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Local commentary: Industrial wind turbine rules must be re-examined

How would you feel if you and your kids started feeling sick? What if you, your wife, or your kids suddenly started having headaches, earaches, nausea, dizziness, and couldn’t sleep well anymore. In your own home. And you knew it wouldn’t go away?

This is the experience some people have with Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs). They’re nearly twice as tall as the state capitol building, and some are built too close to people’s homes. Wind turbines aren’t necessarily a bad thing; we should just make sure they aren’t making people sick.

Some people experience very serious symptoms like high blood pressure, tinnitus, ear pressure, vertigo, visual blurring, heart arrhythmia, irritability, problems with concentration and memory, even panic attacks when they are near IWTs. They emit high levels of low frequency noise that make people sick. When these people are not around IWTs, their symptoms vanish. It’s not hard to connect the dots.

At least three families from my district have abandoned the homes where they were raising their children and planned to retire because IWTs have made them sick. These houses sit empty now; no one wants to buy them, and these families are stuck paying two mortgages.

You may be asking yourself why wind farm developers are allowed to build IWTs so close to people’s houses. So close that it makes them sick? Why doesn’t the government prevent this?

By law, IWTs are regulated by the Public Service Commission (PSC). The Doyle PSC appointed a Wind Siting Council to create rules regulating safe setbacks for wind turbines. These rules eventually became PSC 128. The problem is, PSC 128 doesn’t protect families from harm because the Wind Siting Council was largely filled with wind farm developers and connected interests.

State statutes expressly say the PSC was supposed to take possible health effects caused by the IWTs into consideration when writing their rules. Sadly, this didn’t happen.

Amazingly, the council didn’t even have a qualified medical expert on the panel and numerous peer-reviewed studies showing how IWT’s make people sick were ignored. My office has a stack of these studies – it’s over a foot tall.

The only doctor on the panel, Javon McFaddon, a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, stated that he did not feel comfortable answering questions about the negative health effects caused by IWTs because he was not an expert in the field. It’s really no wonder people are having problems.

We’re not here to point fingers and assign blame. We’re here to fix a problem.

That’s why my office is asking that PSC 128 be suspended until new regulations that protect innocent people from IWTs are created. To do that, we need to create a new Wind Siting Council that gives normal people a place at the negotiation table and includes medical experts who understand how to keep people from getting sick. We need a wind siting council with fewer wind developers and more concerned citizens.

I really don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Frank Lasee is a Republican state senator from DePere and represents the First District, which includes the northern part of Manitowoc County.