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AEI_WindFarmNoise2011

AEI_WindFarmNoise2011

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Published by Jim Cummings
Our most recent overview of the issue, published June 2011. 55 pages, primary focus is looking at how our familiar community noise standards are working with wind farm noise, with brief coverage of low-frequency noise, health, and property values.
**Revision1 uploaded 6/28/11. Minor edits; substantive additions on page 22-23**
**Revision2 uploaded 8/29/11. Minor edits.**
Our most recent overview of the issue, published June 2011. 55 pages, primary focus is looking at how our familiar community noise standards are working with wind farm noise, with brief coverage of low-frequency noise, health, and property values.
**Revision1 uploaded 6/28/11. Minor edits; substantive additions on page 22-23**
**Revision2 uploaded 8/29/11. Minor edits.**

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Published by: Jim Cummings on Jun 20, 2011
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11/15/2012

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WindFarmNoise2011
Scienceandpolicyoverview
CompiledbyJimCummings
Contents
4Introduction:AEIsPerspective
Astartingpointforconsideringwindfarmnoiseissuesin2011
11ThreeKeyThemesfor2011
Alongwithacallforrespectfulengagementwithdifferingopinions/interpretations
13CommunityNoiseStandards
Onenoiselimitfitsall?(allnoisesources;allcommunities)Whatdothemorecautionaryacousticiansrecommend,andwhy?
31Low-frequencyandinfrasound,andhealtheffects
Alwaysinconsequential,orworthyoffurtherstudy?
37PropertyValues
Whatdoweknow?
42Appendices
CommunityResponsestoWindFarmNoise:NEWEEPpresentationsummaryAbitaboutAEI,andsomebackgroundonhowandwhythisreportwaswritten
53Footnotes
 
WindFarmNoise2011–Revision2,August24,2011
Page2of55
AcousticEcologyInstitute
AcousticEcology.orgAIEnews.orglisten@acousticecology.org505.466.1879
AEIWindFarmNoiseResources:AcousticEcology.org/wind
Preface:AboutthisRepor
It’sbeenovertwoyearsnowsincewindfarmnoiseissuesshoweduponmyradarhereattheAcousticEcologyInstitute.Inearly2010,IpublishedAEI’sfirstannualreportontheissue,inwhichItriedtomakesenseofthewildlyincongruousperspectivesthatseemtodominateourdiscourse:ontheonehand,windboostersminimizetheextentandeffectofnoisenearwindfarms,insistingthere’snothingtobotherourselvesover,whileontheotherhand,increasingnumbersofapparentlyclear-headedcitizenssaytheirqualityoflifeisdestroyedbytheincessantnoiseofnearbyturbines.Afewcranksharpingontheirlatestpetpeeve,orbravesoulsspeakingtruthtopower?Iswindenergyabenignkeytoourenergyfuture,orascourgeinourcommunitiesthatwe’lllivetoregret?IntypicalAEIfashion,theWindFarmNoise2009reportcamedownsomewhereinthemiddleonthesequestions.It’sclearthatwindturbinesareoftenaudibleinthesurroundinglandscape–oftenaudibletoahalfmile,sometimestoamileormore.Theymaynotbeloud,buttheycanbeheard;severalaspectsofthenatureofwindturbinenoiseseemstomakestheirsoundmorenoticeableandmoredisturbingthanothernoisesources.Insomecommunities,asignificantminority(aquartertohalf)ofthosehearingtheturbinesareupsetaboutthenewnoiseintheirlocalsoundscape;we’redefinitelyhearingfromfarmorethanafewlocalnaysayers.Atthesametime,mostwindfarmsarebuiltinareasdistantfromconcentrationsofhomes,andsocreatefewifanynoiseproblems.Inthewide-openspacesoftheUSwestandinreceptivefarmandranchcommunitiesinstateslikeIowaandTexaswheretheincomeiswelcomeand/orhomesarefewandfarbetween,noisehasbeenonlyanoccasionalproblem.TheissueofwindfarmnoisehasexplodedinimportanceoverthepastfewyearsaswinddeveloperssettheirsightsonruralcommunitiesintheupperMidwestandnortheast,whereindividualparcelsaresmallerandasignificantproportionofthepopulationholdsstrongtoapassionforthepeaceandquietofruralliving.InJuly2010,IwasaskedtotakepartinaDOE-fundedwebinartoprovidesomeperspectiveoncommunityresponsestowindfarms;theresultingresearchreviewopenedupfascinatingnewperspectivesonthedichotomyofresponseswehearinwindfarmcommunities,whichwillbesummarizedinthisreportaswell.Sneakpreview:workingfarmersandranchersarefarlessbotheredbylowandmoderatenoiselevelsfromwindturbinesthanarethosewholiveinthecountryforpeaceandrefugefromtheurbanandsuburbanlife.Thisisn’tsurprising,butit’scentraltothechallengesattheheartofcommunitysitingdecisions.Oneoftherecurringthemesyou’llfindhereistheideathatwhat’srightforonecommunityorregionmaynotberightforanother;whatIamtryingtoofferisasetofresourcesthatwillhelpcommunity,county,orstateplannerstounderstandlikelynoiseimpacts,andtomakechoicesaboutsetbacksthattheyfeelareappropriatefortheircitizens.ThisreportattemptstosharethemostusefulnewinformationthatI’vegarneredoverthepastyearorso.Forsome,itwillseemlong;Iencouragethemtoscanthetextusingtheunderlinedandcoloredsectionsasskimmingaids,anddiveinwheretheywish.Forothers,
 
