Industrial Scale Wind Turbine Liabilities

Handout prepared for the 2021-May-28 Marklein / Novak Listening Session, Belmont Convention Center.

Wisconsin’s current PSC-128 guidelines for siting Wind Turbines was created back in 2012 before the negative health effects caused by the Infrasound emitted by ALL Industrial Scale Wind Turbines (IWT) were well- known. I would ask you to PLEASE contact your fellow State Rep. John Macco understand more about the Shirley Wind (only 8 turbines) to ask some of these questions –

  • Why three families in Brown County have had to abandon their homes, even though Shirley Wind Turbines were said to not produce/transmit anything harmful to humans? [Above photo documents the local pleas for neighbor solidarity and solutions to the ill effects of one dozen, much smaller, 2.5 MW Turbines at the Shirley Power Plant near Glenmore, Wisconsin)
  • Why in 2013 the Board of Directors of Wisconsin Towns Association asked the PSC to enact a moratorium to stop the permitting and installation of wind turbines until further studies are done, solutions are found and the State’s wind siting Rule (PSC 128) is modified to implement standards that address infrasound from wind turbines that will protect the health and safety of residents!
  • Why in Oct 2014 did Brown County Board of Health vote unanimously – “To declare the Industrial Wind Turbines at Shirley Wind Project in the Town of Glenmore, Brown County, WI, a Human Health Hazard for all people (residents, workers, visitors, and sensitive passersby) who are exposed to Infrasound/Low Frequency Noise and other emissions potentially harmful to human health.” In fact, ~90 people living in Brown County have claimed the Shirley Wind turbines have made them sick with sleep problems, headaches, anxiety, and nausea. So, what went wrong in Brown County at Shirley Wind? The simple answer is that the Wind Turbine Operators continue to deny that the high energy Infrasound produced by the rotating turbine blades passing the is the problem. In an attempt to PROVE that the infrasound levels in their home was indeed the cause of the sickness, one of the families that was forced to leave their home contracted with Rand Acoustics to take infrasound measurements inside and outside their home they abandoned. Shirley Wind also hired an acoustic measurement company to take measurements at the same times and locations. They were to take measurements with both the turbines running at full power AND when the turbines were stopped. BUT Shirley Wind refused to shut down their turbines to allow the measurements to be taken while the acoustic companies were onsite. Since there was NO authority that would force Shirley Wind to stop the turbines and enable baseline measurements, the report WAS NOT ABLE to compare the measurements between the running and stopped turbine infrasound levels. After the report was released saying that indeed high energy levels of infrasound were measured in the abandoned home, Shirley Wind (owned by Duke Energy) along with all their industry wind supporters declared that the report was NOT conclusive that the turbines were the source of the infrasound, since the data collection was not able to collect data when the Shirley Wind was not operating … and no one wants to pay for it again!

I challenge our Senators and Representatives is to take ACTION FOR us in SW Wisconsin by protecting ALL non-participating landowner’s property rights from infrasound sickness to –

1) Review the Wisconsin Wind Siting Council – October 2014 report found here –

https://psc.wi.gov/SiteAssets/windSitingReport2014.pdf

Please Read all of p50-60 Appendix F Minority Report signed by 6 of the 14 members

  1. 2)  REQUEST a 5 year update to the above report as REQUIRED by Act 50 on Page 50 of the above report – “Act 40 also requires that Council to submit a report to the Legislature every 5 years to provide updated information about health research and regulatory developments, as well as to provide recommendations for legislation if needed.” If due every 5 years, it is OVERDUE as of the end of October 2019 !!!
  2. 3)  Better understand Infrasound by viewing this very good video on YouTube: – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywWNx3OJyuo or google search for-“infrasound caused by Industrial Turbine German video” and find it yourself
  3. 4)  Revisit a bill first introduced in 2013 by Republican state senator Frank Lasee that – “Allows anyone living within 1.5 miles to sue both the landowner and the owner/operator of the turbine for loss of property value, moving costs, medical expenses, pain and suffering, attorney fees, “and any other loss as a result of the industrial wind turbine.”

FYI: Recent actions taken in our neighboring state Iowa –

In Madison County, Iowa -The Madison County Board of Public Health on record saying that there are legitimate negative health effects caused by wind turbines.

Board Chair Dr. Kevin de Regnier said the board identified two concerns after a review of scientific literature and months of hearings and meetings with residents and MidAmerican Energy.

The two health concerns identified are:

➢ “Flicker” caused by the sun reflecting off turbine blades creates a strobe effect that can cause headaches and nausea.

“Infrasound” is a soundwave just below what the ear can actually detect. It is created by the turbines disturbing wind flow. It, too, can cause headaches and nausea.

Resolved that the Madison County Board of Health determines that there is the potential for negative health effects associated with commercial wind turbines and that current setbacks are inadequate to protect the public health,” said Madison County Public Health.

The Madison County Board of Iowa recommends that any future wind turbine projects be at least 1.5 miles from any residence.

Health Impacts of Industrial Wind

(6 videos)

Conference, Sept. 10, 2019, at Erie County Community College, Williamsville, N.Y., sponsored by New York state Senator Robert Ortt. These 6 YouTube videos are provided by courtesy of Citizens of Lincoln, N.Y. below Also see the summary notes by by Tom Erlandson listed at the end of this document

1-Introduction (Sen. Ortt); Dan Stapleton, Niagara County Public Health Director (18 min.) https://youtu.be/fJCr63zQ5ME

2-Jerry Punch, audiologist, talks about wind turbine sound and infrasound and its impact on the human body. (38 min.)

https://youtu.be/ZpqSr-5uTfQ
3-Robert Rand, acoustician, discusses the mechanics and physiological effects of wind turbine

infrasound and setbacks. (38 min.) https://youtu.be/wOvXriO0LaA

4- Wind Farm Horror Stories: Three victims of industrial wind turbines describe their nightmare. (29 min.)

5- Gary Abraham, attorney, discusses New York State’s Article 10 process and what towns need to do to protect themselves from wind. (12 min.)

6- The participants answer: “Is it wise for Lincoln, N.Y., to allow six 500′ turbines at 3.2 MW to be built ~1,400′ from 34 homes [and only 600′ from some, and less than 1 mile from 121 homes]?” They explain why a 1.24-mile (2-km) setback is needed. (6 min.)

Text Summary below provided by Tom Erlandson, Chair of the Chautauqua County Health Board, based on notes taken during the forum:

Introductory Comments by NYS Senator Robert Ortt, Forum Sponsor

  1. On August 4, 2011, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law Chapter 388 of the Laws of 2011 that enacted Article 10 of the Public Service Law. Article 10 now governs Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs).
  2. The New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) sets zero net carbon emissions by 2050 – it involves public health considerations, among others.
  3. Senator Ortt introduced the other speakers.

Dan Stapleton: Director of Niagara County Board of Health, member of WNY Public Health Alliance Board of Directors, President of NYS Association of County Health Officials

  1. Developers should have burden to prove IWTs are safe – public should not have the burden of proving IWTs are not safe.
  2. Concerned about lakes becoming contaminated by IWT fluids, lost sleep, unanticipated health effects of IWTs.
  3. Resolutions read that thorough environmental impact studies be done for IWTs.

Dr. Jerry Punch: PhD audiologist; studied IWTs in 2009 in the “thumb” of the lower peninsula of Michigan

  1. Affected families left home, using motels at night.
  2. IWT noise much more annoying than noise of trains or cars.
  3. Referred to various studies:
    1. “Wind Energy Comes of Age” – Paul Gipe 1995
    2. “Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on a Natural Experiment” – Dr. Nina Pierpont
    3. Cooper and Chan: Australian study on Wind Turbine Syndrome
    4. “Low Frequency Noise and Health” – Dr. Mariana Alves-Pereira (Portugal, 2007-13)
    5. Berglund, B, et al. 1999 – Guidelines for Community Noise, WHO, Geneva
  4. Mentioned cortisol – a hormone involved in stress.
  5. Stated that sleep disturbance is the most well documented effect of IWT.
  6. Stated that sleep disturbance affects health: hypertension, memory, etc.
  7. Outer hair cells in the inner ear are sensitive to infrasound.
  8. Infrasound can lead to motion sickness – involves balance, vision, muscle receptors.
  9. IWT setbacks are not sufficient to protect human health.

10.EPA noise regulations not updated since 1978.

11. Setback distance is the most effective way of controlling IWT problems: a. 1.25 miles from property line minimum
b. 1.5 miles from property line last month in Madison County, Iowa

12.See conclusions in Punch, J.L. & R.R. James: “Wind Turbine Noise and Human Health: A Four-Decade History of Evidence That Wind Turbines Pose Risks.” 2016 [link]

Rob Rand: Professional acoustic investigator since 1980; has been investigating IWTs since 2009

  1. Rand quoted from the Code of Ethics of the National Society of Professional Engineers: “Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public.”
  2. Meters do not measure noise impacts, only noise levels.
  3. Wind turbines sited primarily in rural areas and are touted as pollution-free.
  4. Distance is the only reliable noise control option available for wind turbines so far. Most places do not have enough setback distance.
  5. Background noise in rural areas is low – 20-25 dBA at night. Annoyance is “perceived by individuals or groups to be adversely affecting them. Above 35 dBA is incompatible with rural living without annoyance” – American National Standards Institute.
  6. The quantity, ubiquity, and consistency of anecdotal complaints do have epidemiological significance.
  7. Re wildlife studies with badgers show elevated cortisol levels resulting from infrasound. [link]
  8. Nauseogenesis – a nauseogenic factor is associated with IWTs.

