Duke Energy's Shirley Wind Turbines Declared a "Human Health Hazard"
At the October 14, 2014 Brown County Board of Health meeting, a motion was unanimously approved declaring the Shirley Wind turbines a "Human Health Hazard". The text of the unanimously approved motion reads:
"To declare the Industrial Wind Turbines at Shirley Wind Project in the Town of Glenmore, Brown County, WI. A Human Health Hazard for all people (residents, workers, visitors, and sensitive passersby) who are exposed to Infrasound/Low Frequency Noise and other emissions potentially harmful to human health."
We applaud the integrity of the Brown County Board of Health in the work they have done to carry out their mission to 'promote individual and community health'. They have been deeply involved in trying to resolve the public health crisis that has existed in the Town of Glenmore since Emerging Energies of Wisconsin built the industrial wind project there in 2010. The project has been sold twice since its construction and is now owned by the renewables arm of Duke Energy, with Wisconsin Public Service purchasing the electricity.
Since the erection of the 8 turbines in Glenmore, among the largest in the United States at just under 500 feet tall, three families have vacated the homes they still own and complaints involving over 75 people in the project area have been filed with the Brown County Board of Health (including affidavits representing over 50 people that have been submitted to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin). The root of the complaints and the home abandonments are the conditions created by Shirley Wind, allege the residents.
The declaration of Duke's Shirley Wind turbines as a "Human Health Hazard" follow a year long study linking the signature of inaudible low frequency noise (created by the passing of the massive turbine blades past their supporting towers) to the homes that have been abandoned and to the homes where people continue to suffer. 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. They looked at the facts, they listened to the residents, they 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".
The Brown County Board of Health, the Brown County Human Services Committee, and the Brown County Board of Supervisors have all taken action on the wind turbine issue over the past four years. When resolutions have been sent to the State of Wisconsin to conduct the studies that their own PSC-funded testing called for, nothing was done. When emergency relocation aide was requested for those families forced from or suffering in their homes, the request was ignored. When they endorsed the 'Wisconsin Citizens Safe Wind Siting Guidelines' which includes science-based protections from low frequency noise, they were summarily dismissed. Brown County has now recognized this as a public health issue caused by the operation of Duke’s Shirley Wind.
The State of Wisconsin has stripped the right of towns and counties to responsibly site wind turbines in their own communities and have created state-wide siting rules with little protection for families forced to live in wind projects. The State refuses to recognize the health impacts around its existing wind turbine installations and draft better protections for future projects. By ignoring these impacts, they are dooming more communities to the same fate as the Town of Glenmore.