This investigation has found more
than 450 families who have publicly complained about the impacts of
living near wind farms. Have a similar experience? Tell us your story

In Your
Own Words.

Photo: Page from Cary Shineldecker’s journal that he and his wife, Karen, kept while living next to the Lake Winds Energy Park.

Editor's Note: GateHouse Media interviewed dozens of families who claim that industrial wind turbines have negatively impacted their homes, health and property values. What follows are short narratives of their personal accounts, based on those interviews.

The wind industry has repeatedly disputed turbines cause health problems or reduce property value and cite several studies supporting those views.

Bernie and Cheryl Hagen said they suffer sleeplessness, vertigo, headaches, ear pressure and tinnitus from the 20 industrial turbines within one mile of their rural, southern Minnesota home.

When the couple first heard about plans for the Bent Tree Wind Farm, they said they asked for a one-mile setback between the turbines and their property line. They did so in part because of Bernie’s existing health problems. A Vietnam veteran, Bernie has suffered tinnitus and other disabilities related to his military service.

Bernie’s physician from the Department of Veterans Affairs attested to these problems – as well as the belief the turbines would exacerbate them – in a letter presented to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and shared with GateHouse Media.

But the commission approved the project plans anyway.

Bent Tree’s 122 turbines started spinning on Feb. 7, 2011, and the couple said they immediately felt the effects from those closest to their home. Three of them stand less than a half-mile away.

“On Sunday the 13th, I woke up and didn’t feel very good,” Cheryl said. “It was my turn to take my mother to mass. I dropped her off at the door, I came into church and thought, ‘oh my God, this is after my first full day and full night in the house, and I’m going to be one of those people who are susceptible to the vibrations and infrasound.’”

The couple, along with several of their neighbors, has complained numerous times to the wind farm owner, Alliant Energy, and to the state Public Service Commission. They said no one will help them.

Meanwhile, they wear earplugs and noise-canceling headphones when the wind blows from the southeast – that’s when they said the effects are worse. They also leave their house for days at a time to get relief.

For Cheryl, the headaches and ear pressure is unbearable. For Bernie, the tinnitus and vertigo are debilitating.

“We have had many, many nights of torture,” Cheryl said, her voice cracking with emotion. “My husband’s doctor says we should just move, but it’s not so easy to take your retirement savings and replace a home.”

Their home, which they purchased four decades ago on two acres of land, has become a prison instead of a sanctuary, they said. They don’t want to leave, but they worry what will happen if they continue to stay.

“We’re on the verge of just walking away,” Bernie said. “We’re at the end of our ropes. We don’t know what the heck to do. This is being shoved down our throat.”

Developers of the Blue Sky Green Field Wind Energy Center first approached Bernie and Rose Petrie a few years before construction of the 145-megawatt project.

They wanted the Petries to sign a contract allowing the company to erect one of its turbines on the couple’s 65-acre land. They told the Petries the turbines were quiet and wouldn’t interfere with their radio or television reception, the couple recalled.

They would even get a $2,000 signing bonus if they signed up on the spot, Bernie said. One of the men handed the couple a contract.

“My wife put her foot down and said, ‘We are going to read this over and take it to our attorney,’” Bernie recalled. “It was so one-sided that our attorney said, ‘Don’t sign it.’”

The nearly 400-foot turbines came anyway, after several of the Petries’ neighbors signed contracts with the wind company. Three of the turbines stand within a half-mile of the Petries’ house.

They not only interfere with television and radio reception, but they’re loud and cast a flickering shadow on the couple’s house every time the sun passes behind their rotating blades, they said.

“We were kind of mocked by people who said, ‘Look at the money they want to pay us,’” Bernie said. “But if you would have signed the lease, they were going to have the mineral rights. You couldn’t sign a contract with someone to put up a radio tower. They had total control of your property. You even had to get permission to remodel your house. If you wanted to sell your property, they had first right to buy it.”

The couple doesn’t suffer some of the health problems their neighbors complain about, but they said they’re constantly annoyed by the noise and shadow flicker.

“I’m living on my grandfather’s farm, and I have been here forever,” Bernie said. “My wife is from just up the road on her father’s farm. If we move somewhere, they could get put up wherever we move to. So we’re just putting up with it. Plus, who is going to want to buy your land?”

Larry and Carol Lamont signed a contract to host an industrial wind turbine on their 78-acre property in rural Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, but they never got one.

At first they said they were upset the company eliminated their turbine from the project, because they were looking forward to the $4,000 in annual income they would have received.

But after the Blue Sky Green Field Wind Energy Center started operations in 2008, the Lamonts realized they got lucky – sort of.

The turbines that company officials had promised would hum as quietly as a refrigerator actually create a cacophony of unpleasant sounds, Larry said. The couple knows this, because even though they didn’t get a turbine on their property, several of their neighbors did.

And now the Lamonts are surrounded by them – one stands 1,100 feet to the north, another 1,100 feet to the west, another 1,750 feet to the south and yet another 1,850 feet to the east.

“At least we don’t have one even closer, which we would have had they put the turbine on our land,” Larry said.

But they still hear the constant noises of the nearby turbines chopping the wind. And they feel the low-frequency vibrations infiltrating their home and affecting their health, they said. Larry complained of tinnitus, high blood pressure, lethargy, and a lack of sleep. Carol suffers from a lack of sleep and vertigo.

Both noticed their symptoms disappear when they leave town.

They also noticed a change in wildlife, Bernie said. The ducks and geese that raised generations of babies on their pond for the past 30 seasons stopped coming after the turbines went up. And the four bat houses that used to host dozens of the little night fliers now stand empty, their occupants long since gone.

It’s a shame, Larry said. Everybody thought the wind farm would help the community. Instead, he said, it just made everything worse.

Jim and Darlene Mueller feel trapped in a home they once loved.

For more than three decades, the couple lived peacefully on their 1.5-acre property in rural Wisconsin. There, they built their house and raised their children and cultivated some of their fondest memories.

But then the Blue Sky Green Field Wind Energy Center came in May 2008 with its 88 turbines reaching nearly 400 feet into the air.

“It has been hell ever since,” Darlene said.

The couple started feeling strange almost as soon as the turbines began operating, Darlene said. They developed migraines, nausea, confusion, memory loss, high blood pressure and ear pain so bad “it feels like our ears are bleeding,” Darlene said.

They sometimes can’t sleep for nights on end.

“I would pace the house like a lion in a cage,” Darlene said. “I would leave the house at 2 or 3 in the morning and go to Walmart just to escape the noise. You go days and days and days without sleep and it’s just madness.”

Jim and Darlene can see 68 of the project’s turbines from their house; the closest stands about a half-mile away.

The couple experiences not only low-frequency vibrations from the turbines but said the relentless buzzing and “whooping” sound of the blades slicing through wind drives them mad, they said.

Their children and grandchildren experience the same symptoms whenever they visit, Darlene said.

“There are times my grandchildren are playing outside and get headaches,” she said. “We were doing an Easter egg hunt, and my daughter-in-law had such a bad headache she had to leave. They got six miles from here, and she called me and said, ‘My headache is gone.’”

They have complained numerous times to the county, the state Public Service Commission, and the wind company, but they don’t believe it does any good.

“They all say, ‘It’s because you don’t like the way they look,’” Darlene said. “We had no problem whatsoever with the way they look, but what we were told and what has happened to us is totally different. We wouldn’t make this up.”

Even though they no longer enjoy their home, the Muellers say they can’t imagine leaving. In part, they can’t afford a new house without selling the current one – and they refuse to sell their property to another family who might experience the same pain.

“We built our house so we could retire in it,” Darlene said. “It’s not a big mansion, but it’s our home and that’s what’s so hard.”

When Lizzie Ebertz is at home, her ears ring. Her head aches.

Wind turbines surround her home in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, where she’s lived all 74 years of her life. The closest is 1,000 feet away.

Nine years ago, Blue Sky Green Field Wind Energy Center’s 88 turbines went online.

