Living With Turbines

Pacific Standard (OR)
Noise complaints draw opposition to wind farms
Jan 6, 2011

Mike Eaton and his wife live in northeastern Oregon for the peace and quiet. But ever since wind turbines arrived on the ridge above their home two years ago, the Eatons’ slice of heaven has been a nightmare.

“It makes me seasick and nauseous,” said Eaton, who carries a cane. “I take medication for it, but it just keeps it slightly balanced so I’m not vomiting all the time, to be honest with you.”
The constant swoosh-swoosh of wind turbines cutting through a downwind gust can be excruciating for Eaton. For others, like Dan Williams, who live nearby just a few miles south of the Columbia River, the sound is more than just annoying — it keeps him up at night, which causes stress.

“It’s like a train that’s neither coming or going, or a plane that’s constantly hovering, or an ocean that’s not breaking or receding,” said Williams, an otherwise healthy middle-aged man. “I will also sometimes get real tight in the chest and feel like I’m having a panic attack.”

The pair recently told their stories at one of three public meetings the state Office of Public Health held in eastern Oregon to assess the possible health effects from wind turbine noise. How and at what distances sound from these giant turbines affects human beings has triggered a brush war in the search for renewable energy, a war that has seen battles from Denmark to New England to the U.S. Midwest — and Oregon…

Scituate wind turbine opponent responds

Globe Correspondent / August 26, 2012
In a letter to the Globe South on Aug. 19 (“Scituate majority favors windmill”), Allan Greenberg’s assertion that I should have expressed my views about the wind turbine prior to its construction is overly simplistic.

Since none of us have ever lived near a windmill, we didn’t know what to expect and relied on our community leaders to protect us. One resident whose house is only a few hundred feet from the windmill distributed printed information about the adverse effects to the Scituate Planning Board at their Feb. 12, 2009, meeting and voiced his concerns again at the July 12, 2010, meeting. He was told that he would not experience any negative effects. We now know that to be false.
Since the Aug. 9 article in Globe South (“Winds of discontent in Scituate”), many people have contacted both the Globe writer and myself with their own stories of shadow flicker, noise disturbance, and sleep deprivation. I have urged them to make their complaints to the Board of Health, since they have the power to mitigate the situation.

Mr. Greenberg has portrayed me as anti-windmill, and I am not. I am for any alternate source of energy that does not present public health issues. If I had been aware of the wind turbine before it was built, I would not have had any views to bring forward since I have had no experience with them. At that time, I was a member of the ignorant majority, but now it is a different story.

I have been awakened many times and have been forced to shut the windows and take doctor-prescribed sleeping pills. The closest involvement most people will ever have with a windmill is seeing it when they drive by it. It is very easy to support something that you only read about and go to visit, but they should try sleeping under it.

David M. Dardi
Civil Engineer and
Reg. Land Surveyor, Scituate

Excerpt from “Wind Turbine Noise and Air Pressure Pulses”; it has
almost 1100 views in 10 days.

Government Noise Codes, By Willem Post:

Traditionally, state and local government codes dealt mostly with
measured sound values that are weighed (adjusted) using the A scale
which covers most of the audible frequencies. The A scale corrects dB
measurements according to the sensitivity of human hearing. It should
not be used for frequencies less than 200 HZ, as the low frequency
noise (LFN) and infrasound would be “weighed” out.

The following scales should be used to properly weigh all frequencies,
especially those less than 20 Hz that are emitted by wind turbines:

Most audible noises in the range of 200 – 20,000 Hz; dB weighed with
the A scale, dB(A).
LFN, in the range of 20 – 200 Hz; dB weighed with the C scale, dB(C).
Infrasound less than 20 Hz; dB weighed with the G scale, dB(G)*.

*The instrumentation to quantify infrasound frequencies and amplitudes
is expensive and the values obtained vary with the method and
instruments used. Applying the G scale to such values may not be

The human ear can hear LFN at 95 dB(G) levels, the inner ear is
sensitive to LFN at 65 dB(G) levels. Audible thresholds for perception,
ToP, of 95 dB(G) represent the median response to a steady pure tone in
a laboratory environment.

If a person is more sensitive to LFN and infrasound, say at the 10%
boundary, the ToP may be as low as 85 dB(G) for a steady pure tone. The
ToP will also be lower with multiple tones between 0 and 100 Hz that
rapidly modulate in amplitude and frequency, as with wind turbine noise.

