Health Threat from Wisconsin Wind Farm Affirmed

Published October 29, 2014

In a shot across the bow of wind power promoters, the Brown County Wisconsin Board of Health has declared the Shirley Wind Farm a “human health hazard.”

The Board declared the wind turbines at the Shirley Wind Project in Glenmore, Wisconsin a human health hazard for all people exposed to infrasound (low frequency noise) and other emissions potentially harmful to human health.

The Board’s Oct. 13 decision was based on a year-long study documenting infrasound in homes within a six mile radius of the Shirley Wind turbines. The Board’s decision is the first of its kind in the nation and puts Duke Energy on the defensive, as it will be asked to convince the Board Shirley Wind is not causing health problems. If Duke fails, it may face a shutdown order.

Source of Power and Complaints

Located in Brown County, Wisconsin, Shirley Wind generates 20 megawatts of electricity, enough to power approximately 6,000 homes in the area for the Wisconsin Public Service Corporation.

According to Steve Deslauriers, media contact for the Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy, men, women, and children began suffering health problems shortly after the turbines began operation in 2010. Previously healthy people began having problems that subsided when they were away from home for an extended time or the turbines were not turning. When they returned home, the suffering would resume.

“Countless doctor visits revealed no underlying conditions to explain the pain, inability to sleep, ear and head pressure, anxiety, and depression that people reported while at their homes—symptoms that disappear after a time away from the turbines. Initially, residents simply thought it was ‘just my problem,’ but as they spoke, a common pattern of symptoms emerged and the correlation and source seemed obvious,” he explained.

“The Board of Health was asked to look at the study’s raw data, the evidence linking the sound data to the wind turbines, peer-reviewed medical research, and the complaints of the people living in the conditions around Duke’s Shirley Wind project. The Board looked at the facts, listened to the residents, studied the medical literature, and then made the connection between Shirley Wind’s operations and the suffering in Glenmore—declaring the wind turbines a ‘Human Health Hazard.'” he says.

Deslauriers continued, “The State of Wisconsin has stripped the right of towns and counties to responsibly site wind turbines in their own communities . . . and refuses to recognize the health impacts around its existing wind turbines. By ignoring these impacts, they are dooming more communities to the same fate as the Town of Glenmore.”

“It is our hope that the Board of Health declaration will start a process that will ultimately result in the end of suffering for the families in Glenmore around Duke’s Shirley Wind,” he explains.

Residents Worried

Wisconsin native Isaac Orr, a research fellow at The Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment& Climate News, said of the Shirley Wind Farm, “The residents in the district are concerned about their futures. They’re worried about paying a mortgage on a house they can no longer live in; they’re concerned about their kids being unable to get adequate sleep and unable to concentrate at school.”

He added, “People are also concerned they will be unable to sell their property. Some even made signs reading, ‘Welcome to the Glemore Wind Turbine Ghetto.'”

Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) is free-lance reporter who writes from Dallas, Texas.