When the project was proposed and WE Energies started holding meetings, Ebertz said she couldn’t attend. Her work hours interfered with the scheduled time of meetings and she didn’t know much about wind energy at the time, so she didn’t raise any concerns about the project.

But since the project has been online, Ebertz and her husband, Leander, have had problems with their television reception.

It took over a year before the wind company would even acknowledge their complaints.

Lizzie is a hard sleeper.

“I had my babies sleeping right next to me in my bedroom and I did not hear them” Lizzie said. “My husband had to shake me to get me awake to get me to feed my own children.”

Yet, the turbines wake her up at night, she said.

Once, Lizzie suspected that there was something wrong with a nearby turbine. She jumped in bed from the noise. When she called to tell the company that something must be wrong, she said they didn’t seem to believe her.

Three days later, they turned off the turbine.

Lizzie feels the worst effects in her garden, which is the lowest part of the Ebertz’s property. She can’t garden anymore.

“We gave up a few things. I took out three of my flower beds because i can’t do them anymore, they just grew up in weeds,” Lizzie said. “You can’t even go out there at all.”

Lizzie had dreams of developing her land when she retired. She planned on building a small camp ground. When the turbines went in, she realized that dream wouldn’t come true.

But despite their problems, Lizzie and Leander can’t move away, like some of their neighbors have, they said. They’re retired now, and it wasn’t in their budget to find a new place to live.

Brenda DeLong used to enjoy reading on the front porch of her rural Ohio home, but now it’s so noisy outside from the whoosh of industrial turbines that she has long since abandoned her favorite hobby.

Two different wind farms – Timber Road II and Blue Creek – planted a combined 207 turbines reaching nearly 50 stories tall in the corn and soybean fields around her home. Timber Road went online in 2011; Blue Creek in 2012.

DeLong can see 116 of the turbines from her house. They howl like a jet airplane taking off, she said, and one of them developed a whining noise that sounds like a siren.

“The noise is just awful,” she said. “Several times I had to leave my house because I just couldn’t stand to even be there – you hear it inside and outside.”

The wind farms came with no warning, said DeLong, whose family has owned her property for generations. No one approached her to sign any documents, even though a transmission line for one of the projects runs just 2 feet from her property line.

“A neighbor and I have gone to many, many homes talking to people, and it’s just amazing the people that don’t like them,” she said. “In fact some of the farmers that had these turbines on their land wish they would have never signed a contract. ”

Cindy and Joe Cobb said they started feeling sick less than a week after turbines from the Golden West Wind Energy Center began churning outside their rural El Paso County, Colorado, home in the fall of 2015.

The Cobbs said they experienced nausea, dizziness and pressure headaches. Soon, they developed heart palpitations and chest pains. They couldn’t sleep for several nights at a time. Then their animals started dying – first their fish, then their pet dog, then their livestock.

“We used to have aquariums and after (the turbines) started, the fish would develop a kink in their bodies,” Cindy said. “And then they would turn a pale color, go blind in both eyes, and then they would die. So we can’t have aquariums in our home anymore. We’ve been in our home 10 years and we can’t have fish anymore. It’s devastating.”

Seven of the wind farm’s 145 turbines stand within two miles of the Cobb’s 40-acre property and their two-story dream home. The structures, which reach 453 feet into the air, emit a low-frequency sound that the Cobbs said triggers symptoms similar to motion sickness and they believe it also affects their animals.

Acoustical engineer Robert Rand conducted a study of the Cobbs’ home, as well as those of two neighbors suffering from similar symptoms, and confirmed the families’ allegations.

“Blade pass frequencies observed in spectrogram analysis at homes near the vicinity of the Golden West Wind Facility fall within 0.2 to 0.85 Hz, within the range associated to motion sickness,” Rand wrote.

Despite the county’s ordinance prohibiting noise disturbance from acoustic pressure oscillations, such as those emitted by wind turbines, officials have done nothing about the family’s complaints or about Rand’s report, Cindy said.

“This is our dream to live out here and have peace and quiet, and they just destroyed it,” Cindy said. “I consider this abuse.”

The turbines also cause ground vibration, the Cobbs said, and it’s cracking the foundation of their house. The concrete patio sunk an inch into the ground. Cracks formed in the ceilings. Wood trim around the windows buckled.

Cindy started crying. She said she doesn’t know what to do. No one will help her family, she said.

“Imagine two years of not sleeping at night,” she said. “I don’t know why nobody cares.”

Jeff and Sandra Wolfe moved out of their home rather than endure the health problems and sleepless nights they blame on the nearby turbines of the Golden West Wind Energy Center in El Paso County, Colorado.

“You’re going to let them kill you eventually,” Sandra said, “or you’re going to leave.”

The 450-foot industrial turbines started spinning in the fall of 2015, and almost immediately Sandra said she felt sick. She said she developed migraines and tinnitus. Her ears throbbed. She kept waking up at night.

It felt worse inside the house, she said, so she started sleeping in her truck. She drove into an excavation site whose earthen walls blocked the noise and infrasound.

“I thought it was only me, but then my husband was getting sick and more and more often,” Sandra said. “And pretty soon he was sleeping in the truck with me.”

They did this throughout the fall and winter, even as temperatures dipped below freezing. It was unpleasant, Sandra said, but at least they got some sleep. They found no such relief inside their house, she said.

It wasn’t just them, either.

“We discovered our animals were going blind,” Sandra said. “One day my cow tipped over from vertigo. The cows would lie down whenever the wind turbines ramped up, but when they lied down, they wouldn’t eat, and when they wouldn’t eat, they would get sick.”

The Wolfe’s property sits within a mile of nearly one dozen of the project’s 145 turbines. One of the structures stands just 1,600 feet away. The couple complained to the county and the wind company, but no one has done anything to help, Sandra said.

Then Jeff got a lucky break. His job offered to transfer him 300 miles away, so he was able to move in November 2016. But Sandra felt obligated to the family’s donkeys and dairy cows. She stayed on the property for an additional nine months until she could find them a new home.

Sandra joined in husband in Delta, Colorado, in August.

“Now we face a moral dilemma,” Sandra said. “We don’t know what to do about our house. We don’t want to live there anymore, but we don’t want to sell it to someone else who will just go through the same thing.”

When Rebecca and Daniel Rivas learned about plans for a 145-turbine wind farm near their home in El Paso County, Colorado, the couple worried it might affect Daniel’s health.

Daniel had a metal valve placed in his heart during a surgery a few years earlier, and they feared electromagnetic waves from the wind turbines could interfere with it and cause problems.

The couple hoped they were wrong and decided to stick it out to see what happened.

The project began operating in 2015, with several turbines about a mile and a half from the Rivas household. Almost immediately, Rebecca said, Daniel became agitated and felt his heart racing. He couldn’t sleep.

“He would drive into town and stay at his brother’s house almost every night for a year,” Rebecca said. “We basically lived in separate homes for a year.”

Rebecca initially refused to leave the home she and her husband built two decades ago, but eventually the turbines affected her, too, she said.

“It caused massive headaches, nosebleeds, chest pain – all kinds of stuff that caused all kinds of problems,” Rebecca said. “But what got me was my sleep deprivation.”

So the Rivas bought a second home 75 miles away. They have lived there for two years, although they still maintain their original property. They don’t want to sell it, because they don’t to subject another family to the same problems.

In addition to triggering health problems, the couple said, the turbines also made a “screaming banshee sound” and a “swish, swish, swish that never went away.”

And like others in the area, the Rivas noticed strange behavior in their animals. Dozens of their fowl died.

“The hens would run around and freak out,” Rebecca said. “They would literally run into the swimming pool and drown before you could get in there to get them.”

Darrel and Sarah Cappelle abandoned their house in Brown County, Wisconsin, rather than continue to suffer the noise, shadow flicker and sleepless nights they blamed on the 495-foot turbines of the Shirley Wind Farm.

