New Jersey lawmakers endorse Wind Turbine Syndrome, calling for 2000 ft. setbacks

Dec 6, 2010

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

“The Legislature finds and declares that . . . recent developments in the area of wind power production have . . .  indicated that the noise and vibration stemming from the operation of large-scale industrial wind turbines may cause nearby residents to suffer from a health condition known as “wind turbine syndrome,” which may result in sleep disturbance, headaches, ringing of the ears, ear pressure, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, visual blurring, racing heartbeat, irritability, problems with memory and concentration, and panic episodes accompanied by internal pulsation or quivering sensations; that people have moved away from their homes to avoid the ill effects associated with “wind turbine syndrome”; and that medical, noise, and acoustics experts, as well as wind energy organizations, have indicated that incidents of “wind turbine syndrome” can be avoided if industrial-strength wind turbines are sited a considerable distance away from residential property.”

Click here for the bill.  Click here for the NJ Legislature website for the context of the bill.  (In the window that opens, where it says “Search by Bill Number,” type in S2374.)  Note that this bill has not yet been voted on.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, SENATE, No. 2374, 214th LEGISLATURE

INTRODUCED NOVEMBER 8, 2010

Sponsored by:

Senator SEAN T. KEAN
District 11 (Monmouth)

Senator ANDREW R. CIESLA
District 10 (Monmouth and Ocean)

Co-Sponsored by:

Senator Gill

SYNOPSIS

Prohibits siting of industrial wind turbines within 2,000 feet of any residence or residentially zoned property.

AN ACT concerning wind energy and supplementing Titles 13 and 40 of the Revised Statutes.

BE IT ENACTED by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

1. a. The Legislature finds and declares that industrial-strength wind turbines can be over 400 feet tall and have blades that sweep up to 1.5 acres in area; that, as a result of their size, these machines have the potential to obstruct scenic vistas, create large community eyesores, and reduce property values for nearby residents unless they are sited at appropriate distances from residential areas; that recent developments in the area of wind power production have further indicated that the noise and vibration stemming from the operation of large-scale industrial wind turbines may cause nearby residents to suffer from a health condition known as “wind turbine syndrome,” which may result in sleep disturbance, headaches, ringing of the ears, ear pressure, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, visual blurring, racing heartbeat, irritability, problems with memory and concentration, and panic episodes accompanied by internal pulsation or quivering sensations; that people have moved away from their homes to avoid the ill effects associated with “wind turbine syndrome”; and that medical, noise, and acoustics experts, as well as wind energy organizations, have indicated that incidents of “wind turbine syndrome” can be avoided if industrial-strength wind turbines are sited a considerable distance away from residential property.

b. The Legislature therefore finds that, in order to protect the public health and welfare, and in order to preserve the scenic vistas enjoyed by State residents and protect residents from unnecessary reductions in property value, it is both reasonable and necessary to prohibit the siting of industrial-strength wind turbines in or near residential areas.

2. a. No wind energy structure may be erected or installed in the State at a site that is closer than 2,000 feet from any residence or residentially zoned property.

b. No State entity may approve any plan, proposal, or permit application for a wind energy structure if that wind energy structure will be erected or installed at a site that is closer than 2,000 feet from any residence or residentially zoned property.

c. The provisions of this section shall apply only to wind energy structures erected or installed in the State subsequent to the effective date of this act.

d. As used in this section, “wind energy structure” means any on- or off-shore turbine, facility, farm, or other structure that is designed for the purpose of supplying electrical energy produced from wind technology, but shall not include a “small wind energy system,” as defined by section 1 of P.L.2009, c.244 (C.40:55D-66.12).

3. a. No municipal agency may approve any plan, proposal, or permit application for a wind energy structure if that wind energy structure will be erected or installed at a site that is closer than 2,000 feet from any residence or residentially zoned property.

b. The provisions of this section shall apply only to wind energy structures erected or installed in the State subsequent to the effective date of this act.

c. As used in this section, “wind energy structure” means any on- or off-shore turbine, facility, farm, or other structure that is designed for the purpose of supplying electrical energy produced from wind technology, but shall not include a “small wind energy system,” as defined by section 1 of P.L.2009, c.244 (C.40:55D-66.12).

4. This act shall take effect immediately.

STATEMENT

This bill would prohibit the siting of any industrial-strength wind energy production system within 2,000 feet of any residence or residentially zoned property. It would further prohibit any State entity or local government unit from approving a plan, proposal, or permit application for any industrial wind energy system that will be so sited.

