SCHEFIELD – Around 50 people gathered Saturday night at Schefield Hall to present reasons to their neighbors why they should reject a proposed 87-turbine wind energy project that could soon dot the landscape of southern Stark County.
Residents of Stark and Hettinger counties and elsewhere gathered information at a community-organized presentation about the possible effects of proposed wind farms in the area.
Wind energy company NextEra Energy Resources, who did not have a representative at the meeting, is proposing the two-part Brady Wind Energy Center I and II, which will straddle the border between the two counties. Brady II could have up to 60 turbines, NextEra has said.
Tom Reichert, who lives south of Dickinson, said he and his wife, Pam, settled in the area because they loved the beauty of the land. He described the joy of fixing up an old farmhouse on the property to live in. However, he said that view will be obstructed if the wind farms are approved.
“I think we need to let the Stark County Commissioners know that there’s a lot more people out there that are against the wind farm than people who are for, or who are going to benefit from it,” Reichert said.
Jon Wert, who lives east of New England in the area proposed for the Brady II project, presented a number of findings he had researched concerning aspects of wind farms.
Wert listed studies from Purdue University, the University of Maryland and other academic institutions that suggested wind turbines affected air temperature and other conditions that affect the crops that grow around them.
He said he also spoke to the Northern Canola Growers Association board of directors, of which he is president, about their experience with property values around wind farms.
“They definitely saw a decrease in property values,” Wert said.
Wert said he has spoken to a state climatologist, who was unable to make it to the meeting. Wert said the climatologist discovered wind farms had the potential to affect the weather around the land they inhabit as well.
He said that, according to the climatologist, elevation and land features play a part in the creation of aerial turbulence, which in turn can increase the size and chance of thunderstorms with hail. With the turbines churning the air at such a height, the climatologist reasoned that this could bring on more bad weather in the area.
“So who’s going to pay to all this?” Wert asked the crowd.
The meeting also featured Beulah residents John and Joyce Aasmundstad, who live near the Antelope Hills Wind Energy Project, which was built this year by Infinity Wind Power.
The Aasmundstads said they’ve used a decibel reader to measure the noise on their land, which they said has disturbed their quality of life. Readings average around 70 to 75 decibels, they said, but it goes even higher on a windy day.
“Some of them we could not even take because it was over 100 decibels,” Joyce said. “You will have constant noise, I guarantee you. One mile is not enough.”
The Aasmundstads said they plan to move when they can.
John Aasmundstad said he’s been vocally opposed to the farm in his area all along. Not long ago, he said, a representative of Infinity Wind Power came to offer him a $40,000 check to join the wind farm, which he figured out was around $20,000 after taxes. He turned it down.
“I didn’t need the $20,000 that bad,” he said.
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