A. Barnett: Big Wind too noisy

On March 6, the Maine Supreme Court ruled for lower noise on Saddleback Ridge wind turbine project for "health" reasons. There was enough information on "adverse" health effects for the Board of Environmental Protection and the legislators to lower Maine’s nighttime noise limit to 42 dbA.

The World Health Organization has studied the noise issue and claims 35 dbA is the maximum level of tolerance for rural areas. Tech Environmental gave a report to Industry, Maine, based on the WHO recommendations. The report scaled height to setback distance, meaning that a 500-foot turbine would require a 7,000-foot setback to maintain a noise level of less than 35 dbA.

The Court had concerns about language in the Wind Energy Act, that a project should "reduce the potential for controversy regarding siting of grid scale wind ..." and in "places where it is most compatible with existing patterns of development and resource values." There are 34 residences — that is an existing pattern. Ten of them were built in the past five years. That is a pattern.

Most of these new homes were built because of natural resource value — spring water, wilderness, southern exposure and quiet. Many of those homes do not depend on "the grid" — they have solar panels on site. Many of those homeowners do not want to sell to the developer.

Most of the owners of those residences have no recourse unless the Department of Environmental Protection opens the application and all the new revisions are presented to the public.

Alice McKay Barnett, Carthage

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Comments

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

The article Mr. Lenhert refers to is very informative without

trying to be. The picture in the article is of massive wind turbines, but not a single house. Mr. Chapman says that if there was a problem with low frequency vibrations he would expect complaints at every wind farm. Why? Certainly there is no scientific reason for such an expectation. Complaints are that low frequency sound at low DbA's stress the body. You would expect no complaints at properly sited wind farms. What Mr. Chapman is reporting is that the complainants are stressed by coverage of the complaints.
No statement in this article on who funded Mr. Chapman's research nor on the accuracy or probabilities his conclusions are valid. In short; its the same gossip you'd hear across a backyard fence.
Wind Farms aren't the problem. Where they are sited is.

Zack Lenhert's picture

You dismiss the article

You dismiss the article because of the attached picture? Very scientific.

"What Mr. Chapman is reporting is that the complainants are stressed by coverage of the complaints." That is absolutely NOT what the article is reporting... a little reading comprehension is in order.

"If windfarms were intrinsically unhealthy or dangerous in some way, we would expect to see complaints applying to all of them, but in fact there is a large number where there have been no complaints at all," Chapman said.

I don't know how you interpret that the "large number" that Chapman is reporting about are ALL "properly sited wind farms", and that is the reason there were no complaints.

Did you read the entire article?

Alice Barnett's picture

Supreme Court Judes say...

“health” reasons. There was enough information on “adverse” health affects for the Board of Environmental Protection and the legislators to lower Maine’s night time noise limit to 42 dbA.

World Health Organization has studied the noise issue and claims 35 dbA is the maximum tolerance for rural areas.

question is.....is SRW invalid?

Zack Lenhert's picture

The World Health Organization

The World Health Organization "recommended" a 35 dbA limit for rural areas... they didn't "claim" 35dbA is a maximum tolerance for people's health.

...and just for some perspective. A normal refrigerator runs at approximately 50 dbA, your normal PC computer runs at 40 dbA. Normal speech is approximately 60 dbA.

http://www.noisehelp.com/noise-level-chart.html

Alice Barnett's picture

normal

my gas refrigerator makes no noise.....

Zack Lenhert's picture

Its all in your head!

Sickness being attributed to wind turbines is more likely to have been caused by people getting alarmed at the health warnings circulated by activists, an Australian study has found.

Complaints of illness were far more prevalent in communities targeted by anti-windfarm groups, said the report's author, Simon Chapman, professor of public health at Sydney University. His report concludes that illnesses being blamed on windfarms are more than likely caused by the psychological effect of suggestions that the turbines make people ill, rather than by the turbines themselves.

http://m.guardiannews.com/environment/2013/mar/15/windfarm-sickness-spre...

Alice Barnett's picture

Two phenomenon's are

Two phenomenon's are happening. The towers are getting taller and larger and making more noise. The easements property owners sign essentially gags them. No say . Freedom of speech...gone. Takes care of those complaints..eh?

Alice Barnett's picture

Dora Mills orSimon Chapman? same?

Metivier Abutter Agreement 01232013.pdf Is an easement between Patriot Renewables and property owner.

We notice that in 1. easement rights. A. sound wave easement they have in parentheses (including infra sound).
Under section 2. release of claims A. (including diminished property values)

I presume developers are forced to recognize these "adverse" impacts to property owners.

Two phenomenon's are happening. The towers are getting taller and larger and making more noise. The easements property owners sign essentially gags them. No say . Freedom of speech...gone. Takes care of those complaints..eh?

Jason Theriault's picture

A couple of things

Post a like to the document:

Secondly - just because they put things in the easement doesn't mean they are real. They could put in a clause that all presents from Santa Clause are to be split 50/50, but that doesn't mean there is a Santa Clause, just that they are not leaving any loopholes.

Norman Mitchell's picture

Yes Jason

There is no Santa and he is not listed in their Lease either now is he ? and the wind developer did not go out of its way to make sure the DEP understood that their was no Santa like they did when they told the DEP that the wind turbines do not produce Infrasound ! They didn't Include any thing that wasn't real like the Easter bunny or the Tooth fairy and why would they ? Your argument proves the fact ! Thank you for in pointing this out ( they wouldn't put stuff in the lease that didn't matter ) Jason your support its most appreciated !

