January 6, 2013

Environmental group says Jacque ‘misinterpreted’ Shirley Wind study

By Maria Amante | Press-Gazette Media | Jan. 6, 2013 | www.wisinfo.com

An environmental group that studied noise produced by wind turbines dismissed a state representative’s claim that “dangerous levels” of low-frequency noise were found at Shirley Wind Farm, and said he “misinterpreted” the study’s findings.

Clean Wisconsin, the group that conducted the study and advocates for clean energy, said Rep. Andre Jacque’s statement, which called for the Public Service Commission to suspend permitting for wind projects, was premature.

“You can’t conclude anything from that testing about what’s causing those people’s symptoms … it’s kind of like the jury’s out,” Clean Wisconsin general counsel Katie Nekola said. “I don’t think Representative Jacque was correct to say the study found dangerous noise levels, because clearly that’s not true … People’s concerns about health impacts should be taken seriously, but we can’t make up this idea that the test proved anything at all about (harmfulness of) wind turbine noise.”

The study was requested by the Public Service Commission, and four independent firms conducted the testing.

Scientists did not find low-frequency sound from wind turbines above the threshold of human hearing from nearby homes, said Tyson Cook, staff scientist at Clean Wisconsin, and added there are no peer-reviewed studies indicating negative health impacts from turbine sounds below the human hearing threshold.

Still, the primary recommendation from the study was to pursue additional testing.

Jacque, R-De Pere, said Clean Wisconsin is “certainly not unbiased” due to its strong support of the wind industry.

“The consensus opinion … is that these are serious issues that the (Public Service Commission) should immediately, on an urgent priority basis, commission further research,” he said. “This (study) affects, and could potentially jeopardize the future of the wind siting industry.”

David Hessler, one of the primary scientists on the study, said Jacque “mischaracterized” the findings.

“The reality is that no ‘dangerous levels of low frequency noise’ were verified,” Hessler said. “Although hypotheses were discussed by some team members, nothing was actually discovered that would explain to any degree the health complaints reported by residents … current indications are that the levels of low frequency noise from the project are quite low and nothing was found that would suggest a problem.”

Approximately 50 constituents submitted affidavits listing health effects, including ear infections, heart palpitations, muscle and joint pain, malaise and other symptoms.

Sen. Frank Lasee, R-De Pere, said his constituents are suffering from “harmful” symptoms as a result of their proximity to the Shirley Wind Farm.

“Several families with children have moved out of their homes,” Lasee said in a statement. “They have taken out second mortgages to afford a new place to escape the negative impacts on their health from (wind) farms in Glenmore.

“The pro-wind advocates are essentially calling these residents liars, and that the negative health impacts they have experienced are not in fact objective. Unlike the wind proponents, these families do not have an agenda.”

Jason Walls, a spokesperson for Duke Energy the owners and operators of Shirley Wind Farm, said they are reviewing the study but would not provide comment on it at this time.

“Our position on the Shirley project is that it provides, safe, clean reliable energy for customers of Wisconsin Public Service and operates in full compliance of all laws and ordinances,” he said.

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2013/01/06/environmental-group-says-jacque-misinterpreted-shirley-wind-study/