The bill’s prohibitions are necessary in order to ensure that the increased use of wind energy in the State will not cause a significant obstruction of scenic views or reduction in home values for New Jersey residents, and, more importantly, will not cause New Jersey residents to suffer from the ill health effects associated with “wind turbine syndrome” – a condition that has been connected with the close placement of industrial-scale wind turbines to residential areas. Symptoms of “wind turbine syndrome” include sleep disturbance, headaches, ringing of the ears, ear pressure, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, visual blurring, racing heartbeat, irritability, problems with memory and concentration, and panic episodes accompanied by internal pulsation or quivering. These symptoms, which are continuing in nature, often force people to move away from their homes. Experts on “wind turbine syndrome,” experts in noise and acoustics, and wind energy associations, however, have all indicated that instances of “wind turbine syndrome” can be avoided if industrial wind energy systems are sited a considerable distance away from residential housing. Such distant siting would also alleviate potential problems associated with vista obstruction, and would ease the impact of industrial wind energy facilities on property values. Consequently, in order to protect the public health and welfare, and preserve the State’s scenic vistas and residential property values, it is both reasonable and necessary to prohibit the erection of industrial wind energy facilities within 2,000 feet of any residential property.

It is important to note, however, that this bill would not apply to the siting of small wind energy systems that are used primarily for on-site consumption purposes. “Wind turbine syndrome” has been associated only with the residential placement of large-scale, industrial-strength wind turbines. Moreover, small, personal-use wind energy systems are not likely to cause significant vista obstruction or the reduction of surrounding property values, as is true of their larger, industrial counterparts.

  1. Comment by Bill Heller on 12/06/2010 at 6:34 pm

    New Jersey is the most densely populated state, so a 2000′ setback will prevent most planned onshore turbines from being erected. S2374 / A3473 has been sent to committees in the Senate and Assembly. However, even if the bill passes, several communities, including Union Beach where I live, may be grandfathered in under the old absurd setback of 1.5 times the total height.

    You can learn more about the battles in Union Beach and Sea Girt at noturbine.com. On every page of the site there is a link to the bill and contact info for all committee members in control of the bill at this time. You can email them all with a single click, or write, fax or call them. Please do, even if you’re not from NJ.

    We need to apply as much pressure as possible and show that NJ and the world cares about this. And please ask that Union Beach and Sea Girt are included and that there should be no compromise on the setback!!!!

    Thank you!!!

  2. Comment by Preston McClanahan on 12/14/2010 at 9:14 am

    What should be the setback of wind turbines from a residence, depending on the terrain? I understand that a setback should be at least 1.5 miles, more if the topography is hilly. Legislated adequate setback is the best insurance for the health, welfare and safety against the futile grasp for energy from wind. Until this wind fad/swindle plays out, this is the best those affected can expect.

    Editor’s reply: A year ago, in her “Wind Turbine Syndrome” book, Nina Pierpont called for 2km (1.25 mi). She based it on her case series study. Since then, Michael Nissenbaum, MD, did a larger survey of those affected by the Mars Hill, Maine, turbines. He showed health effects out to 5km. I quote from Nina’s report on the Nissembaum study:

    Finally, Dr. Michael Nissenbaum, a Maine physician, presented results of a study of 79 adults living up to three miles from wind turbines in Maine, who completed (what are clinically called) validated questionnaires on sleep disturbance and general physical and mental well-being, divided into study and control groups based on distance from turbines.

    Dr. Nissenbaum found differences between the study and control groups in several sleep quality indices, and in the mental health component of the general questionnaire. Even more remarkable, when he pooled the data from study and control groups, he found a dose-response relationship out to about 5 km (3 miles) from turbines. Subjects up to 3 miles from turbines, whether they were initially considered to be in the study or control groups, showed effects on sleep and mood that varied directly with distance from the turbines, Dr. Nissenbaum reported.

    This is a valuable study. The surveys required information only about the subjects’ current state of sleep and well-being, without reference to the turbines. The impact of turbine noise is apparently seen much farther away than the 1.5-2 km minimum setback proposed by many researchers (including me), although there was a drop-off in symptoms beyond 1.4 km. The questionnaires did not sample the full range of Wind Turbine Syndrome symptoms, but provide a standardized and quantified measure of one important symptom—sleep disturbance—and of general medical and mental health in relation to turbines.

    Besides the Nissenbaum study, there is now a host of reports from around the world showing effects well beyond 2km.

    I think it’s fair to conclude that 2km is the absolute minimum for setbacks.

The comments are closed.