Entries in wind turbine noise (103)

12/26/11 More evidence of negative health effects wind developers claim do not exist AND Getting away with murder: how green is a bird and bat killing machine? 



Via Cape Cod Times, www.capecodonline.com

December 26, 2011 

FALMOUTH — A study released last week concludes wind turbines in Falmouth negatively affect abutters’ health.

The analysis was partially funded by a grant from Bruce McPherson, who opposes the Falmouth wind project and other turbine projects on Cape Cod. Its results assert that wind turbines cause “visceral” physical reactions and that sound waves from turbines are felt more intensely indoors than outside.

“We did not expect it,” said Stephen E. Ambrose, a Maine environmental sound consultant who co-authored The Bruce McPherson Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise Study.

Ambrose declined to release the amount he was paid but said he and a partner each spent about 800 hours on the study.

Ambrose and Robert W. Rand, who also specializes in sound studies, conducted their research over three days in April, Ambrose said.

The two former employees of Stone & Webster Inc., a Stoughton engineering firm that designs and builds power plants, have conducted peer reviews on acoustics from turbines for several towns in Massachusetts, Maine and Wyoming.

For this study, Ambrose and Rand lived in a house near Blacksmith Shop Road for three days while measuring pressure originating from infrasound. They documented the intensity of sound frequencies from a privately owned turbine in the Falmouth Technology Park and how their bodies responded to it. The turbine studied is roughly the size of Falmouth’s two municipal turbines.

When the two arrived at the house — located 1,700 feet from the turbine — on April 17, they began feeling effects within 20 minutes, according to the study. Both felt nausea, dizziness and anxiety, among other side effects.

They also reported having difficulty performing “normal activities” associated with the investigation, which included setting up instruments and observing measurements, the report states.

According to a chart included in the study, the discomfort and sick feelings intensified as wind speeds increased and the blades spun faster.

Previous sound studies that showed no negative health effects were done outdoors, Ambrose said. The recent study, which used low-frequency microphones to measure sound waves, showed sounds are more intense indoors than out. Data from this study showed a 10 dbG (a measurement for infrasound) increase outdoors and a 20 dbG increase indoors. The effect is similar to "living in a drum," he said.

An independent review of the acoustics data indicates it is scientifically valid, Nancy S. Timmerman, chairwoman of the Acoustical Society of America's Technical Committee on Noise, said in an email. She added that she can speak only to data on acoustics, not physiological effects reported in the study.

Jim Cummings, executive director of Acoustic Ecology Institute, another expert who looked at the study, said in an email the results could be a red flag on the correlation between infrasound and negative health effects, but more data are needed to establish proof.

"This is an indication, for sure, but a short sampling to base large claims on," Cummings wrote. "This and one other recent paper from the Association for Noise Control Engineers conference, Noise-Con, are both good indications that infrasound could be more problematic than generally assumed."

Falmouth Selectman Mary Pat Flynn, chairman of the board, said the study is one of many the board has received about wind turbines. Others show little or no harm caused by turbines, she said.

"We've had a number of studies sent to us, and they all have different points of view, and they all have different outcomes," Flynn said.

Ambrose and Rand's study comes as the state Department of Environmental Protection prepares itself for a sound study of the Falmouth-owned Wind 1 turbine. Environmental regulators agreed in September to conduct the study after Falmouth selectmen reached out to the department in September.

"It's still in the works, still under review," said Ed Coletta, a DEP spokesman. "We're hoping to get it done soon."

Last month selectmen announced the town would shut down the 1.64-megawatt Wind 1 — except during the tests — until April's town meeting. The town also plans to start up the Wind 2 turbine for 60 days, during which time officials plan to log complaints from residents.

The announcement came as a compromise after Wind 1 abutters filed a nonbinding town meeting article that asked selectmen to keep both turbines off until "mitigation options are fully explored and the existence of injurious conditions upon nearby residents can be qualified."

Wind 2, which has sat idle for about a year, could begin spinning for its trial period before mid-January, said Gerald Potamis, Falmouth's wastewater superintendent, who oversees the two municipal turbines.

Next month, Falmouth selectmen will choose a consultant to help advise the town on minimizing the impact of wind turbines on neighbors, Flynn said. Four firms were presented to selectmen during a meeting Dec. 19. The board will accept suggestions from residents until Jan. 4 and plans to choose one Jan. 9, Flynn said.

[Click here for Ambrose and Rand's study.]

Next Feature:


by Cody Winchester,

VIA www.argusleader.com 

December 26, 2011 

“Developers typically build at the site they’ve chosen, regardless of wildlife concerns,” she said. “We’ve written letters stating the proposed location is likely to have high wildlife impacts … but the projects were constructed (anyway).”

As the Obama administration moves on a plan to speed permitting of wind projects in the Great Plains, a major bird conservation group is asking the government to enact stricter standards for wind energy development.

