Posts Tagged ‘setbacks for wind turbines’

C-K business owner makes case for wind turbine setbacks

February 13, 2008

C-K business owner makes case for wind turbine setbacks

The need for proper setbacks in Chatham-Kent between wind turbines and homes and natural settings was voiced loudly Tuesday by Chatham businessman Harry Verhey.

Verhey told Chatham Sunrise Rotary Club members — of which he is a member — that he isn’t challenging the use of wind turbines, but is convinced there is an urgent need to determine setbacks that are right for the municipality.

“The recent proliferation of industrial wind projects will have a negative impact on the community,” he said. “The massive size of industrial wind turbines conflicts with the scale and character of the Chatham-Kent landscape.”

Verhey said the improper siting of industrial wind turbines will result in the loss of the scenic rural landscape, wildlife habitats and migration routes, peace, quiet and health of our citizens and future economic development opportunities.

Verhey made his comments while introducing Chatham-Kent planning official Ralph Pugliese, the club’s guest speaker.

“We are a unique community and cannot follow provincial minimum setback guidelines of only 250 to 600 metres,” said Verhey.

He said there is a need to come up with new setbacks that are right for the municipality.

“I love this community, its people, the rural landscape and the lifestyle available to us here,” said Verhey. “It’s my hope we will all be able to feel the same way in the future.”

Verhey noted Chatham-Kent is playing host to applications for the installation of hundreds of industrial-sized wind turbines.

“These turbines are of monstrous proportion,” he said. “The Greenfield Ethanol plant stack in Chatham is 260 feet high. The proposed turbines are nearly 400 feet high — as tall as a 40-storey apartment building.”

Verhey said there are many questions regarding how wind turbine developments will affect the surrounding area.

“Will property values decrease, will it stop new construction and future housing developments near by, is wildlife at risk and are there negative health affects?” he asked.

Verhey said he’s convinced the public is unaware of wind turbine developments in Chatham-Kent, planned locations for each turbine and any associated adverse affects.

“We need to evaluate the landscape of the potentially-affected areas, consult with the public and develop a criteria for the public input process,” he said.

Verhey said ads run in local papers by the proponents of wind farms aren’t enough — “for the most part the public is unaware of turbine developments and locations.”

He said significant cultural heritage landscapes, important bird areas, which include wetlands and staging areas, shorelines, the Thames River valley, small rural community’s areas for future development and rural homes need to be protected.

Club member Paul Roy of Pain Court said there is a need for the municipality to hold public meetings to help clear up the confusion that exists about wind turbines.

Larry and Linda Reaume of Erie Beach, club guests, said they would never have purchased their “dream” home at Erie Beach if they knew wind turbines were going to be erected in their backyard.

“We looked for a place to buy for years and finally settled on a home near the lake in south Chatham-Kent in 2006,” said Larry Reaume. “We had no idea the area was ripe for wind turbines.”

Source C-K News 

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Sound specialist offers expertise on industrial wind installations

February 6, 2008
Sound specialist offers expertise on industrial wind installations

[ News Watch Home ]

“Understanding Sound Associated with Industrial Wind Developments”, was the theme of the presentation by Rick Bolton, Engineer & Sound Specialist, and sponsored by Citizens for a Healthy Rural Neighborhood (CHRN), on Wednesday, January 30, at Perry’s Masonic Temple.

Though Wednesday’s inclement weather prohibited attendance by many from outlying areas, citizens and Town Board members from Perry, Gainesville, Leicester, and Orangeville were there. Mr. Bolton’s presentation was designed to convey a basic understanding of the complexities of sound, effects on humans, and flaws in current analysis standards being employed by wind developers in the U.S.

Mr. Bolton began by explaining that sound associated with wind turbines is an extremely complex issue, and one that needs thorough analysis. “Sounds are waves – just like light and water,” he said. These sound waves are measured in deci-Bels (dB, or dBA – A-weighted deci-Bels – most closely imitate the human ear).

“Human audibility is extremely sensitive,” he said. “In fact, far more sensitive than anything we can use to record sound electronically. While the human ear can detect to 0 dBA, the lowest range even the most expensive noise meters can measure is 14 dBA.”

