Gary and Barb Jennissen are concerned. And they are not alone.
While wind energy is the new “green” alternative type of energy that is taking storm across the Midwest, the Jennissens don’t believe its all its cracked up to be and vow it could even be hazardous to one’s health.
“We have read many articles about the audible and inaudible noise industrial wind turbines produce,” the couple said in an e-mail. “One source after the other reports how harmful low frequency sound is to human health.”
The Jennissens live near Padua where a proposed wind farm is in the works. The Jennissens vow that wind towers could lead to sleep disturbance, fatigue, vertigo and headaches and request a setback of at least three-fifths of a mile between a turbine and a residence.
The county is expected to make a decision on its setback requirements Dec. 21.
In 2007, the National Research Council of the National Academies (NRC) reviewed impacts of wind energy projects on human health and well-being. The NRC observed that wind projects create benefits and burdens. The noise originates from mechanical equipment inside the nacelles of the turbines and from the blades.
According to the study, the most problematic wind turbine noise is a “whooshing” sound produced by the blades. Newer turbines have upwind rotor blades, minimizing low frequency “infrasound” (i.e., air pressure changes at frequencies below 20-100 Hz that are inaudible). There is also a nuisance called a “shadow flicker” where a shadow is cast each time the blade makes a rotation.
The World Health Organization recommends a setback of at least one mile from people’s homes.
Stearns County will be discussing its wind energy ordinance this week. The county set up a committee to look into the project and whether or not the county’s original 750-foot setback was enough.
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