Entries in wind farm health (7)

5/26/12 Big trouble in little Falmouth: First hand accounts of living with wind turbines

Edward Hobart of Blacksmith Shop Road described his wife’s chronic migraines and sleep disturbance that resulted in her sleeping in the basement. “We cannot sleep in the house because it’s agony,” he said. The couple now plans to move from their home, he said.

Paul B. Tarr of Ambleside Drive described headaches, severe nausea, similar to seasickness, and an inability to stay focused as a result of living near the wind turbines.

RESIDENTS TELL HOW TURBINES HAVE IMPARED THEIR HEALTH

SOURCE: The Enterprise | www.capenews.net

By Brent Runyon,

May 25 2012

An overflow crowd of more than 80 people packed the selectmen’s meeting room at Falmouth Town Hall last night to give and hear testimony about the impact to the health of residents who live near the largest wind turbines in Falmouth.

A total of 30 residents gave testimony about a range of problems, including sleep disturbance, depression, abnormal heart rhythms, ringing in the ears, weight gain, and the increased stress, anxiety, irritability and anger they attribute to their proximity to the town-owned Wind 1 and Wind 2 turbines, the privately owned Notus Clean Energy turbine and the Woods Hole Research Center turbine.

The board of health did not make any decisions last night and will continue to accept written testimony until May 31. All of the testimony will be sent to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, “both with a sense of urgency, and with the provision for department personnel to further investigate this issue,” said chairman of the Falmouth Board of Health Gail A. Harkness.

While the testimony given at the Falmouth hearing is public, Ms. Harkness said the Department of Public Health can keep health information confidential. Nearly all of the residents who testified said they would give more detailed descriptions of their health problems, but felt they could not because of the public forum.

The tone of the evening was subdued as residents spoke quietly into the microphone at the lectern to the board of health, as other residents, State Representative Timothy Madden (D-Nantucket), Falmouth Town Manager Julian M. Suso, Selectman David Braga, a news crew from WBZ-TV, the CBS affiliate in Boston and other people from as far away as Saugus and Kingston, Rhode Island, listened. The testimony was so quiet at times that about half of the speakers were told to speak directly into the microphone so the audience could hear them.

Dr. Harkness opened the hearing by showing off a gavel that she said, “in its previous life had been a meat tenderizer,” but she never used it to quiet the crowd. The only unruly moment of the night was when Joanne M. Vannah from the Saugus Alternative Energy Committee repeatedly attempted to make a statement about wind turbines in her community. Dr. Harkness ruled her out of order, and the other members of the board and the audience shouted at Ms. Vannah until she sat down.

Residents described a range of health problems they attributed to living near the wind turbines.

“There is no getting accustomed to the noise from these machines,” said Diane C. Funfar of Ridgeview Drive who lives 1,662 feet from Wind 1 and 1,558 feet from Wind 2, which are sited at the town wastewater treatment plant on Blacksmith Shop Road. Both turbines are Vestas 1.65-megawatt models that stand 262 feet at the hub. Ms. Funfar described eye problems she believed are caused by the turbines. She has worn contact lenses for 42 years, she said.

When Wind 1 started two years ago, she said, “I began having eye discharge, eye irritability and headaches, which have worsened with time.” When she has traveled, she said her eye problems cleared up.

Ms. Funfar also described the effects on her husband, Barry A. Funfar, a Vietnam veteran who has post traumatic stress disorder and whose symptoms had been getting better. After the wind turbine started, she said, “I witnessed his decline, with his worsening irritability, anger, drinking, and severe depression, and he again became difficult to live with.”

“We are suffering and need relief,” she said. “Please help us return to and enjoy the peace and tranquility we once had in our home. Please turn these tortuous machines off.”

John J. Ford of Blacksmith Shop Road also described a high level of stress and disturbance. “My life has not been the same since the three 1.65-megawatt industrial wind turbines have been operating,” he said. “I felt tortured.”

“While prior to the wind turbine installations I had the luxury of excellent health, I am currently depressed as well as fatigued and now deal with high blood pressure and an elevated level of triglycerides,” he said.

“Headaches, earaches, anxiety, stress and anger are just some of the physical and mental maladies of this human being that stands before you,” Mr. Ford said. “Waking at night with labored breathing and a pounding chest are common occurrences. Getting back to sleep is very difficult. Adding acoustical windows to my bedroom to eliminate the noise has not worked. Bouts of unannounced vertigo are experienced while at home. Interestingly, I do not experience these symptoms when I am away from the turbines.”

Neil P. Andersen of Blacksmith Shop Road, who also spoke for his wife and daughter, described a constant and monotonous ringing in the ears that is exacerbated by other sounds. “Something as simple as the microwave buzzing has us blocking our ears,” he said.

“My wife and I have aged over five years in the past two years,” he said. “Our lives are in your hands.” He said he knows of at least six Town of Falmouth employees and board members who are experiencing negative health effects from the wind turbines, but who will not come forward unless their testimony is kept confidential.

Mary Zawoysky of Ransom Road, the only resident who spoke about the turbine at the Woods Hole Research Center on Woods Hole Road, described an unusual phenomenon, in which she felt her heart beat at irregular rhythms. She attributed the cause to the low frequency waves from the wind turbine. She said she also has chronic sleep disturbances related to the turbine.

Edward Hobart of Blacksmith Shop Road described his wife’s chronic migraines and sleep disturbance that resulted in her sleeping in the basement. “We cannot sleep in the house because it’s agony,” he said. The couple now plans to move from their home, he said.

Paul B. Tarr of Ambleside Drive described headaches, severe nausea, similar to seasickness, and an inability to stay focused as a result of living near the wind turbines.

Other residents identified sleep disturbance as the primary problem with the turbines. Madeline Tundidor of Brush Hill Circle lives near the Notus Clean Energy turbine in Falmouth Technology Park, owned by Daniel H. Webb. “It’s like a fleet of planes continually over my house,” she said. “It’s not easy to go to sleep,” Ms. Tundidor said.

Robert J. Sagerman of Deer Pond Road said he lives about a mile from the Notus Clean Energy and is awoken by the “whoosh whoosh” sound when the wind blows from the north or northwest. “It is a distinct sound that is annoying and makes it difficult to go back to sleep.”

Sharon P. Eddy of Blacksmith Shop Road who lives near Wind 1 also described sleep disturbances, along with ringing in her ears and a pressure in her head. She said she has left her house four times to recover from the feelings.

Mark J. Cool of Fire Tower Road, an air traffic controller for 32 years, described the sleep disturbances he experienced over the past two years. Recently, he said, two planes he was controlling nearly collided. His lack of concentration from the sleep disturbances may have affected his decision-making, he said.

Loretta O’Brien of Blacksmith Shop Road, who lives near the Notus turbine, said the turbine has affected her mental, emotional and physical health. Most of her problems stem from being awoken by the turbine; that has disrupted her work and decreased her ability to concentrate.

Todd A. Drummey of Blacksmith Shop Road also described sleep disturbances, headaches, stress and anger related to the turbines. He said other residents would not come forward because they feared being harassed by other members of the community.

Other residents described various ways the turbines had disturbed their daily routines and schedules. Jill V. Worthington of Blacksmith Shop Road, who lives near the Notus turbine and Wind 1, said she has had trouble concentrating and forced herself to play Sudoku to focus. As a result, she said she plays Sudoku more often and feels she cannot take time to relax her mind.

Charles E. Eastman Jr. of Ambleside Drive said Wind 2 “looms over the neighborhood and is very ‘dissettling.’ ”

Paul Koh from Blacksmith Shop Road lives near the Notus turbine and described a video he has of the turbine creating interference on his television set. Mr. Koh is a 19-year-old Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School graduate, who attends the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. He said his father, who sleeps on the side of the house closer to the turbine, is bothered by sleep disturbances.

Kelley T. Souza of Blacksmith Shop Road said she initially said the proximity of the wind turbines did not bother her, but now said she feels that the turbines are affecting her entire family.

Linda H. Ohkagawa of West Falmouth Highway lives near Wind 2 and described changes to her mood. “I have reportedly become irritable,” she said.

One resident gave testimony that the turbines does not bother him. Paul C. Lorusso of Blacksmith Shop Road, who lives about 2,000 feet from the Notus turbine, said the wind turbines do not affect him or his family. “I can honestly say I have had no sleep issues,” he said. “It’s not problematic and it’s really not an issue.” Initially, when the turbines went up, he marveled at how tall they were, but he said, “they just became part of the landscape.” There is some flicker effect on his home, he said, but he added some shades, which alleviated the problem.

Terri L. Pentifallo-Drummey of Blacksmith Shop Road said she is a neighbor of Mr. Lorusso, and said the topography of the land around their houses plays a role in how they experience the turbines. Because her home is on top of the hill, and his is below the tree line, their experiences vary greatly, she said.

After the testimony, Rep. Madden said he will help the town in any way he can. “My goal is to help the town. If there’s anything I can do,” he said. “We’re here to help.”

12/23/11 UPDATED: What's it like living near 500 foot turbines? Ask the residents of Glenmore, Wisconsin AND National release of documentary "Windfall" announced AND Once turbines are up, wind company disputes taxes owed.

Video courtesy of

"At least eight families living in the Shirley Wind Project in the Town of Glenmore just south of Green Bay, are reporting health problems and quality of life issues since the Shirley Wind project went online in December of 2010. Six families have come forward, five of them testify on the video, and at this time two of them have vacated their homes. STAND UP to protect people, livestock, pets, and wildlife against negligent and irresponsible placement of industrial wind turbines."

-The Forest Voice

Next Feature:

WIND FARM IDEA ZAPPED BACK TO LIFE

By Kevin Murphy,

Via New Richmond News, www.newrichmond-news.com 

December 22, 2011 

MADISON – The clock began ticking Friday on state regulators to review an application to construct a 102.5 mega-watt wind energy farm in the towns of Forest and Cylon.

By statute, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission has 30 days to determine if the application submitted by Highland Wind Farm LCC is complete, and if so, then six months to approve or deny it. If necessary, a circuit court can grant the PSC a six-month extension.

The HWF project has been a controversy in the Town of Forest since the town board approved a wind development agreement with the wind farm developer, Emerging Energies of Wisconsin, in 2008. That agreement was modified in 2010 but proved to be unpopular with residents who removed the board in a recall election in February.

Rick Steinberger, elected in February, said that within a month the new board rescinded previously adopted wind development agreements and in August enacted a wind energy system licensing ordinance that Steinberger said better “protects the town than existing state regulations.”

“Realistically, we’re not protected by the state guidelines,” which is why the town adopted an ordinance with more restrictions than state regulations on turbine setbacks, noise levels and shadow flicker,” he said.

In response, HWF increased the size of the project from 97 to 102.5 megawatts, making it subject to state and not town regulation. How much involvement the town will have in the state’s approval process remains to be seen, said Steinberger.

“I’m just one vote on the board…and I haven’t read through the application yet and I don’t have a comment on it,” Steinberger said Monday.

Town Chairman Jamie Junker also said he would withhold any comment on the wind farm application and what response the town should take until he has reviewed it.

