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Resource Documents: New York (88 items)

RSSNew York

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:  July 31, 2017
Environment, Health, New York, NoisePrint storyE-mail story

Appeal to North Country Public Radio

Author:  Pease, Janice

I want to start off by saying I support green energy and the move towards ending our dependence on fossil fuels as well as nuclear.

Clearly we need clean energy, as quickly as possible.

However, something needs to change in how we think about these goals and the routes we take to achieve them.

In rural areas around the country, industrial wind farms are cropping up, seemingly over night, invading the skyline of our most pristine and beautiful locations. These turbines are now tending toward the heights of 500 to 600 feet from base to the blade tip.

Locally, in Hopkinton and Parishville we are being threatened with 40 industrial turbines, 500 feet tall potentially within 2,500 feet of home.

There is a lack of ethics in how the companies operate and approach the communities. In 2009 the first lease was signed in Hopkinton, but many of us did not find out about this project until about 2 years ago. There was no notification through our local government, the secrecy was in part achieved through agreements that the company made within the project zone.

Because of this lack of community awareness, our town was not properly prepared as far as zoning including a wind law. Over the past couple of years our towns have been working to build up the wind laws to protect ourselves. However, there has been great pushback by Avangrid/Iberdrola and leaseholders.

Because of the lack of transparency and scientific knowledge, our wind laws may still not protect the towns from what could happen if the turbines come in.

In their relatively short life spans, the turbines damage things that aren’t replaceable, such as water quality. In Scotland at the Whitelee Wind Farm, Scottish Power (a subsidiary of Iberdrola) knew of contamination in private water supplies to homes. This contamination included E. Coli and other coliform bacteria which resulted in illness. Test results obtained by Dr. Rachel Connor showed high levels of trihalomethane, which research has linked to cancers, stillbirths, and miscarriages. Scottish Power Renewables admitted not notifying the appropriate authorities of the water contamination for 7 years, until it came to light following investigation by local residents. During the pile driving, other chemicals from manufacturing contaminate water supplies.

This is just one aspect of the health issues relating to industrial turbine farms.

A more controversial issue is the noise output of industrial-scale turbines, which produce not only audible noise but the more concerning inaudible low frequencies and infrasound.

Over the past year and a half I have read everything I could about wind turbines and their relationship to sound. It is more complex than the industry would have you believe. The sound produced by turbines is defined as the amplitude modulation of broadband aerodynamic noise created by the blades at the blade-passing frequency. This acoustic signal has both a high-frequency broadband character and low-frequency amplitude modulation. This is in part why the sound character overshadows the existing noise profile of these rural areas.

Being that most noise standards are set using the dBA scale (which deals mainly with human conscious threshold of hearing), sounds that are inaudible but otherwise sensed are not being measured or acknowledged.

Many scientists and experts, including Dr. Nina Pierpont, the author of Wind Turbine Syndrome, A Report on a Natural Experiment, has documented case reports of patients suffering from what has now been coined wind turbine syndrome. This syndrome produces several symptoms related to the vestibular system’s organs – such as disturbed sleep, headaches, tinnitus, a sense of quivering or vibration, nervousness, rapid heartbeat, nausea, difficulty with concentration, memory loss, and irritability.

During my research, I have come to a deeper understanding of the complexity of these health affects and the connection between wind turbine syndrome and vibroaccoustic disease. I have been in contact with Dr. Mariana Alves-Pereira in Portugal, who holds degrees in physics, biomedical engineering, and environmental science. She and her team have been researching vibroacoustic disease since 1980.

Quoting from The Clinical Stages of Vibroacoustic Disease, by Nuno Castelo Branco:

This disease is an effect of exposure to low-frequency noise and infrasound.

  • Stage I, mild signs (behavioral and mood associated with repeated infections of the respiratory tract, example – bronchitis
  • Stage II, moderate signs (depression and aggressiveness, pericardial thickening and other extra-cellular matrix changes, light to moderate hearing impairment, and discrete neurovascular disorders)
  • Stage III, severe signs (myocardial infarction, stroke, malignancy, epilepsy, and suicide).

Now, in the Guidelines for Community Noise, the World Health Organization includes advice on noise levels in hospitals and suggests that, because patients are less able to cope with the increased stress levels generated by excess environmental noise, the sound level in hospitals should not exceed 35 dBA for areas where patients are treated or observed, with a corresponding max of 40 dBA [4]. The WHO guidelines for community noise recommend less than 30 A-weighted decibels (dBA) in bedrooms during the night for sleep quality and less than 35 dB(A) in classrooms to allow good teaching and learning conditions.

The background rural ambient noise is around 20-25 dBA. An increase of 3 dBA is noticeable and an increase of 10 dBA is perceived as a doubling in loudness.

To put this in context: Currently our town is reviewing the Wind Advisory Board’s recommendations of 35-40 dBA at night.

Some of our town board members have pushed for 45 dBA night and day. With the knowledge that 25 to 45 dBA is a quadrupling of our ambient nightime noise we can conclude that 45 dBA will lead to lack of seep and potentially adverse health affects.

People in other towns have had to abandon their homes to escape these noise effects of turbines.

Earlier this year, I heard testimony from Kevin Segourney, a science teacher from Chateaugay. He lived 1,800 to 2,600 feet from 482-foot turbines in the Jericho Wind Farm. He was living with sound levels above the allowable 50 dBA (which the town of Chateaugay had deemed to be acceptable and legal). However, the low frequencies and infrasound were not taken into account.

In 2014 Steve and Luann Therrien abandoned their home of two decades because of the sound and vibrations from the power plant in Sheffield, Vt. The whole family developed problems sleeping and other health ailments.

