WindAction Editorials filed under Noise
The wind industry is heavily invested in a propaganda campaign aimed at convincing the public that wind turbine noise is safe at any distance. ...but the damage from turbines can no longer be ignored. There are enough turbines operating worldwide, and enough people impacted, for the public to recognize turbine noise is intrusive and potentially harmful to neighbors.
Herkimer County, New York is the latest location to register wind turbine noise complaints. The source? Iberdrola's Hardscrabble wind facility (37 turbines) that went online earlier this year. Studies are underway to determine if the project is operating outside legal sound limits, but the larger question is 'Why?'. Why, with over 1,300 megawatts of wind installed in New York today and an extensive body of evidence showing turbine noise is causing deleterious impacts on people living near the towers, was Herkimer County fooled into thinking it would be spared?
Last November, the island community of Vinalhaven Maine celebrated the commissioning of the Fox Islands community wind energy facility, a 3-turbine project with an installed capacity of 4.5 megawatts. The $14.5 million project was overwhelmingly supported by residents on the island. But before the celebratory speeches concluded, those living within a mile of the facility made it clear the pulsating noise reverberating in- and outside their homes was unbearable.
Acciona Energy's Waubra wind farm, located in western Victoria, Australia is the largest operating wind facility in the southern hemisphere. The site's 128 turbines (192 megawatts installed) started generating electricity in Spring 2009 and were fully energized by that July.
Dr. Carl V. Phillips, an expert in epidemiology and related health sciences, submitted this important testimony to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission in reference to the Commission's effort to establish siting standards for large-scale wind turbines.
The Northumberland County Council (UK) is preparing to grant planning permission for the development of a self-contained eco-holiday complex to be located in a rural region of the county. The high-profile park and equestrian center is expected to attract high-spending tourists, create numerous direct and indirect jobs, and provide a vital revenue stream for the area. The complex will be sited on sixteen acres of fields surrounding the original Waterfalls farmhouse with open countryside visible in all directions.
Last September, Concerned Citizens to Save Roxbury and others filed an appeal of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection's (MEDEP) final order approving the Record Hill wind energy facility proposed for Roxbury, ME.
On November 17, the island community of Vinalhaven Maine celebrated the dedication of its 3-turbine community wind facility. The $14.5 million project, which was overwhelmingly supported by members of the local electric cooperative, was touted as a grand success. But before the celebratory speeches concluded and the glee of singing children faded, residents living within a half-mile of the facility made it clear the pulsating noise reverberating in- and outside their homes was unbearable.
Over the weekend, the UK papers broke the story that government officials suppressed the findings of a 2006 study on wind turbine noise and its effects on nearby residents.
On March 27, 2009, residents of Mars Hill living within 3600 feet of First Wind's wind facility filed a civil complaint in Maine's Superior Court seeking relief from the "significant harm" caused by First Wind and others by the construction and operation of the site. Medical professionals recognize the health problems related to the turbines at Mars Hill are valid.
The divide between wind energy proponents and those seeking to protect the health and welfare of individuals from the ill-effects of the towers is increasing. News accounts are published almost daily from around the world highlighting the serious problems of turbine noise and related adverse health effects, yet wind proponents like Ryan Schryver of Clean Wisconsin insist such reports are the work of a small, but vocal minority of people hell-bent on keeping turbines out of their viewshed. In an interview with Wisconsin Public Radio's Joy Cardin, Schryver dismissed health and safety concerns as exaggerated and argued that the focus on the issue was merely a tactic by wind power opponents in Wisconsin to encumber future proposals.
Earlier this month, Dr. Michael A. Nissenbaum, a radiologist at the Northern Maine Medical Center, conducted interviews with fifteen people living near the industrial wind energy facility in Mars Hill, Maine. The purpose of the interviews was to investigate and record the health effects on those living within 3500-feet of industrial-scale turbines.
In the last ten years, wind industry representatives have successfully laid the groundwork for expedited project review and approval in many States in the US. Reaching out to legislators and State agency directors, the industry argued that existing laws governing siting of electric power plants were unduly onerous when applied to wind facilities. After all, operating wind turbines do not produce air emissions or use/discharge water, the basis for these stricter laws.
PPM Energy's Horse Creek Wind Farm proposal, now suspended while NY State officials evaluate the potential high bat mortality from the turbines, is the center of a sobering debate concerning preconstruction sound study reports. The proposed project consists of sixty-two industrial wind turbines spanning the towns of Clayton and Orleans in upstate New York. Over 1000 residents reside within the project's proposed footprint.
The State of New Hampshire, long recognized for respecting local governance, stepped over the bounds last month when the Governor signed into law HB 310, a statute oddly described as “allowing municipalities to regulate small wind energy systems”. In fact, the law is designed to deliberately remove authority from municipalities by establishing prohibitions on what a community can and cannot regulate.
Logan County, IL is conducting public hearings on the 67-turbine Rail Splitter wind facility proposed by Horizon Wind. During hearings last week, public testimony was presented by Ed and Nancy Knittle, a couple now living within the view shed of Horizon's massive 240-turbine Twin Grove site in neighboring McLean County.
Last August, DeWayne and Elaine Wilkie purchased a home in Jefferson County in upstate New York, moving back to the area of Mrs. Wilkie's youth. They decided to move for medical reasons, as the constant noise and attendant vibrations surrounding Mr. Wilkie in his former community, Fort Lauderdale, FL, might negatively affect the pace maker/defibrillator inserted in his chest.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and wind energy developers insist a modern wind facility at a distance of 1000 feet produces a sound no louder than a kitchen refrigerator. This comparison is recited over and over in public hearings throughout the U.S. and worldwide. The residents of Mars Hill, Maine have pages of documentation from UPC Wind highlighting the developer's assertion that the 42MW, 28-turbine facility would not produce noise.
Several important studies pertaining to noise and utility-scale wind turbines are listed below. Others can by found on www.windaction.org by searching on the keyword 'noise'.