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Guest Column: Now is the time to let your voice be heard on wind farms

July 6, 2011

Editor’s note: Joan Null was referred to The Rock River Times by the mayor of Lee, Rich Boris, after he and I met at several meetings addressing proposals for industrial wind complexes in Boone and Ogle counties. Boris has been very active opposing complexes in Lee and DeKalb counties. I thank him for his referral, and strongly suggest readers visit the Hulthens’ blog noted below. Very opposed to industrial wind because of the hell his life has become, Dave Hulthen testified at an Ogle County Zoning Board of Appeals hearing on a text amendment to Ogle County’s wind ordinance. His powerpoint presentation, complete with stunning pictures, shows the commonly-touted setbacks of 1,300 to 1,500 feet are completely ineffective. As Vermont has now legislated, setbacks of a mile-and-a-half are less offensive; but even at that distance, many of the drawbacks of industrial wind turbines in agricultural or natural areas still persist. Readers and environmentalists should be very aware of all the proposed industrial wind complexes in Stephenson, Winnebago, Ogle and Boone counties. It’s the beginning of a possibly huge network and costly power grid, complete with eminent domain issues, and just the substantial sections now proposed will ruin our rural quality of life and viewscape for decades to come. — Frank Schier

By Joan Null
Whitley County Concerned Citizens

I am from Whitley County, Ind. (just west of Fort Wayne), and our county has been targeted by a wind developer. We’re doing all we can to put a stop to the project.

After seeing Dave and Stephanie Hulthen’s blog, we wanted to see for ourselves just what it was like to live in the midst of industrial wind turbines. The following is my story about our visit to DeKalb County, and was shared with the residents of our county.

Please go to this link, http://lifewithdekalbturbines.blogspot.com/, and take a really good look at the picture of the house and the wind turbine. Then, scroll down to the entry for Monday, March 14. The visitors they are talking about are eight members of Whitley County Concerned Citizens. I was one of those visitors.

We walked around that yard and stood in front of that porch, and looked out the windows of that house from the inside. It’s a beautiful house, inside and out. And the natural setting is amazing. But, you just can’t begin to imagine being surrounded by 146 turbines — spinning motion every direction that you look when you’re outside, and reflected in every shiny surface inside.

Spinning motion outside the kitchen window where you stand to do dishes, outside the windows of your front door, through the windows of your sun porch, as a backdrop watching your kids play on the swing set, outside the dining room windows, reflected in the TV screen, reflected in the glass of the pictures on the walls, reflected in the glass doors of the kitchen cabinets.

And they are so HUGELY out of proportion to everything else. The two closest ones to their home are 1,400 feet away — and they look like you could just reach out and touch them — they’re enormous. Dave pointed out a line of turbines that were 6 miles away, and some that were 8 miles away. They looked like they were just at the end of the field. (Note: the wind ordinance that the Plan Commission proposed for Whitley County last October called for a 1,200-foot setback).

Dave and Stephanie Hulthen are a very nice young couple in their mid 30s, living in their dream home. They have four young children, and they live directly across the road from the farm where Dave grew up, and Dave’s parents still live. Dave makes beautiful custom cabinets and furniture in his shop at home.

Their focus is “people need to know the truth about what it’s really like to live with turbines, and the wind companies don’t tell the truth.” Dave has a degree in physics, so he really understands a lot about how the whole system works. They are all about proper setbacks. Ironically, when Dave wanted to build his cabinet shop (very nice metal building), their county code said the shop had to be “set back” from the road at least as far as the front of his house “in order to be aesthetically pleasing.” No joke!

Dave drove us around through the wind farm, telling us the stories of various families who live there. Then, he drove to the edge of the wind farm, so that there were no turbines in view in front of us. He called our attention to the fact that we were looking at “normal” surroundings — farms and houses. Then, he said, “now I’m going to turn the vehicle around,” and suddenly you’re assaulted with this view of huge, spinning sticks towering over farmland and houses. The feeling is gut-wrenching. Before I went, I honestly thought that looking at them wouldn’t be all that bad. I was more concerned about other issues. But, I have to admit that looking at them and being surrounded by them affected me more than I thought it would. I can’t imagine our beautiful countryside looking like an industrial wasteland; and not just for a short time … but for the next 30-40 years.

There was also a constant drone of noise — and the generators weren’t even operating — they weren’t producing electricity that day. Also, there was the “whoosh, whoosh” of the blades. The shadow flicker varies from house to house depending on the distance and directional relationship between the house, the turbines and the sun. For Dave and Stephanie, the shadow flicker is like a disco strobe light at sunrise, lasting 45 minutes, from May through September.

They said some days are so bad, so noisy, and some nights so sleepless, they look at each other and say, “put the FOR SALE sign in the yard.” And then they remember, “Oh, yeah — nobody will buy our house, we’re in the middle of 146 turbines.”

Their dream has been shattered by turbines.

If you’ve not made the trip to a wind farm, and talked to those who live among the turbines — please do. The key is talking to people, seeing from their perspective, hearing directly from them how daily life has been affected by the turbines. You won’t get the complete picture just by driving down the road and looking at them.

