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This is far from the simple story that proponents of wind power might have you believe. I do not wish to knock the hope of wind power. But equally I do wish people to be fully informed and understand the serious shortfall of its promise, the choices they make, and their potentially harsh consequences.
The appeal by disgruntled neighbors of a proposed wind turbine project in Freedom moved into its second session in as many weeks Thursday evening with disparaging “earwitness” testimony about the disturbing sound the spinning rotor blades are said to make. In the latest round before the town appeals board, it was also revealed a federal postal investigator was in town earlier this week looking into what happened to some notices of appeal of the project supposedly mailed last month to the town office by a Bangor attorney that by all accounts never arrived at their destination. Perrin Todd drove three and a half hours Tuesday from his home in Mars Hill to tell about what it’s like to live next-door to an operating wind farm. What he had to say was not encouraging for Steve Bennett and other property owners near the Beaver Ridge site where Competitive Energy Services (CES), a national firm with offices in Portland, is prepared to invest up to $12 million to erect three1.5 MW tower-mounted wind turbines on a 75-acre parcel owned by local farmer Ron Price.
Opponents of the wind turbine project atop Beaver Ridge wrapped up their case Thursday, Feb. 8, before the board of appeals. Bearor invited Perrin Todd, a resident of Mars Hill, to come to Freedom and describe the volume and quality of noise from wind turbines recently installed there. Ultimately, there will be 28 turbines strung along the mountain for which the Aroostook County town is named. Richard Silkman, a partner in CES. Silkman said the two projects were so different that there was little to be gained from Todd’s testimony. “[His] comments are about a project that is not on Beaver Ridge, not even in the same county,” said Silkman. If appeals board members considered Todd’s comments to be valuable, said Silkman, they should also hear about the hundreds of other wind turbine projects across the United States. Furthermore, said Silkman, the noise limits set by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection for the Mars Hill project were far higher than those allowed by the Commercial Development Review Ordinance in Freedom. “You’re absolutely right; the DEP has higher limits,” countered Bearor. “Mr. Todd is a living example [of the impact] of that.”
On February 5, 2007, the Bovina Town Board’s consultant, Tom Shepstone,presented the results of the Town of Bovina Wind Power Survey. The results show that, as in the Alliance for Bovina’s Poll last year, an overwhelming majority do NOT want commercial turbines anywhere in Bovina. Despite survey problems, including poor wording, lack of definitions, biases favoring industrial turbines and other issues, the citizens of Bovina found their way to clearly and unambiguously tell the Bovina Town Board: DO NOT ALLOW INDUSTRIAL TURBINES IN BOVINA.
FREEDOM — Perrin Todd’s home near the wind turbine site in Mars Hill has been invaded, not by thieves or pests, but something equally annoying. “It’s a very troubling noise,” Todd told the town’s board of appeals at Thursday’s meeting. “It’s a disturbing noise.” Attorney Ed Bearor, who represents Steve Bennett and others who are appealing the planning board’s December decision to allow three electricity-generating turbines on Beaver Ridge, wrapped up his argument on Thursday, leaving the decision of whether to overturn the planning boards decision in the hands of the board of appeals. Todd, whose home is 2,100 feet removed from the nearest turbine, more than double the distance of the home closest to the proposed Beaver Ridge turbine, urged the board to use greater caution than town officials in Mars Hill had used.
In the Aroostook County town of Mars Hill, 28 wind turbines will soon be generating electricity. Even before they begin commercial operation, however, the windmills are generating considerable controversy. The biggest issue is noise.
He put his existing knowledge together with a little research and has now come to the same conclusion as Dr. David Suzuki: Wind farms have a place in Ontario’s energy mix, but it’s a small role, and the turbines need to be placed where the pollution from wind farms isn’t a threat to humans and animals. One key point that needs to be understood, says Lee, is that the practicality of wind power is generally overstated in the public conscious. Wind power, of course, is only available when the wind blows, which means that when the wind isn’t blowing you’d have to switch back to fossil fuel generated electricity anyway to keep the lights on — and that means wind power can’t be built out to replace our fossil fuel base load. In fact, countries in Europe that have installed wind power as base load find they end up buying power on the spot market when the wind isn’t blowing and then selling their wind power at a loss when the wind is blowing (but air conditioners aren’t being used as intensely). Denmark is often considered a leader in wind energy but according to Lee it ends up selling 84% of its power at a loss. “European countries that have put in a lot of wind power end up subsidizing their neighbors,” says Lee. “Wind power has not yet enabled the closure of a single fossil-fueled generating station anywhere in the world.” .........According to Lee, it’s often been suggested that the theoretical maximum for the amount of base load that can be derived from wind power is 15%, but even that seems to be a stretch. A more likely percentage seems to be 3% or 5%, says Lee.
An 11-year-old girl with Central Auditory Processing Disorder lives in a house approximately 1600 feet from the proposed site of an industrial wind turbine in the Town of Fairfield, Herkimer County, yet her Doctors say that the turbines cannot be built within a mile and a half of her home because of the noise they generate. More than 20 turbines are proposed to be built within one mile of her home. The girl is scared and does not want her family to have to move if the wind turbines are built.
