Debate continues over potential health effects of wind turbines

Published: Sep. 12, 2017 at 10:32 PM CDT
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Do wind turbines have an impact on your health?

It’s a question, those on both sides of the debate, discussed Tuesday night at Bay Port High School.

It’s been a constant discussion in Brown County after people living near the Shirley Wind Farm claim it’s negatively impacted their health. The wind turbines went up in 2010.

The meeting was hosted by Brown County’s Human Services Committee and Board of Health. The chairman said the goal of the meeting was to provide information, not necessarily answer the age-old question of health effects.

“This is not the beginning or the end of the debate,” said Richard Schadewald. “As Board of Health Chairman, I feel it’s my job to gather information to present to those decision makers on the county board and board of health and also address constituents concerns.”

Four different speakers took the stage and provided research and findings that support opposing viewpoints.

“I have seen dizziness, sinus pressure, chronic headaches and sleep disturbances,” said Dr. Herb Coussons, a Green Bay Physician.

“When I look at literature out there on low frequency notice and vibrations, I think they (wind turbines) can lead to these symptoms and there are those who are more susceptible to that,” said Dr. Coussons. “Quite honestly, I am for being energy independent in the U.S… but I don’t think they (wind turbines) need to be 1,000 feet from people’s homes who don’t want them there.”

Dr. Robert McCunney, an occupational and environmental specialist from Harvard Medical School, has conducted his own research at MIT. He looked at whether or not living near a wind turbine affected sleep, general health, stress, quality of life and annoyance.

“I found that at noise levels up to 46 decibels, averaged over a year, that there was no increase in self-reported health effects, stress or sleep disturbance,” said Dr. McCunney.

Tammie McGee, a representative from the Duke Energy that now owns the Shirley Wind Farm, attended the event.

“We welcome the public discourse and having these experts come in,” said McGee.

However, McGee said the information presented is purely educational and won’t have an impact on current operations.

“We have an obligation to Wisconsin customers we provide the power to,” said McGee. “We have a contract to provide that power and we have to honor that commitment.”