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Clarifying wind farm information

On behalf of Town of Forest residents, I thank St. Croix County Health and Human Services board for its unanimous support regarding health concerns applicable to the Highland Wind project. While I believe the article in the New Richmond News was mostly accurate and balanced, I appreciate the opportunity to clarify a few statements.

I was quoted saying the Town of Forest was targeted for wind energy development “because the municipality is not governed by St. Croix County zoning rules.” The Forest Town Board will decide whether to adopt county or town zoning.

In reference to state wind siting rules of 1,250 feet from a residence, I was quoted as saying, “that some research indicated that such turbines should be as much as 2,000 feet away from a home.” I do not believe I said that since no scientific evidence exists that proves 1,250 feet or 2,000 feet is a safe distance to mitigate health issues from turbines.

Expert studies have concluded that low-frequency noise (think boom box) and electrical pollution (“stray” voltage) impact homes and livestock dwellings at much greater distances than 1,250 to 2,000 feet. The Congressional Research Service report dated June 20, 2008 for members of Congress, where only dBA noise levels were considered, states: “For residences over 1 kilometer (0.6 miles or 3,281 feet) from a wind turbine, noise is generally not an issue.”

St. Croix County Board Chairman Daryl Standafer stated he was “uncomfortable” with the action the board took, and he is not aware of any health issues surrounding wind turbines. Originally from Nobles County, Minn., Mr. Standafer indicated he hunts near wind turbines in that area. When asked how close turbines were to homes, Mr. Standafer replied most were “maybe” a mile or more, with one or two that were fairly near (homes).

Another question asked was: how tall are the turbines (in the project)? He answered he did not know because of a lack of reference (assuming to other structures.) While he saw no apparent reason to oppose wind energy project development, he is a firm supporter of local government. If the majority of people in Forest do not support the wind project, he would stand on their side. Thank you, Mr. Standafer, for your honest opinions.

A quote from Jay Mundinger, of Emerging Energies/Highland Wind, states, “recent studies indicate that there are no negative health effects of wind turbines near homes.” He cited one health study from the state of Massachusetts. However, not one panel expert in the Massachusetts study has had specific practical medical experience with patients or residents living in industrial-scale wind turbine projects.

Without federal tax dollars and increased electrical rates (almost 10 percent for Xcel customers so far), there would likely be no industrial wind projects in a marginal wind state such as Wisconsin. The residents of the Town of Forest are not likely the only ones that would pay a personal price if the Public Service Commission permits Highland Wind. So may all St. Croix County residents through tax dollars—and, perhaps, industrial wind turbines in more townships.

Brenda Salseg

Town of Forest