The closest of the project’s eight turbines stood just 1,250 feet from the Cappelle’s home, which they purchased in 2004 from Sarah’s grandparents. Almost immediately after the structures started spinning, the couple said they noticed a strobe-like shadow flicker filling the house.

“If you have ever experienced it, it’s not pleasant,” Darrel said. “Strobe lights are fun if you’re at a party, but if you’re trying to work in it or get the kids off to school, it’s not pleasant. It’s like the whole house is moving.”

Then Sarah developed panic attacks that seemed to hit out of the blue. She also had trouble staying asleep at night – waking up over and over and over again.

The couple’s infant son woke up frequently, too. At first the Cappelles assumed it was normal infant behavior – he was 6 months old at the time – but they noticed he stayed asleep for hours whenever they visited friends or family who lived miles away from the wind farm.

When a friend suggested the turbines might be the culprit, Darrel and Sarah decided to move out temporarily. They said they noticed a change almost immediately, especially in their then 2-year-old son.

“Within a week of leaving he was sleeping through the night,” Darrel said. “He hadn’t learned but a few words before moving out and two weeks later his vocabulary exploded. I was skeptical, but he was just 2. He couldn’t fake it.”

So instead of returning home, the family purchased a house seven miles away and put their old property on the market.

Darrel and Sarah struggled to make payments on both houses, but eventually the couple found a buyer for their old house. The deal fell through, however, when the mortgage lender denied the buyer’s application for an FHA loan due to the turbines.

“In this case we have 2 issues the noise pollution and the fact that it has been noted that wind turbines pose a human health hazard,” wrote Mario Nanna, branch manager for American Mortgage and Equity Consultants, in an email to Sarah that was shared with GateHouse Media.

“Based on these guidelines and the known issues,” Nanna continued, “my underwriting support team advised that we would not be able to lend on your property.”

Knowing they would probably never sell their house under those conditions, the Cappelles let the bank foreclose on their property.

David and Rose Enz lived in their Brown County home for more than three decades without issue. They raised their kids there. They planned to retire there.

But six months after the Shirley Wind Farm began operations in the fall of 2010, the Enzes left their property with no intentions of returning.

Almost immediately after the wind farm’s eight industrial turbines started spinning, the couple said they began feeling sick – nausea, dizziness, migraines, sleeplessness, ear aches.

“Rose started to get real ear pain to the point where she would be crying with it, and she’s a tough lady,” David said. “We went away in February on trip, and after a few days we started to feel like our old selves again. We went back home, that didn’t work. Went away again for several weeks, came back home again and couldn’t stay.”

The couple spends most of their time in a mobile home they bought in Alabama. They return each summer to Wisconsin to visit their children, but when they do, they stay in a motor home parked several miles away from the wind farm.

The Enzes still own their home in Brown County but never stay there. They don’t want to sell it, either, believing they would be subjecting some unsuspecting family to the same fate. It’s not so much the audible noise – which David said is sometimes bad – it’s the infrasound that sickens them, he said.

David said he wishes he had paid more attention when news of the wind farm first circulated in the community. Maybe he could have stopped it, he said.

“We were kind of like a box of rocks,” he said. “I support property rights, but I didn’t realize emissions from these things would cross property lines.”

Now it’s too late, he said.

“I can live with the view and the audible noise, but I can’t live with a sick wife,” he said. “We were fortunate enough to be able to move out, that’s not true for a lot of people.”

Susan and Darren Ashley moved out of their house six months after the Shirley Wind Farm began operations in their rural Wisconsin community in December 2010.

The couple and their four children lived 1.3 miles from the nearest of the project’s eight turbines. The structures are among the tallest in operation, stretching nearly 50 stories high.

Almost immediately after they started spinning, Darren said he began suffering from headaches, ear pain, nausea, blurred vision, anxiety, depression, heart palpitations. Susan experienced migraines, blurred vision, sleeplessness and started forgetting words, she said.

Their children also felt the effects of the turbines, especially their teenage daughter, Alyssa, who got severe headaches, ear pain and sleep deprivation. She couldn’t concentrate at school. She worried her grades would slip. Alyssa spoke publicly about these problems at a rally in Wisconsin.

The Ashleys noticed that whenever they left home, their symptoms cleared up, Susan said. So the family moved into their 27-foot motor home and parked it a dozen miles away in a friend’s backyard.

There they stayed for three months until deciding they needed a more permanent solution.

Then, in August 2011, Darren and Susan purchased a small house eight miles away from the turbines. The family didn’t want to leave their old home – they built it themselves and had just added onto it before the turbines came – but they felt they had no choice.

“It was either chose our house or our health,” Susan said. “We chose our health.”

They’re now paying two mortgages, because they refuse to sell their old house to another family who they fear will experience the same pain and suffering that they did.

Despite the health problems and financial hardship they believe the wind farm caused, Susan said they’re fortunate to have escaped.

“We are blessed,” she said. “Not everyone was as fortunate.”

Ed and Sue Hobart said they experienced constant noise and vibration from the nearly 400-foot-tall turbine that Notus Clean Energy erected less than 1,700 feet from their house in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

They said they could hear its massive blades slicing the wind like the wings of a jet engine about to land. And they could feel the air-pressure changes each time those blades passed the pedestal like a silent pulsation that rattled their nerves.

They couldn’t sleep. They couldn’t find relief.

Sue couldn’t take it anymore; she stayed with friends who lived far from the turbine. But Ed was stubborn. No one was going to drive him from the home they planned and designed – their dream home; their retirement home.

“It was stupid on my part,” Ed said. “It was making me sick.”

So Ed left, too. The couple sold their house at a loss, they said, and moved to a different town. There they bought a new home that’s “ramshackle compared to what we had.” They felt they had no choice.

Several of their neighbors felt the same way. Ed recalled a meeting where one of the residents described to a state official how it feels to live near an industrial turbine.

“This guy said, ‘The noise and the sensations, it goes on and on and on and on and on,’” Hobart recalled. “And the agency guy, said, ‘Yeah, I understand.’ And the resident said, ‘No, you don’t. It goes on and on and on and on and on and on – and it’s not two hours; it’s 24 hours, seven days a week, and you can’t escape, and you’re captured in this torture chamber.’”

That’s how it felt for the Hobarts. That’s why they thought the town of Falmouth would help them when they complained about their suffering. But they said nobody cared.

Falmouth had constructed two of its own turbines the same year, identical to the ones near the Hobart’s home. Residents living near those structures also complained, with many filing lawsuits alleging the deteriorating of their health and property values.

The town fought the neighbors until, in June, a judge ordered it to shut down the two turbines.

The one near the Hobart’s property, however, still turns.

George and Denise Rogers bought 93 acres in rural Franklin County, New York, and built a sprawling log home with a wrap-around porch and floor-to-ceiling picture window overlooking their lush property.

Then came the Jericho Rise Wind Farm.

Now when the Rogers look out their window, they see three industrial wind turbines the size of 50-story buildings marring what once was a bucolic landscape.

The turbines howl and screech. They block the family’s television reception. They emit a strange energy that makes them uncomfortable.

“It just feels like an imposing presence,” Denise said. “It dominates the landscape. What once was this enjoyable nature experience turns into an intimidating presence.”

Portuguese energy giant EDP constructed the 37-turbine wind farm in 2015 and 2016. The family said EDP representatives approached them to see if they would host a turbine in exchange for annual payments.

The family said no way.

Then the company wanted to offer the Rogerses a so-called Good Neighbor Agreement. If they signed it, they would get annual payments to hold the company harmless for the noise, vibrations, air turbulence, shadow flicker and other nuisances from the turbines it was going to erect on their neighbor’s property, according to the agreement, which the family shared with GateHouse Media.

Again, the Rogerses said no way.

So now they suffer the effects from the turbines without compensation, they said. But they’re free to complain, so the family said they have filed numerous grievances with EDP for noise violations and television interference.

