Special Report: Turbine sound and fury aggravates neighbors

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A view of Georgia Mountain Community Wind taken with a telephoto lens at the Highbridge boat launch near Scott and Melodie McLane’s property in Fairfax. Photo by Roger Crowley/VTDigger

It’s 5 o’clock on a drizzly early December morning.

The sound is not loud, but in the distance, a rumble thrums through the darkness, coupled with a soft, pulsing whoosh.

Standing on the porch of her Fairfax home, Melodie McLane motions toward the red lights standing sentinel high above an unseen ridgeline a mile away.

“It’s unnatural,” she says of the noise. “… It’s unnatural, so it feels wrong. It plays with your mind.”

While McLane and her family say the sound hasn’t caused health problems, they say it has hurt their quality of life since the facility was completed at the end of 2012.

“There are a lot of people who claim to be sick,” McLane says. “I can honestly say, we’re not to the point of being sick. It’s (more of) a ‘wake you up in the middle of the night and you cuss and moan and can’t go back to sleep.’”

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Melodie and Scott McLane, of Fairfax, live near the Georgia Mountain Community Wind facility. Photo by Roger Crowley/VTDigger

The sound led McLane and her husband, Scott, to file a motion for relief against Burlington Electric Department and Georgia Mountain Community Wind, the turbines’ owners.

Right before Christmas, the state filed a response that marks a potential turning point in the case.

The Vermont Department of Public Service, for the first time, acknowledged that wind farm neighbors sometimes experience severe negative effects from turbines spinning, she says.

The department’s Dec. 23 filing describes the McLanes’ complaints as “credible and serious” and states there is evidence “of a significant impairment of the quality of life for some nearby residents.” There is reason to believe, the department determined, that the McLanes potentially suffer significant adverse health effects.

But the department, whose role is to represent ratepayers, says the state’s quasi-judicial regulatory body, the Public Service Board, will not take up the case. That’s because the department says any harm caused by the noise from the wind turbines doesn’t put public health at risk.

Pointing fingers

The DPS recommends the McLanes sue those responsible for the noise. Its recommendation doesn’t name David Blittersdorf, or Georgia Mountain Community Wind, of which he’s a majority owner, but to the McLanes, he and his company represent one of two sources of their hardships.

The McLanes characterize the state as their other antagonist, for allowing the project in the first place, but also for refusing to acknowledge the validity of their complaints once the turbines started turning. This is what seems to have changed recently, Melodie McLane says.

“We were surprised by the wording of the department’s reply,” she says in a recent interview. “We expected them to totally discount all of it. For them to acknowledge the noise is a problem, that’s never happened before.”

However, according to Public Service Commissioner Chris Recchia, the state hasn’t diverged much from past statements. Research undertaken with Vermont’s Department of Health established that turbines don’t threaten public health, he says.

That doesn’t mean people are not harmed individually by the turbines, Recchia says.

The distinction between public and private harm determines who should decide the case, he says. Private causes of action — a legal dispute between two private parties — are more properly heard in court, not before the Public Service Board, he says.

Chris Recchia

Chris Recchia, commissioner of the Department of Public Service. State of Vermont photo

The department in its most recent filing underscored more emphatically than it has in the past the validity of the McLanes’ complaints, Recchia says, but he calls it a difference of degree.

“It’s not a change in our policy or position,” Recchia says. “It’s probably more explicit than we’ve had an opportunity to be in the past. We haven’t had a venue to be that explicit before.”

Martha Staskus, who represents the turbines’ owners, Georgia Mountain Community Wind, says she is not surprised by the department’s recommendation that the McLanes sue.

“The department confirmed that the project is operating in a manner that does not pose adverse health or safety impacts on its neighbors,” she wrote in response to emailed questions. “It is not surprising the department might suggest another venue for deciding private rights outside of the board’s jurisdiction, though we certainly don’t think there is any basis for a claim.”

But a lawsuit is out of the question at this point, Melodie McLane says. She and her husband don’t have the resources to take on a large company in court. Even if they did, they believe they would not be able to find reputable attorneys who are both versed in wind-related law and not already employed by developers.

Unwilling experts on decibel detection

The McLanes don’t intend yet to sue, but neither are they likely to sell their house.

“Who’s going to buy our house with that hanging over it? That’s something we’d have to reveal in any real estate transaction,” Melodie McLane says. Georgia Mountain Community Wind hasn’t offered to buy the property or to compensate the family for the harm to their quality of life, she says.

The developer’s representatives did not respond when asked whether the company ever reimburses individuals who are adversely affected by projects.

Speaking on the porch of their home, Scott McLane says he and his wife are attached to the property.

Rough-hewn from stone and timber, the home is post-and-beam construction.

“It’s not lagged together or bolted, it’s all doweled,” he says. “It’s been a labor of love.”

The couple bought the property in 1987, the year they married. They took out a construction loan and lived in a trailer on the property until they finished the house and moved in.

“We bought it as a hay field and woods,” Melodie McLane says. “We cleared it by hand, we built it by hand — we have so much invested, financially and emotionally.”

On their porch, in the early December dark and the cold, over the rumble and the swish, the McLanes talk eagerly of decibel levels, and of the differences between methods of measuring the decibels, and about frequencies and intermittence and sound pressure. All of this they’ve come to take an interest in since the four-turbine wind facility went up.

The sound of the turbines, they say, isn’t supposed to exceed 45 decibels outside or 30 decibels inside the home.

They own what appears to be a high-quality sound meter, and consult it with an oracle’s gravity. Their avidity in matters of sound resembles that of enthusiastic hobbyists, but of the most unwilling kind.

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Sound measuring equipment the McLanes used to collect data on wind turbines near their house. Courtesy photo from Scott McLane

The McLanes seem as upset by the quality of the sound as by its volume.

The noise from the turbines is not loud; on the McLanes’ porch it’s comparable to the noise level of a refrigerator, a loud computer, or a rather quiet forced hot air heating system. The spinning turbines can throb like a heartbeat, though, and produce a rumble that Melodie McLane says often invades her home’s interior.

As I listen inside the house, my observations prove inconclusive. What is detected could have been a memory of the noise, or the sound of a modern home’s interior, or the noise itself. It’s hard to tell, because it registers only very faintly.

Scott McLane says that with the doors and windows closed, he can’t hear it inside the house, either. “I cut wood, I shoot guns — I can’t hear it, but Melodie says she can.”

Back outside on the front porch, the sound is drowned out by a car going down the dirt road past the house maybe 150 feet away.

As dawn illuminates the landscape, and the towering structures spinning above the ridge grow visible, the noise diminishes, until a couple of hours after sunrise it’s indistinguishable from the rustling of the breeze through the surrounding forest.

The sound clearly unsettles the McLanes when it’s present, but it’s not always present.

I had asked to be invited to the house when the sound is unacceptably loud, and weeks elapsed before Melodie McLane called.

“We don’t hear them all the time,” Scott McLane says. “There’s lots of times we don’t hear them. But there’s lots of times we do hear them, and we only complain a fraction of the time, because it never goes anywhere.”

The sound is loud enough to bother Melodie McLane about 50 percent of the time, she says. Her husband says he’s bothered by it about 10 percent of the time, but with the caveat that he doesn’t hear well.

Blittersdorf sees ‘totally different’ future

Weeks earlier, during a visit to the top of Georgia Mountain, enormous machines rotated with only a faint swish marking their progress through the air. The tips of the blades move at speeds up to 200 mph, according to Blittersdorf, the majority owner of Georgia Mountain Community Wind.

The wind at that time blew appreciably less than it did later during the visit at the McLanes’.

Blittersdorf speaks like an engineer, clearly excited by material phenomena. He designed and built his first windmill as a child, he says, and never lost the fascination.

“I love them,” he says. “I think they’re beautiful. These large machines, they’re graceful.”

Blittersdorf appears to believe strongly that what he does brings good into the world, or at least reduces harm.

“I’m in it for a lot of reasons, and it’s just not greedy making money, like a lot of opponents say,” he says.

He speaks of scarcity and peak oil.

David Blittersdorf

Wind power developer David Blittersdorf. File photo

“Most people understand that when you see the turbines turning, it’s clean power,” Blittersdorf says. “We need a future that’s totally different than what we’ve spent the last 100 years doing, which is just consuming fossil fuels.”

Beneath one of the machines, a low rumble and a whirring sound become audible as the nacelle, which is the capsule between the rotor and the tower, turns into the wind.

The four 2.5-megawatt turbines produce the equivalent of 8 percent of the energy Burlington consumes.

It would take 15,000 home-scale turbines to produce the same amount of energy, Blittersdorf says, and it would cost 10 times as much.

Solar installations scale down efficiently, but wind turbines don’t, he says.

“That’s why you don’t see small wind turbines. It’s not economical,” he says.

Nevertheless, Blittersdorf says, Vermont is likely to see smaller wind turbines in the future, built on lower hills.

Blittersdorf explains that a number of charges have been brought against Georgia Mountain Community Wind by people he refers to as the opponents.

Opponents say turbines are inefficient, Blittersdorf says. Comparing the turbines to coal-fired power plants, which use 20 percent to 30 percent of their energy to run the plant itself, he says, “these machines have very little losses — on the order of a half of a percent.”

