Residents express concerns for proposed wind energy

Residents express concerns for proposed wind energy

September 22nd, 2010 by Michael Stone in News

A power company is eyeing portions of Lookout Mountain in Northwest Georgia as a possible location for wind turbines, something that some area residents say they don't want.

"It's just a no-no situation anyway you look, not just on Lookout Mountain, but all over the world," said J.B. Smith, who was approached by Oregon-based Iberdrola Renewables about his property in Cloudland, Ga., atop Lookout Mountain in Chattooga County.

In talks with representatives from the company, residents say Iberdrola proposes about 120 turbines. Company officials, though, said they did not have any figures because the project is still in a developmental stage.


If you are interested in attending a meeting about wind turbines in Lookout Mountain, Ga., on Saturday at 2 p.m., call Pam Vias at 770-722-8330.

Iberdrola nationwide

* About 40 wind power projects in 17 states

* More than 2,600 turbines nationwide

* Turbines reach up to 400 feet tall when blade sticking straight up

* A project takes three to five years to complete

Source: Iberdrola Renewables

Residents said they oppose the turbines for several reasons, including possible decreases in property values, the noise that has been associated with the turbines, environmental harm and losses in tourism.

"All the reasons that people have moved to this mountain for - the environment, the peace, the quiet, the tranquility and now a lot of tourism - would be gone," said Carl McCleskey, who also lives in Cloudland.

Iberdrola spokesman Paul Copleman said misinformation about the project, which is in an "extremely early stage," has created negative perceptions about wind turbines.

"To say that there will be some people who might have questions or concerns isn't a totally foreign idea," he said.

Residents said the "hum" generated by the turbines is one of the main reasons behind potential property value decreases.

"The sound of that would just would drive people crazy," Smith said.

The anti-wind power website describes negative health effects from the noise, including sleeping problems, headaches and nausea.

Copleman said research disputes the "so-called wind turbine syndrome." He cited a study from 2009 - done by a group of researchers whose expertise includes acoustics, vibrations and medical fields - that concluded "there is no evidence that the audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects."

The study was sponsored by the American Wind Energy Association and the Canadian Wind Energy Association.

As the Lookout Mountain project - which may take between three and five years to complete - moves forward, Iberdrola will have public meetings to discuss citizen concerns, Copleman said.

"We have a track record of developing [turbines] well and developing them carefully and answering people's questions and not hiding from them," he said.

To build the turbines, the company enters into lease agreements with landowners, Copleman said, and landowners receive an annual payment. No leasing contracts in Georgia have been offered yet, Copleman said.

Contact Michael Stone at or 423-757-6673.

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