May 8, 2019
Iowa, Opinions

The case against wind energy – not just hot air

Julie Kuntz, Guest columnist | Globe Gazette | May 7, 2019 |

When you find out a company is looking to build 607-foot wind turbines next to your home, you get educated. With knowledge gained in 12 months of research, I give rebuttal to the April 21 Globe Gazette editorial disputing arguments against wind energy.

The 2018 World Health Organization Guidelines strengthened evidence for cardiovascular and metabolic health effects from wind turbine noise. Wind companies are not meeting noise guidelines. While the Globe Gazette editorial does acknowledge some may find life near a turbine annoying, it does not address that sleep deprivation no matter the reason is known to cause a number of health problems including hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.

While sound lower then 20mHz cannot be heard by the human ear, this sound – termed infrasound – is a type of energy and needs to be more thoroughly studied. The wind companies contest infrasound being of any consequence and yet in the draft contract we were given one must agree to “noise, vibration, air turbulence, wake … and other effects attributable to wind turbines.”

If wind turbines do not kill birds and bats, then why did MidAmerican Energy apply for a permit with the US Fish and Wildlife Services to kill Bald Eagles and two protected bat species? The American Bird Conservancy reports that 5,000 wind turbines have killed more than 2,000 eagles in California alone since 1998 when facilities were made to keep track.

Local municipalities owning wind turbines accounts for less then 0.5% of wind assets. Most energy from wind developments is dumped into the electrical grid. When a renewable energy source puts one megawatt-hour on the grid, it writes itself a certificate of credit. These Renewable Energy Credits are often purchased by states that have renewable energy mandates or companies that receive tax credits for purchasing the equivalent number of REC’s needed to offset the carbon footprint of energy consumed. The actual energy being produced in Iowa may not be used in Florida, but its’ energy credits are.

The value factor of wind energy has been shown to decrease by 40 percent as the market share reaches 30 percent (Hirth). In Iowa, electricity prices rose 21 percent while the electricity market share from wind grew from 14 to 37 percent between 2009 and 2017.

Tax Increment Finance revenue that counties can implement on wind turbines has to be paid back with interest. Is it possible to have too much TIF debt? Worth County had the third highest debt-to-value ratio of Iowa counties in 2018.

Common sense and more than one study show a decline in residential property values within two miles of a wind turbine. Up to a 45 percent market value decline has been reported with some properties deemed uninhabitable and the wind companies being required to buy them out.

The overwhelming majority of landowners do not sign wind easement agreements. Tile damage, soil compaction, impedance of aerial spraying, inadequate decommissioning, visual blight, and a contract heavily weighted in the wind companies favor are among the reasons wind energy is not worth it.

Julie Kuntz farms in Worth County and works as a clinical pharmacist in Mason City.

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