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Documents presented here are not the product of nor are they necessarily endorsed by National Wind Watch. These resource documents are provided to assist anyone wishing to research the issue of industrial wind power and the impacts of its development. The information should be evaluated by each reader to come to their own conclusions about the many areas of debate.


Date added:  April 24, 2014
Alberta, Noise, RegulationsPrint storyE-mail story

Statement of Richard R. James, INCE

Author:  James, Richard

… The reports and responses to information requests that I have prepared go into considerable detail regarding the basis for my conclusion that the BluEarth project, as currently proposed, has significant potential to adversely affect the people who live within at least 2 km of the project. This is not a new opinion. It was first formulated and published in 2008, in a whitepaper co-authored with Mr. George Kamperman, a senior acoustician whose career spans 65 years with a focus on community noise. That paper was titled: “The ‘How To’ Guide to Siting Wind Turbines to Prevent Health Risks from Sound.”

In that document we presented noise limits based on information that was available from literature including studies of wind turbines conducted in Canada, the EU, UK and from technical reports on wind turbine sound emissions provided by several of the manufacturers. This research was concurrent with the study being conducted by Dr. Nina Pierpont that resulted in the report “Wind Turbine Syndrome.” Dr. Pierpont’s study participants had noise studies of their homes conducted by independent acousticians and she was kind enough to make those studies available for our research. The result of this work was the joint decision between Dr. Pierpont, Mr. Kamperman and myself that we would recommend that industrial scale wind turbines be set back from residential properties by at least 2 km. We also set 35 dBA (Leq) as the not-to-exceed sound level for audible sound (to prevent sleep disturbance at night) and, for quiet rural communities, 55 dBC (Leq) to address low frequency sounds that would be expected to be more problematic indoors than outdoors.

Since that time, much has been learned about the impact of industrial scale wind turbines on people living near them. Our recommendations of 2008 have been adopted in whole or part by many communities and have been updated to address noise characteristics of wind turbines such as blade swish and the shifting of the acoustic energy to lower frequencies that has
occurred as wind turbines have increased in size from the 1.5 MW models common in 2008 to the 2.5 MW and higher models currently being installed. The downward shift in acoustic energy has resulted in reducing the permitted dBC limit from 55 to 50 dBC. The updated criteria were included in the paper: Noise: Wind Farms, by Shepherd, Hanning, and Thorne published in the 2012 edition of the Encyclopedia of Environmental Management.

The point is: Even as early as 2008 there was sufficient information available to raise my concern that industrial scale wind turbines were a source of community noise that required stricter limits than other common community noise sources. Protective criteria were derived based on the distances reported for adverse health effects from the case-crossover study of Dr. Pierpont and on the sound level information upon which Mr. Kamperman and I based our recommendations in our 2008 document. Information from studies conducted since that time supports these early precautionary criteria.

My written testimony in the two reports critiquing the noise studies and models prepared for the project by Golder and Aercoustics reveal several deficiencies in the work of BluEarth’s experts that can be summarized as:

  1. Use of a general purpose sound propagation model (ISO 9613-2) that is not validated for wind turbine models and where the specific assumptions of the ISO methods are not met. The BluEarth experts claim that because the ISO method is used by others doing similar work that these deviations from the model’s assumptions and validation are acceptable. It appears the rationale is that because others use it, it is acceptable for them to use it. Given that the ISO model, with most, if not all, of the same assumptions used by Golder and Aercoustics, is the “industry standard,” one must ask: Does the track record of prior projects support this assumption? Are there signs that the predictions may not represent what occurs when the project is operational?

    I am aware that the industry has sponsored several studies that report that the predicted sound levels from the models are accurate. Yet, I am also aware of studies by independent acousticians, plus my own experiences, that show that it is common for the sound levels at night to be 5 dBA or higher during weather and operational conditions common at night. These conditions are the ones that I assert are not accounted for in the studies for the BluEarth project using the ISO model and input data and assumptions following the “industry standard”. The studies and reports by acousticians not affiliated with or sponsored by the wind industry warrant substantially more weight because they are less subject to issues of “group think” or confirmation bias. Further, this range of
    difference has also been observed and reported by field staff for the Ontario Ministry of Environment.