The American Bird Conservancy has formally petitioned the Department of the Interior to develop mandatory siting rules for wind projects, claiming that existing guidelines, which are voluntary, constitute a “counterproductive and almost certainly unlawful approach” to enforcing the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

“Most wind energy projects that are already in operation are in ongoing violation” of the act, since most birds killed at wind farms are protected, the petition says. The conservancy group alleges a “systemic failure” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to enforce the law.

The conflict highlights an ongoing tension between conservationists and a rapidly expanding industry seen as the linchpin of a clean energy future – although the petitioners also note that climate change driven by the combustion of fossil fuels “indisputably poses an unprecedented threat to species and ecosystems.”

Fueling the conflict is territory overlap: Windy corridors that are prime candidates for energy projects also tend to be migratory flyways. With the growth of the industry in wind-rich states such as South Dakota, conservationists are worried not only about collisions with turbines and power lines but further fragmentation of a habitat already under pressure from urban and agricultural expansion.

“There are impacts beyond the towers sticking up out there,” said K.C. Jensen, an associate professor of wildlife management at South Dakota State University.

Federal officials have worked for years to develop siting standards for wind projects and earlier this year released a set of draft guidelines. As the guidelines evolved, the American Wind Energy Association, a trade group, accused Fish and Wildlife of trying to “impose new guidelines that are not based on sound science.” But the American Bird Conservancy says the guidelines were in fact crippled by pressure from a federal advisory board dominated by industry.

“At first we were optimistic,” said Kelly Fuller, the conservancy’s wind campaign coordinator. “But over the last year, our view has changed. We have seen drafts of the guidelines repeatedly weakened under industry pressure. We’ve seen Fish and Wildlife Service abandon much of what its own scientific experts wrote, and so we felt that we now have to respond to this worsening situation.”

The group wants the rules strengthened and made mandatory, so wind developers would have to obtain a permit that specifically considers the project’s effects on migratory birds before beginning construction.

Such a permitting scheme would give the industry greater certainty, since wind developers are technically in violation of federal law every time a migratory bird is killed at a wind installation, said Shruti Sharesh, an environmental lawyer who filed the petition on behalf of the conservancy.

“On the one hand, we have the federal government promoting wind industry,” Sharesh said. “And on the other hand, we have a situation where both the government and the industry is well aware … (of) widespread violation of federal wildlife law.”

But Ron Rebenitsch, executive director of the South Dakota Wind Energy Association, argued that the opposite is true. He said new regulations would create greater uncertainty and make it more difficult to plan wind projects, which already require significant up-front financing and can take years to approve.

“This is not a good thing for wind,” he said. “I would be very cautious about how the rules are developed.”

The industry takes pains to minimize harm to wildlife, Rebenitsch said, adding that concerns about bird strikes are overblown.

“There has never been a recorded instance of a whooping crane impacting a turbine,” he said. “A whooping crane could fly into a building. … Do you shut down the industry (for the sake of birds)? That’s a very real concern.”

Rebenitsch said the number of birds killed at wind farms is inconsequential compared with the number killed by cats, windows and other causes related to human activity.

Fish and Wildlife already has a mechanism for permitting “take” of threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act and other federal laws, but not for migratory birds.

The conservancy group says this “legal anomaly,” coupled with the lack of enforcement by Fish and Wildlife, is unfair: Oil companies are prosecuted under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act when birds fly into oil sump pits and die, the group argues. Why should wind energy be exempt?

Developers ‘build where they want’

On its website, the South Dakota Wind Energy Association urges developers to “consult the environmental and cultural offices in the state as early as possible” and provides contact information for each office.

But this doesn’t always happen, said Natalie Gates, a biologist in the migratory bird program at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife ecological services field office in Pierre.

Sometimes, developers contact Gates about a new wind project as a courtesy. Most of the time, however, she hears about proposals from other federal agencies that need input on how the project would affect endangered species.

“Some developers are more conscientious than others,” she said. “Some work with us a little and some ignore us entirely. All tend to build where they want.”

Once her office knows where the company intends to build the project, Gates sends a comment letter outlining the agency’s concerns about habitat and wildlife populations, and typically she requests that the company undertake a baseline study of birds and bats in the area.

“Sometimes when I write a letter like that, I never hear back from the company,” she said.

Some companies hire consultants to collect pre- and postconstruction figures on bird and bat mortality, and this data can be helpful to wildlife agencies, Gates said. But a suggestion to avoid sensitive habitat “seems to get no traction with developers,” she said.

“Developers typically build at the site they’ve chosen, regardless of wildlife concerns,” she said. “We’ve written letters stating the proposed location is likely to have high wildlife impacts … but the projects were constructed (anyway).”

South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks also has guidelines for wind projects, and the agency’s wildlife biologists have provided expert testimony at hearings before the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, which issues siting permits for wind projects.

The commission carefully considers the input of wildlife experts when issuing rulings and crafting permit conditions, PUC Chairman Gary Hanson said.

Hanson, who has served on the governing board of the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative, is concerned about whooping crane numbers and would not necessarily oppose stricter federal guidelines for siting.