William Rakocy, a founding member of Emerging Energies, now EEW Services LCC, said the project was increased in size in response to an unresponsive town board.

“We would have been pleased to work with the town; we tried to in the past. The previous town board was reasonable to work with, but the new town board has not responded to any attempts to communicate with them so we’re going ahead,” Rakocy said.

Rakocy said the $250 million wind farm represents Wisconsin’s best option for renewable energy and should be approved.

“Every other energy source has a fuel requirement to bring it the state; there’s a fuel cost associated with bringing in coal, uranium for nuclear power and even natural gas. We don’t have any of those energy sources in Wisconsin but we do have wind,” he said.

Rakocy, of Hubertus, Wis., also said the project will need approval from several other state and federal agencies including the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Unlike public utilities, EEW Services LCC won’t have to prove there is a demand for the electricity produced by the project. Rakocy could sell the project once it’s approved but he disputed he was taking a route through the regulatory process that avoids having to prove demand.

“This doesn’t avoid anything. There’s been a clearly defined process in the state of Wisconsin for several years. There are questions to be answered by utilities and questions to be answered by independent power producers. We’ve answered the questions the application has required,” he said.

Rakocy said he hopes the economy recovers in the two to three years it takes to approve and construct the wind farm so there is more electrical demand. If the project is approved he will be look for an investor to fund and build it.

If the project goes according to plan, construction could start in early 2013 and be completed in about a year, Rakocy said.

The PSC retains siting jurisdiction over the HWF project. Although siting regulations approved by the PSC earlier this year have been suspended by the Legislature, the PSC will at least need to consider if the application is consistent with the suspended rules, according to statement the PSC issued Monday.

The PSC welcomes public comment on the project once it determines the application complete. The application has been posted to the PSC’s website: psc.wi.gov. The HWF docket number: 2535-CE-100.

NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: William Rackocy is the same developer who put together the Shirley Wind project, the subject of the video above. Read more about Mr. Rakocy HERE and HERE

Watch the trailer from the award-winning documentary "Windfall" which includes video from Wisconsin wind projects. "Windfall" will be released nationally in February of 2012

"Wind power... it's sustainable ... it burns no fossil fuels...it produces no air pollution. What's more, it cuts down dependency on foreign oil.

That's what the people of Meredith, NY first thought when a wind developer looked to supplement the rural farm town's failing economy with a farm of their own -- that of 40 industrial wind turbines. But when a group of townspeople discover the impacts that a 400-foot high windmill could bring to their community, Meredith's residents become deeply divided as they fight over the future of their community. With wind development in the United States growing annually at 39 percent, Windfall is an eye-opener for anyone concerned about the environment and the future of renewable energy."

Next Feature:

From Illinois

DISPUTE STILL STANDS AS WIND CAPITAL PAYS UP

by Andrew Gaug, St. Joseph News-Press,

via www.newspressnow.com

December 22, 2011 

What appeared to be an early Christmas present has turned into an unholy mess, as Wind Capital Group dropped off its property tax payment to DeKalb County on Thursday.

Receiving two checks totaling $1,967,572, delivered to the DeKalb County Courthouse by Stephen Bode, Wind Capital Group operations manager, county officials aren’t sure if they can distribute any of it.

Though the attitudes remain heated between the county and wind farm company, which runs the Lost Creek Wind Farm, over a property tax assessment, County Assessor Ruth Ross was originally pleased to see the company pay part of what she said it owes.

While awaiting judgment from the Missouri State Tax Commission concerning property tax assessment, more than $1 million of the paid taxes will be placed in an escrow account. Not disputing the remaining $951,021.62, the amount Wind Capital Group stated it feels is the correct total it should pay, it was expected to go immediately to DeKalb taxing entities such as schools and fire protection.

“I think this is a wonderful thing that Wind Capital is doing. They’re not disputing it all, and the taxing entities of Missouri will benefit greatly from that money … being dispersed before the first of the year,” she said.

That may not be the case, County Treasurer Jody Pearl stated, as she considered Ms. Ross’ information conflicting with what she was told — that all of the money, including the undisputed amount, would go into the escrow account.

“According to my attorney, (it will) not (be distributed) without an order from the State Tax Commission instructing me how to distribute it,” she said.

Citing Missouri State Statute 139.031, concerning disbursement of tax money during a dispute, Ms. Ross said the undisputed money should be ready to be sent out. In the meantime, she will be contacting her attorney to see what can be done.

Though Ms. Ross was smiling when talking about the schools, fire and police receiving money, she made it clear that issues with the company are anything but dashed.

In a release, Wind Capital stated its pride in paying what it felt was a fair share of the property tax and doing so in a timely manner. “Wind Capital Group believes very strongly in paying our fair share of property taxes in DeKalb County and has now done so,” Mr. Bode said. “For the Lost Creek Project, we have now paid more in property taxes than has ever been paid on a wind energy project in the state of Missouri.”

Considering the company’s statement a misnomer, Ms. Ross said the reason they’re paying more is because they have three times the wind turbines as any other wind farm in the state, and they’re still asking to pay less.

“I always take exception to the fact that they’re paying a lot more taxes to DeKalb County than they are to other counties,” she said. “That’s like you buying a new car and me buying three new cars and I’m expecting my taxes to be the same as yours.”

The company is disputing Ms. Ross’ assessed property tax value of about $297,000 per wind turbine, an amount she came to when using a formula created by former Wind Capital Group CEO Tom Carnahan. Assessors in several other counties in Northwest Missouri with wind farms have told the News-Press they used the same formula as Holt County, without conflict.

Protesting the proposed tax assessment, Wind Capital stated Ms. Ross’ formula is overblown and should be about $142,000. The case awaits a decision from the tax commission.

“We’re still a long ways from being settled, but I want to commend Wind Capital for letting us at least distribute that amount,” Ms. Ross said.

“It will be a huge benefit. Not as much as we would like, but it’s a step.”

12/22/11 Columbia County wind project comes on line AND Vesta's wishes you a Merry Christmas by throwing bus-sized iceballs from animated turbines AND Wisconsin Citizens Safe Wind Siting Guidelines released via PSC website AND Eagle nests and residents homes: two things wind developers couldn't care less about

New wind project goes on line in Columbia County, Wisconsin

VIA: WiscTVChannel3000

CLICK HERE to read about why a Wisconsin farmer regrets signing onto this project

Next Feature: Merry Christmas greeting from turbine makers Vestas includes the special message of animated wind turbines throwing bus-sized ice balls.

NEXT FEATURE:

Via BCCRWE.COM

Wisconsin Citizens Safe Wind Siting Guidelines Proposed as Basis for Revising Wisconsin's Wind Siting Rules

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW), in accordance with Act 40, has developed a set of wind siting rules which are to govern industrial wind turbine siting throughout the State of Wisconsin.  These rules are know as PSC 128.  All local wind ordinances will have to conform to the standards put forth by the State.  After a hearing at which concerned Wisconsin residents gave testimony for 9 hours, the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) voted on March 1, 2011 to suspend PSC 128, stating that they did so... 

"...on the basis of testimony received at its February 9, 2011 meeting, and on the grounds that the contents of Ch. PSC 128 create an emergency relating to public health, safety, or welfare; are arbitrary and capricious; and impose an undue hardship on landowners and residents adjacent to wind turbine sites...
 
PSC 128 has been suspended ever since and the PSCW is still awaiting direction from the legislature on what to do.  So far no bills have been passed specifying changes to PSC 128, although there is currently such a bill in committee.  If nothing is done by the end of the legislative session, PSC 128 becomes law creating the very same public health emergency that the JCRAR suspension sought to prevent.  There are gross deficiencies in the PSC 128 rules, deficiencies which have led to many Wisconsin residents suffering ill health effects.  In several cases, living conditions have become so unbearable that families have abandoned their homes to regain their health.

This prompted a coalition of concerned citizen groups from across the state to draft the Wisconsin Citizens Safe Wind Siting Guidelines.  These Guidelines provide legislators and the PSCW with a SCIENCE BASED set of recommended standards to be used in revising the arbitrary and already outdated PSCW wind siting rules (PSC 128) - including the much needed health, safety, and property protections for Wisconsin residents.  These Guidelines are based on fact, based on science, and based on the real-life experience of Wisconsin families and others from around the world. The standards proposed are supported by a library of documentation, shown in the reference section following the Guidelines

You are invited to read the Guidelines and then to write to your legislators, asking them to support and use them in drafting new wind siting rules for Wisconsin.  You may see the Wisconsin Citizens Safe Wind Siting Guidelines here:

http://psc.wi.gov/apps35/ERF_view/viewdoc.aspx?docid=157326

CLICK HERE to watch Dr. Nina Pierpont, PhD (Princeton), MD (Johns Hopkins), interviews acoustician Stephen Ambrose on his work. She asks him about the strange malady that plagued him after he went to work taking sound measurements at a house near a 1.65-MW Vestas wind turbine where the residents were complaining of bad health since the turbine went on line. He tells Dr. Pierpont that even while setting up in the house he began to feel strangely unwell, as did his co-worker. Something is happening to these people who live close to turbines to make them feel ill and it is a mystery he would like to solve.

Next Feature:

From Minnesota:

PROPOSED WIND ENERGY PLANS COULD HARM MINNESOTA'S EAGLE COUNTRY

Via KARE11.com

By Dave Berggren

GOODHUE COUNTY, Minn. - Look along the tree line in rural Goodhue County and you'll see why so many are upset.

"This area is a habitat for eagles, hawks and other raptors," says Mary Hartman. "I'm all for addressing energy issues, but we need to do it sensibly."

Minneapolis-based National Wind is the developer and the project is called "Goodhue Wind." The plan is to place 50 wind turbines across 32,000 acres of county land, but some folks say the proposed "footprint" for the project interferes with eagle habitat.

"Eagles fly and hunt at the same height of these turbines," says Hartman, a resident who opposes the plan. "I'm not aware of any other project where they are siting wind energy smack through the center of nesting bald eagle habitat."

Earlier this year, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved the "Goodhue Wind" plan and construction could begin in the spring. However, it's not just residents who oppose the project.

"The Public Utilities Commission, which decided this project should go forward, didn't seriously look at the avian study," says County Commissioner Ron Allen. "They just blew through it and went on with what they want to do which is put these things up wherever they can put them."

Allen also says this issue is a "divisive" one and that Goodhue County is too populated for a project like the one proposed.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommends wind turbines to be at least two miles from eagle nesting areas, however, concerned citizens who spoke to KARE 11 say the wind power plan will break up migration patterns, harm nests, and even injure or kill eagles and other raptors.

Attempts to contact the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and the project developer were unsuccessful, but KARE 11 will continue to follow the story.

9/11/10 Wisconsin Eye hosts panel on wind issues: WeEnergies, WPPI, Vice Chair of Wind-siting council and Wisconsin author weigh in on wind rules. 

Source: Wisconsin Eye

09.10.10 | Newsmakers: Future of Wind Energy

Wisconsin has more than 300 electricity-generating wind turbines, which can cost up to $4 million each, and developers have plans for hundreds more to meet a requirement that 10% of the state’s energy come from renewable sources by 2015.

