In response to the Globe South’s question “Should the Baker administration support wind energy?” Joanne Levesque argued that
Our state’s energy policy should never sacrifice the rights of private property owners or promote public harm. Current support for wind power projects is premised on allowing harm to our neighbors. Violation of the law is not how a civil society should adopt solutions to climate-change challenges.
A resident of Duxbury, Levesque serves on the Wind Advisory Committee. She urged the Baker administration to
immediately do what 44 Massachusetts cities and towns have done in the past 10 years — that is to deny the construction of new land-based wind projects. The new administration should also do what Falmouth has been forced to do by a Barnstable Superior Court judge who ruled on the evidence: reduce the operational hours of existing turbines to protect their neighbors from further harm.
The pro/con discussion appeared in the Boston Globe’s metro South edition on January 10, 2015.
“Haven’t we learned anything from the town of Falmouth?” asked John McMahon at Bourne’s Board of Health meeting on the wind project to be sited in neighboring Plymouth. His comments were reported in The Enterprise: “Bourne Residents Speak Out Against Plymouth Turbines” (by Michael J. Rausch on 12/12/14).
John T. McMahon of Morning Mist Lane in Buzzards Bay was outraged that Mr. Mann was even considering his project. Mr. McMahon held in his hand a report from the Falmouth Board of Health that showed 47 people suffering from health problems due to wind turbines.
According to the news report, the audience had plenty to say about potential harm from the proposed project beyond its compliance with BOH wind turbine siting regulations (quoted later in the post).
In an effort to deflect noise concerns, Keith Mann of Future Generation Wind, said the project will use newer turbines. This drew an online comment from Mark Cool, whose Firetower Road residence is impacted by the Falmouth turbines. In his post (Bourne Resident Deals Wind Developer “Falmouth Experience” Trump Card 12/12/14), Cool debunks assumptions that newer turbines are quieter.
The International Electrotechnical Commission [IEC ~ the international standards and conformity assessment body for all fields of electrotechnology] has sound rated ALL patented industrial wind turbines. The IEC-reported sound power levels range from 102dbA – 107dbA for industrial turbines. The IEC’s rating methodology IS NOT, in any way, shape or form, correlated to or distinguished by the age of the turbine.
The Plymouth project consists of four 476-foot, 2-megawatt Gamesa turbines with potential impacts on residents of Bournedale. In their Op-Ed in the Cape Cod Times, “Let’s not bargain with the devil,” (11/21/14), Lilli-Ann Green of Wellfleet and Yvonne Relin of Brewster urge Cape communities to get the facts before signing municipal power purchase agreements (“net metering”) that will allow the project to advance.
Bourne passed regulations for “Wind Energy Conversion Systems” to protect residents from turbine noise:
Daytime: The noise generated by a WECS shall not exceed 6 dB(A) above ambient or and with a cap value of 65 dB(A) at the closest property line. The Board may allow a greater dB(A) where the applicant has demonstrated proven at a public meeting no inhabitants will be adversely affected.
Nighttime: The noise generated by a WECS shall not exceed 6 dB(A) above ambient and with a cap value of 40 dB(A) at the closest property line. The Board may allow a greater cap value of 65 dB(A) where the applicant has proven at a public meeting no inhabitants will be adversely affected.
The amplitude modulated noise measurable in overall A-weighted sound pressure level shall not exceed 4 dB peak to trough at the closest property line. A higher AAM may occur only of [sic] the applicant has demonstrated to the Board of Health that no inhabitants will be adversely affected.
Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy is asking for your experience with wind turbines to submit to their Board of Health in support of the Shirley Wind Human Health Hazard Declaration.
If you or others you know have experienced negative health impacts from living in close proximity to industrial wind turbines and would like to share that experience along with your words of support with the Brown County Board of Health, please do so.
The address is BOHsupport@bccrwe.com
BCCRWE welcomes and encourages individuals, organizations, and governmental agencies from around the world to send their words of support regarding the Board of Health’s action. BCCRWE will pass your emails on to the Brown County Board of Health as support for their courage, integrity, responsibility, intellectual honesty, and care in declaring the industrial wind turbines at Shirley Wind to be human health hazards.