And please write to your county commissioners. Let them know of your concerns. County officials have told us they need to hear from people in all areas of the county, not just in Washington, Jefferson and Cleveland townships. Please share this information with anyone you know in Whitley County. This is a countywide ordinance that is being considered, and the next phase of the wind farm may just target your part of the county. The time to let your voice be heard is now.

From the July 6-12, 2011, issue

One Comment

  1. Wiegand

    July 7, 2011 at 11:26 am

    It is time for everyone to take a closer look at the true character of the wind industry. For over 25 years there has been bird mortality/wind turbine cover-up. As it now stands at wind farms across the world, thousands of protected bird species are killed daily. I have been told by good sources the industry has been hiding the bodies of rare and endangered species for decades. Today body disposal is all a part of a days work at a wind farm. This tragic cover-up will continue until it is made a felony to conceal fatalities at wind farms. Not until enough people stand up against this industry can they be forced to implement new turbine designs into their wind farms. Until then the profiteers will lie, pacify the public with bogus studies, claim they are working on the problem, and continue to make their fortunes from these killers.

    Today the California Condor habitat in the mountainous region of Tehachapi and Tejon ranch has been destroyed for the condors. This is due to the thousands of lethal wind turbines constructed in their natural habitat. The wind industry has made a complete mockery of the condor recovery. Despite the success of condor breeding programs there are few if any free flying condors and it will stay that way as long as there are propeller style turbines.

    Today the only way to keep the condors from flying off into the turbines is by the permanent feeding stations that have been set up for them. Without the feeding stations the condors would be hopping on the same wind currents used to spin the turbines searching the countryside looking for a meal. Their clumsy slow flights that would normally cover hundreds of square miles a day make them an easy target for the spinning wind turbine blades. Now the condors primarily just wander from perches close to the stations where the carcasses are dumped. If condors start to wander, they are trapped so they will not perish.

    The new propeller style wind turbines reach 400- 500 ft into the sky and have a kill zone 30-45 times the area of the famous eagle killing turbines built at Altamont Pass. Now a wind farm of just 50 turbines is equivalent to 1500-2250 of theses early turbines. The blade tips on the new models with 12 ton blades rip through the air at over 220-240 mph when spinning at 20 just rotations per minute. This is twice as fast as the old turbines and over three times the speed of a major league baseball bat swing. The industry does not like to talk about these facts but this is the truth.

    Despite industry propaganda, cats, windows, cars etc. kill almost no rare and endangered species such as Condors, Whooping Cranes, Red Kites, Tasmanian Wedge Tailed Eagles, and Egyptian Vultures. I could go on and on with this industry death list. The fact is, once these turbines are put into their foraging and nesting habitats they become the primary killers of these species. The reality is that no bird or bat is safe from these turbines. The public rarely hears about it because of bogus studies, wind farm security and carefully written contracts with gag orders. Think about it. Why would an honest industry ever need gag orders? Why would they rig Environmental Impact Documents? Why hide bodies?

    Recent studies from Altamont Pass would have us believing that the new larger wind turbines are much safer than the early turbines used at Altamont pass. Much has been written about the benefits of repowering Altamont Pass with the new safer turbines. After reading the June 6 Wind Energy story published in the LA Times I began looking into the research behind the statement made by Dr. Shawn Smallwood ………”The neighboring Buena Vista Wind Energy Project recently replaced 179 aging wind turbines with 38 newer and more powerful 1-megawatt turbines. That repowering effort has reduced fatality rates by 79% for all raptor species and 50% for golden eagles, according to a study by Shawn Smallwood, an expert on raptor ecology in wind farms”.

    I found a major flaw in the research and everyone I have shown this to agrees with me about this. The reason the studies are flawed is that all the search areas looking for blade strike victims are statistically inconsistent with the turbine sizes. I will illustrate the most extreme example of this inconsistency. The old 40KW turbines at Altamont have a stated historical search areas of a 50 meter radius yet the new and much larger 1 Mw turbines have a search area radius of only 75 meters. The comparison between these turbines reveals that the new 1 MW turbines have a 20.65 times greater rotor sweep(Kill Zone), yet their search areas were only increased by 2.2 times. By my calculations the search areas should have been many times larger. There is good reason bird mortality went down per KW of power production in these studies, the search areas are proportionally much smaller.

    Being a Wildlife biologist with decades of observations, I know as well as anyone the integrity of the wind industry. I have read their rigged Environmental Impact Reports and I have yet to see an honest one. In my opinion there should many going to jail for this ongoing fraud. If corporations would lie about the impacts to Condors, Whopping Cranes and Eagles, they would lie about anything, including energy projections. As it now stands with wind energy, the taxpayers and wildlife are the big losers.

    I will finish by saying that in order to keep all this in proper perspective one must keep in mind that state and federal renewable energy mandates that were written into law were created by this industry. The laws that absolve this industry from killing endangered
    species were also created by them. These deliberate actions created a demand for their products and enabled the industry to circumvent Federal Wildlife Laws. It is time to rethink what has taken place and acknowledge the terrible impact this industry will have on the world. New non-lethal turbine designs have to be put into production. If not, then there will be the inevitable extinction of several bird species in the near future.

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