Resource Documents: Maine (45 items)
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Author: Dixfield, Maine
Section 11. Approval and Performance Standards
A WEFU or WEFS shall comply with the following setback requirements. If more than one (1) set back requirement applies, the greater set back distance shall be met. All measurements shall be based on horizontal distances.
11.1.1 All WEFUs shall be set back a horizontal distance of four thousand (4,000) feet from any Occupied Building in Dixfield and two thousand (2,000) feet from the boundaries of the Project Parcel unless the Applicant submits in writing: 1) a waiver of the Occupied Building setback signed by the pertinent abutting landowner and; 2) evidence such as operating protocols, safety programs, or recommendations from the manufacturer or a licensed professional engineer with appropriate expertise and experience with WEFUs, demonstrating that the reduced set back proposed by the Applicant will not cause the WEFU to violate any other approval standards of this Ordinance.
11.1.2 All WEFUs must be set back a minimum of four thousand (4,000) feet from any Scenic or Special Resource as defined in Section 4.0 of this Ordinance.
11.1.3 Each WEFU shall be equipped with an over-speed control system that: 1) includes both an aerodynamic control such as stall regulation, variable blade pitch or other similar system and a mechanical brake that operates in fail safe mode; or 2) has been designed by the manufacturer or a licensed engineer and found by the Board, based on its review of a written description of the design and function of the system, to meet the needs of public safety.
11.1.4 WEFUs shall be setback a horizontal distance equivalent to one hundred and fifty percent (150%) of the Turbine Height from Project Boundaries, Occupied Buildings, public and private rights-of-way and overhead utility lines that are not part of the proposed WEFS. No waiver of this standard is permitted. …
11.10.2 Sound Limits
No Permit shall be issued if the pre-permit information or sound study indicates that the proposed WEFU or WEFS will not comply with the following requirements, which are to apply at all Sensitive Receptors within four thousand (4,000) feet of any WEFU, except on Project Parcel(s) or on a Participating Parcel(s) which is subject to a Mitigation Waiver which specifies different sound limits than those below.
If pre-construction estimates of the post-construction sound levels exceed the limits below, then the WEFU or WEFS Application shall be denied; if these limits are exceeded after the WEFU or WEFS has been built, then the WEFU or WEFS will be in violation of this Ordinance:
A. The sound limits below are stated in terms of LeqA (post). Prior to construction of the WEFU or WEFS, the “pre” values are as measured and the “post” values are as calculated. After the WEFU or WEFS has been constructed, the “pre” values are the WEF-OFF values and the “post” values are the WEF-ON values.
B. Audible Sound Limit
1) No WEFU or WEFS shall be located so as to generate post-construction sound levels that exceed thirty-five (35) dBA at night (7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.) or forty-five (45) dBA during the day (7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.) anywhere in the Town beyond the boundaries of the Project Parcel and all Participating Parcels whose owners have waived noise restrictions.
2) No WEFU shall be allowed to operate if it exceeds fifty (50) dBC anywhere in the Town beyond the boundaries of the Project Parcel and all Participating Parcels whose owners have waived noise restrictions. …
D. Post-Construction Sound Measurements. Starting within twelve (12) months after the date when the WEFU or WEFS has begun operating, a post-construction sound study shall be performed for all WEFUs or WEFSs that are operating. Post-construction sound studies shall be conducted by a Qualified Independent Acoustical Consultant. The Permittee shall also pay for a Qualified Independent Acoustical Consultant chosen by the Planning Board to review the Permittee’s study. The Permittee shall deposit the estimated cost of such review upon notification by the Board. The Town’s consultant may observe the Permittee’s consultant’s monitoring. The Permittee shall provide all technical information required by the Board or Independent Qualified Acoustical Consultant before, during, and/or after any acoustical studies required by this document and for local area acoustical measurements. The Post-construction sound measurements shall be repeated every three (3) years throughout the life of the facility and submitted to the Code Enforcement Officer. The applicant may seek a waiver from the Code Enforcement Officer of all but the first post-construction measurements if no valid noise complaints are received during the previous three (3) year period.