UPDATE 12/8/14: According to a letter Michael Fairneny sent to the DEP, serrated edges have not reduced turbine noise:
The new additions DID NOT help the noise coming at us last night…VERY LOUD still …Is there going to be follow up testing to see if this project is under state guidelines? How will you evaluate is further testing is not scheduled…? This project still continues to bother us…and not just when there is icing condititions….but I’m telling you …these serated edges did not diminish the noise comming at us much ….if at all??
Please plan more testing , and not just during icing
Michael Fairneny, hoosacwindproject.com, Friends of Florida & Monroe
As the installation of new turbine blade edges began in Monroe last week (October 25, 2014), residents of Monroe and Florida can only hope that the saw-toothed edges will make a dent in the turbine noise plaguing them. An industrial-sized crow’s nest allowed technicians to apply GE’s experimental fix for Iberdrola’s out-of-compliance turbines. The blade being worked on in the photo at left is in the top middle of the frame. Below is a close-up of the “Serrated TE” GE uses to reduce blade noise.
According to a letter and report from Iberdrola to the MassDEP, the violations at the Hoosac ranged from 10.2 dBA above background in January 2014 to 17 dBA in February. The Serrated TE reduces broadband noise by 2 to 4 dBA according to Totaro & Associates of Houston Texas.
This is the first time an attempt has been made to mitigate turbine noise in Massachusetts while keeping the turbines running. Previous orders have required shut downs for certain hours of operation. The serrated trailing edge retrofit allows the wind turbine operator to continue to produce electricity while testing an unproven noise reduction technology.
According to Jim Cummings in”Addressing Wind Farm Noise Concerns” (Acoustic Ecology Institute, Dec 2012):
Aerodynamic noise from the trailing edge of turbine blades is the primary noise source of most modern turbines. This is generally a broadband noise, though most notable at frequencies of 700Hz to 2kHz. A range of design modifications are being developed by most turbine manufacturers, including shape of the airfoil, tip modifications, vortex generators along the fin’s crest, and porous or serrated trailing edges. Serrated edges appear to be the most widely studied, with overall noise reductions of 3-8dB being reported (Barone, 2011). However, many studies have found that these reductions are frequency-dependent, with reductions in low-frequency noise and increases at higher frequencies (over 2kHz). Serrations may be less effective at low or moderate wind speeds; in some situations, this can be when neighbors find turbine noise most audible.
Residents have filed multiple complaints to the MassDEP regarding the noise experienced West of Bakke Mountain, in Florida and Clarksburg, and on Moores and Tilda Hill roads in Florida and Monroe. However Iberdrola is only installing serrated edges on half the turbines on its industrial wind complex, meaning that those affected by Bakke Mountain turbines will not benefit.
Although noise and the consequent lack of sleep are the primary concerns for people living near the turbines, there is growing evidence that turbines also affect people through low-frequency emissions. Photographer Larry Lorusso, who lives one mile west of the turbines in Clarksburg, states that he is awoken in the night by the turbines. Michael Fairneny and his wife report adverse health effects at their home on Moores Road, one-half mile from the turbines. The health effects were so severe for Tim Danyliw and Nancy Shea that they abandoned the home they were renovating on Tilda Hill Road.
Serrated edge applications were made to the turbines operating in Vinalhaven, Maine as a beta test. No other turbines with noise violations in Massachusetts have used this technology.
After a year-long health study, the Duke Energy wind turbine project in Wisconsin was declared a human health hazard. The Board of Health of Brown County voted to take the action on October 14, 2014, according to JMKraft writing in Illinois Leaks (Duke Energy’s Shirley Wind Farm Declared Health Hazard).
The decision was based on a report of a year-long study conducted by the Enz family to document infrasound in homes within a radius of 6 miles of the Shirley Wind turbines.
The vote to declare it a Human Health Hazard puts Duke Energy’s Shirley Wind utility on the defensive to prove to the Board they are not the cause of the health complaints documented in the study and could result in a shut down order.
According to the Waubra Foundation, the wording of the motion was:
To declare the Industrial Wind Turbines in the Town of Glenmore, Brown County WI a Human Health Hazard for all people (residents, workers, visitors, and sensitive passersby) who are exposed to Infrasound/Low Frequency Noise and other emissions potentially harmful to human health.
Four different acoustical engineering firms performed the study, “A Cooperative Measurement Survey and Analysis of Low Frequency and Infrasound at the Shirley Wind Farm in Brown County, Wisconsin,” which was partially funded by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. The technicians recorded readings from several homes the residents had abandoned (citing turbine emission health impacts). The results included a statement agreed upon by all four firms – some of whom work for wind turbine developers – that in their opinion, “enough evidence and hypotheses have been given herein to classify LFN and infrasound as a serious issue, possibly affecting the future of the industry.” WWMA summarized the study in a January 2014 post.
