State regulators say a proposed large-scale wind farm in western Wisconsin will not adversely affect people nearby. That's despite testimony by experts and residents who say low-pitch sounds from turbines make them sick.
Large wind turbines can emit what is known as 'Infrasound Low Frequency Noise,' or ILFN. It's such a low pitch sound that humans can't hear it. But many believe that ILFN can be felt and that it causes nausea, headaches and ear pain. That's one of the loudest concerns among opponents of the 41-turbine Highland Wind Farm project in St. Croix County. It's under review by the Public Service Commission, which has until spring to issue a permit. But the PSC has struck a blow to opponents of the wind farm by stating there isn't proof wind turbines can cause sickness in those living around them. Cindy Smith is Chief Legal Counsel for the PSC. "To get to that, what I'll call the casual link between the ILFN and the symptoms, that's really an epidemiological, medical type circumstance that is still being studied. That's where the science is evolving."
But Brenda Salseg, who oversees an anti-wind farm group called Forest Voice, says the PSC is doing a disservice. She says the commission is ignoring testimony from residents and acoustic experts who reported feeling sick while at a similar wind farm in Shirley, Wisconsin. Also, Salseg says there are a number of reports from other countries that link subsonic sound from turbines to health problems. "The evidence, it's overwhelming: Wherever these projects that are inappropriately sited have been, these health issues have followed."
The Public Service Commission has until March 24 to either approve or deny a permit for the Highland Wind Farm in Forest.
Update: The original headline for the story, "PSC: No Proof That Wind Turbines Cause Sickness," was taken by a few to imply the PSC had issued a final decision on the Highland Wind Farm's permit, which it has not.