NY should learn from other states that have struggled with turbine impact on residents

Posted 9 October 2017 at 5:27 pm


Will New York State learn from  mistakes made in other areas or will we continue to fall into the same trap?

The small town of Glenmore sits near the other end of the Niagara escarpment in Brown County, Wisconsin. I’ve followed their story from the time Apex “Clean” Energy invaded our beautiful countryside and divided our peaceful little towns.

Duke Energy-owned, Shirley Wind, with just eight 492’ foot turbines, has been nothing short of a nightmare for numerous families living near the project. Ever since the blades on these 2.5 MW industrial turbines began turning, life changed dramatically for at least 20 families. Initially unaware of the correlation between their symptoms and the low frequency noise and infrasonic by-products of wind-generated electricity, more than 50 residents have pleaded to the Brown County Board of Health for help.

Three families have been forced to abandon their homes to seek relief from the incessant noise and related illnesses. What possible reason, other than inability to live among the turbines, would prompt these families to flee and bear the financial burden of two mortgages?

In 2014, after many studies, including sound and infrasound monitoring, the Brown County Board of Health declared the Shirley Wind Project a “Human Health Hazard.” Valiant efforts by some elected officials and Duke Energy to overturn the ruling have failed, and the declaration remains today.

I wonder how many more complaints would have been registered, had 60 percent of the population within the project not been paid for their silence through “Good Neighbor” agreements with the wind company? What are the chances that residents within these targeted, rural communities could win a battle against a multi-million dollar industrial wind investment, subsidized by the government, yet funded with taxpayer dollars?

The lack of justice in Glenmore is a travesty, and it is not isolated to this small, rural town, but reported in communities around the world where industrial wind projects are sited too close to homes.

Impacted residents, with the support of the Brown County Board of Health, continue to educate lawmakers and Wisconsin State Health officials to increase awareness of the causation of human suffering at Shirley Wind. A nearly four-hour forum recently took place and is available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bpc-pYMu48.

New York State needs to look at Wisconsin when considering such projects as “Lighthouse Wind,” the Apex Clean Energy project targeted for a narrow swath of land along the southern shore of Lake Ontario in Niagara and Orleans Counties. Emplacement of up to 70 industrial wind turbines, suggested to reach heights in excess of 600 feet, could not possibly fit in this residential and farming community without causing extreme hardship on its residents.

I hope lessons learned from Wisconsin, as well as projects worldwide, will prevent New York State from making the same mistake.

Cynthia Hellert

Town of Yates