Gary Abraham: Attorney

  1. Article 10 governs industrial wind projects producing greater than 25 megawatts.
  2. The Cassadaga wind project is the first Article 10 project.
  3. It is not realistic to regulate mean/average noise level with IWTs – the noise output is not a steady hum, but is a pulse produced during the blade downstroke.
  4. Siting board continues to use mean/average noise level.
  5. There is not much optimism in NYS about Article 10. NYS Home Rule is the only reason for optimism in New York State.
    1. Towns must pre-adopt 35 dB noise level limits.
    2. Towns must draft laws to protect people.
  6. Re upstate NYS electric energy picture:
    1. The upstate grid is separate from the downstate grid.
    2. The upstate grid is already getting 90% of its electricity from water power and nuclear power sources (i.e., clean energy). Still we keep building IWT projects.
    3. Towns can limit tower height, e.g., to 400 ft. (676 ft. towers in Town of Guilford, NY (Chenango County).
    4. Towns can adopt 35 decibel limits.
  7. Get your New York town to pass a proper wind law!”

We are praying that we will NOT become sick in our homes in South West Wisconsin like those that have in Brown County

Shirley Wind – Local advocates are posting home-made signs on their lawns in Glenmore

Senator Marklein and Representatives Novak and Tranel, PLEASE help us and take immediate actions BEFORE it is too late. Thank you for all for coming to Belmont to hear our concerns.

Wind Power Plant Developer and County Secrecies Continue

        There are four, fundamental facts that every community and every landowner approached by a wind power developer wants and deserves to know: 

  • What is the power size in megawatts of each turbine?
  • How tall are the turbines?
  • How many would be installed and over what area?
  • With today’s wind turbines more than twice as tall and 3.6 times more powerful/louder than those at Montfort, Wisconsin[1], the public deserves to know if the company has tested the turbines for noise and air impacts under Wisconsin’s lower standards?[2]

        Three of the multi-national companies pursuing large wind power plants in Iowa, Lafayette and Grant Counties (Wisconsin) have provided none of this information either for the public, at large, or for directly affected landowners or their neighbors. To be specific, this fundamental information was omitted in PRC’s mid-April brochure[3] regarding the Red Barn power plant that would surround Montfort, it was not present in Invenergy’s mid-February notice[4] to Iowa County  and Pattern LLC did not mention it in their interview[5] 1 with the Dodgeville Chronicle this month concerning their Uplands plant proposal aimed at Iowa and Lafayette Counties.

        Further, when counties have received scarce information from developers, they have not informed the public about it or placed it into public records. The seriousness of these omissions becomes evident when one considers that Foxconn’s much discussed $672 million plant proposal has only one-third of the value of Uplands when tax and other incentives are folded in over 40 years. (See p. 2 / note 10, https://bit.ly/uplands-m ) 

     And unlike large factories and farms, the wind power plants would be glaringly obvious to all commuters and vacationers on Highways 151 and 18 all the way from the outskirts of Madison to the Bluffs of the Mississippi River. Day and night.  (See p. 3 / note 16, https://bit.ly/uplands-m  ) 

        Had Invenergy’s February 16, 2021 letter to the Iowa County Board [6] been publicly reported, the citizenry of Southwestern Wisconsin would have found the company’s advice about the County’s out-dated, 2014 Wind Ordinance highly informative. The international power plant builder writes, “We encourage you to leave it in place,” despite the fact that updating it would add protections pertaining to impacts from large turbines and other transparency improvements.

    The outcome of Uplands still rests on landowners not signing lease contracts with Pattern. Those who are approached to sign are encouraged to ask themselves:


Why would Invenergy risk stating this request if the company had no fear of increased public and landowner accountabilities from an updated Wind Siting Ordinance?

      Secrecy on both sides has persisted even as community papers have published a steady stream of citizen concerns and information requests since December. The Iowa County Board has yet to acknowledge that more than fifty citizens formally asked the Board to host an on-record, public information meeting for developers to answer questions received in advance and for citizens to ask follow-up questions.

        Concerns about negative health impacts were furthered at the Iowa County Planning and Zoning Committee meeting last week when Scott Godfrey, a member of the Wisconsin Wind Siting Council, stated that he sees little or no ability for County to stand-up for affected residents should they become chronically sick from wind turbine exposures. In 2010, three Wisconsin families were forced to move from their homes in Brown County, Wisconsin when they were exposed to only eight turbines. Those turbines are two hundred feet shorter and have less than half the power of those aimed at the Livingston, Wisconsin area.[7]

        No one disagrees with Invenergy that outdated and lacking public protections are doing a very good job of, “promoting private property rights.” They have literally placed the future of Southwest Wisconsin in the hands of our neighbors. This is our time; this is our test; we either practice the golden rule or have our lands and local economies ruled by outside interests.

  1. Size data at https://bit.ly/Whitetail-Livingston-5_6MW ; http://bit.ly/WhitetailFAARecords-698ft and http://bit.ly/MontfortWind-Description Official utility records indicate that turbines proposed to surround Livingston, WI would be more than twice as tall as the turbines at Montfort (698′ vs. 328′) and have 3.6 times the power (5.6 MW vs. 1.5 MW). The Livingston Turbines said to be under development by Whitetail would be 58% higher than those more recently installed at Quilt Block near Darlington. 
  2. Distances between the wind turbines and residencies in Wisconsin can be as close as 1250’ compared to 1500’-3750’ in other states. Fully allowable noise levels in Wisconsin can be four times louder than background sound levels. Existing Wisconsin codes have no protections against house-vibrating air pressure pulses that can induce nausea, disorientation, sleeplessness and other serious ailments.  
  3. http://bit.ly/RedBarnBrochure-20210416 
  4. https://bit.ly/InvenergyIntentLetter_20210216 
  5. https://bit.ly/Pattern-DodgevilleChronicle-20210401 
  6. https://bit.ly/InvenergyIntentLetter_20210216 
  7. http://bit.ly/3-Families-Move-Out-ShirleyWind-2014 

Comments Regarding Iowa County Wind Ordinance “FAQ”

No Uplands.com Volunteer, Chris Klopp’s, comments inserted, in RED, below
– – – – – – – – –

Wind Siting Frequently Asked Questions

— Below text, in black, posted by from Iowa County “Wind FAQ

1. What authority does the County have to regulate wind turbine projects?

The county cannot regulate wind projects using zoning authority, but can adopt a siting ordinance consistent with PSC 128 Wis. Admin. Code, §66.0401 Wis. Stats. and §196.491 Wis. Stats.

2. Can the County deny a wind project that is 100 megawatts (MW) or larger?

No. For wind projects of 100 megawatts or larger, the county does not have authority to approve or deny the project. This authority lies with the Public Service Commission. [§196.491 Wis. Stats]

3. Can the County deny a wind project that is under 100 megawatts (MW)?

For wind projects under 100 megawatts, the county can approve or deny a project based on consistency with an adopted siting ordinance that enacts the standards of PSC 128. The county cannot be more restrictive than PSC 128.

4. What are the required setbacks for wind projects?

The maximum setbacks are established in PSC 128 and the county cannot impose a greater setback. The current county siting ordinance includes these setbacks.

5. What role does the county have in a proposed wind project of 100 megawatts or larger?

The county can participate in the Public Service Commission review of the project and provide comments and information like other interested parties. If the Public Service Commission approves the project, and the county disagrees with the approval, the county can challenge the decision through the judicial review under Wis. Stat. Chapter 227.

Comment 1: The County could intervene in the CPCN proceeding.

Comment 2: If approved, the County would still have a role in managing the project, monitoring compliance and enforcement of criteria which would include:

  • Noise, shadow flicker, stray voltage, signal interference, if these are incorporated into the county’s ordinance
  • Construction, operation and maintenance standards
  • Decommissioning
  • Resolution of complaints

6. What role does the public have in a proposed wind project 100 megawatts (MW) or larger?

For projects of 100 megawatts or larger, the public may provide comments to the Public Service Commission through its website as well as during the required public hearing(s) held by the Commission.

Comment: The public may intervene as a full part to the proceeding, as individuals, groups of individuals or as individuals belonging to an organization. There are many other ways that the public can participate that are not directly part of the PSC proceeding. Some of the other ways the public could participate include:

  • Writing Letters to the Editor of newspapers
  • Putting up signs
  • Putting Ads in Newspapers
  • Organizing with other concerned residents and interested parties
  • Writing to and meeting with their legislators
  • Seeking resolutions and letters from the county and municipal governments
  • Seeking resolutions from local organizations

7. What role does the public have in a proposed wind project under 100 megawatts (MW)?

For projects under 100 megawatts, there is a public hearing process at the county as required by the county’s siting ordinance. The county can only respond to concerns that it has jurisdiction of under its ordinance.

