Area wind farms were the big topic during the Tuesday evening Livingston County Board Ag and Zoning Committee meeting.
Chuck Schopp, Planning Commission administrator, discussed the Streator-Cayuga Ridge South Wind Project’s post-construction wildlife monitoring report.
“This was a condition of the approval (of the wind farm construction) that the study be done,” Schopp explained.
He summarized the report, which explained how the study was done and how the conclusions were made.
“Two things to point out are the regional bat and bird fatalities,” he said. “Cayuga Ridge as a whole had the second-lowest amount of bird fatalities as compared to all the wind farms that were part of the study. It was mid-range for bats.”
Going along with the topic of the wind farms, during public comment, Judy Campbell, county board member and also president of the Livingston County Environmental Association, reviewed the results of the Wind Turbine Health Study that was done during the summer of 2011.
She said an intern from Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, designed the survey and conducted the interviews. The study was paid for by the LCEA and included an area inside the boundaries of the Streator-Cayuga Ridge South wind farm and a control area in southwestern Livingston County that has no wind turbines.
Campbell said the federal government had been funding industrial wind energy for years but had never done an official study of the health impacts of industrial wind on people living near turbines.
“We decided that we should survey our own residents to see how they were doing,” she said.
About 90 homes were visited in each area with only adults above the age of 18 answering general health questions, control surveys, income and educational attainment rates.
The results show that wind farm residents are more likely to report heart palpitations, fatigue, anxiety, sleep disturbances, migraines, depression, vertigo, nausea, menstrual changes and other reproductive problems. Also, people living nearer turbines reported more symptoms than those living farther away.
Carolyn Gerwin, who is also a member of the LCEA and candidate for county board, pointed out that researchers considered this report statistically insignificant for wind energy in general because of the smaller population of the area, but the LCEA hopes that the survey can be administered to other wind projects so that enough data is gathered to permit experts to reach statistically significant conclusions regarding the health impacts of industrial wind energy projects.
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