Entries in noise (3)
2/17/12 Sleepless Fond Du Lac County wind project residents suffer and abandon their homes because of wind turbine noise and vibration, Madison lobbyist dismisses their problems and $ings $ame old $ong for his $upper AND More from wind project residents
FOND DU LAC COUNTY RESIDENTS WANT RELIEF FROM WIND FARMS TOO
Source: WFRV, wearegreenbay.com
February 16, 2012
Brown County will be asking for state aid to relocate residents who say they’re becoming ill because of wind turbines. That was decided at a board meeting Wednesday night.
Those residents say they’ve had to leave their homes after getting sick from low frequency noises. Now, the state legislature can either approve or deny the request for funding.
Residents living near an 88 turbine wind farm in Fond du Lac County are hopeful the decision will mean relief is also on the way, or at least a possibility. Many residents are complaining about similar problems. They claim there is constant noise generated from the turbines that keeps them up at night and even builds up pressure, giving them severe headaches.
We’re told several people have moved out of their homes. They hope similar action can be taken to help them.
“It’s about time somebody starts looking into this, finding out what they really do to people,” says resident Joan Brusoe, who lives 1400 ft. from a turbine. Her neighbor, Larry Lamont, is 1100 ft. away from one: “They could mediate some of the problems these things are creating, that would help. I don’t know if there is a total solution.”
We spoke with representatives from RENEW Wisconsin. They are a non-profit group that promotes environmentally sustainable energy policies in our state. They tell Local 5 health concerns are untrue and undocumented.
Director Michael Vickerman says, “Very few people object to wind projects. It’s just an organized group of people who don’t like these developments.”
He calls Brown County’s decision a move to step up pressure on legislators, stopping wind development in Wisconsin.
Next Feature: From Massachusetts
TURBINE CRITICS RIP STATE REPORT
By Patrick Cassidy,
Source Cape Cod Times,www.capecodonline.com
February 17, 2012
BOURNE — One after another, residents from towns across the southeastern part of the state stood up in Bourne High School Thursday night and said they didn’t buy a state-sponsored report that found no direct health effects from the operation of wind turbines.
“Please do not tell us that turbines do not make us sick,” said Neil Anderson, one of several Falmouth residents who spoke at the public hearing on the state report released in January.
Others in the crowd of more than 50 people came from Nantucket, Fairhaven and Duxbury. The majority voiced their disbelief that the report’s authors found that wind turbines did not affect the health of people who live near them.
“I can’t find where you’ve interviewed a single victim of ill health effects or where you’ve interviewed a doctor who treated them,” said Bruce Mandel of Nantucket. “The victims shouldn’t have to prove that they’re sick.”
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell told the audience that state officials have not made up their mind on the question of whether there are health effects from the operation of turbines, such as the two at the Falmouth wastewater treatment facility and a third private turbine built nearby.
“We are glad to be here,” Kimmell said. “We have an open mind and open ears.”
The DEP and the state Department of Public Health commissioned a group of experts last year to study existing scientific literature about the effect of wind turbines on health after dozens of residents living around the Falmouth turbines complained the spinning blades disrupted their sleep, and caused ailments that include high blood pressure, migraine headaches and nausea.
Town officials have restricted the operation of the first turbine installed at the town wastewater treatment facility for the time being. The second turbine there is undergoing a test run to gauge its effect on neighbors.
The seven-member panel commissioned to look at health issues associated with the technology included health professionals and academics from Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston University, the University of Massachusetts and the Harvard School of Public Health.
Thursday’s meeting was the second of three being held across the state to accept comments on the report and what should be done with it. The state will accept written comments until March 19.
The report found that noise from turbines could disrupt sleep and cause annoyance. The report’s authors found that there is evidence “that sleep disruption can adversely affect mood, cognitive functioning, and overall sense of health and well being.”
Despite this, they concluded that there is no evidence that turbines were directly causing health problems.
Several speakers took issue with the authors’ seemingly contradictory line of reasoning.
