|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.”
| || ||
The cause behind the dying trees bordering a property adjacent to Drake Lake is still unknown. According to the January issue of The New Falcon Herald, Dan Kibler, owner of the property, said the evergreen trees along his front property line on Mallard Drive have been dying in sequence.
Kibler said magnesium chloride treatment El Paso County used to control dust caused the problem, according to the article. He concluded that the magnesium chloride, applied in late June 2015, had mixed with the water from the July 9 heavy rainstorm, which then pooled on various parts of the property. The areas where the water pooled are the places where the trees are drying off first, Kibler said in the article.
Andre Brackin, county engineer with the EPC public services department, said the levels of magnesium chloride in the soil from the twice-yearly treatments would not be enough to affect the tree roots. “We would have to do applications every week all year long and have enough rain to have it soak into the roots,” Brackin said. “The more likely cause is the acidity of the soil itself.”
Tom Flynn, senior arborist with Front Range Arborists in Colorado Springs, said he has a degree in horticulture with 30 years of experience, 22 of them spent working in Colorado Springs. In his opinion, Flynn said if rain from 100 square feet of road covered with magnesium chloride is concentrated into a 10-square-foot area, it would definitely affect vegetation.
Flynn had gone to Kibler’s property and tried to determine the cause, going as far as taking cuttings from some of the dying trees and sending them to Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, for testing, he said. “It is very rare that I cannot pinpoint the problem; and, this time, I could not,” Flynn said. “I sent cuttings to CSU to get their opinion, and their results were inconclusive. There is potential for the magnesium chloride to be the culprit, but it is really hard to say if you are trying to pinpoint fault.”
According to a study conducted in 2004 by CSU titled, “Environmental Effects of Magnesium Chloride-Based Dust Suppression Products on Roadside Soils, Vegetation and Stream Water Chemistry,” 370 kilometers of vegetative areas along both magnesium-chloride-treated and non-treated dirt roads in Grand and Larimer counties in Colorado were studied.
“The majority (72.3 to 79.3 percent) of roadside vegetation surveyed was considered healthy,” the study states. Severely damaged vegetation, with more than 50 percent of the total plant affected, was observed in 6.4 to 11.4 percent of the surveyed area.
Overall, the roads treated with magnesium chloride had a larger proportion of severely damaged vegetation than along non-treated roads, according to the study. However, the study states that more extensive research is needed.
Brackin said, in general, it is difficult to keep trees alive on the eastern plains, and Kibler’s complaint is the only one he has received in the area.
Kibler did not return any of the NFH’s phone calls for further comments.