The television interference really bothers them. The Rogers are huge hockey fans, and they and their sons can’t watch the big games on TV anymore.

George even bought the same type of decibel meter the company uses to gauge sound from the turbines. He said the structures routinely exceed the 50-decibel limit, but whenever the company sends someone to verify the readings, they claim the turbines are within the recommended decibel range and close the case.

“It drives me crazy,” George said.

The Rogers love their house and don’t want to move, but Denise said she thinks about it from time to time, because she doesn’t know what else to do.

“I’m pro-green energy and pro-environment,” Denise said. “But the people benefiting from this are doing it at the price of their neighbors.”

Wind turbines ruined everything that Jim Pelley liked about his home in the desert of southern California, he said.

They mar the view. They disrupt the tranquility. They chase away the wildlife.

“And when the wind is blowing, it’s just an ungodly noise that’s human torture,” he said. “We have airplanes that fly overhead, but they come and go. This is like an airplane that never lands. It’s like being at an engine testing facility.”

Pattern Energy erected 112 industrial turbines around Pelley’s home in the small community of Ocotillo six years ago. They reach 440 feet into the air. The closest ones stand about a half-mile away.

“There are 15 turbines right in front of my house that always draw my attention – it’s like 15 air puppets in front of my house,” Pelley said, referring to the tall, inflatable fabric advertisements that flap in front of car dealerships and malls.

His front porch, which he built to see the mountains and desert skies, now looks out on a forest of churning wind turbines.

“And at night, it’s red, flashing lights, like lasers pointing in every window,” he said. “At your table when you’re trying to eat, in your recliner when you’re trying to relax. It’s every day for the past five years. It just draws energy from you.”

When the company first pitched its plans to the community, Pelley thought the project would never happen. So many residents complained, he said, and the Native American community objected due to nearby burial sites.

But Pattern won approval for the wind farm anyway.

“It was ramrodded down our throats,” Pelley said. “We feel like we were bullied.”

Shortly after turbines from the Kumeyaay Wind Farm started turning near their reservation in San Diego County, California, members of the Manzanita tribe started reporting health problems.

Nearly seven in ten households complained of a cascade of symptoms including chronic sleep disorders, headaches, ear pressure, vertigo, nausea, anxiety, stomach pains and tinnitus, according to the results of a health study conducted by a local organization.

Some of them also reported cancer – notably, stomach, kidney and brain cancer.

All of them blamed the 363-foot-tall turbines for triggering their problems.

“I call these wind turbines the new smallpox blankets,” said tribal member Rowena Elliott, referring to the disease-infected blankets the British gave Native Americans at the Siege of Fort Pitt.

Elliott lives less than a mile from about a half-dozen of the project’s 25 turbines, which she can see from her house. Their red lights blink through her windows at night, and their blades cast a strobe-like shadow in her house in the morning, she said.

“I first noticed that I was getting affected by them in my heart,” she said, “then ringing in my ears and then my stomach hurt and just multiple symptoms. Then I would leave because they would make me sick, and then I would come back, and it would start again.”

Infigen Energy owns the 50-megawatt wind farm, which it constructed on the northern edge of the nearby Campo Indian Reservation, whose members agreed to the project.

Even though the Campo tribe approved the project, the turbines stand as close to Manzanita households as it does their own. One of the structures looms just 200 feet away from the Manzanita’s southern boundary.

Elliott said her tribe had no say on the wind farm despite its proximity. She called her members “powerless.”

“It really feels like I need to make a life decision about leaving here,” Elliott said. “When I was a little girl and grew up on this land, it was pristine and beautiful – the stars were so bright and the air was so pure. That time is gone.”

Cary and Karen Shineldecker said they suffered migraines, ear aches, sleep disturbances and anxiety from the five turbines within a half-mile of their home in rural Mason County, Michigan. The closest loomed less than 1,200 feet away and generated a constant grinding noise, the couple said.

Worse than the grinding were the air pressure changes caused by spinning blades whooshing past the pedestals. The couple couldn’t hear it as much as they could feel it, they said. It pulsated and woke up them up at night.

“It’s a sensation,” Cary said. “You know how you can feel a helicopter before you hear it, or you can feel the bass from the kids’ car going down the road?”

They slept in the basement to escape the effects. It was better than their bedroom but not enough to completely block the sounds and vibrations.

Karen, a middle-school science teacher started grinding her teeth at night; she had to wear bite splints. Cary, an engineer, started losing concentration during the day; he was demoted at his job.

They took sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication.

“I couldn’t sleep, I had headaches continually, pressure in my ears, I was anxious, ornery, I would get emotional,” Cary said. “We went weeks and months with no good sleep.”

It was better some days, worse others. Cold, rainy weather seemed to make the turbines louder. They were especially bad before a storm.

One day when Cary and Karen both had excruciating headaches, they set a bowl of water in the window. It rippled whenever the blades on the nearest turbine passed the tower.

“It’s no wonder our eyes, which are like little water balloons, and brain, which is floating around in water, when the pressure changes and you look at the water rippling in the bowl,” Cary said, “that’s what it’s doing to your brain and your chest and your eyes, that nonstop pulsation of energy.”

The couple finally sold their house for about 70 percent of its appraised value. They moved four miles away.

“We were devastated,” Karen Shineldecker said. “We finally paid off the house, and now we have a mortgage again.”

Ed and Toni Britton live near several turbines in the Lake Winds Energy Park. Two of them stand less than 1,000 feet of their home, located in rural Mason County, Michigan.

When the turbines started operating on Thanksgiving Day 2012, the Brittons said, they couldn’t believe at first how loud they sounded. Everyone had told them the structures would make about as much noise as a refrigerator, they said. But these sounded like jet airplanes.

The turbines kept them up that first night. And the night after that. And the night after that.

“That first night I slept maybe 20 minutes,” Toni said. “I put a pillow over my head and wore ear plugs. It vibrates the whole atmosphere. You can feel it in your body.”

It went on like that for nearly two years, the Brittons said.

But after local officials determined Lake Winds was violating the county noise regulations, they ordered the turbines come into compliance. Consumers Energy, which owns the wind park, challenged the finding. But they eventually agreed to operate seven of its turbines – including those nearest the Brittons – at reduced speeds.

“Before the court order to keep them under a certain decibel, you couldn’t even sit out there and have a conversation,” said Toni, sipping coffee on her porch.

It’s better now, they said, but they fear the court order will expire and leave them helpless. The couple has lived on their five-acre property for two decades. They don’t want to leave, but they don’t want to live there under the previous conditions.

“I thought about cutting them down with a chainsaw,” Ed said. “They’re the worst thing you could put in a residential neighborhood.”

Gary Steinich signed a green energy contract that he said cost him his farm.

In exchange for letting FPL Energy erect two wind turbines on his land in Randolph, Wisconsin, Steinich would receive annual payments of $10,400 and help support renewable power.

Representatives “wined and dined” Steinich and suggested he could end the contract at any time, he said. They also promised not to disturb his 160 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat. The turbines would go on the edge of his property, they told him, not in the fields.

After securing enough easements and determining sufficient wind conditions, FPL let the project sit dormant for years. Steinich thought it was dead.

Then the company sold the project, including its land agreements, to WE Energies. The Wisconsin-based utility altered the original plan. It now called for larger turbines in different locations on the existing properties, all of which the agreements allowed.

The structures also were noisier and more obtrusive than he was told.

“The noise is unbearable,” he said. “The flicker is worse yet.”

Steinich tried to terminate his contract after learning the turbines would stand in the middle of his crops, but WE Energies refused to release him. So, he formed a group and hired a lawyer to fight the project.

He still couldn’t stop it.

“You lose complete control of your land,” Steinich said. “They decide everything.”

He ultimately sold his land and stopped farming.

Steinich’s contract, like many others, contains a clause rendering moot any verbal promises. It doesn’t matter what developers told him if it’s not in the agreement.

“This Agreement and the attached Exhibits shall constitute the entire agreement between the Parties and supersedes all other prior writings and understandings,” Steinich’s contract states.

