Wind turbines: Make a visit before you vote 2012.07.11

Written by David Green.

How could anyone not like a wind turbine?

That’s often the opening sentence in articles that are about to point out reasons not to like them. 

It’s a good question because the concept of “free” energy from the natural source of wind is a very attractive one. Day after day, the wind keeps blowing—well, most days—and a turbine continues to churn out electricity with little human intervention.

It seems that most people find a spinning turbine attractive. We’ve talked to people who love to watch Fayette’s school turbine in action. The blades spinning up against the blue sky, a low whooshing sound as the turbines make their rounds—what is there not to like?

You don’t have to dig too deep to learn there are people who don’t like living near wind turbines. Life near the so-called industrial wind turbines simply isn’t a pleasant experience for many people.

What makes the issue so contentious is that the unpleasant experience is a very subjective matter. What one person considers a background noise to grow accustomed to, another person finds incredibly annoying. The latter doesn’t see it as something to get used to, but instead as something that invaded their life. Some people can actually “feel” the low frequency noise that’s sometimes emitted. Another neighbor will have no idea what they’re talking about.

A meeting two weeks ago at the Legion home didn’t produce any information favorable to wind farm development, nor was it intended to. The speakers were from a group calling for larger setbacks between a turbine and a home owned by someone who didn’t lease land for a wind farm.

Visit a wind farm—that’s the suggestion made by more than one person at the meeting. Seneca Township residents will vote Aug. 7 to decide if the existing wind farm ordinance is sufficient or if it needs to be changed.

Don’t go only as far as Fayette, because the school turbine measures about 180 feet from the ground to the top of an upright blade. Head southwest toward Paulding or north to mid-Michigan and take a look at the turbines that are more than twice as tall. 

Spend some time in the area, talk to residents who like them and those who don’t like them. Read through some information about health effects and see what you think. Then you’ll be ready to cast your vote.

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