Looking for Wind Industry Leadership in Reducing Noise Impacts

Gee, we've never had any complaints before - Wind Industry

By Jim Cummings, Acoustic Ecology Institute – Renewable Energy World

The wind industry needs to be more proactive about addressing community noise standards.

In recent years, we’ve seen a surge of noise complaints, troubling annoyance-level surveys, and widespread fear of new wind development.

Though sound levels of 45-50dB have been taken in stride by many, even most, places where early industrial wind development took place, it’s becoming apparent that for some types of communities, sound levels of even 40dB are triggering high levels of community push-back.

The industry’s first responses to this emerging problem have been counterproductive: discounting the prevalence of complaints, vilifying acousticians seeking to understand the shift, and most fundamentally, insisting to county commissions nationwide that “widely accepted” community noise standards that have worked elsewhere are applicable everywhere.  Read the article here 

10 thoughts on “Looking for Wind Industry Leadership in Reducing Noise Impacts

  1. Ignores the whole issue of people who are hosting IWTs on their land and are bound by gag orders not to complain about noise and/or health issues lest they be sued by the IWT owners.

  2. Over the years, as the turbines are built bigger and bigger, their blades longer and longer .. they produce larger and larger vortices of turbulence .. in turn generating greater and greater pressure variants .. in turn producing greater volumes of longer wavelengths of infrasound.

    This infrasound isn’t factored into either the industry’s presentations or the government’s standards because neither is willing to concede that infrasound impacts peoples’ health.

    These infrasound wavelengths are being generated at greater pressure levels than the “audible” filtered “dBA” wavelengths, which the industry and government choose to limit their own discussions to.

    Until the government concedes this and that even greater levels of infrasound result from standing-wave amplification in receptor structures, the industry won’t budge from its position.

    Unfortunately, the government is committed to an ideology founded on misinformation. It labels that which runs contrary to its ideology as heresy. In so doing, the government behaves like a cult on these issues .. demonizing and victimizing those who it considers as expendable opponents of its ideology.

  3. Wind is contributing to less than 1% of Ontario’s power today. What??? No CANWEA press release today??

    How stupid do they think we are??

  4. Wind Turbine Noise – More Lawsuits being filed.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsCy_MgXrn0

    The War of Winds
    Quote: “They told us that the noise at 900 feet would be no louder than the hum of a refrigerator,” says Hal Graham. But he says the reality has been far different. “We can’t sleep. We can’t watch TV. This has been a disaster for us and our neighbors.” Read: http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/the_war_of_winds/

    Better Plan: The Trouble With Industrial Wind Farms in Wisconsin …Feb 14, 2011 … “Oakfield couple files PSC complaint over wind farm”. April 18, 2010. Fond du Lac Reporter. “Couple driven out by noisy wind turbines sue ″. …
    betterplan.squarespace.com/…/21411-be-a-sweetheart-and-contact-these- legislators-and-our.html – Cached

    Couple settle lawsuit on wind turbine noise – AltoonaMirror.com …Jun 4, 2010 … Tupi represented Todd and Jill Stull, the Portage RD couple who sued in May 2008 , complaining that the wind turbine noise had destroyed …
    http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/530477.html?nav... – Cached

    Couple settle lawsuit on wind turbine noise
    June 4, 2010 – By Kay Stephens and David Hurst, kstephens@altoonamirror.com, dhurst@altoonamirror.com
    http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/530477.html?nav=742

    Couple sue for £380k after being driven out of home by noise from …Couple sue for £380k after being driven out of home by noise from wind turbines. By Andrew Levy Last updated at 8:34 AM on 20th April 2010 …
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/…/Couple-sue-380k-driven-home-noise-wind-turbines. html►

    Similar Couple sues wind farm over noise levels » Local News » The Tribune …May 4, 2008 … Couple sues wind farm over noise levels. BY KATHY MELLOTT The Tribune-Democrat Sun May 04, 2008, 11:36 PM EDT …
    tribune-democrat.com/…/Couple-sues-wind-farm-over-noise-levels – Cached

    Search ResultsLawsuit Over Wind Turbine NoiseNW Missouri man sues Deere, wind company 2009-02-04 … Lawsuit over wind turbine noise. 1:37. Pennsylvania couple has filed a lawsuit over noise emanating …
    wn.com/lawsuit_over_wind_turbine_noise?orderby=rating – Cached

