turbines before departing. Some say they’ll never be the same.

The wind industry has known about these issues for years – many of its contracts contain clauses acknowledging these effects – but it denies turbines affect human health, even as complaints mount nationwide.

Landowners often overlook potential problems until it’s too late. Many who sign contracts can’t terminate the agreements, even if they later beg for relief from what they deem intolerable living conditions. Some covenants bar people from suing or even publicly criticizing the projects.

Those who don’t sign agreements can face the same impact of living near wind turbines erected on neighboring properties. But they receive no compensation for the shadow flicker, noises and vibrations…

Wind developers have settled more than a half-dozen such cases nationwide, even while admitting no wrongdoing. Among the companies to settle is Michigan-based Consumers Energy, which owns Lake Winds Energy Park. The Shineldeckers were among several neighbors who sued the company…

Proposed wind projects also have fractured rural communities across America, pitting neighbor against neighbor in fights over property rights and money.

Many worry about the impact these turbines will have on their homes – some families interviewed have moved out of their houses after wind farms started operating; others have stayed but suffer from shadow flicker, noises and vibrations.

Elected officials tasked with voting on these developments have, in many cases, signed their own contracts with the wind companies, raising concerns about conflicts of interest.

Cary and Karen Shineldecker in their Mason County, Michigan, home. | Lucille Sherman | GateHouse Media

Among the investigation’s findings:

• Despite a growing chorus of complaints, the wind industry has expanded largely unopposed. Ten years ago, less than 300 industrial wind farms dotted the U.S. landscape. Today, more than 1,000 exist. Much of the growth has been funded by American taxpayers. Billions of dollars in state and federal incentives have made wind farms so profitable that companies are racing to develop them before the handouts disappear.

• Industrial wind turbines generate countless complaints nationwide about sleep disturbances, migraines, nausea, ear pressure, blurred vision, tinnitus and heart palpitations. Rampant reports about such effects from the Shirley Wind Farm in Brown County, Wisconsin, prompted the local Board of Health to declare the turbines a human health hazard.

• Wind industry officials have denounced people who complain about these symptoms, calling them misinformed or “anti-wind.” Some wind companies offer money or other concessions to frequent complainers, often in exchange for silence and a waiver for turbine-related claims. “I call it a shut-up clause,” said Jim Miller of South Dakota, who refused to sign such an agreement with Florida-based NextEra.

• Wind developers have used what some landowners describe as misleading tactics to get their contracts signed. Attorneys asked to review several such contracts called them one-sided, giving wind companies sweeping control over people’s property with few rights for the landowner.

• Wind farms have divided communities across America. Contracted landowners eyeing profits spar with neighbors opposing turbines near their backyards. Lifelong friendships can end. Families sometimes fray. Hopkinton, New York, resident Janice Pease said she stopped talking to relatives who support a proposed wind farm in their town. Pease adamantly opposes it.

Turbines from the Glacier Hills Wind Park in Columbia County, Wisconsin, churn in the late afternoon sun. | Arturo Fernandez | GateHouse Media

WIND INDUSTRY DENIES CLAIMS

GateHouse Media reached out to seven wind energy companies, including some of the nation’s largest, and two nonprofit groups that support the wind industry. Those representatives denied almost all of the investigation’s findings.

Every wind industry official interviewed said that relatively few people complain about wind turbines compared to the thousands of Americans living peacefully among the structures.

“We have 1,300 turbines in operation across the United States,” said Duke Energy spokeswoman Tammie McGee. Except for one wind farm in Wisconsin, “we don’t see these types of complaints at our other turbines.”

Many of the people who do complain, several representatives said, are well-known among industry insiders and comprise a small but vocal group of anti-wind activists…

When asked about the studies that do establish a link, those same wind officials disputed the validity of those papers and the credentials of the researchers…

People might be annoyed by wind turbines, several wind representatives said. But they’re not getting sick from them…

Rather than divide communities, they said their projects improve the lives of all residents. Some towns hold festivals commemorating their wind farms. Enyo Renewable Energy Principal Christine Mikell mentioned the Wind Fest in Spanish Fork, Utah, which hosts a nine-turbine wind farm.

“We have hundreds of landowners who are pleased to have us come to their communities,” said Bryan Garner of Florida-based NextEnergy Resources, the biggest wind energy producer in America with more than 100 wind farms…

 

Communities can also benefit financially from wind farms. The construction of these multi-million-dollar projects employs hundreds of temporary workers and adds new, taxable revenue to local and state coffers…

FORCED TO MOVE

As the wind industry continues to expand, so do its critics.