    I have taken measurements of wind turbine noise at the homes of people who have filed complaints or are considering legal action. These show that complaint conditions tend to be 5 to 8 dBA higher than modeled. Thus, if the model predicted 40 dBA at a receptor, measurements under commonly occurring weather conditions (not considered in the ISO model) will be 45 to 48 dBA.

  2. In the critical reviews of the noise models prepared for this hearing I list several reasons why the models developed according to the ‘industry standard’ methods will under-predict the real world sound immissions. This includes: failure to adjust the sound power level of the wind turbines to account for the commonly occurring weather and wind conditions mentioned above, and failure to acknowledge that the use of the mean apparent sound power level without application of confidence limits results in predictions that are not scientifically correct.

    The testimony of BluEarth’s acoustic experts has denied that these issues are important or even relevant. Yet, outside of that group, acousticians have traditionally applied sound propagation models using confidence limits to establish an upper bound and adjusted sound power of the noise sources to represent the conditions that are most likely to cause complaints.

  3. These deviations from commonly accepted practice in modeling are further compounded by the assertion that if the model shows that at a particular receiving location the predicted sound level is only 0.1 or so below a limiting criterion that it can be relied on as some type of proof that there will not be an exceedance when operating.

    Models are not as accurate as measurements. Does one trust yesterday’s weather forecast or the outdoor thermometer more? When sound is measured using the standard professional acoustical analyzers commonly used by my profession we know that there is always some measurement error. This is commonly expressed as the measurement value ±1 dB for a Type 1 Precision instrument. How can the acousticians who developed the models of the BluEarth project claim that a predicted value 0.1 decibels below a criterion means that the project complies? What evidence is there that the model’s accuracy is better than a tenth of a decibel? Why would acoustical experts even make such assertions?

  4. All of the concerns above would be of little interest if the track record for projects already permitted and operating demonstrated that the people living in the footprint or around
    the perimeter of a wind energy project with such narrow margins of compliance were not adversely affected by noise and that measurements of the wind turbine sounds during times associated with complaints showed that the models were accurate. However, that is not what is being reported.

    While there are a number of wind energy projects that do not result in complaints, there is a long and growing history of complaints from people living in or near some industrial scale wind energy projects. This is being reported from locations around the world. It is not specific to any make or model of wind turbine and is not even limited to whether the wind turbines are mixed into the community versus located on a ridge or plateau at a distance from people’s homes. There appears to be substantial evidence that the current process for permitting wind turbine projects is not working.

If the above is not enough to trigger the precautionary principle, then the newer research related to how wind turbines acoustic emissions are predominantly centered in the infra and very low frequencies should raise concerns above the threshold. As I explain in my 2012 paper on “Wind Turbine Infra and Low-Frequency Sound: Warning Signs That Were Not Heard” I demonstrate that the potential for wind turbine infrasound to cause annoyance and other adverse effects has been known since the early 1980’s leading to over ten years of research funded by US NASA/DOE. Studies by Dr. Neal Kelley demonstrated that low levels of pulsating tonal infrasound caused adverse reactions in test subjects. This research is generally denied by the wind industry and its acoustical experts. In a recent interview, Dr. Kelley now retired from a managerial position at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), re-confirmed that the studies he conducted in the 1980’s apply to the modern upwind wind turbine designs in use today. He challenged acousticians to install infrasound measurement instruments inside homes if they doubted his opinion.

As I discuss later, that has been done and infrasound distinct from naturally occurring background infrasound has been found in homes around the world. A paper recently accepted for publication in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America by my Ontario colleague, Andy Metalka, shows that the blade pass tones and harmonics from a large wind utility using wind turbines of 2 MW capacity and larger are clearly distinguishable at distances of 10 km when measurements are taken downwind of the project.