After the property went up for tax sale, Energize Vermont payed off the family’s back taxes with an agreement to use the property as the Vermont Center for Turbine Impact Studies. They will be conducting research on the effects that the wind turbines have on the environment, wildlife, and the residents. The research teams will also assess the performance of state regulators in their efforts to monitor and enforce wind turbine standards.

In 2014, the Board of Health in Brown County, Wisconsin declared a local industrial wind plant to be a health hazard in a unanimous vote. This ruling was based on a year-long survey with documented health complaints and demonstrated that low-frequency noise and infrasound were emanating from the turbines and detectable inside homes within a 6.2-mile radius of the industrial wind plant.

Industrial wind turbines are causing complaints worldwide, and the documentation is growing. Part of the reason for the lag in recognition is due to the lax monitoring. Basically the companies monitor themselves. There is no real way to ensure they are in compliance with the wind laws and sound limits. There is no entity to protect us when the company is out of compliance, as they have been in many other wind farms across the country.

The companies would like you to believe this is all debatable, but as someone who has read hundreds of papers, articles, peer-reviewed scientific data, and reports on the effects of wind turbines on human and animal health, I can say that this needs to be acknowledged by government agencies and reported on by the media.

Clearly there is an issue here, yet it is not being discussed openly. There is a NIMBY (not in back yard) stigma attached to anyone who dares reject the idea of a having a power plant in their back yard. When discussing this with people in the communities surrounding the project, there is a disbelief and skepticism that is coupled with judgment.

Our communities need the help of surrounding towns to support them through this project to ensure the right thing happens.

There are children who will live less than a half-mile from these turbines. Parents deserve the right to question the ethics and morality of this project.

These things are being diminished under the guise of the greater good. I argue that it is not for the greater good to implement projects that might harm the very nature and people we are trying to protect. There have been studies on the adverse health affects experienced by badgers, geese, minks, and other animals living within close proximity to turbines – who will protect them?

So is it ethical to keep covering every sacred space with these turbines for power production? Knowing they could actually set us back environmentally while simultaneous accumulating casualties.

I personally believe in the precautionary principle which is defined as:

When human activities may lead to morally unacceptable harm that is scientifically plausible but uncertain, actions shall be taken to avoid or diminish that harm.

I think if we brought this principle into the planning process of every aspect of our economy, our environment would be in better shape. I am hoping to shed light on this local issue so people will demand protection for our towns and help us avoid the problems reported in other towns with industrial turbines.

I am asking North Country Public Radio to investigate this issue and help us prevent the loss of habitat, the loss of quiet spaces, and the slew of potential adverse health effects.

Thank you.

Janice Pease
July 28, 2017

[Pease presented a 5-minute version of this appeal in person at an NCPR Executive Session and provided this write-up to their investigative reporter.]

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Date added:  November 7, 2012
Impacts, Law, New YorkPrint storyE-mail story

Complaint against Iberdrola and others – Hardscrabble wind project

Author:  DeFrancisco, Jeff; and Scalfone, Melody

“The 60 Plaintiffs have suffered various damages and injuries as it relates to the placement of the subject wind turbines being in close proximity to their home as more fully set forth herein. …

“Upon information and belief, in addition to the aforesaid, all Plaintiffs are entitled
to damages related to the diminution of their property values; compensatory damages for the destruction oftheir homes and lifestyle; loss of use and enjoyment of their properties; damages in the form of relocations costs and lost time spent relocating their homes; mental anguish; destruction of scenic countryside; physical pain and suffering; difficulty sleeping; nuisance; trespass; interference with electrical functioning of their homes such as satellites, telephone and televisions; loss of business profits; special damages that include anxiety, stress, worry and inconvenience; some Plaintiffs may have a need for future medical monitoring and/or medical care; and the effects of the lights and noise the wind turbines have on the Plaintiffs’ properties; among other injuries. … Upon information and belief, as a result of the conduct of Defendants, the Plaintiffs have suffered and continue to suffer the damages as set forth herein.

Download original document: “Complaint against Iberdrola and others – Hardscrabble wind project

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Date added:  October 10, 2012
Impacts, New York, OrdinancesPrint storyE-mail story

Wind Energy Facilities Local Law, Town of Litchfield, New York

Author:  Town of Litchfield (N.Y.)

The Town Board of the Town of Litchfield adopts this Wind Energy Facilities Local Law to promote the effective and efficient use of the town’s wind energy resource through wind energy conversion systems (WECS), without harming public health and safety, and to avoid jeopardizing the welfare of the residents.

The Town Board of the Town of Litchfield finds and declares that:

1. While wind energy is a renewable energy resource, there are significant impacts including noise, shadow flicker, aesthetic and physical hazards such that the potential benefits must be balanced against potential impacts.

2. The generation of electricity from properly sited small wind turbines can be a mechanism for reducing on-site electric costs, with a minimum of environmental impacts.

3. Regulation of the siting and installation of wind energy facilities is necessary for protecting the health, safety, and welfare of neighboring property owners and the general public.

4. Utility-scale wind energy facilities represent significant potential aesthetic impacts and because of their large size, noise, lighting, and shadow flicker effects.

5. One of the key aspects of the Town of Litchfield, and one that sets it apart from many communities in the state, are the unique viewsheds created by the Town of Litchfield’s location along the highlands between the Mohawk and Sauquoit valleys. In the Town of Litchfield the viewshed is a significant part of the residential property value of many communities within the Town. There are numerous areas in the Town of Litchfield which would be significantly impaired if the viewshed included utility-scale wind energy facilities.

6. The Town of Litchfield has a long history including many homes and structures eligible for listing on the State or National Historic Register located within the town or in the immediate vicinity, several of which predate the founding of the Town of Litchfield in 1796. The town highly values its history and has published a 376 page book entitled Litchfield Through the Years which has undergone four printings and two revisions since 1976. Full appreciation of these resources requires that the setting remain the rural landscape in which they were built. Construction of utility-scale wind energy facilities in the town would have a significant adverse impact on such settings.