Opponents say he shouldn’t use Chinese-built turbines, according to Blittersdorf. But the Chinese-made Goldwind turbines on Georgia Mountain contain 55 percent American material, as opposed to GE’s, which are made with only 40 percent American material, he says.

“Opponents say we kill a lot of birds,” Blittersdorf continues. Last year the Georgia Mountain turbines killed one bird and three bats, none of them endangered, he says.

Opponents say they suffer from “wind turbine syndrome,” a host of ailments some attribute to proximity to the machines, he says. “It’s up here,” Blittersdorf says, pointing to his head.

Still, he acknowledges, the machines aren’t silent.

“It’s not like under the sound standards you won’t hear something,” he says. “You’ll hear something, but it’s not very loud.”

Blittersdorf says he gets the greatest number of complaints on high-wind days, but says the turbines actually produce the most sound at speeds much lower than at their top operating wind speed of around 25 mph.

He compares the sound of the turbines to that of Interstate 89, audible far below the mountain. His company headquarters is in Williston, not far from the Burlington airport.

“You can’t hear anything (but the plane’s engine) when they take off,” he says.

At the bottom of the mountain, about two-thirds of a mile from the top and on the other side from the McLanes’ house, the sound of a nearby stream is the only audible noise.

Blittersdorf says he’s aware the sound and appearance of the turbines bother some folks. At the same time, he says, fossil fuels carry greater harms than those associated with noise and aesthetics. There are larger issues at stake, he argues.

“I want to change the world,” he says. “We have to end up with renewables, and it’s damn hard for some people to change, but there’s a lot of change that needs to happen.”

The stream gently murmurs next to the dirt road where Blittersdorf’s truck is parked. Turbine blades can be seen slowly turning on top of the mountain above trees that obscure all but the upper half of the two nearest machines.

“I just love looking at these wind turbines,” he says. “I like things that move. Any days I get depressed, I’ll come up here and sit at the bottom of the turbine. Especially on windy days, when these things are putting out a lot of power — these things are humming. On those days we put out half of Burlington’s power. It’s amazing.”

Mike Polhamus

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  • Chaunce Benedict

    Wind turbines…

    Kill birds
    Disrupt wildlife
    Scar hilltops
    Interfere with the watershed
    Make noise
    Lower surrounding property values
    Stand out like a sore thumb

    And so we hear from Mr. Blittersdorf: “I love them,” he says. “I think they’re beautiful. These large machines, they’re graceful.”

  • Melodie McLane

    Mike got it right except for the level of the noise. No louder than a refrigerator? Probably, by the time he left here. The noise dies down as the sun comes up and the wind dies down. The loudest times are typically between 9:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. I also explained to Mike that I hadn’t called him for weeks because it’s not an easy thing to do, to invite a stranger into your home in the wee hours of the morning. I dragged my feet because I dreaded it, not because there wasn’t any noise. And Scott is only bothered about 10% of the time in the winter with the windows closed. This is not the case in the summer, when we both experience difficutly sleeping with the windows open.

    • Bruce S. Post

      Melodie:

      The National Park Service evidently has an important sound acoustics program. I found this link, which had an effect on my understanding of sound:

      http://www.nature.nps.gov/sound/science.cfm#null

      At the bottom of the page, there are three different sound scenarios that show how other sounds in the environment that may not in isolation be annoying can interfere with and mask other sounds when in conflict with them. It seems that sound waves — both audible and otherwise — are a lot more complex than either this article or Mr. Blittersdorf acknowledges.

      Best wishes.

  • Mike Jankowski

    Blittersdorf, truly I tell you, people such as my family have been previously healthy and after an Industrial sized wind facility began operation, have now experienced nine of the eleven commonly reported health issues by those living in the environment of the big fellas. This included three months when I could not drive because I was too dizzy.

    You say it is in our heads. My life would be so much easier if this were true as that is an area I can control. However, what Diagnostic Criteria did you use to arrive at the conclusion? In our case, we were for Wind Power! We can’t see them from our home and they are five Kilometers from it. Even still, the look does not bother me. My vocation is electronics engineering.

    It is only after having these issues I noticed a subtle, not always present pulsating noise and vibration in our home and was from the IWTs (On, off observation, disconnection of home power and wavelength matching BPF) while troubleshooting logically. Issues have been site specific to date, I leave my home in a business trip, issues are gone in 1.5 to 2 days.

    There is much more I could share, but you should be ashamed of yourself for dismissing the claims of people as if they haven’t the ability to think and reason for themselves. I should write a paper stating the pain from stabbing your toes is all in your head.

    Get out and talk to people more, unless you are afraid the truth will impact your livelihood. For me, this issue is more about what we cannot hear than what we can.