Hundreds of residents nationwide have claimed industrial wind turbines make them sick. Several families say the structures have forced them from their homes…

“People don’t give up their homes for no reason,” Ed Hobart said, responding to claims the symptoms were all in his head. “It had financial and emotional and health impacts on me and my wife that we will never be fully recovered from.”…

When the sun passes behind those blades, it creates a strobe-like phenomenon called shadow flicker that can disorient and nauseate those forced to live with it….

But even as complaints mount across the nation, the wind industry steadfastly denies turbines impact human health.

“We are aware of some of the cases where individuals come to believe that wind turbines are the cause of their health concerns, and we feel great sympathy for anyone who is suffering from illness of any kind,” said Dahvi Wilson of Apex Clean Energy, which owns several wind farms nationwide.

But, Wilson said, science doesn’t support their claims. And until it does, the company will continue to build wind farms based on current best practices.

The wind industry frequently cites a 2014 Health Canada study that found no direct association between health problems and wind turbines. The study involved more than 1,200 residents in 18 wind farms.

But the same study also found wind turbines “highly annoy” about one in 10 people, especially those living closest to the structures and those exposed to turbine noises exceeding 35 decibels.

That annoyance is “statistically related” to reports of migraines, tinnitus, dizziness and high blood pressure….

Researchers using low-frequency meters have found a link between wind turbines and “sensations of uneasiness and personal disturbance,” as well as “extreme pressure” and “headache or nausea or dizziness.”

One of the first to do this was Neil Kelley, a now-retired scientist from the National Wind Technology Center in Denver. The U.S. Department of Energy and NASA hired Kelley three decades ago to investigatecomplaints about their wind turbine near Boone, North Carolina.

Kelley and his colleagues determined after extensive testing that “the annoyance was real and not imagined,” the result of acoustic impulses.

Kelley did not return calls for comment.

LIKE MOTION SICKNESS

These acoustic impulses – or low-frequency sound waves – stimulate parts of the inner ear responsible for balance, motion and spatial orientation and that they provoke symptoms similar to motion sickness, some researchers say.

“If you’re sitting still and something is causing the same fluids to move, your brain doesn’t know that it’s a false signal,” said Rick James, an acoustical engineer who has written papers on the subject. “But you open your eyes and say, ‘I’m sitting still, but I feel like I’m moving.’”

The Minnesota Department of Health noted the phenomenon in 2009 paper. It found low-frequency waves cause more problems inside a house than outside because, rather than block the pulsations, the walls amplify them.

Darlene Mueller wept as she described how turbines in the Blue Sky Green Field Wind Energy Center in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, sickened her inside her home…

 

DRAGGED THROUGH THE MUD

But some wind farm residents who spoke out about their problems said the industry belittles them. It dismisses their complaints as unfounded or labels them troublemakers, multiple people said.

It has silenced many of their neighbors whom they said suffer the same symptoms but fear the consequences of speaking out…

After Cary Shineldecker went public about his experience in Michigan’s Lake Winds Energy Park, an energy company executive singled him out at a meeting several states away.

Mike Blazer of Chicago-based Invenergy claimed to know Shineldecker’s medical history. He told a crowd in Clear Lake, South Dakota, that Shineldecker’s health woes stemmed from alcohol use, obstructive sleep apnea and an irregular heartbeat – not wind turbines…

Shineldecker said he was stunned to learn about the incident from an attorney who attended the meeting. He said he has neither sleep apnea nor alcohol problems and never received a diagnosis for those problems.

“All I ever had to go on was my integrity and honesty and work ethic,” Shineldecker said, “and then to be belittled and treated like some whack-job psycho liar is kind of unbelievable.”

Iowa wind farm resident Terry McGovern said he faced disparagement by Apex Clean Energy.

The Virginia-based company accused McGovern of holding “a personal anti-wind agenda” and claimed he would spread misinformation and generate unfounded fear of wind energy ahead of a public presentation he gave.

Apex made the claims in a July 2017 letter it sent to landowners discouraging them from attending the presentation, held near the site of its proposed Upland Prairie Wind farm in northwest Iowa.

