Wind Turbine Trouble

People want clean energy, but do wind turbines have more cons than pros?


Illustration by Jonathan Callison

Wind turbines are a source of clean and renewable energy, along with solar panels.

Jonathan Callison, Copy Editor/Graphic Designer

   Energy is the blood of the modern way of life. With the use of electronics growing along with the human population, more energy is needed. However, people are now split between using fossil fuels and clean, renewable energy.

   People are continuing to push for more renewable energy such as solar farms, wind turbines, etc. Some are even trying to eliminate the use of fossil fuels, which is improbable at this time because there is no proficient way that can replace the energy that fossil fuels produce. However, having renewable energy is not a bad thing. So, why are people wanting more renewable energy producers, but are against having them near where they live?  

   According to the Des Moines Register, there are six common complaints about wind turbines. The complaints about the wind turbines are that they are ugly and loud, they kill birds, their lights are annoying, wind energy is not viable without tax credits and makes the farmland unusable, and lastly, wind turbines make people sick. There are also other complaints, a column by ABC News says that fisherman are also complaining that wind turbines built into the seabed would disrupt feeding grounds for fish and wind turbines are a hazard to airports.

   “I will rely on my experience attending public information meetings,” Supervisor of Planning and Development Section for MDOT Aeronautics and local, Linn Smith said.  “Common public complaints are that many people feel that Wind Turbines are loud, and make a constant humming noise. They create a “flicker” effect when the blades create shadow with the sun behind them. They are dangerous for birds and they are not attractive to look at so they may depreciate property values. [In my field] The Michigan Tall Structures Act requires that all structures that are near an airport or exceed 200’ above ground level (AGL) have an aeronautical study conducted by our office and a permit issued before construction can begin. Our office handled 5,298 applications in calendar year 2018 with 611 of those for wind turbines alone. The Michigan Tall Structures Act protects the airspace for all 226 licensed public use airports in the State of Michigan. Each of these airports has an “airport approach plan” to ensure that a structure such as a wind turbine does not create a significant adverse effect to air navigation.”

   The reason why this is a problem is because companies are trying to build more clean energy sites with solar and wind power, all the while people are fighting the companies, making it harder for them to build these sites. This has been happening in our state of Michigan. Citizens are protesting the wind farms because they are a nuisance, when all the company wants to do is build wind turbines and produce energy. Stated in a brief article by Power Engineering, over 400 residents in an eastern MI town attended a board meeting to voice their disapproval of DTE’s wind farm proposal. In another article by the Daily Reporter, Branch county faced opposition also. As stated in a story by Great Lakes Echo, according to the American Wind Energy Association, the cost of wind energy has dropped 43 percent in the last four years. Yet people are still unhappy. They are reporting more issues with wind turbines like a “strobing” effect. The effect is when the sun casts a shadow of the moving turbine blades on a house which causes the strobing of light and dark.

   This is not just a problem for the state of MI, it is also an occurring problem around the country. A majority of people are for wind turbines according to a national survey by Berkeley, out of 1,700 respondents, four percent of people answered very negative and negative when asked, “What is your attitude toward your local wind power project now?” So, that leaves the few percent of people who dislike wind turbines the closer you get to the actual wind farms.

   The protests of wind energy won’t be going away any time soon. Everybody is entitled to an opinion, neighbors are hating their neighbors for their personal decisions about whether or not to have windmills on their property. People just need to learn to live with things, especially when they are the same people wanting clean, renewable energy.