    • “what Diagnostic Criteria…” Unmitigated arrogance.

      • And it’s not arrogant to destroy mountaintops and soundscapes and claim to be pro-environment? I’m dismayed by all the people who claim to be environmentally-aware yet have the aesthetic values of quarry stones. Carbon is the only footprint they deem worth reducing now. It’s a brand of monomania that spells big trouble for the world’s scenery.

        Those who truly respect nature should lobby for low-footprint solar projects and geothermal (high energy density) wherever feasible. But I guess if you’re stuck in the wind business already, those subsidies will be your carrot.

    • Don Dalton

      http://oto2.wustl.edu/cochlea/wind.html
      Physiology of low frequency sounds.

  • bruce wilkie

    Unfortunately Vermont’s future is in the hands of a few greedheads who could care less about the health of the people of Vermont.
    Destroying ridgelines in rural areas is easy to justify when you live in Chittenden county where the towers are invisible to residents.
    Destroying peoples health is easy when the environmental attack affects rural people without the resources to fight back.
    Destroying Vermont is easy when you get huge tax incentives to rape the land, and you have thePSB in your hip pocket.

    • Willem Post

      Bruce,
      …..that would be lying, self-serving greedheads.

    • Bryan Gock

      So what is your solution for power generation then? Other than buying it out of state? You seem to complain about green power options but you aren’t offering any real solutions.

      • Bob Orleck

        Well for certain government funded out-of-state (built in China) industrial wind turbines on the ridge-lines of Vermont are not a solution we should look to. These 400 foot blinking, moaning concrete monsters are damaging the health and well-being of people who live near them, destroying property values of those who worked so hard to build them and killing millions of birds including endangered species and polluting the head waters where the food chain begins. If my doctor were to give me medicine for an illness and said it would make me sick and kill me, I would not take it would you?

      • World population growth (that spills into many nations and states) is a huge issue that few want to talk about. If that stopped we’d at least get a baseline for global energy demand so it’s not always about “meeting growing needs.” But that would also require an end to “economic growth” that demands more people. Nature tries to exist in a steady-state but not Man.

        People waste all kinds of resources that minimal effort could reduce. Engine idling for minor conveniences is one example. Excessive use of paper towels is another. All sorts of incremental frugality can add up but people tend to waste until costs force them not to. Another problem with wind turbines is they create an easy-energy mentality that discourages conservation (use it or lose it on windy days).

        Either way, where’s no contract with the planet that says an economy this size can be sustained with anything but the fossil fuels that built most of it. The assumption that there’s got to be a “solution” is premature.

  • Richard Mann

    Here is a “time line” showing the history of Wind Turbine Noise problems, going back as far as 1979. Each entry provides documentation:
    http://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/timeline/latest/embed/index.html?source=0Ak2bgr7C0nhPdGR3S1lEekU3T3p4ZDhUNDdRV2Y2ZkE&font=Bevan-PotanoSans&maptype=toner&lang=en&height=650

    1979 “First complaints received from a dozen families within a 3km radius of turbine”.
    1981 “Wind turbine operation creates enormous sound pressure waves”
    1982 “Closed windows and doors do not protect occupants from LFN”
    1982 “NASA research on human impacts provided to wind industry”
    1985 “Hypothesis for infrasound-induced motion sickness”
    1987 “Wind industry told that dB(A) unsuitable to measure LFN emissions from wind turbines”

    2004 “Wind industry knows noise models inadequate” (from Vestas)

    2011 “Vestas knew that low frequency noise from larger turbines needed greater setbacks”

  • William Geller

    Wind turbines that are efficient and work are fine. Wind turbines are built to not make noise that disturb the peace of the neighbors ,if they do, they are sited wrong or not developed well enough. Nobody has to live with any constant noise in a state that worships peace tranquility and the environment. At the same time with all this wind and solar and lowest cost fossil fuels in years one would think all the public would be looking forward to decreases in their electric bills. I have not seen any indication that prices will be falling , why ????

  • Dave Bellini

    I don’t know if these windmills are detrimental to one’s health but I certainly see how constant, variable, noise, would be extremely annoying and make people want to move.
    These very large windmills would lower property values. Common sense and reason dictate that the affected parties deserve compensation of some kind. Don’t airports buy up the surrounding homes sometimes? It’s wrong for this family (and others) to suffer negative consequences due to these very large windmills. I hope the legislature will step in and offer reasonable solution.