E. Pre-construction and post-construction monitoring shall report sound levels in terms of LeqA, L90A, LeqC, and L90C for each hour of the monitoring period.
Download original document: “Wind Energy Facility Ordinance for the Town of Dixfield”
Author: Fox Islands Wind Neighbors
It is a sad spectacle for the citizens of the State of Maine (and more than that for the Fox Islands Wind Neighbors, the “Neighbors”) to see the Department of Environmental Protection (the “DEP”), the state agency charged with the responsibility to protect us from environmental harm, align itself with Fox Islands Wind, LLC (“FIW”) to grant a de facto exemption from the Noise Rule and then responding in court with claims that it has the absolute right to do so without judicial oversight. It is even worse that the Commissioner responsible for this was in a highly compromised position, having been employed as an industry lobbyist for the very same law firm asking for such special treatment weeks before she issued the Condition Compliance Order (the “CCO”) at issue in this appeal.
A. Issues about Excessive Noise in Connection with the Licensing of the Project.
B. Noise Complaints Following Commencement of Operations.
C. DEP’s Finding of Non-Compliance and FIW’s Refusal to Cooperate.
D. Events Leading to the Challenged Condition Compliance Order.
I. The Superior Court correctly ruled that it had jurisdiction over the petition for review and that the neighbors have standing.
II. The Superior Court correctly ruled that the CCO is unlawful.
III. The Superior Court erred by dismissing the neighbors’ First Amendment retaliation claim.
For the reasons stated above, the Neighbors respectfully request this Court to affirm the decision of the Superior Court that the CCO is invalid as a product of arbitrary and capricious action, without substantial evidence to support it, and an abuse of discretion and hold that the Neighbors have established a valid First Amendment retaliation claim under Rule 80C, with allowance for an award of attorney’s fees or, in the alternative, that they have set forth a plausible claim under Section 1983 of First Amendment retaliation that may proceed on as an independent claim. The Neighbors further request that the matter be remanded back to the Superior Court so that the matter can be remanded to the DEP with detailed instructions on the parameters of a valid CCO.
Dated: August 5, 2014
Rufus E. Brown, Esq.
BROWN & BURKE
Attorney for the Fox Islands Wind Neighbors and the Individual Petitioners
Download original document: “Brief of Fox Islands Wind Neighbors”
Author: Town of Sumner (Maine)
An IWEF shall comply with the following setback requirements, which shall apply in addition to the construction requirements found elsewhere in this ordinance. If more than one (1) setback requirement applies, the greater setback distance shall be met. …
A Minimal Fixed Distance of one (1) mile (5,280 ft.) is required from the outer edge of the base of each IWT to the closest point on any property line of any non-participating property in Sumner. …
Sound Restriction Requirements
All acoustical instrumentation and sound measurement protocol conducted under the ordinance shall meet all the requirements of the following ANSI and IEC Standards cited in the Appendix.
1. Audible Sound Restrictions
No IWEF shall be allowed to operate if, it exceeds (35) dBA day or night, anywhere in the Town, or the pre-construction L90A+5dB whichever is more restrictive. Background Sound Level L90 results are valid when L10 results are no more than 15 dBA above L90 for the same time period. Pre-construction background noise studies for audible noise shall be conducted by a qualified independent acoustical consultant selected by the Board for all properties any part of whose property lines are located within two (2) miles of an IWT. Such background noise studies shall also be conducted before a new Owner/Operator’s application is approved by the Board and every three years during the operational life of the IWEF, unless such a study has already been conducted during the previous twelve (12) months.