7. The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) has found that every wind farm in the State it has reviewed has a negative impact on the historical resources of the host community.

8. SHPO has particularly noted the impact on historic cemeteries, of which there are several in the area. These resources would be negatively impacted by the noise, shadow flicker, and visual imposition of utility-scale wind energy facilities in the town.

9. Wind energy facilities installed and operating in the Towns of Fairfield and Norway are visible from several areas of the Town of Litchfield during the day and display flashing red lights at night. The view of these utility-scale wind energy facilities impairs the enjoyment of the north facing viewsheds in those areas even though the turbines are over 15 miles away. Further impairment of the viewshed of the town may limit residential growth within the town. Should multiple utility scale wind energy facilities be
installed in the Town of Litchfield, they would likely impair viewsheds well beyond the borders of the town.

10. The high elevation of the Town of Litchfield and the lack of street lights results in clear, dark night skies as compared to the lower elevation metropolitan areas. The relatively dark skies offer opportunities for astronomy, astrophotography and casual stargazing. The presence of flashing lights, strobe lights or rotating blades from utility-scale wind energy facilities will impair the enjoyment of this resource. …

16. Numerous residents of the Town of Fairfield have complained about high sound levels from operation of large industrial wind energy facilities installed near homes. These complaints have occurred despite the fact that pre-construction analytical predictions concluded that sound levels would be within acceptable limits. This may be due to factors such as atmospheric conditions, temperature inversions, wind layers, geography and low frequency noise which travels further with greater intensity than higher frequency noise. In addition, at night when air stabilizes near ground level, elevated wind turbine noise can travel further than expected and can be 5-15 dB(A) louder than predicted with conventional models. (See Kamperman and James 2008; Acoustic Ecology Institute Special Report: Wind Farm Noise, Science and Policy 2011). This leads to the conclusion that pre-construction analytical predictions of sound must comply with appropriate standards and be independently verified. Minimum setbacks from residences are necessary to mitigate noise impacts due to the uncertainty of these models.

17. While mechanical sounds of wind turbines have been reduced by modern designs, aerodynamic sounds by air turbulence around the turbine blades have increased with increasing turbine size.

18. The closer people live to wind energy facilities the more likely they will experience noise annoyance or develop adverse health effects from noise. However, it is common for those located very close to a wind energy facility or facilities to hear less noise than those farther away, due to the formation of a “shadow zone” upwind of the turbine. This has been demonstrated by the on-going problems reported by residents in the Town of Fairfield in which industrial wind energy facilities have become operational recently. This has also been demonstrated by continuing reports of problems related to noise at other recent wind energy projects throughout the United States. Further, the degree of difficulties resulting from the sound of wind energy facilities seems clearly related to the distance from the turbines, though the literature has studied a variety of turbine sizes in a variety of locations. A setback of 2,460 feet from residences would eliminate most noise complaints. Research conducted by Bajdek (2007) showed that at approximately 0.8 km (1⁄2 mile) from wind turbines, 44% of the population would be highly annoyed by wind turbine noise. At a distance of approximately 1.62 km (1 mile) from wind turbines, the percent of highly annoyed people is expected to drop to 4%. Kamperman and James reviewed several studies to determine the impact of wind turbine noise on nearby residents. Their review showed that some residents living as far as two miles from wind turbines complained of sleep disturbance from turbine noise and many residents living 1,000 feet from wind turbines experienced major sleep disruption and other health problems from nighttime turbine noise. Van den Berg (2006) studied a wind farm in northwestern Germany and discovered that residents living 500 meters (1,640 feet) from the wind turbines reacted strongly to wind turbine noise and residents up to 1,900 meters (1.18 miles) from the wind turbines expressed annoyance. A survey conducted by Pedersen and Waye (2008) found that less than 10% of the respondents experienced sleep disturbance at distances of 1,984 feet to 3,325 feet and found that the sound from wind turbines was of greater concern in rural environments because of the lower ambient noise. The Town of Litchfield notes with approval that wind project developer NorthWind and Power LLC (November 23, 2009) has stated in its marketing literature that the “Minimum Distance from residences owned by non-participating landowners: 2,500 ft”.

19. Several studies recommend wind turbines be located between 1⁄2 mile to over 1 mile from residences. To avoid adverse noise impacts, the Western Australia Planning Commission Bulletin recommends that wind energy systems include sufficient buffers or setbacks to residences of 1 km (0.62 mile). The National Wind Collaborating Committee states that an appropriate setback distance may be up to 1⁄2 mile. The National Research Council states that noise produced by wind turbines generally is not a major concern for humans beyond one mile or so. The Wisconsin Towns of Woodville, Clay Banks, Magnolia, Wilton and Ridgeville recently adopted large wind turbine ordinances with setbacks of 1⁄2 mile from residences. The French National Academy of Medicine and the UK Noise Association suggest a 1.5 km (approximately 1 mile) distance between large wind turbines and residences. See Gueniot (2006), Dr. Amanda Harry (2007), Dr. Nina Pierpont (2006), and Frey and Hadden (2007) recommend a setback greater than 1 mile.
20. It is noted that the Wind Turbine Handbook (Burton, 2001, January 2008 Printing) notes that a ten rotor diameter setback is likely necessary to protect from the impact of noise, shadow flicker and visual domination. The Department of the Environment, Northern Ireland (2009), establishes a best practice guideline of a separation distance between a WECS and occupied property of 10 times the rotor diameter.