  • Kim Fried

    I won’t bother discussing the ethics of the man “who wants to change the world” most informed Vermonters already understand and have pegged this person for whom he really is.
    What really is criminal here is the DPS describing the McLanes’ complaints as “credible and serious”…..”of a significant impairment of the quality of life for nearby neighbors” then decides they won’t do a thing. Hey until every Vermonter’s lives are negatively impacted, the PUBLIC, you are on your own, all you are is an individual Vermont citizen and that somehow doesn’t mount to anything. Sue the big corporations, sue the PSB, sue the DPS, that’s your choice, and good luck. What has happened to Democracy in Vermont where individuals can be severely harmed, the State admits to that fact and them turns it’s backs on the innocent citizen? This is criminal and all Vermonters should be ashamed. You expect this behavior from large corporations, but we would also, and should, expect the State of Vermont to protect the innocent citizen, not so as we see.
    My sincere apologies to the McLanes from a fellow Vermonter who is struggling to believe that we still live in a Democracy.

    • Phil Lovely

      All good points, Kim. The message is the same whether speaking of Lowell Mtn, Sheffied or Georgia. Documented , individual harm has been inflicted by these industrial turbines. Families seeking serenity and privacy have invested their money, time and sweat to build away from the very intrusion they sought to escape. I am disgusted with the constant drum beat by the likes of Blittersdorf, Shumlin, Powell, Burns, Klein that the sky is falling. Climate change is real, but the response must not be to destroy the environment and lives of one of the last pristine places on earth. We as a people deserve better than this.

      • Willem Post

        Phil,
        The legislators you mention, and others, have been hard at work deceiving Vermonters with claptrap about HOME-GROWN renewable energy being inexpensive, the world coming to an end, and not being dependent on Arab oil.

        Last time I checked, the US has been EXPORTING increasingly LARGER quantities of coal, gas, and oil.

        Also, Vermont utilities have significantly decreased their low-cost, renewable, near-zero CO2-emitting, hydro energy, which is cleaner than wind and solar energy, and replaced a major part of VY nuclear energy with Seabrook nuclear energy.

        Utilities bought about 1.87 million MW of H-Q energy in 2011, or 31 percent of utility purchases in 2011. See page E.8 of URL. This is projected to decrease to about one million MWh at the start of 2017 and beyond, or 16.6 percent of utility purchases.

        The decrease of 0.87 million MW serves to “make room” for RE. See graph on page E.7 of DPS URL, and page 3-29 of GMP URL.

        Vermont Yankee, now shutdown, provided 2.17 million MWh in 2011, or 36 percent of utility purchases. That decrease will be partially offset by about 526,000 MWh of nuclear energy from Seabrook in November 2018.

        The decrease of 1.64 million MWh of nuclear energy serves “to make room” for RE. Thus, the total “room for RE” would become about 2.51 million MWh, or 41.6 percent of utility purchases.

        H-Q has ample, already-built, spare capacity to provide the hydro energy. See below URL.

        This is far from “putting all eggs in one basket”, as 200 MW of the approved, new, 1000 MW power line would merely restore the above 31 percent.

        It would be a much lower-cost approach to quickly implement the CEP, i.e., there would be lower future energy costs/kWh, and less need for regressive carbon taxes, and onerous fees and surcharges.

        http://www.theenergycollective.com/willem-post/2219181/increased-wind-energy-versus-increased-canadian-hydro-energy-new-england

  • Sally Collopy

    Please join us on Wednesday, January 20 at the Vermont State House for an Energy Transformation Day. Support our statewide coalition for change. We need to make our legislators listen to us. They cannot bury their heads in the sand any longer. See you there from 8-1pm

  • Annette Smith

    It’s hard to see how this article advances our conversation about the noise pollution from wind turbines and how the state has responded to complaints. All three wind projects have active dockets at the Public Service Board about noise complaints. There’s a hearing tomorrow, there’s another one on Wednesday. All three wind projects generated a lot of complaints the first year and they were all ignored. We are now three (Lowell, Georgia Mountain) and four (Sheffield) years out and the state has stonewalled and failed to address the problems.

    The article presents the issue as a “he said she said” problem, and the DPS position that it is a private nuisance ignores the fact that residents of at least half a dozen homes around Georgia Mountain have complained, have gotten extremely sick to the point of going to the emergency room, sleep with fans on, sleep in their basement, or have had family members move out. Nope, it’s not just the McLanes complaining about noise pollution from Georgia Mountain Wind.

    The PSB acknowledged there is a problem and opened a sound standard investigation docket which has had no activity in a year and a half. In May 2014 dozens of Vermonters from around all three projects told the PSB they hate their homes, their kids run around with hands over ears, there are health issues, sleep disruption. No media was present and no reporter has ever covered what was noted by one DPS staff person to be the most painful public meeting he has ever attended. Here’s the video https://youtu.be/aj8Lv6OT1tw. The experience was made more painful by the successful effort by the wind developers to get people who live in the areas to turn out and say “I’m okay, I don’t care that you aren’t.”

