12/4/08 Why This Wind Developer Gets an "F" On His Paper, AND What We Talk About When We Talk About Industrial Wind Turbine Noise AND Ice Throwing Turbine Update!
In response to a questionnaire submitted by Union Township to wind developers regarding the noise made by wind turbines the developers defended their noise specifications with statements that indicated they may have opened "some medical books" to get an answer. Those who are currently unable to sleep because of turbine noise in Fond du Lac county might take issue with this armchair diagnosis provided by a wind farm salesman. Our Grade For His Response?
A big, red F.
Here is the response: "Turbines are sited to have maximum sound level of 45dBA, well below levels causing physical harm. Medical books on sound indicate sound levels above 80-90dBA cause physical (health) effects. The possible effects to a person's health due to "annoyance" are impossible to study in a scientific way, as these are often mostly psychosomatic, and are not caused by wind turbines as much as the individuals' obsession with a new item in their environment."
Community noise experts Kamperman and James took issue with this and published a formal response to the questionnaire, highlighting major deficiencies in the wind developers' statements, including:
* The tone and context of the statement implies that 45 dBA is fully compatible with the quiet rural community setting.
* No acknowledgement is made of the dramatic change this will be for the noise environment of nearby families.
* No mention is made of how the wind facility, once in operation, will raise evening and nighttime background sound levels from the existing background levels of 20 to 30 dBA to 45 dBA.
* There is no disclosure of the considerable low frequency content of the wind turbine sound; in fact, there are often claims to the contrary.
* They fail to warn that the home construction techniques used for modern wood frame homes result in walls and roofs that cannot block out a wind turbine's low frequencies.
* They do not disclose that the International Standards Organization (ISO) in ISO 1996-1971 recommends 25 dBA as the maximum night-time limit for rural communities. Sound levels of 40
dBA and above are only appropriate in suburban communities during the day and urban communities during day and night. There are no communities where 45 dBA is considered acceptable at night.
* Making statements outside their area of competence, wind industry advocates, without medical qualifications, label complaints of health effects as "psychosomatic" in a pejorative manner that implies the complaints can be discounted because they are not "really medical" conditions. Such a response cannot be considered to be based in fact.
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: Developers and Wind Lobbyists alike compare the sound of industrial wind turbines to that of a refrigerator. The source of this statement seems to come from Tom Gray, a lobbyist for the American Wind Energy Association, and he can't seem to decide how far from the refrigerator you need to be in order to make the comparison, as illustrated by the video below.
UPDATE ON THE ICE THROW FROM AN INDUSTRIAL WIND TURBINE
Residents complained when the 260ft wind generator began hurling shards of ice, some measuring two feet long, after the cold snap over the weekend.
Operators Cornwall Light and Power turned off the machine in Kings Dyke, Whittlesey, Cambs, which is situated next to several homes and an industrial estate.
The energy company has also opened an investigation amid fears that the ice could have caused serious injury to people living and working near the turbine.
Tyson Clark, who owns a carpet showroom next to the generator, said he called Cornwall Light and Power demanding that it be turned off when lumps of ice started falling on his premises.
He told his local newspaper, the Wisbech Standard: "We have been told the turbine will stay off until the company has some satisfactory answers to why it happened."
The turbine was restarted a day later but had to be switched off again after more people complained.
Peter Randall, who runs a nearby welding company, said: "We were assured that ice could only cause a problem in severe weather conditions like those in Scotland, and two days later we got javelins thrown at us.
"I am worried about the safety of my family and everyone in the area, we should not have to put up with this."
The £2million turbine was criticised by many local residents when it was erected.
Whittlesey county councillor Ronald Speechley said: "It's worrying. Ice froze on the blades and, when it started moving, it started throwing it all over.
"It could be very dangerous."
A spokesman for Cornwall Light and Power said: "Following reports of ice shedding on Saturday, we shut down our wind turbine at Whittlesey.
"Our people have visited the site and nearby residents, and we have agreed that the turbine will not generate until we are fully satisfied that there is no risk of ice shedding."