2. Low Frequency Sound Restrictions
a. Sumner baseline background noise levels (separate dBA numbers measured for day and night) plus fifteen (15) equals the maximum dBC levels allowed, but never exceeding 50 dBC anywhere in the Town. If the day or night dBC levels are lower than 50 dBC, the most restrictive of these noise levels shall control.
b. No IWEF or individual IWT shall be approved if pre-construction sound modeling and studies indicate, by a preponderance of the evidence, that to do so would cause any of the above noise restrictions to be exceeded.
c. Pre-construction background noise studies for infra and low frequency sound shall be conducted by a qualified independent acoustical consultant selected by the Board for all properties any part of whose property lines are located within two (2) miles of any IWT. Such background noise studies shall also be conducted before a new owner/operators application for an operational license is approved by the Board and every three years during the operational life of the IWEF, unless such a study has already been conducted during the previous twelve (12) Months.
3. Post-Construction Sound Measurements/Testing
a. The Owner/Operator shall continually collect sound level and MET data at several key locations on the turbines and around the perimeter of the IWEF as determined by the Board with consultation from an acoustical engineer of their choice. Such data collection, to continue throughout the full life time of the IWEF, will be transmitted in a form, frequency, format and distribution acceptable to the Board.
b. Summary reports of any and all exceedances or complaints, with explanations as to what they were, why they happened and what action occurred to correct the problem(s) must be sent to the Board on a monthly basis. All sound/Met data, in a format acceptable to the Board, must be sent to the Board quarterly and when requested for complaint resolution(s).
c. Sound measurement studies conducted by an independent acoustical consultant selected by the Board will determine sound levels immediately after construction of the IWEF, first with all IWTs operating and then with all IWTs shut down. Such tests will be repeated on multiple days and during different weather conditions until the consultant is satisfied that sufficient and representative data has been obtained. The results of these studies shall be compared with those conducted prior to construction of the IWEF and reported in writing to the Board for its consideration of noise compliance. These studies shall be conducted for each application for a Permit/Operational License.
d. The IWEF Applicant and/or Owner/Operator shall provide all technical information required by the Board or acoustical consultant before, during, and/or after any acoustical studies required by this document. …
IWEFs may not cause an unreasonable adverse shadow flicker effect at any occupied structure on a Non-Participating Landowner’s property. For the purpose of this section, “unreasonable adverse shadow flicker” means shadow flicker occurring for three (3) days or more in any one (1) month that, if annualized, would total more than twelve (12) hours of flicker per year. The application will not be approved if the study estimates that the duration of the flicker will be such that there are more than twelve (12) hours of flicker per year at any occupied structure located on a Non-Participating Parcel. …
Stray Voltage Assessment and Requirements
1. Following construction of the IWEF and within one (1) year after commencing operation, the Applicant shall conduct a post-construction stray voltage test on all buildings located within a one (1) mile radius of the Project Parcels. An investigator, approved by the Board, using a testing protocol which is approved by the Board, shall perform the tests. A report of the tests shall be provided to the Board and to the owners of all property included in the study area. The Applicant shall seek written permission from property owners prior to conducting testing on private property. The Applicant shall not be required to perform testing on property where the owners have refused to grant permission to conduct the testing.
2. The Owner/Operator shall provide neutral isolation devices to property owners where testing reveals neutral-to-earth voltages in excess of zero point five (0.5) volts caused by the IWEF.
3. The Owner/Operator shall be responsible for all costs incurred with the pre- and post-construction test. …
Re-commissioning & Decommissioning
1. The Owner/Operator shall at its own expense either re-commission or decommission the IWEF at the end of its useful life. The “end of useful life” is defined as: thirty (30) days after the Owner/Operator decides to cease generating electricity or one-hundred eighty (180) days after the IWEF has stopped generating electricity for any reason. The Board may consider alternative timelines based on a written request from the Owner/Operator.
2. Decommissioning shall include removal of IWTs and foundations to a depth of twenty-four (24) inches. All buildings, cabling, electrical components, roads, and any other associated facilities shall be removed unless, at the end of the IWT or IWEF’s useful life, as determined in accordance within this ordinance, the Applicant provides written evidence of plans for continued beneficial use of these components of the IWEF, and this evidence is approved by the Planning Board.
