From an editorial in the Green Bay Press-Gazette:
A committee wants Brown County to ask the state to pay medical bills for anyone becoming sick because of wind turbines, but we don’t think it’s the county’s place to make such a move.
The human services committee voted last week to seek emergency aid for families near the Shirley Wind Farm in the town of Glenmore, blaming the state for allowing what supervisors said was “irresponsible placement” of wind turbines. Several people testified to the committee that they or their neighbors have experienced conditions such as anxiety, depression and weight loss and fear they have been exposed to a greater cancer risk.
We feel for local residents who believe their health has been compromised by wind turbines. But until the state establishes setback rules and other regulations governing wind turbines, the county’s effort in this case is futile. . . .
If county supervisors want to make recommendations on setback limits or other issues involving wind turbines, they should do that and forward their opinions to the state. But a resolution seeking compensation for medical bills comes with the assumption that the wind turbines caused the problems in Glenmore. That’s a conclusion that hasn’t been determined.
Brown County has been a focus area for wind energy companies in recent years. The landscape is conducive to the placement of turbines because the topography helps produce a steady wind flow. An advocacy group — Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy — has lobbied for greater setback distances, saying turbines too close to residences and schools pose potential health problems.
The opposition led Illinois-based Invenergy Inc. to withdraw its plans to build a 100-turbine wind farm in the towns of Morrison and Glenmore.
The wind energy industry cites, with good reason, the fact that wind turbines provide a useful and necessary energy source. They also provide financial compensation for land owners who agree to have wind turbines erected on their property.
Still, some opponents say the negatives outweigh the benefits. Some have also claimed the turbines lower property values.
The responsibility for establishing wind energy rules rests with the Public Service Commission. A legislative committee suspended the PSC’s proposed turbine siting rules 11 months ago and instructed the state agency to work on a compromise that would be acceptable to both sides. PSC spokeswoman Kristin Ruesch told the Green Bay Press-Gazette Monday that no such compromise has been reached. She also said she doesn’t think the issue of medical bill payments has been part of the discussions.
We urge the PSC to accelerate the discussions to reach a compromise that will be acceptable to both sides and the state Legislature.