Smith: Wind turbine noise cause real health problems

Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Annette Smith, the executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment Inc., based in Danby.

Recent media attention about wind energy development in Vermont, misses a critical reason why so many communities around the state are saying “no” to utility-scale wind on Vermont ridgelines. It˙s not just about the view.

When you focus solely on the view, you miss some of the other issues that are driving opposition. After working on the subject for three and a half years, Vermonters for a Clean Environment (VCE) knows there are numerous other complex issues — impacts to water quality from stormwater runoff, wildlife habitat fragmentation, bird and bat mortality, reductions in property values, and health impacts from noise in particular. Wind proponents condescendingly state that “people just don’t like to look at them,” in an intentional attempt to marginalize Vermonters who are concerned about wind projects’ impacts. Rather than address the issues, proponents belittle people who are directly affected.

These concerns are not based on selfish hysteria, but science. The Society for Wind Vigilance www.windvigilance.com is focusing credible, peer-reviewed science on the health impacts of wind turbines. They held a forum of doctors, acousticians, victims, and other interested people in October 2009, which I attended. Wind turbine noise is not a new story, making it all the more frustrating to see the noise problems left out of almost all the reporting being done in Vermont this fall about wind energy.

The wind industry is in denial about the noise impacts from their huge machines, and refuses all requests to hire experts that are acceptable to neighbors rather than the usual firms who are paid to defend developers’ interests.

There are thousands of wind opposition groups all over the world. The story is the same everywhere. The audible noise and inaudible low frequency and infrasound are driving people from their homes. People do not abandon their homes for no reason. Noise from these big machines can extend three to six miles in mountainous terrain, with residents within 2 miles most at risk.

Wind turbines pressurize the air, making homes act like a drum. The noise gets inside people’s homes and bodies. Sleep is disrupted, leading to other conditions including heart problems.

Wind turbines pressurize the air, making homes act like a drum. The noise gets inside people’s homes and bodies. Sleep is disrupted, leading to other conditions including heart problems. Despite hearing directly from Vermont doctors concerned about these impacts, our Department of Health has shown no interest in protecting neighbors’ public health.

A Sheffield family has been advised by their doctor to move because their children’s sleep and behavior is being disrupted by wind turbine noise. A neighbor of the Lowell project reported that with just two turbines turning, “it sounded like a 747 was flying overhead and never landing.” Noise experts tell us that noise on both sides of the Lowell wind project is going to be unduly adverse. A ridgeline array plus turbines too close together plus using 3 MW turbines with 4.5 MW blades equals a formula for excessive noise.

The sad part is that there is no mitigation for noise issues after the fact. Either someone turns the turbines off, or people have to move. Wind proponents like to say it is only those who oppose projects who object, because they are not being compensated. That assertion has been disproven by numerous studies and experiences in Vermont, where project supporters are among the victims.

By January, more than 1,000 Vermonters will be threatened with wind turbine noise and its accompanying health effects around Sheffield, Lowell and Georgia Mountain. Wind developers will deny there are any problems. They will hire their own experts who will find everything is fine, as they have in Sheffield.

When you have invested everything in your home or business, and you are threatened with losing everything, and with no compensation, the scenario is desolate. Around these wind projects, the story is heartbreaking as hundreds of people are being sacrificed.

Meanwhile, more towns are feeling frustrated and put-upon by developers who suggest they play “hosts” to these massive industrial projects. The Town of Newark was just sued over their Town Plan revision by a wealthy landowner who has leased his land to Eolian Wind.

We do have alternatives to respond to climate change. Solar cost is on a steep downward trend. Vermont has 30 percent more sun than Germany and Japan, both of which have heavily deployed solar. It is a better environmental option.

The tide has turned in Vermont where big wind is concerned. Environmental degradation, corporate take-over, aesthetic impacts, the noise and no proof that it will make a difference in addressing climate change make big wind a poor choice for Vermont.

If you want to find out about the noise for yourself, we know of several families in “host” communities that would be glad to swap houses with you for a while. Just let me know.

Comments

  1. Fred Woogmaster :

    Moratoriam means the loss of profit for investors with capital.
    Moratorium means due diligence and protection for Vermont citizens.
    Annette Smith makes good sense.
    I agree with Phil Scott; a time limited moratorium, sufficient to evaluate the issue more fully, will serve us well.

  2. Lauren Mac :
  3. George Plumb :

    So how important are the lives of just a few people? I mean really? It is much more important that we keep on generating increasing amounts of electricity so that thousands of people can drive hundreds of miles to a water park and produce millions of tons of carbon dioxide from their SUV’s and vans. Its the economy stupid!

    And thankfully VPIRG, VNRC, and CLF keep on supporting industrial scal wind. Yes, it is the right thing to do!

  4. Yesterday the Berkshire Eagle (Mass) had an article on the effect of noise on home owners on the Lowell Mountain side of the 21 turbines.

    I was up on the other side, in Albany and followed dirt roads up the mountain to farms and trailers set under the ridge. The turbines are almost overhead, gigantic, ominous and just beginning to operate. We’ll hear what those who live there heard.

    Rumblings are about of a documentary on turbine scams.

  5. Darcie Johnston :

    Senator Benningt and Senator Brock were the first to offer a moratorium amendment. Phil Scott position was announced in late August as Election Day was approaching. He never attended the events supporting the anti-wind folks this fall. Don’t confuse his verbal support for actual help.

