(Farragut) â Subject matter experts from across the state and nation who have assisted Invenergy with various aspects of a southwestern Iowa wind project provided insight Monday.
At a public meeting hosted by Invenergy at the Waterfall Wedding Venue in Farragut on Monday evening, a panel of subject matter experts and residents spoke about the proposed “Shenandoah Hills” project which is expected to cover more than 40,000 acres south of Shenandoah. in Page and Fremont counties. Invenergy development director Mark Crowl says nearly 45,000 acres have been secured through voluntary easements for the project. Although there has been much debate over the minimum setback distance for non-participating landowners between officials and residents, Crowl says this project intends to have a greater distance than that required by the county ordinances.
“Go about a half mile around each of these turbines and look at which residences are not participating, the average distance to these non-participating residents is 2,200 feet,” Crowl said. “So that’s really well beyond the minimums that are set out there by the ordinance.”
Additionally, Crowl says, for the most part, the wind company based its project on the more stringent requirements between the two county ordinances, outside of county-specific guidelines.
During the presentation, several speakers discussed development, environmental and technical impacts, health and noise, property values, economic impact and land use. Mike Hankard, an acoustics engineer who has worked on various projects including wind for the past 30 years, says the two county ordinances limit noise on an A-weighted decibel scale or using the term dBA. Hankard says Page County currently has a 55 dBA limit, while Fremont sits at 50.
“If you go to a rock concert, your over 100 dBA, 85 dBA is what the Labor, Safety and Health Administration limits noise in a factory, for example – if it’s over- on it, you have to wear hearing protection,” Hankard said. “65 dBA is what many highway and airport departments limit noise, and going down even further 55 dBA is the number the US EPA came up with years ago that they call ‘protective of human health’ in a general meaning.
Hankard says a typical nationwide standard for turbine noise limits may be between 45 and 55 dBA.
He says a model is being put in place, including measurement of wind turbine production companies, such as Vestas, and field noise monitors to determine noise levels at every residence in and around the facility. project footprint. With the proposed Invenergy project, Hankard foresees little trouble complying with the guidelines provided by the county.
Dr. Mark Roberts, who spent 17 years at the Oklahoma State Department of Health before teaching nine years of occupational and environmental epidemiology at the University of Wisconsin, says at least according to published government reports Worldwide, including in Australia and most recently in the Netherlands in 2020, there does not appear to be a direct link between wind turbines and specific health conditions. Still, the flickering of shadows caused at certain parts of the day can present some risk.
“The problem with flicker is photosensitive epilepsy and so what we see is that the Epilepsy Society was very clear in the UK about the level of flicker required – which is around 10 hertz,” said said Roberts. âWhereas with a wind turbine, when you look at their maximum speed and ideal conditions, it would be around 0.75 hertz.â
Additionally, Roberts says international guidelines recommend no more than 30 hours per year of shadow flicker on a specific residence.
Mike Marous is the president of Marous and Company, which often helps government agencies determine the property value impact of proposed projects nationwide. Marous says there seems to be little impact on proximity to wind turbines thanks to pair sales.
âA sale of a property that is close to a turbine and a similar property that is not approximate or in the same area, to see if we can find if there is any reflection or impact based on an ongoing wind farm,” Marous said. “We probably have about 150 matched pairs that we’ve looked at all over the Midwest and a lot in Iowa, and we haven’t found any negative impact on value.”
Marous says his company is also contacting the assessor’s office in each county hosting a wind project to discuss the project and any tax appeals that have been made based on allegations that the property has been affected in value.
In terms of property taxes, Crowl says the “Shenandoah Hills” project is expected to generate nearly $115 million over the project’s 25-40 year lifespan. But David Loomis, an economics professor, says those dollars would be phased in.
“So you see year one is zero, then the assessed value goes from zero to 5%, 10%, 15%, every year until you get to year seven, I believe,” Loomis said. . “The seventh year you’re kind of stable, and then the property taxes are the same from the seventh year.”
Loomis says the annual amount between counties is about $2.9 million, but actual dollars would carry over. Nearly $60 million of the $115 million is expected to go to area school districts. In terms of contracting for construction of the project in response to a resident’s question, Crowl says the hope is to initially source locally and contact other state or federal resources as needed.
Further discussion of Invenergy’s “Shenandoah Hills” project proposal is expected at the Page County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday.