A study on wind turbines and their impact on human health shows no conclusive ill effects on residents who live nearby.
Fond du Lac Public Health Officer Kim Mueller recently presented the findings, compiled by the Public Service Commission, at a meeting of the Fond du Lac County Board of Health.
The report doesn’t sit well with Concerned Citizens of Fond du Lac County, a group that lives near an 88-acre WE Energies wind farm spread between the townships of Calumet and Marshfield in Fond du Lac County.
“We will continue to fight this,” said Joan Lagerman, who is trying to get a wind turbine near her Malone home shut down. Lagerman, along with other group members, say they suffer from chronic illness due to the constant, low-frequency noise.
But Mueller said there isn’t conclusive evidence that the turbines cause human health problems.
“I have been stating this for three years, but it’s difficult because we are dealing with people’s feelings,” Mueller said. “I can’t make an appropriate decision with the information we have and it can’t be my decision. It needs to be made at a higher level.”
The study does find a causal relationship between annoyance and how much the wind turbines affect someone, she pointed out.
Six members of the Concerned Citizens group attended Rep. Jeremy Theisfeldt’s listening session at the Salvation Army on Monday night to address the health issues they believe are caused by wind turbines.
“What we (the county leaders) are mostly bothered with is the fact that there are people who are sick about this,” Theisfeldt said. “I mean that physically.”
Theisfeldt said at the meeting he feels the need to have a scientific study done, but many in the legislature disagree with him, concerned with the cost of a study and both sides disagreeing with the credibility of the experts. Mueller said some studies have cost upward of $2 million.
“I intend to continue to push for a study to be done to get some solid evidence,” Theisfeldt said.
Mueller presented the report as a follow-up to a February meeting of the Board of Health, when the Concerned Citizens group asked why a state study that was promised in 2013 was never done. More than two years ago, the Fond du Lac County Board had asked the state to conduct a comprehensive study on wind turbines and Gov. Scott Walker approved $250,000 to fund it. But legislators decided the Public Service Commission should instead do a report on existing studies.
Lagerman said the reports are old and outdated because there have not been any recent studies. She said the turbines frequently exceed the mandated noise level, but it happens at times like 2 a.m.
Fond du Lac County Executive Al Buechel said new studies can be done, but they take time. He is talking with the seven other counties in the state that have wind turbines, and is working on an option that would partially reimburse people living near wind farms for the economic loss they experience when they sell their homes.
“I am investigating all options, and this would be a county initiative, but could be effective as early as 2017 if the county board approves it,” Buechel said.
Members of the Citizens group have said they can’t move because their homes have lost so much value.
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