Archive for category Health Effects

Lee County, IL settles with couple over wind farm

Lee County residents Margina and Larry Schwartzbach say the county failed to notify them of a wind farm going up in their neighborhood.

The county never denied it.

In September, the county settled a lawsuit filed by the Schwartzbachs, giving the couple $5,000.

According to online court records, the Schwartzbachs also settled with Goldwind USA, the wind farm’s owner, and Mainstream Renewable Power, the previous owner.

The Shady Oaks wind project started operating in June 2012 in southern Lee County, near the villages of Compton and West Brooklyn. Goldwind is the subsidiary of a Chinese company.

Under open government laws, the county could not keep the settlement amount secret. Private companies have no such requirement.

Matt Klahn, a Lee County assistant state’s attorney, said the county gives wind farm companies the addresses of those who must receive notices about proposed projects, while the firms mailing them out.

With the Goldwind wind farm, four permits were involved, so the process became complicated, Klahn said.

As for the lack of notice, he said, it was an “honest mistake.”

“There were multiple people who missed it. You can’t pin this on one person,” Klahn said. “We appreciated working with the Schwartzbachs. They are nice people.”

The county’s insurance carrier covered the attorney’s fees and mediation costs, Klahn said. Because of the deductible, he said, the $5,000 was paid out of the county’s general fund.

In 2012, Margina Schwartzbach spoke during a county zoning board meeting, at which the panel was considering another wind farm. She said Goldwind project had disrupted their lives.

A turbine near her house, she said, was a constant bother.

“It’s very annoying,” she told the board. “It produces loud humming sounds.”

At night, she said, it was unbearable.

“We turn on the TV to drown it out, so we can fall asleep,” Schwartzbach said. “We don’t hear the crickets at night or birds in the morning.”

The Schwartzbachs said they found out about the wind farm when construction started in October 2011. The one turbine is 1,400 feet to the west of their home, the minimum distance the county allows.

Last year, Sauk Valley Media filed a public records request for any documents that showed the couple had received notice about the wind farm petition. The county produced nothing.

In their lawsuit, the Schwartzbachs asked the court to decommission the offending turbines and to award them damages of more than $50,000.

They filed the lawsuit without a lawyer, but by the end, they were represented by Rodney Kimes, a Beloit attorney. Neither Kimes nor the Schwartzbachs could be reached for comment.

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Town agrees to reduce operating hours of turbines; Issue far from over as final settlement still must be reached

Falmouth’s wind turbines will return to their 12hour operation following an agreement reached between neighbors and town officials in Barnstable Superior Court yesterday.

The agreement is tied to Neil P. and Elizabeth Andersen’s claim that the town’s wind turbines constitute a nuisance, which was affirmed by the Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals in May. The town has since contested that appeals board decision in superior court with initial proceedings held in September and an ensuing one held last month.

Prior to yesterday’s hearing, Falmouth selectmen had decided in a 32 vote to increase the operation of the turbines from their 7 AM to 7 PM model to one in which the machines would be operating from 5 AM to 9 PM as a way to generate enough revenue to cover the town’s expenses.

But that changed yesterday when Barnstable Superior Court Judge Christopher J. Muse directed both parties to engage in discussions to determine if there was any agreement on a temporary plan of operation of the turbines while the two sides work toward a final settlement.

Town counsel Frank K. Duffy Jr. and selectman Rebecca Moffitt, representing the town, came to an agreement with the Andersens’ attorney, J. Alexander Watt of Barnstable, and Christopher Senie of Westboro, who is representing several neighbors as parties in the case.

As part of the agreement, the town will also direct building commissioner Eladio R. Gore to devise a plan to eliminate the nuisance. The first step in that plan will be to begin acoustic testing in a variety of conditions, with one turbine running and both running at various times.

J. Malcolm Donald of Blacksmith Shop Road, a vocal opponent of the turbines who attended yesterday’s hearing, lauded the temporary agreement. “I think it was earth shattering that the parties finally, after more than three years of disagreement, actually sat down and talked,” he said. “I think it is kind of a stroke of genius of the judge. This is economical judicial action.”

While progress has been made toward a final resolution, Mr. Senie said nothing has truly been settled. “There really isn’t any agreement that has been reached. There’s been a consensus that we should take a look at a possible global settlement of [four] different pieces of litigation. We have a long road to travel to get there,” he said.

Those four lawsuits, he said, include yesterday’s as well as two separate nuisance claims against the town, one brought forward by the Andersens and another by his clients, who live near the wind turbines. The fourth lawsuit is an appeal of Barnstable Superior Court Judge Robert C. Rufo’s decision in June that Mr. Gore did not need a special permit from the appeals board to erect Wind 1, which became operational in March 2010.

In order to reach a final settlement, Mr. Duffy wrote in an email this morning that the neighbors will have to submit a list of proposed actions to the town that they believe will end all outstanding zoning and nuisance claims. That list will be discussed by selectmen once Town Meeting concludes next week.

Both parties will report on the status of negotiations to Judge Muse by Thursday, November 21.

“We are still at the very beginning stages,” Mr. Senie said. “Judge Muse did a great job to begin to shape a global settlement,” he said. “The town agreed to go back to the 12hour operational period from 7 AM to 7 PM and we appreciate that very much as an interim measure. We’re glad to have that while we have real discussions about a final and formal settlement.”

Whether an agreement can be reached, he was unsure, although he was pleased to see the direction negotiations are heading in. “I think we arrived at a new moment yesterday,” he said. “It is positive and constructive. I don’t know if it will prevail. We have an awful lot of people who have to agree on an awful lot of items. I’m not sure what will happen, but everyone is sincere about this.”

Neighbors United Education Night – Rockford, Ohio

 

What:  Wind Turbine Information

Where:  Rockford Community Building

When:  April 16, 2013 @7:00 pm

 

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Mercer County Township Assocation adopts wind farm resolution

Resolution # 03212013-B

On March 21, 2013 The Mercer County Township Association has adopted the following resolution:

 

Whereas, the Mercer County Township Trustees Association is concerned that the development of industrial-sized wind generating power plant in populated areas like ours can have many long-term negative consequences, that at this time, we cannot fully quantify and understand.

Whereas a large industrial wind development can have many potential short and long term negative impacts to both the local road system as well as to economic development opportunities.

Whereas, this Township Trustees Association respects and recognizes the importance of private property rights but recommends that landowners be fully informed and seek professional legal counsel that is versed in the law as it relates to the granting of leases, easements to wind development companies.  Further we respectfully request that landowners consider potential impacts to neighbors as a result of agreements being formalized with wind development companies.

Finally, it is not the intent of this Township Association to promote large industrial wind development efforts in Mercer County, but rather to discourage them.  This resolution does not in any way discourage private entities from developing wind resources under the 5 megawatts threshold (which is not regulated by the Ohio Power Siting Board) provided they comply with applicable zoning regulations.

Resolution was motioned by Ron Niekamp

Seconded by Keith Canary

All Voted in favor on March 21, 2013

 

Cape Cod community considers taking down wind turbines after illness, noise

Two wind turbines towering above the Cape Cod community of Falmouth, Mass., were intended to produce green energy and savings — but they’ve created angst and division, and may now be removed at a high cost as neighbors complain of noise and illness.

“It gets to be jet-engine loud,” said Falmouth resident Neil Andersen. He and his wife Betsy live just a quarter mile from one of the turbines. They say the impact on their health has been devastating. They’re suffering headaches, dizziness and sleep deprivation and often seek to escape the property where they’ve lived for more than 20 years.

“Every time the blade has a downward motion it gives off a tremendous energy, gives off a pulse,” said Andersen. “And that pulse, it gets into your tubular organs, chest cavity, mimics a heartbeat, gives you headaches. It’s extremely disturbing and it gets to the point where you have to leave.”

The first turbine went up in 2010 and by the time both were in place on the industrial site of the town’s water treatment facility, the price was $10 million. Town officials say taking them down will cost an estimated $5 million to $15 million, but that is just what Falmouth’s five selectmen have decided to move toward doing.

“The selectmen unanimously voted to remove them. We think it’s the right thing to do, absolutely,” Selectman David Braga said. “You can’t put a monetary value on people’s health and that’s what’s happened here. A lot of people are sick because of these.”

Read more: Fox News

Neighbors’ group learns about future turbines

ROCKFORD – Nearly 50 residents attended a meeting held Tuesday by a group opposing wind turbines in northern Mercer County. Most at the meeting simply asked questions.

Neighbors United co-chair Pete Hayes told the crowd at least 17 land leases have been signed in the Rockford area to construct turbines. The turbines would be an extension of the proposed Long Prairie Wind Farm in Van Wert County.

Van Wert resident Ron Schumm, whose neighbors have turbines, said the turbine company tore up the roads and did not adequately repair them.