    This is a global problem. People all over the world are complaining about the same things. Sleep disruption. Headaches, tinnitus, cardiac issues, nausea, it’s a well understood subject now. There are no surprises. Build big wind turbines, create sacrificial victims who are called collateral damage. Coming soon to Swanton, Irasburg, Readsboro, Searsburg, Windham, Grafton…. your town might be next. Are you ready to have your quality of life and health degraded?

    Governor Shumlin has obviously directed his appointees to do nothing to hurt the wind industry. Instead, he and his appointees who are the legal responsibility to protect public health are knowingly hurting Vermonters.

    • Don Dalton

      http://oto2.wustl.edu/cochlea/wind.html
      The above link is to material by a scientist who has studied the ear and explains the effects of infrasound on the ear and the enormous electrical potential generated in the ear by infrasound. It seems to explain what some people are experiencing but others are denying.

  • Larry Lorusso

    As a neighbor of an industrial wind project located about a mile from the turbines in western Massachusetts I can say sleeping 6 feet from our refrigerator doesn’t cause me to wake up, yet the turbines do. So much for that comparison being legitimate and is disingenuous. We sleep with the windows closed in the Summer now. When the noise goes on for several nights, the lack of sleep takes a toll. The noise from IWT’s have different sounds depending on conditions. Worst noise is caused when wind direction is towards you and not when most windy, it’s called wind sheer. It occurs to me the sound is so conspicuous from the asymmetrical rhythm low frequency emanating from the turbines and is felt as well. Our neighborhood is rural and used to be mostly quiet at night and part of the reason we chose to live here.

    On another note, I’ve been very healthy my whole life until recently and hardly ever became sick. In the last year I’ve been diagnosed with diffuse large B cell lymphoma, hypertension, generalized anxiety disorder, and sinus condition. Also have a ringing in my ears and thumping sound that goes away when I’m away from home for an extended period. I’m sure Mr. Blittersdorf thinks it’s all in my head and has told me I’m crazy. I may be crazy now, but it’s because of the wind turbines!

  • Alice Barnett

    “the McLanes potentially suffer significant adverse health effects.
    the wind turbines doesn’t put public health at risk ”
    in nut shell

  • Christine Lang

    So, the Department of Public Service states there is evidence “of a significant impairment of the quality of life for some nearby residents.” from the Georgia Mountain Wind project. And Martha Staskus says “The department confirmed that the project is operating in a manner that does not pose adverse health or safety impacts on its neighbors,”

    So, apparently causing a significant impairment of the quality of life for people does not pose adverse health impacts? The State allowed this project to go in which caused the impairment of the quality of life for some people and yet the State now walks away and says for them to deal with it themselves and sue the project owners.

    How can anybody feel good about a project that significantly impairs someones quality of life? And how can the State allow it and not do something about it?

    I do not understand how harming individuals is ok because they are not the public. ‘That doesn’t mean people are not harmed individually by the turbines, Recchia says’. I thought the citizens of Vermont were all part of the Public. I have asked Chris Recchia how many people have to be harmed by Wind Turbines before it becomes a public issue and he did not answer. I would really like to know the answer to that.

  • Peter Morris

    I’ve heard input, similar to the McClane’s complaints, from others who live near the Georgia Mountain turbines. Plus, others from families near Lowell and Sheffield. If the law suit mentioned in the article were seen as potentially effective… perhaps connecting these parties would allow a class action-style suit. Many voices are louder than one, and the costs could be a fraction of going it alone.

    Considering the devaluation of those property values, and the fact that selling their houses will be difficult (if not impossible) even at ‘fire sale’ reductions… the divided costs of a law suit may be the more economical option.

    Infrasound, blade shadow flutter, and other complaints, go beyond the audible sound problems.

  • Glenn Thompson

    I’m glad Vtdigger has dug deeper into this issue! Vermonters need to understand the facts and pitfalls of Industrial Wind. Surprised there wasn’t any mention of Infrasound which is part of the sound issues with Wind Turbines. This link I’m posting has a wealth of information related to wind turbine noise. I can only hope Montpelier finally takes note and puts a moratorium on future Industrial Wind projects until proper set-back rules and guidelines can be established. What has happened to the McLanes and others should not be allowed to happen again to anyone else!

    http://www.acousticecology.org/docs/AEI%20Wind%20Turbine%20Noise%20FactSheet.pdf

  • Mark Donka

    He (Blittersdorf)wants to change the world as long as he gets rich doing it. The only reason they are being put up is the Government subsidizes. With out the subsidizes they would not even try to “Save the World”. Vt will eventually lose tourism as people do not come here to look at wind turbines when they go hiking. They come to see our beautiful ridge lines. As soon as he runs out of ridge lines to build on he will be gone. How many birds are dying needlessly. If a bald eagle gets killed do the builder/owners get arrest since they are still protected? Say no to wind power it is a waste of OUR money.

  • robert bristow-johnson

    i am normally in favor of innovation and experimentation to try out alternatives to fossil fuel and i am normally not particularly sympathetic to NIMBYism.

    about industrial-sized windmills and *sight-lines* and ridge lines, if the local community approves (as i understood the voting majority of the Lowell community did), then i might say to folks who disapprove of how they look on the distant ridge line that they are free to look in another direction. (and i am fully in favor of banning billboards as a public nuisance.)

    but it seems to me that these industrial windmills in Georgia are located too close to human -habitated homes. you can choose to look the other way, if you don’t like how the windmills look, but you cannot choose to turn your ear to another direction and stop hearing them. it’s a nagging nuisance like if your neighbor is always or often playing music loud enough that you can hear it, so it demands a portion of your conscious thought.

    and you can’t get away from it. you can’t turn your head and look in another direction and be free of the stimulus to one of your senses.

    so, as opposed to NIMBYism as i normally am, and in favor of exploring renewable, “green”, and alternative energy sources as i normally am, i think the McLane’s have a legit case going here. dunno if the windmills should be taken down or not, but they may well have a right to compensation sufficient to sell their house and move to a place of equal or greater value away from such sounds.

    however, as i think of it again, folks who live in an urban environment *must* get used to hearing unnatural sounds (like traffic and the like in the streets and sounds in their building) coming at any time, day or night.

    dunno.

  • Bill Heller

    Industrial Wind Turbines fail as a solution to global warming, meeting our energy needs and creating jobs. It’s as simple as the wind often doesn’t blow at high enough speeds to spin the blades, or create significant power from the spinning. Every MW of wind energy must be matched with a MW of fossil fuel generation, called spinning reserve, to make up for the shortfall. Here are a few articles explaining this and more:
    1) Why Not Wind: an open letter: The reasons industrial-scale wind is a destructive boondoggle
    http://tinyurl.com/m2ylhrg
    2) Beware Windpower’s “Homes Served” Claims
    http://tinyurl.com/q5eolal
    3) The dirty secret of Britain’s power madness: Polluting diesel generators built in secret by foreign companies to kick in when there’s no wind for turbines
    http://tinyurl.com/nfkflzx
    4) Reality Check: Germany’s Defective Green Energy Game Plan
    http://tinyurl.com/mwox2hj
    5) Study: Wind Power Raises CO2 Emissions
    http://tinyurl.com/k3cp6lt
    6) Subsidizing CO2 Emissions via Windpower: The Ultimate Irony
    http://tinyurl.com/5wwy7wq
    7) Government Lab Finds Wind Energy Not Meeting Carbon Emission Goals
    http://tinyurl.com/7q5n9v9
    8) Power struggle: Green energy versus a grid that’s not ready
    http://tinyurl.com/lgrnsbm
    9) AWEA Confirms Electricity Prices Skyrocketing In Largest Wind Power States
    http://tinyurl.com/on7k5n6
    And then there’s the fact that wind turbines sited near people’s homes severely impacts the health of many of those living close.
    1) Wind Turbine Noise, Sleep Quality, and Symptoms of Inner Ear Problems
    http://tinyurl.com/mqxtvx8
    2) Wind Turbines can be Hazardous to Human Health
    http://tinyurl.com/amw4lxz
    3) U.S. government has known about Wind Turbine Syndrome since 1987 (U.S. Dept. of Energy)
    http://tinyurl.com/jwedc37
    And wind turbines kill more birds – threatened eagles, hawks, falcons, osprey, etc. – than you could ever imagine:
    1) Wind turbines kill up to 39 million birds a year!
    http://tinyurl.com/dxagmzo
    2) US Wind Turbines Kill Over 600,000 Bats A Year (And Plenty Of Birds Too)
    http://tinyurl.com/nyo8ru3
    Wind energy is a sham and only the wind industry, certain politicians, and their crony capitalist associates benefit. However, they are very good at sales propaganda.

  • Steve Woodward

    ‘m glad there was a story about this,but I would like to see Mr. Blittersdorf get pressed a a lot harder on his intimidation tactics. For example:having a no trespass order issued on a property owner on their own property, so they could continue blasting even though they were violating their permit conditions.Having citizens issued subpoenas for contacts with an advocate.Why no questions about his cozy relationship with the Speaker of the House Shap Smith’s law firm.How about harassing wind opponents via their Facebook page.

  • Roger,Sweatt

    Donald & Shirley Nelson of Lowell, with an address of Albany,VT., have gotten some real compensation , The power company bought their farm, gave them 2 years to move. Prof that windmills are an abomination for wind power. It doesn’t pay for itself and is detrimental to nature, eyesight and one’s health. A tax money eater.

  • Steve Merrill

    “Don & Shirley Nelson, of Lowell..have gotten some real compensation”..? They were asking $3,500/acre for $1,400/acre land, and the Land Trust bought the place and “gave” it to a “young farming couple” who seem just FINE with the horrible noise. I will gladly trade even my place here in the Village of North Troy, on Main St. and 105, for theirs, even, NO problem. It’s illegal to drive a car w/no muffler, a Federal Crime to “alter or abolish a pollution control system” (exhaust included), yet there are un-muffled cars/trucks at ALL hours of the day/night, not to mention the straight pipe Harley’s that’ll rattle the fillings right out of your teeth! Do they get ticketed? Of course NOT! The Canadian Harleys MUST keep their stock exhaust or risk the fines, just ask an owner, not ours though! And when I was “young & healthy” I was “young & healthy” too. The reason nobody had so many “conditions” as today is because they DIED at 45 yrs. old, if they were LUCKY. I’d give my right arm for a place with a few acres, right at the bottom of the wind towers, and be damn happy it’s paid for too.I hear there’s gonna be some cheap land down in Vernon soon, just leave you nuclear dosimeter at home, you can’t see or hear radiation! Maybe we could be like Baghdad! I hear they have power for about 3 hr.s at a time and the sound of generators roar day and night and power lines running helter-skelter everywhere.”Waken at night”? Try having a straight pipe Harley throttle up barely 20 ft. from your bedroom window! The offer stands, I’ll trade houses even. SM, N.Troy.

  • Kevin Jones

    Interestingly while BED owns a share of the output of this facility they sell the Renewable Energy Credits out of state and then replace them with low cost RECs (that other states don’t allow to count as renewable for their requirements) so that BED can still claim to be renewable. Almost all of the wind generation in Vermont is handled this way so that the impacts are on Vermont’s environment and Vermonters but the renewable benefits go to MA and CT citizens. This is what is called environmental leadership?

    • bill_christian

      Because of this, Connecticut will have a good climate and we will have a bad one. Connecticut will run out of fossil fuels and we will be fine. RECs will save us ALL. Fighting over RECs is crazy. Because we all breathe the same air.

  • Stan Shapiro MD

    Blittersdorfs comments about the origins of medical complaints as being psychosomatic seem as though he could be giving medical advise without a license .Perhaps the AG office needs to open a criminal investigation to assess the validity of his assertions and the subsequent impact on those that would accept his pronouncements .

    • Steve Woodward

      Comment of the Day.

    • walter moses

      Maybe we could get old Shapleigh to press the case.

    • bill_christian

      The anti-wind people are raising unfounded medical complaints without a professional license as well. I admit that if someone has been convinced that wind farms are extremely evil, and the person has to hear them at night, it could make him angry and depressed. Like the dog that barked in my neighborhood for a while (way way WAY louder than a wind farm). But I just stayed mellow and got used to it. No big deal, right?

  • Paul Donovan

    All these arguments could be applied – and with greater effect – to snowmobiles and ATVs.

    • bill_christian

      An ATV is thousands of times louder than a wind farm.

  • Ethan Rogati

    I used to be a skeptic. I like the visual appearance of the turbines. I’m an amateur photographer and take a lot of pictures of Georgia Mountain (I live in Milton) because of their striking appearance. But there’s a lot that I never knew until I went to visit Georgia Mountain by the McLane’s house myself.

    I went on a breezy day. It wasn’t the windiest. It wasn’t calm. I got out of my vehicle and could hear the turbines, spinning at the time, immediately. They sounded like low, almost imperceptible, grinding brake pads on a car. There was also the periodic “whoosh” as the blades spun. The McLane’s weren’t home at the time, but a nearby neighbor was, curious on why I was there. I talked to him for about 10 minutes, hearing the turbines the entire time.

    I left after about 15 minutes. But I was still hearing them “in my head”, which Blittersdorf ridicules, an hour later.

    The sound is real, the impact is real. But alternative energy, the future, etc. Is it worth the cost?

    • bill_christian

      I’m going to say “yes”. It is worth the cost. I hear all kinds of stuff. My typing right now is louder than a wind turbine a mile away. Another option would be to outlaw renewable energy, and use up our fossil fuels, and see the ocean rise 210 vertical feet, and most of us die because our entire civilization depends on fossil fuel for fertilizer, electricity, transportation, warmth, refrigeration, survival basically.

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