By Lindsey Harrison / February 2016
for The New Falcon Herald
Editor’s note: The property owners in the wind farm article wanted to use only their initials. Both have ties to contractors and the use of full names could jeopardize their jobs. The NFH determined that only using their initials is valid in this situation.
When J.T. bought his property in Calhan 16 years ago, he considered it a permanent move. In 2013, J.T. had his property appraised, so he could refinance it. The house appraised for $235,000, he said. The house today is appraised at $194,000, with no viable reasons for the decrease, except for one: the wind farm.
The Golden West Wind Farm Project began full operations in October 2015, and J.T. had issues with the project from its inception.
“I have a bunch of turbines across the street now,” J.T. said. “They totally ruined my panoramic view of the mountains.”
Additionally, J.T. said the “whoosh” noise from the turbines keep him awake at night, and he has bouts of being disoriented. “I was out driving, and I could not get oriented enough to figure out how to get home,” he said.
Those issues prompted J.T. to get another appraisal to possibly sell his house and move out of the direct line of the wind farm. “The house was appraised at $194,000,” he said. “I have upgraded my house, but there is nothing for sale to compare it to. No one is trying to sell their house now because everyone already sold it for whatever they could before the wind farm came.”
J.T. said there is no way he could sell his house now, especially at such a depressed value, because no one wants to move close to the wind farm.
According to an article written by Martin D. Heintzelman and Carrie M. Tuttle, and published in the August 2012 issue of the “Land Economics” journal, 11,331 property transactions over nine years in northern New York were studied to determine the effects of new wind farm projects on property values. “We find that nearby wind facilities significantly reduce property values in two of the three counties studied,” the article states. “These results indicate that existing compensation to local homeowners/communities may not be sufficient to prevent a loss of property values.”
J.T. also said his Internet and cell phone service are interrupted by the turbines. He now has to drive into Calhan to use Internet service he has paid monthly for 12 years.
T.K., who lives on the eastern plains near Ellicott but often works in Calhan, said his cell phone service is also interrupted when he is near the wind farm. “If I am on Calhan Highway north or the back roads like Rainbow Road and Yoder Road, I cannot get Internet service on my phone at all, and the regular cell phone service is significantly degraded,” he said. “It affects my FM radio in my car.”
Because he is in the construction industry, T.K. said he relies on his cell phone to look up information on the Internet; and, without access to the Internet, his work productivity has decreased by 10 to 20 percent.
According to an article published in the April 2014 issue of the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews journal, “Impact analysis of wind farms on telecommunications services,” wind turbines can obstruct or scatter radio waves and cause large fades or interference in the signal.
A digital television signal can be affected by wind turbines, also, the article states. “The ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee) system used in the U.S.A. has included technical advances that provide receivers able to handle strong multipath distortions. However, if the signal level variations due to a wind farm make the signal level to be below the operational threshold, the video will be affected.”
Both T.K. and J.T. have Verizon for their cell phone service, and J.T. said he had a Verizon technician come to his house to troubleshoot his service issues. “The guy that came out from Verizon said that the turbines are covering up the cell phone signal,” he said. The technician would not provide J.T. with a copy of his findings but said an attorney could subpoena them if J.T. wanted to sue, he said.
Meagan Dorsch from Verizon’s public relations team said she recently sent a network technician out to Calhan to determine if there was any disturbance to the network but did not find anything.
J.T. said he does not know what to do about his signal issues but he said he knows one thing for sure: “My house is not sellable.”