We challenge the wind industry to a public debate. We are Iowa’s Coalition for Rural Property Rights, a large, statewide grass-roots organization of people living within proposed or existing industrial wind installations.
The wind industry offers money and hold-harmless contracts with a list of negative impacts to all residents who live within one-half mile of any wind turbine. The negative impacts they admit in their contracts include shadow flicker, visual blight, noise, vibration, air turbulence, wake, electromagnetic and frequency interference. Industrial wind covers over a million acres of Iowa’s rural communities or over three entire counties.
Other impacts include lowered property values, wildlife kills, drainage problems and problems with aerial applications. The world over people complain of health issues including sleeplessness, chest pressure, tinnitus, headaches and vertigo. Professor Christian-Friedrich Vahl, Department of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery of the University Medical Center Mainz, Germany, has shown how infrasound emitted by the turbines can hurt the muscles in the heart.
The economics of industrial wind also do not make sense and is adding stress to our economies by using tax credits to cover all the capital costs of building wind turbines. Some may think it is worth it in light of climate change but all the world’s wind turbines together are avoiding less than 1 percent of the world’s man-made carbon dioxide if you go by the wind industry’s own numbers. We wonder how much all this excess manufacturing is adding.
It is also known that the actual wind of the Midwest has been falling every year since 2014, which makes wind less reliable and even more expensive.
Once our county lawmakers decide they want the tax revenue of a wind installation and enough absentee landowners sign wind contracts there is no way rural residents can protect themselves, protect their properties and protect their businesses from the turbines.
The wind industry works quietly behind the scenes in communities, telling one side of the story. By the time residents even know that there is a reason to object, the industry has made most of their deals. Land agents harass and lie to residents telling them that all their neighbors have signed, the wind turbines are too far away to bother anyone, they will take their land by eminent domain, they don’t need a lawyer to look at the contract or that they can get out of their contract if they want. There is no penalty for these lies.
Even the approval process of the Iowa Utilities Board is being skirted entirely by the wind industry. Residents have sued on this point of law. This case was heard at the Iowa Supreme Court on April 2. Industrial wind should have to prove need and that they are actually the lowest cost option. With Alliant’s recent rate increase of 24.9 percent that is truly debatable. Iowa’s rural residents should be allowed proper informational meetings, an official docket to voice our concerns and an option to have a formal hearing.
There are two other lawsuits in Iowa against industrial wind that would have far-reaching implications for the wind industry as well as personal lawsuits against the negative impacts.
If the wind industry would agree to have their wind turbines no closer than one-half mile to the property of a nonparticipating landowner unless they negotiate a waiver many of these disputes would not exist.
Industrial wind enjoys the deep pockets of our investor-owned utilities, Alliant and MidAmerican. Has anyone ever wondered why MidAmerican is spending so much on TV ads, radio and newspaper ads all across Iowa? They even spent $15 million to put their name on Iowa State University’s Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. Are they trying to get people to use more of their product or sway public opinion?
There is much information about industrial wind and of course they like to say that we spread misinformation so let’s clear it up. When we began the Coalition for Rural Property Rights two and one-half years ago the wind industry offered to debate us but we knew we didn’t know enough so we declined. Now we are ready. Will the wind industry now decline?
Janna Swanson of rural Ayrshire is the Coalition for Rural Property Rights president and a member of the National Wind Watch Board and Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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