Steinich also said the company told him all his neighbors already signed lease agreements and that the wind project was coming no matter what. He would have turbines all around his property anyway, so he might as well profit by hosting a couple of them himself.

After he signed, Steinich said he learned he was the first among his neighbors to enter a contract.

“It’s a small community, “Steinich said. “You see the neighbors and start talking, and that’s how we found out. The neighbors said, ‘Oh, we hadn’t signed yet. I was told we were the last holdouts.’ And someone else would say, ‘No, they told us the same thing; that everybody had signed but us.’It was interesting the tactics they used.”

Shadow flicker forced Rod and Sandy Kok out of their ranch-style home in rural Randolph, Wisconsin.

The Koks had signed a lease agreement with NextEra subsidiary FPL Energy in 2004. In exchange for hosting an industrial wind turbine in their backyard, the retired couple would receive annual payments of $5,000.

FPL representatives said they would “barely notice” the massive structure, the Koks recalled. They said Wisconsin-based WE Energies made the same claim after it purchased the wind development and land contracts from FPL in 2007.

But when the Glacier Hills Wind Park started operating in 2011, Sandy Kok said she developed nausea, headaches and vertigo from the persistent shadow flicker infiltrating nearly every room in the house.

The family logged 330 hours of the strobe-like effect the first year alone, according to a complaint filed with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

The flicker came not only from the turbine in their yard but from four others nearby. Sandy said she spent hours each day hiding in the basement until the sun shifted or the clouds came.

After the Koks discovered they couldn’t terminate the agreement, they begged WE Energies for relief.

The company tried several methods to mitigate the shadow flicker, but none of them worked to the couple’s satisfaction, according to a February 2013 Wisconsin Public Service Commission document.

WE Energies installed room-darkening shades on the family’s windows, but the flicker peeped through the cracks, as shown by videos the Koks filmed. The company also halted one of its turbines during the offending hours, but nearby turbines continued to spin and cast shadows.

WE Energies refused to stop the other turbines, estimating it would lose up to $76,000 annually in profits, the state record shows.

So the flicker continued. And Sandy’s symptoms worsened.

WE Energies eventually purchased the Kok’s home in November 2013 so the couple could move away. The Koks said they got a fair price, but they never wanted to leave in the first place.
They raised their children there. They planted every tree in the yard.

“It’s hard to talk about it,” Sandy said. “We try not to think about it anymore. But sometimes you go to these dark places. It still affects you.”

Low-frequency sound waves forced Ted and Jessica Hartke to abandon their dream home in Fithian, Illinois.

The Hartkes initially supported the wind farm. Ted, an engineer, was hired to conduct boundary surveys for the project’s lease agreements. He had heard about health complaints from other wind developments but brushed off those concerns as unfounded.

Then the 134-turbine wind farm powered up in December 2012, and he said his family couldn’t sleep. They felt vibrations from the 495-foot structures surrounding their house; the closest one about 1,660 feet away.

“We never thought this was going to happen to us,” Ted said. “We were oblivious to the issues.”

Chicago-based Invenergy owns the 200-megawatt California Ridge Wind Farm. At first, Hartke said, the company turned off the turbines whenever his family complained – 51 nights between January and May of 2013.

“People are always shocked, because they voluntarily turned them off,” Ted said. “And I said, ‘Yeah, because I was on their good side, because I had’” a working relationship with the company.

But idle turbines mean lost profits, and Invenergy eventually stopped doing it. It offered the Hartkes money to insulate their house instead. Invenergy hired two companies to provide estimates for the work and agreed to pay the lowest offer – $58,000.

The Hartkes refused after having hired their own contractor who said the only way to block the sound was to tear down the house and reconstruct it anew.

Meanwhile, the family continued to suffer, they said. Ted got headaches and started grinding his teeth. Jessica got five blood clots she blames on sleep deprivation. The kids started having concentration problems at school; their grades plummeted.

Hartke dragged everyone’s beds into the living room because its acoustics blocked the audible and inaudible noise a little better. They slept there for three months until deciding they couldn’t live like that anymore.

“I wish it was something we could have gotten used to,” Ted Hartke said. “You sit in bed and pray to God you can get used to the noise. But it got worse. It ate us more and more and more and pretty soon we were up all the time instead of just two or three or four times a week.”

By Christmas of that year, the Hartkes loaded into double-wide trailer and parked it eight miles from the wind farm. They lived there for more than year, until they could afford a new house. Their old home sold a year afterward, in September 2016, at a loss.

“It was a huge setback; it was the worst thing that ever happened to us,” Ted Hartke said. “This whole time we’re told we were crazy. Nobody lives in a crappy, double-wide mobile home for fun or to prove a point.”

The shadow flicker from nearby turbines of the Ashtabula II Wind Energy Center was so bad that Jim and Mary Ann Miller built an addition to their home with no eastward facing windows, the couple said.

There, they take refuge when the strobe-like shadows infiltrate their rural North Dakota house.

“It affects every aspect of the home or the yard – the shadow bounces off every object, including all the trees and comes in all the windows,” Jim said. “We had to make some special curtains in certain windows to try to block that. We get it four times a year. When the sun is lined up perfectly, it lasts about an hour and a half.”

After multiple complaints about the problem, including one to the North Dakota Public Service Commission, the wind farm’s owner offered the Millers a one-time payment of $15,000 to compensate the couple for the problem. .

If they took the money, though, they would have to sign an agreement waiving the company’s liability for “diminishment of the value of the property, the ability to use or enjoy the property, nuisance, and any injury or harm to persons, including but not limited to anxiety, suffering, mental anguish, loss of the ability to enjoy life, or any other harm or wrong … .”

The agreement, which the family shared with GateHouse Media, also prohibited the Millers from ever criticizing the company or the wind farm.

The couple didn’t sign it.

In addition to the shadow flicker, the turbines also emit sound and vibrations that infiltrate the Miller’s work space, they said. The couple builds professional dog sleds in a metal shed on their property, and the structure magnifies the effects.

“It’s a constant rumbling and noise,” Jim said, “and the building is just pulsating.

The Millers said they opposed the wind farm, but a major landowner with adjacent property signed a lease agreement with the wind farm owner. So several 400-foot-tall turbines now stand within a half-mile of the Miller’s home.

“The peacefulness of our property,” Jim said, “has disappeared.”

Maggie and Mario Ramirez had no idea when they purchased their home in rural Willacy County, Texas, that it would one day sit in the middle of a vast, industrial wind farm, Maggie said.

Nobody told them their neighbors had signed agreements to host dozens of turbines the height of skyscrapers, or that three of those structures would stand less than 1,000 feet from their home.

It wasn’t until the retired couple looked out their window one day in 2012 that they realized their lives would forever change. That’s when they saw workers erecting the 430-foot turbines – to north, to the south, to the east and to the west of them, Maggie said.

It was part of the Magic Valley Wind Farm, a 112-turbine project owned by German utility giant, E.ON. And it immediately caused problems for the family. The turbines produced a constant buzz like a faulty fluorescent light, and they emitted a low-frequency vibration that they could feel inside their house, Maggie said.

Then Mario, who spent his days outside tending the family’s personal farm, suffered an unexpected stroke that left him partially paralyzed and bed-ridden. Shortly after that, he developed a tumor and, eventually, dementia. He died in January.

Maggie blames her husband’s sudden string of health problems and subsequent death on the turbines.

“People think I’m crazy when I say that, that I’m just trying to find someone to blame, but I think it’s true,” Maggie said. “He was never sick before that. He was a real strong man.”

Before he died, Maggie said, Mario would repeatedly complain about the noise from the turbines. He repeated over and over again to “make it stop.” But there was nothing she could do.

Maggie worries the turbines affect her health, too – and, more importantly, the health of her grandchildren who live at home with her. She wants to move to give them a chance at a better life, but she said no one wants to buy her house.