McGovern denies holding an anti-wind agenda but is publicly critical of the industry and its business practices. His Iowa Wind Action Group calls for greater setbacks for industrial turbines to protect human health.

“Instead of focusing on the issues, they try to discredit the person,” McGovern said. “That way, they can avoid talking about the facts.”..

 

 

via In the Shadow of Wind Farms

Advertisements

BigWind ‘kicked to the curb’ in Nebraska

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 4.19.58 PM

Yet, another example, of a BigWind setback being EXPANDED….well beyond Ohio. But you would never hear of this if you only listened to the BigWind lobbyists in Ohio, where the industry cries that our setback hinders their growth….that our setback is too restrictive…that there is no danger or problem with having 600 foot industrial wind turbines as neighbors.  Read below, and you will see that Nebraska has become wise. Setbacks have been expanded to 2,700 feet and banned in another. Congrats!…

Wind turbines will not be dotting the Stanton County landscape anytime soon.

The Stanton County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously today to approve a land use matrix that did not allow for wind developers to purchase conditional use permits – effectively preventing any wind farms from attempting to build in Stanton County…

 

The Board also passed regulations extending the setback requirements for a windmill to 2,700 feet and capping the potential noise generated at 50 decibels. These requirements would only matter if the Board retracted the ban on wind permits in the future…

 

via Stanton County Bars Wind Development Sandhills Express

Ohio Power Siting Board says YES to BigWind’s ‘Top Secret’ information (again)

The Ohio Power Siting Board approved a request in the Buckeye Wind case from turbine maker Gamesa to extend the protective order which keeps noise and safety information secret.  In 2013 Gamesa was granted a protective order for 18 months,  On June 1, 2015, the OPSB granted an additional 24months of secrecy until June 1, 2017.    But on May 30thGamesa filed for yet another 24 months of protection from public view.  This request was  granted with the OPSB Order stating:

 

{¶ 12} Ohio Adm.Code 4906-7-07(H)(6) requires a party wishing to extend a protective order beyond 24 months to file an appropriate motion in advance of the expiration date, including a detailed discussion of the need for continued protection from disclosure. If Gamesa wishes to extend this confidential treatment, it should file an appropriate motion at least 45 days in advance of the expiration date. If no such motion to extend confidential treatment is filed, the Board may release this information without prior notice to Gamesa.

 

So mark your calendar for June 2019 to see if the Gamesa noise information is made public.  But in the meantime, Google Gamesa and noise complaints.  Maybe there is a reason they do not want us to see their manual….

New wind farms with a capacity of 5 or more megawatts must obtain a siting certificate through the Ohio Power Siting Board. This unique siting process is made possible in Ohio because all seven entities involved with approving the siting application are seated at the same table: the chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, the directors of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, the Ohio Development Services Agency, the Ohio Departments of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources, and a public member….

 

Source: Wind and other Renewable Energy – OPSB

http://www.anthonycreditexpert.com

Yet another state looks to INcrease BigWind setbacks, but not Ohio!?

Ohio Senator Cliff Hite is proposing to SHORTEN the Ohio BigWind setback that is currently established at 1,125 feet from a property line. What is the purpose of a setback? To protect citizens and property.  Senator Cliff Hite is one of the biggest BigWind supporters that we know.  We think it is time for him to retire from the legislature and get a job with BigWind. Why not, if he chooses to protect THEM over US? Just look below for another area, experienced with BigWind, that tells them to ‘back off’!…

CANTON, S.D. – It was a tough night for a company that wants to build a wind farm in Lincoln County.

County commissioners approved some zoning changes….

 

Dakota Power wanted a top noise limit of 65 decibels, but commissioners set the limit at 45 decibels….

Commissioners also discussed a second zoning change.

This one dealt with the setback distance, which is how far the turbines have to be from public roads and homes.

The current distance is 1,320 ft., or three times the height of the turbine.

The Planning Commission recommended increasing it to 5,200 ft., or one mile.

The county commissioners said this decision is the toughest they’ll have to make, since it could determine whether or not Canton and surrounding cities could grow in the future.

They decided to table it for now, so they can look into more research on the topic…

Source: Lincoln County Increases Restrictions For Wind Turbines – KDLT

Irish people win lawsuit against BigWind, why won’t Ohio protect its’ citizens?