Professional acoustical engineers know the government codes, the
outcome government regulators are expected to hear and conduct their
tests according to standard procedures using mostly the A scale. Wind
turbine vendors report sound levels adjusted to the A scale and
everyone is satisfied. The LFN and infrasound are usually not covered
by government codes.

According to the US EPA, noise levels above 45 dB(A) disturb sleep and
most people cannot sleep at noise levels above 70 dB(A).

In Massachusetts, noise is considered pollution if it exceeds the
ambient noise level by 10 dB(A). The Department of Environmental
Protection, MassDEP, measures noise levels at the complainant’s
location and at other nearby locations that may be affected, such as
residences and/or buildings with other sensitive receptors. If the
noise level at a sensitive receptor’s location is more than 10 dB(A)
above ambient, MassDEP requires the noise source to mitigate its
impact. The LFN and infrasound are not covered.

In Michigan,  the Centerville Township, after 4 years of study,
developed and approved a 19-page zoning ordinance for commercial wind
energy systems. It is strict and comprehensive and should serve as a
model for other government entities. Here are some excerpts:

Audible Noise Standard:

From 6:00 A.M. until 10:00 P.M., for wind speeds from cut-in to
rated-output of the wind turbine facility, the noise level due to the
wind turbine facility at the property line closest and at locations
within 1 mile of the wind turbine facility shall not exceed the greater
of 35 dB(A), or the established outdoor background sound level by more
than 5 dB(A).

From 10:00 P.M. until 6:00 A.M., the noise level due to the wind
turbine facility at the property line closest and at locations within 1
mile of the wind turbine facility shall not exceed the established
outdoor background sound level by more than 3 dB(A). Background sound
level shall be established separately for daytime (6:00 A.M.-10:00
P.M.) and for nighttime (10:00 P.M.-6:00 A.M.) values.

LFN or Infrasound: No LFN or infrasound from wind turbine facility
operations shall be created which causes the noise level both within
the project boundary and a 1 mile radius beyond the project boundary to
exceed the following limits:

Octave Band Center Frequency, Hz   Sound Pressure Level (dB-SPL)
1-2                                                   70
16                                                    60
31.5                                                 65
63                                                    57
125                                                  50
250                                                  47

Tonality and/or Repetitive, Impulsive Tone Penalty:

In the event the audible noise due to wind turbine facility operations
exhibits tonality, contains a pure tone and/or repetitive, impulsive
noise, the Audible Noise Standard shall be reduced by a total of 5

In Maine, codes require noise levels not to exceed the one-hour average
daytime limit (between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.) of 55 dB(A), and one-hour
nighttime limit (between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.) of 42 dB(A), as measured
within 500 feet from a residence, seasonal camp or business at
“protected locations”, and 55 dB(A) 24 hours of the day at greater than
500 feet from a residence, seasonal camp or business at “protected
locations”, and 75 dB(A) at the wind turbine project boundary.
Maine Department of Environmental Protection 06-096 CMR c. 375.10.

Till now, 32 Maine towns have passed their own wind facility ordinances
that are stricter than the state ordinance, because they do not trust
the state to protect the public safety, health, property values and
welfare of the people. This site provides the URLs of the text of the
wind ordinances of 12 Maine towns. Vermont towns should get copies of
them and use them as a guide to write their own ordinances before it is
too late.

In Vermont, codes require nighttime noise levels not to exceed 40 dB(A)
as measured at the exterior of a dwelling facade and averaged over a
12-month exposure, the same as the recommendations of the 2009 World
Health Organization report that mostly cover road noise, air traffic,
and community noise and do not mention wind turbine noise.  LFN and
infrasound are not covered. The Vermont code is hopelessly out of date
and does not protect the public health, safety and welfare; it is a
wind turbine vendor’s dream come true.
The PSB is too political to be the arbiter of this issue.

dB values should be measured “at the property line” to ensure people
can enjoy their entire property and should not be “averaged over a
12-month period” which would average higher noise levels at higher wind
speeds occurring mostly during nighttimes with lower noise levels at
lower wind speeds occurring mostly during daytimes.

Wind Turbine Noise Annoyance:

On an annoyance scale that is based on interviews of people who live
near wind turbines, airports, railroads and highways, wind turbine
noise is much more annoying at less than 40 dB(A), than the noise from
aircraft, highway and rail traffic at less than 70 dB(A).