“I had one buyer, but when they found out about the windmill, they dropped everything,” Maggie said. “They said, ‘I can’t live near that.’”

She doesn’t blame them. The turbines have destroyed the peaceful character of her land, she said. Not even the wildlife wants to be there.

“We used to have wild rabbits with long, beautiful ears, and now they’re gone,” she said. “The coyotes no longer come here anymore. We had owls on a huge tree right in front of my property; they’re gone, too. They all just disappeared.”

Larry Lorusso said he cried when he saw what Avangrid Renewables had done to the land near his home in Clarksburg, Massachusetts.

He used to call the ridge that rose up behind them the enchanted forest, but since the 19 turbines, part of the Hoosac Wind Project, went up in 2012, things have been different, he said.

He doesn’t see the same signs of wildlife that he used to. The big swamps are gone. Neighbors no longer speak to each other.

“Some of the most beautiful trees I’ve ever seen were on that ridge and they’re gone,” Lorusso said. “And for what?”

In the beginning, a wind project sounded like a good idea to Lorusso. He and his partner, Lois Hobbie-Welch, live just one town over from the project, so they had no say in the project.

But when the project went online in 2012, he started researching.

Lorusso and Hobbie-Welch live one mile from the nearest turbine.

“What you see isn’t the worst of it. What you hear isn’t the worst of it. It’s definitely what you feel,” Lorusso said.

Being inside homes near the project is like being near a drum, Lorusso said. “I can feel my body vibrating in the right conditions.”

But he’s been scoffed at for making such allegations.

With multiple turbines nearby, the rhythms are impossible for Lorusso to ignore. They sound like a jet that never lands.

He said he can feel his head pulsating with turbines and his ears ringing, at times. He feels anxious when he’s home, but the feeling subsides when he’s away. Those things didn’t happen before the turbines went in.

When he goes out to chop wood, he notices the pulsations even more with his ear protection on.

“I love this place for the scenic opportunity, for the solitude,” Lorusso said. “Sometimes it’s difficult to enjoy it because of the noise.”

Kathy and Dan Blanchard only had one month’s notice before a substation went in 900 feet from their home in Dexter, Minnesota.

The Blanchards were shocked. They had heard rumblings of a proposed wind project five years earlier, but the issue seemed to die and they thought it wasn’t going to happen.

Then they got notification in 2014 that, not only would the Pleasant Valley Wind Farm happen, but it would involve the placement of an electrical substation the equivalent of three football fields from their property.

The Blanchards had one month to appeal the substation, but the busy family missed the deadline. They wrote a letter to the county board voicing their concerns after the fact, but it was too late.

They were the only house for three miles on their side of the road, and the landowner next to the Blanchards agreed to lease to the wind company.

“They didn’t really care about us,” Kathy said.

In 2015, Pleasant Valley Wind Project went live, with the substation and several turbines placed within a half mile of the Blanchard’s home.

The worst part was the construction, Kathy said. She had to stop her daily walks completely, because she couldn’t stand the noise.

“When the process started going,” Kathy said, “that was probably the most unnerving part.”

Since the substation has gone in, however, the company has done all the things they said they would.

They have issues with television reception, and there used to be lights on the substation, but when they called to complain, the company turned the lights off.

They notice the blinking on the turbines and the whooshing, airplane-like sound of the turbines, but those aren’t constant.

There are draining and landscape issues on the land surrounding them, but Kathy thinks they’ve done work to fix it.

“Had you talked to me two years ago, I would’ve sounded differently about it,” Kathy said.

Sally and David Wylie are trying hard to forget their home next to a wind project.

Just a little over eight years ago, the Wylies and their neighbors were ecstatic about the Fox Islands Wind Project, owned by a community-run energy co-op in Vinalhaven and North Haven, Maine.

But then the project went online in 2009. Red lights flashed all night long. There were throbbing sounds and whooshing, mechanical noises, they said.

Since then, David has had a heart attack and an episode of amnesia. Though they’re not sure the turbines brought the health issues on, the project has caused them a great amount of stress.

“I remember hanging the laundry on a beautiful day, and yelling across the yard and saying ‘I can’t f****** believe this,’” Sally said.

They said they were told the three turbines, all visible from their property, wouldn’t cause any noise.

But the Wylies say the noise from the turbines is unbearable.

A small island of a few thousand, this was the community the Wylies had adopted. After 20 years of living in their seasonal vacation home, they had planned on retiring in Vinalhaven for the peace and quiet.

“But the turbines put us at a health risk,” Sally said. “It’s been life changing for us.”

They thought about selling the place, but instead, they spent $30,000, their retirement cushion, to build a soundproof, windowless addition onto their home.

“We found we can sleep at night, we don’t get the same headaches we used to get,” David said.

The Wylies decided to fight back. A group of neighbors all pitched in to hire a lawyer, and the debate over noise from turbines has driven the community apart.

Joe Conner does not dislike the wind turbines in his community because of noise or shadow flicker or health problems. He dislikes them because they destroy his people’s way of life.

Conner is a member of the Osage Nation. The Native American tribe has fought to block wind development on its ancestral lands, but its efforts failed to prevent construction of an 84-turbine project that started operations in 2015.

The tribe believes turbines from that wind farm stand atop ancient burial grounds. Its members also say the structures violate their religious teachings, which hold the horizon as a sacred meeting place of heaven and earth.

“For us, for the Osage, the very landscape – and in particular where the sky and earth join at the horizon – is where our people came from,” Conner said. “It’s part of our creation story. We came from the prairie. They look out across the prairie now, and now they can imagine their ancestors being chopped to pieces by the turbines.”

The tribal members still worship the horizon in special, sunrise ceremonies. But the turbines have ruined those gatherings, Conner said.

“A couple months ago we had traditional morning worship ceremony right in the middle of the wind farm, and people kind of gasped when the sun came up,” Conner said. “What you could see is these giant turbines spinning away.”

Conner said it’s ironic that something touted as a renewable resource has destroyed something his tribe considers a non-renewable resource: its sacred land and vistas.

“The rush for development and money blind-sighted people to the fact that not everybody is happy about this,” he said.

Editor's Note: GateHouse Media invited readers to submit their own stories of personal experiences living in an industrial wind farm. These are their stories.

We live in Hartsville, Steuben County, NY, in which the newly elected Town Board is obsessed in bringing in industrial wind turbines. We have now decided to give up the home we loved as we have been threatened and ridiculed by the pro-wind group.

We have many health issues when near any wind turbines – myself suffering muscle seizures on a large scale, with every muscle in my body cramping up, and the pain is unbearable. My wife, when around industrial wind turbines, gets severe migraines and nausea.

These symptoms first appeared to us when we were camping at the Tumble Hill Campground around the Cohocton wind farm. When we decided to leave, the symptoms stopped immediately. We returned once, and, while we were only there approximately two hours, the same conditions returned that night. And two other members of our family suffered the same conditions.

After many years of research, we have discovered this is caused by the infrasound from the turbines. We did not want to move but have had no choice as the whole town board is pro-wind and does not care about the health and safety of its residents, as most hold wind contracts and even though this is a conflict of interest, we can do nothing about it. We have contacted the DA, the AG Comptroller's Office, but no one will investigate what has been happening in our town.

I hope someday I can look back and say, “We tried to tell you so, but you wouldn't listen.” But I really hope in God’s name NO children have to suffer the same as I do just because of these people’s GREED and IGNORANCE !!!

Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility consisted of 112 Siemens 2.3-108 wind turbines that surround our rural community.

Pattern Energy claims to be good neighbors! A good neighbor doesn’t install bright, red blinking lights that ruin our sitting on the front porch at night time. A good neighbor doesn’t generate loud, thumping, swooshing wind turbine blade noise torture, that forces you to retreat to the inside of your house because the noise is so irritating. A good neighbor doesn’t place 348’ tall spinning 11 ton, 176’ long spinning blades all around your home that not only destroys your once peaceful home but destroys the reason we decided to live in the rural area to begin with.

