In defense of larger setbacks -- a letter from Martha Young (PA)

The following information was submitted to the Potter County Commissioners of Potter County Pennsylvania during their regular meeting on September 25, 2008. Martha Young appeared before the Commissioners to request a 1-mile setback from non-participating landowner property lines. Prior to her submission, Ms. Young searched for documentation to defend her request. The materials presented before the County board were the result of this search. Links to her supporting documents can be found below.

Wisconsin has been a proving ground for industrial wind turbines. Much has been documented about their experience. The Large Wind Turbine Citizens Committee from the Town of Union published a Setback Recommendations Report. It is the most comprehensive document I have found to date.

The task of crafting a protective ordinance as well as overseeing construction and long-term operation of wind farms is monumental. Over the past few years, communities across this country have been learning, by trial and error, how to live with wind power. That developers are just now getting to Potter County testifies to the marginal quality of our sustained winds. However, our delayed development also gives us the opportunity to learn from other states so we do not have to repeat their same mistakes. There is no need for us to learn by trial and error - especially because making those same mistakes means that people will get hurt.

My primary concern is that no one gets hurt. Let's establish as our motto "first, do no harm." To that end, I am recommending, in addition to the 1-mile setback, establishment of a wider ring for safety (up to 3-miles) within which families have available to them remedial options should noise, shadow flicker, or blade glint be a problem; whether that means the planting of trees, installation of awnings, or buyouts for those who find life with turbines to be intolerable. For homes within this ring of safety, let the power companies put into escrow an amount equal to the appraised value of homes prior to turbine construction. Escrow funds should be available for the life of the turbine, offering protection to nearby homeowners should the turbine's operation become more problematic over time. If the owners of these homes decide to sell and cannot sell on the open market, they will be bought-out by the escrow funds. Once the turbine is decommissioned, any unused escrow funds will be returned to the power company. If decisions on setbacks are influenced by power company claims that noise will not be a problem, let them backup their claims with financing to assist families that are affected.

Corporations do risk assessments all the time, and if the risk expense is within acceptable tolerance levels, projects move forward. Our requests for escrow funds to protect those who may be affected are certainly well within tolerance levels and would be acceptable to any power company worth doing business with.

No one knows how turbine noise will behave among the hills and valleys of Potter County. Noise research indicates that turbines can be heard 2 miles away or more. While it may not make sense from an economic development standpoint to establish a 2-mile setback, these statistics do substantiate the need to establish a safety buffer that extends beyond the setback limit. Build into the ordinance the flexibility to assess the actual impact of each turbine that goes on-line. Outline protocols to efficiently address all complaints and remediation steps for those affected. Tolerance is different for all people, and it is possible for us to address this diversity.

Noise, shadow flicker, and blade glint must not be trivialized. Noise will affect all living too close, especially at night when winds at ground level are typically quieter than winds aloft. Without ground-level ambient noise, turbine noise is louder at night than during the day. Shadow flicker and blade glint will also affect all living too close. Since this occurs only during the day, our community of retired people is particularly at risk, some of whom are elderly and whose health may be least able to withstand the experience.

As a homeowner within a stone's throw of open farmland, my preference would be that wind turbines are built far enough away so that I never hear them or see them. I do not look forward to the prospect of having to document the effects of turbine noise on myself and my husband, endure the time it will take for due process to reach it conclusion. But, I would much prefer having access to due process than to be left swinging the breeze, so to speak. I do not look forward to having to leave a home that I've come to love, but I would much prefer being given the financial resources to relocate than to face possibly abandoning my home because noise conditions make it uninhabitable.

Let our ordinance be a litmus test for power companies, surfacing those who are equally committed to wind development AND protection of human lives, and who have the financial stability to do both. Doing business with corporations that are developing too fast, and skating on thin ice financially, will only increase the probability that turbine projects will be abandoned once the power companies can no longer afford to keep them operating. And prior to abandonment, they will likely limit or curtail maintenance, increasing the chances of turbine failure and potential for additional human harm. Power companies we want to do business with are those who are willing to be long-term partners with local communities, committed to working shoulder-to-shoulder, ensuring that all benefit and not one single person gets hurt in the process. Establishment of cash escrow funds prior to construction is well within their means financially. If their turbines are as quiet as their marketing campaigns claim, then there will be little if any likelihood escrow funds will be spent.

