The Golden West Wind Energy Center, owned by NextEra Energy Resources and located in Calhan, Colorado, has been fully operational since October 2015. More than a year later, some residents living within the wind farm’s footprint are still experiencing negative physical and psychological effects from the 145, 453-foot tall industrial wind turbines, with no solution in sight.
According to the September 2015 issue of “The New Falcon Herald,” the wind farm effects ranged from feeling dizzy and nauseous to concerns about dirty electricity and the potential for the electromagnetic waves to cause atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat).
An article published online in the “Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society” Sept. 30, 2011, states: “The symptoms are likely caused by a combination of noise, infrasound, dirty electricity, ground current and shadow flicker.”
According to an article in the April 2016 issue of the NFH, Kory Feick, a resident living with turbines three-quarters of the way around her house, said the turbines produce such a bad shadow flicker effect that she keeps the blinds on her windows closed. The closest turbines are about 1,320 feet from her home, the article states.
Feick said she is bothered by the shadow flicker but seeing the spinning blades on the turbines is worse because it makes her violently sick to her stomach. The problem escalated to the point she had to take medicine to keep from vomiting.
In a December 2016 follow-up interview with the NFH, Feick said, “I am still on medication for throwing up because I do that almost daily. I get headaches and get dizzy from the spinning of the turbines. I am also on anxiety medication.”
Feick said this past summer, she was unable to tend the large garden she has been cultivating since she moved to her house in 2006. The spinning blades make her dizzy, and she loses her balance so she is unable to be outside long enough to do much gardening, if any, she said. “I used to have all kinds of berries, corn, wheat, beans, just about anything you can think of,” Feick said.
Although nighttime offers a reprieve from the visual effects of the spinning blades, Feick said the red lights atop each turbine are equally bothersome. The lights blink in unison every three seconds, and she is completely surrounded by them, she said.
“It is bad enough that you feel claustrophobic during the day but then at night, the lights blink every three seconds,” she said. “One time, I drove to Falcon and looked back and realized you can still see them (the blinking lights) 26 miles away.”
Since construction on the turbines began in early 2015, Feick said she has been considering moving, but she said it is unlikely she will find a place that offers the same amenities as her current home. She lives on 40 acres in a house about 1,900 square feet, with another 2,000-square-foot structure equipped with a kitchenette and washer and dryer, which she built to house her dogs. It took about 10 years to complete the second structure, Feick said.
“I cannot find another place like this anywhere else, at least not for what I can pay from selling this house,” she said. “It is not fair that I have had to deal with this and they (NextEra) are making money at my expense.”
According to the May 2016 issue of the NFH, Sandy Wolfe, another Calhan resident living within the wind farm project’s footprint, said she has experienced a variety of physical complications, including nosebleeds and earaches, that she attributes to the turbines.
The NFH also followed up with Wolfe in a December 2016, interview. Wolfe said she has noticed new ailments, including decreased blood pressure and decreased body temperature. “Both my husband and I are getting sicker and sicker,” she said. “His body temperature has not dropped below 95 degrees, but it is commonly down to 95.1 degrees. I have always been a 98.6-degree person my whole life, and now I range from 96.1 degrees to about 97.2 degrees.”
Wolfe said she and her husband have been seen by their primary care physician, who, concerned about their body temperature issues, asked Wolfe when she and her husband would be moving away from the turbines.
“Our body temperature regulation is so bad, I actually got scared of getting hypothermia,” Wolfe said. At their doctor’s request, the couple has been taking their body temperatures and recording them about three to four times per week, she said.
Additionally, Wolfe said she has visited a cardiologist because of chest pain and received a diagnosis of a mitral valve prolapse, with thickening of the muscle on the right side of her heart. According to the American Heart Association’s website, “Mitral valve prolapse is a condition in which the two valve flaps of the mitral valve do not close smoothly or evenly, but instead bulge (prolapse) upward into the left atrium.”
Mitral valve prolapse rarely becomes a serious condition; however, in the most dire cases, the prolapse can cause arrhythmias or abnormal heartbeats that can be life-threatening or lead to complications like strokes, according to the website.
“My MVP comes with pain, and the pain started after the turbines were built,” Wolfe said. “The first time I ever went to the doctor about the pain was when they were doing the generator alignment stuff on the turbines.”
Other symptoms the Wolfes have noted included extreme eyeball pressure, belly bloating, muscle weakness and swelling in the ankles and legs, she said.
Wolfe said she considers herself somewhat lucky because her husband landed a new job about 250 miles away, but she has to stay behind for awhile to save up the money to relocate their animals. Although he will take a pay cut, Wolfe said her husband is grateful to be leaving. They plan to sell their house.
“We have been here for 20 years,” she said. “Everybody has become family. Within about two days of getting away from these things (the turbines), our muscle strength returns, though, and that is going to be really nice.”
Feick, however, said she does not feel hopeful about the future. “I cannot stay here because it has just ruined my health,” she said. “This has really affected my entire life, and I need to move, but I cannot.”
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