Fond du Lac County residents who believe their health is compromised by wind turbines are asking officials to conduct a study that could prove it.
About 20 people discussed their experiences with wind farms during the monthly Fond du Lac County Board of Health meeting. The Board unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday requesting the state of Wisconsin fund and complete a study on the impact of wind turbines on human health. The matter will go before the Fond du Lac County Board at its Aug. 20 meeting.
Elizabeth Ebertz of St. Cloud became emotional as she described how she wakes up throughout the night and cannot get relief unless she goes to her son’s home away from the turbines. She said she has all but abandoned gardening hobby because the turbines located southwest of her garden bother her physically – especially ear pressure.
“I’ve been gardening all my life and can’t even do it,” she said. “When they are going it’s really something. There are 12 in the area. It’s really bad.”
The statements of Ebertz and others of their personal struggles brought tears to the eyes of many in the audience. Some residents said they no longer dream if they sleep at home.
Gerry Meyer of the town of Byron said he was “neutral” on the subject before wind turbines were erected near his home. He said he has experienced a number of health issues that he believes are caused by the low-frequency noise and sleep deprivation. Meyer has kept a log of his troubles and said he wakes up at least 4-5 times a night and as many as 15 times.
Joan Lagerman of Malone cried softly as she explained symptoms that she experiences.
“They’ve got me medicated to the point nothing should be waking me up and I still get up,” she said. “We shouldn’t be living like this.”
Brian Manthey, a spokesperson for WE Energies which owns Blue Sky Green Fields Wind Energy Center, said Thursday that a number of studies have been done “and so far, a link between health concerns and wind turbines has not been found.”
He said the company would not dismiss anyone with health issues, but said there has not been “that cause and effect” with wind turbines.
Invenergy, owner of Forward Energy wind farm, supplied a similar statement that said numerous studies have found no evidence of adverse health effects from sound emitted by wind turbines. It cited a 2009 study commissioned by the American Wind Energy Association and the Canadian Wind Energy Association that included a panel comprised of medical doctors, audiologists and acoustical professionals from the United States, Canada, Denmark, and the United Kingdom.
Barbara Vanden Boogart, representing Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy, spoke Wednesday about health issues. She referred to a study that measured increased cancer risk for people living in Brown County homes near turbines and how some residents were compelled to leave their homes.
She told Board of Health members that a study on health impacts “is an emergency” for the people in the room.
“They need help,” she said.
The study that reported increased cancer risk concerned Jim and Darlene Mueller of St. Cloud to the point they are considering leaving their house.
Jim Mueller said it “hurts” when people think symptoms are being made up.
“Nobody is asking for money; all we want is to be able to sleep at night,” he said.
168 turbines in FdL County
Fond du Lac County Health Officer Kim Mueller said there are 168 turbines in Fond du Lac County. Nearly half of them are located in the northeast townships of Marshfield and Calumet.
Mueller compiled several charts that detail turbine-related health issues reported by 22 people in Fond du Lac County. The list includes memory loss and difficulty concentrating. However, the predominate issues are sleeplessness, exhaustion and problems with noise.
She said an independent study could cost $30,000 to $50,000 or more.
Dennis Stenz, Fond du Lac County Board supervisor representing the northeast part of the county, said he lives on the edge of a wind farm. He was at the meeting to support a study, although the turbines haven’t bothered him or his wife.
“I’m learning more and more that some people are very sensitive to this,” he said.
Stenz said a health study is needed to determine why certain people are affected by low frequency sounds and get ill.
“What is the threshold that one person is affected and the next person isn’t?” he said, noting that a couple of residents in the town of Marshfield have moved away and are now symptom-free.
Jim Vollmer of Malone left his home due to health problems that he believes were caused by wind turbines in the Blue Sky Green Fields wind project near his home. In a letter Vollmer spoke of problems sleeping, headaches and vomiting.
He said the poultry he raised began having low hatches, birth defects and unexplainable neurological-type problems that caused him to lose many of his birds. Testing did not show problems with disease or with water.
He said he put his house on the market and sold it substantially below appraised value after three years.
“I have lost all the hard work that I put into the buildings and house due to the wind turbines destroying my life and will never forget the devastation that they have brought upon me,” he wrote.