Dealing with gigantic international corporations, Potter County becomes just a number on a spreadsheet, and not a very spectacular number at that. What will motivate corporations like this to give us any of their time and attention once wind turbines start turning? It is incumbent upon us to be the best possible advocates we can be for the protection of public health, welfare, and safety.

Given the marginal winds in Potter County, I have a concern that we'll be seen as a short-term cash cow. Power companies will make money on marginally producing turbines in the short term because of tax credits and unusually generous depreciation allowances designed specifically for wind power development. Once they've milked our turbines, once the tax credits and depreciation allowances run out, turbines here many well, at best, be subject to early retirement, or worse, abandonment. If we've done our homework well and attracted the "right" wind companies, they will not simply walk away from a cow that is no longer producing quality milk, but instead will follow through on their commitment to the decommissioning and removal all turbines, and put us out to pasture.

It seems to me that political and economic pressures to more forward with wind development are based largely on the promise of "payments in lieu of taxes" and the promise of new local jobs. I believe these issues should be addressed in the ordinance, requiring the power companies to commit in writing before development approval is granted. How many jobs will be held strictly for local residents? How much are they committing in revenue payments? What are the annual revenue increases, especially once their initial investments are recouped? The irony is that any revenue payments received from the power companies can easily be passed on to the end consumer in the form of higher electric costs.

While setback is my primary concern, I am equally concerned about what seems to be a lack of wind turbine education for County citizens, especially those who already are, or soon will be, negotiating to lease their land. How many have sought legal advice? There is so much rhetoric flying around; PR sounds bites from both sides. There's no question in my mind that power company representatives will take advantage of naïve property owners, and the resulting leases will be weighted heavily in favor of the power company. "Don't ask, don't tell." What the property owner doesn't know to ask about, the power representative more than likely will not volunteer. Forbearance easements that forbid landowners from complaining about turbine noise are one example. We should promote full disclosure for all problems. Any power company that would include a forbearance easement in leases, or approach non-participating landowners with money incentives to sign one, is a company no one should do business with.

Reports are coming out that wind power is not all that is advertised to be. Turbines are only 25-30% efficient, create problems for the power grid due to the poor quality of the electricity produced - power surges, drop offs, production of electricity when it's not needed. Electricity produced at the industrial level can not be stored. It is either used or dissipates as heat. To date, no coal burning or nuclear power plants have been taken off-line and replaced by wind farms so industry promoters to say that wind turbines are today reducing greenhouse gas emissions is simply not true. Energy technology will evolve; time will tell what is to become of wind power. Given the immediacy of economic recovery in Potter County, it may well be the short term opportunity needed to stimulate growth. That is a reality I realize you absolutely can not ignore, regardless of your personal opinions on wind power. And, I believe it is possible to move forward, albeit as cautiously as possible, with wind power development in a way that not one single person gets hurt in the process. Let our motto be "first, do no harm."


Better Plan, Rock County
Rock County Tax-Payers for a Better Renewable Energy Plan

Wind Ordinances - Wisconsin State, County, and Town

The Town of Union Final Report


Larger Setback Summary Chart, pages 99 and forward from "Town of Union Setback Recommendations Report"

Wind farm causing a stir
Blair County - 2500 foot setback

Towns in the state of Wisconsin
2640 feet setback

The Noise Heard Round the World - the trouble with industrial wind turbines
1/2 mile more or more setback

Simple guidelines for siting wind turbines to prevent health risks
George W. Kamperman, INCE Bd. Cert. Emeritus Kamperman Associates, Inc.
Richard R. James, INCE E-Coustic Solutions
1km (3280 feet) or more setback

French Academy of Medicine warns of wind turbine noise
1.5km (.9-mile) setback

Trempealeau County, Wisconsin
1-mile setback

National Wind Watch
1-mile setback

U.K. Noise Association
1-mile setback
U.K. Noise Association: 1 mile setback needed for wind turbines
UK Noise Association - Wind Farms are Causing Noise Problems

Beech Ridge Wind Farm, West Virginia
1 to 4 miles setback

Deal reached in wind turbine dispute - Fayette County
6000 foot setback

Noise Radiation from Wind Turbines Installed New Homes: Effects o Health
2km (1.2 mile) setback

Location, Location, Location. An investigation into wind farms and noise by the Noise Association
1 to 1.5 mile setback

Are wind farm turbines making people sick? Some say yes.
1.5 mile setback

Dr. Nina Pierport
1.5 mile setback, more for mountainous geography
Health Effects of Wind Turbine Noise
Noisy Wind and Hot Air
Wind Turbine Syndrome - testimony before the New York State Legislature Energy Committee
except from rebuttal to Noble Environmental's draft Environmental Impact Statement regarding noise, shadow flicker, and health