Comment: The Current Iowa County Wind Energy Siting Ordinance does not REQUIRE a public hearing. The current ordinance refers to:

  • “Including a recording of any public hearing, copies of documents submitted at any public hearing, … (Section V, subsection 5.0, Application Processing, sub 5.3)
  • “evidence in the record of any public hearing” (Section V, subsection 5.0, Application Processing, sub 5.4)
  • “At its discretion, the county may hold at least one public meeting …” (Section VI, subsection 6.0, third paragraph)

The use of the word “any” suggests that there may be a hearing or that there may not be a hearing. Nowhere does the ordinance definitively require a public hearing or meeting. How the public would be allowed to participate at a public hearing is also not defined. Be aware that a public hearing may not provide extensive public participation and would be different than a public information meeting. A public information meeting, if held, may be prior to the application (after the pre-application notice) or before the application was deemed complete).

The proposed revisions include the following language: “The county shall hold at least one public meeting to obtain comments on and to inform the public about a proposed wind energy system.” (Section V, proposed subsection 5.22 (e.) PUBLIC PARTICIPATION )

8. What impact will revising the county’s siting ordinance to include all of the PSC 128 standards have on a proposed wind project of less than 100 MW?

The current ordinance does not include the PSC 128 siting standards relating to:

Noise – cannot exceed 50 dBA during daytime or 45 dBA during nighttime
Shadow flicker – cannot cause more than 30 hours per year of shadow flicker at nonparticipating residences or occupied community building; such buildings are eligible for mitigation if modeling shows experiencing 20 hours or more per year of shadow flicker
Stray voltage – owner must work with local power company to test all dairy and confined animal operations within 0.5 mile and rectify any issues caused by the wind project
Signal interference – must use reasonable and commercially available technology to mitigate interference caused by the wind system to commercial and personal communication signals.

If these are incorporated into the county’s ordinance, a project under 100 MW will need to be planned to comply with the minimum standards as outlined in PSC 128.

Comment: The sections on Noise, Shadow Flicker, Signal Interference and Stray Voltage contain much more than listed above. While these are the most important omissions in the current wind siting ordinance, there are many other minor but important PSC 128 subsections included in the suggested revisions. Some of these subsections provide:

  • More time for public comments (30 days vs. 10 days in current ordinance).
  • Detailed public participation provisions.
  • Establishment of a Complaint Monitoring Committee and additions to complaint resolution section.
  • Details of the appeal process.
  • The ability for the county to require 50% of the application fees up front. Stronger requirements for retaining funds for decommissioning.
  • More time to determine if the application is complete (45 days vs. 10 days in current ordinance).
  • Requirements for the wind turbine owner to make reasonable accommodation of existing land uses.
  • Construction, Operation and Maintenance standards.

9. Is the county going to amend the wind siting ordinance to include all of the standards that are available under PSC 128?

After consideration at three consecutive meetings, the Iowa County Planning & Zoning Committee took action at its January 26, 2021 meeting to not make any revisions to the county’s wind siting ordinance at that time. The county is continuing to gather and research

information to potentially consider whether the current ordinance should be updated in the future, what PSC standards should be included, and how the changes would be implemented.

Comment: After the January 26th Planning & Zoning Committee Meeting, the full County Board heard comments and discussed the issue of revising the County’s Wind Siting Ordinance at their February 16th meeting. The board sent the issue back to the Planning & Zoning Committee for further consideration, which was not honored at its next meeting. The Planning & Zoning Committee could/should be working on revising the ordinance at the same time it is researching specific sections where questions remain. It is critical that the county revise the ordinance prior to receiving an application. If they do not, they will be placing residents at risk and putting the county in a position of financial risk given the state of the current ordinance.

10. What additional costs could the county incur if it were to revise its siting ordinance to include all the PSC 128 standards?

Most of the additional application review costs can be passed onto the applicant. Most of the ongoing monitoring costs can be passed onto the wind system owner. However, the costs associated with investigating complaints will be borne solely by the county.

These costs may include:

Staff time: take in complaint, start record documentation, request relevant information from owner, investigate, analyze information, determine if a violation exists, propose potential resolution(s)

Third party experts: depending upon the nature of the complaint, the county may need to hire one or more experts to perform studies, analyze data, etc.

Comment: While the county would have staff time involved in processing complaints, this is part and parcel of being a county government. The county is responsible for enforcing all county laws. Does the county determine which laws it is willing to have based on whether it will cost them something to enforce them? This should be no different. As to third party experts, PSC 128.40(2)(a) COMPLAINT RESOLUTION. States: “(a) An owner shall use reasonable efforts to resolve complaints regarding a wind energy system and shall investigate complaints regarding a wind energy system at the owner’s expense.” It is possible that the county could require the owner to provide for third-party investigation of complaints.

Monitoring Committee: the county may choose to create a Monitoring Committee as authorized under PSC 128. It would maintain a record of all complaints and recommend a reasonable complaint resolution to the county. These individuals presumably will be paid a per diem, mileage, etc.

County Board: Ultimately, the board will need to accept the suggested complaint resolution, which will likely entail one or more meetings of a committee and/or the full board. As with any administration of an ordinance, the county may be subject to litigation by anyone who feels it either was not followed or there was an excess of authority exercised.

It is difficult to put a number to the potential additional costs as it will be dependent upon the nature, frequency and number of complaints.

Comment: There are all sorts of meetings and functions that part of the daily functioning of county government. It seems that protecting citizens, specifically in relation to potential health risks posed by a company who’s only interest is to profit off of Iowa County, is a minimum ethical standard. Protecting public welfare does cost money. Why would this one specific industry be allowed to affect public welfare without oversight? As far as litigation, the county can be sued over a broad array of actions it takes. There is also liability in not protecting public health when the county has been fully appraised of possible health risks associated with proximity to wind turbines. If the county feels that the state legislature has put undue burden upon them in regards to siting wind turbines, the county can convey their concerns to the legislature (like any citizen) or collaborate with other counties through the County’s Association, to make a joint effort in this regard.

11. Can complaints be made after a wind project is in operation?

Yes. Regardless if there is a county siting ordinance, complaints must first be made to the wind system owner. The owner has 45 days to resolve the complaint. If unresolved after 45 days, the complainant may either petition the county for review if the project is under 100 MW, or the Public Service Commission if the project is 100 MW or larger.

If the county has established a Monitoring Committee, said committee will investigate the complaint and propose a reasonable resolution. Absent such a committee, this responsibility will fall to the office and/or staff designated by the County Board.

If the resolution is not satisfactory to either the complainant or system owner, the county’s decision may be appealed to the Public Service Commission.

When a complaint involves a wind system that crosses more than one political jurisdiction, there needs to be collaboration between the jurisdictions.

Comment: It is unlikely that the PSC will process any complaints. It is very likely that, with the exception of approval of a CPCN, all other management of the project will be the responsibility of the county.

12. Why does the county have more authority over other development, such as building a house, than it does over wind projects?

In Wisconsin, counties only have authority granted by State statutes. The statutes authorizing county zoning are different than the statutes that authorize wind siting. The wind siting statutes preempt county zoning authority.

13. Is there anything that the public and/or county can do to express concerns or opposition to the State wind siting law?

Ultimately, it is the State Legislature that has the ability to change the statutes relating to wind siting. Petitions can be made to the Legislature to revise or update the siting standards to better reflect the current wind technology. The current PSC 128 standards are largely unchanged since enacted in 2012.

14. What is the wind siting application review timeline?

See the attached flow chart created by the Public Service Commission. It can also be found at https://psc.wi.gov/SiteAssets/localGovtApprovalTimeline.pdf

15. What impact will a large wind system have on property values?

This is a question that is difficult to definitively answer. Where most land is currently planned and zoned for agricultural use, the development of a wind project may have minimal impact as that land use is largely able to continue. An argument can also be made that the income generation potential of a wind project on agricultural land increases its overall value, which encourages its continued agricultural use.

However, where land is anticipated to be converted from an agricultural use to a residential or other use, a wind project may have a negative impact on the property value. Such a project can be denied if proposed in an area planned for primarily residential or commercial development in an adopted comprehensive plan.

Comment: Whether or not land may continue to be farmed does not determine the property value. The property value is determined by what the property can be sold for in the current real estate market. From what sources did the county draw the concept that “income generation potential of a wind project on agricultural land increases its overall value”? There are many examples of farm families that have had to abandon their properties because they cannot sell it (at any price) and cannot live there because of health effects caused by the wind turbines. This does not speak to an increase in value. The county is speculating on the fate of county landowner’s investments, which is not only inappropriate but shows a lack of concern for county residents. There are studies that show property value losses.1 That a project can be denied for areas within a comprehensive plan designated as residential, is irrelevant to all of the rurally located properties.

16. What are the possible negative health impacts of large wind projects?

To date, there are many anecdotal accounts and studies that wind projects cause negative health effects. However, there are few if any peer-reviewed scientific studies that draw a conclusive cause/effect.

The Wisconsin Wind Siting Council filed a 2014 report to the State Legislature summarizing health effects associated with the operation of wind systems. The report can be found at: windSitingReport2014.pdf

Another source is a joint statement of the Environmental Health Sciences Research Center at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, Iowa Policy Project, and the Iowa Environmental Council, which summarizes the results of the best research available. It concludes there is little scientific evidence that sound from wind turbines represents a risk to human health among neighboring residents. The statement can be found at: http://www.iowapolicyproject.org/2019docs/190131-Wind-Health.pdf

Comment: It seems inappropriate for the county to be dispelling the possibilities of health effects from wind turbines. The county’s job is to protect the health of their citizens, not stand up for wind turbine developers claims that their projects do not cause health effects. In the same way that health effects have not been definitively proven, there is also no definitive proof that there are no health effects. There is proof that families living in proximity to wind turbines have had to abandon their homes because they could no longer live in them due to health effects that occurred after wind turbines began operating near their dwelling. The wind siting council report is from 2014, making it dated and there is no evidence presented to verify that it was comprehensive and unbiased. There is no credibility in citing a statement from a utility funded organization (Iowa Environmental Council is utility funded). Has the county verified that the statement from “the Environmental Health Sciences Research Center at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, Iowa Policy Project, and the Iowa Environmental Council” is “the best research available”, and by what means? Throwing out cherry-picked evidence on potential health effects from wind turbines is hardly the county’s province. The county ‘s assertion that the Wind Turbines and Health statement “concludes there is little scientific evidence that sound from wind turbines represents a risk to human health among neighboring residents” contradicts some of the actual findings listed in the document, such as:

  • “Current evidence is sufficient to establish a causal relationship between a person’s exposure to wind turbine noise and feelings of annoyance.”
  • “Current evidence is limited for a causal relationship between exposure to wind turbine noise and sleep disturbance.” Note: This indicates there is evidence that wind turbine noise causes sleep disturbance.

There actually is a great deal of evidence that wind turbines cause health problems. A cardiologist from Iowa did an extensive search of information related to health effects caused by wind turbines. He presents a history of studies and information that details health risks from wind turbines. His paper, “A Madison County, Iowa, Cardiologist’s Investigation and Response to Industrial Wind Turbines in the Rural Residential Countryside Regarding Concerns of Adverse Health Effects And, Exploration of the Relevant Accompanying Larger Issues” by W. Ben Johnson, M.D., December 7, 2020 can be found at:

https://defrock826696316.files.wordpress.com/2020/12/johnson-health-effects-201207.pdf

Some notable excerpts from his paper include:

  1. At p 42-43, “The U.S. government has known about health effects of infrasound and low frequency noise from IWTs since 1987. It was concerned (then) enough to commission a study. The study was a research project funded by the U.S. Department of Health, Contract No. DE-AC02-83CH10093. Among many impressive scientific papers, was the following: Dr. N.D. Kelley, Solar Energy Research Institute, Golden, Colorado: “A proposed Metric for Assessing the Potential of Community Annoyance from Wind Turbine Low- Frequency Noise Emissions” Note: “Community Annoyance” is now called Wind Turbine Syndrome; “Low Frequency” includes infrasound; “Emissions” includes noise and vibrations.”
  2. At p 51, the paper cites a text book called Wind Farm Noise and Human Perception – A Review by Bob Thorne (PhD in Public Health and Acoustician specializing in infra- and low frequency sound) stating: “There is a significant body of peer-reviewed research readily available in public forum to substantiate the potential for serious to moderate adverse health effects to individuals due to wind farm activity noise while living in their residencies and while working on their farms near large-scale wind farms or large turbines. Adverse health effects can arise from extreme psychological stress from environmental noise, particularly low frequency noise with symptoms of sleep disturbance, headache, tinnitus, ear pressure, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, visual blurring, tachycardia, irritability, problems with concentration and memory, and panic attack episodes associated with such sensations when awake or asleep.”
  3. At p 90, “Australian Senate Select committee on Wind Turbines held June 29, 2015 established that there is a direct pathway to disease resulting from wind turbine noise.” And “Since 2015, 248 government entities from Maine to California have restricted or rejected wind projects.”
  4. At p 91, something closer to home, “The Brown County Town Health Board in Wisconsin recently declared Duke Energy’s Shirley Industrial Wind Turbine Development to be a Human Health Hazard. The precise wording of the declaration follows: “To declare the Industrial Wind Turbines in the Town of Glenmore, Brown county, Wisconsin, a Human Health Hazard for all people (residents, workers, visitors, and sensitive passerby) who are exposed to Infrasound/Low Frequency Noise and other emissions potentially harmful to human health”

This is just a small fraction of the evidence presented in Dr. Ben Johnson’s 179 page paper. More evidence is presented in the No-Uplands.com mailer containing four footnotes that citing evidence of health effects from wind turbines: 28, 34, 36 and 37.

17. Why is there so little information available to the public about large wind projects of 100 MW or larger?

Because a wind developer does not have to seek local approval of a project of 100 megawatts or larger, it will usually not provide detailed information until required to provide a pre-application notice to the county. The pre-application notice is required by State law to be filed with several parties, to include landowners within one mile of a planned wind turbine host property as well as the political subdivisions within which the wind energy system may be located, at least 90 days prior to submitting an application to construct a wind energy system with the Public Service Commission. If the turbines are to be 600 feet or taller, an additional pre-application notice must be filed with the PSC at least 180 days before the application for construction of the system is submitted to the PSC.

Until a preapplication notice is submitted to the county, the county has no definitive information on any proposed project.

Comment: If the Developer communicates with the county in any way regarding the project, the county knows something and should be sharing information with the public. If the Developer gives a presentation to a county committee, again, this is information and the public should be informed. What is the first contact that Pattern made with the county by any means? After being contacted by a Developer, the county could ask them questions and could set up a public information meeting, inviting the Developer to participate.

18. Can the county negotiate for local benefits from wind projects, such as access to energy, local jobs, etc.?

The county may propose a developer’s agreement, but has no authority to require one.

19. What impact might a county renewable energy plan have on future wind projects?

It is possible that such a plan may be taken into consideration by the Public Service Commission when considering an application, but that would be solely the Commission’s discretion. However, such a plan would not change the statutory authority provided to the county as pertaining to renewable energy projects on land not owned by the county.

20. How likely is it that an application for a wind project will “catch the county off guard”?

Any wind project under 100 MW must file a pre-application notice with the county and all landowners within one mile of the planned project area at least 90 days before submitting an application for county review under its ordinance. Any wind project 100 MW or larger must file a pre-application with the county and all landowners within one mile of the planned project area at least 90 days before submitting an application for Public Service Commission review. Any project proposing turbines in excess of 600 feet must file a pre-application notice with the Public Service Commission at least 180 days before submitting an application.

Comment: Given that the Planning and Zoning Committee, and the County Board, meet only once per month, and that any real discussion of revising the Wind Siting Ordinance has been delayed and tabled for more than 5 months, 90 days is not likely enough time to give reasonable consideration to revising this ordinance.

1 See comparison of utility-funded and independent studies of wind turbine impacts on property values collected by McCann: http://bit.ly/WindTurbinePropertyValueImpactKielischMcCann Utility studies pose there are modest negative impact on values while those conducted by independent evaluators show very significant range of losses from 15-45% with an average of 29%.(From footnote 23 of the Uplands Mailer)

No-Uplands.com Bensinger Video Vimeo

No-Uplands Wind – A Video by Charles Bensigner

Shown above: A 2.5 MW wind turbine being installed for Pattern Wind LLC in New Mexico, the same company that proposing a high visibility wind system across a 250 square mile area in western Iowa and Lafayette counties, Wisconsin.

No-Upands.com is pleased to announce that Milwaukee-based videographer Charles Bensigner has produced a 3 minute video introducing the 600 MW Uplands Wind power plant proposal to the citizens of Wisconsin. With approximately 170 turbines 650 feet in height, the power plant would permeate many Wisconsin views of the world reknown Driftless area and establish the second largest power plant in the Midwest despite the area having far less than optimum wind resources.

In a recent letter to MARIA REDMOND head of Governor Ever’s Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy, Bensinger asks,

I’m wondering if you’re aware of the tremendous tension and public outcry occurring in certain rural Wisconsin communities regarding what appears to be the forcing of local communities to accept the construction of very large solar and wind farms promoted by out-of-state developers?

Bensinger attributes the underlying causes for the community strife,

[Sales a]gents for these developers often operate in a secretive manner to obtain land contract agreements with landowners, often pitting neighbors against each other and their local political representatives. Residents fear they will suffer deleterious health effects, business disruption and significant environmental impacts from wind and solar farms, loss of good farmland, property values, cherished viewscapes and a major reduction in their quality of life.

Bensinger is no newcomer to energy problem solving and the primacy of local economics. His is currently engaged with several projects with helping neighbors in his urban Milwaukee neighborhood improve the energy performance of their homes. He has found that electric bills in his neighborhood are often 2-3 times higher than bills in nearby neighborhoods. As Wisconsin rebates for efficiency and home improvements rank near the bottom of Midwest states, Bensinger believes that asking urban ratepayers to fund remote power plants is counter-productive on two fronts: (1) by adding new costs to bills that would be better directed to larger Focus on Energy rebates and (2) by under-cutting the development of local measures that would make Milwaukee neighborhoods decreasingly dependent on remote renewable power. The former Director of the Alternative Energy and Biofuels Center at Santa Fe Community College believes that, eventually, urban neighborhoods or clusters of 2-10 houses/businesses will be operating on locally owned micro-grids based on small scale generation technologies. He is particularly enthusiastic about Inductance Energy‘s Earth Engine but expects there to be many solutions far more affordable than the costly monopoly expansion model that Uplands Wind promotes.

Bensinger’s commitment to locally produced power applies to rural local economies as well. He called upon his rural ties in New Mexico to obtain photographs of turbines being installed by Pattern LLC, the same company proposing the Uplands power plant,

Through the, Wisconsin Video Hub, Bensigner and his cohort, Daniel Folkman, have documented important conferences and presentations pertaining to Wisconsin’s rural communities. Below is a sampling of the entries from their library:

  • Limitations of the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) Engineer Bill Powers discusses, Midwest Transmission Expansion Planning [MTEP], utility-prejudiced economic analysis used by regional transmission owners under the auspices of The Midcontinent Independent System Operator [MISO]. MISO and MTEP planning are often confused as having governmentally assigned energy planning authorities. Increasingly, SOUL of Wisconsin and citizen intervenors are challenging the false public impressions and MISO’s annual, capital utility spending exercise. 60 min, 2018
  • Negative Impacts of Expansion Transmission Lines Town of Holland Clerk Marilyn Pedretti (La Crosse Co. WI) describes how their town was ill-prepared for dealing with the economic and other negative impacts from the presence of two 345 kV expansion transmission lines. 10 min, Mar 2018
  • More Wires to Serve Less Need? As legal counsel for the Town of Holland, Frank Jablonski describes the need to challenge Wisconsin Utilities and the Public Service Commission (PSC) purported “need” for additional power and power lines. 9 min, 2018
  • Our Distributed, Local-Based Energy Futures Drawing upon his experiences from authoring long term energy planning for San Diego, San Francisco and the state of North Carolina, Engineer Bill Powers describes the rapid progress being made in home, business and municipal developments of solar plus storage. He discusses the additional roles that energy efficiency and load management play in creating a right-sized electrical system. 12 min, Mar 2018

Encouraging Iowa County Official Accountability and Action

Executive Committee Must Approve Ordinance Upgrade Motion at March 9, 2021 Meeting

SOME RECENT HISTORY

At highest levels, Iowa County officials have known about the massive 600 MW Uplands Wind project for more than a year. To date, the County has yet to acknowledge the international developer’s large scale interests and is even on record as instructing inquiring County Supervisors to tell their constituents to phone Pattern Wind LLC for answers to their questions rather than expect the County to attain information.

Whether on purpose or not, County foot dragging furthered the ability of Pattern LLC sales agents to obtain leases from landowners nearly undetected by the public at large. Were these high officials aware that Pattern was getting closer and closer to obtaining the critical number of lease signatures so the massive proposal would clear transmission connection requirements and leap quickly to the review by the state with short review review by the County under an old, incomplete Wind Siting Ordinance? Speaking just for itself, the public record raises reasons for concern.

Through last Fall, the Planning and Zoning Committee ignored requests by Committee members to ask the multi-national developer to hold public information meetings.

To help speed-up the process of bringing the County’s 2014 Wind Siting Ordinance up to current state standards, a citizen intervenor involved with the appeal of the Cardinal Hickory Creek transmission line, drafted an updated Wind Siting Ordinance carefully weaving in missing, allowable protections from PSC Code 128 into the County’s existing document. In early December, the Planning and Zoning Committee, with higher officials present, hardly gave the updated Ordinance a glance. After more delays, the Planning and Zoning Committee voted to table the entire Ordinance update initiative on January 26, 2021.

Having seen enough inaction, 86 citizens “zoomed” into February 15, 2021 Iowa County Board Meeting with more than 20 using the public comment period to voice concerns about the proposed 600 MW Uplands wind power plant proposal. Most emphasized that after months of inexplicable delay, the County must act immediately to update its 2014 Wind Siting Ordinance. Later in the meeting of the full board, a number of County Supervisors clarified these requests by requesting that the Planning and Zoning Committee resume its work updating the 2014 Wind Siting Ordinance.

With citizen caution still running high, on February 25, the Planning and Zoning Committee heard many more, precise and informed requests during the public comment period at the start of the meeting. The Chair of the Committee responded by simply stating that public comments would receive no reply and that Pattern’s proposal and the Ordinance Update were not on meeting agenda and will not be discussed,

Over the course of a year, Iowa County’s silence and inaction has supported Pattern LLC make steady gains towards its for-profit interests while public interests have yet to be acknowledged– not to mention supported or pursued. In September, the County Chair acknowledged that he is employed on a daily basis helping the efforts of wind developers. When letters were sent to County Supervisors by No-Uplands volunteers suggesting it would be appropriate for the Chair to recuse (remove) himself from all discussion of the matter due possible conflict of interest, the Chair responded that the attack on him was unwarranted. He stated that because his work in currently in North Illinois, no conflict in determining wind development regulation in Iowa County exists.

How close is Pattern LLC to attaining landowner signatures for 75% of the land required for the approximate 250 square mile study area in both Iowa and Lafayette County? This is merely one many key questions that citizens have and elected officials, by duty and position are obligated to determine for the sake of public safety, health and long term welfare of the County’s local economies.

SOME NECESSARY ACTIONS

Patience is no longer an option. The only way the citizens of Iowa County can expect any representation in this upheaval is to phone their county supervisors and use a technique that demands written accountabilities and action. Here is an outline of the proven technique:

1)  Unless one personally knows members of the Iowa County Executive Conmmittee Ron Benish, Dave Gollon, Jeremy Meek, Dan Nankee or Curt Peterson, phone your personal County Supervisor:  https://www.iowacounty.org/media/Directory%202019.pdf

2) Introduce yourself including where you live. 

3) To engage the Supervisor in discussion, prepare and ask 1-3, short clearly stated questions about Uplands details and impacts. Its best to read some materials first and personally determine what missing information is most important to you.  

4) If your Supervisor suggests asking someone else, you have the option to politely say, “OK. I will do that, but as my Supervisor, I want you to experience the difficulty of obtaining factual information and to possess the information you need to make decisions in the best interests of your constituents.”

5) If your Supervisor rattles off information that is not accountable, in writing in the County’s public record, you have the option to politely say, “That is interesting. Can you send me a link to the source for that information? I still want you to research my questions.

6) Tell your Supervisor you will be following up the phone call with your questions in writing in an email. https://www.iowacounty.org/media/Directory%202019.pdf

7) Tell your Supervisor you will phone he or she back in 10-14 days for answers to your questions if you don’t hear from he or she earlier.

8) Conclude the call and the follow-up email by asking the Supervisor to immediately call one of the members of the Executive Committee ( Ron Benish, Dave Gollon, Jeremy Meek, Dan Nankee or Curt Peterson) and ask the member to ask the Chair add a motion to the March 9, 2021 Meeting agenda that would require the County to act immediately to update its 2014 Wind Siting Ordinance to include all available health, safety and other protections allowable in State Code.

JOINT LETTER TO IOWA COUNTY SUPERVISORS Regarding Wind Ordinance Deficiencies:

The below letter will be mailed with additional materials to all Iowa County Supervisors no later than Feb 12, 2021. You can co-sign the letter by adding your name and contact information here: https://bit.ly/Co-Sign-IA-Co-Board-Ltr-202102 . Further explanation about current ordinance shortfalls can be found in this post; Interested persons are also encouraged to attend the ZOOM County Board meeting on February 16, 2021 and may speak, briefly, towards the start of the meeting. See info on Calendar

– – – – – – – –

Dear Iowa County Supervisor,

We are writing in response to the January 26th, Iowa County Zoning Committee discussion and action on the proposed revisions to the Iowa County Wind Energy System Siting Ordinance (the Ordinance). The Zoning Committee tabled further action on revising the 2014 Ordinance. This Ordinance is out of date and was not written to address larger wind facilities like the 600 MW project being proposed by Pattern, which threatens to make our rural farming community into an industrial setting. I am requesting that revisions to the Ordinance be pursued and that this issue be added to the agenda of the February 16, 2021 Iowa County Board Meeting for further discussion. It is important that the full County Board have an opportunity to understand the importance of revising the Ordinance, especially with the looming possibility of the Pattern proposal (see attached documentation on the project). Some of the salient issues with the County’s Ordinance is that:

  • It does not contain any protections for the public on noise or shadow flicker, both of which are documented to cause significant health effects.
  • It does not address signal interference or stray voltage issues.
  • Many of the process requirements are missing for complaint resolution, public input opportunities and the ability to bill the wind developer for activities that the County may undertake related to a proposed or existing project.

We also request that Chairman John Meyers recuse himself from the discussion and all future actions involving the Ordinance because of his openly stated conflicts of interest involving wind system developers. (Meyers has openly stated that he works, on a “daily basis” directly with, or for, wind system developers.) The public deserves an unbiased decision on matters of such importance.

It is disturbing that the County does not see protection of the public as a primary responsibility. It is also disappointing that, after determining to limit inclusion of protections for the public, the Zoning Committee felt it was not important to bring these impactful findings to the attention of the entire board. If Pattern submits an application to the County, the existing Ordinance is beyond ill-equipped to deal with it, because it omits important tools the County can use: in billing developers; establishing a decommissioning fund; and protecting the public. The County may well find itself in debt after processing the proposed project, under the current Ordinance and associated resolution. Some facts about the State Code (PSC128) on Wind Energy Systems as they relate to the Ordinance:

  • The public protections in State Code (PSC 128) must be incorporated into local ordinances for them to be enforceable. The PSC will not enforce these provisions (suggested in proposed revisions) to the County’s Ordinance.
  • Choosing not to revise the Ordinance will not protect the county from being sued.The existing Ordinance without revision leaves the county at greater financial risk,due to lack of authority to charge wind developers for county reviews.The suggested revisions contain that authority.
  • Even though the State Code does not allow the County to be more restrictive, it outlines a number of requirements that the County can provide to protect residents and avoid potential expenses. The suggested revisions contain these requirements. Examples of these requirements are standards for noise and shadow flicker (from PSC 128.14, PSC 128.15), a complaint process that actually gives the public some recourse (from PSC 128.40, PSC 128.41), language that helps the County to cover costs of review, etc. (from PSC 128.32 (5). 128.36 (2), suggestions for updating the resolution that defines specifics on what the County can charge the developer.
  • As a legislative body, which the county is, the fact that many decisions made by the County can be contested should be nothing new. That an aggrieved party has the ability to appeal a County decision on Wind Systems to the PSC does not eliminate all County authority. The County does have a say on whether to incorporate and provide protections for county residents that are allowed in State Code.
  • Refusing to update the County’s Ordinance does not limit liability to the county or its duty to protect the public interest. Without protections added to the Ordinance, residents that become physically ill from living in proximity to a wind turbine may be forced to sell their property at a significant loss, or worse have to abandon their property because they cannot sell it. There are real life examples of these occurrences.
  • While landowners decide whether to sign a lease agreement, this does not eliminate the County’s duty to protect ALL landowners or eliminate the County’s authority to do so under the State Code. The county should consider their responsibility to protect landowners who choose not to participate in hosting wind turbines. Non-participating landowners are not the ones who are threatening their community with extreme changes, such as going from a rural character to an industrial setting or threatening their neighbor’s property values or land use decisions. Zoning requirements are established for the express purpose of moderating situations where a landowner’s personal choices about their property interfere with the rights of their neighbor’s. The Board should also consider that it is common for those who sign lease agreements to have second thoughts when they discover the many downsides to the agreement, not disclosed by savvy landsmen.
  • The county cannot avoid liabilities that may result from developers siting wind facilities in the County. The County would have costs and their authority to recover those costs from wind developers is in the proposed revisions that the Zoning Committee decided to table! The county is placing risks on the public by refusing to include protections for the public in their Ordinance.

Uplands Wind would change the face of Iowa County and the lifestyle we currently have, we need the Ordinance revised now!

Thank you for your consideration of our concerns,

Uplands Wind Makes Iowa Co. Ordinance Revisions Crucial

NOTE: Interested parties may co-sign a joint letter to the Iowa County Board that will be mailed to all Supervisors no later than February 12, 2021 here: https://bit.ly/Co-Sign-IA-Co-Board-Ltr-202102 . Interested persons are also encouraged to attend the ZOOM County Board meeting on February 16, 2021 and may speak, briefly, towards the start of the meeting. See info on Calendar

= = = = = = = =

Uplands Wind is a 600 MW wind turbine proposal by Pattern, consisting of approximately 170+ wind turbines, 600-700 feet tall covering 30,000 acres in Iowa and LaFayette Counties. Because merchant power plant developers are not required to notify a community prior to seeking out lease agreements with landowners, it wasn’t until September 2020, after Pattern gave a Power Point presentation to the Iowa County Zoning Committee. that some of us became fully aware of the project. It became obvious, upon review of the Iowa County Wind Energy System Siting Ordinance (the Ordinance), that revision to this Ordinance were needed. Some of the reasons that revisions to the Ordinance are needed include:

  • The Ordinance is dated (from 2014);
  • The resolution establishing fees for review is also dated and would not cover present day costs for subcontracting review, etc. to professional subcontractors;
  • The Ordinance did not contain public protections for noise, flicker, signal interference or stray voltage and lacked a complete and comprehensive complaint process to give the public redress for problems that may occur;
  • The Ordinance was weak in the area of notification of the public, information and public hearing opportunities for the public or documentation (that may be useful in complaint or appeal processes);
  • The Ordinance did not contain all of the financial protections allowing the County to cover its’ costs for reviewing applications, decommissioning, and other regulatory roles.

Between September and November of 2020, I put together suggested revisions (Revisions) to the Ordinance which primarily involved adding all of the missing requirements from PSC 128, into the Ordinance. In November, these Revisions were presented to Scott Godfrey, County Planning Department Director and Zoning Committee member.

The Revisions were presented to the County Zoning Committee on December 2cnd (2020). Zoning Committee discussion including:

  • Concerns raised about workload:
  • Potential liabilities;
  • Importance of protecting citizens and having a modern Ordinance when a modern project makes an application.
  • The possibility of an injunction to new applications until revisions to the Ordinance could be completed;
  • One statement from a Supervisor regarding protections of the public being made to satisfy “complainers”.
  • Agreement to begin serious discussions at the next meeting (which was cancelled and finally convened on January 26th)

At the next Iowa County Zoning meeting, on January 26th, the issue of revising the county’s 7- year old Ordinance was tabled after brief discussion. Some of the issues discussed by Zoning Committee members (Members) at this meeting were:

  • Because the County cannot make their Ordinance more restrictive than State Code, Members questioned whether those standards that the county can enforce are of enough public benefit to offset the cost and liability. The truth is, if county residents experience health effects (from noise or shadow flicker), signal interference (with any electronic device) or stray voltage issues, they would have NO RECOURSE. County residents could bear a financial burden for review and management of Wind systems under the existing Ordinance.
  • Members stated that appeals to a county decision under its ordinance ultimately can be appealed to the Public Service Commission, so the county doesn’t have the final say on an issue. The truth is, decisions made by the County, as a legislative body, can be contested. This should not be a new concept for County Supervisors. That an aggrieved party has the ability to appeal a County decision on Wind Systems to the PSC does not eliminate all County authority. The County does have a say on whether to incorporate and provide protections for county residents that are allowed in State Code.
  • Members questioned the value of having an Ordinance at all, given the limits to authority in statute and the liability it creates for the county. The truth is, refusing to update the County’s Ordinance does not limit liability to the county or its duty to protect the public interest. Without protections added to the Ordinance, residents that become physically ill from living in proximity to a wind turbine may be forced to sell their property at a significant loss, or worse have to abandon their property because they cannot sell it. There are real life examples of these occurrences.
  • Members stated the decision of whether the county sites a wind facility is between the landowner and developer. The truth is, while landowners decide whether to sign a lease agreement, this does not eliminate the County’s duty to protect ALL landowners or eliminate the County’s authority to do so under the State Code. The county should consider their responsibility to protect landowners who choose not to participate in hosting wind turbines. Non-participating landowners are not the ones who are threatening their community with extreme changes, such as going from a rural character to an industrial setting or threatening their neighbor’s property values or land use decisions. Zoning requirements are established for the express purpose of moderating situations where a landowner’s personal choices about their property interfere with the rights of their neighbor’s. The Board should also consider that it is common for those who sign lease agreements to have second thoughts when they discover the many downsides to the agreement, not disclosed by savvy landsmen.
  • Members discussed the concern of liability, in the form of suits, from wind developers or from residents (“complainers”). There was also concern over workload and whether the cost of adding requirements was worth it. The truth is, the county cannot avoid liabilities that may result from developers siting wind facilities in the County. The County would have costs and their authority to recover those costs from wind developers is in the proposed revisions that the Zoning Committee decided to table! The county is placing risks on the public by refusing to include protections for the public in their Ordinance.
  • There were some dissenting voices to these feeble and self-serving rationales for avoiding revisions to the Ordinance, but they were not able to carry the day and the Zoning Committee decided to table revisions to the Ordinance.

It is disturbing that the County does not see protection of the public as a primary responsibility. It is also disappointing that, after determining to limit inclusion of protections for the public, the Zoning Committee felt it was not important to bring these impactful findings to the attention of the entire board. If Pattern submits an application to the County, the existing Ordinance is beyond ill-equipped to deal with it, because it omits important tools the County can use: in billing developers; establishing a decommissioning fund; and protecting the public. The County may well find itself in debt after processing the proposed project, under the current Ordinance and associated resolution.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP CONVINCE THE FULL COUNTY BOARD TO REVISIT REVISIONS TO THE ORDINANCE?

  • Call, write or email your (all) County Supervisor and express concern, disappointment, outrage, etc., at the Zoning Committee’s failure to add critical protections for the public into their out of date Ordinance. Requesting that revisions to the Ordinance be pursued and that this issue be added to the agenda of the February 16, 2021 Iowa County Board Meeting for further discussion.
  • Request that Chairman John Meyers recuse himself from the discussion and all future actions involving the Ordinance because of his openly stated conflicts of interest involving wind system developers. (Meyers has openly stated that he works, on a “daily basis” directly with, or for, wind system developers.) The public deserves an unbiased decision on matters of such importance.
  • Write an LTE, asking the county to add the proposed revisions.
  • Come to the next County Board Meeting and tell the entire Board why revisions are important and necessary and how disappointed you are that the zoning committee is more concerned about liability and workload than protecting the public from harm.
  • Or Sign the letter to Iowa County Supervisors, County Planning Director and Corporate Council AT: http://bit.ly/Co-Sign-IA-Co-Board-Ltr-202102 Text entry instructions on top. This must be done ASAP, because the next County board meeting is coming up, and it would be good to get this on the Agenda. Folks can also call the clerk, (608) 935-0399, and ask that this topic be put on the Agenda of the February 16, 2021 Iowa County Board Meeting.

What Points to Make

  • Without the proposed revisions incorporated into the current Ordinance, key protections for the public will not exist for Iowa County Residents.
  • The public protections in State Code (PSC 128) MUST BE INCORPORATED INTO LOCAL ORDINANCES FOR THEM TO BE ENFORCEABLE. The PSC WILL NOT ENFORCE THE PROVISIONS SUGGESTED to be ADDED in PROPOSED REVISIONS to the countys’ wind Ordinance.
  • Refusing to revise the Wind Ordinance will not protect the county from being sued. Keeping the existing ordinance without revision leaves the county at great financial risk, due to lack of authority to charge wind developers for county reviews. The suggested revisions contain the authority for the county to charge developers for review, etc.

UPLANDS WIND WOULD CHANGE THE FACE OF IOWA COUNTY

AND THE LIFESTYLE WE CURRENTLY HAVE.

WE NEED THE WIND ORDINANCE REVISED NOW!

Jewell, Alan: Protectors of our Homes, Lands and Rights

I hear Dolly Parton singing “Here you come again,” as another ‘Green Energy’ intrusion despoils our community.

When the Badger Hollow industrial solar factory (Cobb/Montfort) was introduced, questions were asked: Why would some of the finest farmland on the face of the earth be allowed to be buried under solar panels? What are the safeguards to those harmed by that intrusion to be justly compensated for their loss?

The answer from the Iowa County Board was, “A man should be able to do with his property as he sees fit.” And then voted to allow any industrial solar panel to be placed within spitting distance from a line fence or home. The Wisconsin legislature stood mute.

Three farm families became intervenors and took those and additional concerns to the Public Service Commission where their concerns were introduced to the callousness of our unelected PSC regulators and a legislature that intentionally allows the moneyed interests to financially rape the ratepayers of Wisconsin.

When those same voices, as intervenors and joined now by others, questioned the validity of the building of the Cardinal Hickory Creek 345 kV (CHC) transmission line boondoggle, which would carve an open wound through Southwest Wisconsin, again the question was asked: Where were the safeguards that allowed those harmed by the construction of that high powerline be justly compensated?

And what were some of the voices heard from the Iowa County Board? “Not one single penny,” for resisting CHC was the answer. Fortunately, some of that body were seeing the true picture unfolding and moved to fight the powerline.  And of course, the PSC led by Tony Earl’s handpicked PSC chairperson, again sided with the moneyed interests to circumvent the will of the people, when over 1000 people showed up to testify against the CHC.

Another question lays at the feet of our community at large, Where are the safeguards that protect our homelands here in Southwest Wisconsin from the intrusion of another moneyed venture that will affect the beauty, livability, and treasures of our community for at least the next two generations of our children?

Those sightlines of the Uplands Winds project with (170+) 650 foot tall towers (over twice the height of the Statue of Liberty or WDMP) would be visible from Madison to south of Dubuque, all day and blinking every night, for the next 40 years or more.

For those landowners wishing to participate, where are the safeguards to those that are harmed by this construction?  What is the true cost to our families, our neighbors, our treasures, and our communities?

Has there been any due diligence, by any governmental body, that protects us from the harmful connotations of the so-called ‘Green Energy’ foisted onto our doorsteps?

Do not be fooled by any protections said to be overseen by our legislators or Governor, as their voices have already been cast by their past actions.  They side with the money and against the common man. Every Time.

The PSC does not protect you.  It’s sole function is to give legal cover to those wishing to pimp your pocketbook.

Ask yourself if you are willing to be financially raped one more time?

SOUL Chronicle Article, Dec. 31, 2020 

Fate of Second Largest Wind Installation in the Midwest in the hands of 50 Wisconsin landowners.

Published in Dodgeville Chronicle, December 31, 2020

Too few residents of Southwest Wisconsin are aware that a Canadian-owned, multinational corporation, Pattern LLC,2 has salespersons on the ground encouraging landowners to sign agree-ments allowing the company to construct at least 1703, industrial-scale wind turbines across Iowa and Lafayette Counties. With heights of around 650 feet, views of the system would permeate the natural horizon from the outskirts of Madison to the bluffs of the Mis-sisippi River4 negatively affect-ing property values over 250 square miles of the Driftless area.5

Were it not for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission publishing Pattern paperwork in late November6, no one would have learned that the fate of the proposal essentially rests on the signatures of about 507 landowners who are likely to be insufficiently informed. In the experience of Iowa farmer, Mason Fleenor, looking back on his decision observed,

“Nobody knew they were going to be this loud, or hurt our property values or be this big. . . No one wants to build around these windmills so you just cut your economic activity down. . . I just want to see the countryside.”8

Local and state taxes are no longer collected for land with wind turbines. Independent studies estimate property value losses from 15 to 45%.9 Landowners and local officials must stop and consider that the diverted state tax dollar payments to partially cover these losses would fall at least $100 million short over 40 years if only 1% of the affected properties were sold per year at a 10% loss.10

Local tax bases would be forever compromised causing mill rates to soar at the same time compatible, agricultural, residential and business development vanishes.

Keep in mind that unaffected farmland in Wisconsin appreciates in value at the rate of about 4% per year. Landowners pondering the possibility of net income from a 40 year wind turbine lease are encouraged to do the property devaluation math (and get an experienced attorney to carefully review the 60 page contract!). Should the value of one’s land drop at the national average, it would take decades of lease payments to make up for this loss.11 The “option agreement” also forces a landowner to give up rights to determine where turbines, wide access roads and electrical lines would be located12. This uncertainty makes it impossible to accurately in-form neighbors of pending hard ships, not to mention, obtain their informed blessings.

Readers with any doubt that turbine noise thoroughly shatters natural soundscapes and peaceful living are encouraged to spend some time internet searching for personal video testimony about “wind turbine noise.”13 Wisconsin state code allows turbines to generate 45 dBA sound levels during the night and 50 dBA during the day.14 The turbine sound described as a “hovering plane”15 is about four times louder than quiet sounds that comprise natural sounds.16 The resulting sleeplessness, nausea, disorientation and depression has forced Wisconsin families to vacate their homes and farms with turbines half the size of those being proposed.17 Follow this search with “wind turbine shadow flicker,” an equally disruptive experience that Wisconsin code also allows households to endure. 18

Video maker Jim Harmon with property owner, Alan Haas, describing changes in community relations after the addition of 88 wind turbines, three on his property in 2008, “Even sweet little, old ladies get angry as hell now;, and that’s no joke either.”

And there are better alternatives for address of climate change and for our pocketbooks.

Wisconsin already has more electrical power plants than we can use.19 (Table 2). As electric customers, we must pay the high interest debt on existing and added power plants over 40 or more years whether fully utilized or not. Pattern’s inferred electric bill savings from the “zero fuel costs”20 of wind power compare very poorly to directly addressing our CO2 and economic challenges with familiar alternatives. If the approximate, 40 year, $1.8 billion cost21 for the 600 MW Uplands wind power plant was invested, instead, into dramatically increased Focus on Energy rebates for efficiency and solar power improvements for our homes, farms and businesses, this would eliminate about 115 million metric tons of CO2 emissions over 40 years compared to 58 million metric tons from the intrusive power plant.22 (Table 3). Alternatively doubling the home/business solar panel incentive to 52 cents of the approximate $2.50 per watt cost could empower about 450,000 households to “go solar” and save an average of $143 per month.23 Creating attractive appliance and equipment rebates for Wisconsin families and businesses would enable long overdue efficiency and dwelling improvements with the superior environmental results.24

The federal report also confirms that the 600 MW wind system is fully dependent on building the Cardinal Hickory Creek 345 kV expansion trans-mission line which Iowa and Dane Counties are trying to appeal in court. 25 26

Immediate sharing of these findings is critical as Pattern salespeople are working daily to get the 50 additional contract signatures before February 24, 2021.27 Hopefully, both the Iowa and Lafayette County Boards will act quickly to at least add the minimal, still insufficient protections from state code to their Wind Ordinances.28

The additional signed agreements from landowners would allow Pattern to take their power plant proposal directly to the PSC for likely approval as state laws do not require such plants to be evaluated for need or require that benefits from alternative investments be compared.29

— by Rob Danielson, Secretary, SOUL of Wisconsin
PO Box 146
La Farge, WI 54639
608.625.4949
info@SOULWisconsin.org

FOOTNOTES

1 The 162 Megawatt (MW) Glacier Hills Wind power plant is Wisconsin’s largest. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_Wisconsin Only the 801 Megawatt (MW) Meadow Lake power plant near Chalmers, Indiana would be larger in Midwest states. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wind_farms_in_the_United_States

2 Pattern LLC financials: https://investors.patternenergy.com/financial-information See also: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/pattern-energy-enters-agreement-to-be-acquired-by-canada-pension-plan-investment-board-300950682.html

3 According to Pattern’s filing to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2020, the Uplands wind system would be 600 Megawatts (MW). https://bit.ly/FERC-ER21-30-000-20201005 The estimated minimum number of turbines was determined by dividing this number by 3.5 MW assumed to be the size of the largest, modern turbines. (600 MW / 3.5 MW = 171.4 turbines)

4 See map of the Uplands project area, above, and as inserted into a highlands area view scape map at p.4 of https://bit.ly/Uplands-editorial Pattern LLC has not yet publicized turbine height information. October 2018 materials distributed to prospective property participants near Montfort, WI concerning the Red Barn wind power plant, specify turbine heights ranging from 459 to 656 feet. Viewed from highland positions, objects that are 650 feet high can be seen for 38.7 miles, line of sight. https://planetcalc.com/1198/ Nocturnal visibility from highland locations would extend more than 30 miles based on lights mounted at a rotor hight of 410’. For reference, the smaller, 2 MW wind turbines at Quilt Block in the Town on Seymour in Lafayette County can easily be seen from Montfort, Wisconsin, 24 miles away.

5 The measurement of 250 square miles is an approximation based on Pattern’s Uplands study area map in the company’s August, 2020 presentation to the Iowa County Planning & Zoning Committee. A larger view of the blue outlined area is embedded in the middle image on page 5 at http://bit.ly/UplandsPowerpointForIACo202008

6 FERC’s publication is accessible at https://bit.ly/FERC-ER21-30-000-20201005

7 FERC’s publication indicates the Pattern LLC reported to have signed about 15,000 acres of property under “site control” of the 30,000 acres required by regional transmission owners under the auspices of MISO. https://bit.ly/FERC-ER21-30-000-20201005 According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, the size of the average farm in Wisconsin is 221 acres. https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Publications/WIAgStatistics.aspx Dividing the remaining 15,000 acres into 221 acre sized parcels suggests an average of 67.8 agricultural property owners would be involved. The estimation of 50 assumes the company will focus on property owners with larger parcels for greater siting flexibilities and fewer affected neighbors.

8 Video interview by Zach Boyden-Holmes with Mason Fleenor (Ida Grove, IA) from Des Moines Register article, “Is wind power saving rural Iowa or wrecking it?” by Donnelle Eller, and Kevin Hardy, April 20, 2017 http://bit.ly/WindWreckingIowa_DesMoinesRegister

9 See comparison of utility-funded and independent studies of wind turbine impacts on property values collected by McCann: http://bit.ly/WindTurbinePropertyValueImpactKielischMcCann Utility studies pose there are modest negative impact on values while those conducted by independent evaluators show very significant range of losses from 15-45% with an average of 29%.

10 See summary table “Tab 2,” on spreadsheet https://bit.ly/Uplands-StateTaxPayment_v_PropertyDevaluation

11 See Tab 1 – Adjusted Lease Income With Property Devaluation table at spreadsheet with calculations at: https://bit.ly/Uplands-StateTaxPayment_v_PropertyDevaluation

12 “Section 2.2 Wind Energy Conversion Systems . . . The exact location of such wind energy conversion systems shall be determined by the Developer in its sole discretion. . . ” and discretionary location rights in Section 2.3 Transmission Facilities and Roads with 80’ easement strips for electrical lines and up to 20’ widths for access roads. The contract also enables the Developer to add transformers, battery storage facilities and relocate equipment at sole discretion.

13 For Wisconsin landowner testimonials, see collection of video interviews at https://bit.ly/WI_Wind_Interviews

14 PSC Code PSC 128.14(3) https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/document/administrativecode/PSC%20128.14(3) Dr. Robert Rand discusses the sub-sonic phenomena starting at 1 hour, 27 minutes into this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=2kvoZO-DEho&feature=youtu.be

15 See Elizabeth Eberts interview at 1:54 https://bit.ly/WI_Wind_Interviews

16Assumes nocturnal, rural background ambience of 25 dBA and daytime ambience of 30 dBA. 10 dBA is assumed as perceived doubled loudness. https://www.quora.com/How-many-dB-decibels-represent-a-doubling-or-halving-of-the-sound-volume?share=1

17 Wisconsin Wind Turbines Declared Health Hazard First of its kind ruling; similar to Michigan situation, By Jack Spencer, November 8, 2014, Michigan Capitol Confidential https://www.michigancapitolconfidential.com/20690

18 See Shadow flicker limits. PSC 128.15(2)(2) https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/document/administrativecode/PSC%20128.15(2)

19 See Table, Wisconsin Power Plants Excess Capability, pdf p. 5, https://bit.ly/Uplands-editorial Data in the table compiled from announced new power plants and retirements in Wisconsin Public Service Commission 2020-2026 Strategic Energy Assessment https://apps.psc.wi.gov/ERF/ERFview/viewdoc.aspx?docid=390854 , new plants sought in the MISO Interconnection Queue https://www.misoenergy.org/planning/generator-interconnection/GI_Queue/gi-interactive-queue/ US Department of Energy (EIA) Form 861 and SEDS records for WI, US census and inflation data.

20 From Uplands Wind FAQ, “How does wind energy affect the cost of energy? The cost of electricity from wind energy is predictable and stable because there are no fuel costs, unlike conventional forms of energy where the cost of fuel can fluctuate significantly over time. Once a wind farm project is built, the price of electricity from the project is set for the duration of its power purchase agreement.” https://uplandswind.com/faq/

21 See itemized estimated, comprehensive expenses rows 32-46 of spreadsheet, https://bit.ly/CompareEndUserAlternative

22 See table, Uplands 600 MW Wind System vs. Accelerated FOE Incentive, pdf p. 5 https://bit.ly/Uplands-editorial and associated spreadsheet, https://bit.ly/CompareEndUserAlternative

23 See calculations on spreadsheet, https://bit.ly/CompareEndUserAlternative

24 Energy and CO2 reduction benefits sourced from Focus on Energy Calendar Year 2016 Evaluation Report Volume I May 19, 2017 https://www.focusonenergy.com/sites/default/files/Evaluation%20Report%20-%202016%20Volume%20I.pdf and correspondence with EPA staff regarding use of the AVoided Emissions and geneRation Tool (AVERT).

25 From pdf p. 2 FERC November, 2020 communication, “Pattern Energy Wind states that, on June 22, 2020, it submitted two generator interconnection requests to MISO to interconnect the Project via two queue positions: (1) an interconnection to American Transmission Company’s Hill Valley to Cardinal 345 kV line; and (2) an interconnection to the Hill Valley 345 kV substation.” https://bit.ly/FERC-ER21-30-000-20201005 Note: The Hill Valley substation near Montfort does not exist today. It is a central component of the Cardinal Hickory Creek 345 kV transmission line.

26 Dane, Iowa counties challenge power line approval, says regulators abused discretion, by Chris Hubbuch, Wisconsin State Journal Dec 13, 2019, https://madison.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/dane-iowa-counties-challenge-power-line-approval-says-regulators-abused/article_d8c2abb0-c86c-51c7-97fe-44d3bd94b426.html

27 See FERC discussion of extension including time for MISO transmission owners to complete site control review, pdf p.7,8, https://bit.ly/FERC-ER21-30-000-20201005

28 Iowa County Draft Updated Wind Ordinance starting on pdf. p. 68 https://evogov.s3.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/meetings/107/attachments/9206.pdf Contact information for Iowa and Lafayette County Wind Ordnance matters: Iowa Co. Supervisor Districts, map: https://www.iowacounty.org/media/Districts.pdf Iowa Co. Supervisors contacts: https://www.iowacounty.org/departments/countyboard/county-board-members Iowa County Planning & Development 222 N. Iowa St. Dodgeville, WI 53533 608-935-0398; Lafayette County Planning and Zoning Committee: 626 Main Street, Darlington, WI 53530, 608-776-3836 Lafayette Co. Map of Supervisor Districts: http://lafay.maps.arcgis.com/sharing/rest/content/items/2c8f689496e3499aaea639ffd2fac00d/data Lafayette County Supervisor contacts: https://www.lafayettecountywi.org/bos

29 Pattern LLC is considered a non-public utility or “merchant” developer. Proposals by merchant power plant developers do not have to prove need to meet power inadequacies or evaluate alternatives such as electric customer investment in home and local energy improvements. State laws also allow merchant power plant developers to take their proposals directly to the PSC for review and approval after obtaining 75% of the necessary land or “site control,” “Option Agreements” with landowners. For more on MISO site control policy, see .pdf p. 20, 21, Generation Interconnection Business Practices Manual BPM-015-r21 Effective Date: OCT-16-2019 https://drive.google.com/file/d/1UzsdEJQqiky-6rxIxIXTfbEtDjF0WKm4/view?usp=sharing