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Interesting survey of residents within half-mile of wind turbines

Effects of Noise on Wildlife, Human impacts, Wind turbines Add comments

This one just popped up, though it’s from last spring: a seemingly quite comprehensive survey of people living within a half-mile of one of the major wind farms in Wisconsin that has triggered noise concerns.  The results reinforce the emerging picture: many people are being affected, but negative impacts are not inevitable or universal.

The survey was returned by over 200 families, just under half those who live within a half-mile  or so of at least one turbine in the Blue Sky Green Field wind project, which covers 10,600 acres of farmland.  It would have been interesting to see some of these numbers broken out to see responses from those with several turbines in within a half mile, but for now, this is what we learn:

  • Overall, 50% were bothered by noise; an equal number were not
  • Of those within 3000 feet, 56%  (90) were bothered by noise, while 44% (72) were not; beyond 3000 feet, 3 of 10 families reported noise issues; among those who did not specify a distance, 15 were troubled, and 19 were not.
  • Of 23 respondents who had leased land for turbines, 9 (39%) noted that noise was a problem for them, and 6 (26%) said they would not so, if they knew then what they know now.
  • 30% reported negative effects on pets, farm animals, or wildlife; 70% saw no such effects
  • 25% said their sleep was interrupted at least once a week; 75% had no sleep issues
  • 33% reported various stress-related health issues, while two-thirds did not.
  • 62% said the setbacks should be a half mile or more; 22% supported the current 1000 foot setback.

Once again, we are left with the murky social question: what proportion of the population is it OK to bother?  Should we move turbines further away (thus sacrificing some sites) in order to reduce impacts on the scale we see here? Or, with a healthy majority of people reporting no negative health impacts, is it fine to proceed as we have been?  I suspect that the answer to these questions is equally clear to some on each side of the issue, while many others likely struggle to find a balance that makes sense.

See this recent AEInews post summarizing three recent scientific papers on annoyance and health impacts from wind turbine noise, which lead to similarly murky conclusions.

One Response to “Interesting survey of residents within half-mile of wind turbines”

  1. » Blog Archive » DOE study says wind farms don’t affect property values…but… Says:

    […] statistical molehill, I would note that these results correspond quite closely to survey results of residents around wind farms, which suggest that for a small but noticeable minority of residents within a mile, and especially […]