The primary objections to the proposed $120 million wind-power project at Lompoc seem to be concerned with the potential deaths of birds and bats, and with the visual impact.
However, all large wind turbines generate a low-frequency noise that carries for many miles. While the incessant noise of the rotor blades may not bother all of the nearby residents, some of those people will find the noise objectionable.
This low-frequency noise phenomenon was first discovered when the large and powerful fans used to ventilate mines could be heard 15 or 20 miles away. The solution was to install electronic noise-cancellation equipment at each fan intake, using amplified sound waves of opposite phase to effectively cancel the pulsating sound of the fans.
That’s an ingenious fix that works well on a single fan, but it is impractical on a wind turbine. There is no such thing as a silent turbine, especially one with blades that extend more than half the length of a football field.
The technical issue is radio interference. Most of us older folk have experienced “airplane flutter” interference on our TV sets, caused by signal reflections off a passing plane’s wings. The blades of a wind turbine have a similar effect. Even if the turbine blades are made of composite material, they still will affect TV reception.
A more serious technical issue may affect reception of microwave signals by the Air Force’s Telemetry Receiving Station (TRS) on Sudden Peak. The turbines will be directly in line with the reception paths from most of the base’s launch pads. It’s hard to imagine a device that can be more disruptive to critical microwave signals than a huge wind turbine right in the center of the signal path. It might be instructive to erect just one wind turbine and assess its human and technical impacts, before proceeding with the project.
23 August 2007
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