MANITOWOC – The Manitowoc County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted against creating a moratorium on large wind turbines in the county.
The motion for the moratorium, which would have temporarily prevented construction of turbines with a capacity of more than 100 kilowatts, failed 14-8, with two supervisors absent and board chairman Paul Tittl abstaining because he owns stock in Broadwind Energy.
The ordinance was brought forward after the towns of Cooperstown, Mishicot and Two Creeks submitted petitions requesting the county enact a moratorium to allow time for the state Public Service Commission to establish statewide rules on the installation and use of wind energy systems or for a period of one year, whichever came first.
Town of Mishicot Board member Dean Anhalt said numerous residents have complained that wind turbines near their homes are affecting their well-being. Headaches, nausea, pressure in the ears and chest are some of the symptoms he said residents are experiencing.
“They’re worried about the health of themselves and their families,” he said.
Supervisor Paul Hansen said while he understands health concerns, he didn’t support the moratorium because he wants to see the scientific evidence about the effects of wind turbines to make a decision.
“There are health concerns for every type of energy we currently produce in this country,” he said. “There are concerns with coal plants. There is concern with gas and oil. There are nuclear concerns. We live on a planet where we make a judgment whether or not to accept that risk.”
Supervisor Kevin Behnke said he is in favor of the moratorium because it would prevent the county from having to redo its process for approving wind turbine construction in the future.
“The ordinance specifically only asks that we wait until the state comes up with their standards … because more than likely their standards are going to supersede any standards that we have in our current ordinance,” he said. “I’m not anti-wind.”
Kerry Trask, Manitowoc County Democratic Party chairman, spoke at the meeting, saying a moratorium would have sent the wrong message to businesses.
“This is an old issue, but I’m here tonight because I’m somewhat bewildered,” he said Monday. “Bewildered because we’re here at a time when we have a large number of our people who are underemployed or unemployed, a time when the economy remains slow. It does the wrong thing for the economic development of the county.”
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