The roar over wind turbines

What does a coal plant sound like?

“Doreen Reilly said her family can’t sleep at night because the wind turbine less than 1,000 feet away sounds like a “jet liner hovering” over her Kingston home. During the day, Reilly said, she gets headaches because the spinning blades from the 400-foot-tall structure cause sunlight to flash like “a strobe light” throughout her home.” [Boston Globe]

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3 responses to “The roar over wind turbines

  1. Noticing a faint flicker for a few seconds during the day is not a valid objection to the wind scam. I wish people stopped turning the last-resort arguments and exaggerations that never work and instead focused on it being a scam. Nothing hurts more than an effective scam perpetrated on you. The turbines themselves do not cause any provable harm to anybody, but people picking our pockets to install them do. Focus on the culprit, please.

  2. I mostly agree with you, Gene, but I wouldn’t want to live near one of those giant bird processors.

    • I probably wouldn’t want to live near one myself, but I don’t feel strongly about it. I know I could, if I had to, or if it was expedient. I am not sure what to think about the bird processing issue, mostly because I have no first-hand knowledge of it. I lived close to this site for several years:

      http://www.rwe.com/web/cms/en/310882/rwe-innogy/sites/wind-onshore/united-kingdom/in-operation/summary/

      and I used to walk under those turbines. What I can say about noise: the claims that it causes any health issues directly are bunk in my opinion. In moderate wind, I could only discern the blade noise from about 30 metres away. Nobody lives that close. In high wind, everything makes noise — trees, grass, rocks, and buildings — those noises swamp any turbine noise. So I think when somebody mentions a “jet liner hovering” (if that made any sense at all), I would decipher that as referring to the general character of the noise, rather than its strength. The gear noise is so low I could only hear it with my ear pressed to the pylon. So if there are any health issues caused by turbines, they are mediated by annoyance and hormones — very much like secondary smoke (which I hate, by the way). So if the argument is “This noise, when I am able to discern it, reminds me of the turbine’s presence and of the swindlers who took my money to install them”, I am totally agreeable. I could experience similar feelings myself. But as far as measurements go — total bunk. Comparing the level of wind turbine noise (at any distance) to that of a jet liner is a 50db exaggeration. In fact, I find the wind turbine noise much easier to ignore or tolerate than motorway noise. And I notice, lots of people really like to live next to a motorway (think access).

      The flicker issue is similarly overblown. You need to be perfectly aligned with sun and the turbine to catch any of it — how often does that happen and for how long? I surmise, the effect of turbine flicker on people is that of a reminder, rather than a direct stimulus. They are reminded of the scam and become enraged. I would. But not because they flicker in my eye for a moment. Because the swindlers keep peddling the stuff on the telly, in daily papers, and through school teachers.

      I don’t know enough about the bird issue, but I accept it as possible that it might be similarly overblown. I have not seen enough birds near the Farr site to be killed, let alone the corpses. There are resident grouse and occasional gulls around there; sometimes migratory birds fly by. On a good day, you can see a harrier or two. Or a raven. Over about three years, I have not noticed any dead birds on the wind farm. However, a short distance away, on A9, you can probably see a dead bird on any 5-mile stretch of the road, any day. I saw owls killed by the bus I rode twice during the 3-year period, and saw a few more dead ones driving by. Go compare.

      Why don’t we protest against passenger busses killing owls? Probably because we view them as a necessity, while the bird deaths by a fast-moving windshield are considered an unlikely accident.

      I can’t dismiss the windmills-killing-birds-en-masse argument, but it should be suspect until we see first-hand data.

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