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9/22/11 Noise Complaints? What noise complaints? AND Wind farm family files lawsuit AND More noise about the noise wind developers say is no problem AND Illinois Governor gets free trip to China, Lee county gets Chinese turbines and WOW--12 whole permanent jobs

From Canada 


By Dave Seglins and John Nicol,

SOURCE CBC News, www.cbc.ca

September 22 2011 

“It was terrible—we’d go nights in a row with no sleep,” said Ashbee. “It was a combination of the loud noise—the decibel, audible noise—and also this vibration that was in the house that would go up and it would go down.”

Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment is logging hundreds of health complaints over the province’s 900 wind turbines but has downplayed the problem, according to internal ministry documents obtained by CBC News.

According to 1,000 pages of internal government emails, reports and memos released under Ontario’s Freedom of Information Act, the government scrambled to figure out how to monitor and control noise pollution.

The documents were released after a lengthy and costly battle waged by Barb Ashbee. Ashbee and her husband Dennis Lormand say they suffered a series of ailments after wind turbines began operating near their home in Amaranth, near Shelburne, northwest of Toronto. The area is now home to 133 wind turbines — the largest industrial wind farm in the province.

After being told theirs was the only complaint in the area, Ashbee and Lormond learned that MOE officials at the Guelph District Office had been tracking more than 200 complaints dating back to 2006 when the wind farm first started operating.

Their home was bought out by Canadian Hydro Developers (now Transalta) in June 2009, one of six homeowners who sold their houses to the utility company.

Each seller had to sign confidentiality agreements. But the Lormands have risked legal repercussions by breaking their silence and speaking exclusively to CBC News this week. They said they want to warn the public about what they claim are the dangers of living near wind turbines and the supposed breakdowns in government monitoring.

“We were silent. I wouldn’t say boo to anybody. But the longer this goes on, nobody’s doing anything! And now we have an (Ontario) election two weeks away. Nobody understands what’s going on out here.”

Sleepless nights sparked activism

“It was terrible—we’d go nights in a row with no sleep,” said Ashbee. “It was a combination of the loud noise—the decibel, audible noise—and also this vibration that was in the house that would go up and it would go down.”

The couple moved into their home in December 2008 just as the wind farm became operational. But they said they immediately noted a loud swooshing noise from nearby turbines and a persistent, unexplained hum resonating in their home.

Ashbee said she called the power company and the environment ministry night after night and was initially told by government enforcement officers that hers was the only complaint in the area.

“We were told [the wind company] was running in compliance, that there were no problems.

“We’d just have to get used to it.”

But she said the Ministry of Environment (MOE) was misleading her, and that there had been hundreds of complaints.

Ashbee launched a lengthy battle using Ontario’s Freedom of Information Act and eventually received more than 1,000 pages of internal MOE correspondence.

Acccording to the documents, government staff downplayed the problem while scrambling to understand and control wind turbine noise pollution.

MOE officers warn supervisor

According to the documents, MOE field officer Garry Tomlinson was slow to process Ashbee’s noise complaints. But he began trying to conduct his own noise monitoring tests when confronted with many more complaints and consultants reports by Canadian Hydro Developers that revealed noise violations.

Tomlinson consulted acoustics specialists at Ryerson University and within the MOE. He concluded and warned his supervisors that the ministry “currently has no approved methodology for field measurement of the noise emissions from multiple [turbines]. As such there is no way for MOE Field staff (and I would submit anyone else) to confirm compliance or lack thereof.”

Tomlinson also gave a tour to two assistant deputy ministers Paul Evans and Paul French on May 1, 2009, advising them of the problems they were encountering.

Ministry officials at the Guelph office, including manager Jane Glassco, attended community meetings in Melancthon and Amaranth townships in the summer of 2009, where Glassco acknowledged people were “suffering” and that many were claiming to have been forced out of their homes due to noise pollution.

By 2010, other staff at the Guelph office were warning officials at the ministry headquarters in Toronto that the computer modelling used to establish Ontario’s wind turbine noise limits and safe “set back distances” for wind turbines was flawed and inadequate.

Cameron Hall a fellow field officer at the MOE in Guelph wrote to his managers warning that the province was failing to properly account for the “swooshing sounds.”

CBC News presented some of the ministry documents to Ramani Ramakrishnan, a Ryerson University professor and acoustics specialist who has written several reports and conducts noise pollution training for MOE staff.

Ramakrishnan has recommended to the MOE that wind turbines in rural areas should have far stricter limits but says if the province enforced the regulations – it would have a major impact on wind farms around the province.

