Low Frequency and Infrasound at the Shirley Wind Farm in Brown County, Wisconsin

This report was the focus of a study requested by, and partly sponsored by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. The purpose was to determine whether infrasound was present in the homes of three families in the footprint of the Shirley Wind project owned by Duke Energy. These families have reported adverse health effects since the wind turbine facility commenced operation. Two have been forced out of their homes. The Shirley Wind project consists of eight Nordex N100 2.5 MW wind turbines. The below excerpt includes important recommendations for avoiding similar noise complaints at future project sites. The full report can be accessed by clicking on the links at the bottom of this page.

Hessler Associates has summarized their experience with wind turbines to date in a peer-reviewed Journal[1] and have concluded that adverse impact is minimized if a design goal of 40 dBA (long term average) is maintained at all residences, at least at all non-participating residences. To the best of their knowledge, essentially no annoyance complaints and certainly no severe health effect complaints, as reported at Shirley, have been made known to them for all projects designed to this goal.

Schomer and Associates, using an entirely different approach have concluded that a design goal of 39 dBA is adequate to minimize impact, at least for an audible noise impact. In fact, a co-authored paper2 is planned for an upcoming technical conference in Montreal, Canada.

Although there is no explicit limit for LFN and infrasound in these A-weighted sound levels above, the spectral shape of wind turbines is known and the C-A level difference will be well below the normally accepted difference of 15 to 20 dB. It may come to be that this metric is not adequate for wind turbine work but will be used for the time being.

Based on the above, Hessler Associates recommends approval of the application if the following Noise condition is placed on approval:

With the Hessler recommendation, the long-term-average (2 week sample) design goal for sound emissions attributable to the array of wind turbines, exclusive of the background ambient, at all non-participating residences shall be 39.5 dBA or less.

Schomer and Associates recommends that the additional testing listed in 5.3 be done at Shirley on a very expedited basis with required support by Duke Energy prior to making a decision on the Highlands project. It is essential to know whether or not some individuals can perceive the wind turbine operation at R1 or R3. With proper resources and support, these studies could be completed by late February or early March. If a decision cannot be postponed, then Schomer and Associates recommends a criterion level of 33.5 dB. The Navy's prediction of the nauseogenic region (Schomer Figure 6 herein) indicates a 6 dB decrease in the criterion level for a doubling of power such as from 1.25 MW to 2.5 MW.

With the Schomer recommendation, and in the presence of a forced decision, the long-term average (2 week sample) design goal for sound emissions attributable to the array of wind turbines, exclusive of the background ambient, at all non-participating residences shall be 33.5 dBA or less.

There is one qualifier to this recommendation. The Shirley project is unique to the experience of the two firms in that the Nordex100 turbines are very high rated units (2.5 MW) essentially not included in our past experiences. HAI has completed just one project, ironically named the Highlands project in another state that uses both Nordex 90 and Nordex 100 units in two phases. There is a densely occupied Town located 1700 feet from the closest Nordex 100 turbine. The president and managers of the wind turbine company report "no noise issues at the site".

Imposing a noise limit of less than 45 dBA will increase the buffer distances from turbines to houses or reduce the number of turbines so that the Highlands project will not be an exact duplication of the Shirley project. For example, the measured noise level at R2 is approximately 10 dBA higher than the recommendation resulting in a subjective response to audible outside noise as twice as loud. Measured levels at R1 and R3 would comply with the recommendation.

We understand that the recommended goal is lower than the limit of 45 dBA now legislated, and may make the project economically unviable. In this specific case, it seems justified to the two firms to be conservative (one more than the other) to avoid a duplicate project to Shirley at Highlands because there is no technical reason to believe the community response would be different.

[1] Hessler G., & David, M., "Recommended noise level design goals and limits at residential receptors for wind turbine developments in the United States", Noise Control Engineering Journal, 59(1), Jan-Feb 2011 Report Number 122412-1 Page 8 of 13

[2] Schomer, P. & Hessler, G., “Criteria for wind-turbine noise immissions”, ICA, Montreal, Canada 2013

Report Number 122412 1 21 18 12 Final (3)

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DEC 24 2012
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