WindFarmNoise2011–Revision2,August24,2011
Page3of55
AcousticEcologyInstitute
AcousticEcology.orgAIEnews.orglisten@acousticecology.org505.466.1879
AEIWindFarmNoiseResources:AcousticEcology.org/wind
itmayseemthatIglossoverimportantpoints;IwillmakemoredetailedsourcematerialavailableontheAEIwebsite.Ifyoudon’thavetimetodigestthefullreport,anotherapproachwouldbetofocusonthefirstseveralpages,whereIintroducethemainthemesofthereportandofferasenseofmyemergingperspectiveontheissue.ReadingorscanningtherestwillobviouslyhelpyouunderstandwhyIhavecometotheperspectivesIhold,andwillintroduceyoutosomeofthekeyaspectsofemergingresearch.ThebulkofthereportfocusesonwhatIseeasthemostimportant–andalsotheleastcontroversial–oftheemergingnewinformationonwindfarmnoise,theideathatexistingcommunitynoisestandardsmaynotprotectalltypesoftownsfromunacceptablelevelsofnegativecommunityreactiontowindturbinenoise.Overthepastcoupleyearsagrowingcadreofextremelyexperiencedacousticianshasbeguntoexaminethequestionofwhyweareseeingunexpectedlyhighlevelsofcomplaintsinsomewindfarmcommunities.Mostoftheseacousticianshavelongworkedasindustryandmilitaryconsultants(notwild-eyedradicalsbyanymeans),andeachoffersinterestingandimportantinsightsthatcanhelpustoaddressthequestion.Theseacousticsandcommunitynoiseexpertsarerespondingtotheirprofessionalobligationtoinvestigatenoiseissues,anddeservetobeheard.Theirworkreinforcesmylong-heldbeliefthattheclearlyaudiblenoisearoundwindfarmsisthecentralissue,andthataddressingthisissueistheclearest,mosteasilyunderstoodandjustifiable,approachtodealingwithcommunityacceptanceofwindenergy.Iwillalsoaddress,farmorebriefly,thetwoothernoise-relatedpolicyquestionsbeingpressedinmanycommunities:low-frequencynoiseandinfrasoundasitrelatestohealtheffects,andpropertyvalues.Bothofthesetopicsarefarhardertoassessthantheaudiblenoiseimpactsbeingprimarilyaddressedbymostoftheacousticiansfeaturedinthereport’sfirstsection.Whilethereisclearlymoretolearnaboutbothtopics,theyalsocanbecomequiteaquagmireforfolkslikemetryingtounderstandwhat’sknown,andforcommunitygroupsrelyingontheseasfoundationsfortheireffortsformoreprotectivesetbacks.PerhapsanotheryearwillfindAEIfleshingthesethemesoutinmoredetail,butfornow,I’lldomybesttogiveyouasenseofwhatI’velearnedsofaraboutthesehot-buttontopics.Ofcourse,nosummarycanbeall-inclusive,andbecauseofthis,anyreportbearssomeeditorialselectioninitsauthor(s)choicesofthemestostress.Inanappendix,Iofferasenseofmyhistoryasaneditoronsimilartopics,andmychoicesofwhattoincludehere,soyoucanjudgeforyourselftowhatdegreeyoucanplaceyourfaithinmeasanhonestbrokeroftheinformationpresentedhereaboutthiscomplexandcontroversialtopic.IhopethatwhatI’vegatheredhereisusefultomostofyou.

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