Library filed under Impact on People 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.
Current setbacks in Michigan allow a wind turbine to be constructed only 1,000 feet from an adjacent residence without the homeowners consent. This rule applies to all inhabited structures including schools, hospitals, churches, and public libraries. This distance of 1,000 feet is an arbitrary guideline recommended by the state of Michigan. Some residents who live too close to wind turbines complain of noise pollution and shadow flicker. Health problems and sleep disturbances have been documented in people living within one and a half miles of turbines.
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.
In 2007, The Michigan Public Service Board approved construction of an overhead transmission line in Livingston and Oakland counties by ITC Transmission. The Transmission line defies a Hartland Township local ordinance which requires all new electrical transmission lines to be buried. The new power line will stretch for 21-miles through a pristine section of Hartland Township. The poles will be between 100 and 140 feet in height. Similar transmission infrastructure is proposed or under construction to service wind facilities in the US. The Hartland residents express their concerns in this video. Duration: 3 minutes 9 seconds
...to think that wind turbines are going to offer a long-term stimulus for tourism revenue is foolish. These giant wind turbines are a novelty to Michiganders right now. But as time goes by, the novelty will wear off. And as more and more wind turbines are built, there will be more and more people living here and paying the price for this "green" energy. ...and those living in the Thumb with these wind turbines towering over their homes will pay again in loss of property value and quality of life.
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.
Michigan’s first commercial wind farm –a collection of 32 towering turbines that conjure visions of H. G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds”—is scheduled to begin operating in a few weeks, spurring for some a near-gold rush mentality in this sparsely populated area. Thousands of dollars in a guaranteed annual harvest comes with each windmill placed on a farmer’s land, and that lure has gone a long way toward interrupting the horizontal sameness of vast corn and bean fields. “I can’t wait ‘til they get going,” said Bob Webber, who turned over easement rights to a portion of his property in Huron County for a proposed second wind farm, with 42 turbines. ...The support, however, is not unanimous. In the northernmost part of the county, along the shoreline of Lake Huron, critics have raised objections about the windmill’s potential impact on birds and property values. This is a lake resort area, popular in the summertime. It’s an eagle nesting site and part of the migratory path of thousands of tundra swans. “Our township is unique because it is resort and agricultural,” said Louis Colletta, the planning commission chairman for Lake Township. The township last month rejected DTE’s request to set up testing towers to measure the speed and consistency of the wind.
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.
Schmidt's Sherman Township neighborhood is targeted by two developers for the setting of wind turbines. "This is going to make a dramatic difference to the personality of the neighborhood," he told a group of citizens gathered at Tustin Community Center Oct. 4 for a public discussion on the planned wind farms. Proposals by Heritage Sustainable Energy, LLC and Babcock & Brown Renewable Energy Holdings, Inc. call for the installation of dozens of 2.5 megawatt turbines across Osceola, Wexford and Missaukee counties. Turbine towers plus blades will each exceed 400 feet. "We're zoned residential and agriculture," Schmidt said. "This is industrial. These are big, bad boys."
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.
"Suffering from migraines and sick of suburban life, real estate agent Dawn Deel fled the outskirts of Detroit three years ago to build a new life in Golden Township, Oceana County, on Lake Michigan's eastern shore..... Deel, however, now has a different sort of headache. Alternative-energy companies Michigan Wind Energy and Machinaw Power plan to build dozens of wind turbines-290 ft tall white steel pinwheels- across the county." Glenn Schleede's (10/26/05) letter (False Claims in Time 'War of the Winds' article) is available in 'Opinions'.
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.”