“How can you have it both ways?” said Todd Drummey of Blacksmith Shop Road in Falmouth. “That’s like saying cigarettes don’t cause health impacts if you don’t smoke them.”
Others in the audience questioned the independence of panel members who co-authored the report, pointing to previous work done by panelists on the subject, including one member who consulted on wind energy projects.
Colin Murphy of Falmouth said that he has to deal with “pounding” in his yard from the turbines near his home.
“There’s definitely annoyance and what does annoyance lead to?” he said. “I would say stress and anxiety.”
He didn’t understand why the authors of the report didn’t come to Falmouth to talk to people who lived near the turbines, Murphy said.
“I don’t understand why there wasn’t a lab section to that study,” he said.
After he puts his kids to bed and closes his eyes at night, he thinks about what the turbines could do to the value of his property, Murphy said.
“When you close your eyes and say your prayers, I hope you really believe that you’re doing the best for the people of Massachusetts,” Murphy told Kimmell and the other state officials at the meeting.
While most of the speakers blasted the report, a small minority praised the state for its work.
Thousands of people die each year from asthma and other diseases caused by the burning of fossil fuels, said Richard Elrick, vice president of Cape and Islands Self Reliance and energy coordinator for the towns of Barnstable and Bourne.
Elrick, who said he was speaking only for himself, said there were thousands of turbines around the world where there were no problems such as those reported in Falmouth.
Everyone has an obligation to do something to try and address the problems associated with climate change, Elrick said.
“Every energy source requires sacrifices of one kind or another,” he said.
2/6/12 Big Wind's dark side exposed in movie "Windfall". Even National Public Radio and the Wall Street Journal get it: Will Wisconsin legisators? AND Should your money keep feeding wind developer's cash cow?
WIND POWER DOCUMENTARY TAKES A SKEPTICAL TURN
February 2, 2012
By Mark Jenkins
As is often the case, the outside developer's biggest asset was the local elite, which was certain it knew best. Farmer and town council leader Frank Bachler joined the town's attorney in overruling a skeptical planning commission report about the effects of erecting the turbines.
Not even the most ecologically minded are always keen on the prospect of giant wind turbines near their homes. But Meredith, N.Y., welcomed "Big Wind" when it first came whistling through town. That's what makes Windfall so interesting: The documentary is the story of an education.
In some ways, Meredith seems a natural place for a wind farm. Situated in one of New York's poorest counties, it's in an agricultural area whose principal enterprise, dairy farming, has dramatically declined. But the area is mostly home to small landowners, with few large tracts that could be developed without affecting nearby neighbors. And some of those neighbors are refugees from New York City, where they learned to be skeptical and outspoken.
Director Laura Israel is among the Meredith residents who split their time between the town and the big city 160 miles to the southeast, which explains why she was able to follow the controversy over a year or more, as pro-windmill sentiments gradually shifted to anti-.
This is no first-person piece, though; Israel stays off camera, allowing her neighbors to speak. She doesn't present the views of the wind-power developer, Airtricity (originally Eiretricity, before the Irish firm was sold to Scottish and German interests), but that may be because the company is a low-profile one that didn't address the community collectively, and insisted on confidentiality agreements before it would even enter into negotiations with property owners.
As is often the case, the outside developer's biggest asset was the local elite, which was certain it knew best. Farmer and town council leader Frank Bachler joined the town's attorney in overruling a skeptical planning commission report about the effects of erecting the turbines.
Bachler and other supporters labeled the anti-windmill forces "a vocal minority." But with an election looming, the pro-wind forces had to double-check their math. Even Bachler, one of the principal on-screen proponents of the turbines, would give the whole idea a second thought.
In Meredith, the case against wind turbines turned on their size — about 400 feet high and 600,000 pounds each — not to mention their grinding noise, their bone-shaking vibrations and the flickering shadows they cast, which disrupt light and sleep (and video games). One of the opponents, Ken Jaffe, is a retired doctor who looked into the high-tech windmills' medical side effects.
Also, the turbines sometimes fall over, catch on fire or hurl dangerous ice projectiles. They kill birds and bats in large numbers. And there's more.
