Library filed under Impact on People from Michigan
In what appears to be the first of its kind ruling in the United States, the Board of Health in Brown County, Wisconsin, where Green Bay is located, has declared a local industrial wind plant to be a human health hazard. The specific facility consists of eight 500-foot high, 2.5 megawatt industrial wind turbines.
“The fact that Sen. Walker would put forth a pair of bills that would largely exempt wind developers from local control for the siting of turbines, as well as exempt them from liability for negligent design, paints a clear picture. Wind development is becoming much harder to sell to rural communities. ...wind developers are having a much harder time convincing people that 50- or 60-story tall turbines are scarcely noticeable in our quiet farming communities.”
This post, the first of a three-part series, provides a broad overview of the topic. The second installment will review the major research findings linking low-frequency noise and infrasound from industrial wind turbines with effects on health and quality of life. Part three will discuss the relationship between various health effects and the processing of infrasound by the ear and brain.
The wind companies have talked to people in McBain and I believe they know there are problems with noise and with health. Why don't they take action? Why didn’t they tell us about the health problems before we signed leases?
According to the suit, the members of the family went to live in a cottage in order to avoid the health effects of living near the wind turbine.
In the 15 months since the Lake Winds Energy Park came online, the relationship between operator Consumers Energy and many residents in that area near Lake Michigan has become less idyllic and more contentious. There have been disputes between company and county over zoning interpretations, a civil lawsuit and allegations of adverse health effects.
The findings show that at least some, if not all, of the wind turbines produce sound which exceeds the maximum level allowed under the Mason County noise ordinance. Sound was recorded at five test sites. The data was collected and analyzed by an independent party, HGC, chosen by the zoning board and paid for by Consumer’s Energy ...Four of the sites tested were found to be in non-compliance with the 45-decibel limit.
"Here’s one way to explain what’s happening. Under the Mason County ordinance there is a maximum allowable noise level. That means the turbines are never supposed to exceed that level. When the Lake Winds Energy Plant exceeds the noise limit, that's the same as when someone in an automobile breaks the speed limit. "If a policeman stops you and says you've been clocked going over the speed limit, you get a ticket. Consumers Energy is ...acting as if the noise violation is about the average sound level, not whether or not the turbines periodically exceed it.
Consumers Energy asked the 51st Circuit Court to overrule Mason County's finding that the Lake Winds industrial plant is not in compliance with the county's noise ordinance. ...the utility also wanted the court to issue a stay that would block efforts by Mason County to enforce the county's ordinance. On Monday, 51st Circuit Court Judge Richard Cooper denied the CMS request for a stay and ordered the utility to submit a plan to mitigate the noise problem.
Noise in Sebewaing Township from non-operational wind turbines has some residents complaining, according to a Huron County commissioner. ...Tietz said he believes that the noise complaints are the result of brakes screeching on the 44 turbines that are still under construction.
The future of a northern Michigan wind farm is in question -- at the mercy of a lawsuit from a local family. The Wiltzer's say infrasound from the turbines have made them ill in a number of different ways, on multiple occasions.
"How would you like to see those blinking red tower lights all the time, on multiple turbines? I wouldn't. My conclusion is wind energy is not green. It's just duplicate, expensive power. And, those who benefit is Duke Energy, the few, large landowners and the county government may see some revenue, but I wouldn't hold my breath."
Robert Rand, of Rand Acoustics, whose profession takes him from coast to coast, said wind plants are causing similar health and annoyance problems throughout the nation. "The problems are all the result of putting large industrial wind turbines too close to where people live," Rand said. "The only real solution to the noise problem is distance. Turbines have to be placed where they won't do harm to people."
Work at DTE’s Echo Wind Park has stopped as the energy company tries to find the reason why a wind turbine blade broke at the park last week.
By sometime next year, we should have 328 wind turbines in Huron County because of what has been approved and what is under construction,” Smith said. “Ninety-eight turbines are currently under construction.” At the end of the year in 2012 there were 160 wind turbines in Huron County.
Consumers Energy will have to come up with a plan to mitigate noise from some of its 56 turbines in Lake Winds Energy Park, following a decision Thursday night by the Mason County Planning Commission that the turbines in question have violated the 45 decibel maximum noise standard.
The report concludes "the sound levels from the wind turbines were in general compliance with sound level criteria." But the results also show some values exceeding the limits set in the special land use permit - numbers opponents likely will highlight.
Swinbanks explained that noise is made up of many frequencies, and low-frequency noise is outside the range of human hearing. While people cannot hear low-frequency noise, it can impact a person's health. Unfortunately when measuring turbine noise, ordinances typically put more restrictions on noise within the human hearing range and do not restrict low-frequency noise enough.
Residents living near wind turbines in Lake Winds Energy Park filed suit earlier this month in 51st Circuit Court and are seeking a jury trial for their case. ...The plaintiffs in the suit allege the wind farm has caused them physiological and monetary harm and will continue to do so if allowed to continue operations.
The Heritage Stoney Corners Wind facility, in service since November 2008, includes 29 wind turbines at an installed capacity of 60 megawatts.