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9/13/10 Same story, different location: Wisconsin or otherwise: Wind turbines too close to homes equals no sleep

WIND FARMS FROM FAR AWAY: The view from an orbiting satellite

WIND FARMS FROM CLOSE UP: The view from someone living with them:

“I’m getting vibrations, and I haven’t slept in I don’t know how long,” Mrs. Garrow said. “But I don’t think anybody’s looking out for our interest.”


SOURCE: pressrepublican.com

September 13, 2010

By Michelle Besaw

Vibrations disturbing, some Town of Clinton residents say.

CLINTON — Noise was the big issue during the Wind Facilities Planning Board’s recent public hearing, and it wasn’t the noise coming from the 40-plus people packed into the Town Hall.

The meeting, which was set to address local concerns with variance requests from Horizon’s Marble River wind farm project, focused on noise issues surrounding Noble’s wind farms and the fear that this project will only bring the same problems.

Chad and Rose Garrow shared a complaint that the noise study done on the current turbines was unfair due to reported battery malfunctions.

“I’m getting vibrations, and I haven’t slept in I don’t know how long,” Mrs. Garrow said. “But I don’t think anybody’s looking out for our interest.”

Richard Green of Churubusco said he can feel the sounds from the turbines, citing the low range and the repetitiveness.

“It’s a constant noise that you can feel in your body.”

But Burlington, Vt., resident Martin Lavin, who owns 1,350 acres in Clinton, said he deals with noise from passing cars and loud college students at his home.

In Horizon’s original project proposal, Lavin was to have eight turbines on his property, but “we lost them all” in the scaled-back proposal, which calls for taller, yet fewer turbines.

“But I’m still in support of the project,” he said.

Jennifer Ruggles of Churubusco argued that Lavin’s example of noise was a result of his choices.

“You chose to buy a house in a city. We chose to buy a house in the country. We did not choose to move next to these things. I have 35 acres, and I can still feel (the noise). This noise came to us.”

Green said that of the landowners with turbine contracts, 49 are not town residents and just 24 are.

“The income isn’t going to town residents. They don’t have to live with the windmills.”

The town’s wind lawyer, Daniel Spitzer, suggested that the Wind Board summon a Noble representative and call a special public meeting to respond to residents’ noise complaints and address the enforcement of the noise laws.

Horizon’s variances request that it build turbines exceeding 400 feet, increasing their height to 492 feet, which raises concerns with Customs and Border Protection Supervisor Richard Bowman.

“I’ve flown around the ones that are 400 feet, and those are pretty up there,” he said, adding that the turbines’ proximity to the border is also of concern.

“We fly as low as the tress, depending on what we have to work on.”

Ruggles shared Bowman’s border concern.

“It is getting worse at our border, not better. We really should consider safety of the community before money.”

But Spitzer said the new proposal removes most of the turbines from the wetlands area, which are in the northeast area nearest to the border.

The proposal reduces the number of turbines to be built in the towns of Clinton and Ellenburg from 109 to 74.

In return, they’re replacing them with taller, more powerful turbines, generating 0.9 megawatts more than the originals, going from 2.1 to 3, which allows them to reduce the footprint of the project.

The total electrical output would remain the same as the original proposal.

Janice Padula of Plattsburgh owns land in the town but will not have turbines.

“But I am in very big support of this project,” she said.

Padula is a wind professor at Clinton Community College and supports wind energy, calling the turbines “majestic.”

“When I hung my very first load of laundry, I thought, wow, I’m going to put a turbine up here someday.

“I really know these people are reputable. Don’t throw out the project because of someone else,” she continued, referring to residents’ issues with Noble’s turbines.

“I really believe in the reputation of Horizon.”

Nancy Neubrand, a student of Padula’s, said renewable energy is necessary today.

“Wind is free. We need to get into renewables. We’re using substantial resources.”

Will Rogers of Clinton agreed.

“We need to go to renewable or be at the mercy of the Mideast.”

The Wind Facilities Planning Board will have a public meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20, at the Fire House, 1301 Clinton Mills Road.

They committee will review Horizon’s application for variances.



Here, it is not just the constant noise, but the pulsing drone that makes the noise particularly hostile that is so disturbing. It is inescapable.

SOURCE: freepressonline

By Alan Farago

I am one of the neighbors of the Vinalhaven wind turbines, misled by turbine supporters in 2008 and 2009 that "ambient sounds would mask the noise of the turbines." As I write these words, the noise from the wind turbines churns in the background.

My home is 3,000 feet from the turbines, and my experience is contrary to all the assertions that were made during the permitting process a few years ago.

At this hour of the morning, it should be peaceful outside, the quiet interrupted only by the calling crows or osprey circling.

Some locals dismiss the noise complaints, saying that Vinalhaven had a diesel power plant for years. But to live near excessive noise is not the reason I chose to own property here.

Also, as I have become familiar with wind turbine noise, it is more and more clear that there is a fundamental difference between turbine noise and other forms of industrial disturbances.

Here, it is not just the constant noise, but the pulsing drone that makes the noise particularly hostile that is so disturbing. It is inescapable.

At a recent public hearing on Vinalhaven on turbine noise sponsored by the Island Institute, one neighbor - at the point of tears - said that she had been forced from her house when her chest began vibrating at the same syncopation as the turbines outside.

At that hearing I said I supported wind energy so long as the economic advantages to ratepayers were clear and so long as surrounding property values were not affected.

The jury is out on the first point, but not on the second. The constant noise from the turbines, even at 3,000 feet, has taken away a valuable part of my investment and a key part of my family's well-being.

