Library filed under Impact on People from Vermont
A landowner who said his property was damaged by blasting at a nearby wind power facility has reached a settlement with developers.
“All I have asked for is for them to do the repairs,” Francis Candiloro said Saturday, referring to chimney, window and other damage he attributes to blasting between October 2016 and May. He said representatives for the developer, Avangrid Renewables, told him the damage was unrelated to the work.
MONTPELIER — The Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules accepted sound standards crafted by the Public Utilities Commission for wind turbines by a 5-2 vote. This rule-making initiative is a requirement of 2016’s Act 174 energy siting policy.
A group opposing wind turbines in Vermont has taken what its organizers say is an unprecedented step by filing a public records request with several legislators who are reviewing new sound limits for future wind-energy projects. Two of the legislators have already turned over all the requested documents. Six have not.
The rule proposed by the Public Utility Commission sets a 42-decibel limit for wind turbines during the day, when measured 100 feet from the outside of neighboring homes, and a 39-decibel limit at night. The Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules chose to extend the deadline for a vote on the rule.
Under the proposed rules, noise from large turbines would be limited to 42 dBA during the day and 39 dBA at night; smaller turbines would be limited to 42 dBA. ...Developers also would have to build large wind turbines away from local residents by a distance of 10 times the height of the turbine.
Back in the 1960s, Yale psychology professor Stanley Milgram conducted a research experiment whose results shocked the nation. Participants were told that they were taking on the role of “teacher” in a study of methods to improve learning. An authority figure told the “teacher” to administer increasingly powerful electric shocks to a “learner” in the next room whenever a question was answered incorrectly. There actually were no shocks and the learner was part of the research team, but the “teacher” heard increasing cries of pain with each “shock” administered. Even as the intensity of the shocks approached the maximum of 450 volts, the authority insisted that the shocks should continue – that the anguished screams, the banging on the wall, the pleas about heart conditions, and ultimately the ominous silence from the other room should all be ignored.
About a year later, the board ruled in favor of Georgia Mountain Community Wind and determined that noise coming off the spinning turbine blades was not in excess of its state permit. But in that ruling the board said the McLanes and the Public Service Department could request additional testing if they could convince the board that the previous sound testing was not accurate.
Editor’s note: This commentary is Mark Whitworth, who is president of Energize Vermont, a statewide organization that supports sustainable energy development that protects our environment and respects our communities.
The board has proposed limits of 35 decibels at night and 42 decibels during the day, as measured outside neighboring homes. Most turbines today are subject to a 45-decibel sound limit outside neighboring homes and a 30-decibel limit measured inside neighbors’ homes.
Prospective neighbors of wind turbines heard all the promises: “Quiet as a library.” “Like a baby’s breath.” “The same decibel level as a refrigerator.” The more brazen wind developers claimed “you will not hear them.” Then the four hundred and fifty foot wind towers with their bus-size nacelles and three-bladed fans were built. Sixteen in Sheffield, four on Georgia Mountain, twenty-one in Lowell. And neighbors learned the truth. Yes, you can hear them. They sound like “a jet plane that never lands,” or “sneakers in a drier,” or there is a “thump thump thump” or a “whoosh whoosh whoosh” as the blade passes the tower, causing something called amplitude modulation.
The best advice: “Do not burn yourself out. Be as I am— a reluctant enthusiast … a part time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still there. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains, bag the peaks. Run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those deskbound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this much: You will outlive the bastards.”
State regulators have proposed new sound limits for wind turbines that some renewable energy proponents say would effectively ban new utility-scale turbines from Vermont.
Critics of industrial-scale wind farms say the Vermont Public Service Board’s new sound standards are a step in the right direction but ultimately may not help Vermonters. “On the surface it is a big improvement over the current standard, and over the first draft, but there will be more public process, and the industry will fight against what I view as still inadequate to address all the issues,” said Annette Smith, director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment.
Editor’s note: This commentary is by Annette Smith, of Danby, who is the executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment.
A hearing officer for the Public Service Board has recommended that Green Mountain Community Wind — the company led by Vermont renewable-energy pioneer David Blittersdorf — be found in violation of its permit for operating wind turbines on Georgia Mountain with iced blades. ...The iced blades produced unusually loud noise, said Melodie McLane.
Once it was just another cabin on a Vermont hillside. Now it’s an emblem in the debate over noise from the growing wind energy industry.
Second home owners in Windham say they will hold their own referendum on a proposed commercial wind project, even though the project developer has refused to consider their votes.
The debate over giving towns a say over poorly sited renewable energy projects is beginning to affect the gubernatorial race, as a mega-wind project proposed for Windham and Grafton is set to affect the largest number of homes of any wind project in Vermont.
We've done our research. We've learned that wind energy does not reduce carbon emissions. Those claims are false. Wind energy projects destroy natural resources. Many environmentalists have raised concerns about destruction of otherwise undisturbed areas and the deaths of birds and bats.