Although the Public Service Commission has proposed permanent rules on the siting of those turbines, members of the Wind Siting Council, which studied the issue for six months, have warned that they can pose shadow “flicker,” health and property values problems.

Wind energy was discussed in a Sept. 10 Newsmakers with Dan Ebert, a vice president of WPPI Energy and former Public Service Commission chairman; Andy Hesselbach, Wind Energy Project Manager for We Energies; Doug Zweizig, Town of Union planning official and Wind Siting Council vice chairman, and Lynda Barry, author now researching a book on homes near turbines.

Watch this program by CLICKING HERE

 Listen by CLICKING HERE

TO LINK TO THIS PROGRAM OR TO BUY A COPY, VISIT THE WISCONSIN EYE WEBSITE BY CLICKING HERE

 

WIND TURBINES IN THE NEWS:

WIND TURBINE NOISE, AN INDEPENDENT ASSESSMENT

SOURCE Herald Gazette, knox.villagesoup.com

September 10 2010

By Stephen Ambrose and Robert Rand,

Stephen Ambrose and Robert Rand are members of the Institute of Noise Control Engineering. In 2009, they became concerned about the negative comments from residents living near wind turbine sites and, the apparent lack of regulatory action to address the potential for adverse health impacts from wind turbine generator noise in Mars Hill. They launched their own evaluation, and came to the following conclusions in a series of guest columns.

Wind turbines larger than one megawatt of rated power have become an unexpected surprise for many nearby residents by being much louder than expected.

The sounds produced by blades, gearing, and generator are significantly louder and more noticeable as wind turbine size increases. Long blades create a distinctive aerodynamic sound as air shears off the trailing edge and tip.

The sound character varies from a “whoosh” at low wind speeds to “a jet plane that never lands” at moderate and higher wind speeds. Blade-induced air vortices spinning off the tip may produce an audible “thump” as each blade sweeps past the mast.

Thumping can become more pronounced at distance, described as “sneakers in a dryer,” when sounds from multiple turbines arrive at a listener’s position simultaneously.

Wind turbines are not synchronized and so thumps may arrive together or separately, creating an unpredictable or chaotic acoustic pattern.

The sounds of large industrial wind turbines have been documented as clearly audible for miles. They are intrusive sounds that are uncharacteristic of a natural soundscape.

Studies have shown that people respond to changes in sound level and sound character in a predictable manner. A noticeable change in sound level of 5 decibels (dB) may result in “no response” to “sporadic complaints.” An increase of 10 dB may yield “widespread complaints,”; a 15 dB increase “threats of legal action.”

The strongest negative community response occurs with an increase of 20 dB or more, resulting in “vigorous objections.”

Audible tones, variability in sound level, and an unnatural sound character can amplify the public response. For a distinctive or unpleasant sound, a small change in sound level, or the sound simply being audible, may provoke a strong community response.

Community response can intensify further if sleep is disturbed and quality of life or property is degraded.

Weather conditions influence the sound level generated and how it travels to nearby homes. Sound waves expand outward from the wind turbine with the higher frequencies attenuating at a faster rate than low frequencies.

Locations beyond a few thousand feet may be dominated by low frequency sounds generated by the wind turbines.

Wind turbulence and icing, both common in New England due to topography and latitude, increase aerodynamic noise from intensified or chaotic dynamic stall conditions along the blade surfaces.

Atmospheric conditions at night and downwind enhance sound propagation toward the ground by increasing levels over longer distances.

Wind turbines are elevated hundreds of feet to receive stronger winds yet winds down on the ground or in nearby valleys may be non-existent with correspondingly low background sound levels, accentuating the impact of the intrusive sounds.

Other professionals have developed thresholds, or criteria, for sound level to protect public health that may be applied to planning for wind turbine permitting.

Recommendations from Hayes McKenzie Partnership in 2006 limited maximum wind turbine sound levels at residences to 38 dBA and no more than 33 dBA when “beating noises” are audible when the turbines spin.

Dan Driscoll presented his analysis in 2009 (Environmental Stakeholder Roundtable on Wind Power, June 16, 2009) with a Composite Noise Rating analysis of 33 dBA to reduce rural community response to the level of “sporadic complaints.”

Michael Nissenbaum issued his findings in 2010 from his medical study at Mars Hill, recommending a 7000-foot setback for public health.

The World Health Organization published sound level thresholds of sleep disturbance and adverse health effects from peer-reviewed medical studies (Night Noise Guidelines for Europe, October 2009).

Our next column will compare our sound level versus distance data with these medical, health, and community response criteria and show what distances are necessary to protect public health.

Currently there is no effective, reliable noise mitigation for wind turbines of this size other than shutdown.

Therefore, at this time it appears appropriate that proposed wind turbine sites should position wind turbines at least one mile away from residential properties and further for sites with more than one wind turbine. Smaller wind turbines (under one megawatt power rating) produce less noise than those currently being marketed and installed for grid power in Maine; these may be an option when distance is an issue.

´╗┐NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD:

The wind farm mentioned in the following story was cited an example of a successful community wind project by Wind Siting Council member Michael Vickerman

State of Maine finds Fox Island Wind Turbines in violation of noise standard
  SOURCE: Fox Island Wind Neighbors
September 10, 2010 

8/13/10 DOUBLE FEATURE: Like a bad neighbor, Acciona is there. And ignoring noise studies AND Wind Farm Strong Arm: Wisconsin looks in the mirror and sees Maine: 

Note from the BPWI Research Nerd: Spanish wind giant, Acciona, owns easements to land in Rock County for a large wind project that would occupy Magnolia Township. The proposal is for 67 wind turbines to be sited in Magnolia's 36 square miles.

