[transcript by courtesy of Better Plan Wisconsin]
Hello everyone – This morning on the Morning Show with Bob Hoffmaster [Bob Nelson filling in], we’re going to spend some time talking to a group of residents from the Malone and Johnsburg area [Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin]. They’ll be appearing at the Marshfield town board, at 8:00 on Monday evening, and the group is concerned about – well – they have some issues with wind farms in the area. Let’s start out with Bruce first of all. Bruce, maybe you can just make some opening remarks, if you would.
Bruce: First, I’d like to thank you, Bob, for letting this group come into the show and inform other residents regarding the concerns that we have been continuously dealing with the wind turbines and the town board: television reception, noise, Flight for Life, setbacks, just numerous situations that have been forced on the residents in the area … and as we stand right now, we are in desperate need of the town board, local, and state government to step forward and make major decisions on behalf of the residents, to see that not only us, who are affected already, but other local communities, do not get into the same situation that we have been forced into.
And we actually have been forced into this. We’ve asked for referendums regarding these circumstances and we were turned down, straight out, point blank.
And we’re asking for the residents in the nea by area to come forward to this meeting so that they can be educated about the circumstances that we are forced to deal with.
And these things are not going to go away. They are here to stay. This is a life-term commitment to the residents that has devastated numerous things in our life and we need to have the other residents in the surrounding areas be aware of what they could possibly be looking forward to from the wind farm developers.
Bob: You already have the wind turbines there – why speak out now?
Bruce: How I see it, we’ve been bamboozled from day one. The wind farm developers snuck around, got gag orders signed from farmers, for the last – probably close to three years. Our town board never informed us properly of the possible situations; investigations were never done about the possible and known problems that could exist.
And for the residents, including me, the noise is just horrendous. I got one 1,012 feet from my house and three to four nights a week I am woken up on a regular basis. The noise, the shadow flicker, the health issues, low frequencies – these things are devastating and they’ve just destroyed my livelihood out there in what used to be a peaceful – you open the window at night – beautiful landscape. And that is no longer possible.
Bob: We also have Chris, Larry, Jim, and Elizabeth with us and maybe if one of you wants to talk – Bruce had mentioned the shadow flicker do any of you – alright, Chris, maybe you could talk about the impact that’s having on you and on your life.
Chris: That issue directly affects my life. In about two weeks it will really being affecting my home. What shadow flicker is basically it’s when the sun rises up in the morning and gets right behind the blades. The blades kind of cut out the sunlight, if you will, and create this shadowing effect. So when you’re inside a home or even on the property it’s as if there is a strobe light going on. And it can occur for about two hours. That’s what I’ve experienced. You can’t tolerate it. I can’t tolerate it. Within a couple of minutes I become almost disoriented, nauseous, I have to leave the property.
Chris: No. I do not get the headaches. Some people have claimed that they do, but no, I do not get the headaches. Just the disorientation, dizziness, and the nausea. And it does take hours to recoup from that. It’s not like once you walk away, you’re good. It takes a few hours to recover from it.
Bob: Have you had to go to see a physician for any of those problems?
Chris: I have not. Because I’ve just opted to [no longer] be there when it’s occurring. I know what the problem is. But what am I to do? I can’t shut off the turbine.
Bob: Any of the rest of you have problems with the shadow flickering?
Jim: I’ve had shadow flickering happen. Generally it will happen for half an hour at a time. It wakes me up in the morning because it’ll come up with the sun. Very early in the morning for probably a good half of the year.
And I’ve also experienced my birds losing production and eggs and that kind of stuff. You can’t recoup from that. And how do you tell a bird to ignore it. You can’t. And I can’t be there to put a shade in front of it to block out the sunlight and then open the window back up, because I’d have to take a lot of time out of my day to run home from work and back to work again.
Bob: Bruce mentioned the noise. Do you find a problem with that, too?
Jim: Yeah. I’ve had a lot noise. During the summer I have to shut the windows and turn the air conditioning on to overcome the problem, and I take sleeping pills to help sleep at night.
Bob: You have anything to add over there, Elizabeth?
Elizabeth: Yes I do. This last week or so we’ve been getting a lot of grinding sound on the turbines. Along with the wind. I woke up from a dead sleep, and I couldn’t get back to sleep anymore. It is just – I don’t know what word to use to describe the noise that it makes. And it’s just continuous. It just doesn’t stop at all.
