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Wind farms: Are they a good thing?

Aaron Krause • Aug 20, 2014 at 10:59 PM

Phil Hartke predicts that in 10 years, the public will see advertisements from law firms offering representation for people to receive compensation for ill health effects from wind turbines.

The past president of the Illinois Farm Bureau in Effingham County spoke at the Rural Coonhunters Club in rural Greenwich to a group opposed to the construction of wind turbines in the area.

Hartke spoke to more than 100 people over two days at an event hosted by Greenwich Neighbors United.

The global wind energy development company Windlab's has applied to construct a windpark that would cover about 4,650 acres of privately leased land. It would include 25 wind turbines with a total generating capacity of up to 60 megawatts of electricity.

Final decision on the project's status rests with the Ohio Power Siting Board, a separate entity within the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

The board's next meeting is Aug. 25, and the matter may come up for a vote.

While Hartke wouldn't be affected by the project, he spoke about his and his family's own experience with wind turbines.

A 495-foot tall, 1.6 mW turbine sits 1,665 feet away from his home.

He handed out a packet, which includes a drawing and paragraph his daughter, Sophia, 7, wrote during school.

"You may think wind turbines are good but when you have 50 by your home...you can't sleep in your own room and you try to sleep but you can't because of the wind turbines (noise). I had to move into a mobile home because my mom, dad and brother plus me couldn't sleep."

Said her father: "Our enjoyment of the backyard, garden, outbuildings, treehouse and creekbed has been taken away and replaced with nausea, headaches, irritability and stress."

Hartke compared the noise to a diesel truck parked outside one's bedroom, with the sound increasing as each blade rotating.

"I don't think kids should have to put earmuffs on to sleep," Hartke said.

Monica Jensen, vice president of development of Windlab, said people who live in the area are already subjected to noise.

"The reality is a majority of the group that is opposed to the windfarm (lives) along the railroad tracks," she said.

She added railroad tracks are "in their back yard."

"Their concerns of noise are pretty illogical based on where they live in relationship to where the nearest turbine is going to be," Jensen said. "They pull vasts amount of information off the Internet that is not scientific or peer reviewed."

Jensen said a lot of people live among wind farms "and have no problems whatsoever."

There are 60,000 megawatts of wind being generated in the U.S., Jensen said.

Greenwich area residents have said they hadn't heard about the project until recently.

"We've had multiple meetings at the township level and the county level for the past four years," Jensen said.

She said coal-powered plants are 40- to 60-years old, and with new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, repairing them can cost billions of dollars -- money that gets charged directly to rate payers.

"Anything I try to provide to an anti-wind person, it's perceived, it's made up, it's bogus, (it's) propaganda from (the) wind industry" even if it's peer-reviewed from the scientific community

"It's never good enough."

Wind power has its positives, according to the EPA's website.

"Wind energy can provide residents and businesses with the electricity they need without the harmful emissions associated with conventional electricity generation sources," it reads. "Wind is also the fastest growing energy source in the world, which helps create jobs and spur economic growth."

But wind power isn't perfect.

Wind power is "intermittent and blows best in places that make the turbines more prominent such as on top of ridgelines and in the ocean. As a result, many wind facilities face significant local opposition based on aesthetics.

"In addition, wind turbines can impact wildlife such as birds and bats. Some wind facilities such as the one in Searsburg, Vermont, have instituted pre and post construction monitoring programs to assess the impact on local wildlife, including birds and bears."

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