I never imagined my first waking thought would be: where is the wind blowing and how much noise are the wind turbines making now? But that is what happens in this formerly quiet, beautiful place.

At the public meeting in Vinalhaven, I asked a question: when would the natural quiet be restored and when would my property values be protected? There was no answer from the project supporters. Silence.

Neighbors' complaints about turbine noise rose immediately after the three, 1.5 megawatt GE turbines were turned on, last fall.

A year after the Vinalhaven turbines were greeted with wide public acclaim, the turbine neighbors find themselves, through no fault of their own, in an extraordinarily difficult and expensive effort to demonstrate that the wind turbines do exceed state regulations.

The cost of wind turbines has been shifted onto neighbors who never imagined these kinds of burdens when the benefits of wind energy were sold to the public.

It is wrong and it is unfair to impose both the noise and the uncertainty of resolution - or if there will ever be resolution - on a few nearby homeowners.

These inequities are predictable. They will multiply wherever wind turbines are placed within a mile-and-a-half of residences, and under the State of Maine's archaic noise regulations.

The State of Maine must provide some relief to neighbors of wind turbines. To start, a fund should be established from a utility fee imposed state-wide that allows citizens to access highly technical and expensive noise and acoustic measurement equipment and data and independent experts.

The collateral damage of wind turbines is the assessment of the noise they make. No one in authority admits this, during the permitting process.

They say, "The noise will be minor," or "the sound of the wind blowing in the leaves will cover the sound." That is simply not true.

The Vinalhaven neighbors have already spent tens of thousands of dollars to engage the local utility on the matter of measuring the churning noise. The costs are not trivial, but once turbines are erected in your neighborhood, their noise will be affixed to nearby property.

Be forewarned.

Alan Farago, Vinalhaven


Consultant: Vinalhaven wind turbine noise exceeds limit

“Anybody with a set of ears can come sit on my porch. You can clearly tell the difference between wind in the trees and the sound of the turbines. They don’t cancel each other out.”

 SOURCE Bangor Daily News, www.bangordailynews.com

September 12, 2010

by Abigail Curtis

VINALHAVEN, Maine — The three wind turbines that were designed to lower and stabilize the unpredictable electric bills of Vinalhaven and North Haven islands also have brought some sleepless nights to those who live closest to their giant blades and the noises they make.

The controversy over the noise levels between Fox Islands Wind officials and some islanders began soon after the turbines went on line last fall, but last week, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection received a letter from its wind turbine noise consultant that seems to back up the project’s unhappy neighbors.

“There exists a significant body of consistent meteorological and sound data indicating sound levels greater than applicable limits,” Warren L. Brown, who also serves as the University of Maine’s radiation safety officer, wrote Wednesday in a detailed letter. “Substantial changes are recommended for FIW nighttime operations.”

Brown reached his conclusions after reviewing a noise complaint submitted by Fox Islands Wind Neighbors, a loose association of those who are negatively affected by the turbines, and also after reviewing sound and other data from the Fox Islands Wind project.

For Cheryl Lindgren, who lives less than half a mile from the turbines, Brown’s words came as welcome news, though the department has yet to make a decision based on them.

“It’s gratifying, it’s hopeful. It’s also been a lot of work having to do all this to get people to acknowledge that we have a problem,” she said Sunday in a telephone interview. “We’re hoping we can work together now to get some kind of compromise — that we can get some dialogue going, and that they will respond to the needs of the people who are suffering with this.”

But George Baker, the CEO of the Fox Island Wind electric company and vice president for wind at the Island Institute, said Brown’s findings might not be conclusive.

“He’s looked at a bunch of data that our sound consultant has put together. Our sound consultant analyzed exactly the same data and found us to be in compliance,” Baker said Sunday in a telephone interview. “There’s something going on here, and we don’t know exactly what it is, between the experts, and how they are analyzing and interpreting exactly the same data.”

According to Baker, the differences might stem from the way the experts treat ambient sound from various sources, especially the wind in the trees. State sound regulations “have a hard time” dealing with wind turbines, he said.

“If we were an industrial facility, you would turn on the facility on a still, calm day [and measure its noises],” he said. “Unfortunately, our little community wind farm doesn’t operate on still, calm days. It operates on windy days. … When the wind is blowing in the woods, it makes a lot of sound.”

Lindgren, however, says this argument is full of hot air.

“[Baker] keeps talking about the ambient sound. It’s a little disheartening,” she said. “Anybody with a set of ears can come sit on my porch. You can clearly tell the difference between wind in the trees and the sound of the turbines. They don’t cancel each other out.”

Baker said the turbines are turned down by 2 decibels at night in order to meet the state sound requirements.

“If, when experts get through sorting out this question of compliance, and it’s determined that we are out of compliance, we’ll just turn them down a little more at night,” he said. “We’re absolutely committed to compliance.”

But that solution might not sit well with some islanders, he suggested, who have benefited from a 15 to 20 percent reduction in their electricity costs since the turbines starting moving.

A survey completed a month ago by Fox Islands Electric Coop members showed that the majority of respondents were in favor of slowing down the turbines in order to reduce sound no more than state regulations require.

“The project remains very, very widely supported on the islands,” he said.

Lindgren, however, pointed out that electricity costs dipped nationwide last fall, not just on Vinalhaven and North Haven islands. And, after nearly a year of being woken up by the noisy turbines, she’s both frustrated and disappointed.

“We believed in ‘green energy’ as being all good. That’s not always true,” she said. “When corporations get involved, it’s not always from the heart. … I think the whole population could turn off a couple of light bulbs and we’d be in the same place.”

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