Article

Controversy in the Wind - 'Free' power source comes at a price for some living near the steady 'whoosh'

The idea of windmills brings to mind bucolic Renaissance paintings of Dutch landscapes and tulip beds. But that is hardly the experience of some who have to live next to the 400-foot electricity-generating windmills being built across America's breezy plains.

"It sounds like a train going through, except the train never comes through," said Wayne Danley, whose life had been turned upside down by a giant windmill just 900 feet from his house in rural Fenner, N.Y., where he has lived since 1976.

Danley said he fears the days when the winds come from the northwest. "The whoop, whoop, whoop becomes a roar," he said. In the spring ,before the trees sprout leaves, the turning spinning blades cause flashes of light in his living room that so annoyed his wife, the pastor of a local church, that she flees to the bedroom to get away from it.

Danley said he has nothing against windmills or the 19 others in the neighboring windfarm. He only wishes someone would do something about moving the one on his doorstep. "It's too close," he said.

Although the industry portrays electricity-generating windmills as a benign and natural source of power, community opposition to new windmill farms is cropping up across the country - particularly in Eastern states, where people are moving to rural towns.

Last week, authorities in Vermont rejected plans for a windmill farm on top of that... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
"It sounds like a train going through, except the train never comes through," said Wayne Danley, whose life had been turned upside down by a giant windmill just 900 feet from his house in rural Fenner, N.Y., where he has lived since 1976.

Danley said he fears the days when the winds come from the northwest. "The whoop, whoop, whoop becomes a roar," he said. In the spring ,before the trees sprout leaves, the turning spinning blades cause flashes of light in his living room that so annoyed his wife, the pastor of a local church, that she flees to the bedroom to get away from it.

Danley said he has nothing against windmills or the 19 others in the neighboring windfarm. He only wishes someone would do something about moving the one on his doorstep. "It's too close," he said.

Although the industry portrays electricity-generating windmills as a benign and natural source of power, community opposition to new windmill farms is cropping up across the country - particularly in Eastern states, where people are moving to rural towns.

Last week, authorities in Vermont rejected plans for a windmill farm on top of that state's scenic mountains near East Haven, Vt., and Peru, N.Y., declared a one-year moratorium on any construction of windmills so that the town can further study their effect on the rustic charm of the Adirondacks.

Community activists in Dryden, N.Y., last year forced Cornell University to withdraw plans for a windmill farm in their tiny community, and in England - where opponents have ridiculed the huge machines as "lavatory brushes in the sky" - legislators are considering plans that would require new windmills to be built no closer than two miles from homes, and preferably out of sight.

John Semmler, an education consultant who has lived in Dryden for 30 years, said he has been ridiculed as being a NIMBY - "not in my backyard" - for his role in leading the opposition to the Cornell project. Semmler and other residents argued that if Cornell wanted to build an industrial complex of windmills, it could easily do so next to the Ithaca campus eight miles from Dryden and leave their vistas and peace undisturbed.

"I'm not a NIMBY, I'm a NAMBY - not in anybody's backyard," said Semmler, who toured other windfarms in the region to find out how they have affected people's lives. "I resent the use of the word 'windfarm' to describe these projects - these are huge, monstrous pieces of machinery that make noise," he said.

The industry did not expect the intensity of community opposition that windfarms are getting, said Marion Trieste, the publicist for the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, an organization that has the backing of industry and environmental groups.

"There's a lot of misinformation, and a lot of inflamed discussion about negative encroachment," she said.

Trieste said that supporters of wind energy outnumber opponents. The group has put a video of testimonials from people living under windmills who are enthusiastic in their experience with the machines and the contributions that windmills make to renewable energy.

The American Wind Energy Association, which represents the industry, says it knows of only a few complaints about noise. Many new windmills are planned under incentives for wind energy that Congress included in last year's energy bill. The incentives expire in 2007.

"You can stand under a wind turbine and have a normal conversation," said Laurie Jodziewicz, a policy specialist for the association. "It's just a 'whoosh.'"

Robert Larivee, a professor of chemistry at Frostburg State University in Maryland, says that is not his experience. He and his family have lived for the past three years under a windfarm built on Meadow Mountain, about a half mile from his home in rural Meyersdale, Pa.

Larivee said he had a professional engineer measure the noise, and found the windmills produced an average reading of 75 decibels - about the level of noise from a washing machine.

The industry says that the average windmill gives off 45 decibels, but Larivee said that the mountainous topography around his home amplifies the volume - and it did not help that developers clear-cut the trees on the top of Meadow Mountain to make way for the wind.

"It's a low frequency, a rumbling like you are listening to a bass drum," he said. "It's a constant background of 'whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.'" He said he and his family have not adjusted to the sound. "If you've ever had a leaky faucet, you know it doesn't make a lot of noise, but it drives you nuts."


Source: http://www.journalnow.com/s...

MAR 24 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/1860-controversy-in-the-wind-free-power-source-comes-at-a-price-for-some-living-near-the-steady-whoosh
back to top