Sarah Laurie, of the Waubra Foundation in Australia, noted earlier this year (“Letter to Slovenia re Known Adverse Health Impacts of Wind Turbine Noise” Aug. 11, 2014) that:
Unlike most other products, where prior product safety is established, the wind industry has never been required to show there are no adverse health effects. … [I]n fact the wind industry are well aware of the serious health problems their products directly cause, and indeed that they have known for thirty years.
There are eight 500-foot turbines in the Shirley Wind project.
The towns of Brewster, Marion, Mattapoisett, and Duxbury defeated wind turbine projects in the last few years. Now each town is signing on to power purchase agreements to lower their electric rates, underwriting a turbine project in Plymouth.
This does not sit well with commentators, who posted about the Rich Eldred piece in Wicked Local Cape Cod, “Brewster may purchase wind power” (10/7/14).
“As a resident of Plymouth,” Margaret Burke writes, “it is my request that Brewster not purchase power from Future Generation Wind on the basis of potential harm to the health of Plymouth and Bourne residents.” She notes that the four 476-foot, 2-megawatt Gamesa turbines will be sited within 1300 to 1400 feet of residents. In addition to Plymouth and Bourne, Wareham residents may also be affected, Burke says, with the noise amplified where turbines are close to bodies of water.
I would encourage anyone in these areas who have concerns about their health and well being and that of their families to contact their Boards of Health and other town officials who should have some information on the FGW plan and can hear your concerns, give you feedback and any action plans they may have on your behalf to protect you from health risks associated with living too close to industrial size turbines.
In the comment posted by Mercedes Medford, “Marie Jane” notes “the people of Plymouth will be the surrogate, [they will] carry the burden of the project.” She warns readers about town government actions and potential contracts mentioned in the article:
BEWARE of tight time frames. BEWARE of promises for “the deal of the century.” BEWARE of those who assert that there is no evidence of intense strobing, decline in property value which is proven, of health issues which are being experienced, complex low frequency noise issues which are proven, no acknowledgement of habitat destruction.
According to the Eldred article, Future Generation Wind project in Plymouth is the initiative of Keith Mann, a cranberry farmer who plans to site four 450-foot-tall turbines on 150 acres near Route 25. “The idea is to sell the power to off-takers. The Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative wants to be an off-taker and would sell the green energy power to NStar at a higher price and distribute the gains to member communities.”
With the focus of the article on Brewster, Mark J. Cool–who is impacted by one of the Falmouth turbines–finds “it just might be that in Brewster, it’s OK to exploit neighbors in another community if it should save Brewster a few energy budget bucks.”
While the Scituate turbine sits idle awaiting a solution from the Chinese manufacturer,* the Board of Health and the Selectmen have been hearing the preliminary report of the noise testing done by Tech Environmental.
“After three nights of testing in five different locations, owners of the 390-foot-tall wind turbine on the Driftway say noise from the machine falls within state regulations,” according to Jessica Trufant, reporting in the Patriot Ledger in Quincy (“Test results show Scituate turbine noise within state regulations” 8/6/14).
In a submission to Wind Wise, resident Dave Dardi said, “The report stated that the turbine was tested on three separate nights and the highest difference found between low ambient and maximum noise output was 7 dBa.” He asked owner Gordon Deane during the BOH meeting for information that he needed for proper evaluation of the data. Mr Deane stated that he didn’t bring that data with him. Mr Dardi pointed out that “the report indicated the turbine was very seldom above 30% power output and never above 60% during the testing periods and in addition the wind was never from the Southwest.”
Video of the Board of Health meeting is posted on YouTube, “Scituate Board of Health Meeting 7-28-2014.” The BOH pointed out that only three of the four tests were completed and voted to ask for the last test to be done while the turbines are running at intermediate speed and the wind direction from the southwest. They also asked why Tech Environmental had not accommodated parallel sampling by an acoustician for a Scituate community group, and were told there had been last-minute changes to the schedule.
*Trufant had earlier reported on the losses mounting from the turbine’s down-time (Software glitch costs owners of Scituate wind turbine $45,000, 7/30/14).