Anything I try to provide to a pro-wind person, (in their mind) it’s anecdotal, it’s made up, it’s bogus, it’s propaganda from the anti-wind Koch brothers – One’s word, a hand shake, swearing on the Bible… is no longer good enough.
Like most other folks, when you’re woken up at night from a dead sleep, you have an idea of the culprit. Though it’s an unscientific account maybe of a dog barking or a youngster’s hot-rod racing down the side street, you don’t need a peer reviewed study to validate common sense or intuition.
The general experience with wind project promoters has been that they sell you on all the projected good stuff that will be realized and leave out parts about problems other communities or projects have experienced.
Neighbors are often told that wind turbine sound levels will be like a refrigerator’s hum. And when questions are in deed raised about noise issues in other communities, wind salesmen say that those turbines are older models and that the modern models are much quieter. This claim, by the way, has been debunked. A comparison of wind turbine manufacture’s data on these machines (old and new), sound levels at maximum power output is consistent and between 104 to 107 decibels.
I’ve asked many friends in my neighborhood and those across town, away from the wind energy plant, if their refrigerators wake them up at night. So far, friends with Frigidaires, Kenmores, Whirlpools and KitchenAids all have said that their refrigerators haven’t bothered them at night. The refrigerator comparison seems an obvious sales-pitch stretch.
Fast forward. Now you’ve got an industrial sized turbine operating close to your bedroom window. Before the turbine, you slept well, all things being equal, you slept peacefully. Suddenly, you’re repeatedly awaken in the middle of the night (repeatedly). Over time, because you haven’t had a good night sleep in your home since the turbine started operations, you become chronically fatigued. You tell your doctor that the turbine(s) make a lot more noise than a refrigerator and that they operate 24×7. All the doctor can do is confirm that you’re chronically fatigued and suggests sleep aids and/or getting more rest. You wonder to yourself whether you or the town decision makers missed the sleep disruption part of the wind promoter’s sales pitch? Or did they give that piece at all? They now tell you that there’s no reliable research to suggest that wind turbines can harm people’s health.
It’s clear that the turbines make more noise than a refrigerator, and your doctor has confirmed that you suffer from fatigue. You turn to your community leaders for help. Obliged to investigate, the town’s regulatory boards plead with the state to examine the possible problem which has seemingly occurred only after turbine(s) started operation (apparently the state is the authority whether the turbines are waking you up at night). The state does a literary review of current research and concludes that wind turbines can cause sleep disturbances. The state then tests the noise levels from your neighboring turbine(s) and find violations (validating the litany of noise complaints you’ve made).
The town decision makers put a curfew on the turbines so residents can get a healthy nights sleep. The adopted restriction (12 hours) is modeled after the local Board of Health’s existing regulation protecting resident sleep periods during trash-hauler operations. The town, because they’ve saw fit to protect you, is now losing loads of money because of the self imposed limited turbine operations. Meanwhile, one of the local regulatory boards (on two occasions) has ruled that the turbines are in deed a nuisance. And another regulatory board drafts a new wind turbine bylaw (adopted by Town Meeting) greatly restricting the turbine size of future proposed wind turbines in town. Yet, town hall leaders renege on the adopted plan of protection because it’s causing a budget deficit and they sue the regulatory board that voted unanimously that the turbines constitute it a nuisance.
Being driven to litigation to protect your health and the comfort of your home, you file an injunction and the court finds in your favor.
This whole saga signals to potential host communities that accurate information is not being shared, that standards of health, safety and welfare (before and after the investment) for you and your neighbors are expendable. And most importantly, wind turbines too close to where you live do not sound like a Frigidaire, Kenmore, Whirlpool or KitchenAid refrigerator at all.
From a wind turbine neighbor, it comes down to integrity. Who do you trust? I’m not questioning the need for alternative clean energy sources. I am questioning being told one thing and then finding out after, it not to be true.
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