“First implication,” Ramakrishnan says, “is that the number of wind turbines in wind-farms would have to be reduced considerably and wind-farm developers would have to look for localities where they are not impacting the neighbourhood.

“A five-decibel reduction in acceptable noise is quite noticeable and perceptible” and the MOE field staff are recommending up to 10 decibel reductions in some cases.

Ashbee, who is returning to her old job as a real estate agent, said there are several people near turbines who won’t speak for fear that their land values will go down.

Her husband Dennis doesn’t blame the wind turbine company:

“It’s our government that backs it up. It’s the government that’s making people sick and forcing them out of their homes. And it’s all being suppressed.”

CBC News repeatedly requested an interview with Ontario’s Environment Minister John Wilkinson, who is also engaged in a provincial election campaign seeking re-election as MPP for the riding of Perth-Wellington. Those requests were denied.

Transalta, who took over the company that bought out the Ashbee-Lormand home, told CBC News in a statement that such confidentiality agreements are standard, designed to protect the privacy of both sides. Neither the company nor the couple would discuss the $300,000 price listed on local land registry records as being the amount for which the couple’s home was transferred to the power company.

Document highlights

Ashbee and Lormond learned that MOE officials at the Guelph District Office had been tracking more than 200 complaints dating back to 2006 when the wind farm first started operating.

MOE officials repeatedly told the couple in early 2009 that the power company (Canadian Hydro Developers) were in compliance with the law yet the company’s own consultants report sent to the MOE concluded noise pollution from the turbines was generally higher than Ontario’s limits.

MOE field officers in Guelph in 2009 scrambled to learn more about how to properly record and test audible noise levels and low frequency sound. They warned superiors that Ontario’s noise pollution models are filled with errors, that they lacked a proper methodology for monitoring (and thus enforcing) noise levels from turbines.

MOE field officers and the acoustics specialists they hired repeatedly warned the province in 2009 and 2010 that there needed to be stricter noise pollution limits in rural areas, and in wind turbine environments where there is cyclical or tonal “swooshing sounds.”


By John Spears, Business Reporter,

SOURCE Toronto Star, www.thestar.com

September 21 2011 

A rural family near Chatham have launched a lawsuit against a nearby wind farm, claiming it has damaged their health and devalued their property.

Lisa and Michel Michaud, and their adult children, have launched the lawsuit against the Kent Breeze wind farm, which was developed by a unit of Suncor Energy Services.

They are seeking an injunction that would shut down the operation, as well as damages totaling $1.5 million plus other costs.

Their statements have not been tested in court; they could be challenged by the defendants, and amended or deleted.

The lawsuit follows a decision earlier this summer from Ontario’s environmental review tribunal, which allowed the wind farm to proceed.

But the tribunal said its decision was not the last word on the controversy over wind farms.

“The debate should not be simplified to one about whether wind turbines can cause harm to humans,” the two-member panel wrote in its decision.

“The evidence presented to the tribunal demonstrates that they can, if facilities are placed too close to residents,” it said.

“The question that should be asked is: What protections, such as permissible noise levels or setback distances, are appropriate to protect human health?”

The Michauds live on a 12.5 acre property near Thamesville, with a house and barn they built themselves. Michel Michaud runs a home renovation company. The couple and their children, in their 20s, also raise goats, chickens, turkeys peacocks and ducks. They plan to start a bed and breakfast.

But they say the wind farm, which started up in May with eight large turbines, has changed their lives.

The closest turbine is 1.1 kilometre away, but the Michauds say a “tunnel effect” from the row of turbines stretching into the distance compounds the impact on their property.

Current Ontario regulations allow turbines within 550 metres of a dwelling.

The Michauds say the wind farm exposes them to “audible and inaudible noise, low frequency noise and light flicker that negatively affect their health, cause vertigo, annoyance, sleep disturbance, despair and exhaustion.”

Michel Michaud says the turbines also affect his ability to concentrate, causing him to make mistakes at work.

“We want our lives back,” Lisa Michaud said in an interview.


From England:


SOURCE North Devon Journal, www.thisisnorthdevon.co.uk

September 22, 2011 

“There is no option of keeping the window open any longer. It is just too noisy to sleep – we were told they would be silent.

People living near the new Fullabrook wind farm claim their lives are being “destroyed” by the noise generated from each of the 22 turbines.

The residents, some who live only 400m from the structures, say they can no longer sleep as a result of the intrusive sound.

But despite numerous registered complaints about the noise at Fullabrook, North Devon Council (NDC) is unable to act until the whole site is complete and commissioned, which may not be for another three weeks.