This additional annoyance is due to the LFN and infrasound emitted by
wind turbines. The measured wind turbine noise appears to be benign and
within code, but the annoying/unhealthy LFN and infrasound were
filtered out by the A scale weighing.

The real experts on what it is like to live near wind turbines are the people who live next to them, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Here are just a few first hand accounts and articles concerned with life near a wind farm.

This sad commentary shows another example in New England, of wind turbine neighbors being isolated from their community. In Fairhaven, the controversy is raging before the turbine installation is complete. Neighbors nearby know what is about to happen to them.

If turbines create problems, put blame on the right parties

By Scott Durant, Fairhaven, Mass
March 14, 2012 12:00 AM
While it is easy for a bystander to view Fairhaven’s turbine situation lightly — like the majority of the town is doing who don’t need to worry about any impacts or don’t believe the potential for problems exists — I ask you to please stop and think for a while and consider how you would feel if the turbines were actually going up near your home. Try to picture their imposition on your life: the constant distraction of seeing the giant blades spinning every minute you spend outside your home, hearing them most of the time day or night, and having trouble sleeping when they are loud. Picture this being inflicted on you with no choice in the matter, and being locked into it because you probably couldn’t sell your house if you wanted to.

Also try to imagine how it feels to have the rest of the town, with the exception of a few, not caring at all about your fear that your happiness could be turned upside down, and probably won’t care if it does happen because it’s not happening to them.

I live about half a mile away from the site and hope, with fingers crossed, that I will be only minimally affected when the wind blows in certain directions, but I feel deeply for those less fortunate who will be much closer to them. It really bothers me that so many people are too cold to share the same compassion for others — it is a demerit to the human race. Ignorance can be forgiven, but not selfishness. Most people who are cheering on the turbines, while hoping to see some benefit for themselves, would, without question, be cheering a different tune if the turbines were being put up near their homes — and they know it. This, I am certain of.

When I arrived at the blade signing, I noticed far more luxury SUVs and sport trucks than fuel efficient vehicles parked for the event, while people talked to reporters about “how much we need to conserve and look for alternatives” (“Sign of the times: Proponents, protesters attend signing of Fairhaven’s turbine blades,” March 11). Am I out of line in saying that at least some of these people are hypocrites?

This town has been tragically divided. Though a small group is the most active, there are hundreds of people opposed to the project, contrary to what Selectman Brian Bowcock would like you to believe. Whether it gets better or worse, I guess, is up to the turbines themselves. Personally, I am trying hard to keep an open mind for my own sake, so that if I am bothered by them, I’ll know it is for real. If the turbines don’t affect anybody, I have nothing against them being there. If they do affect nearby people, there is a fair chance it will be many people — possibly enough to cause them to be stopped and brought down.

This is a risk the selectmen and the developers took when they put them too close to a community. If this all turns out to be a disaster, it will clearly be their fault, not ours. If this does happen, I can only hope the townspeople would see that and throw the blame in the right direction, rather than strenghtening the divide and adding to the damage themselves by blaming the innocent.

Here is what we published July 24, 2011: “Update/ A Vision Forward”

For more than a year and a half, the case of the Vinalhaven wind turbines has become a national study in what can go wrong when wind turbines are placed too close to residences. What is worse: permitting authorities at the state and local level knew of likely noise problems before the project was built.There are many examples of citizens protesting after-the-fact. At a recent public hearing in the Maine state capitol of a noise rule to better protect people from industrial turbine noise, citizens from around the state testified how noise from nearby wind farms have turned their lives upside down. One affected neighbor in Freedom, Maine told of asking her children– who can’t sleep because of the wind turbine noise– “Did you brush your teeth, say your prayers, and take your sleeping pills?”

There are complaints wherever wind turbines are sited too close to where people live, in the U.S. and around the world. What distinguishes Vinalhaven is that neighbors took costly steps of obtaining equipment and acoustic measurement to demonstrate that the turbines operate in violation of state noise regulations. We engaged DEP on a technical level to establish our credentials and then helped do the state’s work in establishing a tight protocol for turbine noise measurement. We expected that a fair regulatory review would follow. We were wrong: Fox Islands Wind has fought the neighbors at every turn.

