What makes a person who has been in the alternative energy business for over thirty years, shut down his home building business (Energy Star certified), spend most of his time, as well as his savings, while racking up mileage traveling to different communities, feel compelled to “bad mouth” certain alternative energy projects?
The answer is an improperly sited wind turbine.
I live in Falmouth where there are 3 wind turbines. All are 1.65MW, 400’ tall with 135’ blades that weigh 7-1/2 tons. One of the turbines is 1320’ from my house.
The problem is not wind power. The problem has to do with size and distance. Any structure of this size, especially with massive moving parts, does not belong 1320’ from anyone’s house. Nevertheless, it is there. All that I can do is tell my experiences, while at the same time hope to educate the public.
Picture a 747 jumbo jet spinning around, 200’ in the air. Add in high, gusty winds. The 747 wants to spin as fast as a pinwheel. Instead, by tilting and twisting the wings, the 747 is forced to spin slower. Similarly, this is how wind turbines capture the energy in the wind.
The forces involved in this transfer of energy (besides the electrical energy), are very dynamic. High, gusty winds verses 23 ton turbine blades!
Experiencing these tremendous forces is frightening. And, yes, it can get jet engine loud.
But the most distressing and harmful thing about the turbine is the constant and repetitive low frequency pressure pulses that are generated during the downswing motion of each blade (every 1-1/2 seconds). This action forces out a pressure wave, which in turn creates a wake in the air, much like that in the water behind a boat with a motor. It is when in this wake that the effects from the turbine are the worst.
Try this: Hold your arm out the car window as you travel down the road. Every 1-1/2 seconds, alternate your palm from vertical to horizontal. Feel, hear and sense what happens. Next close all the windows, except leave one in the back open 3”. See how long you can stand that repetitive pulsing sensation. Regarding the low frequency part, I’m sure all of us have experienced the very low base tones blasting from an approaching car, most times unaware of where the car is. All you hear is the sound. It is piercing.
It seems to be coming from everywhere.
Hopefully the similarities mentioned above will give the reader a slight indication of what a turbine produces.
Over and over and over. Pound….Pound…..Pound. It never stops. Windows, nor walls, earplugs nor noise machines can stop it. This pulse has a unique ability to travel very far, as it bounces off of everything. It has recently been proven that the intensity of the pulse is higher inside a home.
Pound…Pound….Pound. Soon you can’t sleep. Frequent headaches appear. Heart palpitations. And what is that strange pressure in my head and ears? Heart rate and blood pressure increase (The pulse actually mimics the heart beat-this is a terrible feeling!) You begin to have problems with balance, and irregularities with hearing.
Pound…Pound…Pound. It never goes away. Not only is it unhealthy, it is like torture.
All these symptoms and others were experienced by the members of my family, as well as numerous other families in the neighborhood. Some experienced these symptoms within days of the start of the turbines. Others more slowly. For me it took almost 2 months. But the results have been devastating-physically, mentally and financially.
After nearly 1 year of turbine abuse that resulted in a visit to the emergency room (insomnia, dehydration and chronic bronchitis), and in a desperate and passionate outburst before our Select Board, the turbine was ordered to be shut off when wind speeds reached 23 mph That was last March, 2011.
The turbine has been off now since early November, (due to a vote of support from town meeting members), while we wait on “mitigation options”. Except for the ringing in my ears and sensitivity to loud or sudden noises, all the symptoms have gone away.
One certain thing that we have learned is that the only possible and successful mitigation option is separation. It is very simple. These industrial size wind turbines do not belong anywhere near residential areas. There can be no compromise.
Please consider this first hand personal experience when planning and regulating alternative energy projects for your community. 400’ wind turbines in residential neighborhoods is not the way to do it, believe me, please, especially when there are better options.
Energy conservation leads a long list of non-invasive methods that must be pursued in this fight for self-sustainability, and against the problems of global warming.
I will be in Shelburne Falls this Saturday, January 28th at 7:00 p.m., (along with my neighbor Annie Hart) and Dr. Nina Pierpont (via skype) to talk about the realities of living under wind turbines, and to answer questions. This event is free. Please attend. For more information: www.shelburnewind.info.