Once the site is commissioned officers from the council will visit Fullabrook to monitor the sound levels in order to ascertain whether they meet the requirements set out by the Secretary of State.

Jeremy Mann, head of environmental health and housing services at NDC said: “I can confirm that a number of the residents near to the wind farm have now expressed concern regarding the noise levels.

“The operator has strict noise limits imposed on their operation and is required to give evidence to the council of their compliance with these controls when the site is no longer working intermittently.”

In the meantime several residents feel they are trapped living with the noise because if they tried to move house few people would be interested in buying a property next to a wind turbine.

Nick Williams lives at Fullabrook itself with six of the turbines near his house. He claimed the wind farm had destroyed the area he lives in as well as his life.

He said: “It is like having tumble dryers in my bedroom and so I mostly have to sleep on the sofa in my front room – why should I be forced out of my bed?

“I can’t afford to double glaze the whole house – why can’t the people behind the turbines use this community fund to triple glaze all our houses? I have also had to buy a digital box for the television because the turbines interrupt the signal so badly it is impossible to watch.”

Another resident, who wanted to remain anonymous, has lived at Halsinger for over 23 years and can see three turbines from her kitchen window. She said: “I can feel the sensation from the blades turning through my pillow when I am trying to sleep at night.

“There is no option of keeping the window open any longer. It is just too noisy to sleep – we were told they would be silent.

“And I have some chickens, I can’t prove it is related, but they laid eggs everyday before July (when the turbines started to be tested) but since then we have had just two laid.”

Kim Parker owns a stables with 15 horses at Pippacott and she believes the noise is a problem because it is unpredictable.

She said: “Most of the horses have got used to it now but it is not a constant sound so often unnerves them. Then they are jumpy and constantly looking up to where the noise is coming from.”

A spokesman for ESB International, which owns the site, confirmed it was working closely with the district council and that remedial steps could be taken if, once tested, it was found noise levels exceeded the limit.



From Illinois



SOURCE: The Wall Street Journal

"If a Chinese wind developer sees an opportunity in Illinois, we're going to embrace them with open arms," Gov. Quinn, a Democrat, said in an interview on Monday.

BEIJING—Wind-turbine maker Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. plans to build a $200 million wind farm in Illinois—the latest attempt at clean-energy collaboration between China and the U.S. even as disputes over renewable-energy technology continue.

The agreement is part of ambitious international expansion plans for the company, China's second-largest wind turbine producer by new capacity sold. The project, Xinjiang Goldwind's largest U.S. project to date, underscores the ability of Chinese renewable-energy companies to make inroads into the U.S., despite widespread criticism in the U.S. that Chinese companies have unfairly benefited from government subsidies.

"The United States is a key component of Goldwind's international growth," Xinjiang Goldwind Chairman and Chief Executive Wu Gang said in a prepared in a statement. "Goldwind has generated a competitive global footprint, and we are focused on continuing that momentum, continuing to demonstrate our technology advantages and continuing to build out our global supply chain."

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama hopes it can reinvigorate the country's sluggish economy and spur job growth in part by bolstering the U.S. renewable-energy industry. But some people in the industry say Chinese companies undercut U.S. rivals on price because they get generous subsidies from the Chinese government. Under pressure from the Obama administration, China in June agreed to end many subsidies for its domestic wind-power-equipment manufacturers.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, on a trade mission to China, said criticisms of global expansion efforts by Chinese renewable companies were overstated. Just as the U.S. wants China to open its markets to foreign companies, Illinois shouldn't close its market to Chinese companies like Xinjiang Goldwind, he said.

"If a Chinese wind developer sees an opportunity in Illinois, we're going to embrace them with open arms," Gov. Quinn, a Democrat, said in an interview on Monday.

Xinjiang Goldwind spokesman Yao Yu said half of the parts and components for the Illinois wind farm would be supplied by U.S. manufacturers, such as Broadwind Energy Inc. of Naperville, Ill. The 109.5-megawatt wind farm will be located about 100 miles west of Chicago and is expected to be connected to the grid around June, Mr. Yao said.

The project will create a dozen permanent jobs and more than 100 construction jobs in the state, according to the governor's office.

Disputes over wind-power technology continue. U.S.-based American Superconductor Corp. said last week it filed suit against China's Sinovel Wind Group Co., the country's largest wind-turbine manufacturer. The suit relates to an American Semiconductor employee in Austria who is being held in that country and faces criminal charges that he stole American Semiconductor software that controls turbines and sold it to Sinovel. Sinovel has denied wrongdoing.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to participate Thursday in a Beijing round table on technology for capturing carbon dioxide.

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