March 2, 2011

Wind farm complaints

KWQC-TV6, 1 March 2011

People crowded a meeting in Princeton, Illinois Monday night to express their concerns about wind farms. Residents packed into a meeting with the Bureau County Board of Appeals. Some want to put a stop to the proposed Walnut Ridge wind project. It would build 150 turbines over more than 15,000 acres and affect more than 75 landowners.

Others at the meeting are already surrounded by wind turbines from the Big Sky wind farm. They want the county and the companies to focus on issues caused by the current turbines. They complain that the turbines are noisy, cast flickering shadows that can cause seizures and even block television reception.

The Anderson family in rural Ohio, Illinois says it has turned their quality of life and turned it into living in an industrial park. THe nearest wind turbine is 1,750 feet from their home. Deb Anderson says ever since the turbines started running, their life hasn’t been the same.

“As the sun comes across the sky, it hits the turbine blades and causes this flicker,” she said.

Nearby homeowners say it can go on for hours. “When it first happened, we felt there was something wrong with the electricity because it felt like every light was blinking,”said Barb Draper.

“On, off, on, off as the blade caught the sun it made a very disturbing motion. It almost made you sick to your stomach.” added Bob Draper.

Another problem that came up after the turbines were turned on is with their TV reception. The family says it varies, depending on the direction of the blades. Some days, the family gets 15-20 channels. During our visit, they could only get in two.

On top of that there’s the noise that won’t go away. These property owners say they understand the benefits of the wind farms. But they’d like the problems fixed before more wind turbines come into the area.

The wind power company has put up two antennas on their house, but the family says they didn’t help. They company also offered them money to buy a better delivery system, like satellite TV.

Ryan Light in the Director of Renewable Energy for the Eastern Iowa Community College District. He says those are some of the drawbacks for people living near large wind farms.

“One effect we need to look at a little harder into is the flicker effect, which is the spinning of blades and shadow cast. For people with certain medical concerns it can cause seizures,” Light said.

He says there are companies working to alleviate the radio interference with a new kind of blade and there is more research being conducted on noise reduction systems.

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