WALNUT – Katherine and Kendall Guither, who have lived on their farm for 35 years, like the quiet in the country. They don’t want to move.
Two years ago, the Big Sky wind farm went up in northern Bureau County. The Guithers can count 50 turbines from their property.
Their house is at one corner of their farm. Both of the farms next to their house have turbines – one within a quarter of a mile.
The Guithers say the turbines have drastically changed their lives. The noise is constant – either humming or pulsating.
They can’t keep the window open at night because the noise will keep them up, they say. So they have to rely on air conditioning, which Katherine, in particular, doesn’t like.
The level of the noise varies. It’s louder when it’s foggy and lower when the crops are further along because they absorb the sound, the Guithers say.
The owners of the next-door farms don’t have to worry about the wind farm’s noise. They don’t live there.
“They’re absentee landlords,” Katherine said.
Another wind energy company asked whether the Guithers were interested in having turbines on their property. They were not.
“They [companies] don’t want to talk dollars until you say you’re interested,” Kendall said. “If you’re interested, you have to sign a gag order.” They admit they once had a more favorable view of wind farms, which often is the case with people who turn into opponents. They say the nuisance becomes obvious when living next to turbines, something not so apparent to people who merely drive by.
Asked whether they would leave, the Guithers said no. The farm has been in Kendall’s family for generations.
“This is a centennial farm,” he said. “We like it here. We were here first. We shouldn’t be pushed out.”
The Guithers are among many who have complained about the noise of turbines.
Wes Slaymaker of Madison, Wis.–based Wes Engineering Inc. has been an expert witness for wind energy companies. Yet he concedes the noise can be a bother.
“I own a farm. We go up there in the summer,” he said. “I appreciate the quiet. If a big wind farm moved in, I would say, ‘Oh, man!’ I wouldn’t be excited.”
At the same time, Slaymaker said, society needs more renewable energy, which is better for the environment.
He said turbines shouldn’t be put too close to residents. Neighbors – those within, say, a third of a mile – should get payments, he said.
“The community needs to share in the benefits,” Slaymaker said.
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