Professor: 'There's a lot of misinformation out there' about wind turbines

State board to vote Monday on Greenwich windpark.
Aaron Krause
Aug 19, 2014

The Ohio Power Siting Board will vote at its meeting Monday on whether to approve a proposed windpark in Greenwich Township.

The project is one of several listed on the agenda for voting by the board's members.

The global wind energy development company Windlab has applied to construct a windpark that would cover about 4,650 acres of privately leased land. It would include 25 wind turbines with a total generating capacity of up to 60 megawatts of electricity.

The Ohio Power Siting Board, a separate entity within the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, has the final say as to whether the park is built. Their next meeting is set for 3:30 p.m. Monday at 180 E. Broad St., Room 11B, Columbus.

A group opposed to the project, Greenwich Neighbors United, has brought up concerns about the effects of the turbines' noise on human health and wildlife.

Recently, Greenwich Neighbors United (greenwichneighborsunited.com) invited Phil Hartke, past president of the Illinois Farm Bureau in Effingham County, to speak to the group about his own opposition. Hartke said his children have suffered from sleep deprivation due to wind turbines around his home. One of them, a 495-foot tall, 1.6 mW turbine, sits 1,665 feet away from his home, he said.

His 7-year-old daughter, Sophia, wrote as a class assignment her feeling about the turbines.

"You may think wind turbines are good but when you have 50 by your home...You can't sleep in your own room and you try to sleep but you can't because of the wind turbines' (noise).

Hartke has compared the sound to a powered-up diesel truck parked outside one's bedroom.

"I don't think kids should have to put earmuffs on to sleep," Hartke said.

But Duncan Estep, a Lorain County Community College (LCCC) associate professor who teaches engineering and alternative energy, said that's a stretch.

"There's a lot of misinformation out there," said Estep, who also teaches technicians to work on turbines. He doesn't have a stake in the proposed Greenwich area windpark.

"They do for a fact make noise," Estep said about turbines, but described it as a "whooshing sort of noise."

Estep said he's stood under turbines and the rotating blades resulted in a "soft whoosh" kind of like a breeze in the trees.

Estep said he can't imagine wind turbines keeping people awake at night when they're 1,600 feet away any more than the sounds on a windy night.

Larger turbines move slower than smaller ones and make less noise, he added. When they're about 1/4 of a mile away from where you live, they're hard to hear, Estep said.

During Hartke's address to members of Greenwich Neighbors United, he said as a result of nearby turbines by his house "our enjoyment of the backyard, garden, outbuildings, treehouse and creekbed has been taken away and replaced with nausea, headaches, irritability and stress."

The educator said there's no reliable research to suggest that wind turbines can harm people's health.

However, if you stand directly under wind turbines when they're operating, they can produce a vertigo type effect, he said.

Occasionally, bird will fly into them, Estep said.

"As a society we do kill a lot of birds," he said. Glass windows, for example, "take out of a lot birds."

Estep cited statistics from the American Wind Energy Association, which he said indicates less than 1 percent of all bird deaths are attributable to wind turbines. Over a decade, one seagull has flown into a turbine by the Great Lakes Science Center off Lake Erie in Cleveland, Estep added.

The associate professor, who read a recent Reflector story recounting Hartke's talk, said the residents are concerned because of a possible change coming to their neighborhood. Any possible change can cause uncertainty, Estep said.

"Wind and solar are good in the sense that they don't continue to burn fuels," Estep said.

Still, the energy community needs a mix of alternative and traditional energy. That's because fossil and nuclear sources of energy are more consistent; they generate power on demand. Turbines, meanwhile, generate energy only when wind blows, Estep said.

When it does blow, and windmills are in operation, a lot of people who live among them "have no problems whatsoever," said Monica Jensen, vice president of development for Windlab.

"Anything I try to provide to an anti-wind person, (in their mind) it's perceived, it's made up, it's bogus, (it's) propaganda from (the) wind industry" even if it's peer-reviewed from the scientific community.

"It's never good enough."

Comments

Contango

Re: "away any more than the sounds on a windy night."

Dr. Estep has never experienced a sleepless "windy night"?

Try building them in the more expensive neighborhoods and see the amt. of NIMBY opposition.

H*ll, even Ted Kennedy was opposed to 'em:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/16/us...

Cliff Cannon

" NIMBY " Ain't that the bottom line, to nearly change proposed, irrelevant to whatever that change maybe ?

Theodore P. Har...

(From real life wind turbine noise victim:)
How far is Mr. Estep's house from the nearest wind turbine??
My mistake was to make a short visit to a wind farm to see for myself that the turbines were benign. I never tried to sleep in a house near wind turbines until it was too late and they ruined mine. The pleasant "whooshing sound" you hear outside is nothing. The thumping air pressure pulse felt inside our home is at a level which does not allow that last bit of relaxation for us to sleep. The best comparison I can give you is the time when you are stopped at a red light with a loud stereo system pounding in the car next to you. When the light turns green, it is a relief to start driving and getting away from the disturbing (annoying) noise. So, think about that situation, but the sleep disturbing noise is not just a 30 second momentary problem. It is always there, like the dripping faucet which you cannot fix. For the dripping faucet, call the plumber. For the wind turbine, convince your community leaders that these are bad and keep them away, OR, be ready to shell out hundreds of thousands for a good attorney and scientific experts to help recuperate your losses. Good luck, Greenwich.