Noise complaints are filed always stating that they follow the rules and regulations set forth in their permits. Our property values have dropped $100,000. Everyday is a nightmare in our new hell. Forty-seven miles of new access roads, along with the dust, was allowed to be constructed in a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) designated “Limited Use Area”.

The trucks that deliver repair parts, water, equipment and workers never ends, as none of them show any concern for our private lives. A capacity factor of 34% was estimated by Pattern Energy to justify the receiving of over $115 million through the 1603 Cash Grant Program, but through 2016 the facility has only generated 19.64%.

Hundreds upon hundreds of people objected to the facility, but it was approved by Ken Salazar and the Department Of Interior. Where is the accountability? There is none!

The little generated power from this facility is sent to San Diego, over 114 miles away. One blade fell off, another caused the collapse of a complete turbine. There was a fire that caused another complete replacement. Nine gearboxes have been replaced along with hundreds of yaw drives and blade pitch cylinders. At this time there are six crews working on the blades, at least another five crews making repairs and cancelling faults.

There are 12,436 public acres that have been destroyed, as the developer states that only 1% of the land has been destroyed. We post videos almost everyday showing the wind turbines not spinning. We see it firsthand, wind turbines are not our future.

Doctors visits and health issues have greatly increased, no proof yet if the turbines have caused it. Grinding teeth, tinnitus, achy bones and joints along with never seen, prior to the turbines, headaches. We now live in hell. Can’t walk away because of our lowered property value. This facility is open to the public, it’s just a matter of time before someone is hurt. I would live next to a nuclear facility over this hell hole.

My wife, son and I live in Plymouth Massachusetts abutting the Future Generation wind turbine project located on Keith Mann's cranberry bog on the Plymouth/Bourne border. ConEdison bought the project from Mr. Mann shortly before the four 476-foot turbines began spinning in June of 2016.

In 2010, we fought the project alongside a couple of hundred other neighbors when it went to the Plymouth Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) in 2010. The ZBA ignored the many Plymouth and Bourne taxpayers who spoke in opposition to the project and unanimously approved the special permit required for approval. I am an attorney who has worked on many local approval projects and political campaigns and had never seen a local board approve a project in the face of such opposition. I knew the fix was in.

Marc Sylvia was Plymouth’s Town manager at the time and he had shepherded a wind turbine bylaw that the Plymouth ZBA relied on to justify their approval of the special permit. That bylaw was drafted by the Plymouth Energy Committee, chaired by Rick Kuhn. Kuhn owned Aeronautica, a Plymouth-based turbine company. Also on that committee was Simon Thomas, a principal in the company, Atlantic Engineering. Atlantic Engineering did the site engineering and continues to do the noise monitoring and testing required for final approval. Marc Sylvia left his post as Plymouth Town Manager shortly after the special permit was approved and became Governor Deval Patrick’s Commissioner of the Massachusetts Office of Energy Resources. In that role, he basically promoted and found financing for “Clean Energy” projects throughout Massachusetts. Mr. Sylvia also serves as town moderator for the Town of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, which also has a wind turbine project that has caused complaints from neighbors.

Complicating matters is that Governor Patrick combines the Massachusetts Department of Energy and the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEP) into the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) under Secretary Ian Bowles (this playbook designed by the wind industry is being used now in Connecticut under lame duck Governor Malloy). This created a conflict of interest where the Secretary of EEA served as the Chairman of the Board of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (CEC) while overseeing the DEP which regulates noise testing on nuisance complaints. The DEP defines noise as “air pollution” and provided personnel and equipment to independently monitor and test noise complaints.

Incredibly, the Plymouth special permit allows New Generation (ConEdison) to choose its own contractor to do the noise monitoring and testing. Other conflicts of interest are at the local level, where the special permit designates Plymouth’s building inspector (not the Board of Health as required by DEP) as the person to accept and respond to complaints. I have emails indicating that the Plymouth Building Inspector, Paul McAuliffe, advised the New Generation project manager how to get through steps in the approval process with informal rather than formal hearings. He also has been quoted in response to noise complaints of neighbors: “They'll get used to it.”

My family and others affected by these industrial machines placed as close as 1,400 feet from residences have not gotten “used to it.” I have sleeplessness and anxiety. Others have complained of vertigo. And a special-needs child of a neighbor is severely adversely affected when the turbines spin. The most common complaint is that they sound like a jet plane that hovers over them that will not land.

Our group, the Buzzards Bay Citizens Action Coalition has met with state and local officials, including the DEP Regional director and they will not help. We met with the Plymouth Board of Health, which will not help. They all point to the special permit, which allows ConEdison to pick its own contractors to test and monitor noise affecting abutters. One of the contractors is Atlantic Engineering, whose principal was on the Energy Committee that approved a very flawed turbine bylaw. The Plymouth Energy Committee is considering changing the bylaw, but without independent noise testing, we cannot prove a nuisance and shut these monstrosities down like the Judge Cornelius Moriarty did in Falmouth, Massachusetts, this past June. The judge shut down two 300-foot turbines, as he determined that they were a nuisance based on neighbor complaints. It will be hard in this state, where wind advocates dominate state and local governments in many areas, to find a judge that will not require noise testing.

I have been vacationing and now living in Maine since 1949. The lure of The North Woods was ingrained in me from my earliest memories. Our family came every summer from wherever we lived at the time. Alabama, Ohio, New York, Maryland, New Jersey . . . . none of them had the draw we had to this beautiful, wild wilderness. We brought a number of families with us over the years to experience Maine, and every one of them ended up coming back again and again and some eventually retired here.

Our destination was a small lake in the Lincoln area where the last 15 miles of the road was dirt in 1949. The camp we rented was primitive . . . no electricity, an outhouse, no TV and a crackly transistor radio, kerosene lamps, an old fashioned ice box, with real ice, a wood cook stove . . . all the amenities. Today it is still that way, and we bought it back in 1972, and we like it that way. We grew up lying on our backs on the dock at night looking up at the trillions of stars and galaxies in the pitch dark Bortle1 sky. So did my kids, and now the grandchildren and great grandchildren. As kids we learned about nature and the universe, Grandma read us books about the wilderness at night. We learned an independent spirit because we could go just about anywhere on the lake and still be in view of the camp. It was great for our young psyches to have the controlled freedom to explore, fish, swim, camp out on a secure island, canoe, motor boat, hike, gather berries and do all the things the Maine Woods offers.

Sad to say, I showed up at the camp in the spring of last year to find my view out the front porch of our camp, the view my recently passed Mother thought was “the best view in the whole world” (and she lived and traveled all over the world) was spoiled with 23 four-hundred-foot tall wind generators spinning during the day, and flashing their red and white strobe lights all night. I was heartbroken. Our idyllic North Woods retreat was ruined, and for what?

Everyone today has cell phones and access to the internet. Some have their phone or iPad in their hands 24/7 just so they don’t have to miss someone’s tweet or message about some inane thing that happened to them that day. The nice thing about our lake was it is a place that has such a weak signal for phones that you are almost forced to go incommunicado for the time you are there. No ringing phones, blaring TV, or traffic noise Only the lapping of water on the shore in front of the camp, the ting-a-ling of the wind chimes my Mother put on the porch 30 years ago, families and kids jumping off the rock 100 yards offshore. It was ideal. We don’t have electricity unless you count the two small solar panels that provide 12 volts to a battery for safe lights at night for the little ones. No fans for the heat of the summer, and we heat with a stone fireplace and wood stove when it gets real cold. We don’t have cable or TV or running water. We used to get one or two stations on a battery operated B&W TV to get the local news and weather, but that phased out when the local channels went digital. I grew up spending two weeks there learning about nature and how to survive without being stimulated by anything but fresh air and clean water. We have been blessed in recent years by the return of bald eagles soaring over our lake both in the summer and winter. While ice fishing a few years ago, we got to watch an eagle swoop down and snatch up our catch lying on the ice. While we regretted losing our catch, we enjoyed the thought that we provided a winter meal for our feathered friends and their family. My children and their children migrate here for a week or two every summer to enjoy the things we enjoyed for all those years. I have even invested in a lifetime fishing license for all the grandchildren to make sure they know that this is a place they are always welcome. The Maine Woods will always be there for them.