Fed’s plan would fast-track projects

The Interior Department, meanwhile, is developing a plan to fast-track wind projects in the Great Plains by allowing developers to go through the federal permitting process en masse.

The 200-mile-wide development corridor would follow the central flyway of the endangered whooping crane, which has a wild population in the low hundreds, from Canada to the Texas coast.

A consortium of wind energy companies, including Iberdrola Renewables and NextEra Energy Resources, which operate wind farms in South Dakota, would be granted incidental take permits in exchange for offsetting the losses with conservation efforts elsewhere. Fish and Wildlife still is hammering out the details.

Determining bird kill numbers a tough task

Estimates of birds killed at wind installations vary, and federal field agents face numerous obstacles in gathering accurate numbers.
“The (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) has no way of obtaining on a regular basis crucial information about birds and bats being killed at these projects,” said Shruti Sharesh, a lawyer at Meyer, Glitzenstein and Crystal, an environmental law firm .
The conservancy group partly blames this problem on confidentiality agreements between wind developers and private wildlife consultants, which can can make data sharing problematic.
In September, the Argus Leader submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to U.S. Fish and Wildlife asking for records of migratory birds killed by power lines or wind energy projects in South Dakota.
The agency returned a packet of investigative reports detailing 15 bird kills in North and South Dakota since 2008, all of them power line strikes.
This doesn’t mean there were no bird strikes or electrocutions prior to 2008, just that they weren’t necessarily entered into the agency’s computer system, said Rich Grosz, the resident agent in charge of the Office of Law Enforcement for the Dakotas.
Until recently, South Dakota had only one or two field agents, and Grosz said the agency is “completely dependent on the public” to notify it of bird electrocutions. In any case, further investigation may show that the bird died from other means, in which case the agency would not pursue an investigation.

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.



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:


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:


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.

12/20/11 What jobs? AND Wind developer's cash cow may go dry AND new noise study backs up wind project residents complaints AND Do wind turbines effect property values? Ask the wind project residents trying to sell their homes.


by Steve Deslauriers

VIA Brown County Citizens for Responsible Renewable Energy

Email:     info@bccrwe.com

(DENMARK, WI)  Industrial wind project developers claim they create jobs wherever the turbines are built, but recent studies show the jobs—mostly temporary—come at enormous cost to taxpayers.
In Illinois, each job created by construction of industrial wind turbines cost taxpayers an estimated $8 million, according to a comprehensive new analysis of enterprise zone reports from the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity (Illinois DECO).  Based on the information reported to DECO, taxpayers are paying the mostly foreign-owned wind companies $7.8-$9.6 million for each temporary primary job created.
In addition, industrial wind projects created very few local jobs in Illinois, according to the analysis by Illinois attorney Carolyn K. Gerwin. Of the 15 industrial wind projects reported by the Illinois Wind Energy Association, only eight of them appear on the DECO data. Those eight projects totaled $1.95 billion in project costs—and, as a group, created a total of 61 to75 jobs.
The analysis was reported to Wisconsin legislators on December 9th by the Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy (BCCRWE). The BCCRWE, together with a coalition of citizen groups from across the State, has developed science-based guidelines for safe industrial wind turbine siting that will, if followed, assure that health, safety, and economic factors are fully vetted in the PSCW wind turbine siting rules process.

 These Wisconsin Citizens Safe Wind Siting Guidelines, which should be used to determine the appropriate set-back distance from the property line, recommend 2,640 feet if the noise standards in the Guidelines are met.

  See the Guidelines the Wisconsin Public Service Commission website by CLICKING HERE 
The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin has the job of deciding how far wind turbines should be set back from a person’s property. If the suspension of the arbitrary and outdated PSC wind siting rules (PSC 128) is allowed to expire at the end of the legislative session, then the State of Wisconsin will knowingly impose the economic ‘undue hardships’ and ‘public health emergency’ on Wisconsin families that the JCRAR suspension sought to prevent.  

Steve Deslauriers
PO Box 703
Denmark, WI 54208
Email:     info@bccrwe.com



by Benjamin Romano,


December 20, 2011 

Neither the Production Tax Credit (PTC), which the US wind industry needs to avoid a collapse in 2013, nor the Treasury grant programme – key for the nation’s solar industry – would be extended under a tenuous year-end legislative package.

Despite an all-out lobbying push, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) could not convince lawmakers to include the PTC in year-end legislation to extend tax provisions, such as a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits, that expire on 31 December without Congressional action.

The top priority of the US wind industry is an extension of the PTC, which is worth $0.022/kWh for a project’s first 10 years in operation.

It is only available to projects that begin operation by 31 December 2012. Uncertainty about its continuation is already having a deleterious impact on the industry as developers scale-back project development for 2013 and beyond, slowing the flow of orders into wind equipment manufacturers.

The US solar industry mounted a campaign for a second one-year extension of the Treasury grant, which expires 31 December, and pays up to 30% of eligible renewable energy project costs. Last year, Congress extended the grant, given in lieu of tax credits, just as it was about to expire.

