Residents living within the Golden West Wind Energy Center’s footprint in Calhan, Colorado, have reported negative physical and psychological effects from the turbines since it became fully operational in October 2015. The center consists of 145 453-foot tall industrial wind turbines, connected to an electrical substation in Falcon by 29 miles of overhead transmission lines.
Magda Havas, an associated professor of environmental and resource studies at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, said those negative effects are related to the quality of the electricity produced by the turbines.
“When the turbines operate, as the wind is turning them, it is generating power,” Havas said. “That power is stored on a DC current, meaning it (current) does not oscillate back and forth. It must be converted to an AC (alternating) current with a 60-cycle frequency. In order to do that, the current goes through an inverter; and that produces electricity if it is not done properly; and it is very difficult to do it properly. And it is expensive.”
According to her website, http://magdahavas.com, Havas has studied the effects of wind turbines on human health and is considered an expert in her field. She has provided expert testimony in more than 12 countries on the health effects of electromagnetic pollution.
Dave Stetzer, owner of Stetzer Consulting LLC, in Blair, Wisconsin, said he has been in the electrical field for more than 40 years and can definitively point to the dirty electricity from the wind farm project as the cause of the health issues nearby residents have reported.
When the electricity is converted from a direct current to an alternating one, the current oscillates at the 60-cycle or 60-hertz frequency but carries an additional 20 kilohertz of dirty electricity on top of it, Stetzer said. “That 20 kilohertz is like a fingerprint,” he said. “If you are near a wind farm and see 20 kilohertz, you know it is from the wind farm.”
Havas said the dirty electricity is not the only problem; the ground current produced is equally harmful.
Stetzer agreed about the dangers of ground current, and said he conducted a 572-day study on the correlation between ground current and the daily milk production in more than 30,000 dairy cows. When the ground current was flowing, even as little as 10 millivolts, milk production dropped more than 90 percent of the time, he said.
Cows near wind farm projects are often seen lifting their feet to break the circuit and keep the current from running through them, Havas said. They are referred to as “dancing cows,” she said. “The electricity is actually flowing up one leg and across the body, then down the other leg,” Havas said. “It flows right across the reproductive organs.”
Havas said miscarriages or difficulty conceiving are commonly recognized as issues related to ground current moving through an animal’s body. However, she said ground current coupled with dirty electricity creates an even worse problem, resulting in issues like mastitis or foot sores that will not heal — and swollen joints. Often, there are deformities in the newly-born animals in the area, as well, she said. These complaints are not relegated to just farm animals; often the people living on the farms complain of similar symptoms as well, Havas said.
According to the May issue of The New Falcon Herald, a resident living near the Golden West Wind Energy Center had a horse deliver a stillborn, premature foal, and the vet was not able to determine the cause of the foal’s death. The same resident noticed that one 6-week-old goat was born with four teats instead of two, the articles states.
Havas and Stetzer both said they were not surprised to hear of the incidents. In fact, that electricity dissipates internally to the human body at as little as 2 kilohertz, so the 20 kilohertz from a wind farm project is definitely something to worry about, Stetzer said.
“It is not psychosomatic; it is measurable,” he said. “The courts have said that I am an expert, and that I can offer an expert opinion based on facts and measurements, but it really is not opinions anymore. These are cold, hard facts and the results can be measured.”
Part of the problem in proving the dangerous effects of the dirty electricity and ground current is that only part of the human population is sensitive to it, Havas said. It can be likened to a peanut allergy; someone allergic to peanuts will get sick if exposed to them; while someone who is not allergic will not react at all, she said.
According to the September 2015 issue of the NFH, the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners approved the Golden West Wind Energy Center project and heard expert testimony from Chris Ollson, on behalf of the project’s owner, NextEra Energy Resources. Ollson, the vice president of strategic development for Intrinsik Inc., is considered an authority in environmental issues related to the energy sector and has provided risk communication support for wind turbine projects, the article states.
The NFH attempted to contact Ollson for comment but was informed by Intrinsik that he is no longer employed with them. Other attempts to contact Ollson were unsuccessful.