3. Except as otherwise provided elsewhere within this ordinance, disturbed earth shall be graded and re-seeded, unless the Participating Landowner of the affected land requests otherwise in writing.
Download original document: “Sumner, Me.: Industrial Wind Energy Facility Ordinance”
Author: Nissenbaum, Michael
Current generations of Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs) have changed in many ways from those initially installed in Europe in the late 20th century. The generating power of modern IWTs is many times that of earlier generations. Current 1.5, 2.5, and 3MW turbines dwarf the 400 and 600KW turbines most Europeans and Americans encountered in the past. In addition to larger generators, current turbines have much longer blade lengths and are positioned much higher off the ground, often on ridgelines, to better capture the greater wind forces required to turn them. Many jurisdictions have already been identified as hosts for new IWT installations, with plans for tens of thousands of ever larger IWTs worldwide in the decade ahead.
Improvements in turbine design and more efficient blade profiles and materials have resulted in less sound output per unit of energy produced compared to older turbines, but current turbines, being much larger, still produce considerable amounts of sound energy. Unfortunately, the factors that have resulted in less noise per unit energy have been used to justify closer placement of turbines to human residences. It is not unheard of in the UK and North America to find turbines sited within 250m of homes. With the increasing number of installations close to housing, many anecdotal reports from around the world began accumulating early in the last decade of adverse health effects of remarkable similarity from many differing locales worldwide.
In Maine, the towns of Mars Hill and Vinalhaven underwent the installation of IWTs in 2009. These towns were the source of multiple complaints of adverse health effects of IWTs that were reported in the local media. Over the last 6 years, I developed an interest in and researched issues relating to the human response to noise arising from Industrial Wind Turbines, beginning with the complaints heard from Mars Hill (about 90 miles from where I live), and the announced objectives of the then-Baldacci Administration to install 3000MW of IWT generation within Maine by 2020. If the problems at Mars Hill were real and not understood or acknowledged by the Maine DEP, with steps taken to prevent adverse effects that may be occurring, this project by implication risked creating over a hundred more Mars Hill type situations state-wide.
Jeffery Aramini, Christopher Hanning and I published a study in the journal Noise and Health in late 2012 (Effects of Industrial Wind Turbine Noise on Sleep And Health, Noise & Health, September-October 2012, Volume 14:60, 237-43).This was the first published study of adverse health effects associated with IWT’s that used a control group and well accepted, previously validated, medical investigative tools targeted at the most common, and arguably most serious, of the commonly reported adverse health effects: sleep disorders and deteriorated mental health.
Questionnaires incorporating standardized, validated tools were administered to 79 subjects living between 375 and 6600 meters from industrial wind turbines (IWTs) at both Mars Hill, and Vinalhaven, Maine. Sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index – PSQI), daytime sleepiness (Epworth Sleepiness Score – ESS) and general health (SF36v2) were assessed. Functional inquiry and before and after type questions were asked as well, utilizing Likert scales.
Subjects living within 375-1400m (n=38, the ‘near’ group) were compared with those living 3.3-6.6km from IWTs (n=41, the ‘far’ group). Those living within 1.4km had significantly worse sleep (assessed by Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI)), were significantly sleepier during the day (assessed by Epworth Sleep Scale (ESS)) and had significantly worse SF-36v2 Mental Component Scores. Significant dose response relationships between PSQI, ESS, SF36 Mental Component Score and distance to nearest IWT were identified after controlling for gender, age and household clustering. There were no significant differences between the two sites.
There was a significant increase in use of prescribed psychotropic medications for those living within 375-1400 meters compared to those living farther away. Nine of 38 individuals in the near group were newly diagnosed with depression or anxiety disorders and received new prescriptions for psychotropic medications compared to 3 out of 41 in the ‘far’ group.