Dr. Alec Salt and his colleagues have added to our knowledge of how infrasound is processed in the inner ear. Since the early research papers in 2010 to his presentation at the New York 2012 Inter-Noise Conference he has used his research on animal test subjects to further demonstrate that
infrasound is processed by our inner ear at sound pressure levels as much as 30 dB below the Threshold of Audibility that Dr. Leventhall uses as his threshold for adverse effects.

More recent publications by professionals in related fields such as the paper by Dr. Michael Persinger: “Infrasound, Human health, and adaptation: an integrative overview of recondite hazards in a complex environment,” Nat. Hazards, 2013 have added new perspectives to our understanding of how people respond to infrasound.

A new paper co-authored by Salt, Bray, James, and Lichtenhan titled: “Consequences of inner ear stimulation by infrasound and their relevance to the possible health effects of wind turbines” is currently being revised to respond to peer reviewers’ suggestions. This paper will add more to the understanding of how infrasound causes the reported adverse symptoms and health effects.

Also in late 2010, Mr. Wade Bray and I conducted field tests of a 1.5 MW wind turbine in Michigan’s Huron County Wind I project. We conducted the analysis using methods different from the standard sound analyzers used in other infrasound studies. The analysis focused on the micro-time structure of the wind turbine sound emissions instead of average sound pressure levels in 1/3 octave bands as done for other studies. Our findings were reported at the 2011 Noise-Con, Portland, Oregon, USA, in a paper titled: “Dynamic measurements of wind turbine acoustic signals, employing sound quality engineering methods considering the time and frequency sensitivities of human perception.” We demonstrated that the infrasound received at the exterior of a home approximately 460 m from the closest wind turbine, not only was present, but during some periods was at or above the Threshold of Audibility for the 10% most sensitive listeners. The study showed that the primary energy was at the blade pass frequency which for this wind turbine rotating at 20 rpm was 1 Hz. It was dominated by tones at that frequency and the harmonics of the blade pass frequency.

Other studies since that time have confirmed our findings. This includes the Wisconsin Public Service Commission’s study known as the Shirley Wind Team Report which I included with my filed testimony. That study found infrasound from the 2.5 MW wind turbines installed at that project was dominate at 0.7 Hz (and its harmonics) and that it was also tonal with strong pulsations. The Team Report used standard instrumentation to analyze the audio files from that study, not the advanced methods used by Mr. Bray and myself for our Noise-Con paper. This resulted in the findings being presented as average (Leq) sound pressure levels which did not reveal the high dynamic range of the tones.

The background on that study is that the homes that were tested belong to people who are my clients. Thus, a condition of the test submitted by the home owners was that Mr. Bray and I would be provided a copy of all of the test data and the operating data for the wind turbines
(SCADA) data for analysis using the methods of the Noise-Con paper. In short, our analysis was presented as written and oral testimony to the Wisconsin PSC and was not part of the Team Report. I add this as a correction to the mischaracterization of my involvement in the Shirley study provided by Dr. Leventhall during his cross-examination.

What we found was that the crests (peaks) of the tones were at or above the Threshold of Audibility at the two closest homes (R1 at 1067 m and R2 at 335 m). They were also routinely 10 dB above the sound pressure levels Dr. Swinbanks reports in his 2012 Inter-Noise paper as triggering adverse reactions from people subjected to complex infrasound. The wind turbine sounds were found to be clearly tonal at the closest test home (R2) but due to manipulation of the wind turbines by the utility operator, they were not as clearly defined at the more distant home (R1) as they were at R2. The analysis did find tones at R1 but they would not have been observed using other analytical methods that did not have the fine time resolution of our method.

