The Delaware County board of supervisors Sept. 20 chose not to place a moratorium on wind turbine construction.
Terry McGovern requested the moratorium. He lives in Earlville with his wife Jennifer and four children, within a mile of wind turbines planned by Mason Wind, LLC. In May, he presented his own 26-page analysis about possible wind energy development impacts to the Delaware County Board of Supervisors, asking for a moratorium on wind turbines.
He believes the spinning white wind turbines of Delaware County represent a potential health threat and social problem. His arguments against wind turbines range from bird and bat effects to decommissioning costs and foreign ownership. He’s started a Facebook page, Iowa Wind Action Group, and he has considered forming a non-profit.
McGovern is primarily worried about infrasound, low frequency sound that can cause sleep disturbances, nausea, vertigo and migraines for some people. “We’re human guinea pigs,” he said.
A retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, McGovern now teaches business at Clarke University. In a letter to Delaware County Public Health, he wrote that he became aware of infrasound issues after a military colleague was left with permanent vertigo after exposure in an underground nuclear launch center.
McGovern points to research that suggests a 1.25-mile buffer between turbines and homes. Delaware County currently requires a 1,000-feet setback, or twice the height of the turbine if it is over 500 feet tall.
McGovern sees wind energy as an industry with possible hazards that may not yet be known. “We’re in the Wild West for wind energy,” he said.
Supervisor Shirley Helmrichs said Sept. 21 that the supervisors have shared answers from Optimum Renewables with McGovern and said she’s been places where people live directly underneath windmills.
“It went to public health, and they looked at it,” Helmrichs said. “They have no concerns with the (current) setback ordinances. We’ve done our research.”
Supervisor Jeff Madlom agreed. “We studied real hard before we had allowed turbines to come into the county,” he said. “We’re not going to make everybody happy every time we do something.”
Doug Dabroski was not serving when the current ordinances were adopted, but he sees no problem with them. “I parked near Greeley as close as I could to one and couldn’t hear anything,” he said. “My ceiling fan in my house is louder than a wind turbine. I see no reason to change what we have here.”
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