The Crawford County Board of Supervisors had another lengthy discussion of wind turbines during their Tuesday meeting.
The discussion lasted more than 90 minutes; the following is a heavily edited and condensed account.
On April 27, the supervisors enacted a temporary moratorium on the construction of new wind turbine towers; the supervisors are gathering information to determine what changes they might make to the county ordinances that regulate the construction of wind turbine towers.
The moratorium will expire on July 1.
Eight members of the public attended the meeting, along with two representatives of Scout Clean Energy, the company that is planning to build a wind turbine field south of Westside.
Supervisor Ty Rosburg noted that the supervisors had 30 days until the moratorium expires – and he wanted to get a new ordinance in place.
He said 1,250 feet was his starting place for a new setback distance for a wind tower from a house and possibly 1,450 from a rural residential community.
He said he could go up or down from those numbers.
Rosburg said that at 1,250 feet he didn’t think noise would be a big factor.
Jeff Segebart, who lives near the MidAmerican Energy Victory Wind Project tower field in the northeast part of Crawford County, said he hadn’t opened a window since the project started.
He said he hears noise from the motor, which he likened to the sound of a combine running.
“It all depends on the wind and the day,” he said.
The sound drones through his house and it “hits him like a brick wall” when he goes outside.
The turbines make more noise when they have mechanical issues or when access panels slap shut, he said.
Christy Rickers said she has three Victory wind towers on her farmland at distances of 1,000, 1,500 and nearly 2,000 feet; additional wind towers are on her neighbor’s land across the road.
Rickers said she can hear all of the machines, except for ones that are 3,000 feet away.
She also experiences flicker (from sunlight passing through the blades) that is severe enough that her aunt can’t visit because the flicker would cause a seizure.
Rickers said the turbines make a loud hum/whine and make noise while turning to follow the wind.
The noise is like a really loud frog or a sick goose, she said.
Chairperson Jeri Vogt asked if Rickers is compensated for the turbines on her land.
Rickers said she is compensated, but having wind turbines on the farm was the biggest regret her father had until his dying day.
She would give up the compensation in a second to be rid of the wind towers, she said.
Rickers said she had an opportunity to put wind towers on land she owns near Odebolt for a lot more money than she gets for the Victory project wind towers; the neighbors in that area didn’t want the towers nearby, so she didn’t allow them on the property.
Supervisor Jean Heiden said her research on the economic impact of wind energy showed the county receives about $2 million from taxes on the current towers in the county.
She also said the supervisors don’t want to put money before quality of life.
Vogt asked if tornadoes can take down wind turbines.
Jim Rocca, of Omniroc, Inc., who is working for Scout Clean Energy, said some turbines on the Gulf Coast experienced winds of 175 miles per hour, which had damaged blades but had not taken down any turbines.
Rickers said that turbines in her area make noise when debris within the blades falls one way and then the other when the blades rotate.
Rocca asked about the manufacturer of the turbines in her area. He noted that the Scout Clean Energy turbines are made by General Electric (GE).
Rickers said the Victory wind turbines are not made by GE.
She said her experience is that once she signed, the company could do anything with her property, though they do compensate for crop damage.
Segebart said the cranes used to work on the turbines leave tracks that never go away.
“You have to slow down with a grain cart to go over it,” he said.
Segebart said that the fire department told him that a cigarette from a turbine worker caused a fire that burned 130 of his acres.
“We had to fight to get them to compensate,” Rickers said.
People are passionate about protecting their homes, said Aaron Kautzky, of Westside.
“I don’t see any upside to these things, at all,” Kautzky said.
Joe Rosener, of Westside, asked how far apart the towers are placed.
Rocca said 1,200 to 1,500 feet east to west and up to 2,700 feet north to south; the distance affects the productivity of the downwind turbines.
Rosener said that he thought 2,700 feet would be a good starting number for the setback distance.
An individual who didn’t identify himself, and left the meeting early, said he thought the setback should be 2,750 feet – and the company could negotiate with the landowner if they want to put a wind tower closer.
Rocca said Scout Clean Energy generates setbacks from a house foundation to a tower not with a distance but with the sound level.
The company uses 45 decibels, he said.
Rocca said he thought the towers near Segebart’s home must be a lot louder than that.
“We would never have put anything up there anywhere near that close,” Rocca said.
“I don’t want to be put in a position of defending somebody else’s mistake.”
Rosener asked why the setback distance should be measured from a house and not a property line.
Rickers said she agreed. She said the noise in her yard is terrible and consideration should be given to the people who work outside all day long.
Supervisor Kyle Schultz said the board has to protect residents from less-reputable companies.
He said decibel readings can be affected by wind, humidity and temperature – but a tape measure always gives the same reading.
Read more in the Tuesday Denison Bulletin