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Wisconsin business group wants state senator to end ‘war on wind’

Wisconsin state Sen. Frank Lasee

A Wisconsin state senator wants to reopen debate on the state’s years-long effort to establish uniform wind siting rules, and representatives from the renewable energy industry say they’ve had enough.

The Wisconsin Energy Business Association, which represents more than 70 companies in the wind, solar, and bioenergy fields, says state Sen. Frank Lasee’s “ongoing hostility toward Wisconsin’s wind industry is preventing real economic growth,” according to a news release.

Sen. Lasee, a Republican from De Pere, this week brought four people before the state’s Public Service Commission to discuss health problems they attribute to the Shirley Wind Farm in Brown County.

“It doesn’t affect all people, but it affects a significant number of people and we shouldn’t do that to people in their own homes,” Sen. Lasee said, according to a report from WKOW-TV.

While anecdotal reports of “wind turbine syndrome” are often cited by wind energy opponents, to date there is no scientific evidence supporting claims that wind turbines can impact people’s health. A research summary published by Swedish scientists last year did find that noise from turbines can cause “annoyance,” potentially leading to sleep deprivation, but found no connection between turbine noise and more severe symptoms such as nausea or tinnitus.

The Canadian government recently announced it is conducting its own study of the issue, with results expected to be released in 2014.

Wisconsin’s uniform setback rules were delayed for a year after Gov. Scott Walker, prompted by the state’s Realtors Association, proposed stricter rules shortly after taking office. Walker’s proposal failed to gain traction in the state legislature, and the original rules took effect in March of this year after lawmakers adjourned without taking up the bill.

Another proposal by Sen. Lasee would have imposed a moratorium on all new wind projects until scientists prove they don’t cause health problems. The bill did not receive a committee hearing.

“It’s plain un-American to have wind turbines twice as tall as the State Capitol right next to someone’s house that they are forced to look at, which makes them dizzy, nauseous and sick,” Lasee said at the time.

Michael Vickerman of RENEW Wisconsin (a member of RE-AMP, which also publishes Midwest Energy News), told WKOW that Sen. Lasee “has been waging an ideological war against wind power for a long time.”

Chris Kunkle, speaking on behalf of the WEBA, called on Lassee to “stop his rash and unsubstantiated attacks on the wind industry.”

“It is becoming increasingly clear that Senator Lasee is an outlier in this debate,” Kunkle said in the release.

Comments (12)

If you look at historical evidence of experimentation with low frequency and impulsive noise, especially that of Dr. Gavreau in France, you begin to understand that effects from this sort of “annoyance” can be quite severe. This is why the military has long experimented with it to determine if this might be a viable weapons system. They have found out that low-frequency and impulsive sound can, in fact, debilitate people, but building a system to control and direct the sound is still too expensive. I find it fascinating that the wind industry continues to deny the ill effects of low-frequency noise, while simultaneously embracing the use of high-frequence noise to deter bats. Clearly noise matters, but once again we find the wind industry and their shills cherry picking their way through the facts to find those that suit them. If wind turbine syndrome is not real, then the use of sound to annoy and deter bats must also be fiction. You can’t have it both ways.

By Mary on Jul 13, 2012

Mary, you’re aware that bats can hear frequencies that humans can’t, right?

By Ken Paulman on Jul 13, 2012

Mary, there is a difference between low frequency sound and high frequency sound.

WTS is an invention by the anti-wind power cottage industry. It has no scientific basis or support beyond the fringe. The author of a book on it could not get her book published so she had to self-publish.

How about highways? In my experience visiting many wind turbines and wind farms, highways make more noise. Why no complaints about them? Or jets? Or other sources?

By Andy Olsen on Jul 13, 2012

Does this sound like Scott Walker and the Koch brothers looking out for the oil refineries by opposing any new energy sources in our country.

By steve manninen on Jul 13, 2012

I just hate the sounds birds make in the morning. Sometimes they wake me up even.
Maybe the Koch brother’s could take up the cause and kill all the birds with their ‘clean coal’ plants?

By Rich Fallis on Jul 14, 2012

Lasee is yet another ‘paid gunslinger’ from the Koch Bros. and Exxon/Mobil sent to slow down and frustrate renewable energy development until Exxon can find the ‘spoils’ cheap enough to buy and control. BP bought up 80% of the solar patents in 1995 by buying Solarex – followed by Shell Oil buying another 10% of solar patents with their purchase of Siemens Solar Energy. Chevron now owns Uni-Solar!
Lasee is yet another corporate VAMPIRE and should be treated as such. Get those petitions going and GET HIM OUT!!! And DON’T BUY MOBIL GASOLINE!!!

By Bil Becker on Jul 14, 2012

Ken Paulman, yes I know bats can hear frequencies humans can’t and I know that mammals of all species respond to both inaudible low and high frequency noise. You do know that humans are mammals, right?

By Mary on Jul 14, 2012

Steve Manninen, Are they opposed to new energy sources (which wind most decidedly is not) or are people opposed to paying for something that doesn’t work? I believe it’s the latter, but as was posted in a pdf by a wind industry environmental biologist: Science is not important in siting wind energy systems because permitting is based on politics and perception is reality. People are waking up to the fact that the perception/deception game being played here is the same one played in the old fairy tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes. If not, why bury science associated with wind turbine noise studies, as is being done in Michigan right now?

By Mary on Jul 14, 2012

I’d like to see an example of animals reacting to sounds they can’t hear.

By Ken Paulman on Jul 15, 2012

Impulses and “sounds” are not the same thing, Ken. I just found a really interesting wind industry document on wind industry permitting. It seems that the industry knows that wind is not permitted based on science but is permitted based on politics and perceptions so altering the perceptions of decision makers is key to mitigating risk to a project. Risk is not defined as anything verifiable or quantifiable with science but is defined as anything that would cause a project to not be sited. This explains why you are afraid to delve into the noise issue. Science is the enemy of wind every developers because science can negates the perceptions you want to promote.

By Mary on Jul 15, 2012

If you want a story on a document, you need to meet me halfway and tell me what it is and where to find it.

By Ken Paulman on Jul 16, 2012

As someone who lives in a rural area with lots of wind farms I believe that Sen Lasee’s comments are completely unfounded. For many years our community has benefited tremendously from wind farms and has not had any person complaining of wind turbine syndrome. Many state studies and medical foundations have studied wind turbine syndrome and found no evidence of any problems. Sen Lasee should go to areas with many wind farms and talk to residents. Wind turbines have helped our community with jobs and economic stability. To Mary’s comments, not every “study” on the internet is valid. We can find “studies” on the internet about aliens living among us, but I think we can agree that isn’t true.

By Sophie on Jul 17, 2012