21. It is noted that The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation document Assessing and Mitigating Noise Impacts (2001) teaches that sound levels that are 0-5dB above ambient are “unnoticed to tolerable” whereas noise increases over 5dB are considered “intrusive”. This document further states: “Appropriate receptor locations may be either at the property line of the parcel on which the facility is located or at the location of use or inhabitance on adjacent property”. And “The most conservative approach uses the property line”.

22. Background sound levels in rural residential areas in New York are commonly in the range of 20 dBA to 30 dBA at night. See Kamperman and James (2008), pg. 2

23. A C-weighted sound determination dB(C) is needed to minimize adverse health effects from low frequency noise. A dB(C) requirement will likely result in setbacks between large wind turbines and nearby residences of 1 km, (0.62 miles) or greater for 1.5 to 3 MW wind turbines if wind turbines are located in rural areas where L90A background levels are close to 30 dB(A). (See Kamperman & James; WHO 1999; Bajdek Noise-Con 2007; Pedersen and Waye 2008). …

37. Low frequency vibrations or infrasound may cause health impacts even if inaudible. Recent field testing in Falmouth, MA indicated that in a home located 1,300 feet from one turbine and 1,700 feet from another, excessive infrasound was present inside the home while not measurable outside the home (See Ambrose and Rand (2011)). Previous studies of infrasound from wind turbines have shown levels to be low in outdoor testing, while others have effectively measured infrasound outdoors near turbines when the atmosphere is stable, for example at night (See van den Berg (2006)). In the Ambrose and Rand study, testing indicated that infrasound was magnified (10dB gain) by a whole-house cavity response and was likened to “living in a drum”. The investigators were surprised to experience the same adverse health symptoms described by residents of the house and those near other large industrial wind turbine sites. The onset of adverse health effects was swift, within twenty minutes, and persisted for some time after leaving the study area. Ambrose and Rand correlated their symptoms to turbine operation and infrasound measurements and found that infrasound pulsations at levels sufficient to stimulate the ear’s outer hair cells (OHC) and thus cause vestibular dysfunction (see Dr. Salt, 2011) were present when the turbines were operating. Dysfunctions in the vestibular system can cause disequilibrium, nausea, vertigo, anxiety, and panic attacks, which have been reported near a number of industrial wind turbine facilities. Similar adverse health symptoms have been associated with noise complaints such as “sick building syndrome”, correlated by field study to low-frequency pulsations emanating from ventilation systems. (See Burt, (1996); Shwartz (2008)) That is, adverse health effects from low frequency noise exposure in buildings have been studied and confirmed by the acoustics
profession. Ambrose and Rand conclude that their study underscores the need for more effective and precautionary setback distances for industrial wind turbines. …


LARGE WIND ENERGY CONVERSION SYSTEM or Large WECS – A Wind Energy Conversion System larger than 50kW. A Wind Energy Facility consisting of a wind turbine, a Tower, and associated control or conversion electronics, which has a Name Plate Rating of more than 50 kW (Fifty Thousand Watts).


A. No Large WECS shall be constructed, reconstructed, modified, or operated anywhere in the Town of Litchfield.

B. No Small WECS or Wind Energy Facility comprising a Small WECS shall be constructed, reconstructed, modified, or operated in the Town of Litchfield except pursuant to and in compliance with a Wind Energy Permit issued pursuant to this Local Law.

C. No Wind Measurement Tower shall be constructed, reconstructed, modified, or operated in the Town of Litchfield except in connection with an application for a Small WECS, and pursuant to and in compliance with a Wind Measurement Tower Permit issued pursuant to this Local Law. …


A Small WECS shall comply with the following standards:

1. Setback requirements. A Small WECS shall not be located closer to a Property Line than one and a half times the Turbine Height of the WECS or ten times the Rotor Diameter, whichever is greater.

2. Noise. Except during short-term events including utility outages and severe wind storms, a Small WECS shall be designed, installed, and operated so that the Sound Pressure Level (Leq) generated by a Small WECS shall not exceed 45 dBA in daytime hours nor 35 dBA at night as measured at the nearest off-Site Residence existing at the time of approval (including structure under construction at said time), nor more than 6 dBA greater than either the nighttime or daytime pre-application Background Sound level measured in leaf-off conditions for a period of no less than 24 hours. Measurement of Background Sound may also be performed with the turbine turned off and with its blades trimmed to minimize Noise from aerodynamic effects.



It is the intent of the Town of Litchfield to prohibit the construction, reconstruction, modification or operation of Large WECS as defined in this Wind Energy Facilities Local Law. The purpose of this Article is to provide substantive standards for Large WECS in the event an application is made to the Public Service Commission under Article X of the Public Service Law for the construction and operation of Large WECS in the Town of Litchfield.


The following substantive standards shall apply to all Large WECS in the Town of Litchfield in the event an application to construct and operate Large WECS in the Town of Litchfield is made to the New York Public Service Commission pursuant to Article 10 of the Public Service Law. …


A. The equivalent level (LEQ) generated by a WECS shall not exceed the limits listed in Table 1 when measured at the nearest off-Site Residence or Buildable Lot. If the A-weighted Background Sound pressure level, without the WECS, is within 5 dB of some or all of the limits in Table 1 or exceeds some or all of the limits in Table 1, then the A-weighted criterion to be applied to the WECS application for
those affected limits shall be the A-weighted background level + 5 dB. The remaining limits that are more than 5 dB above the A-weighted background shall remain as given in Table 1.

Note: For example, during daytime, if the background is less than or equal to 40 dB, then the limit is 45 dB. However, if the background is greater than 40 dB, say 44 dB, then the applicable WECS limit is the background level plus 5 dB which calculates to 49 dB for this example.