  6. Annette Smith :

    I wrote this piece several weeks before the horrendous noise event that was experienced by the neighbors to the east last weekend. Here’s the petition they put together and filed with the PSD.
    http://lowellmountainsnews.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/noise-complaints-filed-with-vermont-public-service-department-11-5-12/

    Testimony provided to the PSB showing the deficiencies in GMP’s noise expert’s analysis and clearly identifying that noise will be a problem at the Lowell wind site, all of which the Board chose to ignore:

    http://psb.vermont.gov/sites/psb/files/docket/7628LowellWind/Testimony%20&%20Exhibits/Other_Parties'_Prefiled&Exh/AlbanyTown/James.pdf

    http://www.kingdomcommunitywind.com/permitting/lmg-leslie-blomberg/
    http://www.kingdomcommunitywind.com/permitting/town-of-albany-dr-t-ray-lovko/
    http://www.kingdomcommunitywind.com/permitting/rebuttal-testimony-richard-r-james/
    http://www.kingdomcommunitywind.com/permitting/albany-richard-r-james/
    http://www.kingdomcommunitywind.com/permitting/town-of-albany-dr-lovko/
    http://www.kingdomcommunitywind.com/permitting/lmg-leslie-d-blomberg/

    The PSB set the maximum noise level as 45 dBA (exterior), averaged over an hour. Dr. Lovko clearly told the Board this is not protective. The Board did not even mention Dr. Lovko’s testimony in its decision Here is one brief excerpt from Dr. Lovko’s testimony:
    “The problem with the limit of 45 dBA(exterior)(Leq)(1hr) is that it is simply too high to protect people from the adverse effects of noise from wind turbines. Averaging the levels over time further compounds this fact by allowing even higher sound levels to occur for periods of time. Please see my prior Rebuttal testimony to the Vermont Department of Health for more on this issue. It is hard to reconcile setting a sound level of 45 dba for wind turbines when there is clear and consistent evidence in the peer reviewed literature (as discussed below) that people start to suffer adverse health effects, especially annoyance, at levels below this. There have been three major studies looking at more than 1,500 people examining this issue (which I have summarized below). These studies do not answer all the concerns regarding wind turbines and health; however they provide clear and consistent evidence that the sound standard proposed by GMP and standards previously used by the Public Service Board are too loud to be protective of public health from wind turbine noise. The findings of these studies are important because they are well designed studies and they provide the best available evidence from which to base decisions regarding noise standards that would be protective of public health. Their results have also been remarkably consistent, making it possible to anticipate at what sound levels noise begins to be a problem.

    “One thing to keep in mind while I review these studies is that they may very well underestimate effects in Vermont. These studies looked at smaller wind turbines than those being currently proposed in Vermont. Most of the sites evaluated in these studies had fewer turbines in a given area than this current proposal. Many of the sites in the studies were on flatter, less varied terrain and those that were in hilly or rocky terrain tended to show higher rates of annoyance. Therefore these studies provide a conservative view of the potential impacts of wind turbine noise on the health of the public for the proposed project.”

  7. Avril Howe :

    It is tragic that all the predictions regarding the noise issue is now becoming a reality for these poor folk.

    Imagine if this was your home and how the wildlife will also be affected?

    It is deeply disturbing that the PSB chose to ignore the testimony presented to them on this problem during the hearings. This tragedy could have been avoided had they done so.

    Vermont is too small for the appropriate siting of Big Wind.

    • Grahame G. Bell :

      Almost without exception serious health risks from commercial activity have been both predicted and ignored.By the time the consequences become too difficult to ignore those commercial interests have moved on to devastate other environments. Without massive subsidies not one of these winds farms anywhere worldwide would exist. Science has the ability to reduce our energy needs without reducing our desire. Wind is only ever 60% efficient . To date we have only harnessed a tenth of our ability to convert solar. The brain with the equivalent of 5 biilion laptops of capacity consumes barely 30 watts of energy daily.

  8. steve merrill :

    If it emits sound it CAN be measured, no? How about ALL of us who live in villages and town centers (as is MOST of all Vermont) where we HAVE to “enjoy” the sound of Harley’s with straight-pipe exhausts and trucks with glass-packs? Last time I checked it was a FEDERAL violation (since the 1990’s) to “tamper with” or replace pipes with non-stock exhausts, yet Vt. DEC/ANR/DMV will do NOTHING about all of US having our windows rattled and lives disrupted..I live next to the border and the Canadian Harley’s are NOT allowed this insanity or they get pulled over and ticketed up there, and yes you can still tell they are Harley’s when they drive by due to the distinct sound..The DMV shrugs and says “poor folks can’t afford new pipes” as a reason to allow this insanity? Would they allow bad brakes, tires, broken windshields, hell NO..We are the majority in the “traditional” growth area’s and WE have to live with it, funny it depends who’s Ox is being gored, no? SM, North Troy

  9. Annette,
    Thank you writing this article.

    “The sad part is that there is no mitigation for noise issues after the fact. Either someone turns the turbines off, or people have to move.”

    Mitigation of noise levels can be accomplished by feathering the blades. The wind turbines will produce less energy AND make less noise. It is practiced in Massachusetts, etc. The noise is greatest at night, when wind speeds usually are greater.

    Wind turbine owners will howl, because they make the most energy when the wind is blowing hard; money, money, money! The production tax credit, PTC, is 2.2 c/kWh 24/7/365.

    Regarding codes, Maine, after much hassling and howling, finally reduced the 45 dBA to 42 dBA. This not trivial, but it should be reduced to that value, or less, AT THE PROPERTY LINE. Other jurisdictions already have lower values.

    It is not fair play to negatively infringe on people’s rights to enjoy all of their property without any compensation; the state government is aiding and abetting this crime.

