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Published on September 21st, 2012 | by Chelsea


Michigan’s Wind Farms: The Sound (of Crickets) and the Fury (of Crackpots)

September 21st, 2012 by  

Complaining about the noise of windmills falls in that whole ‘not in my backyard‘ phenomenon. Truth be told, wind turbines aren’t very loud, and crickets (and cars) are deafening compared to wind turbines. Check out this video below to see/hear:

In November, our friends in Michigan are going to vote on a big ballot initiative — proposal 3 — that requires 25 percent of the state’s energy usage come from renewable sources. Here’s to hoping voters take advantage of Michigan’s local power sources, including its abundant off-shore wind farm sites.

Source: Climate Crocks

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About the Author

is a former newspaper reporter who has spent the past few years teaching English in Poland, Finland and Japan. When she wasn't teaching or writing, Chelsea was traveling Europe and Asia, sampling spicy street food along the way.

  • What people just don’t understand and gosh it’s so HARD to get them to see this, is that it’s not just the sound from the turbines, but the INFRASOUND, which cannot be heard. UCLA and the Acoustic Society of America released a study earlier this year on the devastating effects of infrasound on the human body.

    Those same “waves” cause the lungs of bats to explode. If they’re capable of that, then what are they doing to people?

    You also have the shadowflicker to deal with.

    Plus that cost comparison between wind and coal at the end does not tell the whole story. Wind cannot operate without a constant backup conventional power sources fired up and standing at the ready to go when the wind doesn’t blow.

    But when they calculate the cost of wind, they don’t include the cost of keeping the backup power fired up. So theoretically, what you need to do is combine those two totals (for wind and coal) and THAT is what wind really costs.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Are you familiar with the inverse square law? Sounds like you aren’t. If you will read up on it and measure the distance you live from the closest turbine blade you may find that you can relax.

      (And notice that I didn’t need to type those letter all caps and they still formed a word?)

      You are incorrect about attempting to add “firming” cost to the cost of wind. Each source stands on its own. Do you also add “firming” cost to nuclear when the plant goes down for weeks or years?

      Fact is, we have enough dispatchable generation, storage and movable load on our US grids to allow us to add anywhere from 25% (Eastern grid) to 35% (Hawaiian grid) wind and solar to our grids without adding any additional dispatchable generation or storage.

      As we bring EVs and PHEVs to the grid those numbers will climb. We are now only at ~4% wind and solar combined so increasing fill-in capability is several years into the future.

      Oh, and that 25% to 35% was calculated prior to our present round of replacing coal generation with natural gas. Coal is down over 10%, possibly closer to 20% which means that we could up the 25% to 35% by roughly another 15%.

      Someone has given you a whole wheelbarrow full of bad information….

      • Celest

        Is this how the wind energy industry determines safe distances from wind turbines? You use the inverse square law for the propagation of sound to determine the theoretical “safe” distance from wind turbines, and that’s it? Let me count the missing data, and you can reply by enlightening me.

        Is there any actual measurement of infrasound levels resultant from turbines installed/operated by your company or companies you work with?

        What data or independent studies do you have on the impacts of those infrasound levels you measure on the residents living near wind turbines?

        What data or independent studies do you have on the impacts of visual phenomena (“shadowflickers”) on the residents living near wind turbines?

        Do the actual calculations used in the wind industry account for the following, and if not, why (offer data or independent studies supporting answers)?
        – Propagation through gas (air) and solid strata (earth) rather than empty space,
        – Buildings acting as resonators,
        – Altered overtone properties of infrasounds affecting the timbres of natural audible sounds,
        – Resonant amplification of other infrasounds in the locale (are they near industrial sites?)

        Who or what body actually determines what qualifies as a “safe” distance?

        I don’t have any current vested interest (that is, monetary) for or against wind power at this time. I’m not a land-owner nor does anyone I know work in the wind industry, which can be said about very few people commenting here.

        Currently, I feel solar is superior to wind environmentally (both humans and wildlife), though I could be convinced about marine applications of wind. On land however, solar seems more ideal, especially when rooftops are just sitting there. And please don’t play the old tune “Michigan is too dark,” when our overall annual solar exposure (averaged over several years) has been proven to be as favorable or better than Germany, one of the world’s leaders in solar energy.

        Oh, you want data on that? I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours.

        • Bob_Wallace

          The inverse square law is physics.

          There are many studies of wind farm noise. Reasonable setbacks are understood. The issue is muddied by anti-wind people posting crap.

          There are many infrasound studies. There are also crackpots posting crap.

          Solar does have fewer problems than wind. But solar plus storage is not cheap enough to replace wind.

          BTW, I’m off the grid with solar and I lived in Michigan for a few years. Michigan is not going 100% solar unless it gets itself a very long extension cord and hooks up to the SW desert. Germany has a wide range of renewable inputs, including a lot of wind.

    • Laura. I”m not sure where you live. But the windfarm proposal here in Michigan is to put the farm off-shore, in the lake. 2-3 miles from shore. The fish aren’t going to care about ‘shadowflicker’ and ‘infrasound’, if it does exist, fish don’t have lungs (except maybe those close to the nuclear power facility..lol).

      • marine life have actually been shown to thrive / do better underneath wind farms.

  • savvyone

    My wish for you, Chelsea, is a turbine right near your home so you can “walk a mile in my moccasins” and THEN right about how quiet they are.

    • Bob_Wallace

      How close to you live to a wind turbine?

      When was that turbine installed?

      Do you make any money from the turbine?

      What are the current siting regulations (required setback from residences) for your area?

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