Wind Turbines, Noise and Health
Dr. Amanda Harry
1.5 mile setback

Riverside County, California
2-mile setback

Marjolaine Villey-Migraine
Docteur en sciences de l'information et de la communication, Université Paris II-Panthéon-Assas, Spècialiste de l'Information Scientifique et Technique (IST)
5 km (3.1 miles)

Microseismic and Infrasound Monitoring of Low Frequency Noise and Vibrations from Windfarms
10km (6.2-mile) setback


Facts About Wind Energy and Noise

"Anti-noise" Silences Wind Turbines, publication date August 2008

New England Wind Forum: Wind Turbine Sound
US Department of Energy

"Noise Radiation from Wind Turbines Installed Near Homes: Effects on Health."
with an annotated review of the research and related issues
by Barbara J Frey, BA, MA and Peter J Hadden, BSc, FRICS

Noise pollution from wind turbines
September 20, 2007 by Julian Davis and S. Jane Davis

This is a list of publications from the Acoustics Laboratory and the Department of Acoustics from the period from 1974 until now. The list is sorted in chronological order starting with the most recent papers.

Listen to the sound of the future
Noise from wind turbines, roads or railways can be a very sensitive issue. But a unique technology - Auralisation - lets you listen to the future sounds before making important and costly decisions
Specialist Soren Vase Legarth
Tel. +45 72 19 46 10

Simple guidelines for siting wind turbines to prevent health risks
George W. Kamperman, INCE Bd. Cert. Emeritus Kamperman Associates, Inc.
Richard R. James, INCE E-Coustic Solutions

The "How To" Guide to Siting Wind Turbines to Prevent Health Risks from Sound
George W. Kamperman PE and Richard R. James INCE,%20(

Low Frequency Noise from Large Wind Turbines
Delta Project EFP-06. Client: Danish Energy Authority$File/EFP06-LF%20Noise-Evaluation%20of%20audibility%20and%20literature%20study%20AV%201098%2008.pdf

Second International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise
Lyon, France. September 20-21, 2007

"Noisy Wind and Hot Air," Nina Pierpoint, MD, PhD
(extract) "There need to be funds to cover damages to the health, property values, and quality of life of nearby residents, should these occur."

Excerpts from the Final Report on the Township of Lincoln Wind Turbine Moratorium Committee
(extract) "As a result of so many noise complaints, The Moratorium Committee ordered WPS to conduct a noise study. . . . [T]he study established that the turbines added 5-20 dB(A) to the ambient sound. A 10-dB increase is perceived as a doubling of noise level. As soon as the noise study was published in 2001, WPS conceded that these homes were rendered uninhabitable by the noise of the turbines and made buyout offers for the neighboring homes."

Wind Farm Noise and Regulations in the Eastern United States
Second International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise

Acoustic Trauma: Bioeffects of Sound
Alex Davies BFS Honours

A Review of Published Resarch on Low Frequency Noise and its Effects
Report for Defra by Dr. Geoff Leventhall

Noise Background
DART (Dorest Against Rural Turbines)

Project WINDFARMperception
Visual and acoustic impact of wind turbine farms on residents
Wind turbines more annoying than expected

G.P. van den Berg
Wind turbines at night: acoustical practice and sound research
Science Shop for Physics, University of Groningen, the Netherlands
Effects of the wind profile at night on wind turbine sound
Journal of Sound and Vibration

Vibroacoustic Disease
N.A.A. Castelo Branco and M. Alves-Pereira

Wind Turbine Acoustic Noise
Renewable Energy Research Laboratory


Stop Ill Wind
The Top Ten False and Misleading Claims the Windpower Industry Makes for Projects in the Eastern United States

Misplaced State Government Faith in "Wind Energy"

An Analysis and Report by Glenn R. Schleede

CRS Report for Congress: Wind Power in the United States, Technology, Economic, and Policy Issues
Jeffrey Logan and Stan Mark Kaplan
Specialist in Energy Policy
Resources, Science, and Industry Division

Rural Power
Community-Sealed Renewable Energy and Rural Economic Development
John Farrell and David Morris

Cellulose Prairie
Biomass Fuel Potential
By Brett Hulsey
Better Environmental Solutions

Source: http://betterplan.squarespa...

SEP 25 2008
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