To optimize the investment, wind-power developers tend to build a lot more turbines than they initially propose. In Tug Hill, farther north in upstate New York, a proposed 50 high-tech windmills became 195. As skeptics began to investigate, they learned that wind power is too unreliable to replace dirtier forms of generation, and that the wind business is based less on electricity than on tax credits: Big investment companies keep flipping the companies so as to restart the depreciation process.
A veteran film editor making her first feature, Israel emphasizes the area's low-key beauty. She conducted most of the interviews outside to show the landscapes. When the movie finally gets to Tug Hill, the contrast is all the more striking. Meredith, N.Y., may not be paradise, but it's clear why residents didn't want to sacrifice its rustic appeal to the steady whomp of industrial windmills.
By John Anderson,
Via The Wall Street Journal, wsj.com
February 3, 2012
Speaking of horror movies, the monsters are 400 feet tall in “Windfall,” easily the more haunting film of this week and a sublimely cinematic documentary by the film editor-cum-director Laura Israel. Her subject is the battle waged over wind power in the tiny upstate New York town of Meredith. What’s so scary? Industrial wind turbines, the fetish objects of the green-minded, those sleek, white, propellered and purportedly eco-friendly energy collectors that one might have seen dotting the desert outside Palm Springs, and which may soon be sprouting out of Nantucket Sound. They’re sustainable, they produce no emissions and they’ll reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil. Right? Not quite. And living next to one seems like a nightmare.
Ms. Israel’s movie proves, once again, that the best nonfiction cinema possesses the same attributes as good fiction: Strong characters, conflict, story arc, visual style. The people of Meredith, be they pro or con the wind-turbine plan being fast-tracked by their town council, are articulate, passionate, likable. The issues are argued with appropriate gravity, and even though Ms. Israel, a Meredith homeowner herself, is clearly antiturbine, the other side gets a chance to speak its piece: Farmers, an endangered species, need income. Turbine leases are a way to it. But not only do the energy and ecological benefits fall short of what they’re cracked up to be, the turbines themselves are an environmental disaster: The monotonous whoosh of the propellers, the constant strobing effect caused by the 180-foot-long propellers, the threat of ice being hurled by the blades, the knowledge that it’s never going to end, all adds up to a recipe for madness. And that’s just during the movie.
“Windfall” is thoroughly engaging, educational and entertaining; the neo-blues music by Hazmat Modine is a real plus. Ms. Israel might deny it out of respect for her collaborators past and future, but documentaries are all about the editing. Many filmmakers might have been able to assemble the parts of “Windfall.” Far fewer would have produced as stylish a result.
TILTING AT WINDMILLS
By ROBERT BRYCE
via New York Post, www.nypost.com
February 4, 2012
The battle in Meredith (population: 1,500) pitted landowners who stood to profit by putting the wind turbines on their property against those who didn’t. Israel interviews one couple, Ron and Sue Bailey, who took money from a wind company, a move they soon came to regret. The couple said they “were blinded by the money” and “never thought about what our neighbors across the road would think.”
Documentary makers are always hoping that their film will come out at just the right moment, when a favorable news cycle and popular sentiment are converging so that the public is primed for their message.
In 1989, Michael Moore made his career with “Roger & Me,” a documentary that pinned the decline of his hometown — Flint, Mich. — on General Motors. By focusing his fire on GM’s chairman, Roger Smith, Moore tapped into the public’s anger at tone-deaf corporate bosses as well as the growing disenchantment with the American car industry.
Laura Israel’s new film, “Windfall,” has the same sort of fortuitous timing. Her documentary — which focuses on the fight over the siting of wind turbines in the small upstate town of Meredith — premieres at the same time that “green energy” stimulus failures fill the news, and the wind-energy industry faces an unprecedented backlash from angry rural residents.
Consider this Nov. 1 story from The Village Market, a news outlet in Staffordshire, England, about 150 miles northwest of London. The paper’s reporter, covering the staunch local opposition to a proposed wind-energy project near the tiny village of Haunton, wrote, “Huge numbers of people in rural areas are rising up against the technology, despite government assuming they would support it.”