Acciona has not responded to repeated email from Better Plan asking for information about the project.

The contracts held by Acciona for farmland in Rock County were solicited by a "local" wind developer, EcoEnergy, who wooed local residents, held contract signing parties and open houses and then quickly 'flipped' the project to Spanish ownership. How much EcoEnergy made by selling the valuable contracts is unknown, but the farmers who signed away their land won't see any of it.

Like a bad neighbor, Acciona of Spain is there.

Acciona submits 'final' statement; Developer ignores consultant's views on noise analysis

SOURCE: Watertown Daily Times, www.watertowndailytimes.com

August 12, 2010

By Nancy Madsen

CAPE VINCENT — The developer of St. Lawrence Wind Farm has eliminated two wind turbines for noise and wetland considerations, but it ignored the conclusions of the town’s consultant on noise analysis in order to maintain a 51-turbine array.

Acciona Wind Energy USA submitted the possible Final Environmental Impact Statement to the town Planning Board on July 28. The board will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Cape Vincent Recreation Park, 602 S. James St., to decide whether to accept the statement and deem it complete.

The developer’s consultant, David M. Hessler of Hessler Associates Inc., Haymarket, Va., maintained that his handling of noise measurements and analysis were proper. But the town’s independent consultants, Gregory C. Tocci and William J. Elliot of Cavanaugh Tocci Associates, Sudbury, Mass., found fault with the analysis.

Mr. Hessler used sound levels that were an average of 44 decibels during the summer and 37 decibels during the winter when the wind is blowing.

According to a state Department of Environmental Conservation guideline, noise exceeding six decibels above ambient is considered intrusive or objectionable. Hessler Associates’ analysis showed the array of turbines would not create noise above six decibels above ambient at any residence.

“All residences, whether participating or not, lie outside of the 42 dBA sound contour line and will be short of the 6 dBA NYSDEC threshold,” the developer wrote in the statement. “However, wind and weather conditions (i.e., temperature inversion and low level jetstreams) may develop from time to time causing Project sound levels to increase, sometimes substantially, over the normal predicted level.”

Those periods should be short, the statement said, although it noted that the cumulative effects if both St. Lawrence Wind Farm and BP Alternative Energy’s Cape Vincent Wind Farm were built would push noise levels above the DEC guideline. The statement predicted higher levels for six participating and 37 nonparticipating residences.

In letters to town engineer Kris D. Dimmick, of Bernier, Carr & Associates, Watertown, Mr. Elliot and Mr. Tocci repeated criticism of the noise analysis Mr. Elliot described to town officials in February. He said then that Hessler’s data did not statistically support the correlation between wind speed and noise. To get a stronger correlation, the wind speed and noise levels would have to be taken at the same location, but they were not, he said.

In a May 14 letter, the two disputed the background noise levels that Mr. Hessler assumed through his regression analysis. Mr. Elliot and Mr. Tocci had measurements that averaged five decibels below the levels Mr. Hessler predicted in his regression analysis. They recorded the sound levels at specific wind speeds.

If ambient noise levels have been overstated in the impact statement, it will allow higher levels of noise from turbines without violating DEC limits.

“Using a regression to associate background sound with wind speed frequently underestimates wind turbine noise impact by permitting frequent conditions where turbine sound significantly exceeds the NYSDEC margin of 6 dBA,” Mr. Elliot and Mr. Tocci wrote.

In a rebuttal letter June 21, Mr. Hessler said the actual measured noise values were too strict.

“Using these overly conservative values in the various wind speed bins as bases for evaluating the nominal impact threshold of a 6 dBA increase would undoubtedly and unrealistically suggest that adverse noise impacts will occur on a widespread basis over the entire project area and beyond,” Mr. Hessler wrote.

In a July 15 letter, Mr. Elliot and Mr. Tocci again argued against using the regression analysis and for the actual measurements from wintertime.

Using the measurements “leads to an impact threshold based on the NYSDEC policy that is approximately 5 dBA lower than the impact threshold estimated by Hessler” at 13.4 miles per hour, they wrote. “It is at this wind speed that Hessler indicates the greatest potential noise impact may occur.”

They reiterated that the Hessler analysis does not show a “conclusive relationship” between sound and wind speed. As a result of the averages used by Hessler, Cavanaugh Tocci suggested instituting a resolution process for noise complaints.

The developer proposed a complaint resolution procedure. A written complaint from a resident or business would go first to the developer. Acciona would have five days to respond and if the developer couldn’t fix it, the complaint would be sent to a town designee for investigation.

Any testing would begin within 10 days of the report from Acciona. Test results would go to the plaintiff and town within 30 days. If the town Planning Board agreed the turbine violates permit conditions, the developer would mitigate it. If the plaintiff wasn’t happy with the resolution or it had been longer than 30 days and there had been no resolution, an appeal could be made to the complaint resolution board.

The board will have a member from the developer and the town and an independent consultant agreed upon by the developer and town. That member can change depending on the nature of the complaint.

The board has 30 days to hear the complaint and 30 days to render a binding decision.

Repeated complaints will trigger additional investigations only if the town determines the operational characteristics have changed since the first complaint.

The final statement also proposes eliminating two turbines for noise and wetland concerns, moving a turbine 2.9 miles and adjusting 10 turbines to decrease wind turbulence. It includes additional well, wetland and wildlife studies. Five segments of roads and 23 intersections will need improvements to handle the construction, and 31 of the 51 turbines will be lit with simultaneously flashing beacons, according to Federal Aviation Administration standards.

