October 21, 2014

Lawmaker takes aim at wind farms

For state Senator Frank Lasee (R-De Pere), the concerns about the health effects of wind farms can be plainly seen in the stories of several families in his district.

The De Pere Republican says he knows of at least three families from Brown County who have been driven from their homes after 500 foot industrial wind turbines went up nearby. He says those families started to experience physical symptoms they believe were linked to the devices, so they left the homes they loved.

Lasee says those families took a second hit when they were unable to sell their properties, forcing them to pay two mortgages. He says others have told would they would like to move as well, but simply can’t afford to do so.

The situation is prompting a call to action from Lasee, who plans to introduce a bill that would allow anyone living within 1.5 miles of an industrial wind turbine to sue for physical, emotional, or financial damages. The bill would allow lawsuits to be targeted at both the owner of the turbine and the land it’s located on, and would also apply to wind developments that were legally approved.

AUDIO: Sen. Frank Lasee (:06)

Lasee is one of many critics of wind farms who argue the turbines can have negative health effects on nearby residents, frequently referred to as “Wind Turbine Syndrome.” Symptoms range from headaches to insomnia, although there is no medically recognized diagnosis tied to wind turbines at this time.

That lack of medical evidence is one of the main concerns being raised about the bill by Michael Vickerman with RENEW Wisconsin, a clean energy advocacy group.

Vickerman says there is no research that supports the claim that wind turbines are harming health or devaluing property. He says Lasee’s bill is just an “ongoing effort to discredit wind energy, but without marshaling any facts to justify this anti-wind campaign.”

AUDIO: Michael Vickerman (:13)

This is the second bill targeting wind farms Lasee has rolled out this session. The other measure he proposed would allow local governments to site wind energy developments, which critics argue would cripple the growing industry. Vickerman says the anti-wind stance of the senator appears to have “become a religious crusade for him.”