Throughout the UK — indeed, all over the world — fights against large-scale wind-energy projects are raging. The European Platform against Windfarms lists 518 signatory organizations from 23 countries. The UK alone now has about 285 anti-wind groups. Last May, some 1,500 protesters descended on the Welsh assembly, the Senedd, demanding that a massive wind project planned for central Wales be stopped.
Although environmental groups like Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and Greenpeace claim that wind energy is the answer when it comes to slowing the rate of growth in carbon dioxide emissions, policymakers from Ontario to Australia are responding to angry landowners who don’t want 100-meter-high wind turbines built near their homes.
Last September, CBC News reported that Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment has logged “hundreds of health complaints” about the thumping noise generated by the province’s growing fleet of wind turbines. In December, government officials in the Australian state of New South Wales issued guidelines that give residents living within two kilometers of a proposed wind project the right to delay, or even stop, the project’s development.
Back here in the States, many communities are passing ordinances that prohibit large-scale wind energy development. On Nov. 8, for instance, residents of Brooksville, Maine, voted by more than 2 to 1 in favor of a measure that bans all wind turbines with towers exceeding 100 feet in height.
Meanwhile, the promoters of Cape Wind, a large offshore wind project proposed for Nantucket Sound, are still hoping to get their project built. But they continue to face lots of well-heeled opposition, including, most notably, environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Well-known for his advocacy of renewable energy, Kennedy opposes the wind project — because it will be built a few miles from his family’s estate in Hyannis Port.
As “Windfall” is premiering this week in New York, wind-energy lobbyists in Washington are desperately hoping to convince Congress to pass a multi-year extension of the 2.2-cent-per-kilowatt-hour subsidy for wind energy. Without it, the domestic wind business, which is already being hammered by falling natural-gas prices, will likely end up becalmed.
Israel’s portrayal of the bitter feuding that happened in Meredith over wind-energy development is similar to fights that have occurred in numerous other rural communities around the world. The battle in Meredith (population: 1,500) pitted landowners who stood to profit by putting the wind turbines on their property against those who didn’t. Israel interviews one couple, Ron and Sue Bailey, who took money from a wind company, a move they soon came to regret. The couple said they “were blinded by the money” and “never thought about what our neighbors across the road would think.”
The landowner faction in Meredith was led by the town’s supervisor, Frank Bachler. Israel portrays him as a well-intentioned man who, in favoring the wind development, is trying to help the area’s struggling farmers. Bachler dismisses the opponents of the wind project as “a minority of people who are very aggressive.”
But Bachler is proven wrong. The anti-wind faction quickly gains momentum and the resulting feud provides a textbook example of small-town democracy. Three wind opponents run for election to the town board with the stated purpose of reversing the existing board’s position on wind. In November 2007, they win, and a few weeks later pass a measure banning large-scale wind development.
Israel’s film also features a colorful interview with Carol Spinelli, a fiery real-estate agent in Bovina, a town of about 600 people located a few miles southeast of Meredith. Bovina passed a ban on wind turbines in March 2007. Spinelli helped lead the opposition, and she nails the controversy over wind by explaining that it’s about “big money, big companies, big politics.” And she angrily denounces wind-energy developers “as modern-day carpetbaggers.”
That’s a brutal assessment. But it accurately portrays the rural-urban divide on the wind-energy issue.
Lots of city-based voters love the concept of renewable energy.
But they are not the ones who have to endure the health-impairing noise that’s created by 45-story-tall wind turbines, nor do they have to see the turbines or look at their red-blinking lights, all night, every night.
So many want to make the world green — so long as it’s not them who have to suffer for it.