In November 2010, the DEP formally notified Fox Islands Wind that it is in violation of the 45dBA night sound limit. Although the agency did require FIW to propose changes to its operations to remedy the violations, it has failed to impose any sanction on the utility. The changes FIW proposed, and that DEP later accepted, will offer no relief to neighbors.

Fox Islands Wind continues to mislead the community; first about the seriousness of the turbine noise problem, denying access to information, providing incomplete information to the DEP, and continuing to argue that noise violations only occur rarely and under specific wind directions, and all the while telling the public that it is cooperating with neighbors.

Locally Fox Islands Wind commands local public outreach through inserts in the local Coop utility bills and through publications of the Island Institute owned newspaper, The Working Waterfront. Although our analysis shows that FIEC misleads ratepayers on Vinalhaven about savings generated by the turbines, we have not only be unable to communicate with islanders on an equal footing; Fox Islands Wind continues to spread misinformation about the baseline economics of the project. The utility claims this year’s drop in electricity costs is due to the turbines. In fact, the wholesale markets experienced a 35% drop in the cost of electricity during 2010, which accounts for all the savings ratepayers have seen as compared to last year. The turbines have cost ratepayers rather than saved money. On average over the past year, Vinalhaven ratepayers have spent about 7 ½% more than they would have paid without the turbines. Add to this the cost of bad noise generation models being used by FIW, and the picture begins to become clear.

Where does this leave us?

Six months ago, we wrote, “We hope that in 2011, DEP will levy sanctions on Fox Island Wind: turn the turbines off at night or down so that the 45dBA level is never exceeded. With the continued leverage of DEP findings, it is possible that FIW will finally cooperate with neighbors and cease expensive plans that have no result other than deny the facts and to delay compliance.” This hope has not been fulfilled: DEP continues to use neighbors of the wind turbine farm as their “guinea pigs”. The latest effort: a plan by the utility to affix a new surface to the wind turbine blades, that fails to address the fundamental problems of site location and wind shear.

Six months ago, we also wrote, “We hope for transparency: free access to real time noise level and meteorological data from the wind turbines, and for access to complete information from FIEC and FIW as to the financial arrangements of the turbines.” Maine DEP — at the very moment of shifting the burden of acoustic recordings to the utility– yanked that decision from the hands of staff: wrecking a year and a half of honest investment.

We wrote, “A year from now, we hope the Maine legislature and Governor’s Office will be more educated about the plight of Vinalhaven neighbors who, through no fault of our own, have been saddled with the enormous financial and physical cost of proving non-compliance.” Our conclusion from the first half of 2011: not yet.

Six months ago, we expressed the hope “… that the board of directors of FIEC (the local utility) will form independent judgments about the facts and finally talk honestly with us.” So far that has not happened either. On a more positive note, the Maine Public Utilities Commission recently decided to investigate our complaints against Fox Islands Wind. Our efforts have earned significant attention—including front-page stories in the AP, New York Times, Boston Globe and Maine newspapers. News reports come and go, and the turbines churn on. We hope for better and quieter days ahead.

Wind Turbines Pose Threat to Eagles

Heather Steeves, Bangor Daily News, Maine
Posted May 14, 2011

A recently released study that concluded fewer than 10 birds die yearly from the three wind turbines on this Maine island paints too rosey a picture, according to biologists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“We concluded that this project would represent a ‘substantial risk’ to bald eagles,” the service biologists wrote to Fox Islands Wind LLC soon after the bird study was released.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the area on Vinalhaven Island where the turbines are placed is “one of the densest nesting eagle concentrations in Maine.”

At least three eagle nests are within a mile and a half of the turbines, according to the service. At least 33 nests are within 10 miles of the project. Of those, 12 are within four miles of the project.

The letter from the service was issued after local ornithologist Richard Podolsky released his findings from a 28-month bird study on the wind turbines’ effect on local eagles and osprey. The study was required by the town’s wind ordinance. In his time on the island, Podolsky found two small bird corpses near the windmills — not eagles or ospreys — and he can’t say for sure that the turbines killed them. After all, “birds die all the time,” he said Tuesday.

The study was shoddily done, the letter implies. The study tests each dead-bird searcher for efficiency. But during those tests, Podolsky set out quail for the searchers to find, which are much larger than many of the island’s birds and bats, the Fish and Wildlife Service wrote. So, likely, the searchers were not as efficient as the study assumed.

Further, the scientists on Vinalhaven should have been out looking for dead and living birds more often, the service officials argued. And they should have been looking in a larger area than they did. Also, the study should have taken at least three years, not 28 months.