“We are disappointed that an extension of wind energy’s key federal tax incentive was not included in this bill,” AWEA chief executive Denise Bode said in a statement over the weekend. “The clock is ticking, business decisions are being made and some damage is certain.”

The industry had identified the year-end legislation as one of at least three possible opportunities to advance a PTC extension before the end of 2012.

Bode and the US wind industry now look ahead to Congressional action on tax extenders after the holidays.

“When Congress addresses extenders next year, we are very confident that continuing the wind manufacturing success story will be a prominent objective,” Bode says. “Tens of thousands of wind energy manufacturing jobs can still be saved if Congress addresses extenders early in 2012.”

The industry hopes that it can continue to build momentum behind a PTC extension into the new year.

The circumstances under which tax extenders legislation would be addressed in 2012 will be shaped by whether the House and Senate can come to an agreement now.

That looked increasingly unlikely Monday as Republicans in the House refused to support a bill passed by the Senate on Saturday to extend the payroll tax cut for two months, and the Senate appeared unwilling to return to work to take on the full-year extension proposed in the House.


From Massachussetts

The Bruce McPherson infrasound and low frequency noise study

December 14, 2011

by Stephen E. Ambrose, INCE (Brd. Cert.) and Robert W. Rand, INCE Member

SOURCE: Windaction.org: documents

This study investigated the possible presence of infrasonic and low frequency noise emissions (ILFN) from the “WIND 1”, a municipally-owned Vestas V82 industrial wind turbine in the town of Falmouth, Massachusetts.

Noise and Pressure Pulsations

The acoustic energy from the wind turbine was found to be:

1) Greater than or uniquely distinguishable from the ambient background levels, and
2) Capable of exceeding human detection thresholds.

This research revealed dynamically modulated low frequency and infrasonic energy from the nearby wind turbine occurring at the blade pass rate; energy which was found to be amplified indoors below 10 Hz. These dynamic infrasonic modulations were absent when the wind turbine was off. The wind turbine has tonal energy at 22.9 and 129 Hz. The wind turbine acoustic emissions were strongly coupled to the indoor environment at very low infrasonic pulsations and at the 22.9 and 129 Hz tones.

The dBA levels were inversely correlated to adverse health effects experienced; effects were more severe indoors where dBA levels were much lower (around 20 dBA). However the dBL (un-weighted) and dBG (infrasonic-weighting) levels were more strongly modulated indoors.

This increase in modulation indoors was consistent with the stronger adverse health effects indoors. The increase in total sound pressure indoors appears related to a "whole-house" cavity response; the outside pressure pulsations exciting the interior acoustic pressure much like a stick hitting a drum. Especially, the degree of negative pressure increased significantly indoors compared to outdoors.

Adverse Health Effects

This research revealed that persons without a pre-existing sleep deprivation condition, not tied to the location nor invested in the property, can experience within a few minutes the same debilitating health effects described and testified to by neighbors living near the wind turbines.

The debilitating health effects were judged to be visceral (proceeding from instinct, not intellect) and related to as yet unidentified discordant physical inputs or stimulation to the vestibular system. The dBG levels indoors were dynamically modulated at the blade pass rate and tonal frequencies and exceeded the vestibular physiological threshold guideline of 60 dBG provided by Dr. Salt.

Health effects moderated when dBG levels fell well below the 60 dBG guideline when the wind turbine was OFF. Wind turbine tonal energy at 22.9 Hz lies in the brain's "Beta" range which is associated with alert mental activity and anxiety; antithetical to sleep. The dynamic 0.7 Hz modulations of inflow turbulence and tonal energy lie in the deep Delta range associated with deep sleep. Clinical evidence of frequency following response (FFR) in the brain suggests that entrainment with wind turbine modulations, pulsations and tones may pose conflict for the brain's natural rhythms,
leading to stress when the conflicting signals (the wind turbine) cannot be turned off.

Other physiological mechanisms may be in play. Medical epidemiological field and laboratory investigation is needed. The study confirms that large industrial wind turbines can produce real and adverse health impacts and suggests that this is due to acoustic pressure pulsations, not related to the audible frequency spectrum, by affecting the vestibular system especially at low ambient sound levels.

The study results emphasize the need for epidemiological and laboratory research by medical health professionals and acousticians concerned with public health and well-being. This study underscores the need for more effective and precautionary setback distances for industrial wind turbines. It is especially important to include a margin of safety sufficient to prevent inaudible low-frequency wind turbine noise from being detected by the human vestibular system.

Next Feature

From Ontario:


by John Nicol and Dave Seglins 


October 1 2011 

Canadian Hydro Developers bought out four different owners for $500,000, $350,000, $305,000 and $302,670. The company then resold each property, respectively, for $288,400, $175,000, $278,000 and $215,000.

In total, Canadian Hydro absorbed just over half a million dollars in losses on those four properties.