B. In all cases, the corresponding C-weighted limit shall be the operable A-weighted limit (from Table I or based on the A-weighted background, as appropriate) plus 18 dB. The application shall include certification by an independent acoustical engineer as to the predicted A- and c-weighted WECS sound levels at potentially impacted residential Sites. The engineer, or the firm with which the engineer is associated shall be a member of the National Council of Acoustical Consultants (NCAC) with a specialty in environmental Noise, and shall be a Member, Board Certified of the Institute of Noise Control Engineering of the USA. The background shall be measured and predicted in accordance with clause C below.

Table I. WECS Noise limits at residential receivers

7 AM to 7 PM

7 PM to 10 PM

10 PM to 7 AM

A-weighted level (dB)




C-weighted level (dB)




C. A-weighted background sound levels shall be based on measured hourly L90 levels gathered over a sufficient time to characterize each of the following three time periods, respectively. The day shall be divided into three time periods: (1) daytime, the hours from 7 AM to 7 PM, (2) evening, the hours from 7 PM to 10 PM, and (3) nighttime, the hours from 10 PM to 7 AM. If insect Noise possibly can dominate some of the hourly L90 measurements, then Ai weighted (see Schomer, Paul D. et al., “Proposed ‘Ai’ – Weighting: a weighting to remove insect Noise from A-weighted field measurements,” InterNoise 2010, Lisbon Portugal, 13-16 June 2010) shall be used in lieu of the Standard A-weighting, or measurements shall not be made when insect Noise possibly can dominate some of the hourly L90 measurements. The background shall be reported by time period, and computed as follows. The minimum hourly L90 shall be tabulated by time period and by day, and the arithmetic average of these measurements by time period over all the days of measurement shall be computed. These three averages of daily minima shall be reported as that Site’s daytime, evening, and night time A-weighted background levels, respectively.

Note: In relatively quiet areas insect Noise, especially during summer months, can easily dominate the A-weighted Ambient Sound level. This occurs partly because the primary frequencies or tones of many, if not most, insect Noises are in the range of frequencies where the A-weighting is a maximum, whereas, most mechanical and WECS Noises primarily occur at the lower frequencies where the A-weighting significantly attenuates the sound. Also, insect noises and bird songs do not mask WECS Noise at all because of the large differences in frequencies or tones between them. …


Each WECS shall be located with the following minimum setbacks, as measured from the center of the WECS:

i. Ten (10) Rotor Diameters from the property line of off-Site Residences or Buildable Lots.

ii. Four (4) Turbine Heights from the nearest on-Site Residence.

iii. 100 feet or the rotor radius, whichever is more from state-identified wetlands, except where permits for other setbacks have been received from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, or federal wetland permits issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

iv. 1.5 times the sum of the hub height plus Rotor Diameter from a public highway.


GE Energy, “The Effects of Integrating Wind Power On Transmission System Planning, Reliability, and Operations”, March 4, 2005

George Kamperman and Richard R. James, Simple guidelines for siting wind turbines to prevent health risks, The Institute of Noise Control Engineering of the USA, 117 Proceedings of NOISECON 2008 1122-1128, Dearborn, Michigan

World Health Organization, GUIDELINES FOR COMMUNITY NOISE (1999)

Jim Cummings, AEI Special Report: Wind Farm Noise 2011: Science and Policy overview, Acoustic Ecology Institute (Santa Fe, NM) 2011

Christopher J. Bajdek, Communicating the Noise Effects of Wind Farms to Stakeholders, Proceedings of NOISE-CON 2007 (Reno, Nevada)

Frits van den Berg, The sounds of high winds: the effect of atmospheric stability on wind turbine sound and microphone noise, Diss., Univ. Groningen 2006

Eja Pedersen and Kerstin Persson Waye, Wind turbines – low level noise sources interfering with restoration?, 3(1) ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS (2008)

National Wind Coordinating Committee (NWCC) Siting Subcommittee, PERMITTING OF WIND ENERGY FACILITIES: A HANDBOOK (Washington, DC, NWCC, 1998)

National Research Council, ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF WIND-ENERGY PROJECTS (National Academies Press, 2007)

Dr. Chantal Gueniot, Wind turbines: The Academy cautious, PANORAMA DU MÉDECIN, March 20, 2006, reporting on National Academy of Medicine in France, LE RETENTISSEMENT DU FONCTIONNEMENT DES ÉOLIENNES SUR LA SANTÉ DE L’HOMME (“Repercussions of wind turbine operations on human health”)


Harry, Amanda, M.D., Wind Turbines, Noise and Health, February 2007 Nina Pierpont, M.D., Ph.D., Health Effects of Wind Turbine Noise, March 2, 2006

Nina Pierpont, M.D., Ph.D., Wind Turbine Syndrome: Noise, Shadow Flicker, and Health, August 1, 2006

Barbara J. Frey and Peter J. Hadden, Noise Radiation from Wind turbines Installed Near Homes: Effects on Health, February 2007

T. Burton, D. Sharpe, N. Jenkins and E. Bossanyi, WIND ENERGY HANDBOOK (2001), West Sussex, England, John Wiley and Sons.

Smedley, A. Webb, A. Wilkins, Potential of wind turbines to elicit seizures under various meteorological conditions, Epilepsia, Vol. 51, Issue 7, pp. 1146-1151, July 2010

S. Ambrose and R. Rand, The Bruce McPherson Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise Study – Adverse Health Effects Produced By Large Industrial Wind Turbines Confirmed, December 14, 2011

Burt, T., Sick Building Syndrome: Acoustical Aspects, Indoor and Built Environment January 1996 vol. 5 no. 1, pp. 44-59.
Shwartz, S., Linking Noise and Vibration to Sick Building Syndrome in Office Buildings, EM Magazine, awma.org, March 2008

Salt, A., “Responses of the Inner Ear to Infrasound” – presentation to the Wind Turbine Noise Conference, Rome, April 11-14, 2011.