Jason Theriault's picture

Good try

The point is that it costs them nothing to add the clause on infra sound to protect them from people who are looking for any excuse to sue them.

Here is a link to an article that finds the the sickness associated with windmills is communicable. It spreads from person to person by oral transmission:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/mar/15/windfarm-sickness-spre...

Dan McKay's picture

Interesting psychology, You

Interesting psychology, You and I can now agree the developer has been overcome with this hysteria as he signed the same easement covering his own land.

Jason Theriault's picture

Aha

So you agree that this is hysteria.

Alice Barnett's picture

monetary bribes

and a $20 gift certificate is not worth 20 dollar bills?

Jason Theriault's picture

It is not

A $20 gift certificate is not worth $20

Zack Lenhert's picture

Go look on Uncle Henry's....

Go look on Uncle Henry's.... plenty of gift cards selling for below face value.

Jason Theriault's picture

Woops

Jason Theriault's picture

Most of the owners of those

Most of the owners of those residences have no recourse unless the Department of Environmental Protection opens the application and all the new revisions are presented to the public.

Yes they do - they can move. They choose not to because they want the status quo. Well, the status quo in Maine is a high energy prices, and no real industry. The young people in the state flee in droves.

Alice Barnett's picture

price

Dan McKay

Every time a new wind project is brought on line, an additional increase of tax on your electric bill becomes a reality. You didn’t know there was a tax on your electric bill ? It may not appear in words on the statement, but, whenever the Maine PUC mandates a contract between a wind developer and Central Maine Power, Bangor Hydro and Maine Public Service Company, the cost for the wind energy is always above the costs of currently generated energy. Some of this tax is for a product made up for the wind developer that has no value to the consumer. It will not run any electrical device. It is the “ Renewable Energy Credit “ Credit, as in, thanks for being green, here is some more ratepayer money, so you can build some more wind energy facilities, so the PUC can add some more tax to the electric bills. A self-perpetuating tax machine.

Alice Barnett's picture

let hydro flow

through Maine to Massachusetts. The DC line will more than likely follow the turnpike. Lots and lots of jobs for line men, construction, etc.
High electricity prices in Maine are contributable to stranded costs and ISO-NE and RECs and surcharges for Efficiency Maine and RGGI. RPS is costing us.

How come half our legislator is not from Maine? Half the professors in our University system is not from Maine.

Central Maine Power is from Spain.

Brad Blake's picture

35 dBA is a BIG Difference

Alice properly cites the WHO recommendation of 35 dBA. That is still some 15 to 20 dBA above the ambiant background noise in many rural areas. Ever wonder why the crickets sound so loud in the night time? It is because of the relative silence of rural areas!

So, consider this: If ambiant night time background noise is 15 dBA and WHO recommendation is 35 dBA and the Maine regulation is 42 dBA, how does that all relate? Whether one uses the Loudness Multiplier Theory (Stevens) that says an increase of 10 dBA is a doubling of noise, or the more recently developed Amplitude Multiplier Theory (Warren) that says an increase of 6 dBA is a doubling of noise, the fact is, these ranges of dBA are large increases in allowable noise.

Noise has been acknowledged as a major problem, even by the wind industry, but there is no government entity doing a study on the impacts of wind turbine noise. The government spends $10 billion a year propping up this destructive industry and not a dollar on protecting citizens from the impacts of wind turbines.

The wind industry is not only getting a huge pass on this problem, even worse, mandates and favorable wind laws like Maine's are actively shoving this problem onto the innocent residents who just want the peace and quiet of living in a rural area.

Hart Daley's picture

Avoid the Lawsuits! Increase Setbacks

Health issues directly related to wind turbine manufactured noise can NO LONGER BE IGNORED. The Maine Supreme Court has acknowledged that noise from wind turbines is a serious health risk and is ordering lower noise levels for the Saddleback project! BEP, Legislators And the World Health Organization have all acknowledged the same! It is readily apparent that if towns are going to allow wind industrialization in their towns the MUST "increase setbacks" to a mile or more from property lines to AVOID LAWSUITS from residents. If you allow noise created by wind turbines to injure people and their families, disrupt their sleep causing sleep deprivation and devalue their property by 25% - 40% you must accept that fact that these same families will sue your town to compensate for the injuries and loss of property value.

Alice Barnett....great article! The facts you presented may very well save many towns from litigation in the future.

Dan McKay's picture

During the public meeting in

During the public meeting in Canton with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the DEP staff there was asked it they supported the newly established 42dBA limit. Not one staff person would answer the question. Should the DEP be in charge of reviewing sound impacts, when it's staff doesn't even know if they support their own rules ?

Penny Gray's picture

Great letter, Alice McKay

Great letter, Alice McKay Barnett. With all the lawsuits currently in the courts regarding set backs and sound levels pertaining to industrial wind projects and their effects on human health, the prudent course of action for the small rural towns that are being targeted for development would be to use the conservative guidelines and protect their residents. Property values are also impacted by their proximity to these projects. We need to put the environmental protections back in place on our mountains and ridgelines. Time for the legislature to take a hard, realistic look at Maine's Expedited Wind Law. In the meantime, a moratorium would be wise.

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