The Calumet County Board of Supervisors meeting last Tuesday, May 20 drew a crowd of about 80 people who were there not so much to listen to the regular proceedings of the meeting but to the presentations given by individuals on both sides of the wind turbine issue.
Before the initial debate among supervisors came up regarding if all five presentations regarding the wind turbine issue would be allowed to go forth as on the agenda, three individuals who signed up to speak gave their testimony.
Between the public participation speakers and the formal presentations, the controversy over wind turbines appears to be continuing. From for to against, and points of contention in between, the underlying message of all speakers seemed to be that all forms of renewable energy need to be considered but researched more carefully for the impact on the local environment and residents.
Public speakers included a representative of Glacierland Resources Development Group as well as two residents of Fond du Lac County, which now has numerous operating wind turbines. Formal presentations were made by Bob Welch of CWEST, Tom Swierczewski of Midwest Wind Energy, Curt Bjurlin of EcoEnergy, Dan Hedrich of the ad hoc committee which advised on wind energy systems, and Ronald Dietrich of Calumet County Citizens for Responsible Energy.
One of the primary issues still being discussed in front of and by supervisors is what should be the minimally accepted distance from a wind turbine to human habitation. Given resources and statistics presented and based on usage in other parts of the country and countries in Europe, some companies contend 1,100 feet is adequate, while some governmental bodies have determined 1,800 feet or more is the minimally acceptable distance.
Complaints of people who live within range of turbines operating in Fond du Lac County include the shadow flicker when the propellers are in motion, the “swooshing” noise generated by the propellers in motion, and the loud humming sound of the unit itself, they said.
It has been determined by analysis and evaluation that the east side of Lake Winnebago along the slopes leading up to and along the ridge of the Niagara Escarpment is among the best sites in the state to reap the harvest of wind as a renewable resource. The area is also rich in natural history in that the escarpment runs from Wisconsin to western New York, and the county is also populated by farms and homes.
No official action was taken at the meeting concerning changing Calumet County’s wind ordinance as it presently stands.
By Stephen Groessel
TC News staff writer
28 May 2008
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