We are not alone. The following guest column was published by the Concerned Citizens of Boone County, Illinois, in the Rock River Times on June 22, 2011. The Concerned Citizens of Boone County is a group working west of Chicago on issues similar to those facing us. More information is available at their website.
Guest Column: Boone County farmers pressured to sign wind farm contracts
By Concerned Citizens of Boone County
Unsigned Boone County Farmers are NOW being pressured to SIGN CONTRACTS with Mainstream Renewable by the end of April 2011. Mainstream has stated to county officials that they would only be filing for permits by the spring of 2012. What is the RUSH now?
By way of introduction, we are the Concerned Citizens of Boone County, which is an Illinois not-for-profit organization. Specifically, we are sending you the enclosed information from the Informed Farmers Coalition, which is a group of Lee County and Bureau County landowners and citizens whose goal is to spread awareness of all facts concerning wind farm development in the area. We share this common goal with the Informed Farmers Coalition. We believe that we have environmental and energy issues considering energy alternatives, and we believe that these technical matters should be solved by using “Real Science.”
Vestas, a large manufacturer of wind turbines, has stated in their safety requirements for their employees in their Mechanical Operating and Maintenance Manual of a Vestas 300-ft. V90 Wind Turbine, “Do not stay within a radius of 400m or 1300 feet from the turbine unless it is necessary … Make sure that children do not stay by or play nearby the turbine.” According to this same document, it reads: “In case of a fire during an uncontrolled operation, do under no circumstances approach the turbine. Evacuate and rope off the turbine in a radius of a minimum of 400m or 1300 feet.”
Are these required precautions from a manufacturer of wind turbines in agreement with the Boone County specifications? The Boone County Amended Zoning Ordinance, which is on the Boone County website, dated May 26, 2010, Section 4.8.7H, speaks about Setbacks for Wind Energy Conversion Systems. The setbacks are 1,000 feet from any primary structure, 1.1 times the tower’s height from public roads, third party transmission lines, and communication towers and 1.1 times the tower’s height from property lines not part of the Special Use petition. This means that if a tower was 400 feet tall, the tower could be placed only 440 feet from a non-participating party’s property line.
Since the recession, much of Boone County has been in a depressed economic state, and this proposed wind development could further affect a depressed real estate market and the prosperity of the County. In Adams County, Illinois, McCann Appraisal did an in-depth real estate appraisal within 2 miles of each wind turbine in June of 2010. The real estate data results, typically revealed a range of 25 percent to nearly 40% of property value loss, with some instances of total loss as measured by abandonment and demolition of homes, some bought out by wind energy developers and others exhibiting nearly complete loss of marketability.
In Lincoln Township, Wis., a survey showed that 75 percent of the people who lived within 5 miles of the wind turbines there, for one year or more, would NEVER again purchase a home or land to build a home near a wind farm.
In Bureau County, Ill., residents living within 1750 feet to 2 miles away are now experiencing problems with the turbines concerning noise, shadow and flicker effects, and bad TV reception. The developer of the Big Sky Wind Turbine Project offered to do a noise study, completed the study, and then when asked to disclose the results of the study at a County Board Meeting, refused to do so.
In DeKalb County, Ill., 40 residents have named their county board, the farmers and land owners that signed contracts, and the developer as defendants in a lawsuit. Residents involved in the lawsuit living near the turbines say the DeKalb County Board did not fully consider the impact the turbines would have on surrounding residents, the land that has always been used for agriculture and the fact that there is no evidence that the area would benefit from the energy produced by the wind farm.
Also in Bureau County, there is an ongoing two-year lawsuit over the non-repair of the damaged roads that happened during the construction phase of the Crescent Ridge Project. The developer gave the Iberola Construction Company the contract, and no repair has been made within the county. The taxpayers there may have no choice but to pay for necessary repairs.
A Bureau County wind turbine developer rushed to put up 46 turbines. The majority of them are now malfunctioning, so the farmers who signed contracts and have those turbines on their property will have the large construction equipment come back onto their property this spring and re-tear up their land in order to fix the malfunctioning turbines.
In DeKalb County, Ill., on March 20, 2011, a second wind turbine has broken apart within a year in that wind farm development, sending debris from the turbine flying 400 yards!
Crop dusters are refusing to fly into wind turbine farm field areas, or have announced that they will charge higher dollar amounts for their services in those areas, due to safety hazards and increased insurance premiums. So the cautious farmers who have NOT signed contracts with wind farm developers will also be punished as well, due to their close proximity to their neighbors’ turbines. So even these unwilling farmers will experience higher costs and less profit margins for the year.
A Mainstream Renewable sales person has stated to Boone County farmers that buckets of dead bats are being picked up in counties with wind turbines and citing these statistics as positive ones. As farmers and rural owners, you know that a single bat will eat about 1,000 insects per hour. The University of Michigan has done a recent study on why bats are dying in wind turbine areas. Autopsies revealed that the bats were not flying into the turning blades as birds were doing, but their blood vessels were exploding due to air pressure changes caused by the operating turbines. Farmers will end up paying more for pesticides in these areas that now will be rid of the bats that help keep down insect populations and mosquito-transmitted diseases such as West Nile virus.
In our last packet, we made reference to the fact that Mainstream Renewable was partners with Goldwind USA, a Chinese company, and that the possibility of farmer’s contracts being sold to foreign countries was real. Mainstream Renewable just sold the contract rights for the Shady Oaks Wind Farm Development in Lee County, Ill., to Goldwind USA, and now these farmers have their farm land tied up in a contract with the Chinese!
This article was originally published in the Rock River Times and is available online here.