The new buyers were required to sign agreements acknowledging that the wind turbine facilities may affect the buyer's "living environment" and that the power company will not be responsible for or liable from any of the buyer's "complaints, claims, demands, suits, actions or causes of action of every kind known or unknown which may arise directly or indirectly from the Transferee's wind turbine facilities."

The energy company admits the impacts may include "heat, sound, vibration, shadow flickering of light, noise (including grey noise) or any other adverse effect or combination thereof resulting directly or indirectly from the operation."

Ontario's rapid expansion in wind power projects has provoked a backlash from rural residents living near industrial wind turbines who say their property values are plummeting and they are unable to sell their homes, a CBC News investigation has found.

The government and the wind energy industry have long maintained turbines have no adverse effects on property values, health or the environment.

The CBC has documented scores of families who've discovered their property values are not only going downward, but also some who are unable to sell and have even abandoned their homes because of concerns nearby turbines are affecting their health.

"I have to tell you not a soul has come to look at it," says Stephana Johnston, 81, of Clear Creek, a hamlet in Haldimand County on the north shore of Lake Erie, about 60 kilometres southeast of London.

Johnston, a retired Toronto teacher, moved here six years ago to build what she thought would be her dream home. But in 2008, 18 industrial wind turbines sprung up near her property and she put the one-floor, wheelchair-accessible home up for sale.

"My hunch is that people look at them and say: 'As nice as the property is going south, looking at the lake, we don't want to be surrounded by those turbines.' Can't say that I blame them."

Johnston says she has suffered so many ill health effects, including an inability to sleep — which she believes stem from the noise and vibration of the turbines— that she now sleeps on a couch in her son's trailer, 12 kilometres away, and only returns to her house to eat breakfast and dinner and use the internet.

Industry rejects claims of lower land values

Meanwhile, the industry rejects claims of lower land values.

"Multiple studies, and particularly some very comprehensive ones from the United States have consistently shown the presence of wind turbines does not have any statistically significant impact on property values," says Robert Hornung of the Ottawa-based Canadian Wind Energy Association (CANWEA).

While acknowledging a lack of peer-reviewed studies in Ontario, Hornung says CANWEA commissioned a study of the Chatham-Kent area, where new wind turbines are appearing, and found no evidence of any impact on property values.

"In fact," says Hornung, "we've recently seen evidence coming from Re/Max indicating that we're seeing farm values throughout Ontario, including the Chatham-Kent area, increasing significantly this year as wind energy is being developed in the area at the same time."

However, Ron VandenBussche, a Re/Max agent along the Lake Erie shore, said the reality is that the wind turbines reduce the pool of interested buyers, and ultimately the price of properties.

"It's going to make my life more difficult," says VandenBussche, who has been a realtor for 38 years. "There's going to be people that would love to buy this particular place, but because the turbines are there, it's going to make it more difficult, no doubt."

Kay Armstrong says she felt fortunate to sell her two-acre property listed at $270,000 for $175,000.  
Kay Armstrong says she felt fortunate to sell her two-acre property listed at $270,000 for $175,000.  

Kay Armstrong is one example. She put her two-acre, waterfront property up for sale before the turbines appeared in Clear Creek, for what three agents said was a reasonable price of $270,000.

Two years after the turbines appeared, she took $175,000, and she felt lucky to do that — the property went to someone who only wanted to grow marijuana there for legal uses.

"I had to get out," said Armstrong. "It was getting so, so bad. And I had to disclose the health issues I had. I was told by two prominent lawyers that I would be sued if the ensuing purchasers were to develop health problems."

Realtor association finds 20 to 40 per cent drops in value

Armstrong's experience is backed up in a study by Brampton-based realtor Chris Luxemburger. The president of the Brampton Real Estate Board examined real estate listings and sales figures for the Melancthon-Amaranth area, home to 133 turbines in what is Ontario's first and largest industrial wind farm.

"Homes inside the windmill zones were selling for less and taking longer to sell than the homes outside the windmill zones," said Luxemburger.

On average, from 2007 to 2010, he says properties adjacent to turbines sold for between 20 and 40 per cent less than comparable properties that were out of sight from the windmills.

Power company sells at a loss

Land registry documents obtained by CBC News show that some property owners who complained about noise and health issues and threatened legal action did well if they convinced the turbine companies to buy them out.

Canadian Hydro Developers bought out four different owners for $500,000, $350,000, $305,000 and $302,670. The company then resold each property, respectively, for $288,400, $175,000, $278,000 and $215,000.

In total, Canadian Hydro absorbed just over half a million dollars in losses on those four properties.

The new buyers were required to sign agreements acknowledging that the wind turbine facilities may affect the buyer's "living environment" and that the power company will not be responsible for or liable from any of the buyer's "complaints, claims, demands, suits, actions or causes of action of every kind known or unknown which may arise directly or indirectly from the Transferee's wind turbine facilities."

The energy company admits the impacts may include "heat, sound, vibration, shadow flickering of light, noise (including grey noise) or any other adverse effect or combination thereof resulting directly or indirectly from the operation."

TransAlta, the company that took over for Canadian Hydro, refused to discuss the specific properties it bought and then resold at a loss in Melancthon. But in an email to CBC, spokesman Glen Whelan cited the recession and other "business considerations" that "influence the cost at which we buy or sell properties, and to attribute purchase or sale prices to any one factor would be impossible."

Province says no change to tax base

Ontario's ministers of Energy, Municipal Affairs and Finance, all in the midst of an election campaign, declined requests for an interview.

'That's what makes them sick is that, you know, they'll get less money for their properties, and that's what's causing all this annoyance and frustration.'—Environment Ministry lawyer Frederika Rotter

A spokesperson for Municipal Affairs says his ministry has no studies or information about the potential impact wind turbines are having on rural property values.

However, last February, before an environmental review tribunal in Chatham, Environment Ministry lawyer Frederika Rotter said: "We will see in the course of this hearing that lots of people are worried about windmills. They may not like the noise, they may think the noise makes them sick, but really what makes them sick is just the windmills being on the land because it does impact their property values.

"That's what makes them sick is that, you know, they'll get less money for their properties, and that's what's causing all this annoyance and frustration and all of that."

When Energy Minister Brad Duguid declined comment, his staff referred CBC News to the Ministry of Finance, which oversees MPAC (the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation), which sets values on land for taxation purposes. They indicated that MPAC has no evidence wind turbines are driving down assessed values.

However, CBC found one household in Melancthon was awarded a 50-per-cent reduction in property tax because the house sat next to a transformer station for the turbines.

Losing the rural life

Almost all the people interviewed by the CBC rue the division between neighbours for and against the turbines, and said what they have lost is a sense of home and the idyllic life of living in the countryside.

Tracy Whitworth refuses to sell her historic home in Clear Creek.Tracy Whitworth refuses to sell her historic home in Clear Creek. CBC

Tracy Whitworth, who has a historic home in Clear Creek, refuses to sell it and instead has become a nomad, renting from place to place with her son, to avoid the ill effects of the turbines.

"My house sits empty — it's been vandalized," says Whitworth, a Clear Creek resident who teaches high school in Delhi. "I've had a couple of 'Stop the wind turbine' signs knocked down, mailbox broken off.

"I lived out there for a reason. It was out in the country. School's very busy. When I come home, I like peace and quiet. Now, we have the turbines and the noise. Absolutely no wildlife. I used to go out in the morning, tend to my dogs, let my dogs run, and I'd hear the geese go over.

"And ugh! Now there's no deer, no geese, no wild turkeys. Nothing."

For the octogenarian Johnston, the fight is all more than she bargained for. She sank all her life savings, about $500,000, into the house, and she says she does not have the money to be able to hire a lawyer to fight for a buyout. But she is coming to the conclusion she must get a mortgage to try the legal route.

"I love being near the water and I thought, what a way to spend the rest of my days — every view is precious," she said, as tears filled her eyes. "And I would not have that any more.

"And that is hard to reconcile and accept."

Getting a mortgage on her house might not be that easy. CBC News has learned that already one bank in the Melancthon area is not allowing lines of credit to be secured by houses situated near wind turbines. In a letter to one family situated close to the turbines, the bank wrote, "we find your property a high risk and its future marketability may be jeopardized."

12/16/11 A letter from a turbine manufacturer


"At this point you may have asked yourself why it is that Vestas does not just make changes to the wind turbines so that they produce less noise? The simple answer is that at the moment it is not technically possible to do so..."

Author:  Engel, Ditlev

Dear Karen Ellemann,*

Following previous correspondence, I am writing this letter to express my concern regarding the limits for low frequency noise from wind turbines now being proposed.

Back in January 2011 we applauded your announcement of the new regulations regarding low frequency noise and the fact that you also then emphasised that those regulations would not be tightened and that it was a question of improving the security in connection with the installation of wind turbines. Accordingly, the reaction from the industry branch back in January 2011 was positive, although as an industry we were uneasy about having heavier demands imposed on us than other industries.

When the new regulations were then published on 26.05.2011, we were of course convinced of your initial point of view. As a result, we were extremely surprised to find that the proposed new regulations do in fact include a significant and severe tightening of the previous noise regulations.

In fact, according to our analyses, the most economical turbines, the 3 MW category, are the ones that will be strongly affected by the new rules. This applies to open terrain in particular, where in future low frequency noise will dictate and increase the distance requirements to neighbours for close to half of the projects that we are already aware of over the next 2 to 3 years.

In a small country such as Denmark this means that a significant number of projects will not be viable as the increased distance requirements cannot be met whilst maintaining a satisfactory business outcome for the investor.

The Danish market for wind turbines is of minor importance for Vestas in terms of sales, typically less than 1% of our sales per year. However, the Danish market provides a number of other functions for Vestas which are of considerable value from a business point of view. By means of its high wind penetration, 24% in 2010 – still a world record – Denmark has a role as a forerunner country and a full scale laboratory for conversion to renewable energy.

This means that other countries often look to Denmark when adjusting their legislation regarding wind energy. We are therefore concerned – justifiably so as history shows – that the proposed Danish regulations for low frequency noise from wind turbines will spread to a large number of other markets with much higher commercial impact for Vestas and consequently for employment in the business.

The Danish wind turbine industry employs approx. 25,000 people in Denmark and boasts an export which is about 8.5% of total Danish exports. Such “over-proportional” presence has become possible because Denmark has been able to create the conditions for good correlation between demonstration, education and industry research and development. In reality we fear that the demonstration element will suffer irreparable damage as a result of the new regulations regarding low frequency noise. When combined with the imminent danger that important markets will copy the new Danish regulations, I consider the new regulations to be extremely damaging to the prospects of further popularisation of land-based wind energy.

At this point you may have asked yourself why it is that Vestas does not just make changes to the wind turbines so that they produce less noise? The simple answer is that at the moment it is not technically possible to do so, and it requires time and resources because presently we are at the forefront of what is technically possible for our large wind turbines, and they are the most efficient of all.

In the light of this it seems strange that the wind turbine industry is being discriminated against compared to other industries. All other industries are subject to differential noise requirements regarding low frequency noise for night and day (20, respectively 25 dB), whereas the wind turbine industry are subject to requirements of 20 dB 24 hours a day.

The proposed low frequency limit values may hinder the development of onshore wind in Denmark, including meeting our commitments in relation to the EEC. Ultimately, we consider there is a danger that the regulations will be copied by other countries and accordingly this will provide an obstacle to the popularisation of wind energy at a global level. Both issues will damage Vestas as a business, including affecting Danish activities.

Yours sincerely,
Vestas Wind Systems A/S
Ditlev Engel
Chief Executive Officer
Alsvej 21, DK-8940
Dir. +45 9730 0000, www.vestas. com

A copy of this letter was sent to Lykke Friis, Minister for Climate and Energy

*Karen Ellemann, Minister of Environment
Department of Environment
Højbro Plads 4
1200 Copenhagen K

Randers, 29 June 2011/erlgs

Translated from Danish by Bente H. Sorensen, Translationz.com.au

12/9/11 When it comes to wind turbines, free wheeling means start running: Wind company workers must evacuate area at winds of 55mph, but what about residents who live there? AND Farming community fights wind developer AND Waking up to turbine noise

A £2 million, 100 metre tall wind turbine catches fire in hurricane-force winds at Ardrossan, North Ayrshire, Scotland. The wind turbine was spinning so fast it caught fire. The engine of the giant turbine went up in flames and its blades were blackened by smoke. The turbine was one of 15 set up on hills overlooking the Scottish coast, built to supply green electricity to 20,000 homes.

SOURCE: Telegraph, UK

An investigation has been launched into the cause of a wind turbine blaze during Thursday's hurricane-force storm.

By Mike Farrell, 

SOURCE news.stv.tv

December 9, 2011

As a standard precautionary measure, all Infinis staff vacate wind farms when wind speeds exceed 55 mph and therefore no one was present on site at the time of the incident.

The turbine in North Ayrshire burst into flames during the storms on Thursday afternoon.

Material from the 328ft turbine broke off during the spectacular fire, which started after the wind farm had been turned off by owners Infinis as wind speeds of more than 55mph had been recorded.

The company, which bought the 30mw farm for £53.8m from Scottish and Southern Energy in 2010, said it was trying to establish the cause of the blaze that broke out at around 3.40pm.

Infinis confirmed the nacelle, which is the white cover housing the generator and gear box of the turbine, caught fire.

A spokesman added: "Infinis confirms that a nacelle on a turbine at its Ardrossan wind farm, in Ayrshire, caught fire this afternoon in extreme stormy weather conditions.

"The fire had extinguished itself before the fire services arrived and did not result in personal injury. As a standard precautionary measure, all Infinis staff vacate wind farms when wind speeds exceed 55 mph and therefore no one was present on site at the time of the incident.

"The local distribution network operator, Scottish Power, was immediately notified of the incident and the site has been disconnected from the electricity network as a precautionary measure. The cause of the fire is not yet known and Infinis has taken immediate steps to investigate the incident fully."

The storm on Thursday caused devastation across Scotland, blocking roads, closing schools and flooding areas as winds of up to 165mph were recorded.

Ardrossan resident Stuart McMahon captured the fire in photos. He said: "I didn’t hear any explosion or anything, but my wife shouted for me to come down and see the fire.

"There are around 13 or 15 wind turbines in the farm above Ardrossan. They were all off today because of the high winds, so something has obviously shorted out and gone on fire.

"The fire was out quickly, but some debris fell from it and drifted quite a distance in the winds. The fire brigade are there, but the turbine was turning in the wind for a while after the fire."

Another resident, Tom Young, caught the blaze on video. He said: "Loads of fire engines and police were called out, but the fire was out pretty quickly.

"It was quite spectacular to say the least."