“The methods used in your original collision risk assessment need to be more rigorous,” the service officials wrote in the letter.

“If they wanted me out there every day, I would have been. It’s beautiful out there. But the science scales to the size of the project,” Podolsky said on Wednesday. “The client could not have afforded to have a full-time biologist, I don’t think.”

Further, Podolsky said he did his science to meet the town’s requirements, which meant at least monthly surveys of the turbine area. He exceeded those standards, he said.

The wind company, Fox Islands Wind, does not need the Fish and Wildlife Service’s permission anyhow, according to the service’s endangered species biologist Mark McCollough, who helped write the letter to the company. The letter, McCollough said, was purely advisory.

However, the wind company has submitted a permit application to the Fish and Wildlife Service asking for some leeway in eagle deaths. According to McCollough, service officials are still considering the application, which would allow “limited, incidental mortality and disturbance of bald eagles.” But the agency needs a lot more information about bird populations and turbine-related deaths on the island before it hands the wind company a permit, he said.

If the turbines kill any eagles before the permit is approved, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could prosecute the company for the death, McCollough said.

To see more of the Bangor Daily News, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to

Copyright © 2011, Bangor Daily News, Maine

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

For more information about the content services offered by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (MCT), visit States

Nov. 30, 2010 – Falmouth turbine draws wary Connecticut residents – by Aaron Gouveia

State of Wisconsin– Lauren Azar – Wisconsin Commissioner recommends added protection for those harmed by turbines

Wisconsin PSC commissioner Lauren Azar submitted this important letter to the Wisconsin legislature in response to newly recommended siting standards for wind energy facilities in the State. Commissioner Azar argues in the letter that the standards recommended do not go far enough in protecting individuals who experience harm from the towers.

Sedgwick, Maine – Christy Hill residents protest Peninsula Power Plans

Maine – October 12, 2010 – Valerie Tucker, Special to the Sun Journal – Protesters greet wind company open house.
HIGHLAND PLANTATION — Protesters carrying signs gathered outside the fire station over the weekend as developers of a proposed wind power project welcomed visitors inside for a presentation.
Former Maine Gov. Angus King and his business partner, Robert Gardiner, greeted visitors to Saturday’s open house.

Maine – September 30, 2010 – Eileen M. Adams, Staff writer, Sun Journal –Panelists lambaste state about wind power studies
Panelists at a wind energy forum Wednesday night lambasted the state for not conducting more studies on the potential impact of wind farms and Dr. Dora Ann Mills, the state’s chief medical officer, for not pursuing possible health issues related to them.
Maine – September 8, 2010 – Friends of Ragged Mountain Speak Out at Selectboard Meeting

Martha’s Vineyard planners visit Vinalhaven to see, hear turbines in action

Life with industrial wind turbines in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin

Morrow County, Oregon – May 26, 2010

Better Plan Wisconsin, Badgers for a better Renewable Energy Plan – An extensive site that details wind energy issues in their state

From Betterplan in Wisconsin, a collection of impressions of people living with turbines

Wind turbines causing health problems, some Ontario residents say

Denmark’s State Owned Electric Company gives up Land based Wind Turbines!: Mass protests mean the energy firm will look offshore

State-owned energy firm Dong Energy has given up building more wind farms on Danish land, following protests from residents complaining about the noise the turbines make.

It had been Dong and the government’s plan that 500 large turbines be built on land over the coming 10 years, as part of a large-scale national energy plan. This plan has hit a serious stumbling block, though, due to many protests, and the firm has now given up building any more wind farms on land.

Anders Eldrup, the CEO of Dong Energy, told TV2 News: ‘It is very difficult to get the public’s acceptance if the turbines are built close to residential buildings, and therefore we are now looking at maritime options.’

The move has met resistance from parliament, where amongst others Anne Grete Holmgaard, the chairperson of the Parliamentary Environmental Committee, said, ‘It is rather unacceptable that Dong – which is our large, state-owned energy firm – says goodbye to an investment in wind on land, and that they are doing so after we have cleared the way for a test centre where new types of turbines can be tested.’

A Problem With Wind Power, Eric Rosenbloom, Sept. 2006

September 12, 2010 – An ill wind blows for Denmark’s green energy revolution: Denmark has long been a role model for green activists, but now it has become one of the first countries to turn against the turbines


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