Wind power projects regularly run into opposition, from North Texas neighbors calling the spinning giants a nuisance to coastal landowners saying they’rebird killing machines. But in rural Illinois the arrival of wind power turbines has some claiming a wind farm is making them sick, says the Chicago Tribune:
“The turbines, which are assessed at a million dollars each, represent the largest investment made in the county, said Ruth Anne Tobias, chair of the DeKalb County Board. And the expected annual tax revenue is unprecedented: $1.45 million.
Steve Stengel, a spokesman for turbine-owner NextEra Energy Resources, a unit of FPL Group, whose holdings include Florida Power & Light Co., said $50 million in payments is expected to be made to landowners over the 30-year life of the project.
But such windfalls haven’t assuaged people who claim the turbines have harmed their health. They say noise from turbines is disrupting sleep, and they blame the strobe-like flashes produced by the whirling blades in sunlight — “shadow flicker” — for everything from vertigo to migraine headaches.
A group of 36 people who live near the turbines has sued DeKalb County and 75 landowners who leased land for the turbines. They claim the county illegally granted zoning variances and want the turbines taken down. NextEra is seeking to dismiss the suit based on “vague allegations of hypothetical harms.”
Ken Andersen, a county board member who voted to allow the turbines to be built, says he is trying to understand the people voicing concerns. One man, he said, called at 6 a.m. and told him a turbine that sounded like a 747 jet engine was keeping him awake. Andersen said he got out of bed and drove over to listen for himself.
“I went to this man’s yard,” Andersen said. “I made more noise walking across the crunchy snow.” The turbines, he said, “were making their whoosh, whoosh, whoosh noise.”
Canadian and U.S. wind industry officials did a study released last year that concluded there was no adverse health impact from wind turbine noise. But it doesn’t appear the story’s going to end there.
Austin journalist and author Robert Bryce recently wrote for the Wall Street Journal about wind farms making neighbors sick across the country.
And a New York pediatrician who has done her own research on the issue says there hasn’t been enough studies on the potential health issues, including the effect of the shadows.
Having never spent the night near a turbine, I can’t attest to the noise issue, but the video above seems to make a good case for a closer look at the “shadow flicker” issue.