Appeals court upholds wind siting ruling

A positive state ruling on wind siting in Wisconsin:

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin appeals court says state regulators didn’t have to produce a report on how wind turbines affect property values when they imposed siting standards.  

The Public Service Commission implemented rules setting up uniform wind turbine construction and setback standards in 2012. The state realtors, builders and towns associations sued, arguing the rules were invalid because the commission didn’t produce a report on the rules’ effect on property values. 

A Brown County judge ruled last year no report was required. The 3rd District Court of Appeals agreed on Tuesday. The court said a report is needed only when rules directly affect housing. The PSC considered voluminous evidence about turbines’ effect on housing and reasonably concluded they don’t’ hurt residential property values. 

The associations’ attorney didn’t immediately return a message.

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Australian Medical Association: Windfarm infrasound is safe

The Australian Medical Association released a position statement on March 18, 2014, including a statement that “available Australian and international evidence does not support the view that the infrasound or low frequency sound generated by wind farms, as they are currently regulated in Australia, causes adverse health effects on populations residing in their vicinity.” Their entire statement is below or available on their website.

Wind turbine technology is considered a comparatively inexpensive and effective means of energy production. Wind turbines generate sound, including infrasound, which is very low frequency noise that is generally inaudible to the human ear. Infrasound is ubiquitous in the environment, emanating from natural sources (e.g. wind, rivers) and from artificial sources including road traffic, ventilation systems, aircraft and other machinery. All modern wind turbines in Australia are designed to be upwind, with the blade in front of the tower. These upwind turbines generate much lower levels of infrasound and low frequency sound. 

Infrasound levels in the vicinity of wind farms have been measured and compared to a number of urban and rural environments away from wind farms. The results of these measurements have shown that in rural residences both near to and far away from wind turbines, both indoor and outdoor infrasound levels are well below the perception threshold, and no greater than that experienced in other rural and urban environments. 

AMA Position

  • The available Australian and international evidence does not support the view that the infrasound or low frequency sound generated by wind farms, as they are currently regulated in Australia, causes adverse health effects on populations residing in their vicinity. The infrasound and low frequency sound generated by modern wind farms in Australia is well below the level where known health effects occur, and there is no accepted physiological mechanism where sub-audible infrasound could cause health effects.
  • Individuals residing in the vicinity of wind farms who do experience adverse health or well-being, may do so as a consequence of their heightened anxiety or negative perceptions regarding wind farm developments in their area. Individuals who experience heightened anxiety or diminished health and well-being in the context of local wind farms should seek medical advice.
  • The reporting of ‘health scares’ and misinformation regarding wind farm developments may contribute to heightened anxiety and community division, and over-rigorous regulation of these developments by state governments.
  • The regulation of wind farm developments should be guided entirely by the evidence regarding their impacts and benefits. Such regulation should ensure that structured and extensive local community consultation and engagement is undertaken at the outset of planning, in order to minimise misinformation, anxiety and community division.
  • Electricity generation by wind turbines does not involve production of greenhouse gases, other pollutant emissions or waste, all of which can have significant direct and indirect health effects. 

New Berkeley Lab Study Finds No Statistical Evidence of Residential Property Value Impacts Near U.S. Wind Power Projects

the study released yesterday, Berkeley
Lab analyzed more than 50,000 home sales near 67 wind
facilities in 27 counties
across nine U.S. states.  In
summary, the
research did not find any statistically identifiable impacts
of wind facilities
to nearby home property values. Read the full 2013 report, the previously published 2009 report, and yesterday’s press release below for more information.

Immediate releaseLawrence
Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) analyzed more than
50,000 home
sales near 67 wind facilities in 27 counties across nine U.S.
states, yet was
unable to uncover any impacts to nearby home property values.
is the second of two major studies we have conducted on this
topic [the first
was published in 2009
see below], and
in both studies [using two different datasets] we find no
statistical evidence
that operating wind turbines have had any measureable impact on
home sales
prices,” says Ben Hoen, the lead author of the new report.
is a researcher in the Environmental Energy Technologies
Division of Berkeley
new study used a number of sophisticated techniques to control
for other
potential impacts on home prices, including collecting data that
spanned well
before the wind facilities’ development was announced to after
they were
constructed and operating. This allowed the researchers to
control for any
pre-existing differences in home sales prices across their
sample and any
changes that occurred due to the housing bubble. 
study, the most comprehensive to-date, builds on both the
previous Berkeley Lab
study as well a number of other academic and published U.S.
studies, which also
generally find no measureable impacts near operating turbines.
there have been claims of significant property value impacts
near operating wind
turbines that regularly surface in the press or in local
communities, strong evidence
to support those claims has failed to materialize in all of the
major U.S.
studies conducted thus far”, says Hoen. 
“Moreover, our findings comport with the large set of
studies that have
investigated other potentially similar disamenities, such as
high voltage
transmission lines, land fills, and noisy roads, which suggest
that widespread impacts
from wind turbines would be either relatively small or
report was authored by Ben Hoen (Berkeley Lab), Jason P. Brown
(formerly USDA
now Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City), Thomas Jackson (Texas
A & M and
Real Property Analytics), Ryan Wiser (Berkeley Lab), Mark Thayer
(San Diego State University)
and Peter Cappers (Berkeley Lab). The research was supported by
the U.S.
Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable

Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world’s most urgent
challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human
health, creating
new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the
universe. Founded in
1931, Berkeley Lab’s scientific expertise has been recognized
with 13 Nobel
prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for
the U.S.
Department of Energy’s Office of Science. For more, visit

Allan Chen (510) 486-4210,

Ben Hoen (845) 758-1896,

Speak Up for Clean Energy on the Highland Wind Farm

If you support wind energy development in Wisconsin, and if you believe a responsibly designed project should not be shouted down by antiwind pressure groups, please communicate your position to the Public Service Commission, which will decide the fate of the Highland Wind project later this year. The Commission will accept online comments through August 12th.

