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Life with Industrial Wind Turbines in Wisconsin: Part 3  

Author:  | Impacts, Videos, Wisconsin

By courtesy of Rock County Tax-Payers for a Better Renewable Energy Plan

Interview with Don Sampson, who leases his land for a wind turbine, Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin. See transcript below (again, thanks to Better Plan).

[ Click here to view or download the entire “Wisconsin Wind” video (1 hr 49 min) ]

“This thing came up here– you know, they do a lot of tramping around and do tests.

And they apparently found this to be a good windy area –I think the big attraction was that Horicon Marsh is 30 miles long. And that lays about eight miles west of here, and it’s about ten miles wide and it’s about a good thirty miles long.

What they told us was the winds start to pick up over that big marsh and there’s a pretty good wind over here on this east side of the marsh. So they proposed to build over in this area here, more close to the marsh, but then, what they call “The Marsh Advocates” they put up a great big stink. And they said the turbines are going to kill the birds, the geese and the birds, and also the bats. There’s some old coal mines down there- the steel mines, and there’s a bunch bats in there, they say there’s thousands of them in there– and they’re afraid they’re going to kill the bats.

And they got an organization. They call it the Horicon Marsh Advocates, and they fought this like crazy.

They delayed this thing for a couple years. They fought like crazy. And they spent a lot of money. But they lost. I think they lost because of big power and big money. But then when it come down to the end, in the final phase now, they can build this side of the marsh but they have to stay two miles from the marsh. Which is where they are now.

Q: Originally, did they want to be closer to the marsh?

I think so. I think they felt that when the winds come up over the marsh, it was strong by the marsh. Because the other day– I just talked to them now– in Brownsville, and they got 88 of them put up. But they want to put up another 22. But they prefer to build closer to the marsh. So I think they are going to be pushing on that.

I think the other obstacle was these city people come out here to build homes. They bought an acre of land and they built a home and they don’t want to be disturbed. And of course they don’t like that change.

Part of it is the change and part of it is the money. I think the money is the biggest one. The money us farmers are going to get for the turbines. It bugs them. Severely, I think. Because they don’t have enough land. Unless you have – well we only have 80 acres here– but unless you some land where the turbine is at least a thousand feet from a building, you can’t build.

Q: How many feet?

A thousand feet.

Q. Where did they come up with that?

That’s their general rule. Now some people have them closer than a thousand feet from their own buildings, but they have to be a thousand feet from somebody elses.

Q. Do you think– I guess in your opinion, do is a 1000 feet is a good setback?

It isn’t any too much.
Because my tower up here on the hill is a thousand feet from Hickory road here. A guy built a new home there in the woods. And he’s made a hell of a stink. He’s filed a written complaint and he’s really fighting it right now.

Q Is he a thousand feet away?

Yeah. And he claims it’s noisy and it aggravates him.

Q Do you notice any noise here?

You can hear it.

Q What does it sound like?

Sounds like a jet plane.

Q Sounds like a jet plane?

With a little whirl to it (imitates the noise).

Mainly you won’t hear it unless the wind is blowing towards our house. If the blowing the other way you don’t hear it. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t consider it very significant. I would consider it– it’s something I think that as time passes you won’t even notice it.

Q This type development– it you had to stack up some of the pros and the cons– what are the pros and cons of this development?

Well, the pros are– it certainly brings money into the community. We are going to get fifty-five hundred a year. Now–some I guess are getting more than that. They’re going to pay us twice a year now. We’re going to get our first check on August 15– won’t get full six months because they say ours was commissioned on the 7th of March so it will probably be about four and a half months. But then after that it will be a full half. But then it’s going up I guess a couple percent a year. I think two percent per year.

They are very very good– about– they bend over backwards with their P.R. program. And the are bending over backwards to help the people and pay us right. Right now they got a bunch of meetings they are going to pay us for our land that they destroyed. Right now on top of the hill where they put mine in they determined there were 5.3 acres of cover that was destroyed, that was sod and I’m going to get $2,544 for that.

The biggest reason I’m all for it is it’s clean. It’s clean as it can be. Probably the only ones that are as clean are solar power and water power. And I would lean that way personally. For solar or water power.

I think they could do more with that. But I definitely in favor of the whole thing because I think we should get off this oil kick. We burn way too much oil.

Q. You mentioned change,and when there is change in a community– that’s kind of disruptive. Can you comment at all on how that change has impacted the community? Has it been a positive?

No it’s– in general my neighbors are a little sour to me about it. Yeah, my neighbor up the road he was always stopping in here every couple of weeks. He hasn’t been here in six months. He’s mad because I got that tower. And that other ones still got a big sign– says “A good neighbor would not put up a turbine”. And this neighbor over here (pointing) he’s bitching to other people. But in town I haven’t heard too much.

Q Why do you think they’re mad?

They’re mostly jealous. Jealousy. Because they said farmers are greedy. That’s the general idea they have. That farmers are greedy.

This article is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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