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Wind Turbine Controversy Blows Back into Legislature

The impact of wind turbines was the subject of a hearing Wednesday at the state Capitol.

A billwould make it easier for property owners to sue, if a neighboring wind turbine damages their health or drives down the value of homes.

More voices supported that proposed law, than opposed it.

Its author is Senator Frank Lasee of Green Bay. He’s been tilting his legislative sword against wind turbines for years. He says it’s his duty.

“I don’t want people harmed by wind. Period! I don’t care if we have them in the state or not, truly. I don’t care about wind one way or another, but I don’t want people harmed like the people I represent, who have truly, drastically, dramatically harmed by this and we don’t seem to care. And that bothers me a lot and this is a redress for those people.”

Many speakers called for independent studies to prove or disprove impacts of turbine movement to human and animal health.

Darlene Miller says she and her husband don’t need science to substantiate what they’re living. She says they lived 30 healthy years in their home in rural Fond du Lac County. Miller says things changed five years ago when Blue Sky Green Field went on line nearby – a wind farm with 88-enormous towers.

“And the noise in our house is different than what is going on outside – it’s the vibrations from the walls expanding – or whatever – from these turbines. It’s an awful life, and we can’t get out. So this bill, if it passes, would help us hopefully to be able to go out and get out of our homes on the worst nights, because this can go on for months on end.”

No one should dismiss Darlene Miller’s concerns, according to Shahla Werner. She’s director of the Sierra Club.

But Werner says scientific scrutiny will take time. In the meanwhile, she thinks Wisconsin should lean toward what science has concluded about the benefits of wind energy.

“We always have to go on the best available science that we have right now. And right now we know that the science is in on climate change and almost every energy source has some drawbacks. Future generations of Wisconsin, what are we going to be leaving them with and what’s the most responsible power choices that we can make.”

The Public Service Commission established a wind siting council and charged it with studying the impact of wind energy systems. Its report is due next October.

Susan is WUWM's environmental reporter.