There was BIG real news coming out of Ireland this week where seven families won a case against the manufacturer of wind turbines. “…The case will return to the High Court in 2017 to discuss punitive damages. Promises in Government over the last four years to introduce planning regulations regarding wind turbines have failed to materialise. According to outdated guidelines, turbines may be built 500m (1,640 ft.) from homes. In many cases, including this, wind turbines have been built closer than 500m. A spokesperson for Wind Aware Ireland said: “There now is a possibility for multiple legal actions against wind farms right around the country.”

We see a number of parallels between Ireland and the U.S. Chief among them is government foot dragging on establishing protective regulations for siting wind turbines as well as government’s failure to update inadequate regulations in the face of massively larger industrial wind turbines that are continuing to increase in height and blade length. We would add, also, the failure of the OPSB to hold hearings on amended applications is relevant. Important to this story also seems to be the culpability of the manufacturer who leaves siting decisions to developers. The recent removal from public view of Vestas’ recommendation for minimum setbacks of 1,300’ (suggested years ago when turbines were smaller) seems to have been an accommodation to developers and folks like Senator Cliff Hite and the wind lobby who seek to jam wind developments into unsuitable locations in their quest for $$$$$.

Ireland’s outdated and inadequate siting regulations were revised in 2013 but never took effect. The revisions “set more stringent levels, including a mandatory minimum setback of 500 metres, noise limits, and the complete elimination of “shadow flicker” for nearby dwellings. “When Alan Kelly became minister in 2014, he initiated a further review, with suggestions that he was going to increase the setback distance to 1km or more.” This suggested guideline was never published because the government’s term expired. New regulations were set to be issued before the end of 2016 but this will not happen because the EU Court has now required further public input to be gathered. Wind News readers have “been to this movie” before. We hope the punitive damages awarded early next year as a result of the Enercon case will be hefty and that the public input process is concluded. The wind industry is surely the cause of further delay. Sounds oh so familiar.

In Vermont hearings concerning acceptable noise limits have been ongoing. The wind industry experts maintain that noise levels emitted from industrial turbines at 46 dBA or less — as measured from outside a home — should be an acceptable standard for current and future turbine projects. The community’s expert was nationally recognized acoustician Stephen Ambrose who argued that “the dBA limit should be set in the low-30s, and added that a 45 dBA limit is only acceptable for urban environments with other sources of background noise. In a rural setting, where ambient noise levels are lower, Ambrose said complaints typically start at 30 dBA. If levels hit 40 dBA, local residents start opposing projects. At 45 dBA, residents begin abandoning their homes.”…

A number of families in Co Cork who claim they were forced to leave their homes because of noise from a nearby wind farm have won a significant case in the High Court this week.

The families claim they have been severely impacted by noise since the wind farm began operating in 2011.

This is the first action of its kind in Ireland….

The case will return to the High Court in 2017 to discuss damages.

Promises in Government over the last four years to introduce planning regulations regarding wind turbines have failed to materialise.

According to the guidelines currently in operation, turbines may be built 500m from homes. Opponents say that in many cases wind turbines have been built closer than 500m.

A spokesperson for Wind Aware Ireland said: “There now is a possibility for multiple legal actions against wind farms right around the country….

Source: Families claim victory in wind-farm noise court case

Ohio BigWind News and cries to allow them closer to our homes

marec-comments

Oh my, where to start? Comments on the Ohio Power Siting Board’s proposed rules have been submitted and are posted on the OPSB website at http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/CaseRecord.aspx?CaseNo=16-1109.

Terrence O’Donnell, son of Ohio Supreme Court Justice Terrence O’Donnell, filed two comment letters. One is filed as counsel for the LeedCo Icebreaker project in Lake Erie and the other is on behalf of MAREC (Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition). Not surprisingly the comments are full of threats that the proposed rules are so restrictive as to prohibit the development of wind in Ohio. Repeatedly, this cry rises no matter whether the topic is ice throw, shadow flicker, noise, decommissioning, whatever. At one low point, MAREC insists that the word “noise” be eliminated due to its negative connotations and replaced by a more neutral term like…”sound”. Gee, we wonder what the folks at INCE (Institute for NOISE Control Engineering) , the professional association for “noise” would think of that? Sort of like calling 600’ foot tall wind power plant arrays “farms”.

