The Big Sky wind farm in north-central Bureau County is disrupting daily life for an Ohio couple.
Todd and Deb Anderson addressed the Bureau County Board Tuesday with complaints of poor television reception since the activation of the wind turbines that have been erected around their home this year, prompting board members to discuss imposing a moratorium on future wind farm developments in the county.
Todd Anderson said he started noticing problems with his TV reception in early October.
“It seemed to correlate with turning on the wind turbines. It was off and on in the beginning, but toward the end of the month, by the time they had most of them on, it became pretty much a 24/7 problem,” he said.
“I used to get probably 10 or 12 channels till they started turning them on. Now I get one or two and that’s on a good day.”
By mid-November, the Andersons had started making calls to the wind farm developers to complain and were passed from one person to another. They were told that the developers knew of the problem and were conducting a three-week study. Later, the Andersons heard there would have to be another three-week study.
“I’ve been without TV for two and a half months. It gets pretty old,” Todd Anderson said.
Deb Anderson also brought up a safety hazard posed by her household’s poor TV reception. When a tornado was approaching Princeton a few weeks ago, she said, she was watching the storm move in on TV. Her son attends school in Princeton and she was supposed to pick him up around the time the storm was moving through the area. When the wind shifted, her TV lost reception.
“I had no idea what the safety of, you know, anybody was because I didn’t have television. Yes, I could have turned on my radio, but you know what, I shouldn’t have to do that. I should have television,” she said
Todd Anderson asked the board to “shut them (Big Sky) down to get their attention” and to “tighten up” the contracts with wind farms in the county to hold them accountable for any problems that may be associated with their construction and operation.
Later in the meeting, board member Marc Wilt continued to discuss the zoning ordinances related to wind farms and board chairman Dale Anderson advised the zoning committee to take up the issue at its next meeting.
“Judging by the letters that I have received, the phone calls I have received, the people that have stopped me on the street, I think our ordinances are a total failure in protecting the people of this county. I think we need to have a total overhaul of our ordinances that pertain to windmills,” Wilt said.
“Two other counties have issued moratoriums and have stopped issuing permits to wind farms, and I think … it’s high time we took a long look at what we have done to this county and what may happen in the future.”
Zoning director Kris Donarski said that when she receives a complaint about a wind farm, she relays that concern to the company, which must start taking action within two weeks. In the case of the Andersons’ complaint against Big Sky, the wind farm developers have taken action by hiring a consultant to conduct a study, Donarski said.
Another wind farm, Crescent Ridge, has been causing problems for the county board as well. The county is currently involved in litigation with developer Iberdrola Renewables over road agreements, but board member Joe Bassetti said there have also been wind turbines and meteorological towers erected where they weren’t supposed to be.
Board member Marshann Entwhistle asked about prohibiting future wind farm development in Bureau County until the county can address its current wind-related problems and study their impact.
“I really think that this county needs to put a moratorium on any future wind farms going into this county. If you drive around this county, it’s really looking pretty bad,” Entwhistle said.
State’s attorney Patrick Herrmann said the board could not pass a moratorium during Tuesday’s meeting and would have to wait until a future meeting when the topic could be added to the agenda and reasons for the moratorium could be fully presented.
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