by Steve Ambrose and Rob Rand, Wind Wise Massachusetts
The public response to wind turbines operating in a number of Massachusetts coastal communities have been greeted with a mixed response. A series of one-page articles have been written based on the acoustic investigations and research by Robert Rand and Stephen Ambrose. They are career-long friends and colleagues dating back to 1981 when they both worked as noise control engineers for Stone & Webster Engineering Corporation in Boston, Massachusetts. Currently, they are independent acousticians working in Maine.
There should be no wind turbine complaints about noise with today’s knowledge and instrument capabilities. They have never investigated a noise problem where the public has been so vocal about ruined lives and home abandonment. Why are neighbors complaining about wind turbines? Why are regulatory officials unable to protect public health and well-being. The following is written to help answer these two-questions. (Click to view a PDF version of the four one-page articles).
Wind Turbine Noise Complaint Predictions Made Easy – Part 1
Acousticians have known for decades how to predict the community reaction to a new noise source. Wind turbine consultants have chosen not to predict the community reaction as they have previously done for other community noise sources. If they had, there would be far fewer wind turbine sites with neighbors complaining loudly about excessive noise and adverse health impacts.
In 1974, the USEPA published a methodology that can predict the community reaction to a new noise. A simple chart can be used that shows the community reactions (y-axis) versus noise level (x-axis). This chart was developed from 55 community noise case studies (black squares). The baseline noise levels include adjustments for the existing ambient, prior noise experience, and sound character. The predicted wind turbine noise level is plotted on the ‘x-axis’ and the predicted community reaction is determined by the highest reaction, indicated by the black squares. Here are some examples: 32 dBA no reaction and sporadic complaints, 37 dBA widespread complaints, 45 dBA strong appeals to stop noise and 54 dBA vigorous community action, the highest. Read article