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Walker wants wind farm health effects study

MADISON – Consulting engineer Glen Schwalbach, who has worked with the Towns of Morrison, Glenmore and Wrightstown on wind energy issues, has been lobbying the state to draw attention to concerns about health-related effects from the Shirley Wind project in Glenmore.

“The latest was a half-hour meeting at the governor’s office, at which no promises were made,” Schwalbach wrote in an e-letter to the three townships. “But it finally happened. The governor put $250,000 in his proposed budget for 2015-16.”

The money is intended to use the Shirley Wind Project as a laboratory to conduct a scientific study of the health effects of the large wind towers with spinning blades and turbines.

“It is a first step in the process and will get resistance,” Schwalbach said.

Schwalbach is also looking at possible legislation that would give local governments, not the state, control over the wind industry.

He said the state mandates on wind energy don’t address the biggest concern, which he said is infrasound and low frequency noise.

In an e-mail to the Wisconsin Towns Association, Schwalbach explained how the meeting with Governor Scott Walker took place.

“It was a half-hour meeting in his office,” Schwalbach said. He asked for the governor to put money in his budget for a scientific study of the health effects of wind turbines, using Shirley Wind as the test.

Schwalbach said he told the governor that people here are leery of the work by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) with regards to the wind energy industry.

“We do need more studies unique to Wisconsin’s situation, but need language in the [budget] bill to ensure that the studies are thorough, unbiased and robust,” Schwalbach wrote. “The Shirley Wind Farm in Brown County would be a great test area because of the manageable size of the project and the previous studies done there.”

He told the governor that we need acoustic studies of the homes where no health issues have been reported and “specific epidemiological studies of a statistical sample of people without regard to their health issues at various distances from the turbines.”

He insisted that the study include medical tests that are more certain that just people’s complaints.

Schwalbach said some critics believe that any study done by the PSCW will be biased (in favor of wind energy companies).

“Here is where the work begins to address that concern,” he said. “This executive budget bill will now be the platform for the Joint Finance Committee to work and rework, to put meat on the bones or throw out the bones.”

To read the full story, please purchase the Feb. 19, 2015 print edition of The Brillion News.