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Strict standards vital for Whitley wind plant  

Credit:  Stanley Crum, The Journal Gazette, www.journalgazette.net 10 December 2010 ~~

Whitley County Concerned Citizens, a not-for-profit corporation, is a rapidly growing grass- roots organization working for a properly designed ordinance to govern wind power generation in Whitley County.

Such an ordinance must “… promote the public health, safety, comfort, convenience, morals and general welfare,” according to Whitley County’s overarching Zoning Ordinance, Basic Provisions 1.4 B.

The wind ordinance must ensure that “residential areas provide healthful surroundings for family life” by establishing a minimum tower setback of 4,500 feet from homes.

John Doster, project director for Wind Capital Group (which hopes to build a Whitley County wind farm), states that 1,000 feet is the “industry” setback standard. He does not acknowledge that it is not the “ordinance” standard. In the United States, Canada, England, France, Sweden and other countries, a simple average setback is 4046 feet because of a group of proven health difficulties known collectively as wind turbine syndrome. These difficulties include insomnia, induced migraine headaches, nausea, blurred vision, dizziness and irritability, as well as a host of problems for children and adults with seizure disorders, autism and the like. These symptoms are caused by the continual low-frequency sound that wind turbines emit.

Wind turbine syndrome is so prevalent that communities all over Wisconsin have established temporary moratoriums on new wind power installations while setbacks are increased from the 1,000-foot industry standard to as much as 1 1/4 miles. Such setbacks would ensure sound levels at occupied buildings of 35 decibels at night and 45 decibels during the day. They would also prevent shadow flicker from entering homes.

Doster has compared turbine noise to a refrigerator producing 50 decibels. However, a refrigerator does not emit the very low frequencies emitted by a turbine. The industry standard for measuring turbine sound levels ignores these low frequencies that cause wind turbine syndrome. The Whitley County wind ordinance must require World Health Organization-recommended sound measurement standards which take low frequencies into account on all wind turbine noise. Measuring the low frequencies aids in preventing wind turbine syndrome. Without this prevention, no ordinance can ensure “that residential areas provide healthful surroundings for family life.”

The ordinance must meet the needs of agriculture. It must preserve this primary industry in rural Whitley County by requiring any industrial wind generation installation to place turbine towers in geometric alignment to allow for the crop-dusting procedures presently in use. In addition, the ordinance must prohibit stray electrical currents associated with wind power installations since they pose a threat to people and livestock.

The ordinance must protect personal property values. National studies establish that property values fall from 30 percent to 100 percent when wind turbines are installed within 3 1/2 miles. Turbines even render some property unsellable. The ordinance must commit the installer of wind power generation facilities to covering this loss of property value. The current zoning ordinance highly regards aesthetics in Whitley County, and it is industrial wind power’s adverse effects on aesthetics and health that result in the loss of property value.

Noise from the turbine blades and ground vibration drive wildlife from the areas around wind power facilities, thus destroying habitats and severely upsetting natural biomes. Any ordinance must require that environmental studies of effects on wetlands, wildlife habitats and endangered species be completed and negative effects prevented before construction can be allowed.

Whitley County Concerned Citizens agrees with David Sewell, executive director of planning and building for Whitley County, and joins in his conviction that an ordinance regulating wind power must be in place before any project proposal is considered. We offer the foregoing considerations – just a few among many – and advocate for a well-considered ordinance specific to Whitley County and based on current research and the experiences of counties and countries elsewhere, and not on industry standards alone.

Stanley Crum is a member of Whitley County Concerned Citizens. He wrote this for The Journal Gazette.

Source:  Stanley Crum, The Journal Gazette, www.journalgazette.net 10 December 2010

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

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