The statement also responds to all comments made by agencies and the public on the draft and supplemental environmental impact statements.

The statement is available at the Cape Vincent Public Library, 157 N. Real St.; Lyme Free Library, 12165 Main St., Chaumont, and Cape Vincent town clerk’s office, 1964 Route 12E. If it is accepted as complete, it will be available on Acciona’s website as well.

If the board deems the statement complete, it can complete its findings and end the environmental review after 10 days. The board has indicated that could happen Sept. 15. Other involved agencies, but not the public, also will weigh in with findings.

´╗┐SECOND FEATURE:

WIND POWER LAW HASN'T RESOLVED DEVELOPMENT CONFLICTS

 SOURCE: Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting, bangordailynews.com,

 By Naomi Schalit, Senior Reporter

AUGUSTA, Maine — After proposing major changes to state law that would speed up the review of wind power projects, Gov. John Baldacci’s wind power task force members went one step further: They made a map.

Without the map, the law would just be a set of rules. The map was essential because it showed where wind turbines could go to get fast-track consideration.

The map designated all the organized towns and about a third of the unorganized territory as the state’s “expedited wind zone” where that speedy consideration of projects would take place. The task force also proposed to allow the Land Use Regulation Commission to expand the areas if applicants met certain standards.

How that map got drawn is not clear from the official record of the task force’s meetings. That’s because summaries for the last two meetings don’t exist, said task force chair Alec Giffen’s secretary, Rondi Doiron.

“Everyone was working straight out on getting the report done and no one had time to get the summaries done,” Doiron wrote in an email to the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting.

But Giffen and others freely describe the map’s genesis: First, Giffen consulted with the developers’ representatives one-by-one, as they were loathe to share proprietary information with competitors. Then he went to the environmental groups and asked what areas they wanted to protect.

Then he came up with a proposed map designating expedited wind development areas.

“I integrated, based on what I knew about what areas were important for what kinds of uses, presented it to the task force and got concurrence that the way in which it was outlined made sense,” Giffen said.

Others describe the map-drawing process as a last-minute rush to get the task force’s report done in time for legislators to consider as they neared the end of a short session.

“There was a lot of ‘Here, here, here and here’ and ‘No, no, no and no,” during the map debate, said task force member Rep. Stacey Fitts, R-Pittsfield. “It changed several times.” Maine Audubon’s Jody Jones described the process as “I want this in, I want this out.”

Whatever the process looked and sounded like is lost to the public record because no minutes were taken or recorded.

And that, says Sun Journal managing editor Judy Meyer, who’s also vice president of the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition, is “shocking.”

Maine law doesn’t require groups like the governor’s wind task force to memorialize deliberations, says Meyer.

“There’s no requirement that they record their meetings or produce minutes,” she says. “What smells particularly about this is that there are some summaries and not others. That’s a real eyebrow raiser. You’d think a governor’s task force would have the ability to keep minutes of its proceedings.”

Giffen says the map — which was approved by the full Legislature — is only the first step in deciding whether a project should be built in a specific place.

“It’s a coarse filter to try to get wind power development guided to parts of the landscape where it’s already partially developed and you already have infrastructure,” he said. “Then you have the finer filters of the regulatory process.”

Task force member Pete Didisheim of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, who was one of the group’s strongest proponents of wind power development, says the map provided an essential tool by taking a lot of uncertainty out of the process of siting wind farms. That’s because he says that the designation of expedited zones announced, by implication, where developers shouldn’t go.

“I don’t think that any other state has drawn a map that says to developers, ‘Don’t go here,’” said Didisheim.

Attorney Chip Ahrens, who attended task force meetings on behalf of two clients, a large wind power developer and an installer of small wind turbines in commercial and residential sites, said that approach turned state regulation on its head — appropriately:

“There had always been on the table the state saying where wind power should go,” said Ahrens, who stressed he was not speaking on behalf of his clients. “I said, ‘let’s say where it should not go.’”

And just because a site is in the expedited permit zone doesn’t mean it’s an automatic approval once a wind power project applies for a permit to build.

“The law specifically says that the permitting agency shall not compromise its regulatory review criteria,” says LURC director Catherine Carroll. “It’s not a slam dunk.”

Law tested, angering some

That point was made acutely clear this year in one of the first tests of the new law, an application by TransCanada to build turbines in the expedited wind zone near its western Maine Kibby Mountain project.

At a meeting on July 7 in Bangor, LURC commissioners — all of whom were nominated or renominated by Gov. John Baldacci — indicated by straw vote they’d deny TransCanada’s request to construct the turbines.

Several environmental organizations, including the three groups who were on the governor’s wind power task force, testified against portions of the project. Objections ranged from damage to wildlife to degradation of the scenically valuable high mountain site. Many of the commissioners likewise expressed concerns about the potential harm the project would do to the site.

Commissioners struggled to weigh the new law’s goals for wind power development against the environmental problems posed by the project.

“I’m terribly conflicted here,” said Commissioner Steve Schaefer.

He and other commissioners said they were unclear whether the law’s goals for wind power were binding on them and would force them to approve a project they didn’t feel protected the landscape they were legally obligated to protect.

“The Wind Power Act looms large here,” said Commissioner Ed Laverty.

“We’re all going to reduce global warming and our carbon footprint,” continued Laverty, “but most of the immediate benefits of projects like these do not accrue to the people of Maine, they’re exported through the grid elsewhere.

“What stays with us in the state of Maine are the environmental impacts.”