Elaborating on the factors that can amplify sound, Bolton pointed out:

1.) Sound can propagate for over a mile, and even further over water;

2.) Sound gets worse in water (i.e. – ice, fog);

3.) Low frequencies can double sound by refraction off hard surfaces (hillsides, snow-pack);

4.) ‘Wave Coherence’, created by a number of turbines together, amplifies sound;

5.) When the wind is blowing, it can refract noise from the elevated source-point downward;

6.) Sounds below 30 Hz, termed ‘infrasound’, create serious health problems (turbines have been indicated as being a strong source of ‘infrasound’)

7.) Ice-loading on the front edge of turbine blade tips disturbs air flow around the blade, creating turbulence, and increasing sound.

8.) Modulation occurs when the blade compresses air as passing the mast of the turbine, and is worsened by large groups of turbines’ blades not operating in sync. (Bolton has never seen modulation addressed in any wind developer provided studies.)

Bolton explained the many ways wind developers methodology is flawed. Field measurements are not done correctly (i.e. – improper microphone placement, no justification for sampling sites, etc.); accurate samplings need to be done for a full year to account for seasonal variations, but aren’t; and computer prediction models wind developers rely on are inadequate because they don’t account for modulation, coherence, refraction, and icing.

Facts contained in Perry’s DEIS from the sound study done by Horizon for Perry were brought up that highlighted Bolton’s point that sound studies being done are totally inadequate: “5 monitoring locations; Survey was carried out over roughly a 3-week period; Unfortunately, 3 primary & 2 backup instruments were destroyed by water infiltration, so octave band data could not be collected for ALL positions for the entire 3-week survey; There were a number of periods of either inclement weather or low wind speeds – conditions that are not generally useful; General conditions of temperature, barometric pressure, & wind for the survey period are shown in plots below as observed at DANSVILLE, NY – some 20 miles southeast of the site.”

Illustrating and explaining his points with numerous charts and graphs that were part of his presentation, he also included examples and measurements from homes that had been abandoned by their owners due to the resulting life-altering health effects of living too close to turbines. Not surprisingly, these health problems have been linked to sleep disturbances.

The World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines recommend that sound level should not exceed 30 dBA for a good night’s sleep. WHO also unanimously agrees that noise levels greater than 42 dBA create sleep disturbances, and that disturbed sleep has serious health effects.

Bolton explained that rural country settings currently enjoy extremely quiet night-time noise levels of 20 – 30 dBA. However, wind developers typically propose 50 dBA as acceptable noise levels at property lines of neighboring homes to their industrial wind installations. They do so despite the fact that the NYS DEC recommends no more than a 6 dBA increase over existing night-time ambient noise levels.

“Every 6 dBA is a perceived doubling of sound, or loudness,” Bolton said. When you understand this, you can begin to understand the problems that are occurring from siting these facilities far too close to people’s homes in rural areas. Bolton’s research suggests that 3,000′ – 5,000′ setbacks from the nearest property line should be the rule of thumb.

Neither citizens, nor the town officials being rushed through zoning, siting, and approval processes by wind developers truly understand the vast difference between 30 and 50 dBA until it is too late. Bolton stressed the importance of “getting it right” before allowing industrial wind facilities to be built, since mitigation after the fact is not available. He has yet to see wind developers do any follow-up studies for those now experiencing problems. They simply ignore them.

Bolton also explained that NY Townships are perpetuating flawed methods by accepting, and placing in their ordinances, the 50 dBA sound levels being submitted by wind developers, without demanding justifications – despite the fact that this is contrary to SEQR rules. NYS DEC’s Environmental Conservation Rules for SEQR state that the noise pollution potential must be evaluated at each affected “receptor”.

NYS DEC’s Program Policy, “Assessing & Mitigating Noise Impacts”, states: “When a sound level evaluation indicates that receptors may experience sound levels or characteristics that produce significant noise impacts, or impairment of property use, the Department is to require the permittee or applicant to employ necessary measures to either eliminate, or mitigate, adverse noise effects.”

If our townships fail to hold developers accountable to required standards, “we will lose the privilege, and precious asset, of having the peace and quiet of the country,” he said.

Mr. Bolton then took questions from the crowd. In response to questions asking what he thought of being “surrounded” by up to 23 turbines within 1.5 miles of their homes, he answered, “I would be VERY concerned if I were you.”

When asked if he has conducted any studies in the Perry area, Bolton replied that he had. Those who attended Perry’s Public Hearing October 16, 2006, will remember Mr. Bolton adding his comments, and handing in the study he did for Perry to the Board that evening. (Mr. Bolton’s comments on the Noise Issue can be found in the Comments to Perry’s DEIS under H-1, pages 1-24.)

By Mary Kay Barton

Batavia Daily News