CARTHAGE, Mo. —
The proposal to build hundreds of wind turbines in northern Jasper County around Jasper is leaving Linda and Bob Boots with a dilemma.
On the one hand is the chance for tens of thousands of dollars a year in lease payments guaranteed for the next 20 years if they choose to let Iberdrola Renewables build a number of wind turbines on their 1,100 acres of farm and woodland on County Road 210 near Jasper.
The Boots say the company is looking into installing as many as seven or eight turbines on their land and leasing the property with the turbines on it from them for $6,000 to $8,000 per year for each structure.
On the other hand, the potential impacts, both known and unknown, of having a number of towers more than 200 feet tall, with rotating blades more than 140 feet long scything through the air and any birds that might be flying through their land.
“That’s a lot of money, but if you don’t like the looks of the land or if you go out and find dead birds, who cleans that up?” Linda Boots said. “The impact on wildlife and the impact on the health of individuals are my two biggest concerns. As far as the wildlife goes, a man in Wisconsin discovered the frogs in his pond disappeared after they installed wind turbines in his area. And I’m wondering about the impact on fish. There’s the mole, they say put these little windmills in to drive them out. This is like a huge version of that.”
Boots had a number of questions about something she had read about on the Internet called wind turbine syndrome.
When someone uses the internet search engine Google to search for the term, one of the first things that pops up is a book by that name in which Dr. Nina Pierpont writes about people living within a mile and a quarter of giant wind turbines getting so sick they had to leave their homes.
Pierpont claims in the book that turbine “infrasound and low-frequency noise,” caused a number of different symptoms in people living close to turbines.
Jeff Reinkmeyer, senior developer on the project to build what the company calls the Cripple Creek Project east of Jasper and the Fox Branch Project west of Jasper, said he doesn’t believe that wind turbine syndrome exists and he’s never heard of people getting sick near turbines.
“People are entitled and we totally expect and hope that people will go out and do their due diligence because it is a 30-50 year decision,” Reinkmeyer said. “This is a multi-generational decision and people need to go out and do their due diligence on this thing. What we ask is that when they are doing their due diligence, is that they do actually pay attention to the source of the information and the age of the information.”
Darrell Bell lives in the middle of the Cripple Creek Project and he sees the economic advantages to the project, but he has questions as well.
“Definitely this would be good economically,” Bell said. “I don’t think there is any doubt about that. I just don’t know about the affects of wind turbines on people. I’ve still got some concerns about that. You hear about some things but you don’t know if it’s from people who were disgusted because they didn’t cash in on the thing.”
Reinkmeyer said the project offers a chance for farmers to earn a steady income off their land.
“For a farmer, it’s supplemental income and it’s predictable supplemental income,” Reinkmeyer said. “These farmers live and die by the weather and different mitigating factors that are beyond their control, but I’ve heard people tell me after they’ve had these in place for a while, what it does for them is it gives them that base that they can depend on every year that helps ease the ebbs and flows that a farmer typically will see.”
Mark Russell, a farmer who could also benefit from the wind farm, said he sees the financial benefits for individuals and for the community.
“This project comes with some financial possibilities for individuals and for the Jasper schools,” said Russell, a cattle farmer who lives south of Jasper. “Especially for the Jasper schools because Jasper has no industrial base, no real service base. Jasper is a rural farm community.”
Kathy Fall, superintendent of the Jasper School District, attended the meeting, which was held at the high school cafeteria, to hear about the project.
She said the project could help her district with increased property values and a resulting increase in property tax revenue.
“It could help a bunch but it will be a while,” Fall said. “We’re excited about the possibility but we don’t want to count on it.”
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