Saturated is a word that has been used at meetings of the Bureau County Board and its Zoning Committee to clearly describe the overabundance of wind turbines in the Ohio area. In addition to the Big Sky group, the Walnut Ridge group and the proposed Mainstream group, a wind farm to the east covering the LaMoille to Ladd area is about to burst into the limelight. Wind turbines have a purpose, but this is overkill!
Complaints of noise, shadow flicker and interference with TV and cell phones have surfaced. The turbine people have not been honest when discussing the possible negative results of having these turbines near homes, leading one to believe there is never any noise; the flickering (if any) is only a few minutes a day; and there are no TV reception problems. Not true! Someone needs to put a stop to the placing of any more of these turbines in the Ohio area at least until those companies can demonstrate the ability and willingness to correct the problems they have caused. A moratorium?
Wind turbine complaints may or may not come from people who have signed the contract and have received $8,000 or more per year per turbine from the turbine company. It has been said the only ones complaining are those who have no turbines and are not getting the payments (“sour grapes?”). I know some who have signed and received the payments and are having problems but will not complain. Those who have the turbines on their land are well paid, however, some landowners refused to sign the contract partly because of their knowledge of problems experienced with other wind farms. Most of those who have the greatest flicker problems, noise or TV interference did not choose to be surrounded by these turbines. They were not allowed to decide if the setback from their home was great enough, and they cannot paint over the problem or refuse to take the offending medicine. They are stuck with these turbines in every direction from their homes, since once they are completed, they are there to stay; the companies have boasted of their sturdy build and the many feet of cement that were poured into the farmland to secure them. To allow them to continue constructing these turbines without having a successful remedy for problems they cause is unacceptable.
Money seemed to be all some could talk about, refusing to acknowledge the problems which exist. One gentleman commented that these turbines are needed to help the farmland owners in the area survive today’s economy. I do not know of any farmland owner who is suffering financially. The last few years have been good with a favorable grain market. Taking one acre out of a 114-acre farm does not seem to be very much; however, if they put up 114 turbines, that is the same as taking that entire 114-acre farm out of production for a rather long period of time. There are more than 114 turbines up and running now with many more proposed in the near future. Think of the many acres of good farmland taken out of production!
Decommissioning costs are impossible to predict. Turbines only last so long, and the companies claim to have funds set aside for this project. Who knows what labor costs will be in even 10 years from now, and who can predict the worth of the scrap metal? Do they really have funds set aside? Perhaps they will be obsolete in 15 years – then what? Farm rent of $8,000 per acre is unheard of. Perhaps “what seems to be too good to be true, is too good to be true.”
Union members employed by Big Sky showed up at some of these meetings, even picketing on the west side of the courthouse one evening. They bemoan the loss of their income if there is a moratorium. Most, here only for the duration of their employment, will leave the area moving on to a place where they will not be subjected to shadow flicker, TV interference or turbine noise. Is it our responsibility to provide employment for them?
Complaint form: Families began complaining in mid to late November 2010, not knowing about the complaint form required by the Bureau County Zoning Board. It was suggested people who had complaints should have notified the boards early on, when the board was considering issuing the “conditional use permits.” Since at that time none of the turbines were even up yet, how would anyone know they had a problem about which to complain? Several complaint forms have been received, and people with problems have spoken and provided pictures and video tapes at meetings; however, at this time none of their problems have been successfully remedied. If anyone has a complaint in either Bureau or Lee County, you need to request a complaint form from the zoning office in Bureau County by calling 815-875-1631. You have the right to enjoy your previous quality of life, and the turbine companies must be held accountable.
Marcia Ann Thompson
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