Library filed under Noise from Michigan
This important letter by acoustician Stephen Ambrose explains how two separate court decisions, one in Massachusetts and the other in Michigan, together provide clarity on what the minimum protective noise limits should be when siting industrial wind energy facilities. Mr. Ambrose's letter includes links to the two decisions as well as supporting background information. The content of the letter is shown below. The original can be downloaded from this page.
This important decision by US District Court Judge Thomas L. Ludington addresses two arguments proffered by the wind industry. The first relates to the industry's argument that noise standards for limiting turbine noise emissions that are based on Lmax are not reasonable. The second discusses the argument that restricitve ordinances, in this case an Lmax noise limit, are de facto exclusionay zoning. Judge Ludington takes both claims on and finds the wind company's arguments are without merit. A portion of the decision is provided below. The full decision can be downloaded from this page.
Robert Gaffke, who owns property near the Big Turtle II project, addressed the Huron County Planning Commission last week regarding a noise complaint he has filed against Heritage Sustainable Energy of Traverse City. ...“It sounds like a guy’s in there with an eight-pound sledge pounding on it, every revolution,” Gaffke said.
But, she says she follows a routine in order to adapt and “get some sleep.” “Close windows (even in summer, turn on the air conditioner in the window). Then I turn on the TV (usually to CNN) and put earplugs in my ears (helps drown out the turbine sound). It has enabled (me) to get to sleep and have a fairly good sleep pattern,” the letter states.
Heritage's lawsuit focuses on a pair of recently-adopted Garden Township noise ordinances - Ordinance 2014-1, and a revised version called Ordinance 2015-2. If it goes into effect on June 1 as scheduled, Ordinance 2015-2 will limit noise to a maximum of 35 dB(A) and/or 50 dB(C) between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Heritage alleges that these restrictions would essentially make it impossible for the wind farm to continue operating at full capacity during these times.
What would Huron County do if no wind turbines ever came? We would survive as we have for decades before. Yes the additional revenue would be helpful, but understand with the new revenue we’re losing property values, quality of life and our county’s once pristine countryside. We are even losing local residents who are choosing to get out. ...Realtors are already experiencing the rejection of properties near turbines.
HURON COUNTY — The results are in.
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.
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.
County officials say an outside and independent source is needed because no one on county government boards has the expertise as it relates to sound from turbines. The need also is driven by input from several residents who have complained of noise from turbines nearby their homes.
“Both Consumers and its consultant should have known from past work on other projects that locating large, utility-scale wind turbines close to residential homes was likely to result in the type of litigation now in progress.”
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.
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.
Coooper said the ordinance sections dealing with wind turbines are clear and Consumers helped draft them. “The ordinance is simple: One year after implementation, (sound) would be reviewed,” Cooper said. “If the planning commission accepts that responsibility and looks at results of independent testing, different entities would be able to appear at those sessions and give their input. If they do not, that doesn’t mean that due process was violated, it’s just the zoning process. The plaintiff today fails on the argument that there is a lack of due process.”
“Unlike other power generators, the only means of mitigating wind turbine noise is by increasing the distance from the turbine to homes or to reduce the power output of the turbines themselves. If the courts order CMS to curtail their output to such levels, as justice would demand, the price of energy from that project will rise substantially.”
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.
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."
“I think we can tell them right up front that we’ve had documents from Epsilon that give that information in the past, and that’s what we expect,” Brock said. “We want a complete, accurate sound study done. … What they’ve presented, we say, does not meet our current ordinance.” Paris Township resident Robert McLean asked the board to demand that Exelon hire a third-party, independent company to conduct the noise study, but he board declined.