Public Health Impacts of Wind Turbines

Prepared by: Minnesota Department of Health Environmental Health Division

In response to a request from: Minnesota Department of Commerce Office of Energy Security

In late February 2009 the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) received a request from the Office of Energy Security (OES) in the Minnesota Department of Commerce, for a “white paper” evaluating possible health effects associated with low frequency vibrations and sound arising from large wind energy conversion systems (LWECS). The OES noted that there was a request for a Contested Case Hearing before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) on the proposed Bent Tree Wind Project in Freeborn County Minnesota; further, the OES had received a long comment letter from a citizen regarding a second project proposal, the Lakeswind Wind Power Plant in Clay, Becker and Ottertail Counties, Minnesota. This same commenter also wrote to the Commissioner of MDH to ask for an evaluation of health issues related to exposure to low frequency sound energy generated by wind turbines. The OES informed MDH that a white paper would have more general application and usefulness in guiding decision-making for future wind projects than a Contested Case Hearing on a particular project. (Note: A Contested Case Hearing is an evidentiary hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, and may be ordered by regulatory authorities, in this case the PUC, in order to make a determination on disputed issues of material fact. The OES advises the PUC on need and permitting issues related to large energy facilities.)

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