    Doubling the sound pressure level, SPL, increases the dB instrument reading by 6 dB.
    For example: If at 800 uPa (micropascal) the SPL = 20 log (800/20) = 32 dB, at 1600 uPa it is 38 dB, and at 3200 uPa it is 44 dB, where 20 micropascal is the lowest SPL the human ear can sense, it is used as the reference pressure.
    http://www.osha.gov/dts/osta/otm/noise/health_effects/soundpropagation.html

    Vermont’s noise code is following the grossly-outdated standards of the World Health Organization which, as the WHO has stated, do not apply to wind turbines.

    it is worthless as a basis for rational judgement, but the heavily-subsidized, politically-well-connected Vermont wind oligarchy is very happy with the code and has pressured the PSB not to change it. It looks like Vermonters are in a vice operated by the top 1%. Time for another Tea Party.

    See this article for much stricter wind turbine noise codes in other states. Even Maine has a much stricter code.

    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/84293/wind-turbine-noise-and-air-pressure-pulses
    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/61309/lowell-mountain-wind-turbine-facility-vermont
    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/89476/wind-energy-co2-emissions-are-overstated

  10. Anne,
    My comment disappeared.
    Please resurrect it.
    Willem

  11. steve merrill :

    Funny how we ALL in the villages/centers, where MOST Vermonter’s actually live, have to listen to straight-pipe Harley’s, jacked up trucks, and muffler-less cars as the cops won’t enforce the laws against this stuff..Last time I checked it was a violation of FEDERAL law to tamper with the exhaust on ANY vehicle made after 1990 or so, but we don’t count as much as some yuppies who have the money to live out in the country I guess, hell, I’d be happy to swap this place in town for ANY place away from a traveled road. And where’s the so-called “outrage” over the wireless devices thrust on US who don’t want/need the high levels of RFR/EMF radiation of which there is tons of data showing DNA “anomalies” yet all of YOU have NO problem “needing” these devices to yap, yap, yap..We need the energy, we don’t need the noise and radiation..Thanks, SM

  12. Mike Barnard :

    Wind farms don’t harm people’s health.

    17 major reviews world-wide of thousands of pieces of peer-reviewed studies find the same thing: no harm from wind farm and no mechanism for harm. They all agree that a small number of people very close to wind farms find the noise annoying.

    Full links, references and analyses here:
    http://www.quora.com/Wind-Power/What-might-cause-people-who-live-near-wind-turbines-to-get-sick/answer/Mike-Barnard

    Wind energy is the best alternative for wildlife including birds and bats.

    Every study performed shows that wind energy is the best form of generation for wildlife. One study implies that if all fossil fuel generation could be replaced with wind farms, 70 million fewer birds would die annually from human causes.

    Full links, references and analysis here:
    http://www.quora.com/Wind-Power/How-significant-is-bird-and-bat-mortality-due-to-wind-turbines/answer/Mike-Barnard

    Infrasound from wind farms is one million times lower in intensity than could cause people harm. Wind farms emit less infrasound than waves on a beach.

    Full references, links and analysis here:
    http://www.quora.com/Wind-Power/Is-the-infrasound-emitted-by-wind-turbines-harmful-to-humans-or-animals/answer/Mike-Barnard

    Wind farms don’t harm property values.

    Four major studies of 41,000 property transactions in the US and UK by highly credible, independent organizations such as the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors find that wind farms do not reduce property values. Two studies, in fact, show the opposite: values near operating wind farms increase faster than similar areas nearby.

    Full references, quotes and links here:
    http://www.quora.com/Wind-Power/Do-wind-turbines-reduce-the-value-of-nearby-properties/answer/Mike-Barnard

    • David Norman :

      Mike… just so you are aware of the origins of the “17 major reviews” of Industrial Wind Turbine noise and health; About a year or so back I made a comment on one of Simon Chapman’s blogs where I created this number, providing the references, most of them based on the “Massachusetts expert panel” edict in this regard. My choice of the number 17 was based on a somewhat arbitrary figure, since I had in fact identified 34 relevant research reviews which had been Journal “peer reviewed”. Mind you, the scientific virtue of the “peer reviews” and the Journals themselves was arguable, however, I attempted to compensate for this by random choice in those that were highly speculative or directly wind industry associated or infrequently cited. So I arbitrarily divided 34 by 2 to come up with the number 17. The reason I did this is because I am researching the narrative attributes and implications of this issue on internet media, and was simply playing around with notions that might influence or direct the narrative. Quite frankly, I was amazed at how easily this figure was adopted. It’s not that these 17 references do not support your contentions, they do in fact, however, they are not representative of the now increasing volume of “peer reviewed” reviews of quantitative scientific research directly related to this issue. I take this opportunity to thank you, and in this commentary along with Steve, Leah and Rob, for your contributions.

      • Mike Barnard :

        Odd how there is a complete referenced set of links to these 17 individual reviews in my answer compiled by Professor Chapman.

        I think you are mistaking coincidence for something else.

