Grant County Wind Ordinance

We believe the current wind ordinance for Grant County is inadequate in protecting the quality of life and personal investments of citizens living within the boundaries of the proposed wind farm. Adopted in December 2008, we think the ordinance needs to be repealed and replaced using the additional knowledge and experience gained over the past several years by individuals living within existing wind farms, including our neighbors in Tipton and Madison Counties.

No Specific Residential Setback Requirements

The current county ordinance is the most wind-friendly, anti-resident ordinance in Indiana because it does not state a specific setback requirement from residential dwellings. The only setbacks listed in the ordinance are as follows:

  • Project Boundary Perimeter
  • County roads
  • I-69
  • Mississinewa River flood plain
It has been incorrectly stated on numerous occasions by our local leaders that the county ordinance requires a 1,000-foot setback. As written in the ordinance, the defined setback requirements are “a distance equal to a multiple of 1.1 times the length of wind tower at the highest point” for the Project Boundary Perimeter and county roads. For I-69 and the Mississinewa River flood plain, a set distance of 1320 feet is required.

E.ON has agreed that they will construct the turbines no closer than 1250 feet, but why is the ordinance even giving them the option of building closer? Using the heights provided the current setback requirements could allow the 480-foot turbines to be placed as close as 528 feet from any residence. That is irresponsible. Other ordinances in Indiana, including Tipton, Madison, and Howard counties, require a more specific setback distance from residential dwellings.

No Protection Against Sound Pollution

he current ordinance limits the noise level of the wind turbines to sixty decibels as measured from the nearest dwelling. According to decibel comparisons, this is the equivalent of conversational speech. Using this comparison and as it stands, the noise level can be as though someone is standing beside one’s bed and talking at night. Other county ordinances prohibit decibel levels in excess of 45-50 decibels. According to the World Health Organizatoin, night time noise levels should never be greater than 30 decibels.

Issues to Consider

Property Values

The close proximity of the industrial wind turbines will instantly impact property values, especially the value of non-participant properties, and not for the better. Several recent independent studies have stated that, on average, real estate values drop by 20%-45% when industrial turbines are near the property. Although the effects are most significant on home within a half-mile of an industrial wind turbine, the effect on property values typically extends two miles from the wind farms. Some studies have shown negative effects even outside of a two-mile radius.

  • During the March 2013 BZA hearings on the second wind farm proposal for Tipton County, Michael McCann, a licensed real estate appraiser from Chicago, presented his findings to Tipton County. He has performed numerous studies and analyses on the effects of wind farms on nearby property values.
  • A recently revised 2012 study performed by E.ON Energy Research Center, a partnership between RWTH Aachen University and E.ON in Germany, concludes that proximity "indeed causes significant negative impacts on the surrounding property values."
  • Lansink Appraisals and Consulting in Ontario, Canada concluded a study in October 2012 that revealed a negative impact of 22%-58% on properties within two different wind farms in Canada.
  • A 2009 study performed by Appraisal Group One in Wisconsin concluded property values dropped by up to 43% for properties nearest to the turbines. They have also prepared a more recent summary of their research.

Studies used by wind developers such as the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study and the Hinman study use an abundance of properties up to ten miles from wind farms to skew the results and determine there is no significance on overall property values. Still, when using the same data sets, the properties closest to the wind farms show the same significant property value losses seen in independent studies.

  • Members of Tipton County Citizens for Responsible Development presented a detailed analysis and rebuttal of the property value studies submitted by most developers.

Our homes are our personal investments. We invest time, energy, and finances into maintaining and improving our property. The current ordinance does not protect non-participating property owners from diminishing property values.

Health Issues

As wind farms are being constructed closer and closer to residents, new health issues are arising. Most of these issues are attributed to infrasound, or the inaudible, low frequency sound pulses that are emitted from wind turbines. After in-depth studies of families living near large wind turbines here in the United States and around the world, Dr. Nina Pierpont has identified what she calls Wind Turbine Syndrome. Wind Turbine Syndrome includes symptoms such as dizziness, migraines, panic attacks, and sleep deprivation. WindWise has collaborated with Dr. Pierpont and residents in Massachussetts to create a video highlighting some of the experiences of residents living near turbines. Dr. Alec N. Salt of Washington University in St. Louis also warns of the effects of infrasound noise on those living within wind farms.

Shadow Flicker

Industrial wind turbines cast a shadow, and as the blades are spinning, they create a moving shadow on stationary objects. This creates a flicker, or strobe effect. The closer these turbines are constructed to residences, the more likely shadow flicker will be a regular nuisance both outside and inside the home. Shadow flicker is another contributing factor to the health issues mentioned above.

Noise Pollution

Like any machine, industrial wind turbines create noise. While they are several hundred feet in the air, the rotors can still be heard on the ground. And typically, the noise is more apparent several hundred feet from the turbine. The noise produced by a turbine is highly dependent on the speed and direction of the wind. Typically it sounds like a jet flying overhead, but depending on where a person is located, a low, pulsating noise can be heard as the blades slice through the wind and small vibrations can even become evident. After an in-depth study on the sound impact of wind farms, the Acoustic Ecology Institute determined that noise can be a significant issue when turbines are within about a half mile of homes and can, in some circumstances, be heard and have effects up to a mile away.

Ice Throws

There is no doubt that it gets cold here in the winter, and ice is a common occurrence. Like anything else, ice will build up on turbines, and when spinning, they can throw the ice several hundred feet. The distance the ice can travel is dependent on the height of the turbine, the diameter of the blades, and the speed of the rotation at the time of the throw.

Mechanical Issues

Like any industrial machine, a wide variety of mechanical issues may occur with wind turbines. Some are more likely than others, and they can even be caused by uncontrollable forces such as lightening. Mechanical issues can increase the noise pollution, potentially create fire hazards, or even, on a rare occasion, throw a blade.

Aesthetics

While a few wind turbines scattered across several hundred acres may be considered soothing or peaceful to some. Let’s remember this is an industry with plans to place hundreds of these turbines between our homes and in our view shed. While those living in other parts of the county and area can drive through the farm, the residents of southwestern Grant County live here and will have to look at hundreds of these every day. The closer these giant machines are placed to residences, the more overwhelming they seem.

Future Development

The proposed wind farm will cover thousands of acres across southwestern Grant County and neighboring counties. By constructing hundreds of these turbines in the area, it will essentially take a snapshot of southwestern Grant County, and fifty years from now, it will look the same. There will be hundreds of old turbines and no new homes, if not less homes.