Isthmus anti-wind article called an opinion-piece

Posted on September 29, 2009. Filed under: General |


A letter to the editor of Isthmus from Jennifer Heinzen, president of RENEW Wisconsin:

Dear Editor,
This letter is in response to Brian McCombie’s article, “The War over Wind,” dated September 10, 2009. McCombie’s article brought the fear-mongering, myth-based, ultra-wacky hysterics of Wisconsin anti-wind activists to the front page of an otherwise reputable publication.

“Wind turbine syndrome” is the latest attempt to halt the installation of clean, renewable energy in our state. Those opposed to wind power projects have historically voiced concerns of annoying shadows, noise, and a ruined view shed of their otherwise perfect neighborhood. But about a year ago, internet stories of wind turbines making people sick began to surface, and it caught the public’s attention. Your reporter was duped into believing these outrageous claims and proclaiming them as fact.

The fact is that there are thousands of wind turbines installed all over the world, and in many places they’ve been operating for decades without any medical concerns of “wind turbine syndrome.” Wisconsin is finally starting to install clean, renewable energy – and that progress has been harmed by a handful of extremists more concerned about their property value than the economical and environmental benefits of wind power.

I am a teacher. As such, I expect my students to be able to separate fact from fiction. Clearly you do not require the same from your reporters. Didn’t anybody check the article for accuracy or journalistic integrity? There were many factual mistakes – names of companies, the state’s renewable energy portfolio of 10% by 2015 (not 25% by 2025), the attempted explanation of “spinning reserve” and how the electrical grid works – that should have been caught before publication. The article had a strong anti-wind sentiment and said next to nothing about the benefits of wind power. It named pro-wind lobbyists but no anti-wind lobbyists. Why?

I have spent many hours on and underneath wind turbines of all sizes, and have never felt sick. Nor have any of the systems’ owners/hosts that I’ve met. What makes me sick is the profound hatred these near-sided, selfish, wind opponents have towards change and progress. Did McCombie visit a wind farm? Did he hear jet engines?

I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if I read an article like this in the Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter or Calumet County’s Tri-State News. But this is the Isthmus! How in the world did this make front-page “news?” I’m absolutely disgusted and no longer consider this a publication worthy of my patronage.

I am one of the many people who have worked endless hours for many years trying to educate the public about the benefits of renewable energy and wind power, and McCombie’s article is the perfect example of why my job can be so challenging. His final report merely repeated the voodoo-science spewed on anti-wind websites. Unfortunately, his words were printed on the front page, and presented as “truth” and/or “news” to your readers. This should have been printed in the “opinion” section, if at all.

Jenny Heinzen
Manitowoc, Wisconsin

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    A statewide nonprofit dedicated to promoting economically and environmentally sustainable energy policies and practices in Wisconsin.

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