        • David Norman :

          Mike… Interestingly, although this was the first occasion upon which I had actively participated in a narrative which I had under study, I had long since realized that “factual representation” particularly if it had the appearance of legitimate citation, was all to easily adopted, even by credentialed and otherwise invested knowledgeable participants. This was despite the fact that it was not “scientifically legitimate”, in the sense that I had purposely committed a quite arbitrary “error of omission”, although I was careful to respect the nature of the information in respect to any personal bias I might have. This was no “coincidence”, or at very most an extremely unlikely one since both the number and the references were identical and appeared consecutively over time. I maintained a complete chronological record of this for inclusion in my research. This was originally based on the Massacheusets review on which I wrote two populist style critiques and subsequently some commentary.
          This would be relatively easy for you to verify since it has come to my attention through your commentary that you have an extensive citation reference database, and my records indicate that since early 2010 you have extensively searched out and personally engaged references on the the internet in this respect. Your citation database appears to greatly exceed my own, and it is clear that you have access to references that would require a resource of the like you would have at IBM. I envy and would love to have access to your resources.
          Mike, one further note of interest: Awhile back I made formal request through my University for the measurement questioners and surveys, and the subsequent datasets, which comprised the four Pederson et al studies in this respect, and the “The influence of negative oriented personality traits on the effects of wind turbine noise” research study. To date, it appears that this request has been accepted, although there have been some proprietary concerns and interestingly indications that this request is novel in respect to this research. In the spirit of your indictment for empirical justification and the need for rigorous analysis of same, as indicated by you and your compatriots, like M.J. Murphy a.k.a. big city liberal, on Quora, for example, I will be critiquing the “measurement” instruments used in these studies.

  13. Mike,
    Here is a peer-reviewed report* of a recent study of noise from Maine IWT facilities on ridge lines which states there IS harm to the health of people.

    http://docs.wind-watch.org/Effects-of-industrial-wind-turbine-noise-on-sleep-and-health_Nissenbaum-et-al.pdf

    *From the September-October 2012 issue of Noise and Health, a professional publication.

    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/61309/lowell-mountain-wind-turbine-facility-vermont

    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/84293/wind-turbine-noise-and-air-pressure-pulses

    • The Nissenbaum / Aramini / Hanning study published in Noise and Health is unreliable.The data actually shows that everyone in the study group sleeps poorly, not just the ones close to wind farms. Their data is too scattered to support a correlation between wind turbine placement and sleep. Five of the six authors and thanked reviewers are Advisory Board members of the anti-wind lobbyist group, the Society for Wind Vigilance, but their long histories of anti-wind activism are unstated. One of the authors, Nissenbaum, was active in the wind farms studied previously doing poorly structured studies that would have increased fear and stress. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/02/25/a-study-in-noise-and-health-shows-that-wind-farms-cause-people-to-lose-sleep-how-reliable-is-this-study/

      As for your post on wind turbine and ‘air pressure pulses’, I dismantled it fully in comments on it long ago.

  14. John Greenberg :

    “A neighbor of the Lowell project reported that with just two turbines turning, “it sounded like a 747 was flying overhead and never landing.” … The sad part is that there is no mitigation for noise issues after the fact. Either someone turns the turbines off, or people have to move.”

    Yet, windmills are, almost by definition, an intermittent power source, as wind critics never tire of telling us.

    Assuming we take at face value the noise reports, how do you reconcile these two statements?

    • Annette Smith :

      Yes, the conditions change. Sometimes it is windy and the noise can be horrible. The whoosh whoosh whoosh is like Chinese water torture.

      Sometimes there is no wind and they get relief, most commonly in the summer and during the daytime.

      Like the wind, it is unpredictable. That in no way diminishes the serious public health threat that Vermonters are now being exposed to.

      The wind blows most at night and in the winter. Feathering the blades has not proven to solve the noise problems, though it can reduce the noise. Jon Margolis ridiculously said on VPT the other night maybe they can put up some sort of barrier. Ha ha. I guess he didn’t learn from Ken Kaliski’s testimony that the noise is supposed to be masked by the wind blowing.

      Turning the turbines off when the turbines are noisy is the right and humane solution, but the wind companies won’t want to lose out on the PTC money.

      As for the regulatory process, the PSB has set a very low bar. No noise monitoring is required until they are fully commissioned. This is crazy. And it’s only going to get worse with yet another community blasted by noise once David Blittersdorf’s Georgia Mountain (no) Community Wind project. At least the people in Chittenden County will have to look at that one, with its blinking lights.

  15. Mike Barnard :

    The recent study by Nissenbaum et al referenced by Mr. Post has a few challenges which are likely to lead to its retraction:

    1. The three authors are long-time anti-wind lobbyists who did not declare their prior history or conflicts. Two are members of an anti-wind lobbyist organization, Wind Vigilance.

    2. The three thanked reviewers are paid testifiers in anti-wind litigation and siting reviews. Once again they did not declared their conflicts of interest.

    3. They found a very weak correlation at best. The data actually shows significant sleep challenges in both the study group and the control group. They conclude causation, which the data doesn’t support.

    4. They discount bias in the study group as a potential cause of even the weak correlation their data provides. This is despite one of them, Nissenbaum, having done studies in both locations using a study format guaranteed to turn minor, common and ignored conditions into major complaints and stressors, creating significant bias. His prior efforts with these communities were, again, undeclared.

    I expect this study to be retracted or rewritten based on these weaknesses.

    For full references, links and additional expert perspectives, please see here:
    http://www.quora.com/Wind-Power/A-study-in-Noise-and-Health-shows-that-wind-farms-cause-people-to-lose-sleep-How-reliable-is-this-study/answer/Mike-Barnard

    • Mike,
      GMP already bought one unlivable house too close to the 3 MW Lowell Mountain industrial wind turbines, instead of litigating which would have meant airing “dirty linen”.

      The homeowner had to sign a gag order, so HE would not be airing dirty linen; a Potemkin democracy?

      Other IWT owners have done the same all over the world.

      Maybe there IS something to that noise issue which is becoming more undeniable as time passes all over the world.

      I’ll be curious how Vermont will deal with it; a broom and a rug?

