Library filed under Noise from Michigan
The residents of Michigan's Thumb area have been writing about their experience living near industrial scale turbines. Their individual stories are remarkably consistent regarding noise, flicker, sleep interruptions, and feelings of helplessness. The testimony of one Thumb resident is included on this page. Many others can be found by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.
When we're outside, the noise created by the turbine echoes off the buildings and seems to be amplified. When the wind is strong, the noise is masked, but about 75% of the time, the turbines are the dominant sound outside. A big concern we have at this time, is that as the weather improves (which we hope it will soon) windows will open, weather proofing will be removed and the noise that dominates the outdoors will intrude on the indoors even more. At 1500 ft, we thought we may be safe, but we were mistaken. I don't know what the answer is for setbacks, but 1500 ft. is to close.
This John Deere wind energy facility has been operational for four months and the concerns of turbine noise have become a reality. Click here to read more. Duration: 2 minutes 40 seconds
"They are very noisy," said Jan Sageman, who lives in the village of Ubly near some of the turbines. While she didn't mind seeing her community jump into the world of renewable energy, her opinion has changed because on certain cold nights with a light wind, she can hear them loud and clear. "You would have swore a train or a jet was coming through the house," she said.
When the state of Michigan commissioned recommendations to help formulate wind energy policies, acoustic expert Rick James saw two problems with the commission. The commission lacked both the expertise of an acoustic engineer and a medical doctor. Without these two perspectives, a major concern of wind turbines - their potential physical side effects due to the sounds they emitted - were overlooked.
The board amended the Mason County Zoning Ordinance at its monthly meeting and eased the regulation on the amount of noise large or industrial wind turbines can produce. The amendment allowed an increase in noise from 45 to 55 decibels - a level still lower than normal conversation, which the county says and several Web sites concur, falls at about 60 to 70 decibels. Although there are currently no large industrial wind turbines in Mason County, the county's Zoning and Building Director Mary Reilly said several companies are looking ...
A noise control consultant and acoustics expert urged planning commissioners here to create their own wind turbine ordinance that's tailored to the local community and more restrictive than the state's guidelines. Roughly 40 area residents, as well as some DTE Energy representatives, turned out for Wednesday's Lake Township Planning Commission meeting featuring a presentation by Richard R. James, owner of the Okemos-based E-Coustic Solutions. ...Township officials asked James to come to a meeting and share some of his expertise because they currently are conducting research for a wind overlay ordinance. Lake Township instituted a one-year moratorium on any wind farm developments during the township board's March meeting, said Lake Township Cleric and Planning Commissioner Valerie McCallum.
Neighbors of a proposed electrical substation are threatening the Elmwood Township trustee who plans to sell 10 acres to Wolverine Power Cooperative adjacent to a large windmill north of M-72. ...In an anonymous letter addressed "Dear Mr. and Mrs. Lautner," the Lautners were told by "concerned neighbors" that "our goal is to hold you personally and financially responsible for our hardship and we will pursue this relentlessly. We will expose this to the media, newspapers, television, etc." A story on the substation appeared in the Wednesday edition of the Traverse City Record-Eagle. The "neighbors" wrote that the substation would lower adjoining property values. "This scar is the legacy Terry and Kathy Lautner will leave their family," it continued. Concerns were also raised during public comment at the monthly meeting.
Huron County planners won't take action on a noise study funded by a group critical of windmills in the Thumb. Residents for Sound Economics and Planning paid $3,000 for an ambient noise study by Richard James of E-Coustic Solutions in Okemos.
Wind proponents and opponents alike packed into Wednesday's Huron County Planning Commission meeting to hear a presentation by a noise control engineer who conducted a study to counter that which originally was submitted to the board by Noble Environmental Power, LLC. "Noble did a study for you back in 2005 in which they went through much of what is normally done for site planning, unfortunately what they did was very biased in their favor," said Richard James. He is an acoustics expert who has more than 35 years of experience in Community Noise and a former member of the American National Standards (ANSI) Noise S12 Working group that oversees ANSI Standards for Community Noise. "I can't say that it was biased intentionally, but the end result of what they did was biased."
The first commercial wind farm planned for Michigan's Thumb will be too loud for a rural area and could result in lawsuits unless zoning rules are changed, an Okemos consultant says. Jeanette Hagen, a manager with Connecticut-based Noble Environmental Power, which plans to begin erecting 41 large windmills in Huron County's Bingham Township around July, says the consultant's study is flawed and won't stop the long-delayed project from progressing. "So many people are wanting to see these up and we're hoping to get these up and help energize the economy in the Thumb," Hagen said. The study, by E-Coustic Solutions of Okemos, cost about $3,000 and was paid for by Residents for Sound Economics and Planning, a group of Thumb residents that has been critical of the windmill project.
From Barton, Vermont, to the German border with Denmark and from the shores of Lake Huron, to the Romney Marches of southern England, wind power advocates are fighting crosswinds from local residents. In Barton in mid-January, a referendum overwhelmingly rejected the wind power turbines that were planned near this upper Vermont community. ...In Germany, where one-third of the world's current wind power is generated, doubters have provoked a loud debate. The company that owns the grid that includes nearly half the wind-farms in Germany reported its wind farms generated only 11 percent of their capacity. The company said the winds vary so much the wind farm had to be backed 80 percent by the conventional power grid.
Low Frequency Noise Low frequency noise is generated at very low frequencies, generally accepted to be at levels below 100 Hz and the audible range. There is presently no commonly accepted metric or standard for measurement, although several have been proposed or used in specific situations. Low frequency noise has been associated with wind turbine developments, as well as road, rail, sea and air traffic and other industrial applications such as cooling towers. It creates a large potential for community annoyance, and it is most often experienced inside of homes and buildings where resonance amplifies the sound, which is less easily heard outside. Because the frequencies are so low, the noise is often “felt” as a vibration or a pressure sensation. Reported effects include annoyance, stress, fatigue, nausea and disturbed sleep. Low frequency noise can be a factor at much greater distances from the noise source than audible noise. A case study in North Carolina in the 1980’s near a wind turbine installation documented low frequency noise problems at residences located over ½ mile from the turbine.2 While the phenomenon was originally believed to be associated with the older, down-wind designed turbines, the problem persists with newer wind farms. It has received particular attention in Denmark, and has been a topic considered in the UK, Scotland and Wales through a commissioned government project in 2001.
Kelly Alexander believed that windpower would be a good energy source. He was told the machines were not noisy. No one told him about the blade flicker that shines even through closed blinds or the low frequency noise that penetrates his home with doors and windows tightly closed and storm windows installed. Recently, the turbine owner visited Kelly and asked what he could do to help the situation. He said, “Stop lying about these turbines. Tell people the truth.”