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Guest Column: Senate bill threatens county choices on wind
Editor’s note: Richard Boris, president/mayor of the Village of Lee, located south of Rochelle and DeKalb on the Lee/DeKalb county line, has a unique and extensive view on industrial wind development in rural areas. His efforts have resulted in a ban on wind development within 1.5 miles of his village; however, Lee and DeKalb counties have allowed wind development.
Boris is tireless in his opposition to the industrialization of our natural and rural areas by foreign wind developers on the basis of economic, safety and health concerns. This paper’s editorial position is one of opposition to big wind development ruining our rural character on many levels and assaulting our environment on just as many levels.
Don’t be “green-washed” by these invasive mega-towers that kill bats and birds, threatening the web of life. Please go to www.wind-watch.org to see the extensiveness of the damage caused by these massive power plants that could be in the county-side next to a forest preserve near you. — Frank Schier, editor and publisher
By Richard Boris
President/Mayor of the Village of Lee
Lee County Board members:
Attached as a PDF file is a two-page letter to the Senate Energy Committee on H.B. 5814; in my judgment, this letter raises some issues of significance relative to wind turbines setbacks, etc., that have been approved.
This e-mail is being sent to you from a different e-mail address because the e-mail account I have been using has been blocked by Microsoft; by some strange coincidence, the next day, after I sent this letter to the Senate Energy Committee and I tried to access my e-mail, I could not because my account was blocked, apparently because of some unusual activity on it, as detected by Microsoft.
My apologies for the delay in getting this e-mail to you.
In the service of Willow Creek and all County residents.
Editor’s note: Text of Boris’ two-page letter to the Senate Energy Commission follows.
My elected position and the three years of experience I have relating to the siting, and the impact of industrial wind turbines, etc., “requires” me to raise the following premises and issues as a form of mutual aid to legislators and governmental entities and citizens.
1. The Senate Sponsor, the original House Sponsor, the members of Senate Energy Committee and representatives of other House and Senate committees should be thanked for their concern relative to protecting the health, safety and property values of citizens and property owners of this State; hopefully, that is the primary concern of legislators as contrasted with benefiting wind farm companies & advocates.
2. As I understand it, this bill provides the setback from the property line; that would be an improvement over the setback of some approved wind farms in Illinois that have measured setback from the foundation homes of (non-participating) residents; in many cases the county-approved setback protrudes into the property of others (and public property) and decreases its value and increases exposure of the family members and their animals to sound nuisances, possible health issues, and safety concerns, etc.
3. The name-plate capacity of wind turbines is continuing to increase as is the height of turbine towers, the length of the blades, and the overall height; I understand that the sounds emanated by wind turbines also increase (including high-frequency sound most humans hear and low-frequency sound humans do not hear but which penetrates buildings). One setback does not fit all sizes of turbines!
4. From the Vestas Safety Regulations for Operations and Technicians for a V90 — 3.0 MW/V100 — 2.75MW dated 2006-009-11 on attached page 3 of 32 under #2 states: “Do not stay within a radius of 400M (1300 ft.) from the turbine unless it is necessary. …” (Is it OK for children to play within 1300 feet?) Another quote from Vestas publication HSE035 R00 dated 2005-Sep-26 on attached page 3 of 4 under 6.1.3: “If icing conditions are suspected, do not approach within 1,000 feet (305 meters) of any turbine while it is running. …”
5. While these sources may be out-of-date and may not refer to the turbines that have been or will be installed in Illinois, a question of value is what organization has responsibility and bears the legal liability for ensuring that all manufacturers’ warnings are being adhered to relative to a minimum setback? Also, who is responsible to ensure that property owners near turbines including contractors and workmen and citizens are provided with adequate related safety information? Should a Safety data-sheet be required?
6. By the State of Illinois setting one fixed minimum setback for “all” sizes of turbines, is the State then assuming health and other liability issues that the wind companies and turbine manufacturers should bear, and which should also be a required contract condition of all governmental bodies?
7. I was advised that (only) municipalities with zoning and a comprehensive plan can increase the approved setback. One premise that arises is that if H.B. 5814 is approved as it is currently drafted, county governments, Farm Bureaus and wind companies, etc. will use this setback for leverage to conclude that this is the maximum safe setback needed, as determined by the State of Illinois for wind turbines of all sizes, and no government authority should attempt to establish a larger setback. Whatever the intentions of the legislation, will this be a significant unintended consequence?
8. An earlier draft of this legislation indicated that it would amend the 65 ILCS 5 Section 11-13-26 which states: “a municipality may regulate wind farms and electric-generation wind devices within its zoning jurisdiction and within the 1.5-mile radius surrounding its zoning jurisdiction …”; that amendment language has been removed from the bill. I was also advised that the attached Sept. 30, 2010, Illinois Attorney General letter would not hold up.
9. I am not an attorney, but it appears that this legislation is an indirect (back-door?) way to amend the above-referenced law by “superseding” and effectively limiting its scope to apply only to municipalities that have zoning and a Comprehensive Plan. In addition, this bill nullifies the above-referenced Attorney General letter authored by the Chief of the Environmental Bureau upon which some municipalities have used to pass ordinances that required investments of time, money, and a public hearing. If this legislation is approved, what effect does it have on municipalities without zoning that have approved ordinances that have established a greater setback than 1,400 feet based on the above-cited statute and the letter from an Attorney General bureau chief? Also, shouldn’t notice be provided to the Attorney General’s office?
10. I was going to testify in support of S.B. 167 when I came to Springfield several months ago, but the bill was postponed. In my judgment, S.B. 167 should be approved to amend the above statute to make it clear that all municipalities, even those without zoning, should have the authority that the above statute provides to apparently all municipalities.
11. In my judgment, only allowing a 1,400-foot setback for municipalities without zoning is the equivalent of giving those communities a death sentence; wind turbines create adverse conditions for agri-business and other commercial and residential development. Turbines create economic development dead-zones that could quickly land-lock municipalities and promote the loss of residents including school-age children from rural schools and likely the slow death of the community. As the adverse effects of turbines become more widely known, it appears likely the turbines will contribute to blight because informed decision-makers will likely only find minimal infrastructure investments and maintenance of buildings near wind turbines. In addition, across the world there are similar reports of sleep deprivation and persons who have abandoned their primary investment, that is, their homes (with a likely result of more rural mortgages going “upside-down,” more foreclosures & bankruptcies, declining property assessments and EAV) etc. etc.
12. What is needed is an objective third party Performance Audit of Wind Energy to evaluate how effectively the National and State of Illinois objectives are or are not being met, coupled with a comprehensive review of the federal and state costs and benefits and the long-term impact on our economy and electrical energy costs. What little information is made public is primarily projected and estimated benefits that some call “puffing”; where is any actual net data and reports on net electrical energy provided to our electrical grids, etc. to support and evaluate the claims?
13. In a time of the greatest economic decline since the Depression, why is wind energy being awarded billions of $ while basic federal and state services are being cut? In Illinois, wind energy is a PART-TIME and primarily a night-time energy source that cannot reliably meet daytime peak-load energy needs. I have been informed that Illinois, most hours of the month, is an electrical energy exporter. Shouldn’t the replacement of our aging power plants that can operate 24/7 and reliably serve peak daytime electrical loads take precedence over funding an intermittent part-time energy source?
CC: State Senator Pam Althoff, State Rep. Joe Sosnowski, Mr. Joe Schatteman & other IML staff, et. al.
Mr. Thomas Davis & Ms. Lisa Madigan, Office of the Attorney General
Letter to Illinois Senate Energy Committee from Richard.W.B.@Hotmail.com
From the May 9-15, 2012, issue