Sherman Township’s NIMBY Wind Power Ordinance: We’d Rather Curse The Darkness

Saturday , 7, February 2015 2 Comments

On February 3, 2014 the Sherman Township Planning Commission once again tabled a vote on a windmill ordinance drafted specifically to keep any wind turbine developers out of the township. Despite the required dimensions and distance between turbines being enough to lock out any company looking to buy the rights to put up wind turbines on land in Sherman Township, some people are still not satisfied it’s enough, and want to make sure not one wind turbine will ever be seen in the Osceola County township.

Victoria Brehm and Harvey Langworthy of Tustin represent a group called Save Our Sherman. Brehm owns LadySlipper Publishing. Langworthy appears to have a claim on land that is involved with oil and gas drilling near Kalkaska. The group is determined to keep wind power out of their township. They were at the Tuesday night meeting, as they have been at every township meeting where wind turbines are on the meeting agenda, demanding not enough is being done with the ordinance to keep all wind turbines out. Save Our Sherman has a website full of links claiming there are health risks to living near wind turbines including wind turbine syndrome, headaches, lack of sleep and even livestock and wildlife dying just from being near them. The list of health risks are long, from the shadows cast over people’s homes to the vibrations affecting embryos in the womb. Declining wildlife populations, children can’t read – everything that can go wrong will go wrong if wind turbines are allowed in the township. There are also dramatic pictures of windmill turbines on fire, and a wall of shame page with addresses and phone numbers of planning commission and township board members they don’t like because they’re not doing enough to keep wind turbines out of Sherman Township.

A clue to what Save Our Sherman thinks would be a viable alternative to wind power for electricity can be found on their editorial page:

The $2.5 billion Michigan taxpayers have spent bringing wind energy to Michigan, frequently in places where the majority of residents don’t want it, could have built enough gas-fired generators to shut down half of Michigan’s dirtiest coal-fired utilities. Instead, we haven’t closed one because of wind turbines.

Renewable energy such as wind isn’t the answer to burning fossil fuels, the answer is burning even more fossil fuels. Mr. Langworthy’s oil and gas interest in Kalkaska doesn’t seem so out of place now, does it?

Save Our Sherman’s website contains many links purporting to be evidence proving there are too many health risks involved to allow wind turbines. Unfortunately, many of the links have nothing to do with wind turbines and health, and instead talk about general health issues instead. Has any research been done by reputable, qualified organizations that can shed some light on the health risks of wind turbines? Studies have been conducted by experts with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, MIT, and the Chief Medical Officer of Health of Ontario, which published the following conclusion:

The following are the main conclusions of the review and consultation on the health impacts of wind turbines:

  • While some people living near wind turbines report symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, and sleep disturbance, the scientific evidence available to date does not demonstrate a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.
  • The sound level from wind turbines at common residential setbacks is not sufficient to cause hearing impairment or other direct adverse health effects. However, some people might find it annoying. It has been suggested that annoyance may be a reaction to the characteristic “swishing” or fluctuating nature of wind turbine sound rather than to the intensity of sound.
  • Low frequency sound and infrasound from current generation upwind model turbines are well below the pressure sound levels at which known health effects occur. Further, there is no scientific evidence to date that vibration from low frequency wind turbine noise causes adverse health effects.
  • Community engagement at the outset of planning for wind turbines is important and may alleviate health concerns about wind farms.
  • Concerns about fairness and equity may also influence attitudes towards wind farms and allegations about effects on health. These factors deserve greater attention in future developments.

How loud is it? Michigan Radio’s November 23rd, 2013 broadcast provides good information. They interviewed residents of Gratiot County, where a large wind farm was installed. The sound from the turbines about a quarter of a mile away is low, and for the people who live there it’s become background noise that can only be heard outside the house. Standing directly under the turbine is the only way to really hear what they sound like when they’re working. The people who agreed to allow the turbines on their property are paid for the use of their land.

Michigan must close several high-polluting coal-fired power plants by 2016 to be in compliance with the 2008 Clean, Renewable & Efficient Energy Act. Not only does coal pollute our state, it’s also economically irresponsible for Michigan to spend money to haul coal here from other parts of the country. Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are viable alternatives that don’t fill our air with carbon emissions and contribute to global warming. Where Michiganians are going to get their electricity from in the next few years needs to be taken into consideration.

2 thoughts on “ : Sherman Township’s NIMBY Wind Power Ordinance: We’d Rather Curse The Darkness”
  • Might as well go back to the horse and buggy. Are windmills harmful? I cannot say that I have heard any credible evidence that they are but I can understand why local people may object. In this case I’m not sure that the people are being represented there… rather powerful local business interests who are doing the talking. But if in the long run the people say no, the answer should be no. I am aware that the state legislature has come down in favor of wind, like HVHF fracking, overriding local control and wind is mentioned in Michigan O&G Leases and Permits. Even for something I want, like wind energy, the state has no business forcing it on the people. Local people must decide. That’s how decisions are made in a democracy.

    • Up North Progressive says:

      I agree, however in this case it’s two business owners doing all the talking and saying they represent the people. In 2011 they sent out a mailer to all the registered voters in the township asking them to vote in a poll. It was worded in such a way as to make people prefer not to have windmills in the area. They use this as their proof that people don’t want them. The health risks they cite are promoted by lobbyists for oil and gas, such as the Heartland Institute. A think tank that Scott Walker has spoken at.

      If oil prices remain volatile, and OPEC is promising to keep production up and the prices low, then fracking will become nonviable. North Dakota and Texas are already closing down operations and laying people off due to losing money. That is OPEC’s goal. It’s a wake up call to get away from fossil fuels and do more with renewable energy.

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