Department of the Environment, Northern Ireland, Best Practice Guidance to Planning Policy Statement 18 ‘Renewable Energy’, August 2009, p. 24

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Assessing and Mitigating Noise Impacts, 2001

Cattin, et al., “Wind turbine ice throw studies in the Swiss Alps”, European Wind Energy Conference Milan, May 2007

Graham Harding, Pamela Harding and Arnold Wilkins, Wind turbines, flicker, and photosensitive epilepsy: Characterizing the flashing that may precipitate seizures and optimizing guidelines to prevent them, 49(6) EPILEPSIA (2008) 1095-1098.

NREL publication “New York 50 Meter Wind Power”, 14-May-2009 3.1.1

Schomer, Paul D. et al., “Proposed ‘Ai’ –Weighting: a weighting to remove insect Noise from A-weighted field measurements,” InterNoise 2010, Lisbon Portugal, 13-16 June 2010

Kaliski, Kenneth and Duncan, Eddie, “Propagation Modeling Parameters for Wind Power Projects”, Sound & Vibration, pp. 12-15, December 2008

Larwood, Scott and Van Dam, C.P. (California Wind Energy Collaborative), 2006 Permitting Setback Requirements for Wind Turbines in California. California Energy Commission, PIER Renewable Technologies. CEC-500-2005-184

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Date added:  August 12, 2012
Aesthetics, General, New York, Noise, Ordinances, Property values, SitingPrint storyE-mail story

Wind Energy Conversion Systems Law

Author:  Town of Lyme (N.Y.)

[adopted August 11, 2012; excerpts:]

It is the purpose of this law to provide the regulatory structure that ensures the protection of the Town of Lyme residents and minimizes the impacts on the Town’s environment in the siting and operation of Wind Energy Conversion Systems. Notably, this law will reduce, minimize, or eliminate negative impacts on the unique resources within the Town of Lyme including, among many, the Seaway Trail, Lake Ontario and its contiguous waterways, and the Chaumont Barrens.


The Town Board of the Town of Lyme finds and declares the following:

1. Wind is a renewable, nonpolluting energy resource.

2. Regulation of the siting and installation of wind turbines is essential for protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the general public and the community at large.

3. WECS represent significant potential aesthetic impacts because of their large size, noise, lighting, shadow flicker effects, and other related issues.

4. If not effectively regulated, the siting and construction of WECS and their associated infrastructure (e.g., access roads) can cause undesirable and unnecessary impacts to farmland including, but not limited to, excessive removal of topsoil with erosion and sediment damage, and soil compaction.

5. WECS present a risk to birds, bats, and other creature and must be properly sited to minimize impacts.

6. WECS can adversely affect the value of surrounding, non-participating properties. For example, a study examining the effect of wind turbines on neighboring property values was performed by Clarkson University. Property transactions that occurred over a nine year period within Clinton, Lewis, and Franklin counties were analyzed. Findings varied from county to county. In some areas, it was found that values could be depressed by as much as 17% by the presence of wind turbines. (Published in the journals Land Economics and The B. E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy)

7. WECS are a significant source of noise, including infrasound. If not properly regulated and sited, the sound from WECS can negatively impact the health of residents and eliminate the opportunity to enjoy the quiet surroundings that are characteristic of the region.

8. Construction of WECS will require planning and control to minimize regional traffic problems. Town, county, and state roads will require upgrades to handle heavy equipment and restoration to state standards following completion of construction.

9. WECS can cause electromagnetic interference issues with various types of communications. (Reference: Wind Turbine Technology: Fundamental Concepts in Wind Turbine Engineering, 2nd Edition, 2009; Editor, David A Spera; Chapter 9, “Electromagnetic Interference from Wind Turbines”; Authors, Depak L Sengupta & Thomas B A Senior)

10. The installation and operation of WECS can affect ground water supplies. The Town’s sub-structure has areas consisting of unique fractured limestone bedrock with an associated high water table. WECS must be designed and sited to prevent exposing this fragile ground water system to potential pollution.

11. Setback distances must address and mitigate operational hazards including but not limited to ice throws, blade breakage, tower collapses, and fires.

12. WECS siting will affect areas available for future land use such as locations of subdivisions.

13. Industrial wind energy projects (projects) are risky financial ventures. To limit risk to equity partners, these projects are typically organized as limited liability corporations (LLCs). The financial viability of wind project LLCs is highly dependent on state and federal government subsidies, tax breaks, and other favorable treatments. Loss or reduction of any of these benefits could cause LLC bankruptcy. Multiple owners are expected over the lifetime of a project. Cash funds from the Applicant must be in the Town’s possession to cover any and all liabilities, including funds to cover decommissioning of the facility.

14. The Town of Lyme is unique, encompassing an area offering year-round freshwater and land based recreational opportunities, a small town environment, and nature’s scenic beauty and serenity. The Town of Lyme is exceptional with 53 miles of waterfront on Lake Ontario and its inland bay, Chaumont Bay. Residences line the shorelines, experiencing extensive views of Lake Ontario, Chaumont Bay, and inland regions. The Town is relatively small in total area with generally flat topography. There are uninterrupted views to the horizon that can extend to 15 miles. Structures over the tree line (approximately 60 feet high) are visible for many miles.

15. The Town of Lyme conducted a detailed survey of Lyme’s permanent and part-time residents in 2011 to determine residents’ perspectives regarding the placement of WECS in Lyme. The majority of residents stated that WECS are inappropriate for siting within Lyme. Consequently, any law allowing the siting of WECS must reflect stringent requirements that will ensure protection of the local population and the environs.

