By now you may have read or heard about a group, known as NextEra, who wants to erect industrial wind turbines (IWTs) in Clinton and DeKalb Counties. My mother was one who received a letter and numerous calls from a company representative. Being unfamiliar with IWTs, I started researching the industry. What I found was an abundance of information on the negative effects these turbines can have on the quality of life.
There are numerous technical reports, studies and personal testimony that show how devastating wind turbines can be on the lives of those living nearby.
In “Wind Turbines can be Hazardous to Human Health” by Alec Salt, Ph. D., Professor at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, the professor identifies several ways infrasound can affect you even though you cannot hear the sound.
The Acoustic Ecology article “Wind Farm Noise” reports one-third to one-half of residents living nearby wind turbines feel negatively impacted by them and 5% to 20% living within one-half mile report extreme impacts such as chronic loss of sleep. A report of the Shirley Wind project in Brown County, Wisconsin describes a family whereby the husband suffered no ill effects and yet the wife and child experienced such extreme illness they were forced to move far away for a solution, illustrating the complexity of the issue.
IWTs generate a broad spectrum of sound including audible and inaudible low frequency noise (LFN) and infrasound, and also cause shadow flicker from the rotating blades. It is widely affirmed that exposure to LFN can cause adverse health effects in humans including: sleep disturbance, headaches, stress, vertigo, tinnitus, anxiety and ear pain and pressure. Death to dairy cattle has been attributed to high levels of in-ground electric voltage not existing prior to IWT presence. Farmers report disturbance and death to their poultry once wind turbines are in close proximity.
Not everyone experiences negative health effects from LFN and many livestock are apparently unaffected. One farmer I visited in King City, Missouri reports no ill effects and says he knows of only one disgruntled neighbor. But NextEra denies any negative health effects. They also claim no decline in property value from the proximity to IWTs. But there are global reports of property values declining from 10% to 60% and a New York study deemed some properties unsalable. The problem is that you won’t know if you will be affected until it’s too late.
In July, I attended the NextEra sponsored informational gathering at Windy Wine Co. in Osborn, Missouri prepared to ask questions and express my concerns. One concern is that the landowners being wooed are not aware of the risks. Maybe, like my mother, they don’t use the Internet or simply don’t have time to do the research. What I witnessed was a well scripted and played out event. Following a 25 minute presentation, the speaker said representatives were available to answer questions. If you raised your hand, one of the 15 or so NextEra salesmen would rush over to sit down with you face to face. Never before have I attended an event where at the conclusion of a presentation, the speaker did not open the floor to the audience for questions. NextEra’s technique to avoid questions which might contest their claims or bring awareness of risks to the audience was obvious.
It’s about money for NextEra and a few landowners; it’s about quality of life for us. To those landowners who remain unconvinced that the risks to themselves and their neighbors are outweighed by the money from a lease, I suggest the following: Require NextEra to guarantee payment of all medical bills incurred by non-participating landowners within a two mile radius due to the effects from an IWT. Also, business and property values should be guaranteed and bonded. Be sure to get the guarantees from NextEra Energy, Inc., the affiliate with financial strength. The Clinton County IWT leases are with Boulevard, LLC. As the name indicates, this NextEra affiliate lessee is a shell structured to limit liability.
The risks to our quality of life and uncertainty surrounding control of our property for nearly a century (the lease is for 50 years plus two 20-year options) are reasons enough to deny IWTs. There are other means for renewable energy and technology will continue to improve. With NextEra’s desire for a 70% abatement of Clinton County property taxes and frequent appeals of the assessed values, I do not foresee their presence significantly improving our community’s economics. For the reasons discussed herein, I respectfully request landowners, the Planning and Zoning Board and County Commissioners deny all requests related to IWTs.
Marcia (Hales) Oley
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