A few days after the LURC meeting, TransCanada’s project manager Nick DiDomenico was outraged at the meeting’s outcome. The environmental groups that had participated in the task force and then opposed TransCanada’s proposal drew his special wrath:

“The [environmental groups] were at the table when the map was drawn up,” he said. “That to me means these areas are acceptable for visual impacts. Maybe we were a little naive in drawing that conclusion.

“We thought the Wind Power Act meant something.”

Within eight days, construction company Cianbro’s chairman Peter Vigue had published a column in the Bangor Daily News criticizing LURC. Cianbro has done construction work on TransCanada’s wind power projects as well as others in the state.

“This unpredictable regulatory environment will discourage investment in Maine,” wrote Vigue.

On Aug. 1, retired law professor Orlando Delogu published a similarly sharp-toned column in the Maine Sunday Telegram.

“Reading a transcript of the recent LURC hearing on TransCanada’s proposed Kibby No. 2 wind energy project, a 45-megawatt expansion of an existing facility in Chain of Ponds Township, makes you want to cry for Maine’s economy and energy future,” wrote Delogu.

“And then it makes you mad.”

But state Sen. Peter Mills isn’t mad at LURC. Instead, he calls the LURC commissioners “victims” of a new state policy that isn’t clear enough about if, and how, competing values can be resolved.

“No one wanted to be bothered with the details,” said Mills. “We’ll just leave it up to LURC to figure out what we mean. We passed this thing, but we never gave them the tools to deal with this.”

LURC Commissioner Sally Farrand mirrored Mills’ frustration, when she remarked during the July 7 hearing, “Boy, I sure hope we can tighten up some of this stuff because I see it as a skating rink with some very dull skates.”

Other problems

There are other problems created by the legislation. One unintended consequence is that Maine mountain ridgelines, once available at relatively cheap prices to those who wanted to preserve them, have become coveted – and expensive – pieces of land.

“Were it not for the wind-power market, alpine land has fairly limited value,” said Alan Stearns, deputy director of the Bureau of Parks and Lands. “Right now the mathematics is land with wind power potential is not for sale for conservation.

“As long as the market for wind power is dynamic,” said Stearns, “most landowners with wind-power potential are working with wind power developers, not conservation groups, for that land.”

And turbine noise that irritates neighbors has proven to be especially problematic, with residents who live near towers complaining of sleep disturbance and other health problems.

But a comparison of the task force’s report with the governor’s legislation that became the Wind Power Act reveals a significant omission: The recommendation that the environmental protection commissioner be given the power to modify the noise aspects of a project’s permit never made it into the legislation.

Gov. Baldacci supplied the following answer in writing when asked why that provision had been left out of his wind power legislation:

“I relied on the Task Force members’ review of the draft legislation as a complete and accurate reflection of all the recommendations in their Report. If one or more of their recommendations was not included, I was not aware of that nor was any omission or deletion done at my request or direction.”

Task Force Chairman Giffen likewise had no idea how the omission occurred, and told the Center he knew of no plans to correct it.

Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.

“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine — oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines — that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

Uncertain future

What’s significant for the state’s wind power policy is that Mills, who wasn’t on the task force, isn’t the only one who now doubts whether the state can — or should — meet the goals promoted by the governor and enshrined in his Wind Energy Act.

Members of Baldacci’s hand-picked task force are dubious as well about whether there really are enough suitable — and politically acceptable — sites to build turbines to meet the goal of 2,000 megawatts by 2015 and 3,000 megawatts by 2020.

“We have to look at whether we have the land base to meet them,” said Jones.

Reaching 3,000 megawatts “is dependent on whether the political consensus holds up,” said task force member and DEP Commissioner David Littell.

“I think it’s a stretch to reach 2,000 by 2015,” said the NRCM’s Pete Didisheim.

But Giffen said he still believes that promoting wind power is an essential response to global warming.

“So big picture here, the way that I look at this, is to say, the idea that there’s not going to be any change in the state of Maine as regards our natural resources or how we generate energy, that’s not a possibility,” said Giffen.

”If we don’t do anyting, we’re going to see massive changes just in our natural resources. The changing climate conditions are going to mean that in 100 years the area around Portland is going to be suitable for loblolly pine (a southern tree species). What does that mean for our existing soils, our existing ecosystems?

“Is no change something that is even possible?” asks Giffen. “No, it’s not. Do we have significant problems with our energy supply and dependence on fossil fuels in terms of climate change? Yes.

“So is Maine well served by having looked at its regulatory system to see how it can deal in a rational way with this kind of development? Is it perfect? I doubt it. Will we learn as we go along? Yes.”

LURC Commissioner Laverty takes another perspective:

“I think we need to take into consideration, there aren’t a lot of these 2,700 plus foot mountains in the state of Maine … I think that we have to pay special attention to the impact on significant resources in these areas, because,” he said, “once you invade these resources, the chances of re-establishing them over time, at least in our lifetimes, probably are fairly slim.”

In the end, the law that was supposed to put conflict to rest has not, and for a host of reasons, both procedural and substantive. Harvard University professor Henry Lee, who teaches energy and international development at the Kennedy School of Government, said the conflict in values that wasn’t resolved by Maine’s Wind Energy Act — where those who want to act against the threats of global warming fight land conservationists — is one that’s playing out across the nation and globe.

“I think that this pits to some extent environmental organizations against each other,” said Lee. “Some are focused on pollution issues and see wind and solar and other renewables as a significant improvement in terms of reduced pollution — and it is.

“On the other hand if you’re worried about land use, in a world where … you have a finite quantity of land, there will continue to be significant disputes,” said Lee. “Wind sites tend to be slightly better along the coast and at higher altitudes, exactly where you have sign conflicts with esthetics.

“These disputes are going to get more intense, not less,” Lee said.

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