16. In consideration of all of the above factors, there may be limited areas where WECS can be safely constructed and operated. These areas are within the Town of Lyme Wind Overlay District, the boundaries of which are defined in Section 305 of the Zoning Ordinance of the Town of Lyme.

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Noise Standards for WECS

The Sound Pressure Level shall not exceed 1 and 2 as follows. Permissible Sound Pressure Levels of I and 2 shall be modified if the sound includes Prominent Tones.

1) A-weighted SOUND PRESSURE LEVEL shall be less than or equal to 30 dB from the hours of 7:00pm to 7:00am and less than or equal to 35 dB at all other times, measured at the nearest, non-participant SITE BOUNDARY.

2) C-weighted SOUND PRESSURE LEVEL shall be less than or equal to the above values plus 18 dB as measured at the nearest, non-participant SITE BOUNDARY.

Sound Measurement Methods

Sound Measurements shall use sound meters that meet the ANSI Specifications for Integrating Averaging Sound Level Meters, S 1.43-I 997 for Type I instruments and be capable of accurate readings (corrections for internal noise and microphone response permitted) at 20 dBA or lower. The measurement spectrum shall be 6 Hz to I 0 kHz. The testing method shall include the following provisions:

1) The BACKGROUND SOUND is the pre-construction Sound Pressure Level measured during the quiet time for the soundscape under evaluation (typically, between 10pm and 4am) and with test duration often continuous minutes. Several contiguous ten-minute tests may be performed in one hour to determine the statistical stability of the sound environment. Measurement periods such as at dusk or dawn when bird or insect activity is high are not acceptable measurement times. Test results are only valid when the A-weighted level exceeded 10% of the time is no more than 10 dB above the A-weighted level exceeded 90% of the time during the same period. Furthermore, the C-weighted level exceeded 10% of the time minus the C-weighted level exceeded 90% of the time is not to exceed 10 dB to be valid. The Background Sound levels documenting the pre-construction baseline conditions shall be determined when the 10 minute maximum wind speed is less than 2 m/s as measured within 5 m of the microphone and at the microphone height of 1.5 m and the atmosphere is considered stable with no vertical heat flow to cause air mixing. Sound measurement points shall be taken between inflection points of the Site survey and at locations nearest Residences. For example, a rectangular parcel contains 4 inflection points (the corners) and would result in a minimum of four measurement points, one along each side of the property. A five-sided parcel would have a minimum of five measurement points, etc. Measurement points shall be quiet locations remote from streetlights, transformers, street traffic, flowing water and other local noise sources. The background sound may be measured following construction using the above method but with the WECS turned off if, with the consent of the Town, it is determined that the Background Sound level (both A and C weighted) exceeded 90% of the time has increased by more than 3 dB from those measured under the pre-construction nighttime conditions.

2) The SOUND PRESSURE LEVEL during turbine operation shall be measured when the maximum wind speed, sampled within 5m of the microphone and at its height, is less than 4 m/s. The wind speed at the WES blade height shall be at or above the nominal rated wind speed and operating at its highest sound output mode. For purposes of enforcement, the wind speed and direction at the WECS blade height should be selected to as nearly as possible reproduce the conditions leading to the enforcement action while also restricting maximum wind speeds at the microphone to less than 4 m/s.

Setback Standards for Wind Energy Conversion Systems

Each WECS shall conform to the following setbacks:

A. One-half mile (2,640 feet) safety setback from the nearest public road or right of way.

B. One-half mile (2,640 feet) from non-participating property lines and boundaries with neighboring towns.

C. 1,600 feet from any non-WECS above-ground utilities located within the project boundary.

D. One-half mile (2,640 feet) from state-identified parks, wildlife management areas, nature preserves, and wetlands.

E. One mile (5,280 feet) from the current Village of Chaumont boundary and from the Hamlet of Three Mile Bay Lighting District boundary.

F. All WECS shall be setback a minimum of one mile (5,280 feet) from

1. Schools and churches

2. Public land where people gather (e.g., public access sites, ball fields, cemeteries)

G. One mile (5,280 feet) from NYS Route 12E, the Great Lakes Seaway Trail State Scenic Byway.

H. Two mile setbacks from Lake Ontario, Chaumont Bay, and the Chaumont River.

I. Setbacks resulting from the noise limitations set forth in this law shall apply when more restrictive than the setbacks defined in Sections A through G above.

Complaint Resolution Process

A. The offended party shall first bring their complaint to the Zoning Enforcement Officer. If the Zoning Enforcement Officer finds it to be valid, he will notify the WECS licensee of the complaint. The licensee shall have the opportunity to resolve the complaint. The time frame of resolution will be dependent on the nature of the complaint. The complaints may include, but will not be limited to: excessive noise, flicker or shadow effect, change in water quantity or quality, loss of or diminished telephone, TV, radio reception, interference with a medical device, changes in value to the residence, new or increased presence of radon gas. Should it be necessary for the validity of the complaint to be verified by an outside consultant, the Town will select and employ a firm to do testing, collect data or whatever else may be necessary to determine validity. The funds for payment of these services will come from the established escrow account.

B. The Compliant Resolution Process will apply, but not be limited to, the following categories:

1. Shadow Flicker Complaint Resolution Process:
When a written complaint is received by the Zoning Enforcement Officer from a non-participant identifying a specific turbine(s) in the wind project with a complaint of shadow flicker, the licensee shall be notified within 72 hours by the Zoning Enforcement Officer. The validity of the complaint must be verified by the Zoning Enforcement Officer using outside resources, as necessary. Upon establishment of the validity of the complaint, the licensee must mitigate the violation within 72 hours. If the licensee does not comply, the Town Board may take enforcement as established in Section 930 of this local law.