  16. Jeff Parsons :

    Regardless of the science–if the turbines are very noisy at times because of specific atmospheric conditions,the people affected need to set it up so that others, particularly policy makers and the power companies can also hear this noise (so there will be no denying it). Then the power companies can mitigate like turning off the turbines when those specific conditions occur.

    • Jeff Parsons :

      Have your house representative come listen to the noise (Mark Higley in Lowell)

  17. Annette Smith :

    Mike Barnard seems to be very busy promoting wind around the world and dismissing health and noise complaints.
    http://kirbymtn.blogspot.com/2012/06/mike-barnard-doesnt-know-much-about.html
    “Mike Barnard (June 13, 1:10 pm) appears to be a one-man propaganda machine on behalf of the big energy companies hiding behind wind.”

    http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/comments/conservation-organizations-denounce-misrepresentation-from-the-wind-industr
    “It’s becoming more obvious that Mr. Barnard is a paid shill for Big Wind. He runs around commenting on other sites parroting the party line.
    I really wish he’d come clean and disclose his financial involvement in Big Wind.”

    So Mike, who do you work for, where are you, and why are you promoting big wind in Vermont?

  18. Fred Woogmaster :

    Mr. Barnard: What IS the nature of your involvement in the wind industry? Will you profit from its development?

  19. Mike Barnard :

    Ah, two more people join the chorus of those who assume that because I’m pro-wind, informed and advocate on its behalf, I must be receiving money from the industry.

    Fred, Annette, I hate to disappoint you, but I don’t work for the wind industry, don’t receive money from the wind industry and don’t have a wind turbine on a piece of property paying me a nice annual fee.

    I voluntarily debunk wind disinformation. I maintain clear, referenced, lay-person posts on Quora.com (http://www.quora.com/Mike-Barnard/answers/Wind-Power). I spend a few hours a week as part of my charitable give back responding to incorrect information that is disseminated by those who hate wind farms.

    I know it’s difficult for you to accept, but the fact that wind energy is clean, safe, CO2e-neutral, doesn’t cause asthma in kids and doesn’t cause adults to have serious respiratory diseases is something I consider a very good thing.

    I know it’s difficult for you to accept, but displacing coal generation and reducing the need for additional natural gas generation, with their significant negative externalities, is something I consider a very good thing. When there were no alternatives to coal, it was barely acceptable; now there are alternatives to coal, and it’s not acceptable.

    Some people help out at their local school, some volunteer through their church, others donate to United Way. I spend my volunteer time doing my tiny bit to slow global warming and reduce the incidence of asthma in kids.

    How about you two? Fighting against wind energy is equal to fighting for coal and fighting for kids getting asthma and gasping for breath. What’s your motivation to induce more Hurricane Sandy’s? Why do you want your friends and people you don’t know to suffer emphysema? Just asking.

    • Annette Smith :

      Mike, thanks for the response. Sounds like you don’t have any basis for your so-called expertise. Get out in the field and talk to people who live around these big machines on ridgelines. And since you’re such a do-gooder, where does your power come from, how do you heat your home, and what have you done to reduce your carbon footprint?

      • Hilton Dier :

        Ms. Smith, I imagine that Mike Barnard got his expertise on wind issues the same way you did – self directed research. Denigrating his method is denigrating your own.

        Perhaps Mr. Barnard has gone out in the field and talked to people – neither of us knows.

        And please, enough with the personal attacks. How Mr. Barnard heats is home is irrelevant to the validity of the points he makes here. I also dislike the practice, employed by both you and Mr. Barnard, of attributing absurdly malicious motivations to other people’s positions on this.

        (i.e., his remark about emphysema, above, or your accusation in a comment that Shumlin “hates water.”)

        A note on melding science and personal experience: If you, or a friend, has a smart phone, get an app called SPLnFFT. It is a decibel meter and frequency analyzer, one of the better ones out there. It is calibrated to the microphone response of a smartphone, so it is reasonably accurate. Sit in a room in your house and take a reading. In a reasonably quiet room it will be around 40 dB. With my computer fan in the background it is 47 dB. Try it in a library. Then consider the legitimacy of the 45 dB standard.

        • Annette Smith :

          Hilton, it is not a personal attack to ask someone about their carbon footprint. The whole point of wind turbines is that they supposedly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. People who promote them claim they will save the planet. So it’s fair game to ask people who promote wind what they are doing to make a difference. We all need to take more personal responsibility.

          I continue to be astonished by people’s lack of compassion. Wind turbine noise, which I have become sensitive to because I’ve been around them too much, is a real problem. Denying it won’t make it go away. Luann is right, the people who promote them don’t seem to live near them or have experience with the noise. Out of sight, out of mind. Ignorance is bliss. But if you’re living near wind turbines that are waking your babies up at night, what do you do? Seems the most common response from wind proponents is to tell that person it isn’t happening. Surreal.

        • Hilton,
          The 45 dBA standard is flawed, because it does not consider the LOW, less than 20 Hz, frequencies that are causing almost all of the problems called wind turbine syndrome.

          One needs to know some basics about acoustics before commenting.

      • Mike Barnard :

        @Hilton, I agree that my suggestion that the people are intentionally promoting emphysema in others is absurd. It’s intended both to highlight the absurdity of their statements and to highlight the unintended implications of their actions. Obviously I can’t mean that someone is intentionally willing illness and death on others through their actions when I don’t know them.

        I’ve stood next to and in wind farms in two countries and look forward to standing in and among them more over the coming years. I’ve spoken to many people who live next to them, the vast majority of whom have no problems at all, and the small subset who have problems with them. I’ve also read and written broadly and deeply on the subject, as is evidenced by my references elsewhere in this comment thread. I’ve debated these subjects with lay people and experts via the medium of the internet.

        And in the event it wasn’t blatantly, bleedingly, screamingly obvious from my answer, Ms. Smith, part of the way I manage my personal carbon footprint is by promoting a form of energy with the lowest carbon footprint going, 100 times lower than coal on its full lifecycle, 50 times lower than natural gas and even a bit lower than nuclear, surprisingly. For reference, here are the numbers: coal 1 kg / KWh, NG .5 kg / KWh, nuclear 0.011 kg / KWh and wind 0.008 kg / KWh. http://en.openei.org/apps/LCA/. What do you do for your carbon footprint besides fight wind energy, hence increasing it?

        Hilton, thanks for your feedback.

    • Steve Raphael :

      Thanks Mike. I found your posts to be very helpful.

      • Mike Barnard :

        Thanks, Steve. I appreciate your support.

    • Rob Roy :

      I also appreciate your post(s).

      It’s interesting to me that several respondents seem to find it more effective to attack the messenger, without having much to say about the substance of your posts.

      • Mike Barnard :

        Thanks, Rob. I’m glad my material is of value.

      • Leah Marsters :

        Thank you Rob and Mike

  20. Fred Woogmaster :

    Mr. Barnard: Thank you for responding. I am absolutely in favor of the use of wind power, reduction of use – more so, although my knowledge on the subject is miniscule. Many legitimate questions, concerns and complaints have come from my Vermont neighbors more knowledgeable than I and closer to the issue. Therefore I believe caution to be in order and I continue to support a pause in the development of large scale industrial wind operations in Vermont without further investigation and dialogue. As for your ‘emphysema’ comment – give me a break!

    • Mike Barnard :

      You are entitled to your opinion, of course. Forming and holding to an opinion in ignorance, for example, of the significant impacts of coal mining and generation in the USA — 13,000 deaths annually, tens of thousands with degraded lung capacity, thousands of children with asthma gasping over inhalers — is entirely your right.

      That coal generation has negative externalities of 17.8 cents per kilowatt hour according to credible studies from health impacts and global-warming — Hurricane Sandy anyone? — should be immaterial to your opinion.

      And the 17 major reviews showing no health impacts can be safely ignored as well.

      Please, don’t sully your opinion with ugly facts or concerns beyond your small circle of friends.

  21. Fred Woogmaster :

    correction: please replace ‘without’ with
    ‘in the absence of’ … sorry.

  22. Luann Therrien :

    Before the turbines were built we felt we did not know enough about Industrial Wind to have an informed opinion. We did not oppose the project being built. Did not oppose the project until it was up and running. 16 turbines that are just under 3/4 of a mile and just under 2 miles away from our home. And creating a noise that unlike what the wind developers will try to make you believe, IS distinguishable above the natural noise.
    I can tell you living this close to wind turbines is not normal or right.
    I do not feel normal at all.
    I went through hell to have my children. Was not my choice to have my first child at 40. After tests, loss and operations I have two beautiful children. Ages 3 and almost 1 year. Two beautiful children I’m feeling impossible to enjoy.  Am feeling constantly agitated, annoyed and…… Not me!  I’m angry! Angry,angry,angry! And it does not go away. I’m also depressed. Let me sum up my agitation up for you. I went through years of wanting children. Our 3 year old son was the 5th try. Before him was loss and that includes a loss at 5 months along. My depression now I have not felt since the 5 month loss.
    This leads me back to not being normal. It is not in my nature to be a complete and total bitch. Ask anyone I have known and or worked with. I am the person that has been accused of laughing too much. I am not that person today. I’d more gladly rip a head off as to laugh. By all means, you tell me what is the cause? After all I’d been through you’d think I’d beable to be happy, but no. There is just a feeling of being helpless. Helpless to protect our children from this Industrial Wind Project that has been built behind our home. Protect them from the constant noise and annoyance, and the sleepless nights and all the side affects that go along with it. Feel like we are sitting on our hands.
    Noise is at its worst for our home is when the wind is comming from the south/southeast. When we are not getting the worst of it other families are. The prospect of more storms blowing up the coast is about as frustrating as the noise itself. Know it’s comming and not a damn thing we can do about it. After that last round my husband is getting desperate. I’ve been feeling more agitated and working on unreasonable. Not a good combo with two little ones. They deserve better. We deserve better.
    Today there is one constant in my life, it is 16 strong whirrling
    on the ridge behind my home.
    Luann

    • Luann Therrien :

        Find most people that are in favor of Industrial Wind Projects do not live anywhere near where they ever have to worry about a project being built.
      They are as annoying as people who ‘visit’ a project and think they have any kind of clue of what it’s like to live near a project.

  23. john burton :
  24. Larry Rudiger :

    Exposure to coal dust is a pretty well-described risk factor for emphysema.

    http://www.webmd.com/lung/tc/black-lung-disease-topic-overview

  25. As a clean energy source, the wind industry takes health-related concerns very seriously. However, numerous government and peer-reviewed studies in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the U.K. have found no evidence of health effects from wind turbines. In fact, thousands of people around the world live in close proximity to wind turbines without incident.

    Moreover, in a local study completed earlier this year, the Massachusetts Departments of Public Health and Environmental Protection commissioned a panel of experts to analyze “the biological plausibility or basis for health effects of turbines (noise, vibration, and flicker).” The experts – who had backgrounds in public health, epidemiology, toxicology, neurology and sleep medicine, neuroscience, and mechanical engineering – found no evidence of health effects from wind turbines.

    All electricity generation sources have some effect, either visual, environmental, or health related – wind is no exception. However, as wind turbines are able to generate electricity without emitting hazardous pollutants into our air and water, or generating toxic by-products which require long-term, secure storage, wind remains the most benign form of energy production available.

  26. The inherent problem with wind generation is that it places turbines up in the sky, instead of enclosed within a more solid power plant on the ground or buried within a dam. This makes noise a real issue with industrial wind. Another problem with grid-tied renewables is that there is no actual value placed on those kilowatts. Electricity generated by solar, wind, biomass or cow $#!† should be prized for what it is and not dumped into a 5000 watt clothes dryer or a roof ice melter. Currently, our grid is not smart enough to work this way, so these renewable projects will continue adding expensive, over-subsidized power to the grid while most folks will continue to act as though electricity is “too cheap to meter.” Centralized power generation and long distance transmissions means more people are exposed to higher electromagnetic fields as well. Distributed generation, home-based storage and drastic efficiency measures are critical.

  27. John Greenberg :

    “… so these renewable projects will continue adding expensive, over-subsidized power to the grid…”

    Why do you consider renewable projects “over-subsidized” and to what are you comparing them? ALL energy projects in the US are heavily subsidized, and have been for generations. Why don’t you consider the rest of the energy on the grid “over-subsidized?”

    • > Why do you consider renewable projects “over-subsidized”
      > and to what are you comparing them?

      Sorry, I should have clarified that not every “renewable” project is “over-subsidized.” Many small/home-scale renewable projects have been built without rebates, including ours. Generally, I think something is over-subsidized if it would not be built without those subsidies. If something makes economic and/or environmental sense, then it should make sense out of pocket. Before and after a project is built it should be scrutinized by government agencies to see if it lives up to the plan. Only after a number of years of successful, safe, truly low-impact generation should any DOE stimulus money be rewarded. Corporations and their investors should take all responsibility for the efficacy of these pie in the sky projects instead of grabbing a bunch of money borrowed from our children to build Rube Goldberg machines that only work for 10 or 15 years at a fraction of their expected output. This goes for smart meters too.

      What we have now is a system that encourages large corporations to build projects that have no long-term viability, while causing serious damage in the short-term. The bottom line is that people and companies are often more prudent and smart about purchases and investments when that capitol is theirs to begin with.

      > ALL energy projects in the US are heavily subsidized, and
      > have been for generations. Why don’t you consider the rest
      > of the energy on the grid “over-subsidized?”

      I’m not comparing to existing fuels, methods and places of power generation simply because they are already there. I don’t consider fossil fuel use and nuclear power to have been over-subsidized so much as just products of geology and ingenuity, respectively. Maybe we were over-subsidized by Earth with oil, gas, coal, uranium, et al, but once we figured out what to do with it, I’m pretty sure it was going to be extracted, transported and burned regardless of government subsidies for such actions.

    • John,
      Here are some URLs that show wind and solar are much more subsidized than other energy sources, yet they produce junk energy that has to be balanced with gas turbines or hydro (in a few places), and require significant upgrade and expansion of the electric grid.

      Add those costs to the already high cost of wind energy on ridge lines, 10 c/kWh subsidized per GMP 15 c/kWh, unsubsidized per US-DOE, compared with Vermont Yankee 6 c/kWh, Hydro Quebec 6 c/kWh, and annual average NE grid prices at 5.5c/kWh.

      Industrial wind turbine, IWT, facility developers usually use estimated capacity factors, CFs, of 0.32 – 0.38 for IWTs on 2000-ft high ridge lines to obtain financing from banks and investors, and approval from government regulators, and to “sell” the project to legislators and the public.

      The estimated CFs are based on proprietary wind testing reports that are sometimes given to the PSB, if requested, but not to ordinary, tax-paying, subsidy-paying citizens. This serves to keep people ignorant regarding wind energy. The US is not a signatory to the Aarhus Convention, and thus this information, and much other information, is almost always withheld from the US public.

      Real world experience shows, these CFs are overestimated, not just in Maine and Vermont, but elsewhere as well. See below.

      However, by law, the quarterly production data must be reported by IWT facility owners to the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission, FERC.

      Below is a URL with quarterly production data reported by the IWT facility owners in Maine. The results are dismal, much less than the estimated CFs used for “selling” the project.

      It is clear, these heavily-subsidized IWT facilities on 2000-ft high ridge lines are not economically viable, not even with the present huge subsidies.

      http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blog/show?id=4401701%3ABlogPost%3A43514

      Maine is not the only entity with such poor results. I have a spreadsheet showing the 2006 – 2011 average CFs for Germany (0.187), Denmark (0.251), the Netherlands (0.228), the US (0.289), Texas (0.225), Ireland (0.283), New York State (0.249). All these CFs are below their estimated values.

      HOW IS THIS RELEVANT TO VERMONT?

      GMP will likely NOT rue the day it spent $160 million to put 63 MW of these IWTs on the Lowell Mountain ridge line, plus up to $10 million for a dynamic-reactive device, required by the grid operator ISO-NE, to integrate the variable wind energy to the grid. Initially, GMP was going to place the burden of wind energy balancing on the other energy suppliers to the grid, but the ISO-NE follows the “user pays” rule, well familiar to all utilities, including GMP. Not a problem for GMP; it just rolls its extra costs into rate schedules, which usually get rubber-stamped by the VT-PSB after pro-forma public hearings.

      GMP will charge all its IWT facility capital cost and O&M cost to the captive rate payers in its service area, 70% of Vermont households and businesses, which are already stressed-out, because of the Great Recession, AND rising prices of goods and services, AND rising state fees and state income and real estate taxes, AND stagnant/declining real household incomes since 2007, AND a near-zero-growth economy, AND paying for Vermont’s heavily-subsidized RE follies which have caused Vermont’s electric rates to increase at a greater rate than of other New England states in recent years.

      Thanks to Governor Shumlin & Co, Vermont will soon have the highest electric rates, if trends continue, whereas some years ago, under Governor Douglas, a mechanical engineer, not a lawyer, it had the lowest rates.

      Whereas, GMP may have been grossly misled and may have engaged in self-deception, it certainly had the resources to determine the facts before proceeding, unlike legislators and lay public.

      Independent energy systems analysts, with decades of experience, had advised against the Lowell Mountain IWT facility, including its adverse noise impacts on nearby residents, but they were shoved aside, ignored, even belittled by wind energy promoters who were eager to get to the various subsidies as quickly as possible.

      GMP COULD have started with one 3 MW IWT to see how it would perform, but that was not impressive enough, as multi-millionaire Governor Shumlin wanted to proceed as quickly as possible, build as many IWTs as possible, destroy as many ridge lines as possible, to grab as much state and federal subsidies as possible for Vermont’s wind energy oligarchy, which consists mostly of multi-millionaires in the top 1%. Often, the argument is, subsidized wind energy creates jobs, but, whereas jobs are gained in heavily-subsidized wind energy sectors, more jobs are lost in many other economic sectors, for a net LOSS of jobs; Economics 101. See below URL.

      It appears the Northest Kingdom area of Vermont has been targeted for several new IWT facilities, in addition to the ones on the Sheffield and Lowell Mountains. The NEK is sparsely populated, has good winds, and, its people are seen by Shumlin & Co as easier to manipulate and dominate.

      New England annual average grid prices are about 5 c/kWh, nearly unchanged for the past 3 years, and likely to stay that way, because of a long-term, abundant, domestic supply of natural gas.

      Hydro-Quebec energy is available under long-term contract at about 6 c/kWh. It is steady, CO2-free, available 24/7/365, rain or shine, windy or not windy.

      Vermont Yankee’s energy is available under long-term contract at about 5 – 6 c/kWh. It is steady, CO2-free, available 24/7/365, rain or shine, windy or not windy.

      Lowell Mountain energy, heavily-subsidized with state and federal subsidies, is available at about 10 c/kWh, per GMP. Its cost would be about 15 c/kWh, unsubsidized, per US-DOE, not counting the extra costs of grid modifications and wind energy integration to the grid. GMP will just roll its extra cost into the rate schedules of already-stressed households and businesses.

      In New England, with fair-to-good wind conditions only on 2,000-ft or higher ridge lines, about 30 percent of the hours of the year, near-zero wind energy is produced, because wind speeds are insufficient (less than 7.5 mph) to turn the rotors, or too great for safety, as during stronger weather fronts or tropical storms, such as Sandy and Irene, passing over the ridge lines.

      About 60% of the wind energy is produced during about 30% of the hours of the year, mostly at night, and mostly during winter. During summer, with peak demands, almost no wind energy is produced. When IWTs produce near-zero energy, they draw energy from the grid.

      Wind energy is variable and intermittent and requires quick-ramping gas turbines to operate in part-load-ramping mode, i.e., ramp down with wind energy surges and ramp up with wind energy ebbs to maintain a stable grid. This requires extra fuel/kWh and emits extra CO2/kWh, and causes extra wear and tear on equipment.

      At greater annual wind energy percentages on the grid, these extras mostly offset what wind energy was meant to reduce, i.e., wind energy is not a viable CO2 reduction technology, and it acts as a disturber of the grid which makes the grid less efficient and less stable, and it is very expensive.

      The above indicates, there are many hours during a year when near-zero wind energy is produced. Therefore, almost all conventional generator units would still need to be kept in good operating condition, and staffed 24/7/365, and fueled, to serve the daily demand when near-zero wind energy is produced. 

      See below URLs which have had about 10,000 views till now.

      http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/61309/lowell-mountain-wind-turbine-facility-vermont
      http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/71771/energy-efficiency-first-renewables-later
      http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/84293/wind-turbine-noise-and-air-pressure-pulses
      http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/89476/wind-energy-co2-emissions-are-overstated

  28. Tom Finnell :

    A recent Australian study determined that “Wind Turbine Syndrome” is caused by a virus, and that the virus is spread by word of mouth.

    • Frank seawright :

      I don’t find that to be unexpected. How many times in your life have you mentioned some set of symptoms and have someone say that “that’s going around.” And lacking a better explanation you may adopt that as a sufficient explanation for what you are experiencing. There is no case definition for a sickenss caused by noise/infrasound/pressure fluctuations caused by wind turbines though there may well be one within the next five to seven years. The phenomon of having people suddenly self-report is entirely to be expected once it becomes known that others have reported the same. It is common in many disease outbreak investigations to expend effort to uncover unreported cases so as to gain a clearer picture. Of course there then has to be some verification process walked through; some can be verified, some remain questionable and some discarded. I think that the outcome of the work done by the Australian folks may contribute to development of a case definition.

      And, as for studies/reports and so on and what gets studied I’d suggest reading this blog post:
      http://mathbabe.org/2013/01/29/bill-gates-is-naive-data-is-not-objective/

    • Carl Werth :

      I hear that’s how propaganda is spread too…

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