Bob: Does it cause any kind of electrical problems at all?
Elizabeth: Not that we’re aware of yet. We have a lot of problems with our TV. I have yet to watch TV without being interrupted. There are times it will black out, and I’ll call Dave, Dave Ransom, to come and fix it, and he’ll tell me to reboot it and I have to disconnect it for twenty minutes and then I can watch my TV show again. But in that twenty minutes, I miss my TV show. So, yes.
Bob: Is that a satellite?
Elizabeth: Yes. I had just [one dish] up and that was not good. So he put two more up. And he thought that would take care of the problem. But that didn’t take care of the problem either. So he put in another receiver, and he said that should take care of it. Well, that hasn’t either.
The other day, Monday, I was watching the weather and the screen just turned all yellow. Then it came back in a few minutes again. That was it.
Bob: Larry, we haven’t heard from you yet. Maybe you want to pipe in.
Larry: I live out there also and I’ve got towers on all four sides of me. We did have a lot of trouble with the TV. He has fixed it. It seems to be working now. We get the flicker – just to get a perspective on the flicker, if you’ve driven down a road with a bunch of trees next to it and the sun is coming through the trees and it’s an on/off thing – that’s what the flicker is, but with 1.4-second frequency. You get the shadow for a jiffy and then the light and then the shadow and the light. It’s very distracting.
Bob: It doesn’t sound like you’re going to get much time to talk to the town board about what you want to say. If you had the chance to do that here, what would you tell them? Who wants to start? Bruce?
Bruce: Regarding the town board. I don’t know if they have been bamboozled as much as we have. I know some officials on our town board do in fact have wind turbines on their property, which the town board has to realize is a serious issue. And we’re hoping that the town board, [and town boards] local and statewide, sees to it that [there is no] possibility of the town board being biased in any way shape or form for or against future wind turbines and the possibility of more coming into the area. They should not be allowed to vote for the wind turbine project to be developed. This must go to a referendum to the residents in the area. Along with: when we do have an issue, we’re begging the town board to please help us.
We need to come to them for help because when we call the wind farm developer, WE energy, we get shuffled around, we have to make long distance phone calls on a regular basis, then we get shuffled from them – this is the problem with the TV issue: OK, we’ll come out, take a look at it, he’ll sit and watch TV for three hours, OK, then he’ll change one wire around, OK, then he wants to come back and sit and watch TV again. I’m on my third receiver.
There’s absolutely no sense of what we the residents have to put up with when the town board virtually forced us, with no opposition whatsoever, no say [from us] – now we’re coming to the town board for their help. And I hope and pray they will give us the time that we deserve. And honestly, deep down inside, understand that this is an issue that is not going to go away.
Bob: Who is actually benefiting from the electricity produced by the wind turbines?
Bruce: Numerous stories that I was told – about who’s actually benefiting – we could talk for hours regarding that. The farmers are benefiting. They’ve signed contracts to lease the land to the wind farm developer. So they are benefiting, but they are losing just as much as we are because they have to tolerate everything that we have to tolerate, let alone the loss of their crops for the mega-driveways they put in and the turbine land itself. I don’t think they are benefiting as much as they should have benefited, like the turbines down south, the farmers down there are benefiting close to twice as much as the farmers around where we are.
We’re not looking to benefit, as residents here. We discussed this as residents. We just want the things that are broke to be fixed.
And according to my understanding, WE Energies, it is their responsibility to see that these things are fixed and they are not fulfilling their responsibility.
Bob: I don’t know what kind of remedy you guys are trying to get. Are you asking the board to kind of act on your behalf?
Bruce. Yeah. I think an awesome solution would be the town board has to step in and put someone in the middle between the town board and WE Energies to oversee the issues and be a separate entity to go around and get actual true facts from people and go to WE Energies and say these are the problems, these are the issues from this person, this person, this person. And these are on record and we need something done to remedy this. And that has to be followed through by the town board to keep a regular agenda of the issues … so that they don’t fall through the cracks.
I believe, I honestly believe, they think we’re just going to forget about this and we’re going to go away. Well. We’re not going to go away. We’re there just as long as the wind turbines are.
Bob: Have you tried to approach any of our state legislators about this?
