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Turbines: An Ill Wind?

By Staff | Sep 13, 2016

(Editor’s Note:?Due to its length, this letter will be printed in two issues to meet the guidelines of the newspaper.)

To the Editor:

In recent weeks there have been a number of letters and articles written applauding the potential wind turbine project in our county and its economic “windfall.” My husband and I attended the project presentation at the VFW. Representatives from ILCC and some energy companies were given the opportunity to inform us of their plans and how they would affect our tax revenues, schools, and farmers’ bottom lines. It was a glowing picture of how we would become rich, our children would have fabulous jobs and never leave, and our children’s children’s children would thank us for our foresight.

Well, every coin has two sides. Nothing was offered on the effects of wind turbines on wildlife. Reliable sources estimate that 140,000 to 328,000 birds die each year in collisions with turbines. And the taller turbines they are proposing are more deadly than the shorter ones. The blades move over 140 mph. No bird can react fast enough to avoid them or even recognize the danger. Another concern is the loss of habitat. Yes, I know, only a part of an acre is taken by each turbine, but there is an avoidance factor-wildlife moves away from the structure. This may be due to the shadow flicker, which mimics the shadow cast by predatory birds as they pass overhead. Studies done in North Dakota indicate that there may be as much as a 40% drop in usage (nesting, feeding, and so on) in marshes in proximity to wind turbines. My brother, who guides pheasant hunts in central Iowa, said that his business dropped by over half when turbines were installed on the property. What will this do to the revenue brought into our county by hunters from other areas? Nothing good. Since a CREP wetland was created across the section from us, we have seen ducks, geese, herons, and even eagles near our home, traveling between it and the lake. Just three weeks ago, a bald eagle landed on a fence post on my property-I watched it from my kitchen window. If my home is near one or more turbines, that will never happen again. Apparently, bald eagles are particularly susceptible to wind turbines.

As for farmers being able to substantially supplement their income, that only goes so far. Many of the farmers I know only rent the land they work. Therefore, they will not benefit in any way. In fact, they will now have to work around an obstruction, will lose the land it sits on, and will not even be allowed to use the access road going through the field. And speaking of access roads, a friend on the Hancock County Board of Supervisors says that they are now dealing with beer parties, meth cooking, and illegal hunting because people use those roads to go into the fields unobserved.

A concern raised was the damage to our roads during construction. Mid-American energy assured us that they would bring in equipment and repair the roads as they went along, leaving them better than they were before. During the highline construction project that Mid-American undertook last year, there was considerable damage to the gravel roads, county paved roads, and Highway 18. They did indeed repair the gravel roads, but the paved roads were left as is. This project, with significantly heavier vehicles and machinery, will do much more damage. Who will pay to fix Highway 18? Not Mid-American.

(signed) Cynthia Berkland

Cylinder, IA