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Citizen group discusses alleged dangers of turbines

A group opposed to adding wind turbines to Mason County’s landscape met Thursday.

The Citizens Voice of Mason County met to discuss the proposed Duke Energy wind turbine project. Those in favor of the project are not a part of this group so no favorable opinions were heard at the meeting.

May’s Lick resident Joe Pfeffer began by telling why the group was originally formed.

Pfeffer said wind turbines, which capture wind energy and convert that energy into usable electrons, is presented as green energy, although he said it is not.

“This energy is something presented to us as green. But, we don’t feel this energy is green at all. Over $40 billion has been given to the wind energy projects. And, tonight, we’re going to show you some of the reasons the wind turbines would be a bad thing for our county.”

May’s Lick resident Barry Fields, who said he and his wife have lived in the county for 24 years, was the first presenter to speak.

Fields began by giving background information on the turbines themselves.

“It’s proposed by Duke Energy to put up 26 to 100 industrial wind turbines,” Fields said. “They have applied for 150 megawatt connection through Eastern Kentucky Power and JPM network.”

Construction is planned between 2016 and 2019, to take place in southern Mason and northern Fleming County, according to Fields.

Fields said more than 10,000 acres in the county have already been leased, although most of the leases have a confidentiality clause that prevents individuals from discussing them.

“They could go to jail for discussing the lease,” Fields said. “At this time, (Duke Energy) probably has well over the 10,000.”

Fields said the turbines would not be productive because of the wind potential in the area.

“There is not a great potential,” he said. “They’re interested in about 45,000 acres in a 70-square-mile radius. Now, if we don’t have much potential here, why are they here?”

According to Fields, some of the reasons Duke Energy may have chosen Mason and Fleming counties is access to the electrical grid, lack of local or state ordinances, making them unencumbered, and the company has found property owners who are willing to sign leases.

Fields also said Duke Energy gets a tax credit on investments into wind energy.

Fields said some of the major problems he sees with the wind energy project is the use of grid power.

According to Fields, his research shows wind is not intermittent and cannot be stored, so if there is no wind, the power would not work.

“I’m sure none of us want to turn off our air conditioners or heaters just because the wind isn’t blowing,” Fields said.

There also has to be backup power readily available and the turbines draw energy even when not generating, according to Fields.

“That means more capital and they may have to use power from the grid,” Fields said. “And, if the backup energy is coal, it could cause more carbon dioxide emissions.”

Fields concluded his presentation by talking about the effects on the environment and farmland.

According to Fields, there is one to three acres of farmland destroyed by each turbine; birds, bats and raptors are killed by the large blades.

“Duke Energy was fined $1 million for killing golden eagles,” he said, “440,000 birds are killed annually by turbines.”

Property values could drastically decrease, according to Fields.

Fields said the scenic vista is changed and night time pollution is much higher.

“How would you like to see those blinking red tower lights all the time, on multiple turbines?” he asked. “I wouldn’t. My conclusion is wind energy is not green. It’s just duplicate, expensive power. And, those who benefit is Duke Energy, the few, large landowners and the county government may see some revenue, but I wouldn’t hold my breath, because Duke Energy renigs on what they promise to local governments.”

Fields said the final major issue is that Kentucky will not be receiving the energy from the turbines, but instead it will go to other states.

“The state can’t approve power coming online unless it proves to be produced at the lowest cost possible,” Fields said.

Owen Brown, who works as a physical therapist in Maysville, presented the health issues associated with wind turbines.

“The one thing you will hear about the turbines is they are as quiet as a refrigerator, as a normal conversation,” Brown said. “I wasn’t going to take that, so I did my own research.”

Brown said the turbines make a unique, low-frequency, pulsing noise when the wind hits the blades.

According to Brown, he found complaints of sleep deprivation, stress, nausea, anxiety, motion sickness and imbalance in the inner ear, from people who live near the turbines.

“The sound isn’t what hurts,” Brown said. “It’s the sleep deprivation and stress that hurts.”

Brown said he spoke with individuals living around the Wildcat wind farm in Tipton, Ind., who were concerned about the levels of noise pollution from the turbines.

“Everyone I spoke with was upset about the noise,” Brown said. “It sounded like a jet airplane. One person was on sleeping pills and still can’t sleep through the night because of the sound.”

Brown said other issues relating to the turbines is the inability to put out a fire, should one break out in a turbine.

“The number one cause of fires is lightening strikes,” he said. “and they can’t be put out. Fire departments have to wait and let them burn out.”

There is also a possibility of a break failing and the turbine’s blades being thrown across the property.

The final health issue relating to the turbines was light flicker, according to Brown.

Brown said when the sun reaches a certain point in the sky, the blade will cause the light to flicker.

“On one wind farm, a parent was concerned because his son has epilepsy,” Brown said. “When the light flickers, the son can’t be in his room.”

Brown said the shadow flicker can sometimes last up to an hour.