Night time was also special. Our lake had a Bortle Scale rating of #1, the darkest sky possible. There was no background light. If you think you have seen stars where you live, you can probably see 10 times the stars on a Bortle #1 site. It inspired my son to study astronomy in high school and win a trip to China for a month in the 1970’s, before China opened up to the world. We have had telescopes at camp for years, and the education derived has been invaluable. The flashing lights on the towers have blotted out the complete eastern sky, and interfere with sky gazing as we knew it. Animals wandered into the yard and we heard them . . . raccoons, bobcats, deer, moose and every once in awhile we would see bear tracks in the mud or on the road. It was very exciting, especially when you had to go outside to use the outhouse. We always travelled as a group, with lots of flashlights flashing in all directions. As we had our own kids, we used to stand at the door and watch over them as they embarked on their own adventure. The sights, smells and sounds of the wilderness were the same for me for 63 years.

There has been a big push to improve our way of life and provide “Green Energy” to replace carbon fuels. A big part of that push has been to construct industrial wind projects on the mountaintops in Maine. It sounds like a good idea, and what could be better; free energy from something as simple as wind. But it is a myth.

The myth that wind power is a good form of “renewable” energy is just that; a myth. The truth is, wind can not provide a reliable, dependable source of energy without enormous subsidies from the government and the power industry. The cost of production is double or triple that of gas and coal fired generators, and three times more than hydro power. If the investors in wind power had to rely solely on the output from their generators, there would be no investment. They lose money. Regular power plants with enough energy production to provide 100% of the grid needs as a backup still have to be powered up 24/7 to protect from spikes in wind output. The wind does not blow at a constant rate, and power levels during peak periods have to be kept constant. Operating these plants at reduced and intermittent power is very inefficient. After 30 years of building wind generators, it still only amounts to less than 2% of our total energy production. Europe has been at it for just as long, and in spite of the fact that they have far more generators than we do, it is still not profitable, and still is just at 2% of their power grid. The financial crisis in Spain is almost totally due to their enormous investment into wind power. Iberdrola, the company from Spain that runs the wind projects, has taken over CMP (Central Maine Power) and said that wind is dead in Europe, and they have to find new sources of cash from the American Government.

We in Maine have a grid system that is more than adequate to provide power for our state for the next 40 years. Iberdrola upgraded the grid over the last two years to provide for industrial wind. They spent $1.8 billion dollars, and raised our rates almost 20%. After the job was done, they announced that to truly provide protection for wind, they would have to spend another $19 to $26 BILLION on new upgrades. Maine already has some of the highest rates in the country, and that would put us out of sight. We the ratepayers have to foot that bill. Maine produces almost twice the amount of power it needs at peak times. The rest is shipped out of state. We are second in the Union in producing renewable energy, and wind is a very small part of that. Sad to say, the power that comes from Maine’s wind turbines goes into the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. We only have the blight and higher rates, they get the expensive power.

While we in Maine are one of the cleanest energy states in the Union, we are having our idyllic scenery destroyed by industrial wind. In order to erect turbines on mountaintops, they have to blast down to bedrock and clear thousands of acres of CO2 sequestering trees. They remove the water filtering forest floor and provide ditches to drain the rain runoff along with silt and contaminants to our lakes and streams. They spray defoliants to keep the forest from growing back. Our raptor population is in danger of being decimated by rotating blades. They are actually attracted to the blades. Bats are also endangered, and we provide housing for them. Bats are becoming an endangered species anyway from the fungus disease they are experiencing. They are our best friends when it comes to black fly and mosquito season. We have used hydro power in Maine for more than a century, yet many of the dams that have provided continuous, reliable energy, have been removed from rivers to make it possible for salmon to return to their spawning grounds. There is no proof that they will return, and they could have made fish ladders for far less than the removal of the dams. Many of our rivers will be changed to streams, and will provide no protection for floods in the future. Homes that have enjoyed riverfront views will now have great expanses down to the river’s edge. There will be no more power coming from their turbines. This is a very shortsighted policy. Wind turbines can never replace the reliable power we have enjoyed for the last hundred years.

Power from gas powered plants costs the consumer less than 10 cents a kwh. Hydro is even less than that. We don’t have coal powered plants here. Wind costs around 56 cents a kwh and that does not include the transmission costs and grid upgrades. It costs about $56 million to build a gas plant that provides 10 times the power of a wind farm of 25 – 30 turbines. That same wind farm costs $150 to $200 million to build. The gas plant takes up maybe 50 acres to site and the wind farm may take 5,000 acres from our wilderness. That is 5,000 acres of trees that sequester CO2, far more than the wind turbines save. These are the facts of the issue. Industry does not belong in the woods.

Much of the income for Vacationland comes from tourism, people who come here to experience the same idyllic wilderness we did in 1949. I’m not too sure how many of them would come to see wind farms on the horizon of their “most beautiful view in the world”. I am less concerned by the young people of today using cell phones while they experience the wilderness. It is their choice that they might miss some of the true beauty of trails and wildlife. At least they get to experience what they choose to take in. Those of us who do care to take every ounce of the experience are being deprived of it by a much larger intrusion of modernity into our world. Industrial wind is just that . . . Industry on the tops of mountains that should be kept pristine.

It is time we make some hard decisions about who we are here in Maine. While it is important that we find alternative ways to make power, maybe we should consider going back to the hydro power we used here for generations of Mainers. Some of the dams we still have could be upgraded to boost the output to the same amount the wind farms generate. They provide steady reliable power, unlike wind. We could really cut back the use of fossil fuels, because hydro doesn’t fluctuate. Is there anyone else out there that wants to keep the beauty of The Great North Woods?

There is an invasion coming that will destroy our rural way of life. It will destroy the vast, untouched, sweeping views of rolling hills, woodlands and abundant wildlife and the quiet peace and tranquility which are some of western New York’s most valuable assets.

The invader: 600-foot-tall Industrial wind turbines and high-voltage transmission lines, up to 150 feet tall.

Currently there are 176 turbines under signed leases projected for a 15-mile swath between Canisteo and West Union. NextEra ( has 35 proposed turbines in Greenwood and West Union, plus a 18-mile overhead transmission line from Greenwood to the Hornell substation.

Invenergy ( has leases and proposals for 141 turbines between Canisteo and West Union. Plus, another transmission line about 15 miles long from Hornell to Jasper through the hills between Rt 36 and Rt 248. Each wind company has to have its own transmission line. The transmission lines require a 100 feet wide swath to be cut through our forests.

There are many adverse impacts from the industrial wind turbines if they do not have proper setbacks. Many of these impacts, such as infrasound (sound the human ear cannot hear, but the body can feel) have not been adequately studied.

The wind companies state that the people living with turbines on their properties have no complaints regarding negative and/or health impacts. The reality is that landowners/leaseholders sign an easement for noise, infrasound, shadow flicker, vibration, communications interference, etc. In essence, this is a “gag order” of sorts that prevents a leaseholder from ever voicing a complaint publically.

In reality, these turbines have very little impact on decreasing carbon emissions and a huge impact on our rural way of life and our health and peaceful well being. Furthermore, there is no proven public need for these turbines in this area. We already have access to safe, reliable electricity and will continue to have that access even if no wind turbines are erected.

The time to stop our pristine rural way of life from being turned into a commercial industrial wind plant is now.

My Story

Tell us about your experience living
near an industrial wind farm. All
submissions will be considered for publication. Questions? Contact us.

Share Contact

All submissions will be reviewed by GateHouse Media reporters
before publishing. We reserve the right to withhold or edit any story we
choose or contact you for more information.