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9/15/10 Why are there so many complaints about living with wind turbine noise? AND What's going on with the wind siting rules? AND Can I get some maintenance for this turbine? What do you mean you're bankrupt? AND Mafia discovers a clean, green, dirty money laundering machine

Wisconsin small business owner, Jim Bembinster, knows a lot about the complicated subject of wind turbine noise. 

He spent 14 months focusing on noise issues as a member of the Large Turbine Wind Study Committee for the Town of Union (Rock County). He also helped author the Town of Union Large Wind Ordinance, considered by many to be the best in the state.

This ordinance has been adopted by local governments throughout Wisconsin, including five contiguous Towns in Rock County. Local governments from other states have used it for a model in creating their own ordinances.

The Town of Union Ordinance calls for a turbine noise limit of five decibels over the existing noise levels in the community.

The wind siting rules approved by the Public Service Commission, which preempt ordinances like the Town of Union’s, allow a nighttime noise level of 45dba—or an approximate increase of 20 decibels over normal rural noise limits.
Here, Mr. Bembinster explains how a 20 decibel increase will impact a rural community, and why masking turbine noise is so difficult.

The general rule for additional noise is this:
Adding 5dB is barely noticeable.
Adding 10dB is clearly heard— as it’s twice again as loud.
Adding 15 dB is very loud and this will become the dominant sound.
If ambient [existing] noise levels in a rural community are 25dB and turbine noise levels are at 45dB, there will be a problem.  
The reason is the turbine, at 20dB louder, will be the dominant sound.  
Although developers say noise from the turbine will be masked by other environmental sound, such as the wind blowing through the trees, a noise loud enough to cover the turbine must also be similar in character and at least 15 decibels louder, which puts it at least 60dB.  This would be something like a the noise from a large truck going by or a Harley.  
Also, in order to mask the sound, the character of the two types of sound must be the same.  
Take the example of a baby crying.  

If you were in a room with people who were all having a conversation at say 50dB and a baby started to cry at 40dB,  the baby’s cry would be clearly heard over the conversation because of the difference of character and the tone of the noise it makes.  

If the baby ramps up the crying to 50dB --the same sound level as the conversation in the room, the baby’s cry will become the dominant sound in the room even though both the crying and the conversation are at the same decibel level.

This is why people trapped in wind farms have trouble with the noise even though the turbine is within its noise limits of 45dB. Ambient sounds in a rural area can’t mask the sound of a turbine because the quality of the noise is so different,  much like difference between a baby crying and adult conversation.  
Another way to look at is how loud it would need to be inside your home so that a Harley could pass by unnoticed.  That would be really loud, and not the best circumstance for sleeping.  

 There is nothing in a rural community that makes a sound similar enough to a wind turbine to mask it, except perhaps a jet or helicopter passing overhead, which is exactly what wind turbine noise is often compared to by those now living in wind projects.




SOURCE: Green Bay Press Gazette, www.greenbaypressgazette.com

September 16 2010

By Tony Walter

One of the three members of the Public Service Commission who voted for the wind turbine siting rules last month noted in a letter to two top state lawmakers that the panel can revise the rules to address the potentially harmful health effects of the turbines.

“While I support the overall rule because it will promote the development of wind in Wisconsin, the rule fails to provide a much-needed safety net for people whose health declines because of a wind turbine located near their home,” Commissioner Lauren Azar wrote to legislative officials in an Aug. 31 letter.

“As new information becomes available, the Commission can revise this rule.”

Azar wasn’t available this week to comment on her proposal that would require wind turbine owners to purchase the home of anyone who can prove that the turbine has a significant adverse health outcome. An aide in her office said Azar’s letter speaks for itself.

Invenergy LLC wants to build a 100-turbine wind farm in the towns of Morrison, Glenmore, Wrightstown and Holland with turbines that produce more than 100-megawatts of energy. CH Shirley Wind LLC is erecting eight 20-megawatt turbines in Glenmore.

An Invenergy spokesman said last month that the company plans to resubmit its application for the Ledge Wind Farm project, noting that the health issue has been studied by numerous groups that concluded there is insufficient evidence to prove the turbines put people and animals at risk.

That proposal has prompted the creation of a Brown County citizens group speaking out against the wind turbine industry, arguing there hasn’t been sufficient study on health impacts.

Carl Kuehne, a member of the board of directors of the Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy, said the absence of definitive evidence on the health impact of wind turbines is reason enough to conduct more studies.

“No. 1, there is no need to move ahead today with more wind turbines in Wisconsin,” Kuehne said.

