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.