The important paper reviews research articles within the field of acoustics concerning the acoustic properties of wind turbines and noise and recommends a safe buffer zone of at least 2 km between turbines and residential dwellings. The abstract of this paper is provided below. The full document can be accessed by clicking the link(s) on this page.
Residents say the wind turbines atop Mars Hill Mountain are making noise and they want it fixed, but town officials aren’t sure whether anyone can do anything about it. More than 40 residents who live around the mountain crammed into the town office Monday night during the Mars Hill Town Council meeting to register concerns about the Mars Hill Wind Farm. Town councilors spent almost two hours trying to answer the crowd’s questions, but said the issue cannot be fully addressed until a sound analysis is done showing whether the noise exceeds Department of Environmental Protection regulations. Everyone agrees that, since the project’s beginning, people were told there would be no noise. But since mid-December, town and company officials and the Department of Environmental Protection have been fielding noise complaints.
Denise Preller is sensitive to motion sickness. She told the McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday that for her, the proposed 100-turbine wind farm will make her ill. “I’m disturbed that I’ll get motion sickness in my own back yard,” she said. Her husband, Bill Preller, doesn’t relish the thought of sitting in his recliner in his family room and looking out his bay window only to see a wind turbine instead of a sunset. While the couple’s Hudson property will not have a turbine on it, Denise Preller said there will be one within 1,500 feet and eight in the section where they live. And she thinks a similar project in eastern McLean County looks like “a bad science fiction movie.”
Two industrial wind turbine farms are proposed by parent UPC Wind Partners for the town of Cohocton, NY and will permanently alter the town. The large blades on MW scale turbines can at certain times produce moving shadows on the landscape or create distracting flicker on the scenery. To capture the wind these turbines are to be installed on hilltops around the town and thus have significant potential to create a shadow flicker nuisance at great distances from the turbines. All environmental effects of projects require consideration and possible mitigation. Siting selection is important since wind turbines are a permanent installation and may significantly impair resident’s enjoyment of neighboring lands or even personal health.
The next meeting of the citizens’ group that has formed to combat the location of 79 massive turbines in northern Potter County will make its strongest case yet against the proposed industrial wind plant. That’s the word from Herb Miller, spokesman for Save God’s Country who calls the debate a “quality of life” issue. His organization will share its findings during a public meeting.
Wendy and Perrin Todd knew what would happen to their view of Mars Hill Mountain when crews starting erecting wind towers near their backyard. They braced themselves when their home, newly built on the north side of the mountain, shook because of the blasting. But what shocked them — and what they said this week they should not be expected to live with — is the noise. “They turned on tower Number 9, and almost immediately it made enough noise that it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that can’t be right,’” Wendy Todd said. “It all depends on the wind speed and direction, but the best way to describe it is you step outside and look up thinking there’s an airplane. It’s like a high-range jet, high-low roar, but with the windmills, there’s a sort of on and off ‘phfoop … phfoop … phfoop’ noise.”
An energy and environmental consultant hired by opponents of the proposed White Oak Wind Energy Center maintains Invenergy Wind LLC fails to meet several requirements for a special-use permit for the wind farm. Tom Hewson of Energy Ventures Analysis Inc., Arlington, Va., spoke to the McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals during a hearing Wednesday night. He said the proposed 100-turbine wind farm in McLean and Woodford counties would be a detriment to the public because of noise levels and visibility. Hewson said he did a “simple approach” simulation of one turbine to see how far a person had to be away from the turbine before it complied with Illinois’ noise regulations. “At 750 feet away, it exceeded the range,” he said, noting that three property owners have asked for waivers to allow a turbine in about that range. Hewson said it wasn’t until a person was 1,200 feet away from the turbine that the noise met Illinois’ requirements.
This article is a pdf file available via the link below.
Amaranth Township Council will seek to have the Canadian Hydro Developers existing transformer substation included as an issue at an Ontario Municipal Board hearing into the Melancthon II wind-turbine project. Mayor Don MacIver told township CAO Sue Stone to advise the CHD lawyers accordingly, after the council had heard a recording of noise levels near the substation, said to be as high as 65 decibels, at Wednesday’s meeting, In playing the recording, Paul Thompson, a neighbour of the substation, said there is a constant hum from the transformer — constantly at 40 dB, he said — but rising for about 10-20 seconds to as much as 65 when the CHD transmission goes back on grid after being off for a time, according to his recorded demonstration, although the under-construction sound barriers are intended to reduce it to 31 dB. Mr. Thompson said the sound reflects off a metal shed on his property. “If you listen (long) it gets in your head, and you can’t get it out,” he said.
As interest in wind energy spreads throughout the Commonwealth, it becomes clear that there is a need within the cities and towns of Massachusetts for suitable zoning by-laws that accommodate wind projects. To help address this need, the Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources and Executive Office of Environmental Affairs developed this Model Amendment to a Zoning Ordinance or By-Law to assist cities and towns in establishing reasonable standards for wind power development. The by-law is developed as a model and not intended for adoption without review by municipal counsel: