Letter: March 4, 2019
Reseacher shares concerns about wind farms, county’s future
At a recent breakfast, a county commissioner and a wind farm spokesperson admitted that 700 foot wind turbines were a strong possibility for Montgomery County. These towers would each be more than half the height of the empire state building (1,250 feet). To even propose the construction of multiple, such turbines in a populated area like ours is unprecedented. There are no comparisons available, as there are no turbines of this height in our region. Turbines of this height have previously only been utilized by off shore sites and unpopulated mountainous areas. We have no idea what their footprint, guy wires, oil and hydraulic seepage, vibration effects, noise levels and anchor depth will do to our local water tables, soil quality, livestock health, human health or safety. To add to these concerns, I can’t believe Montgomery County setbacks (how close structures can be built near another person’s property) are only 1,500 feet where states (Kansas, Iowa, etc.) that have miles of flat terrain and sparse population have set backs of 7,920 feet and 3,900 feet, respectively. States all over our country are currently passing new laws and ordinances with tighter restrictions due to problems that these wind farms have caused. Oklahoma just passed a law requiring that no wind farms can be within one and a half miles of a school, airport or hospital. You have to ask yourself why those states are trying to fix these regulations. The normal height of those western towers are between 300 and 400 feet tall. Why should Montgomery County pilot for these untested “super towers”? Has anyone heard how deep into our earth these mega towers will have to go? Does anyone else worry about the constant vibration that disrupts so many other county water supplies where wind farms exist? Does anyone really want to drink “brown water” from their well? Do the land owners know this is a definite possibility? I understand that Montgomery County is wide open for wind farms currently due to their non-existent zoning regulations. That said, I am certain that at no time in history has a business been proposed that could adversely affect the lives of so many.
I write out of concern for citizens who have put so much work, sacrifice and money into their smaller farms and properties. They did this as an investment towards their future only to have those property values steeply decline as other residences have experienced in wind farm counties.
I write out of concern for those smaller farmers who do not want wind farms, but cannot protest loudly because the large land owners they rent land from are pro-wind. The smaller farmers do not want to lose precious rental agreements, so they silently worry about what these structures will mean for their property values, water quality and future health of their children.
I write out of concern for those livestock farmers who have done research regarding wind turbine effects on animal populations. Research in California, where some of the first wind farms were established, illustrates that wind turbines disrupt reproductive trends in wildlife. In a letter to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, biologist Dr. Lynn Knuth testified: “The problems with animal reproduction reported in the wind farm areas of Wisconsin are lack of egg production, problems calving, spontaneous abortion (embryonic mortality), stillbirth, miscarriage and teratogenic effects: In chickens: crossed beaks, missing eyeballs, deformities of the skull, joints of legs bent at odd angles. In cattle: missing eyes and tails (updated excerpts from the final report of the Township of Lincoln Wind Turbine Moratorium committee). This leads to a concern about the reproductive health of our children and grandchildren 30 years down the road.
I write out of concern for the future of our infrastructure and roads. One only has to go to Benton and White to see the poor conditions of their roads near and around the wind farms. The only good road is the one going to the main office of the wind farm management company.
I am concerned for parents with autistic children who fear the blinking light of blade shadow/sun on their homes. They also fear the loud turbine (whirl) noises as they know it will negatively affect their children to the point that they will have to move from these peaceful rural areas. I have actually traveled to Benton County, gotten out of my car and listened, have you?
I’m concerned about soil contamination from the oils and hydraulic fluids that each unit requires and holds. If you look at the dead zones near some of the older wind farms in other states, you’ll wonder if these soils will ever recover.
I am concerned for the future of Montgomery County when I worry about land that is held hostage and unable to pursue industrial or economic growth because of these leases. There are no new jobs associated with these structures once they are in place. These structures are hoarding land that could be used for commercial and industrial development that could bring jobs here. Benton and White counties have been looked upon as poor (dying) counties that needed to reach out to wind farms because they had no choice. These counties continue their decline in both population and economic growth. Benton County’s 2017 Census shows -2 percent population growth. Why would we want to follow suit?
I am concerned about the farmers who will lease their farmland to these companies without realizing the consequences for their property. I am concerned that due to years of being unable to succeed without government subsidies, wind farms are a dying energy source. I remind you that these subsidies are your tax dollars. These land owners need to realize that these government wind subsidies have decreased over the years and could end without warning with our current administration’s focus on budget and debt. These landowners will be left holding the bag, having to remove these eyesores with no financial means to do so. The wind companies say they have agreements in place to remove the turbines should such a scenario arise. How can a bankrupt company afford to remove these massive structures when they can’t even afford to put them up without government assistance?
With all of these other states scrambling to undo the problems caused by wind farms I’m hopeful that our county will join their ranks and protect our resources before it’s too late. No one can tell us what the final cost will be in terms of loss. Loss of growth, loss of natural resources, loss of property value and loss of health.
I leave you with this: In 30 years will this be a Montgomery County of growth and health or will we look back at this time and wish we had done things differently? I only ask you to research this yourselves. Do not look at the sites funded by the wind companies but at legislative sites and sites dedicated to health and wellness.