Speak Up for Clean Energy on the Highland Wind Farm 


The Highland Wind Farm is a clean energy project proposed for the Town of Forest (St. Croix County).  The proposed farm will have 41 turbines and generate 102.5 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 25,000 homes.  The process of getting the Highland Wind Farm permitted has been an ongoing battle riddled with propaganda and misinformation about wind.  Recently we were pleased to learn that the Public Service Commission (PSC) agreed to reopen the case and reconsider permitting the wind farm.  Although a public hearing has been scheduled for August 14, at 610 North Whitney Way, Madison, in the Amnicon Falls Room (First Floor) the PSC has informed us that they will hear testimony from the general public on August 15.  You may also submit online comments until August 13.  Unfortunately, opponents are already commenting, and they will be out in full force at the public hearing.  Don’t let a vocal minority shut the door on clean energy in Wisconsin!  Send in your comments today, and make plans to attend the public hearing. 

You can submit a comment following these steps:1.    Click here for the PSC website and fill out your information2.    Write your comment.  Feel free to use our talking points below to help form your comment, but also be sure to tell your personal story and reason for wanting more clean, wind energy in Wisconsin.3.    Click ‘File Comments’

Talking Points:

  • Wisconsin is falling behind in the clean energy transition.  All of our neighboring states have installed more wind than Wisconsin.  Meanwhile in our state, at least 3 wind projects have been canceled in the past few years after the legislature temporarily suspended Wisconsin’s uniform wind-siting rules, causing the loss of hundreds of megawatts of clean energy and over 1,000 potential jobs.
  • The Highland Wind Farm will create over 100 jobs during construction and up to 8 permanent jobs.  Over the next 30 years, it would provide $4.8 million in revenue to Forest Township, and over $6.8 million to St. Croix County.
  • The most significant commercial activity in the Town of Forest is farming.  The 25 host landowners would benefit from lease payments offered by the Highland Wind Farm, and this income is critical for anchoring the many family farms in this area.
  • The Highland Wind Farm will follow Wisconsin’s Wind Siting Law, PSC 128, a policy created by a range of stakeholders over a several years designed to create business certainty and overcome the patchwork of local regulations that has threatened clean energy development in Wisconsin. 
  • The Public Service Commission needs to make decisions based on the law and what is good for the health of Wisconsin.  The Highland Wind Farm is both.
  • Wisconsin wants and needs wind and we shouldn’t let a vocal minority block clean energy opportunities.

Shahla M. Werner, Ph.D., Chapter DirectorSierra Club- John Muir Chapter222 South Hamilton Street, Suite 11Madison, WI 53703-3201shahla.werner@sierraclub.orgPhone: (608) 256-0565Fax: (608) 256-4JMC

Wisconsin’s renewable energy community sheds light on misinformation used in debate over the impact of Fond du Lac wind turbines

Laura Ritger’s article for the Fond du Lac Reporter published last Friday provided an outline of the continued debate over the impact of wind turbines on human health. Demonstrating the misinformation frequently used to attack wind farms, Barbara Vanden Boogart of the Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy anti wind group incorrectly reported to Ms. Ritger that a health study had been conducted to assess the risk for cancer in Brown County residents near a local wind farm. Wisconsin’s renewable energy community was quick to identify and correct the misinformation used by Ms. Boogart’s group with wind energy expert Mike Barnard responding in Barnard on Wind and RENEW’s Michael Vickerman writing the following response to the Fond du Lac Reporter.

By Michael Vickerman

Dear Ms. Ritger:

recently wrote an article describing an effort on the part of certain
Fond du Lac County residents to advocate for a state-funded health study
analyzing impacts of utility-scale wind generators
on neighboring residents. Your article contained the following

Barbara Vanden Boogart, representing Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy, spoke Wednesday
about health issues. She referred to a study
that measured increased cancer risk for people living in Brown County
homes near turbines and how some residents were compelled to leave their

highlighted statement is completely false.Yes, a team of acoustical
engineers took measurements of infrasound and low-frequency sound levels
at three houses near the
Shirley wind farm. The results were recorded and written up in a report

Cooperative Measurement Survey and Analysis of Low Frequency and
Infrasound at the Shirley Wind Farm in Brown County, Wisconsin.” While
these acoustical engineers are experts in their field,
their expertise does not extend into medical science. They took sound
readings, nothing more. Moreover, they were unable to persuade the owner
of the Shirley Wind Farm to shut down the turbines at any time during
the testing. Without a baseline sound reading,
it is impossible to determine to what extent, if any, the Shirley wind
turbines are responsible for any sounds recorded by this team. That
being the case, the statement is in error on two grounds:

1. This was an acoustical inquiry, not a medical inquiry.
The measurements taken neither implicate or exonerate the Shirley wind
turbines for any readings taken, because they were always operating
during the testing.
quite a leap to interpret the data and conclude, as Ms. Vanden Boogart
did, that living near wind turbines increases the risk of contracting
cancer. No peer-reviewed
medical study I’m aware of connects wind generation to any illness or
disease recognized by the medical profession. Moreover, every reporter
who covers this issue ought to know that Wind Turbine Syndrome is not a
medically recognized phenomenon. 
would ask that your newspaper issue a correction on this point. Ms.
Vanden Boogart completely misrepresented the report in question, and her
quote suggests that there
is a risk from wind generators when in fact none has been determined to
date by many researchers working around the world. 
a balanced presentation of the Shirley report, please review the latest
post on Barnard on Wind, which sets the record straight on what the
Shirley infrasound report says and does not say.