Figures 1, 2 and 3 summarize the findings from the validated questionnaires. Additional symptoms of note are provided in the table. Please refer to the full study in Noise &Health for further details and discussion.
Based on our Mars Hill/Vinalhaven Study, it is clear that there is a high probability of significant adverse health effects for residents whose homes are located within 1400 meters (.87 miles) of industrial turbines. The health risks include:
- Sleep disturbances/sleep deprivation and the multiple illnesses that cascade from chronic sleep disturbance. These include cardiovascular diseases mediated by chronically increased levels of stress hormones, weight changes, and metabolic disturbances, including the continuum of impaired glucose tolerance up to diabetes.
- Psychological stresses, which can result in additional effects including cardiovascular disease, chronic depression, anger, and other psychiatric symptomatology.
- Increased headaches.
- Auditory and vestibular system disturbances.
- Increased requirement for and use of prescription medication.
|After IWTs||Distance from IWTs||Significance|
|Ear ringing||50%||24%||Significant (p=0.0383)|
|Nausea||32%||12%||Mod Significant (p=0.0675)|
To date, there is not a single study or any peer reviewed literature representing original work that finds that wind turbine noise is harmless to human health. To the contrary, there is an emerging body of literature informing us that under certain circumstances wind turbine noise can have substantial adverse health impacts on a community. Illogically, some people refuse to apply the known science on the adverse effects of noise and sleep loss to the issue of IWT siting.
How did we get here?
Preconstruction noise modeling is a key part of the planning and submission process. Acoustic engineering firms are typically consulted, and they take the known maximal noise emissions from a particular IWT model to be used, add a safety factor (in theory) of a few decibels, and take account of such factors as topography, ground cover, and ambient nighttime noise levels. These various factors are plugged into software programs; maps of sound contours are developed that show expected noise levels at certain reception sites (typically homes).
If any of the variables plugged into the programs are incorrect or based upon a faulty understanding of human physiology, the outcome may end up being unsatisfactory to the point of being disastrous for the affected residents. Incomplete or erroneous understanding of human physiology frequently informs the variables non-medical people use to arrive at conclusions as to whether people will have their health adversely affected by IWT installation. Let us review a few of these.
The intended use of an ‘equal loudness contour graph’ is to demonstrate the sound pressure levels (SPL) at which a tone of a particular frequency becomes audible. It is the graph that is the basis for the widely held belief that at the sound pressure levels under discussion, humans are simply incapable of hearing noise that is below 20Hz at SPLs below 79. This belief informs essentially all the preconstruction sound modeling the industry has used to place turbines. It is wrong – for several reasons. To begin with, the equal loudness contour graph was created using pure sinusoidal tones. It is known physiology, however, that complex tones are audible at lower sound pressure levels than those represented on such a graph, by up to 6 to 7 dBA.
Additionally, it is often overlooked that every point on every line of an equal loudness contour graph represents an average of multiple listeners, with a standard deviation of 6 dB. A significant proportion of people may in fact hear sub 20Hz noise at SPLs significantly lower than the commonly used 79 dB.
Wind turbine noise is complex. It is broadband, and has a pulsatile nature to it, with a periodicity depending on rotor speed. The preponderance of noise is at the lower frequencies.
Instruments that are used in traditional studies are unable to accurately measure short duration pulsations, leading to measurement data that understate both the peak SPL levels and average levels. This error can be as much as 20-30dB. Additionally, environmental regulations allow the averaging of noise peaks; this renders them unsuitable for measuring noise with the complex characteristics of IWTs. Unfortunately, preconstruction sound modeling utilizes targets meant to be confirmed with these same, not optimally sensitive instruments. Even more recently, microbarometers have been employed and have demonstrated detectability of IWT activity at downwind distances of 10km (personal communication Richard R. James, INCE).
GE 1.5MW turbines are in use at both Mars Hill and Vinalhaven. Most modern turbines of any given size have similar sound profiles, regardless of manufacturer. Larger turbines will have greater lower frequency output, but because dBA weighted measurements are stipulated in siting/DEP regulations, the increased lower frequency noise output (which is clinically important) is hidden from consideration in preconstruction sound modeling, at this point in time, in most jurisdictions. Reliance upon dBA instead of unweighted sound recording or less weighted dBC is another problem with current IWT siting protocols. The difference between heavily weighted dBA and less weighted dBC is visible in figure 4.
Wind Turbine Noise has the following characteristics:
- Preponderance of lower frequencies (associated with increased audibility at distance, increased resonance within homes, increased physiologic threat/fear response, possible long term potentiation)
- Highly modulated, pulsatile, or periodic (associated with increased engagement of the human brain, possible long term potentiation)
- To-date, poorly understood (consequently poorly regulated, with poor preconstruction modeling)
It is conjectural in the case of IWTs, but the pulsatile nature of IWT noise may recruit the speech or rhythm parts of our brain. Additionally, it has a preponderance of low frequencies, which we are hard wired to pay attention to, as most threats to life and limb during human evolution carried with them ominous low frequency components.
What distance is safe? It depends on the terrain, the climate, the size of the project and the turbines themselves. Accurate preconstruction modeling with safe targets in mind is critical, and must be informed by an understanding of human physiology.
In 2009, the World Health Organization released a 184 page peer reviewed summary of research regarding the risks to human health from noise induced sleep disturbance. Adverse health effects included poor performance at work, fatigue, memory difficulties, concentration problems, motor vehicle accidents, mood disorders (depression, anxiety), alcohol and other substance abuse, cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal disorders, obesity, impaired immune system function and a reported increased risk of mortality (World Health Organization, Night Noise Guidelines for Europe, 2009: www.euro.who.int/InformationSources/Publications/Catalogue/20090904_12). The WHO says that 30dbA at night is ideal, and noise levels above 40 dBA have definite health consequences. At Mars Hill, sound levels have been measured at over 52.5 dBA.
Advocates of siting IWTs close to populations are fond of referring to variations on a concept some of them refer to as ‘nocebo’ (a psychologically mediated effect analogous to a psychosomatic illness/response), the opposite of placebo. In a ‘nocebo’ situation, people suffer ill health from IWTs because they have been led to believe that IWTs are harmful, not because of anything related to the IWTs themselves. These advocates acknowledge that people may be ‘annoyed’ by the noise, but that ‘annoyance’ is not a disease. They seize upon the use of the term ‘annoy’ from early European papers on adverse effects of IWTs, but attribute to it the colloquial American definition of a disturbance without real consequence; this is a perversion of the original intent of the word in the original papers (personal communication, Eja Pedersen, PhD).
A physician using the diagnosis of ‘nocebo’ must ensure that it be done subsequent to a process of thoroughly excluding the possibility of any pathophysiological pathways that are plausible, more likely, or more important because of serious downstream implications. To jump to a diagnosis of nocebo without considering the above is, frankly, malpractice. Most of the people advocating the ‘nocebo’ concept as being at play here are not medical doctors, and carry no responsibility to individual patients.
In summary, in many IWT projects, the preconstruction sound modeling has underestimated the eventual real world sound levels those turbine projects eventually produce. When coupled with the underappreciated human physiological responses to the type of noise large turbines produce (adverse sleep and mental health effects), this has had real world consequences for those living near them. The relationship of noise to sleep disturbances is established. The biological plausibility of sleep disturbances resulting in ill health is settled science. Chronic noise exposure leads to chronic sleep disturbance in many of those exposed, often resulting in ill health. Observed adverse human effects must trump preconstruction sound modeling; changes in practice must occur when there are errors. It’s all about distance when siting decisions are made.
New England College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Reporter
Volume 2 Issue 38 Fall 2013
Download original document: “Industrial Wind Turbines, Human Variability, and Adverse Health Effects”