Garden Peninsula Wind Turbines, Part 2

A wind farm is in the early stages of construction in Delta County.

It’ll be the first of its kind in the U.P.

The wind farm has attracted both support and some vocal detractors.

Tonight, in Part 2 of a three-part series of reports, ABC 10 News Now senior reporter Mike Hoey looks at one of the concerns raised about the project.

Heritage Sustainable Energy of Traverse City is building a wind farm on the Garden Peninsula.

Opponents say potential health risks are one of the reasons they oppose it.

Cliff Stollings of Garden says the World Health Organization has recommended that wind turbines be built at least 2 kilometers from any residences — that’s a mile and a quarter.

Heritage has told Garden Township that the turbines will be at least 1000 feet away from homes where the residents have signed a property lease with the company, and at least 1320 feet away from homeowners who haven’t signed a lease.

Are there health risks from wind turbines?

That depends on whom you ask.

The largest peer–reviewed study to date of wind turbines’ health effects on humans was done two years ago.

It found there aren’t enough health effects to warrant further study.

However, the Minnesota Department of Health found in a 2009 report that turbines can cause problems in some people.

Stollings says those problems are most often things like dizziness, headaches and sleeplessness.

He also says infrasond from the turbines — sounds that are of too low a frequency for the human ear to hear — can cause things like arthritis.

A physician at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, Missouri believes infrasound can affect the inner ear.

He acknowledges there’s not enough documentation of the issue so far, but he wants further study.

And he told an Ohio newspaper in October that if you live within a mile of a turbine, you’re asking for trouble.

Garden Township Supervisor Morgan Tatrow is a turbine supporter.

He says he does not know if those things are true or not, but he says he hasn’t heard of any cases of either audible noise or infrasound from a turbine affecting nearby residents.

Stollings also adds there’s a pending wind farm lawsuit in Michigan’s Thumb region, in the Ubly area.

That lawsuit involves 16 residents who say they’ve had dizziness and sleeplessness since a wind farm opened after not experiencing those issues before.

The case is going to trial on February 22nd.

However, a family that complained to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission last year about similar effects from a wind farm near Oakfield, Wisconsin had their case thrown out.

Fairbanks Township Supervisor Ron Collins supports the Garden Peninsula wind farm.

He says it’s important to keep in mind that most residents of the peninsula support the turbine project.

Collins says in public controversies like this, usually the minority opinion will have the louder voices, and he says that’s definitely the case here.

Another issue those loud voices have been raised about is property values, and we’ll get into that topic tomorrow night in Part 3.

Tagged with