“They will destroy your roads,” he said. “That’s something the county and townships should be aware of.”

Residents asked about the flicker and noise produced by the 300-foot-tall structures. Schumm said the first time he saw the flicker – the shadow cast by the turbine’s moving arms – he didn’t know what it was. The nearest turbine to his house is a quarter mile away. Schumm said he only sees flicker in his house for about one week out of the year when the sun is rising.

“If the turbine was located somewhere else, that would be a different story,” he said.

He also said the noise from the moving arms produces a thumping sound, but he only hears it when his windows are open.

“My wife has allergies so we don’t have our windows open very often,” he said.

He also urged residents to hire an attorney to review any contract. Schumm said he considered allowing a turbine on his land but then changed his mind.

Businesses will always write a contract to suit themselves more than the resident, he cautioned.

“No offense to local attorneys, but they just don’t have the background to handle this,” he said. “We hired an attorney from Columbus, and they are expensive.”

Schumm said a pro is the money made on the venture but cautioned that people should be weary of what is happening to farmland.

Each turbine uses about 1-2 acres of land, for which the farmer receives a payment, and the farmer does not have to pay property tax on that land. That land cannot be farmed. Wind companies also pay neighbors without turbines a certain amount of money “for their inconvenience,” he said.

“What will we do in 2050 when turbines take over our farmland?” he said. “We can live without wind energy. We can’t live without food.”

Residents asked if the turbines would run often enough to make the project worth it. Schumm said they move with very little wind.

“It’s amazing how little wind on the ground it takes to get those things moving,” he said. “They’re going almost all the time.”

Schumm said the turbines do allow him to tell which direction the wind is moving and how fast.

Residents also asked if the turbines bring down property value and if the contract covers who is responsible for dismantling the structures after they break down or become obsolete. Schumm answered it’s too soon to know.

He believes property values would decrease and said the contracts he’s seen say the company is responsible for removing broken down turbines.

“My biggest concern is bankruptcy,” he said. “Who’s going to make a bankrupt company tear it down?”

Schumm said he tried but failed to negotiate an upfront payment from the company to cover costs if they go bankrupt.

“I think that’s something elected officials will have to do,” he said.

Hayes provided attendees with letters addressed to Mercer County Commissioners, Gov. John Kasich and local congressmen saying they are against the development of turbines.

The proposed Long Prairie Wind Farm involves the construction of a 200-megawatt wind farm – approximately 67 turbines — south of the city of Van Wert, business developer Roger Brown has said. He said as many as five turbines would be constructed in Mercer County.

Brown also has asked commissioners for a payment in lieu of taxes for the project. Commissioner Jerry Laffin last week said they would not accept the proposal unless they entered into negotiations with the company and first talked with those affected.

Neighbors United also has asked Rockford, Mendon and Willshire councils to consider banning turbines inside the corporation limits.

Neighbors United will hold an educational night at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26 at the village hall. Council will meet for its next regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the village hall.

Source: The Daily Standard

Study suggests wind turbines’ low-frequency noise could cause health woes

When it comes to wind farms, it may be the sound you can’t hear that drives you to distraction, according to a report released this week that is pitting environmental groups against one another.

The study of noise levels around the Shirley Wind Farm in Brown County detected largely inaudible, low-frequency sound inside three nearby houses. But researchers found that only in the home closest to the turbines could it be correlated with sound coming from outside the house, according to the report released Monday.

The study concluded that between the low-frequency sound and the nausea, dizziness, headaches, ear pressure and other maladies reported by neighbors “enough evidence and hypotheses have been given herein to classify (low-frequency noise) as a serious issue, possibly affecting the future of the industry.”

But the study could not conclude that the health problems reported by nearby residents were caused by the low-frequency sound from the eight-turbine project, according to Clean Wisconsin, a Madison environmental group that arranged the testing.

That’s because “there aren’t any documented peer-reviewed studies finding any health effects for inaudible sounds,” said Tyson Cook, staff scientist for Clean Wisconsin, which favors development of renewable energy.

Duke Energy of Charlotte, N.C., which owns the Shirley Wind Farm, was reviewing the study but had no comment Thursday, spokesman Jason Walls said. Walls added that the facility was “in compliance with all laws and ordinances.”

The study was paid for in part with funds awarded by the Public Service Commission to Clean Wisconsin and Forest Voice, a group of homeowners fighting the Highland Wind Farm, a proposed 41-turbine facility in St. Croix County. Both groups have been granted intervenor status in the Highland Wind Farm case before the PSC.