TOPPLING TAX DOLLARS FOR TURBINES
by Marita Noon,
February 5, 2012
On February 1, an urgent alert was sent to supporters of wind energy. It stated: “The PTC is the primary policy tool to promote wind energy development and manufacturing in the United States. While it is set to expire at the end of 2012 … the credit has already effectively expired. Congress has a choice to make: extend the PTC this month and keep the wind industry on track…”
The wind energy industry has reason for concern. America’s appetite for subsidies has waned. Congress is looking for any way it can to make cuts and the twenty-year old Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy is in prime position for a cut—it naturally expires at the end of 2012. Without action, it will go away.
The payroll tax extension will be a hot topic over the next few weeks as it expires on February 29. Wind energy supporters are pushing to get the PTC extension included in the bill. Whether or not it is included will be largely up to public response—after all, regarding the PTC’s inclusion in the payroll tax extension bill, the February 1 alert stated: “our federal legislators heard us loud and clear.” In the December payroll tax bill negotiations, the wind energy PTC was placed on a “short list of provisions to be extended through that bill.” Wind supporters are worried—hence the rallying cry.
Due to a deteriorating market, Vestas, the world’s largest manufacturer of industrial wind turbines, is closing a plant and laying off workers. Everyday citizens, armed with real life information gleaned from the wind energy’s decades-long history, are shocking lobbyists and killing back room deals by successfully blocking the development of industrial wind plants in their communities.
As news of actual wind energy contracts are coming in at three and four times the cost of traditionally generated electricity becomes widespread, and natural gas prices continue to drop due to abundance, states are looking to abandon the renewable energy mandates pushed through in a different economic time and a different political era. American Wind Energy Association spokesman, Peter Kelley, reports: “Industry-wide we are seeing a slowdown in towers and turbines after 2012 that is rippling down the supply chain and the big issue is lack of certainty around the production credit that gives a favorable low tax rate to renewable energy.” All of this spells trouble for the wind energy industry.
The PTC is part of a push for renewables that began in the Carter era. Enacted in 1992, the twenty-year old wind energy PTC was designed to get the fledgling industry going. However, after all this time, wind energy is still not a viable option. Even the industry’s own clarion call acknowledges that government intervention is still needed to keep it “on track.” If the training wheels are removed, it will topple.
Wind energy lobbyists have a plan: HB 3307 will extend the PTC for another four years. If the PTC extension passes, it will add an extra $6 billion to the $20 billion in taxpayer dollars the wind industry has already received over the past 20 years. These are monies we borrow (typically from China) to give to Europe—where most of the wind turbine manufacturers are located.
With advertisements featuring blue skies, green grass, and the warm and fuzzy images of families (and not one shot of a 500-foot wind turbine looming over their home), it is easy for the average person to be taken in and think we should continue to underwrite this “new technology”—after all, there is an energy shortage. “What will we do when we run out of oil?” Wind energy is electricity and electricity doesn’t come from oil—even if it did, we don’t have an oil shortage. Electricity comes from clean-burning natural gas and coal—both of which we have in abundance and know how to use effectively. They don’t need an expensive replacement.
Wind energy supporters often tout turbines because of the misguided belief they will get us off of fossil fuels—when, in fact, they commit us to a fossil fuel future. Optimistically, a wind turbine will generate electricity 30% of the time—and we cannot predict when that time will be. Highly variable wind conditions may mean the turbine generates electricity in the morning on Monday, in the middle of the night on Tuesday, and not at all on Wednesday. A true believer might be willing to do without electricity at the times when the wind is not blowing, but the general population will not. Public utilities and electric co-ops cannot—they are required to provide electricity 24/7 and to have a cushion that allows for usage spikes.
So, during that average 30% of the time that the turbine blades are spinning, the natural gas or coal-fueled power plants continue to burn fossil fuels—though possibly slightly less in an extended period of windy weather, and full-steam-ahead the remaining 70% of the time. (Research shows that turning up the heat on power plants, and then turning it back down, and up again actually increases the CO2 emissions.) Absent a major breakthrough in expensive energy storage, wind can never save enough fossil fuel to make any significant difference. After twenty years of subsidies, wind energy has not replaced one traditional power plant.
