Brown and Kewaunee counties are asking the state Legislature to follow through on an initiative from the governor and fund a study of the potential human-health impact of industrial wind turbines.
Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach and Kewaunee County Board Chairman Ron Heuer plan to ask their respective boards to sign on in support of a request that the state either fund a study, or cede control of wind-turbine siting regulations to the counties – which would then presumably require greater distances between wind turbines and residences than is presently required.
After approval by the boards, the request would then be sent to the Legislature, with a request to act before session’s end.
In his biennial budget, Gov. Scott Walker had proposed spending $250,000 for a study of the connection between turbines and health. But state lawmakers removed that. Brown County, in its 2016 budget, did not budget to fund a study.
Streckenbach on Wednesday said he isn’t sure how much a study would cost. He said he and Heuer will ask Fond du Lac County – home to a large wind farm – and other counties to join the call for funding a study.
Southern Brown County is home to the Shirley Wind farm, an eight turbine development that went on-line in 2010. A number of area residents have reported illnesses, which they believe are related to low-frequency noise emitted by the turbines. There are also wind turbines in Kewaunee County.The Brown County Board of Health in 2014 had declared low-frequency noise from the turbines at Shirley Wind, in Glenmore and Morrison, can endanger health. That’s believed to be the first time a board of health has issued such a ruling. But Health Director Chua Xiong last month ruled that insufficient evidence exists to link wind turbines to illnesses suffered by people who live near them.
Wind-farm opponents have long insisted the turbines can harm people, livestock and, indirectly, farm crops. Those complaints echo claims by some scientists that windmills can produce sleep disturbances, low-frequency noise, stray voltage and a phenomenon called “shadow flicker” that is linked to motion sickness.
Some livestock owners have said their animals stopped reproducing after turbines began operating. And turbines are said to affect migratory routes of some birds, which can have a harmful effect on nearby farms because there are fewer birds to prey on insects.
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