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Monday, October 19, 2009

Excerpts from the Glacier Hills Wind Park EIS

The Public Service Commission issued the final environmental impact statement (EIS) on the Glacier Hills Wind Park, and it includes these items:

Medical Impacts (page 68)
UW Med Flight is the responding air ambulance service closest to the Glacier Hills project area. UW Med Flight and the other reswponding agencies plan to develop safe landing sites or locations within the project area to which medical helicopters could be dispatched. Establishing alternative landing zones in an area is a common tool employed by medical helicopter services where terrain, vegetation, or
structures restrict landing sites....

In some instances, alternate landing sites may not be required; a medical helicopter can land in proximity to a wind turbine if it is safe and prudent to do so. There do not seem to be any UW Med Flight rulers or policies that would preclude landing within a project area if it is safe to do so. The decision about where to land is the pilot's and is based on a variety of site factcors that present themselves upon arrival at an emergency scene. For example, closer landins to a turbine might be possible if the winds are calm and the wind turbine rotors are not rotating.

Sound Impacts (Page 82)
The studies done to date suggest that there is a wide variability in how peopole react to wind turbine noise and that many people do no appear to be affected. The studies do, however, support the concern that some people do react negatively to wind turbine noise, primarily through annoyance and sleep disturbance. It is widely accepted that disruption of sleep can lead to other physiological and psychological problems.

Dr. Nina Pierpont has hypothesized that in addition to annoyance and disturbance, wind turbine noise can result in direct activation of the vestibular and autonomic system leading to other health problems. The validity of this suggestion has been questioned. The Minnesota Department of Health concluded that "evidence is scant" for this hypothesis.

In summary, it is important to recognize that turbine noise can be problematic for some people. Although specific sound levels or distances from turbines cannot be directly correlated with these disturbance or annoyance problems, project design and siting should take potential impactcs of turbine noise into account.

Property Values (page 84)
A more recent study of two recently completed Wisconsin wind farms was completed by Appraisal Group One. This study contained similar problems of small sample size and weak statistical analyses. While the study was limited to residential vacany land sales, other potential factors that might influence sales prices were not analyzed. The study did not verify that all properties sold within the wind farm areas actually had views of wind turbines, whether the properties were sold prior to the proposal of a wind facility versus after the facilities were constructed and operating, and it did not differentiate between vacant lots with infrastructure potential such as streets, sewer, and water as opposed to farmland with no infrastructure.

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