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Wind Farms Continue to Generate Noise Issues

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As towns, counties, and states across America work to establish permitting guidelines for wind farms, reports from many places continue to suggests that noise can be a real issue, especially within a mile of active turbines.

In Michigan, a resident near a new wind farm shares this: At 1500 ft, we thought we may be safe, but we were mistaken. I don’t know what the answer is for setbacks, but 1500 ft. is to close. Since the turbines began turning this fall, we have been amazed at the amount of noise they create. The sound is like that of a distant jet. The sound can often be heard indoors- especially at night. The nature of the noise is so out of place it is hard to mask. When we’re outside, the noise created by the turbine echoes off the buildings and seems to be amplified. When the wind is strong, the noise is masked, but about 75% of the time, the turbines are the dominant sound outside. A big concern we have at this time, is that as the weather improves (which we hope it will soon) windows will open, weather proofing will be removed and the noise that dominates the outdoors will intrude on the indoors even more. Read more from this person.

In New York, this: “When I signed the contract, I was assured there was no noise,” said Hal Graham. “”Don’t let them buffalo you. You know, I wanted to do something for the ecology. And now I can’t sleep at night, in the winter, with the windows closed. As the wind speed increases, the noise level rises. It rattles our windows … It’s like a jet engine going full blast.” More from the news report.

In Ontario, a bird lover notes that most species are avoiding their home now that it sits between two turbines: “The only tenants in the nesting box and brand new $120.00 Purple Martin House will be sparrows. The constant drone of the turbine closest to us is, in my opinion, comparable to the sound of the heavy duty cycle on a clothes dryer. The drone continues non-stop, 24 hours a day, and it will be interesting to see how long the sparrows and starlings continue to put up with it.” More from her here.

Local regulators continue to struggle to assess conflicting information from wind companies and reports such as these. In Orleans, NY, current law allows 50dB, and the wind developer is predicting 45-50dB at homes; a former Fish and Wildlife official there has measured night-time ambient noise at 26dB, and suggests the current rules are far too lax. He also says that stable night-time air occurs on two-thirds of nights, making it likely that actual sound levels will be higher than the company predicts (company figures suggest that noise will drop to 35dB at 3300 feet, far beyond the 1500-foot setback currently required). More here.

For further coverage of the apparent sources of wind turbine noise, reports from neighbors, and links to research and wind energy advocates and opponents, see AEI Special Report: Wind Turbine Noise Impacts

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