Library filed under Noise
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.”
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.
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.”
It seems few in this town of about 1,500 people can agree on UPC Wind Management’s newly completed $85 million project, which makes the unassuming potato-growing and truck-brokerage community home to New England’s largest wind farm. But there’s one thing everybody can agree on: The place sure looks different. Long before a visitor arrives at Mars Hill, the towers become visible along what used to be just another mountain. The total height from the ground to the tip of the blade is 389 feet. Each tower has three blades, which spin in winds whipping west to east toward Canada just a few miles away.
Mountain Road residents Perrin and Wendy Todd say their sleep patterns are disrupted by noise from the line of windmills that loom over their newly constructed house.
From Barton, Vermont, to the German border with Denmark and from the shores of Lake Huron, to the Romney Marches of southern England, wind power advocates are fighting crosswinds from local residents. In Barton in mid-January, a referendum overwhelmingly rejected the wind power turbines that were planned near this upper Vermont community. ...In Germany, where one-third of the world's current wind power is generated, doubters have provoked a loud debate. The company that owns the grid that includes nearly half the wind-farms in Germany reported its wind farms generated only 11 percent of their capacity. The company said the winds vary so much the wind farm had to be backed 80 percent by the conventional power grid.
The noise made by wind turbines is the equivalent of background noise in a conference room, an engineer testified Monday night at a meeting before the McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals. Timothy Casey of HDR Engineering, Minneapolis, Minn., continued testimony began at the last meeting on his company’s noise analysis of the proposed wind turbines. His analysis was based on a wind speed of 22 mph — the wind might blow more, but the turbines are adjusted so they don’t spin faster if the wind speed is higher. He said because of a redesign of the configuration of the blades, they are quieter and don’t “thump” like older models do. Earlier, it was reported that the county requires 1,500-foot setbacks to distance turbines from homeowners. About 100 people attended one in a continuing series of four-hour meetings that continue this month. Invenergy Wind LLC of Chicago has proposed that 100 wind turbines be located on 12,200 acres in McLean and Woodford Counties. The White Oak Energy Center would be located west of Interstate 39 and north and east of Interstate 74. A total of 83 acres of farmland would ne taken out of production in the project, Invenergy has said.
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.
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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:
The council, without hesitation, did vote unanimously to amend the Lewisville Code of Ordinances to prohibit the use of wind turbines for the generation of electric power within the city limits of Lewisville. The council agreed that, at least until technology improves so the wind turbines will create less noise, that they will not be allowed in the city limits.
Now that the major potential stumbling block of just how much noise would be produced by three giant wind turbine installations topping out at nearly 400 feet over Beaver Ridge in Freedom lies behind them, members of the town planning board return to their deliberations this Thursday on the application by Competitive Energy Services (CES) to build the $12 million wind power project. That session, which could conclude the board’s role in the project, is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the town offices.