2. Setbacks Complaint Resolution Process:
When a written complaint is received by the Zoning Enforcement Officer from a non-participant in the wind development project identifying that a setback requirement is noncompliant and is determined by the Zoning Enforcement Officer to be valid, the licensee within 72 hours must correct the non-compliance violation or define a process to resolve the violation. If the licensee fails to comply, the Town Board may take enforcement as established in Section 930 of this local law.

3. Noise/Sleep Interference Complaint Resolution Process:
When a written complaint supported by a log listing the times of excessive noise is provided to the Zoning Enforcement Officer from a non-participant alleging noise disturbance from a wind turbine(s), the licensee will be informed of the complaint within 72 hours after receipt of the complaint. The validity of the complaint will be determined by the Zoning Enforcement Officer. The Town may retain an independent acoustic investigation paid for with the funds in the escrow account, as necessary. If the licensee is found to be non-compliant with the Town’s wind facilities law noise standards, the violation must be corrected. If the violation is not corrected, the Town Board may take enforcement as established in Section 930 of this local law.

If the validity of the complaint requires the services of an acoustical consultant, the procedure described below must be followed:

Violations and enforcement shall be determined by measurement without undue timing constraints. The Town will use the services of an outside contractor, as necessary, to determine the violation and associated enforcement actions. The Town’s acoustical consultant shall be a member of the National Council of Acoustical Consultants (NCAC) with a specialty in environmental noise, and the consultant’s project leader shall be a Member, Board Certified of the Institute of Noise Control Engineering of the USA. The protocol described below must generally be followed but may be modified as circumstances require by the acoustical engineer provided that modifications generally conform to the protocol.

1) Initially a preliminary study shall be conducted for a period of 30 minutes. During the 30 minute period, the equivalent level (LEQ) generated by the noise shall be measured. The measurement shall be on the complainant’s property line nearest the noise source. Measurements shall be entirely within the appropriate time period, e.g., during nighttime for nighttime enforcement, and the noise source shall operate continuously (if normal operation) during the 30 minute measurement.

2) If the noise source is intermittent or if the noise is not present at the time of the preliminary enforcement survey, a more extensive and detailed survey shall be undertaken to monitor noise levels over a longer period. The licensee shall fully cooperate with Town officials and their agents to ensure accurate measurements, including turning the source on and off as required.

3) For both types of surveys, the microphone shall be situated between 4 and 4.5 feet above the ground. Measurements shall be conducted within the general provisions of ANSI S1.13-2005, and using a meter that meets at least the Type 2 requirements of ANSI S1.4 and S1.4A-1985 (R2006). The instrument noise floor shall be at least 10 dB below the lowest level measured.

4) A calibrator shall be used as recommended by the manufacturer of the sound-level meter. The fundamental level of the calibrator and the sensitivity of the sound-level meter shall be verified annually by a laboratory using procedures traceable to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

5) A wind screen shall be used as recommended by the sound-level meter manufacturer.

6) An anemometer shall be used and shall have a range of at least 5 to 15 miles per hour (2.2 to 6.7 meters per second) and an accuracy of at least ±2 miles per hour (±0.9 meters per second).

7) For the detailed, long-tenn study a compass shall be used to measure wind direction to at least an 8-point resolution: N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW. Measurements shall be A-weighted, or, alternatively, in one-third-octave bands. For A-weighted measurements, the uncertainty (tolerance) of measurements shall be 1 dB for a Type I meter and 2 dB for a Type 2 meter. For one-third-octave band measurements, the meter shall meet the Type 1 requirements of ANSI S12.4 and S12.4a-1985 (R2006), and the uncertainty of measurements shall be 5 dB in each and every one-third-octave band.

8) For all measurements, the surface wind speed, measured at a 1.5 m height, shall be less than 5 m/s.

9) The report shall include a sketch of the site showing distances to the structure(s), to the property line, etc., and several photographs showing the structure(s), the property, and the acoustical instrumentation. All instrumentation shall be listed by manufacturer, model, and serial number. This instrumentation listing shall also include the A-weighted and C-weighted noise floor due to weather or other natural phenomena and the one-third-octave band noise floors, if utilized, for each sound-level meter used.

4. Electromagnetic/Stray Voltage Complaint Resolution Process:
Upon receipt of a written complaint from a non-participant alleging violations associated with electromagnetic inference or stray voltage, the Zoning Enforcement Officer will provide a copy of the complaint to the licensee within 72 hours. The Zoning Enforcement Officer will determine validity of the complaint. The Town may hire, as necessary, a certified electrical engineer consultant to conduct a stray voltage investigation or electromagnetic interference investigation at the cost of the licensee, to assist in determining complaint validity. If the complaint is determined to be valid, the licensee shall resolve the problem and return the facility to full compliance with the law within a time period determined by the Zoning Enforcement Officer. If the violation is not corrected, the Town Board may take enforcement as established in Section 930 of this local law.

5. Protection of Aquifers, Ground Water and Wells:
When a written complaint is received by the Zoning Enforcement Officer from a resident regarding disturbance of an aquifer, ground water or well water, the Town will notify the licensee within 72 hours. The Zoning Enforcement Officer will determine the validity of the complaint. The Town may hire a qualified engineer at the expense of the licensee to verify validity of the complaint. If the complaint is found to be valid, the licensee must make potable water available to resident(s) immediately and establish a course of action to resolve the complaint. If the complaint is verified and the well is found to contain toxins, the licensee and/or the Town must notify the Department of Conservation (NYS DEC) of the finding. If the circumstance falls under the jurisdiction of the NYS DEC, the NYS DEC will assume responsibility for corrective actions. If the violation is not corrected, the Town Board may take enforcement as established in Section 930 of this local law.

Download original document: “Wind Energy Conversion Systems Law – Town of Lyme

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