Resource Documents: U.S. (135 items)
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.
Author: Coussons, Herb
So a little bit of background and why I’m here to speak. I’ve been in practice in Green Bay since 2002. I’m originally from Louisiana and finished medical school in 1992 so I’ve been in practice for 25 years, mostly in primary care. Prior to coming here I practiced in the Pacific Northwest, I was on the faculty of the University of Idaho and Washington State. I’m on the faculty of the new medical college here in Green Bay, at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
I’m also a private pilot and I was a pilot since 1992 and have gone through all of the ratings all the way through airline pilot and have a particular interest in the physiology and science behind spacial disorientation. I also teach and consult around the United States.
I also would like to state that I have no conflicts of interest, no financial disclosures. I’m not paid to be here and I’m not here to represent anybody.
I also would like to say, since this is on wind energy and it is a controversial topic, I am very pro–American energy, whether that’s carbon or green, it doesn’t really matter, but I have some particular opinions about this topic. And I am presenting because I think that there is some overwhelming science behind the link to health issues, particularly in our local area with Shirley and even further south, Fond du Lac, but as it applies to this Board, Shirley, with the complaints that have come from south Brown County, and I have personally seen and taken care of six of these patients.
So I would like to point out the difference between a syndrome and a disease (you can follow along if you want to), but a syndrome is just a group of symptoms with no seemingly cohesive thing that draws them together or explanation for why they occur together. And this is where there is a lot of misunderstanding when wind turbine syndrome gets thrown around.
Well, I would like to point out that now I think it is a recognized disease, where a disease is a specific disorder with a pathologic or physiologic explanation. So now we classify this as vibro-acoustic disease, and last year with the new CMS guidelines encoding, there is a new code T75.20 which is the effects of vibration and there is a specific code now listed, vertigo from infrasound [T75.23]. It is a diagnosis and it is a disease.
I printed some abstracts for you and the most, I think, telling one is about vibro-acoustic disease. And vibro-acoustic disease has now been autopsy-proven to show soft tissue proliferation, particularly collagen and fibro-elastic tissue that causes heart problems, hypertension, and other physiologic proven findings. This is not isolated to wind turbines. This is in any instance of prolonged exposure to low-frequency noise, infrasound as we call it. And it applies in aeronautics too, from low frequency noise, that’s how I came upon these studies. It causes thickening of cardiovascular structures and potentially early death. There’ve even been some links to chromosomal damage and increased malignancies in these patients. And I would grant that there is an inadequacy of studies linking this to wind noise but without a doubt the frequency ranges that affect these individuals in both human and animal studies are the same frequencies that have been measured in the Shirley project.
The second one shows what those frequencies are, 0-20 Hz range. Low frequency, infrasound, ILFN, all the same thing. And I won’t get into the details there. You can read it and I can email you a copy of this if you would like it. But it is echocardiography, brain MRI, and histologically proven in autopsies of both animals and humans.
Other supporting evidence: sleep disturbance alone is enough to cause health problems. That’s why we have CPAP to treat sleep apnea patients, because they develop obesity, hypertension, right-sided heart failure, as well as other psychologic issues.
The next one, the theory to explain some physiologic effects of infrasonic emissions at some wind farm sites, includes measurements in our own back yard in the Shirley project because it’s been one of the most studied around.
The next one was published in Canada and I would point to the conclusion of the study. Now that so many indicators point to infrasound as a potential agent of adverse health effects it is critical to re-examine the approach to this aspect of wind turbine operation, revise regulations immediately and implement protective public health measures based on a precautionary principle.
So, epidemiology. This gets pushed out there quite a bit. Why are there no epidemiologic studies, or we need to have more studies is the conclusion of every study.
So, first of all, the FDA is responsible for safety and effectiveness of health altering devices. That could be a surgical device, a drug, or anything like that, whereas OSHA is responsible for things that are environmental, that people may be exposed to. So there is a little bit of a conflict or struggle at a federal level between the FDA and OSHA.
Next is, there are things called IRBs, institutional review boards. So, medical research was unethical prior to the implementation of restrictions on human subject protections. There are animal studies, there are models, and there are other types of studies, but it is very difficult in any circumstances to point to a direct causal effect, or anything causing any disease, and I’m going to point that out in a subsequent slide.
So what study designs do we have? Case reports – somebody says, this bothers me. Next, cross sectional surveys – we’re going to go out and survey lots of people in an area. Next, we’re going to say, case controlled studies – we’re going to measure affected vs non-affected individuals. Cohort studies – groups of individuals against groups of individuals, maybe even in different neighborhoods or different states. Next would be a randomized control trial and then a meta analysis which is pooled groups of studies to get substantial numbers to prove a point when small numbers don’t prove a point.