Some have speculated that the Shirley study found no infrasound from the wind turbines in measurements at R1. However, those who raise such questions cannot explain what would cause the tonal infrasound that was observed at R2 to vanish by the time it has propagated only a few hundred meters to R1. Infrasound does not decay as readily as sounds at higher frequencies, indeed it propagates much further. Thus, if it was present at the closest test home, it was present at the others. It may not have been clearly tonal because of operating conditions or due to there being multiple wind turbines downwind of this home such that the mixed signal from the combination was not as clearly tonal. Subsequent tests using micro-barometers which are sensitive only to infrasound (0.1 to 20 Hz) have confirmed that the tones observed at R1 by the Study Team exist in homes throughout the community out to distances of three miles or more from the nearest wind turbine.

Dr. Paul Schomer, one of the Team members for the Shirley study, presented a paper at the 2013 Wind Turbine Noise conference in Denver, Colorado, USA, that was discussed at some length in the oral testimony of Dr. Leventhall. While Dr. Leventhall may have a different opinion than Dr. Schomer, there are many acousticians who find Dr. Schomer’s recent work to be a breakthrough in linking the symptoms being reported by people around the world to the characteristics of wind turbine infrasound emissions. Another paper at the Denver conference confirming the emission of infrasound was presented by Steve Cooper, an Australian acoustician. This paper was titled: “The Measurement of Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise for Wind Farms.” Mr. Cooper has duplicated the studies of Bray/James and the Shirley Team Report and has found
similar infrasound emissions that he has associated with symptoms of vestibular disturbance such as nausea and motion sickness.

The trends are clearly moving in the direction of support by both medical and acoustical research that modern upwind horizontal axis wind turbines, especially the larger, higher capacity models with slower hub rotational speeds have a significant potential to cause adverse impacts on the people who live near or in the project footprints. Evidence of these effects has been reported by studies published in peer reviewed papers from researchers in Europe, UK, New Zealand, Australia, Ontario and the US. This research spans the health effects from sleep disturbance to the group of symptoms collectively called Wind Turbine Syndrome.

The acoustical experts who work closely with the wind energy utility developers continue to conduct noise impact assessments and sound propagation models using the same assumptions that were applied to prior projects now known to cause problems for some of the people in the community. There has been no attempt to revise methods or in any visible way to address what I would call past failures. It is often the case that engineers learn from their mistakes. Our first bridge might fall down because of design failures but eventually engineers learn how to design a bridge that is safe and functional. Each new project is a slight improvement upon the prior projects until the problems have been worked out and new projects result in successful outcomes. However, there is no indication that this is occurring in general when it comes to wind utility permitting documents whether in Alberta, Ontario, the US or elsewhere. My review and critiques of the acoustical work done for the BluEarth project finds that there are no signs of this type of learning curve in the documents submitted on BluEarth’s behalf.

Comments on New Evidence from Oral Testimony

There were a number of comments made during the testimony of BluEarth’s acoustical experts, especially Drs. Leventhall and Ashtiani that deserve to be explored in more depth. A partial list of these is provided below. It is hoped that there will be an opportunity for me to provide my opinions and insights into them during my oral testimony. …

18th November 2013
Proceeding Number 1955, Alberta Utilities Commission
Hearing for development of wind power plant and associated substation in the Provost area

Download original document: “Opening Statement of Richard R. James, INCE”

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Date added:  April 24, 2014
Alberta, HealthPrint storyE-mail story

Statement of Dr Christopher Hanning

Author:  Hanning, Christopher

… I do not think that there is any dispute that adequate sleep is essential for human health and well being. There is a vast literature on the effects of sleep loss on brain function, the heart and circulation, metabolism to name but a few. Any thing that causes sleep loss will lead to ill health.

I do not think that there is any dispute either that wind turbine noise emissions can disturb sleep and that this is the principle reason for requiring a separation distance between turbines and homes.

The separation distance is determined either as an actual minimum distance or by reference to a calculated noise level that has been deemed to be acceptable. The acceptable noise level is derived from a variety of sources, in particular studies of the effects of traffic noise.

