Wind Turbine Moratorium Debate Continues in Madison County

WINTERSET, Iowa -- The debate about wind turbines and whether or not they have negative health effects on people continues in Madison County.

On Tuesday, the Madison County Board of Supervisors heard public comment as they look into a moratorium on certain renewable energy construction.

The moratorium the Madison County Board of Supervisors is considering would stop construction of all wind turbines and commercial solar energy systems in Madison County until January 1 2022, excluding projects approved before January 1 of this year.

“This moratorium appears to be an anti-renewables moratorium. I don't know if that was the intent, but we're confused as to how solar played into this as well. As you know, someone has made the comment of in the past that all forms of energy are different and solar and wind are a lot different,” Adam Jablonski, with MidAmerican, said.

This moratorium came about after the Madison County Board of Health made a recommendation to the supervisors saying wind turbines have negative health effects and they should draft an ordinance that wind turbines must be a mile and a half from homes.

Iowa researchers believe there aren't any negative health effects.

“The literature generally supports the conclusion that there is no authoritative evidence that there is a health effect that comes from this other than annoyance,” Co-Author of Wind and Health Report David Osterberg said.

One Iowan who lives near several turbines said it’s affected her family’s lives in several ways.

“It's really hard to sleep at night. When it's loud outside, we just don't enjoy the outdoors like we did, but there's some days where you can still enjoy the outdoors. But we put on soundproof windows from Nevada. We researched for a good place to put them on. They made hardly no difference. We've hung up the soundproof type curtains that they use in recording studios in our bedroom just trying to get our bedroom quiet,” she said.

Some Madison County residents said they’ve experienced negative health effects, but researchers said what they're experiencing could be a result of simply not liking wind turbines and other issues.

“Given all the evidence out there, that those symptoms although they're real, may not come from the sound made by wind turbines,” Osterberg said.

Many Madison County residents against further wind development even signed a petition to try and stop a wind project already in the works that wouldn’t fall under the moratorium.

“The majority of people living in the footprint of the proposed 52 turbines do not want them, including many land owners like my husband and myself, who signed easements or good neighbor agreements they now regret. Landowners like us who are slated to host turbines, like us, who don't want them now related to our story that they were given the impression it's a done deal,” Madison county resident Mary Jobst said.

But no matter what side of the issue wind and solar developers and residents are on, they say a moratorium is a good idea they just disagree with the length.

“What we recommend is a three to six month type moratorium rather than a multi-year moratorium to provide input. We can work with the local community provide all kinds of details on our solar project,” Lightsource BP CEO Kevin Smith said.

Others want the moratorium as is.

The second reading of the moratorium and opportunity for public comment is now scheduled in two weeks during the next Madison County Board of Supervisors meeting.

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