  5. Credit where credit is due. Author Jim Cummings as done a good job explaining why the industry is doing itself no service with a head in the sand strategy on noise. Setbacks per se are not the problem. Sound and infrasound levels are:

    Chris Bajdek, in a 2007 paper aimed at helping the industry alleviate noise fears, suggests that 44% of those within about 1900 feet (575m, McGuinty take note!) of a typical wind farm would be “highly annoyed,” and that only as sound drops below 40db (at around a half mile), ((800m) will annoyance drop substantially. He cites a survey from Wisconsin that found similar results, with about 50% of respondents living with in a half mile saying noise is a problem; over a third of those between a quarter and half mile had been awakened by turbines.

    While community noise standards never aim to eliminate negative impacts, few would suggest that disrupting a third to half of the nearby population is an acceptable goal. It’s become clear, in both experience and the literature, that modern turbines trigger adverse reactions at lower sound levels than other community noise sources.

    A growing number of acoustics professionals have been proactively seeking answers to why this may be, some looking at characteristics of turbine noise for clues, and others at psychoacoustics and rural “place identity.” These researchers appear to be coalescing around recommended wind farm noise standards of 30-35dB, which do in fact come closer to the familiar goal of keeping new noise intrusions to within 5-10dB of existing ambient conditions (rural night ambient is often around 25dB, even when winds aloft trigger turbines into action).

    Unfortunately, this work has been relentlessly attacked by many in the industry, despite the fact that these more cautionary acousticians aren’t activist yahoos, but longtime industrial and military consultants with decades in the field of noise control. It’s time to step back from stubborn “lines in the sand” and really assess what they’re finding.

    But we all know the science is settled!

  6. If wind turbines are so good, why did the Mc Guinty government strip muncipalities of there rights. That tells me right there, there is something wrong with the turbines.
    Furthermore why doesn’t Mc Guinty build a house in the wind farm then he can find outfirst hand what the people of rural Ont are going through.

  7. And how cruel is it to ignore the wildlife which can’t file lawsuits when their community standards are violated?

  8. Thank you Jim Cummings for this article. I hope all the wind proponents receive a reading comprehension test following the article so we can assure they have not tossed it aside after the first paragraph.

  9. “Even in “wind-friendly” Europe, the EWEA says that 40% of projects end up in court, with another 30% slowed by local opposition”

    My math says that is a 70% opposition rate!

    Ya know… If it was just noise, maybe a case could be made for building these things
    but they are so USELESS in just about every way, why waste the effort?

    Oh yeah! I forgot ! SNAKE OIL!

    R.R.

  10. If the ONLY problem with industrial wind turbines was the sound they generate, then perhaps an argument could be made for their widespread use. Noise is the LEAST of winds shortcomings. With reliability and energy density at such abysmally low levels, they can never be more then a niche energy source. Too little or too much wind, no electricity.

    This is the fatal flaw of ALL so called “green” energy. It all has dismal energy density, dismal reliability or both. No jurisdiction anywhere has succeeded at replacing fossil generation with “green” generation. –EVER!

    Humanity has been using wind to generate electricity since 1887. In the US, small wind generators were employed by the hundreds of thousands until the arrival of massive distribution grids.

    Incredibly, the “smart grid” route proposed by the uniformed cannot compete with “distributed” generation. Why do we need a grid; smart or otherwise?

    Most “thermal” generation plants max out at around 40% efficiency. Today a variety of residential CHP systems have efficiencies approaching 90%. However, rolling out tens of millions of these will have the same negative effects on the environment as what we are currently doing.

    Nothing done on an industrial scale is beneficial to the environment.

    To mitigate our growing environmental foot print we must implement technologies with closed cycles as much as is humanly possible. Waste nothing!

    As for energy itself, we must employ technologies that can be easily distributed and contain massive energy densities. Of these there currently exists but one that entails both a closed cycle and massive energy density: Integral Fast Breeder Reactors. Never heard of them? Google it! These can be built any size to power whole countries or small communities.

    Like I said; “why do we need a grid, smart or otherwise?”

    If humanity truly wants to be “green” I think it behooves us to first fully ascertain what “green” actually is. Unfortunately this does NOT include current “green” energy tech!

    R.R.

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