It must be remembered that the acceptable noise levels used in regulations and guidelines relating to wind turbines have only been derived from theoretical considerations and not from experiment at actual wind turbine sites with actual people. Until recently, there has been no experimental verification that the recommended noise levels are in fact safe and have no discernable impact on human sleep.

In my expert opinion, there is now more than sufficient evidence to conclude that wind turbine noise impairs the sleep and health of residents living at distances greater than those proposed in the project under consideration. There is a real risk to the sleep and health of any resident living within 1.5km of a turbine.

I base this opinion on three main strands of evidence. Firstly, the anecdotal evidence. Dr Phillips has dealt with this so I will not deal with further except to state that I find it convincing.

Secondly, the various general surveys taken around wind turbine installations including those of Pedersen and van den Berg in Europe and more recently by Morris and Schneider in Australia, all of which point to problems with sleep but did not use any specific test instruments for sleep quality. Again, I find the weight of evidence convincing as it all points in the same direction.

Thirdly, those studies that have used control groups and specific test instruments for sleep. Dr Shepherd’s peer-reviewed study used the WHO Quality of Life test instrument which includes elements related to sleep and shows unequivocally that those living within about 1.4km of the turbines had a lower quality of life than those living several kilometres away.

Dr Nissenbaum’s peer-reviewed study, to which I contributed and am an author, showed convincingly that those living within about 1.5km of wind turbines had worse sleep than those living several kilometres away. This study looked at two different wind turbine facilities.

Dr Bigelow’s study, sponsored by the Ontario Government at 8 wind turbine sites, used similar sleep specific test instruments to the Nissenbaum study. The results are very similar and confirm that the closer one lives to a wind turbine installation, the more likely you are to have poor sleep. This study is complete and the results have been presented as a poster. Dr Ollson has, most unfairly, characterised this as a student study. It is not. The poster presents the results of the largest study thus far to examine the effects of wind turbine noise on sleep using test instruments specific for sleep conducted by experienced investigators who consulted widely in designing the study including with myself.

BluEarth’s witnesses claim that there is insufficient evidence to prove a causal link between wind turbine noise and sleep disruption. The only study of wind turbine noise and well-being which does not demonstrate harm is that of Mroczek. The study group included subjects not exposed to turbine noise and the conclusions are not justified by the data. Every other study shows harm. There is no single, well conducted, controlled and reliable piece of original research which shows that wind turbines do not cause harm at the distances proposed here. Not one.

With respect to causality, affected subjects improve when exposure ceases and relapse when exposure restarts. This is prima facie evidence of causality. The studies of Pedersen as well as those of Nissenbaum and Bigelow show a clear dose-response relationship. This too is prima facie evidence of causality.

I am not a lawyer but my work with the United Kingdom General Medical Council gives me a good understanding of standards of proof. In a situation such as this where the consequence of the wrong decision is highly likely to be harm to the nearby residents, the civil standard of proof is appropriate, the balance of probabilities. In my expert opinion, the scientific evidence more than meets this evidentiary test.

Wind turbine noise from turbines of the size proposed in the project under consideration has a high risk of disturbing the sleep and impairing the health of those living within 1.5km. …

18th November 2013
Proceeding Number 1955, Alberta Utilities Commission
Hearing for development of wind power plant and associated substation in the Provost area

Download original document: “Opening Statement of Christopher Hanning MB, BS, MD”

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Date added:  April 19, 2014
Massachusetts, NoisePrint storyE-mail story

Wind Turbine Noise Complaint Predictions Made Easy

Author:  Ambrose, Stephen

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.

Predicted-Community-Reaction

The International Standards Organization (ISO) determined that 25 dBA represents a rural nighttime environment. The World Health Organization (WHO) found that noise below 30 dBA had no observed effect level (NOEL) and 40 dBA represented the lowest observed adverse effect level (NOAEL) for noise sources that excluded wind turbines. Wind turbines produce strong low frequency energy that may reduce the WHO cautionary levels by 5 dB, thereby showing closer agreement with the 33 dBA recommendations.