Bob: Yes sir. Senator Leibham has come to a meeting in Pipe. A very nice gentleman. He understands our issues. He’s been on numerous visits to our area. He is working on legislation to make certain ordinances law, which they have to be. Setbacks are huge. I have documentation from WE Energy that states none of their employees are allowed to be within 1300 feet from a wind turbine that is running. If one of the turbines catches fire, anyone within 1300 feet is mandatorily evacuated. I have documentation right straight from them.
… And I don’t see how – If they don’t feel their employees are safe within 1300 feet from any running wind turbine – they can allow to have these things 1,000 feet from someone’s house. It just don’t make sense. Let alone, you got kids running around out playing in the yard. Possibility of ice throw that’s been documented. Wildlife has been destroyed around us. This whole thing has – I think WE Energies has opened up a huge can of worms. They did not, were not aware of all the issues that [have] arisen. You know. We’re not here to beat up WE Energies or the town board. We just want the issues repaired. That’s the only thing we’re asking for.
Bob: Again, the meeting is Monday night at eight, Marshfield town board, and where do they hold their meetings?
Bruce: They generally only have a very small crowd. It might be just the board or maybe a maximum of five people attending. This is the reason we appreciate you having us on here. Surrounding areas, in my opinion, it’s mandatory you come to this meeting, and find out how these things can devastate your life, not just by the sound and shadow flicker and wildlife going away, but in this economy, Bob, it’s hard to identify the loss of value of a property, but if you’ve got property, a similar house, we’ve got documentation from people saying they ain’t gonna build or buy anyone’s house near a wind turbine. To prove it now with the economy it’s hard to do. Common sense tells you that if you’re living a thousand feet from a wind turbine that sounds like a jet on a regular basis, they’re not going to buy the house. You’re going to have to drop the value of your house twenty, thirty thousand dollars to get rid of it.
Bob: Again, where is the meeting going to be?
Bruce: It’s the Marshfield town board meeting and it’s in the Town of Mt. Calgary, it’s on the east side of town, on Fond du Lac Avenue, the address is 999 Fond du Lac Avenue, I believe. At the fire station.
Bob: Before we wrap things up any of you want to add something, maybe I didn’t ask a question you wanted to bring up?
Chris: I’d like to just add onto what Bruce is saying. Basically, what we are trying to do is raise awareness. When we talk to people that are not from the area, they are surprised that they make noise. “Really, the wind turbines make noise?” They are just so surprised at that. We want to make clear to the residents, too, that we were never told about Flight for Life not being able to land as they once were. We were told there would be minimal interference with our televisions and radios, and it’s obviously different than we were told. And we’re hoping that people who are having problems, or are not aware of the Flight for Life issue, that’s a huge issue – we hope they’ll come out and just listen to Bruce and some of us talk and maybe learn something.
Larry: We were also not informed about the red lights. And I suppose they can see that from town, maybe. But out there it’s pretty obnoxious.
Bob: You mean on top of the turbines?
Larry: They’re not on top of all of them, but they are around the perimeter. We were also informed that the sound would be equivalent to a refrigerator in your bedroom. Well, I don’t have a refrigerator in my bedroom, but the towers are a lot noisier than the one I have in my kitchen.
Bob: Jim you look like you wanted to add something there, so we’re gonna throw it to you for a second here.
Jim: We’ll, I do a lot of work in my shop at home and the biggest problem for me is the radio reception, because now I cannot listen to some of my favorite radio programs. Like I said, TV reception, I’ve had people looking at my TV receiver for the dish and there’s no fix for it. And what kind of life will you live if you’re not able to enjoy your homes value?
Bob: Elizabeth, you want to pipe in one last time?
Elizabeth: Yes I would. I was wondering, if we have all this interference, how are we going to get any signals through when there is a distress time? You know, if we had a tornado or something? I don’t get the waves coming through to have my TV or, like you said, even the radio. How are we going to get anything to take care of that? What are we going to have for that? What will we need?
Bob: Do you have sirens in the area?
Elizabeth: Yes we do.
Bob: Can you hear them over the wind turbines?
Elizabeth: I don’t know.
Bob: Well let’s hope you don’t find out this coming spring and summer.
Elizabeth: But I would like to know an answer to my question.
Bob: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being on the show.