Some argue that many new technologies got their start through government support. This might be a good viewpoint if wind energy were “new.” But after twenty years of subsidies it is little better now than it was in the late 1800s. Windmills produced electricity then, and modern industrial wind turbines generate electricity now. It is not that they do not work, they do. They just don’t do so effectively, economically, or 24/7—and they still need Uncle Sam to prop them up.
Those who favor free markets need to seize upon this opportunity to push for the government to get out of the business of picking winners and losers. Clearly the “green” experiment has failed. Billions have been lost in the effort.
If we truly believe in free markets, why stop at just cutting the subsidies to wind energy? Stop the subsidies to all energy! May the strongest survive! The fact is, such a move is afoot. While HB 3307 aims to stretch out the subsidies for wind energy, HB 3308 will stop subsidies for all energy sources—wind and solar, oil and gas. The playing field will be level; billions will be saved!
A congressman I spoke to fears that, in the current political climate, his colleagues will cave on the wind energy subsidy, as they seem unwilling to take a strong stand on any issue. While wind energy supporters are calling their representatives, free-market advocates and everyone who believes the government-gone-wild spending must stop has to place a call, too.
Call, or e-mail, your Congressman, and as many others as you can take the time for, and tell them to stop subsidizing energy: “Do not include HB 3307 in the payroll tax extension bill. Support HB 3308 which will repeal the PTC and numerous other renewable energy tax incentives including the investment tax credit, the cellulosic biofuel producer credit, the tax credit for electric and fuel cell vehicles, and tax credits for alternative fuels and infrastructure. Additionally, HB 3308 will also repeal the enhanced oil recovery credit for producing oil and gas from marginal wells.”
Instead of propping up energy policy based on politics rather than sound science, we have to prop up our representatives and give them the backbone to do what is right.
Tell them to end energy subsidies.
6/2/10 Wind siting council finally discusses setbacks and immediately gets pushback from Rep. Soletski of Green Bay who does not like what he is seeing.
Wind council adds variables to turbine debate
A Wisconsin lawmaker has some advice for the council charged with developing rules for small wind farms: Keep things simple.
Members of the state’s Wind Siting Council on Wednesday said noise and shadow flicker limits need to be considered to help determine how far wind turbines should be placed from residences. But State Rep. Jim Soletski, D-Green Bay, chairman of the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities, said trying to determine turbine setback distances by incorporating decibel standards for noise and hour limits for shadow flicker presents too many variables for statewide rules.
“The more variables you throw in,” he said, “the less likely you’ll have wind power in Wisconsin.”
Still, Dan Ebert, the Wind Siting Council’s chairman, said after presentations on noise and setback distances that the council could focus on factors besides distance measurements from residences or property lines.
“I do believe there is a compromise and consensus that can be reached,” he said.
Other members said the council will have to establish a setback distance before it gives its final recommendation to the state Public Service Commission. That recommendation is expected this summer.
“We’re going to have to have a number,” said Larry Wunsch, a Brownsville landowner. “I don’t want to leave that open.”
But Wunsch said the council needs to have more discussion about issues relating to noise, shadow flicker and real estate effects of turbine development before determining an appropriate distance.
Nevertheless, Wunsch suggested a setback distance of 2,500 feet from property lines.
Tom Meyer, a Realtor with Madison-based Restaino & Associates Inc., also suggested a setback distance of up to 2,600 feet from property lines.
But anything more than 1,000 feet would be excessive, Soletski said, and leave too little room for developers to build wind farms.
The council’s discussion Wednesday was the first of what could be many debates in determining an appropriate setback distance, Ebert said.
The council was formed by state law passed last session that mandated the state provide turbine placement standards for wind farms that generate less than 100 megawatts of electricity.
Wind farms that generate more than 100 megawatts are subject to PSC approval, but until the new law passed, local governments had control over turbine placement standards for any projects generating up to 99 megawatts of electricity.
Trying to determine placement standards on sound and shadow flicker setback leaves too much room for ambiguity, Soletski said.
“I think we just need a distance,” he said. “Otherwise what’s the purpose of having the council?”