Both Stetzer and Havas said there is a way to fix the dirty electricity and ground current problem and that is to filter it. “We know the characteristics of the electricity that we want,” Stetzer said. “We want only the 60-hertz frequency, not the 20 kilohertz one. You can filter the frequency so only the 60-hertz frequency can go through.”
Stetzer said he has never come across a wind farm project that had been constructed or equipped with such a filter. “Can we fix it (dirty electricity and ground current problem)?” he said. “Yes. Can we use wind energy safely? Yes, but it is going to cost some money.”
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Small Business Saturday, the day after Black Friday, was expected to bring in more than $16 billion in revenue for small businesses across the country. Shopping for holiday gifts at local retailers, or purchasing crafts from local artisans or dining at locally owned restaurants keeps money in the communities. Corporate giants like American Express have assumed a role in growing the “Shop Small” movement to support its cardmembers and merchant services customers.
“American Express founded Small Business Saturday in 2010 in response to small businesses most pressing needs: more visibility, more attention and more sales,” said Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle, spokeswoman for American Express Small Business Saturday. “What started as a single Facebook page generated 1.2 million likes. By 2011, the United States Senate recognized Small Business Saturday as an official holiday. You can see significant growth every year from participation of businesses, communities and consumers.”
The messaging of Small Business Saturday continues throughout the holiday season and year-round, Leinbach-Reyhle said. “The hashtag #ShopSmall is a way for small businesses to incorporate it into their social media messaging,” she said. “People can use that to discover what is going on in their community.”
Shopping at locally owned businesses is always a benefit to areas like the Pikes Peak region, but the holiday season is particularly important for retail businesses. “Very generally speaking, most retail businesses are oriented to the shopping season,” said Mark Dye, volunteer with SCORE Colorado Springs. “We wouldn't say that's a good idea but neither would we condemn it. But it's a fact of life that many businesses build around.”
SCORE is a nationwide resource partner of the Small Business Administration that connects small businesses through mentors and workshops. “Planning for seasonality is to build a financial model that can survive or compensate for that seasonality,” Dye said. “To overcome that would be to offer a parallel model or alternative products, which are counter-seasonal, but would be biased toward non-holiday.”
Volunteer mentors at SCORE offer planning help, and organizations like Small Business Saturday offer more tactical marketing help. “Small Business Saturday has what is called a 'shop small studio' with resources and inspiration, with ideas for small businesses to kick off the holiday season,” Leinbach-Reyhle said.
The efforts to bring more attention to shopping small and local for the holidays and every day seem to be working. Fifty-eight percent of U.S. consumers are aware of Small Business Saturday, the highest rate since its inception. Sixty-two percent of consumers say they choose to shop at small retailers and independently-owned restaurants because they “value the contributions small businesses make to their community,” according to the Consumer Insights Survey released Nov. 17 by the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
While better deals for similar gifts might be found online or at large box store retailers, 79 percent of the respondents in the NFIB survey “say they are willing to pay slightly more for an item if it is purchased from a small, independently-owned retailer as opposed to online or at a large retailer.”
“Small businesses across the nation are often run by the friends, family and neighbors that we know so well, so supporting them is not only personal but critical to their success,” said Juanita Duggan, president and CEO of NFIB.
Dollars spent by consumers at small businesses have an ongoing effect because those entrepreneurs are more likely to do business with other local small businesses. Seventy-percent of small business entrepreneurs purchase local goods and services, and 83 percent make a point of shopping small for their personal needs, according to the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. About 25 percent more of dollars spent at a local business stays in the community, as opposed to national chains. Almost none of the money spent comes back to the local area when purchases are made from out-of-state or foreign online stores.
“On average, one third of U.S. consumers are expected to buy from small businesses during the holiday season,” Leinbach-Reyhle said. However, 91 percent say that small, independent shops and restaurants are important to them. American Express partnered with local organizations like Colorado Springs' Downtown Partnership, Manitou Springs and the town of Monument as “Neighborhood Champions” to bridge the gap and encourage consumers to keep their gift dollars in their communities.
Meanwhile, business mentoring groups like Colorado Springs SCORE are eager to work with small businesses to plan for success year-round. “We talk about the success factors that help every business, and help equip our clients with those success factors,” Dye said. “I would say failure to plan adequately is the root cause of a vast majority of small business failures. The concept is simple but putting it into effect is harder.”