Library filed under Noise
The Town Board had planned to allow a third-party firm to test the noise levels generated by the towers of the Jericho Rise Wind Farm in the area where a number of complaints have been raised. Town Supervisor Don Bilow said that the Jericho Rise’s parent company, EDP Renewables, has “stonewalled” attempts for an outside test.
Both Cindy Cobb and Sandra Wolfe from Calhan, Colo., live in the shadow of Golden-West, and blame the turbines for deteriorating health. They report dizziness, nausea, loss of sleep and headaches. They say their symptoms coincide with when the wind farm became operational in September 2015. Cobb adds lethargy and high blood pressure to the list of symptoms ...According to Wolfe, the relentless spinning causes stress and loss of sleep. She has resorted to sleeping off-site from her own property.
The injury created by continuous thrumming sound waves is hard to grasp for people who haven’t been exposed. Aggrieved neighbors have sought to establish, through monitoring, that the sound at their homes is excessive. The utilities and wind developers have been dismissive, characterizing complaining neighbors as cranks or hypochondriacs.
The final rule keeps the daytime sound level at 42 decibels, but the board changed the allowable nighttime level from 35 decibels allowed in the draft rule to 39 decibels. The board also kept a controversial setback limit of 10 times the height of the turbine, so that a 500-foot turbine would have to be at least 5,000 feet from the nearest residence.
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.
VPIRG and REV have implied that the proposed rule will be the end of wind power in Vermont. In particular, VPIRG undertook a GIS study that showed that 0.2% of Vermont would be available for wind facilities due to the setbacks in the proposed rule. There are two problems with VPIRG’s analysis: its premise is wrong and the conclusion does not follow from its data.
This important paper examines the issues surrounding wind turbine noise emissions, the impact of the noise on residences nearby, and how public health professionals have failed to closely examine legitimate complaints. The abstract of the paper can be found below. The full paper can be accessed by clicking the links on this page.
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.
City council chief executive Paddy Clifford said in his notice of review that noise from Te Rere Hau needed to be better managed and monitored. He said there were inaccuracies in evidence given about the acoustic effects of the wind turbines at the original consent hearing, with the effects turning out to be far greater than had been predicted.
The board released its draft version of the new rules in March, and the board members held four meetings this week to hear from the public and from wind and sound experts as they get ready to finalize the sound standards.
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.
'We've become a dumping ground for wind turbines'
A request by wind farm developer Avangrid Renewables to expand the wind overlay zone was not agreed upon by the board, according to Jody Wentzel, vice chairman of the Hopkinton Wind Advisory Board. The board is also considering setting 24-hour decibel limits for the wind towers, different than what the Town of Parishville is considering. Parishville has opted for two 12-hour periods ranging from .25 to .45 decibels.
The findings of this study demonstrate that infrasound near the hearing threshold may induce changes of neural activity across several brain regions, some of which are known to be involved in auditory processing, while others are regarded as keyplayers in emotional and autonomic control. In other words, sound that is not audible can still trigger a response in the human brain.
Councilwoman Karen Carlson, who said she receives at least two complaints about the turbines per day, visited West Log Bridge Road to see for herself what her constituents had been talking about....she could hear the noise emanating from the structures. “I can understand how it makes people crazy,” she said. “Honestly it was like this drone of a jet that just kept going.”
If the new rule is adopted as proposed, sound could not exceed 42 decibels during the day and 35 decibels at night. ...The new rules also require turbines to be at least 10 times their height from the nearest home. A 500-foot turbine, for example, would have to be 5,000 feet from the nearest home.
An El Paso County commissioner said Thursday that safety and health concerns regarding the Nextera wind farm in Calhan may never be resolved to everyone's satisfaction. ..."I had to move away because I was sick," said Jeff Wolfe.
Jeff Wolfe, who lives close to NextEra Energy's Golden West wind farm, said he's experienced nausea, dizziness and migraines since it began operating in fall 2015. He attributes the symptoms to the low-frequency sound waves, known as infrasound, emitted by the 145 windmills. "This is poisoning people. It's poisoning animals," said Wolfe.
NextEra's Golden West Wind Energy Center sited in El Paso County, Colorado was required under the County permit to conduct a noise impact study after the project was placed in service in October 2015. Acoustician Robert Rand was asked by residents living near the turbines to review the noise impact study as prepared by NextEra consultant, Epsilon Associates. Mr. Rand's report, included here, identified several material errors with Epsilon's report and also found that the project appears to be operating outside the noise limits permitted by the County and the State. The Golden West Wind Energy Center consists 145 1.72-megawatt GE turbines for a total installed capacity of 249.4-megawatts Mr. Rand's executive summary is provided below. The full report can be accessed by clicking the document icon on this page.