January 28, 2005

Information missing

Mark Jacobson of Invenergy, which is seeking the use of 6,000 acres in Monroe County, Wisconsin, for 30-50 wind turbines, provided a prime example of developers' lack of respect for their marks, much less for the truth. (His partner's estimate of payment to landowners of $3,800/turbine/yr also is deceitfully low. At a meeting Wednesday, backed by two of his coconspirators, Jacobson "provided information" by answering one concern after another by simple denial:
'Jacobson said he knows of no documented cases of stray voltage connected to wind turbines.'

'Turbines generate less than 50 decibels. As a comparison, a quiet room measures 40 decibels, Jacobson said.'

'[Birds -- a] "hot topic in the 70s," Jacobson conceded due to early designs because birds could perch in turbines. Now tubular designs have limited bird mortality rates to an average of two birds per year per turbine.'

'Jacobson has not heard of any cases where property values decreased because of turbines. Due to the potential economic return of having a turbine on your land, property values may increase. Jacobson encouraged landowners to call local assessors to seek their input.'
Let's help Mr. Jacobson out here, with information gathered in Lincoln Township, Kewaunee County, Wisconsin, after the construction of a 22-turbine wind facility.

Stray voltage: The fact is that it's completely legal to ground any amount of electricity, including dumping excess production (e.g., when the wind is good but there is no corresponding increase demand on the grid), so there is no reason for developers to worry about the effect of it. Dairy farmers near the wind facility noticed high rates of cancer, birth deformities, and other illnesses, including dehydration because the water had become electrified, in their herds. Each farm has had to spend tens of thousands of dollars to isolate their land from the stray voltage. Their families, as well as visiting workers, also suffered ill effects.

Noise: 67% of residents living 800-1,300, and 52% of residents 1,300-2,600 feet from the turbines complained of the noise. The developer (Wisconsin Public Service, WPS) was ordered to do a noise study, which, though laughably spotty, showed that the turbines added 5-20 dB(A) to the ambient sound level. Ten dB is perceived as a doubling of the noise level. As a result, WPS offered to buy the neighboring homes and raze them.

Birds: Jacobson and his pals might like to know that the effects on birds are still an issue, and a new concern for bats is growing. On Backbone Mountain in West Virginia, for example, 2,000 bats were killed in just 2 months last year. In the Altamont Pass, where thousands of raptors have been killed, the Fish and Wildlife Service says that new turbines will not mitigate the problem; the only solution is to shut them down. Like the raptors in Altamont Pass, migrating songbirds fly by the hundreds of thousands over the ridges targeted by wind-power developers. They are not equipped for dodging a giant blade chopping through the air at up to 150 mph, particularly at night or in fog.

Property values: WPS's buyout offer of the uninhabitable neighboring homes is pretty strong evidence of a decline in value. Even without considering those, it was found that properties in Lincoln Township decreased in sales value from 104% to 78% of assessed value within 1 mile of the wind turbines and from 105% to 87% beyond 1 mile.