“Turbine torture” (Massachusetts)

Sep 29, 2010

“The garden that was a sanctuary to me for 30 years is now more like a torture chamber. When the turbine first went into operation in March 2010, and then through April, I tried to acclimate myself to live with this thing. . . . The noise these turbines make is unlike regular noise. It is not the loudness of the noise but a characteristic to it that gets in your head and becomes entrenched.
“At least two persons have thought of suicide while this issue drags on through the creep of political process.”

—Barry Funfar (9/28/10)

I am an abutter to what the Town of Falmouth, Massachusetts, calls their WIND 1—their first wind turbine, a 1.65MW Vestas 400 foot tall goliath. Since it went into operation in early 2010, quite a number of us abutters have suffered serious medical detriments and a gigantic loss of quality of our lives from the noise impact of this machine.

My own home is 1662 feet from the turbine, and the effects of the sound on me have caused

  • anxiety
  • stress
  • nervousness
  • sleep deprivation
  • hypertension
  • migraines
  • dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • palpitations
  • irritability
  • anger
  • upset stomach
  • depression

These ailments are well documented by my medical providers.

After my writing letters and speaking with many town and state government officials (including the local health officer, State Health Commissioner, and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection—wrecking agency—several times each over many months), my State Representative, Tim Madden recently secured the information that a first step is for the town to complete a noise study of the turbine’s impact on the surrounding area and furnish that to the State Dept. of Environmental Protection.  (If someone had told me this in the beginning, it would have saved me a tremendous amount of frustration in attempting to communicate with my local and state officials.)

The noise study is now complete, and, wouldn’t you know it, the turbine passed by a squeak the 10 dB increase in ambient Mass. noise regulation, and (except for a couple of locations under certain modeled conditions) the town’s windmill bylaw of 40 dB. The Massachusetts noise regulation is from Sept 1, 1972 and the town’s windmill bylaw is even older.

Giant wind turbines such as Falmouth’s were not even close to being invented then. The noise these turbines make is unlike regular noise. It is not the loudness of the noise but a characteristic to it that gets in your head and becomes entrenched. The sound can go on for days, or it can be absent, or it can be intermittent. When it is not there, one listens for it and is fearful of its return.

The garden that was a sanctuary to me for 30 years is now more like a torture chamber. Some of the abutters have started using the term “turbine torture.” When the turbine first went into operation in March 2010, and then through April, I tried to acclimate myself to live with this thing.

After dropping into a three-month depression, I finally avoided my own home for the month of August—and pulled out of the depression.  I returned on Labor Day weekend to find that after ten minutes of hearing the turbine, my anxiety and panic condition were returning. At least two persons have thought of suicide while this issue drags on through the creep of political process.

At the end of the sound study presentation meeting today, Assistant Town Manager and leader/chair/whatever, Heather Harper, of the wind turbine project suggested we have a follow up meeting in 45 days. One abutter asked what we are to do to cope with the turbine noise from one delay with the town to another.  Ms. Harper had no answer for that, but the abutter’s attorney did counter with a suggestion of 30 days.

It all comes down to setbacks. Proper setbacks of at least one mile to homes. As the turbines get bigger the setbacks will need to grow.

Anyone out there whose town or neighbor is proposing a wind turbine, I recommend for you to do your homework now before the machine is up and running, and you begin to plan to sell your home. I have been told, by the way, that if you are trying to sell and a turbine is visible from your home,  your potential buyer list will drop by 50%.

One last comment—and I had no intention of plugging her book here—but Dr. Nina Pierpont’s book, “Wind Turbine Syndrome,” is a good place to start your research. She has taken a lot of flak from the Big Wind industry—but where are their studies of turbine-induced illness? Even worse, our own government has not studied the problem even as it continues to subsidize Big Wind to the hilt.

Wind developers and government appear to be in bed together under the sheets of a green mania.

  1. Comment by Paul Adams on 10/06/2010 at 8:25 am

    What is so depressing here is that the vast majority of comments and opinions on this issue are from wind farm enthusiasts, and these enthusiast never actually live near windfarms. The typical commenter says either they live (presumably from choice) in far noisier places, or that they got out of their car and listened to turbines thousands of feet away for 5 minutes.
    I do not know who is right about the low frequency noise (though invariably the turbine enthusiasts seem far less reflective and knowledgeable than the objectors) but I do know that if there is money involved people become unpleasant and dishonest.