SherwinForOhio57

I attended one of the meetings where Mr. Hartke gave a demonstration simulating the sound that is emitted from a wind turbine 1665 feet from his son's house (I assume that is you, Theodore)and the sound was annoying to say the least. 58 decibels of low frequency hum at 1665 feet is enough to drive anyone out of their home. This is only one of the unintended consequences of wind turbines.
Bob Sherwin
Candidate for Ohio House District 57

Really are you ...

How do you like me now? For years I have been talking about making a SSPEG device. (Laughs) Have no faith, do not believe.

togbert71

And you are still just talk....

hit the road jack

I heard these things will not last long enough to pay for themselves,oh that's right,we'll just raise the electric rates by 3 or 4 times then maybe they will pay for themselves.

The Answer Person

"I heard that..." Would you care to SHARE your sources? Otherwise...

Contango

For one: Wind turbines in the north need built-in heaters in order to prevent icing of the blades - inefficient.

SherwinForOhio57

Another unintended consequence of wind turbines; they can throw ice up to 900 ft. away.

hit the road jack

T-A-P: Do your own research,its not that hard and everyone but you knows that they will never pay themselves off unless the Govt. foots the bill.either way they are not going to get the investment back.
They are probably made in China anyway and no one but them benefeit from that!

JACKEL

I thought the tests done at Plumbrook determined they weren't suitable n this area. Does the one at the Legion ever turn ?

TrollingMotors

My GOP rep said that those fans take all the wind and there wont be any wind if we build them.

The best thing we can do is stay with OIL, that will keep the children safe!

TakingCrap

There is a very good CBC documentary about the effects of wind turbine farms around the world.

http://www.cbc.ca/doczone/episod...

Cliff Cannon

@TakingCrap : Fascinating link you provided here Thank you very much for that. Further, if one followed all the side links the story provides, one should be pretty well up to speed on wind power.

I for one came into this debate totally in favor of wind power,because it is century's old, it reduces pollution, as well as reduces the ability of terrorist's to shut down America's entire power grids.

So having read each of the links this fascinating CBC documentary. I remain in favor of wind power---- with this caveat.

The location of wind farms really does need to be chosen very carefully. The thousands of wind turbines surrounding Palm Springs Calif. seem perfectly placed ( in the desert) The hundreds of turbines in Webster City, Iowa don't seem to be a major problem to that scantily populated rural community and the turbines in.....

Which brings us back to Greenwich. If the turbines are to come. Then it seems at the very least a 'buffer zone ' of additionally purchased land where folks could choose to live in or not live in surrounding the turbines might be the best way out of this tricky problem.

Because let's face it. The time's as well as the planet demands that mankind develop different sources of power to move himself. Yet, nobody want's that new source in their backyard, do they ?

Thanks again 'TakingCrap' for this most fascinating link on wind power

aboggs2011

Mr. Estes most certainly has a stake in the wind industry, regardless if it's a specific project or not. He's an associate professor teaching students on how to work on wind turbines. He has a lot of nerve saying that wind turbines aren't noisy. He's by far an expert on turbine noise. Pray for those suffering the negative effects of industrial plants being built in quiet rural settings.

Buckeyewife

Greenwich residents have repeatedly asked for another public meeting so our concerns can be addressed by Windlab. The Ohio Power Siting Board has not honored those requests so far. It also appears that the OPSB always approves wind projects...always.

My home will have seven turbines within one mile. The one closest to me is less than 1500' from my home. Several are within a half-mile. I've tried to learn as much as possible, and if the turbines are built, it may be horrible living in our home.

This is not just a Greenwich problem. There are two other commercial wind projects in the works for Huron County. Apex Clean Energy (http://www.apexcleanenergy.com/p...) has two projects (Emerson Creek I & II and Firelands Wind) which include portions of Huron County. There is not much information about the Emerson Creek project, but the site says the Firelands Wind project will be larger (35 to 45 turbines) than what's proposed for Greenwich (25 turbines).

Hopefully, recently passed legislation will throw a wrench into those projects, and other county residents won't be forced endure turbines with inadequate setbacks.

Unfortunately, that legislation will not protect Greenwich Township residents. The project is likely to be approved prior to the effective date (9/15/14) of the legislation.

aboggs2011

@ Buckeyewife - I too have made the same observation that the OPSB is only there to approve wind projects. To date, not one has been denied a certificate. Even after Kim Wissman promised Champaign County residents that the OPSB would not approve more than one project for our area, approximately two years later another phase of the Buckeye Wind project was rubber stamped. It saddens me that am unelected board, with no vested interest in our community, could make decisions that will cripple the quiet enjoyment of our property!

mbainbridge

Well coming from someone who has a degree in wind energy and has erected 100's of tower, maintained towers, and has studied them tremendously I would agree with the article completely. The average person has no idea what they are talking about. Dr. Estep describes the noise perfectly as they sound. If they are making a low frequency vibration something is wrong and it needs fixed. Like anything else with a bearing the runout can cause issues. And if you stand at 1000' from any utility scale turbine you can't hear them. Obviously they spin when there is wind and the wind sound on your ears covers and noise that far away. As for the ROI that some of you have mentioned its around 6-8 years currently on the utility scale. Life span of 30+ years and a built in bond to pay for removal if they aren't upgraded. Its change that most are afraid of. And yes, I live by wind turbines... The small noisy ones.