Pederson & Waye (2004) research found that when wind turbine noise levels reached 35 dBA, 6% of the population was highly annoyed, and this rapidly increased to 25% at 40 dBA. Independent researchers recommend that noise levels should not exceed 33 dBA, which is near the upper limit for sporadic complaints, or a maximum increase of 5 dB, whichever is more stringent.

Part 2

People react in a predictable manner to changes in sound level and frequency content caused by a new noise source. Wind turbines are the cause for numerous complaints about excessive noise and adverse health effects. These complaints will continue to be a public health hazard as long as modern acoustic instruments are used without a person listening to identify the sound sources or by manipulating computer prediction models to provide acceptable results. Wind turbine predictions are based on meeting a specific noise level. Regulatory boards and agencies are not assessing noise levels consistent with how people hear.

The wind turbines at Falmouth Massachusetts clearly show why there are so many neighbors complaining. An effective way to evaluate a sound source is by comparing the ON operation to OFF. The graph below shows wind turbine ON fluctuates from 35 to 46 dBA and when OFF decreases to 27 dBA.

Community-reaction-wind-turbine-noise

Using the USEPA (1974) community noise assessment methodology adjusted for a quiet area, the predicted public reaction for wind turbine noise indicates widespread complaints and threats of legal action, as shown by the shaded box. Massachusetts DEP noise regulation limits the wind turbine ON maximum levels to no more than 10 dB above the ambient background (L90, exceeded 90% of the time) when OFF. The sound level increase is 19 dB for wind turbine operation.

Part 3

Sleep interruption and disturbance indicates the real potential for causing significant public harm from nearby wind turbines. A peer-reviewed research paper has investigated residents living near GE 1.5 MW wind turbines. Dr. Michael Nissenbaum, Jeffrey Aramini and Christopher Hanning published “Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health” in the peer-reviewed bi-monthly journal Noise & Health, September-October 2012 [LINK].

The study focused on sleep quality as defined by the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), daytime sleepiness by Epworth Sleepiness Score (ESS), and general health according to SF36 ver2; Mental Component Score (MSC) and Physical Component Score (PSC). Residents received questionnaires based on participant-inclusion criteria for individuals living within 1.5-km (4921-ft) of the nearest 1.5 MW wind turbine(s). Baseline random samples were collected from residents living 3 to 7 km (9840 to 22,965- ft) away. The study conclusion has a strong recommendation for a separation distance of 1.4-km (4593- ft) away from a 1.5 MW wind turbine. This would be especially true for wind turbines located in quiet environments.

An aerial photo shows the locations of Falmouth’s Wind 1, 2 and NOTUS turbines as red pins. The above sleep study-recommended separation distance of nearly 4600 ft is shown as red circles. The Falmouth Board of Health’s health study (June 11, 2012) confirms the sleep study’s conclusion for complaints inside the red circles with yellow pins inside.

Falmouth-4600-ft

Part 4

Wind turbine developers promote wind energy for financial benefit for communities when they are built on municipally-owned properties as in Falmouth, Kingston, Scituate and Fairhaven. In return, towns relax their bylaw restrictions to permit loud industrial-type noise sources on municipal land often near quiet residential areas. Town planners approve wind turbine development without performing proper reviews as required in the bylaws. Towns understand they can build a municipal project in any land use zone. However, these projects still need to comply with the zoning bylaws.

Zoning bylaws are enacted to control community development to minimize conflicts between abutting land uses. Industrial and commercial development often produces more traffic, noise, smoke, odors, etc. than residential use. Industrial and commercial facilities are limited to districts with large lots and setback distances. Residential district restrictions protect neighbors’ expectations for peace, tranquility and protection of public health and wellbeing.

Bylaws are implemented to provide guidance to town officials and regulatory boards. Public officials are required to perform their duties in a consistent manner. Boards review new developments for appropriate economics, engineering and environmental impacts. Decisions can become emotional when there are disputed considerations for public good versus public harm. Boards are required to enforce their bylaws and should not alter rules, grant waivers or create amendments to benefit a project under consideration.

Too many towns have adopted changes to encourage wind turbine development, changes which were later proven detrimental to public health, safety and wellbeing. Large wind turbines produce loud noise levels that travel thousands of feet and could not comply with existing town bylaw noise limits.

Download original document: “Wind Turbine Noise Complaint Predictions Made Easy”

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Date added:  April 18, 2014
General, Impacts, Massachusetts, OrdinancesPrint storyE-mail story

Report of the Wind Advisory Committee to the Shelburne Falls Planning Board

Author:  Shelburne Falls, Mass., Wind Advisory Committee

Wind Turbine Systems for Premises Use: “Any system of turbines, whether located on the building or the ground, designed primarily to generate heat or electricity for the principal home or business located on the lot; such systems may generate a limited amount of excess electricity for resale to an electrical utility provided the system is designed principally to supply the electrical needs of the home or business on the lot.”

As written, the bylaw requires more detailed and specific interpretations for the Special Permitting Authority (now the Zoning Board of Appeals) to review, accept, or reject specific proposals for premises-use only wind turbine systems.

The WAC has been tasked by the PB to develop factual and educational material upon which it can draw when developing a more detailed premises use only bylaw. This Report summarizes that factual and educational material. When useful, the Report cites and paraphrases scientific research articles, research reported on web sites, investigations made by committee members and anecdotal evidence. Where useful, the Report makes recommendations to the PB, based upon the information that it has gathered and analyzed.

Date: October 7, 2013

Table of Contents

Part I. Operational and Technical Matters
Section 1: Technology – what devices are for sale now, what defines wind turbine?
Section 2: Small wind definition and efficiency studies
Section 3: Setbacks & height of wind turbines.
Section 4: Anticipated size of premises-use wind turbine systems

Part II. Impacts
Section 5: Impacts to climate, energy security, and economics
Section 6: Impacts to health (noise – infrasound, sound; flicker)
Section 7: Impacts to ecology (birds, bats)
Section 8: Visual nuisance impacts
Section 9: Safety considerations (ice, falling, blade throw, lightning etc.)

Part III. Legal considerations
Section 10: Robust ordinances – what are the elements of a good ordinance or bylaw?
Section 11: Complaint forms, how to manage subsequent problems if they arise
Section 12: Litigation that has arisen with premises-use turbines. Outcomes?

Section 13: Recommendations

Height Limit: The Wind Advisory Committee recommends that any premises-use turbine does not exceed 120 feet from grade to the tip of the blade.

Capacity: The Wind Advisory Committee recommends that the output of nameplate capacity be limited to 10 KW for residential and 30 KW for agricultural/business use.

Excess: In order to comply with the intent that the output be primarily for premises use, the Wind Advisory Committee recommends that the rated name capacity be restricted to the smallest unit available to cover the intended premises use.

Noise: The Wind Advisory Committee recommends that the noise limit of any wind turbine shall not exceed 5 dB above ambient at any lot line and the nearest inhabited residence. The ambient level shall be established by the applicant prior to the submission of an application by a protocol to be determined.

Flicker: The Wind Advisory Committee recommends that the By-law shall not allow any flicker affecting occupied buildings.

Aesthetics: The Wind Advisory Committee recommends to the Planning Board that they take visual impacts and property values considerations into account in the permitting process.

Setback: The Wind Advisory Committee recommends that the setback be double the height of the blade tip from any roadway, structure, or property line.

Certification: The Wind Advisory Committee recommends that any premises-use wind turbine must be an approved turbine on the list certified by the Small Wind Certification Council or other certification agency as approved by the State of Massachusetts.

One turbine per premise: The Wind Advisory Committee recommends that only one turbine be allowed per premises.

Download original document: “Report of the Wind Advisory Committee to the Shelburne Falls Planning Board”

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