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Wind project opponents: Turbines cause health dangers

CRESAPTOWN – Adverse health effects, noise, shadow flicker and ice throw from wind turbines are some of the issues that were addressed during the third day of a public hearing on a proposed 17-turbine wind farm project near the ridgeline of Dan’s Mountain.

“There is sound scientific evidence that living close to wind turbines can be harmful to human health,” said Wayne Spiggle, a retired physician, who resides in Keyser.

Spiggle was representing Allegany Neighbors and Home Owners for Citizens Rights.

Tammy McKenzie, who resides in Glencoe, Pa., close to the wind turbines that are part of the EverPower project, testified that she has sleep deprivation because of them and has had to take steroids, but they haven’t helped.

“We were told that despite not having a noise regulation in Allegany County that you do have a protection to keep turbines away from people’s homes. We hope this is true,” said McKenzie, who lives roughly seven miles from the proposed Dan’s Mountain project. “If you chose to give a variance for the wind turbines, please tell these people how you will be able to help them if they too have harassment and health-associated problems after the turbines are turned on – there is no help for us.”

Noise in the state of Maryland is regulated by the state, according to attorney Gorman Getty III.

Spiggle detailed the other health problems that sleep deprivation could lead to.

“Sleep interruption alarms the public health profession because chronic sleep loss is a driver for many clinical symptoms including hypertension, heart disease and acute myocardial infarction,” said Spiggle. “It causes daytime fatigue, attention deficit depression and a feeling of unease.”

Jeff Conner, Lonaconing, who lives near the Fourmile Ridge project voiced concerns about noise and viewshed and said he was against Dans Mountain Wind Force LLC’s proposal for the wind project. Fourmile Ridge is owned by Chicago-based Exelon Corp., which has agreed to help fund and purchase the Dan’s Mountain wind project.

Conner is a member of the Garrett County Planning Commission.

“When we talk about variances, usually … we are talking about feet. You guys are talking about hundreds of yards. When I’m sitting on my commission and someone wants a variance, the first thing I start asking is ‘what about the neighbors,'” said Conner. “It is true about the noise and it’s something you have consider.”

Allegany County’s setback requirement from a residence is 2,000 feet, and eight landowners signed off on a waiver that stated they were OK with a lesser setback.

U.S. Wind Force LLC, the previous parent company of Dan’s Mountain, was the developer of the 55.2 MW Pinnacle Wind Farm at NewPage on Green Mountain. In 2013, 32 lawsuits were filed alleging that the wind farm had caused mental and physical health problems, as well as loss in the value of homes, according to Spiggle.

“The outcome was most (who filed a lawsuit) have gotten some money, a gag order and now they won’t talk about it,” said Spiggle. “I can assure you that the families over there still have quality of life issues, health issues, because they have been complaining about it.”

During cross examination, Getty asked Spiggle if as a former Mineral County commissioner he was opposed to the Pinnacle project.

“You aren’t asking me a relative question,” said Spiggle. “I was very skeptical.”

A petition opposing a special exception for the Dan’s Mountain project has been started on GoPetition. The petition states the project will detrimentally impact 911 Emergency Communications, cause health issues, decrease property values, destroy protected wildlife habitats and ruin the scenic beauty, tourism and hunting in the county.

Following a 10 day comment period on the wind project, an executive session will be held at the county office complex, which will be open to the public.