Consider: MAREC requests that throughout the rules the term “noise” be eliminated and replaced with the term “sound.” “Noise” has a negative connotation that indicates loud, harsh, or disturbing sound. It would be more appropriate to use a descriptive term that is not pejorative. The term “sound” more correctly denotes what is being measured in accordance with the wind farm requirements in new Rule 09. As explained in greater detail below, it is crucial for the wind industry in Ohio that the sound level be measured at an appropriate and reasonable location. MAREC’s concern is that, if the sound level is measured at the property lines (as proposed throughout the rules) wind project development in Ohio will be devastated. Therefore, sound measurements should focus on the applicable residences that could potentially be affected by the sound level, i.e., structures that are inhabited.

It may interest readers to know that noise regulation was originally the province of the US EPA which carried out investigations and studies on noise and its effect on the public health and welfare through the

Office of Noise Abatement and Control (ONAC). In 1981 the federal government decided that noise issues were best handled at the State and local level. As a result, ONAC was closed and primary responsibility of addressing noise issues was transferred to State and local governments. However, EPA retains authority to investigate and study noise and its effect, disseminate information to the public regarding noise pollution and its adverse health effects, respond to inquiries on matters related to noise, and evaluate the effectiveness of existing regulations for protecting the public health and welfare, pursuant to the Noise Control Act of 1972 and the Quiet Communities Act of 1978. (Source US EPA). Given that the EPA turned over noise regulation but local zoning authority for industrial wind was pre-empted by the State of Ohio, it is especially important that the OPSB adopt rules protective of the health and welfare of the community. And calling it noise is an accurate, descriptive term.

THE WORST comment is the letter from the Ohio Environmental Council. Consider: When the statute was passed, there was no public discussion and no analysis on whether or not the increased setback distance was necessary, as it was enacted hastily in Ohio House Bill 483 (Amstutz – 130th GA). As a result, the revised setback has effectively zoned new wind projects out of the state, decimating the prospect of new wind projects, and injuring clean energy progress. Until 2014, Ohio was attracting millions of dollars in investment in new wind energy projects. As a result, Ohio’s air quality improved, new jobs were created, and local governments began seeing new revenue coming in to support their operations. Sadly, this progress was all but halted by the abrupt enactment of these overly burdensome wind turbine regulations that created unnecessary red tape for investors and project developers, specifically the implementation of the unnecessary and overly burdensome setback requirements promulgated by this proposed rule. It has effectively placed a moratorium on new wind development, and there has been no new wind applications approved since the new setback requirements were enacted.

We don’t believe the OEC claims that industrial wind has already “improved Ohio’s air quality”. A recent study by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity estimates the federal Clean Power Plan will have a small effect on temperature and is the equivalent of reducing rising sea levels by “the thickness of one to two human hairs.” If that is the assessment for the entire impact of the CPP, a couple of wind factories in Ohio could not possibly have had a detectable impact on air quality.

The industry comments on the OPSB rules are an all-out assault on property rights of rural landowners. In the face of all of this, we were very happy to read Senate President Keith Faber’s sentiments in the Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Faber expressed no sympathy for wind developers who claim legislation he supported has made it impossible to develop future wind-farm sites. He said his concern is for the property rights of neighboring landowners who are not being compensated for the impact of the turbines on their land. He said he has had discussions on the issue in his office and in the Indian Lake area of Ohio. Indian Lake is in Logan County, northwest of Columbus. “

While the rule-making process is underway, the Icebreaker project proposed for Lake Erie is in the pre-application stage at the OPSB. Reports are coming in of criticism from organizations representing the Great Lakes in the US and Canada. Our friends at NAPAW have renamed it “Wing Breaker”! The wildlife compliance comments from the wind industry indicate that bird and bat issues may be more of a problem for them than we knew. They appear to want to water them down and remove references to federal programs designed to protect avian species. This comes at a time when researchers are documenting that “there is evidence that wind facilities may be having continental-scale impacts on some bird populations.”

While they did not choose to file comments on the OPSB Rules, The Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund released a study this week intended to provide the Governor with justification for reinstating the renewable mandates. And for good measure, they threw in a plea for rollback of property line setbacks. Elsewhere, a study from the Independent Institute was interesting in that they assert the exaggerated claims of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan as an “historic and important step” that “takes real action on climate change” and is “fair” and “flexible” is an attempt to distract people from asking questions like, “Who will pay for this?” and “By how much will the CPP reduce climate change?” Maybe the screams and yells about property-line versus residence setbacks is an attempt to distract people from those same substantive questions.