Well, what do we have with wind? We have case reports, cross sectional surveys, case control studies, cohort studies including crossover, but we have no randomized control trials. What’s interesting is the wind industry also has no randomized control trials that are independent, not industry funded, and that are peer-reviewed. So, those types of things that claim safety, there’s just as much lack of evidence to stand on that claim as they say that the opposition, people who suffer adverse health effects have.
We will never actually see a randomized control study for wind. The reason why is there are ethical concerns with these studies. There’s enough out there to say that there are potential adverse health effects. There will never be a study. What would be an example of this? An example would be, and I printed something from a nephrology journal, that shows why there are no randomized control studies in some disease states, and the example is smoking. There are no randomized control studies that say that smoking causes adverse health effects, none, zero. But, we warn people, we tax them, there are lawsuits against them, there’s plenty of information and it’s commonly accepted that there is a causal link between smoking and lung cancer.
So in summary, I think we now have three decades of reports of adverse health effects, research has shown that infrasound and low frequency noise cause disturbances both in sleep and in physiologic direct link causal effects, the range of low frequency noise that’s been proven to cause these are measured in the wind turbine developments, vibro-acoustic disease is now a proven entity, and over 90 worldwide professionals and medical researchers that aren’t linked to any type of industry conflict would agree to that and have signed onto that statement. And now Shirley Wind is one of the most studied and documented industrial wind turbine developments in the United States and we have those affected individuals that we see in our own backyard.
So the conclusion, I am concerned, based on the patients that I’ve seen, that our local residents are being harmed by a very real risk of low frequency noise, some of which may not be seen or known for a decade or years to come. An example of this would be sun. It’s a wave form of energy and no one would disagree that UV light or infrared energy affects different people in different ways. I’m much more likely to burn than some of you in the room because I’m quite pale. So, there are people who are more susceptible, but that doesn’t deny the fact that they are affected. And I’m concerned also that with the evidence in our local backyard that the Board and the County will be at risk for both liability and negligence with the amount of information that’s been presented here over the last five years.
That’s about fifteen minutes of time and I would be open for questions or discussion to clarify any points because I breezed through that pretty quickly.
Herb Coussons, Greenleaf, Wisconsin
February 15, 2017
Author: Hales, Roy
Ocotillo, in Imperial County, has been inflicted by massive dust storms ever since 112 turbines were built around it. The desert surface was scraped clean of vegetation as a preparation for the project. Now there is nothing to hold the dust down.
That’s not the only complaint. Since the project went online, less than two years ago:
- 3 turbines have had their gear boxes replaced,
- 9 turbines have had blade replacements
- a 173-foot-long-blade flew off one turbine
- Ocotillo residents have also documented oil leaks in 40% of the turbines. The Department of Toxic substance control subsequently gave the project a summary of violations.
Two Ocotillo residents, Jim Pelley and Parke Ewing, have documented this project on the web. There are hundreds of videos on Pelley’s Youtube site “Save Ocotillo” and Ewing’s Facebook page Ocotillo Wind Turbine Destruction is a visual chronicle of this project and related materials.
(October 23, 2014)
The Ocotillo wind farm went online almost five years ago. Were they not documented in such meticulous detail, some of the reports coming from the tiny desert community this project surrounds would be difficult to believe. I once received a constant stream of YouTube videos and reports from this project. It was one of the sites that shaped my perception of the energy sector. To some extent, I’ve moved on from this story since then, but I always knew I would be revisiting Ocotillo.
Parke Ewing has not been able to move on.
Last May, I asked him for an update.
Ewing replied, “It’s about 9:30 – 10:00 o’clock in the morning. Not one wind turbine is spinning. There is no wind. Their capacity factor, since they became operational, is only about 21.3%. Pattern Energy stated the wind farm would be 34% and they also said it would produce 891 gigawatts (GW) per year. So far, the most they’ve ever generated is 536 GW. So it is substantially less than what they proposed to get approval on this project …”
Update On Mechanical Failures
This is the beginning of a four minute clip, which you can listen to on the podcast. Some of the details include:
- “About 70% of the turbines leaked oil. They had a crew out here cleaning all the turbines. They did a lot of them and I am sure they fixed some of the leaks.”
- On November 21, 2016, turbine #126 crumpled and fell over. “They’re in the process of replacing the entire turbine right now. The nacelle came in today and the tower sections and they are unloading those as we speak,”
These are just the latest in a litany of problems.
Six months after the project officially went online, a 173 foot-long-blade flew off one of the turbines.
There was a turbine fire in 2015.
