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On Dec 9th, Maine Law Court to hear our case on wind turbine noise violations … live streaming available

December 4, 2014

It has now been five years since the Vinalhaven (ME) wind turbines were turned on, saddling neighbors with wind turbine noise that often exceeds state noise standards.

On December 9th, at 9:30AM, oral arguments of our case will be heard by the Maine Law Court. (That’s the state supreme court.) You will be able to view the proceedings via streaming. (links, below) (more…)

MPBN: Vinalhaven Plaintiffs Applaud Judge’s Ruling In Their Favor On Wind Turbine Noise Violations

March 18, 2014

Plaintiffs in Vinalhaven Wind Case Applaud Judge’s Ruling
03/14/2014 Reported By: Susan Sharon

Vinalhaven Plaintiffs Applaud Judge’s Ruling
Originally Aired: 3/14/2014 5:30 PMListen

The general manager for a Vinalhaven utility says he and his attorneys are weighing all their options after a Superior Court judge sided this week with plaintiffs in a wind turbine noise complaint case on the Maine island. Judge Michaela Murphy’s decision overturns a 2011 ruling from the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection that the judge said “had no rational basis.” Susan Sharon has more.

The excessive noise complaints were brought by a group of residents on Vinahaven who live near three 1.5-megawatt wind turbines on the island. DEP staff initially recommended that Fox Islands Wind take specific steps to reduce noise from its turbines and undertake monitoring. (more…)

Rare silent night on Vinalhaven?

December 27, 2013

Vinalhaven Rare Silent Night 150 ppi

Cautionary Tale for Wind Power Enthusiasts: “Europe’s Renewable Romance Fades”

August 1, 2013

Note: On Vinalhaven, the bumper stickers “Spin, baby, spin” with an image of wind turbines sends a tired message. The bumper sticker is as empty of meaning as the FIEC production numbers that appear on  ratepayer bills; a monthly reminder to the neighbors of the Fox Islands wind turbines that “spin” is pretty much all that emerges from the closed-loop feedback that  suppressed community discussion — unlike places like Falmouth, MA — about the true costs and questions of wind power.

The “spinning” of wind turbines can be measured by kilowatt hours produced but it is meaningless without an analysis of the impact on the electricity grid. A new Wall Street Journal OPED gets to the heart of the matter.

Is wind power helpful to reduction of carbon emissions — as claimed by its advocates — or does it hurt? Because if it hurts, then paying twice as much for electricity — as Vinalhaven ratepayers do — than they would if the turbines had never been built, really hurts. Wind turbine enthusiasts are convinced they have the answer to this question: paying more for electricity through “sustainable” wind shows they are planting the American flag on energy independence. Really? Utility economists know the answer is much more complicated than “spin”.

Through one set of lenses, the neighbors of the Vinalhaven wind turbines are guinea pigs for the experiment of turbine placement where no state authority prevails over local, patriarchal practices of governance. It has turned out to be an extraordinarily costly experiment for neighbors, who are self-funding litigation against the state of Maine; litigation that is vehemently supported by Fox Island Wind and the local electric cooperative.

Through another set of lenses, the wind turbine neighbors are also paying — because they are subject to the miscalculations by the local enthusiasts on placement of the turbines too close to residences — for very important questions related to the stability of the New England electricity grid.

That the answers to those questions are gradually coming into focus — concerning the stop-start nature of wind and absence of technologies to store electricity on a municipal scale — is bitter news to neighbors whose property values, through no fault of their own, is impacted by wind turbines.

Wall Street Journal  OPINION
July 29, 2013, 6:52 p.m. ET
Europe’s Renewable Romance Fades

High energy bills and threats of blackouts ended the honeymoon. America, take note.


Europe has bet big on wind and solar energy, and many environmental advocates would like America to follow. Wind and solar have a role in the U.S. energy economy, but we would be wise to see the cautionary tale in the European experience and adjust our plans accordingly. (more…)

How Britain went tilting at windmills

January 23, 2013

(The Telegraph, by Michael Hanlon, Jan. 13, 2013) The unfortunate technical term is “intermittent renewables”. This is the name given to the wave of green energy sources such as solar, wind and wave power. Wind farms are certainly “renewable” but they are also unreliable, say opponents.

When the wind does not blow – and that is surprisingly often, even in our allegedly tempestuous archipelago – a wind farm is not a power station but a collection of useless white fans on a hillside. Meanwhile, a nuclear plant or gas-fuelled turbine keeps churning out electricity, day and night, with Stakhanovite determination. (more…)

From Willem Post: If not wind, then what?

November 15, 2012

Geothermal is a MUCH better choice than wind and solar energy, which are SOCIALLY-DIVISIVE, health-damaging, highly-visible, and produce variable, intermittent, junk energy that is expensive and requires balancing with gas turbines. My cousin lives in 15-year-old, building complex, consisting of twenty  2-, 4-, and 12-story buildings, in Maassluis, the Netherlands, that is entirely heated with geothermal energy. (more…)

Across Maine, voters speak out on wind power and reject Vinalhaven model

November 9, 2011

An interesting series of elections in Maine towns this week confirm that the experience of Vinalhaven neighbors, Mars and Record Hill, have made voters deeply suspicious of the claims that wind turbines will be a positive good for their communities.  (more…)

October 5, 2010

October 5, 2010
For Those Near, the Miserable Hum of Clean Energy

VINALHAVEN, Me. — Like nearly all of the residents on this island in Penobscot Bay, Art Lindgren and his wife, Cheryl, celebrated the arrival of three giant wind turbines late last year. That was before they were turned on.