From Indiana:


By Rachel Martin,

SOURCE Indiana’s NewsCenter, www.indianasnewscenter.com

December 8, 2011 

The Wells County Plan Commission and Apex Wind Energy held another public meeting Thursday night to give answers and hear more public feedback about the proposed wind farm in southern Wells Co.

The wind was blowing strong in Wells County Thursday night, but not the way the Plan Commission and Apex Wind Energy officials had hoped. The Wells County Plan Commission was supposed to vote on the proposed wind farm project in Chester and Liberty townships, but community members were not allowing it.

A little over a dozen people raised their hands when asked who was in favor of the wind farm. Otherwise, almost all of the approximately 100 people that crowded the Southern Wells High School cafeteria were greatly opposed to the idea.

The community’s main concerns are noise, health risks, and decreasing property values. Residents are worried the hum of the spinning turbines will cause “wind turbine syndrome,” a constant ringing in the ears, and keep them up at night. Apex officials say the turbines would create between 50 and 90 decibels of noise, which is equivalent to the hum of a refrigerator.

A few residents shared their concerns with Indiana’s NewsCenter regarding, “strobe effect,” where light flickers off of the turbine blades. They say shadow flickering could cause seizures and epilepsy. Tim Stepp will have a wind turbine built 1000 ft. from his front door. He also has a relative who suffers from seizures that he and his wife care for. He says the shadow flickering, could exacerbate the problem.

“We are in one of the most intense areas of the entire plan. If this were to happen, my sister-in-law would not be able to stay in our residence. She would then have to relocate and since we are her care givers, we also would have to relocate,” Stepp said.

The biggest issue among residents is the decrease in property values from the wind farm. Residents say they would feel trapped because no one would buy a home close to a wind farm. Allison Alma and her husband just purchased property in Liberty Township to build a home. She said she just found out a 490 ft. wind turbine will be built in her future back yard.

“I paid for all the permits and nobody ever said anything to me about it. My house is probably going to be done in about two months and now I’m sitting there thinking, ‘what am I going to do?’ If I would’ve known, I would’ve never purchased this property,” Alma said.

Alma said her sister happened to be in the Plan Commission’s office one day and noticed a map marking the locations of the turbines. Alma says she tried contacting the Governor and has made numerous other calls trying to figure out her rights to fighting Apex. Alma says if the project is approved, “I’ll probably cry,” she said. “And then I’ll pick up the pieces and maybe we’ll start fighting.”

Both Alma and Stepp say they have not been contacted by anyone from Apex concerning compensation for the wind turbines on their properties.

Nick Huffman is one resident who is in favor of the wind farm project. He says the wind farm will boost the county’s economy. He says Southern Wells High School will receive between $600K and $900K toward Capital Funds Projects, and fire departments in Chester, Liberty, and Nottingham Townships will receive between $8-$20K. He says the wind farms will create more jobs and gain recognition for Wells Co.

“We don’t have anything in Wells Co. to show for. With this, it’s going to get us on the map a little better,” Huffman said.

Apex handed out a packet of questions and answers at the meeting. The packet confirms Huffman’s statements and also addressed the issues of noise, health, and depreciating properties. Apex and the County Plan Commission conducted a study of realtors and appraisers from Benton and White counties in northwestern Indiana where other wind farms are located. Their study shows property values did not go down in those areas, and homes were selling for market price.

Apex and the Plan Commission officials say approximately 200 people have leased their properties for wind turbines in Wells Co. so far. If the project gets approved, construction will begin in the Spring of 2012.


From West Virginia


by Katie Kyros,

SOURCE your4state.com 

December 8 2011

[Click here to watch video]

KEYSER, WV - Green Mountain in Keyser has been known a peaceful and idyllic place to live, but in the past month, residents say all that's changed because of 23 new wind turbines that they say are piercing the silence.

"The noise, it sounds like a subway in our yard," says resident William Shillingberg.

"A jet flying around, or a train coming through," says another resident, Donald Ashby.

"It's like someone is setting out front of your house with the base turned up real loud on their vehicle," says homeowner Gary Braithwaite.

They say the culprit is 23 new wind turbines. Pinnacle Wind Farm went into operation on November 4th. Since then, residents say it has disrupted their peace and quiet.

"I have woken up several nights from the windmills," says Ashby.

Residents say the turbines produce a loud, steady noise that's anything but peaceful.

"It's not every day, but it seems like to me in my house, it's every night," says Braithwaite.

Now they're asking Edison Mission Energy to keep them off at night. The U.S. Wind Force says the sound measured no higher than 56 decibels at the nearest residences. However, at the closest home,  it could be heard through the wind, which was measuring at levels above 70 decibels.

Ashby was on the advisory committee for the wind farm.

"Everybody's looking for jobs in our area, so I was in support of it at the beginning," he says.

Many homeowners on Green Mountain are now petitioning Edison Mission. The U.S. Wind Force says none of the energy generated by the wind turbines is going to West Virginia. It's all been purchased by the University of Maryland, and the Maryland Department of General Services.