  2. Comment by Lee Garrisson on 03/29/2011 at 6:14 pm

    Turbines are not some little thing for the regular guy to do to save the planet. Wind turbines are huge, industrial power plants on a stick!

    Unlike any other industrial-sized power plants, they sit unprotected high up in the air. When they burn or get torn up in high wind, they spew toxins for miles on the wind. Rare earth metals and toxic chemicals are released over the rooftops of their neighbors. The three or four-story-deep foundation holes are full of twisted rebar and concrete. The spinning blades cause the very earth to vibrate from all that mass of steel.

    Wind turbines are a crime against the environment, and enemy of nature!

  3. Comment by Frank Haggerty on 10/10/2011 at 9:03 am

    Wind Energy Siting Reform Act Hearing Cape Cod October 20 Barnstable High School 2011

    The Massachusetts Constitution affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals. It forbids the creation of second-class citizens. Yet, in the mad rush to implement green energy policies, the state of Massachusetts is creating a second class group of citizens through the poor siting of commercial wind turbines.

    This is what happened in Mattapoisett as a result of the attempt to site a commercial wind turbine 650 feet from residential homes.

    In 2004, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC), the quasi-public agency tasked with encouraging renewable energy technologies in the state of Massachusetts, gambled $5.28 million in public funds to purchase two new (at the time) Vestas V82 – 1.65 megawatt wind turbines. The Collaborative’s plan was to sell the towers to municipalities in an effort to jump-start local public renewable projects.

    Orleans was first approached but decided not to proceed with a project. With the turbines warehoused in Texas at a cost of $3500 a month, MTC’s next stop was Mattapoisett. By this time, 2007, the warranty on the towers had expired and project was becoming politically embarrassing. MTC officials set out to persuade Mattapoisett to buy and erect the unused turbines on 35 acres of town-owned land. They hired UMASS engineering students to prepare a report entitled “Wind Power in Mattapoisett, Marion & Rochester: Siting Considerations for a Met Tower and Fatal Flaws Analysis for a Wind Turbine.” The twenty-three page document was filled with significant, fatal errors regarding project siting. For example: the report claimed there were no locations in the project area that were designated by Audubon Society as Important Bird Areas (IBA). The fact is that Ram Island in Mattapoisett, located less than 3/4 of a mile from the proposed turbine site, is the chief nesting area of all the Roseate Terns in North America. The report failed to identify the substantial wetland areas in the area where the turbines would be erected It also assumed a town-owned right-of-way to the property where none existed. Our group in Mattapoisett, Concerned Citizens for Responsible Wind Power, was forced to hire experts at our own expense to counter the misinformation in the report.

    The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation was complicit in the process. Working with the MTC-Renewable Energy Trust Fund, the DCR issued permit number 22811A on January 16.2007 for a meteorological tower at Naskatucket Bay State Reservation. The DCR skirted Article 97 of the Amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution (land use) by telling local residents the state owned land and park was being used for “educational purposes.” The Naskatucket Bay State Reservation is immediately adjacent to the 35-acres commercial wind site in Mattapoisett.

    The turbines proved a costly, divisive fight in Mattapoisett. Today, Mattapoisett is turbine free but the Town of Falmouth did not fare as well. Those same 2 turbines are now sited in Falmouth MA less than 800 feet from residences. For over a year more than fifty Falmouth residents have complained about regulatory noise and human annoyance noise. Our fellow Massachusetts’ citizens now suffer from the noise and shadow flicker of the turbines.

    The MTC, which now operates as part of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) takes renewable energy taxes from our electric bills and develop sloppy, poorly defined turbine project proposals. And we are forced to pay again to protect our homes from their incompetence.The wind turbine fray is sparking class warfare. Time after time one section of town, usually the blue collar section, has been selected to lose their property rights for a perceived “good” of all the others in town. Even today years later negative and bitter feelings still exist between residents in Mattapoisett over the wind turbine. We feel bewildered and betrayed by our own government, which is maliciously trying to steal our land through the poor siting of commercial wind turbines. We have lost our democratic rights and have become second class citizens, facing the theft of our land through regulation.

    The siting of turbines to close to residential homes is making people sick and the turbines have been sited too close to schools .

    Thanks Frank Haggerty ,Concerned Citizens for Responsible Wind Power Mattapoisett

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