“The utilities are currently meeting the energy mandates set by the state government. So let’s study the situation. There’s certainly enough ad hoc evidence that wind turbines do have an impact on people and animals. Let’s study it and find out before we create more destruction on people. We have the opportunity.”

Last month, the PSC adopted rules for projects less than 100 megawatts. The rules can be altered by the state Legislature and lawmakers can ask the PSC to make changes. The issue has been assigned to the Assembly’s Committee on Energy and Utilities, which is led by Jim Soletski, D-Ashwaubenon, but no meeting date has been set.



 SOURCE: www.eastbayri.com

September 16, 2010

By Bruce Burdett

PORTSMOUTH — With its wind turbine supplier bankrupt, Portsmouth is looking for a new company to provide the service it had believed was covered under the equipment’s original warranty.

Bankruptcy proceedings for Canadian firm AAER were completed in July. Pioneer Power Solutions bought some of AAER’s assets ”but appears unwilling to provide warranty coverage or operations and maintenance support,” Finance Director David Faucher wrote in a Sept. 8 memo to the town council.

Mr. Faucher and Assistant Town Planner Gary Crosby, who has overseen much of the town’s wind turbine effort, said they have met with representatives of Templeton Power and Light which has commissioned an AAER wind turbine generator similar to Portsmouth’s in hopes of partnering with the Massachusetts utility for a long term maintenance services contract.

But Mr. Faucher said Templeton is not yet at a point that it can enter into such a partnership.

So for now, Mr. Faucher recommended that the town council enter into an emergency one-year maintenance and service agreement with Solaya, a division of Lumus Constrictoon Inc. of Woburn, Mass. The council was scheduled to discuss and possibly vote on the agreement at its meeting on Wednesday this week (after the Times went to press).

The agreement would include two 6-month scheduled maintenance sessions (the first being this month), around-the-clock monitoring and unscheduled maintenance. At the end of the year, Mr. Faucher said he would ask the council to award a competitively bid contract for a three-year period.

The agreement with Solaya is “very detailed and describes the monitoring , warranty protction and maintenance services we have been seeking.”

Cost of the year’s basic service is $33,000, and the town would be charged additional fees for extra work.


SOURCE: The Independent, www.independent.co.uk


September 16 2010

By Michael Day in Milan,

After decades of drug-running, extortion and prostitution, the Mafia appears to have found a rather more ecological way of laundering their money: green power.

And if the assets of the Italian police’s latest target are any indication, the Mafia is embracing the renewable energy business with an enthusiasm that would make Al Gore look like a dilettante. The surprising revelation of organised crime’s new green streak came as Italian police said yesterday they had made the largest recorded seizure of mob assets – worth €1.5bn (£1.25bn) – from the Mafia-linked Sicilian businessman Vito Nicastri, who had vast holdings in alternative energy concerns, including wind farms.

Organised crime in Italy has previously been notorious for trading in environmental destruction – principally earning billions of euros by illegally dumping toxic waste. But most of the newly seized assets are in the form of land, property and bank accounts in Sicily, the home of Cosa Nostra, and in the neighbouring region of Calabria, the base of the rival ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate.

Police said the operation was based on a 2,400-page investigative report and followed 54-year-old Mr Nicastri’s arrest last year. He has since been released without charge, and has denied wrongdoing. But General Antonio Girone, the head of the national anti-Mafia agency DIA, said that Mr Nicastri, known as “lord of the winds”, was linked to Matteo Messina Denaro, the fugitive believed to be the Sicilian Mafia’s “boss of bosses”.

Senator Costantino Garraffa, of the parliamentary anti-Mafia committee, said the Mafia was trying to break into the “new economy” of alternative energy as it sought to launder money earned from crime. The seizure of Mr Nicastri’s assets “confirms the interest that organised crime has in renewable energy, which several annual reports on environmental issues have already stressed,” added Beppe Ruggiero, an official with the anti-Mafia association Libera.

Generous subsidies have led to rapid growth in wind power in Italy in recent years. Mr Ruggiero said: “It is very important for this sector to stay far from Mafia activities.” However, he stressed the need for renewable energy to develop in Italy’s poorer South. “Investment in renewable energy should not be discouraged,” he said, adding that the nuclear alternative would be “a losing choice”.

Recent estimates suggest the total annual turnover of Italy’s main organised crime groups is around €100bn (£83bn), or 7 per cent of GDP. Officials, including the Bank of Italy governor, Mario Draghi, have argued that organised crime has perpetuated poverty in the south of the country.

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