“In the first 10 minutes, our jaws dropped to the ground,” Mr. Lindgren said. “Nobody in the area could believe it. They were so loud.”

Now, the Lindgrens, along with a dozen or so neighbors living less than a mile from the $15 million wind facility here, say the industrial whoosh-and-whoop of the 123-foot blades is making life in this otherwise tranquil corner of the island unbearable.

They are among a small but growing number of families and homeowners across the country who say they have learned the hard way that wind power — a clean alternative to electricity from fossil fuels — is not without emissions of its own.

Lawsuits and complaints about turbine noise, vibrations and subsequent lost property value have cropped up in Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Massachusetts, among other states.

In one case in DeKalb County, Ill., at least 38 families have sued to have 100 turbines removed from a wind farm there. A judge rejected a motion to dismiss the case in June.

Like the Lindgrens, many of the people complaining the loudest are reluctant converts to the antiwind movement.

“The quality of life that we came here for was quiet,” Mrs. Lindgren said. “You don’t live in a place where you have to take an hour-and-15-minute ferry ride to live next to an industrial park. And that’s where we are right now.”

The wind industry has long been dogged by a vocal minority bearing all manner of complaints about turbines, from routine claims that they ruin the look of pastoral landscapes to more elaborate allegations that they have direct physiological impacts like rapid heart beat, nausea and blurred vision caused by the ultra-low-frequency sound and vibrations from the machines.

For the most extreme claims, there is little independent backing.

Last year, the American Wind Energy Association, a trade group, along with its Canadian counterpart, assembled a panel of doctors and acoustical professionals to examine the potential health impacts of wind turbine noise. In a paper published in December, the panel concluded that “there is no evidence that the audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects.”

A separate study financed by the Energy Department concluded late last year that, in aggregate, property values were unaffected by nearby wind turbines.

Numerous studies also suggest that not everyone will be bothered by turbine noise, and that much depends on the context into which the noise is introduced. A previously quiet setting like Vinalhaven is more likely to produce irritated neighbors than, say, a mixed-use suburban setting where ambient noise is already the norm.

Of the 250 new wind farms that have come online in the United States over the last two years, about dozen or so have generated significant noise complaints, according to Jim Cummings, the founder of the Acoustic Ecology Institute, an online clearinghouse for information on sound-related environmental issues.

In the Vinalhaven case, an audio consultant hired by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection determined last month that the 4.5-megawatt facility was, at least on one evening in mid-July when Mr. Lindgren collected sound data, in excess of the state’s nighttime sound limits. The developer of the project, Fox Island Wind, has contested that finding, and negotiations with state regulators are continuing.

In the moonlit woods behind a neighbor’s property on a recent evening, Mr. Lindgren, a retired software engineer, clenched a small flashlight between his teeth and wrestled with a tangle of cables and audio recording equipment he uses to collect sound samples for filing complaints.

At times, the rustle of leaves was all that could be heard. But when the surface wind settled, a throbbing, vaguely jetlike sound cut through the nighttime air. “Right there,” Mr. Lindgren declared. “That would probably be out of compliance.”

Maine, along with many other states, puts a general limit on nighttime noise at 45 decibels — roughly equivalent to the sound of a humming refrigerator. A normal conversation is in the range of 50 to 60 decibels.

In almost all cases, it is not mechanical noise arising from the central gear box or nacelle of a turbine that residents react to, but rather the sound of the blades, which in modern turbines are mammoth appendages well over 100 feet long, as they slice through the air.

Turbine noise can be controlled by reducing the rotational speed of the blades. But the turbines on Vinalhaven already operate that way after 7 p.m., and George Baker, the chief executive of Fox Island Wind — a for-profit arm of the island’s electricity co-operative — said that turning the turbines down came at an economic cost.

“The more we do that, the higher goes the price of electricity on the island,” he said.

A common refrain among homeowners grappling with sound issues, however, is that they were not accurately informed about the noise ahead of time. “They told us we wouldn’t hear it, or that it would be masked by the sound of the wind blowing through the trees,” said Sally Wylie, a former schoolteacher down the road from the Lindgrens. “I feel duped.”

Similar conflicts are arising in Canada, Britain and other countries. An appeals court in Rennes, France, recently ordered an eight-turbine wind farm to shut down between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. so residents could get some sleep.

Richard R. James, an acoustic expert hired by residents of Vinalhaven to help them quantify the noise problem, said there was a simpler solution: do not put the turbines so close to where people live.

“It would seem to be time for the wind utility developers to rethink their plans for duplicating these errors and to focus on locating wind turbines in areas where there is a large buffer zone of about a mile and one-quarter between the turbines and people’s homes,” said Mr. James, the principal consultant with E-Coustic Solutions, based in Michigan.

Vinalhaven’s wind farm enjoys support among most residents, from ardent supporters of all clean energy to those who simply say the turbines have reduced their power bills. Deckhands running the ferry sport turbine pins on their hats, and bumper stickers seen on the island declare “Spin, Baby, Spin.”

“The majority of us like them,” said Jeannie Conway, who works at the island’s ferry office.

But that is cold comfort for Mrs. Lindgren and her neighbors, who say their corner of the island will never be the same.

“I remember the sound of silence so palpable, so merciless in its depths, that you could almost feel your heart stop in sympathy,” she said. “Now we are prisoners of sonic effluence. I grieve for the past.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: October 7, 2010

An article on Wednesday about the noise of wind turbines misstated the material of which turbine blades are made. They are typically made of fiberglass or plastic reinforced with carbon fiber, not steel.