Since this project went online:
- 10 turbines underwent blade replacements
- 9 turbines had their gear boxes replaced
- 2 turbines were replaced
Contacting The Developers
Attempts to contact the turbine manufacturer, developer and local utility have been futile.
Ewing says, “We’ve tried to talk to Pattern Energy [the developer], of course we always get a generic reply that they’re working on this or checking on that, but we never get an answer on the noise, or the lights, or anything. They really just write us off. They don’t talk to us. We get an email reply sometimes, that’s about it.”
I phoned Jeff Grappone, of Siemens USA after the turbine caught fire in 2015. He suggested I send an email. I did this, asking:
- Do they know what caused this fire?
- How often turbine fires occur? Are they, for example, as common as traffic accidents are for automobile drivers?
- What about the oil leaks? the blade replacements? the three replaced yaw gears? Is this normal for a two year old wind farm?
- There are also some extreme conditions at Ocotillo. I have seen videos of those incredible dust storms. There are good winds at times, but they are more often 0-4 mph and there are occasionally incredible blow ups. Is this a an exceptionally difficult location?
Grappone never replied.
Maybe I asked too many questions.
I recently tried a different tactic, when asking Pattern Energy about the dust storms that have plagued Ocotillo since the site was built. I sent them the video you see below and asked for an explanation.
Matt Dallas emailed back, “Ocotillo Wind operates its equipment in accordance with our permits. The dust in the video was created by the wind, not by the turbines. You’ll see many of the turbines are not operating in the video because the wind speeds that day were so high they exceeded our maximum operating capacity.”
He was not aware that I had previously interviewed a site developer about dust storms on utility scale wind and solar sites.
According to Harvey Stephens, Vice President of Operations at World Wind & Solar, fugitive dust problems are caused by scraping large areas of the desert crust clean of vegetation. This leaves the underlaying soil exposed to the wind. There are remedies, such as planting grasses, windflowers and other materials as a protective blanket to stabilize areas disturbed by grading operations. When developers follow these procedures, the dust storms normally cease after a year or so.
Ocotillo has been inflicted by dust storms since construction began. In the video below, you can see one from August 2012.
I pointed this out to Matt Dallas, who did not reply.
Ewing and his wife suspect, but can not prove, that infrasound noise from the turbines might be the reason that are “tired all the time.”
He describes the sound made by the turbines, when they are turning, as “… the most irritating sound I have ever heard.”
(There is a recording on the podcast.)
“One of Pattern’s project managers came by and listened to the sound once and said he would take it back to whoever is in charge. We never heard another word about it,” says Ewing.
“We like to be outside. That’s why we are here in the desert. We have a fairly nice place here, with a lot of trees and stuff that we need to keep watered. It is difficult to do when they are making noise. It is kind of like a noise trespassing, that really shouldn’t be happening on your property.”
What’s The Problem?
Parke Ewing believes the problem is wind technology.
I agreed with him, until I saw some German sites in 2014. [NWW still agrees with Ewing.]
The problem at Ocotillo does not appear to be so much with the technology, as how it was used. This is not a good location for wind turbines. The site was politically expedient and there were massive tax credits in 2012, but should never have been built. Now the manufacturer and developer have made their money, and people like Parke Ewing are left with the mess.
September 3, 2017, Roy L Hales, theecoreport.com
Author: Enfield Wind Farm Advisory Committee
Report on Wind Turbines and Noise
What Is Noise and How Is It Measured?
Wind Turbine Syndrome
What Peer-Reviewed Literature Says
Conclusions and Recommendations
Wind Turbine Noise
Ice and Blade Fragment Throw
Other Mitigation Measures
Fire, Lightning, Mechanical Failure, Flicker and Other Miscellaneous Issues
Overview – Mechanical Failure, Fire, Lightning
Array Loss/Bearing Failure
Foundation Failure/Turbine Collapse
The Impact of Flicker on Horses
Lighting of Turbines
Aeroelastic Flutter Stability
Water Resources – Climate and Air Quality
Geology, Soils & Topography
Changes to the Turbines
Download original document: “Enfield Report on Wind Turbines”
Author: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
The total estimated energy consumption in the USA in 2016 was 97.3 quadrillion BTU (quads). (A quad is 1 quadrillion BTU.)
Note that 68.2% of the energy generated is lost as heat or in transmission. A similar figure (66.4%) applies to electricity generation alone, which remains dominated by thermal production (natural gas, coal, and nuclear), in which only around one-third of the energy contained in the source is converted to electrical energy.
It should be noted that production from intermittent sources, i.e., wind and solar, represents only a fraction of the turbine or panel’s capacity. A wind turbine, for example, generates electricity at an annual average rate of 25%–35% of its capacity. And it generates at or above its average rate only 40% of the time.
Source: LLNL Flow Charts