The way the wind energy program has been imposed on rural Ontario is more than a shame – it is an abuse.
Watford Guide Advocate – May 12th 2011
I read with interest the recent article based on interviews with two households experiencing negative health effects from the turbines sited nearKettle Point and Ravenswood. What struck me most was Laura Wilde’s statement, “…she has a tall dresser leaning against the south-facing window in her bedroom to help muffle the noise. On worse nights she will throw a few pillows in between.”
Clearly she is having a problem with intrusive noise that is causing sleep disturbance, and the obvious source ofthe disturbance is the wind turbine noise. After 10 PM there would be littleelse in a quiet, rural community to cause someone to be suddenly awakened. Her experience is not singular, rather it is the very essence of most complaints about wind turbine noise – sleep disturbance. Repeat this experience over many nights and other more serious health problems will develop. Sleepdisturbance is a well-known cause of serious health effects, andacknowledged by the medical community.
Why is this happening? One would expect as the ground wind dies in the evening, the turbines wouldcease turning and there should be no noise. There is another feature of wind wind turbines that is obvious, but overlooked. They arenot “ground sources” of noise like a highway or an industrialplant. They are “aerial sources” more like a helicopter albeitone that remains in one place. At the height that wind turbinesreach , 80m – 130m , wind conditions are quite different thanthey are at ground level.
The dirty little secret the wind industrydoesn’t want you to know is a phenomenon called, “WindShear”, which describes a condition where the ground winds are very lightor nothing at all; but, the upperlevel winds are blowing very strongly. Upper level winds blow at a more constant velocity than ground winds becausethe temperature is coler and much the same, day or night -“stable atmosphere” is the term. Ground winds vary more due to thesurface temperature difference between day and night. During the daytimesurface heating from sunlight causes convection currents to rise,and so mix the upper level winds with the surface winds. As a result, the windspeed is constant from 0 – 100m or more. In the evening the surface heatsubsides and the ground winds drop.
Think of a summer night and how still it is at night. However, at 80m – 100m the winds can be blowing at 20km/h – 40 km/h, fast enough that the turbine is producing near fullpower and noise. This is a condition of high wind shear. High wind shear values are common throughout all of SW Ontario; and, not surprisingly, are highest nearest the lakeshore where Laura Wilde lives. The meteorological towers the wind companies put up are basically a hoax – they already know that their machines are tall enough to “harvest” the upper level winds – that’s where the power is. Wind shear guarantees their profit – at the expenseof residents sleep. Conditions of high wind shear will occur from 50% to 70% of time over the course of a year, mostly at night.
To make matters worse, wind shear willactually accentuate the noise of the turbines. Post construction measurementshave shown that the slight “swishing”noise caused by the bladespassing the tower, which is usually about 1dBA – 3 dBA during thedaytime, will become a pronounced “thumping” at night, increasingto 5dBA – 15dBA under conditions of “high night time windshear”. The noise will also carry further, as it tends to follow the”boundary layer” of wind shear, much as it will whenit travels over water.
So, the basic problem is that much of thewind turbine’s production will be at night when people are sleeping– or trying to. Little wonder the companies never explain anythingabout wind shear and its effects on noise. People are not beinggiven proper information. The “community consultation” meetingsare little more than farce. The MOE is protecting the interests of large corporations – not residents.
The way the wind energy program has been imposed on rural Ontario is more than a shame – it is an abuse. It has and will cause serious health issues fpr a significant portion of the population.
This is a program which rural Ontario must confront, and repudiate. With the hundreds of turbines that are planned for the area (that we know of),there will be no refuge – town or country. The people of Ravenswood and theLakeshore area will not be alone – others will suffer too. Manypeople will be displaced. Where will they go?