Two lawmakers and another group involved with the testing say the study could be groundbreaking.

“The report suggests that very low-frequency noise from wind turbines may cause motion sickness-like symptoms in some people,” according to a statement from Forest Voice.

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The roar over wind turbines

Doreen Reilly said her family can’t sleep at night because the wind turbine less than 1,000 feet away sounds like a “jet liner hovering” over her Kingston home. During the day, Reilly said, she gets headaches because the spinning blades from the 400-foot-tall structure cause sunlight to flash like “a strobe light” throughout her home.

“You can’t escape it,” said the Leland Road resident. “I’m very concerned for my family and their health.”

A few streets over, on Copper Beech Drive, David Kennedy said his wife gets headaches from the moving shadows inside their home, and their children have trouble concentrating when this flickering occurs. In November, he filed five complaints with the Kingston Board of Health.

Amid a nationwide push toward wind power and other “green” energy sources, Reilly, Kennedy, and others in towns such as Scituate, Fairhaven, and Falmouth are among a small but growing number of people voicing concerns about wind turbines.

They worry about the long-term health effects of living so close to the machines, and question whether they belong in densely populated neighborhoods. Some say they’ve experienced sleep loss, migraine headaches, ringing ears, and increased blood pressure since wind turbines were installed near their homes.

Such complaints have often been met skeptically by wind-power advocates and the public at large, many of whom assume the complaints of noise, vibrations, and moving shadows are being exaggerated by a gaggle of NIMBYs.

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Additional Hazards Identified Regarding Emergency Response and Consequences of Wind Turbine Failure

Additional hazards identified in the following article regarding emergency response and consequences of wind turbine failure.

3 wind-turbine failures firefighters must know

Wind-farms have been around for several decades in Europe, but only in recent years have we seen them appear in the United States. The United Kingdom has experienced a dramatic increase in wind-turbine incidents resulting in a number of civilian injuries and deaths in the past decade, according to a report by Caithness Windfarm Information Forum 2012.

As more communities are using wind energy, many fire departments likewise across the United States are seeing wind-farms being built within their response areas. And as with most new advances in technology new challenges also arise for the fire service.

According to the trade group, American Wind Energy Association, there are utility-scale wind turbines in 38 states, 14 of those states generate at least 1,000 megawatts of power. And growth in this industry seems likely.

AWEA reports that U.S. wind turbines generate 48,600 megawatts; the on-shore potential is estimated at 10.4 million megawatts. To narrow that gap, there are nearly 100 projects in 31 states and Puerto Rico to add wind-generated capacity.

To increase their situational awareness regarding this growing trend, firefighters need to understand the top three types of wind-turbine failures. It is equally important to know the life-safety guidelines to consider when facing this new challenge.

Blade Failure
Blade failure is by far the most common type of failure and is responsible for most of the incidents reported by the CWIF. Blade failure can occur when the blades are damaged such as the result of bird strikes, storm damage, or a runaway/over-speed turbine motor with brake failure.

Fire
The second most common incident is the result of fire. Fires can occur from a number of sources, however, mechanical gearbox failure has plagued the industry for years. Other fire causes include electrical malfunctions and lightning strikes.

Structural failure of tower
While considered to be the least common type of failure, tower failure can occur from damage during transport, high winds, blade strike or lack of maintenance. A fire originating in the motor housing can spread to the composite fiber blades, and into the structural tower resulting in collapse. Blade strike is believed to be the cause of a tower collapse that occurred recently near Weatherford, Okla.

Firefighter life safety considerations
The obvious challenge facing firefighters is the height involved if a fire occurs in the turbine motor. Towers can extend 300 to 400 feet above ground.

However, due to the risk of falling fire debris over a wide area, approaching a burning turbine is usually not an option unless there is a life risk involved. If the turbine is turning, power is being generated and an electrocution hazard will be present.

Typically, a good option for firefighters to consider is to evacuate any endangered areas, set up a collapse zone, and attempt to control any ground fires to prevent the fire from spreading to other units.

In the case of a runaway or over-speed event, rotating turbines can throw debris thousands of feet away during a blade failure. Pieces of blades have been documented as traveling over 4,200 feet. Distance and time will fix this problem. Pre-incident planning and SOP development are keys to success for safely handling this unique danger.

Source: Fire Rescue 1

Digital Release of Windfall Documentary

The Digital Release of the Windfall Documentary is available on Amazon.com or iTunes.

Trailer: