Wind farms can have ill effects
By MARK TWICHELL
The industrial wind industry in both the U.S. and abroad consists of turbine manufacturers, wind energy development companies, and industry government lobbyists. The U.S. wind industry is heavily subsidized by taxpayers at the federal level through the production tax credit program, at the state level through promotion of green energy standards, and at the local level by the granting of tax abatements. This huge industry is internationally effective in expressing the public’s concern about climate change and economic development.
The wind industry promotes itself through a variety of communications. None of these is more effective than its presentation and public reinforcement of wind energy’s industrial potential and environmental impact. Thus we are led to believe that summing the rated capacity of thousands of wind turbines will reduce atmospheric emissions from electric power generation which lead to climate change, and that doing this in proximity to residential neighborhoods will do no harm. These two misrepresentations are repeated so often without factual basis that they are accepted as true.
In Chautauqua County, as in localities worldwide, it is the debate about potential harm which receives the most attention. The OBSERVER has recently published a number of letters related to this issue. Writers to the OBSERVER who do not discuss the effects specifically of infrasound pollution are doing the wind industry a favor, since it is this pollution and its known adverse health effects which is the industry’s most urgent denial. Property values will be negatively impacted not merely because the turbines are aesthetically too big, too close, or too ugly. The writer to the OBSERVER (March 19) quoted a federally funded study by Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory which concludes no loss of property values. But that study does not include rural properties with attractive views, or properties within a thousand feet of turbines. A more relevant opinion for Chautauqua County is found in the independently funded Appraisal Group One study, which found property value losses between 33 percent to 36 percent in rural properties at one thousand feet from turbines. One thousand feet is the set-back distance for industrial wind turbines in our county.
In the U.S., all industries that produce infrasound electronically are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. All industries, save one, that produce infrasound non-electronically recognize and offer design or user mitigation for their products. Why is the wind industry the only industry that does not measure, monitor, mitigate, or regulate its toxic pollution?
There may be more that 150 families at risk from Chautauqua County’s three current wind farm proposals. The last thing the wind industry needs is to be seen as a threat to public health. Yet that is exactly what the Board of Health in Brown County, Wisconsin, concluded when they forced the closure of a wind farm in that municipality in 2016. That is also what a court of law in Ireland concluded in December, 2016, when it established liability for the wind industry for damaging the health of citizens from noise.
As the wind industry expands into residential areas, so too do scientific reports of turbine infrasound toxicity and citizen lawsuits for health damages. Independent studies such as Punch and James in 2016 offer clear explanation of the wind industry’s contribution to the growing knowledge of vibroaccoustic disease (VAD) of which wind turbine syndrome is a part.
Mark Twichell is a Fredonia resident.