Andy Metelka, an acoustics and vibrations specialist who has been studying the sound effects of wind turbines, was very careful about the conclusions he made from his studies.
He has just returned from a conference on wind turbine noise in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and shared his insights with a group of residents in Smithville.
Metelka has perfected his own sound measuring technique and a formula to isolate the sound coming from turbines from other background noise.
“There are no guidelines in Canada on infrasound regarding wind turbines,” said Metelka, explaining that further research could lay the groundwork for those regulations.
“I’m not here to discuss medical science, I’m not a medical professional,” he said. “I do not act on behalf of any party as a professional engineer.”
Metelka has been studying the sound and infrasound from turbines in Grey Highlands, a municipality just southeast of Owen Sound. Infrasound is the low-level noise that is not detected by the human ear.
Metelka concluded that both weather and the shape of the ground can affect how the sound travels, and that older farmhouses let more infrasound in than newer homes.
Metelka also concluded that infrasound is indeed present in homes near operating wind turbines, but he could not say what effect, if any, they have on human life.
Back in the 1960s, Yale psychology professor Stanley Milgram conducted a research experiment whose results shocked the nation.
Participants were told that they were taking on the role of ‘teacher’ in a study of methods to improve learning. An authority figure told the ‘teacher’ to administer increasingly powerful electric shocks to a ‘learner’ in the next room whenever a question was answered incorrectly. There actually were no shocks and the learner was part of the research team, but the ‘teacher’ heard increasing cries of pain with each ‘shock’ administered. Even as the intensity of the shocks approached the maximum of 450 volts, the authority insisted that the shocks should continue – that the anguished screams, the banging on the wall, the pleas about heart conditions, and ultimately the ominous silence from the other room should all be ignored.
It was believed that most people would defy the authority figure once they became aware that the shocks were seriously harming another person. But that was not the case: almost 2/3 of participants continued to obey the authority figure, administering ‘shocks’ until the very end.
I was reminded of the Milgram experiments recently while attending two Public Service Board hearings on new proposed sound limits for industrial wind facilities. Because there have been problems, a lower standard of 35 dBA, (down from 45 dBA) has been proposed. (The World Health Organization recommends 30 dBA.)
Those who live close to Vermont’s existing industrial wind facilities have described a range of symptoms that include sleeplessness, headaches, ringing ears, and nausea. For fifteen months, Shirley Nelson, who lived less than a mile from the Lowell wind project, kept detailed recordings of decibel readings (from a monitor installed at their home by the developer, Green Mountain Power) and the health effects she and her husband were experiencing. Entries from her ‘noise diary’ clearly demonstrate the sustained and cumulative adverse effects of living near the turbines at the previous standards.
The Therrien family, who lived near the turbines in Sheffield, pleaded for years for relief – from the PSB, the wind developer, the town of Sheffield, former governor Shumlin and other state officials – to no avail. Their symptoms? “Disturbed sleep, headaches, tinnitus (ear ringing), sense of quivering or vibration, nervousness, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, nausea, difficulty with concentration, memory loss and irritability.”
At the Montpelier hearing, the lawyer who represents the proposed Swanton Wind project told the Board to ignore these symptoms – dismissing them as coming from “complainers” and “outliers” whose testimony was just “anect-data”. Instead, he said, the Board should focus solely on submitted peer-reviewed studies that show no health impacts from proximity to industrial wind facilities
In other words: trust authority; ignore the pleas from the other room; continue administering the shocks.
What about other peer-reviewed studies showing that infrasound from industrial wind turbines does affect human health? And it’s hard to dismiss as mere “anect-data” the fact that deteriorating health forced the Therriens and their two young children to abandon a home they loved.
At the hearings, several residents of Lowell (perhaps believing that new standards would threaten their cash cow) not only implied that their neighbors were lying about the health impacts they’ve experienced, but claimed to live much closer to the turbines – with no ill effects – than they actually do. And the few supporters drummed up by VPIRG and industry promoter Renewable Energy Vermont callously waved off the impacts on humans, wildlife, land and water. Some actually called for raising the noise standard to make it easier on the industry.
Reading from talking points generated by VPIRG, someone commented, “There are only eight families complaining….”
What is the magic number that will elicit empathy from VPIRG? Thirty families? A hundred?
In the Milgram study, the pain the ‘teachers’ believed they were inflicting was justified by the supposed benefit of a better understanding of human learning. In Vermont, the justification from developers is that industrial wind is a ‘clean’ solution to climate change. And there are politicians, ‘environmental’ celebrities and non-profit organizations willing to put on a white coat and hold a clipboard to pose as the ‘authority’ on the industry’s behalf.
But for those who find clear-cutting, blasting, and bulldozing mountain ridgelines, degrading water sources, eliminating wildlife habitat, and killing birds and bats ‘clean’ and ‘green’, take a look at before-and-after photos of entire valleys in China destroyed by the mining of rare earth metals, a critical component in industrial wind turbines. Where there were once thousands of acres of carbon-sequestering grasslands there are now mountains of toxic sludge. Four thousand tons of material must be mined to produce the two tons of metals needed for each 3-megawatt turbine.
Production tax credits, the sale of renewable energy credits, and the requirements of state renewable energy portfolios have made the buildout of industrial ‘renewables’ very profitable for corporations, even when the climate benefits are marginal or non-existent. Utility law professor Kevin Jones at Vermont Law School describes all this as a ‘shell game’ that has actually led to an increase in Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Clever marketing has induced some of us to engage in moral relativism, ethics without substance, and environmentalism at the cost of its soul. If you find yourself arguing in favor of throwing someone under the bus because your favorite pop-‘environmentalist’ says it’s necessary, ask yourself what you would have done in Milgram’s lab.
Census of Agriculture recently released by Statistics Canada shines a light on some interesting statistics about renewable installations on Ontario farms. There are 2 465 wind turbines erected in the province as of 2016.
“About 10,255 farms have a renewable energy system, Stats Canada reports. Of those farms, about 85 per cent had solar panels and 15.7 per cent had wind turbines.
Approximately 5,180 farms in Ontario had renewable energy systems, the most of any province. 4,428 farms (85.5 per cent) of these respondents said they use solar panels compared to 906 with wind turbines.”
Big ‘Green’ and Mean: A Wind-Energy Giant Attacks Small-Town America
by ROBERT BRYCE May 2, 2017 4:00 AM @PWRHUNGRY
The world’s biggest wind-turbine company has filed lawsuits against five rural governments because they stand between it and millions in tax subsidies.
NextEra Energy, which bills itself on its website as “the world’s largest generator of renewable energy,” is suing a tiny municipality in one of Oklahoma’s poorest counties. In mid February, NextEra, which operates 110 wind projects in 20 states, filed lawsuits in both state and federal court against the town of Hinton, population: 3,200. Why is the wind giant suing the Caddo County town? Simple: Hinton stands between NextEra and nearly $18 million per year in federal tax subsidies. NextEra isn’t suing only Hinton. Since last October, the wind giant has filed lawsuits against five rural governments from Oklahoma to Michigan, all of which have imposed limits on wind-turbine development.
The company has also filed a libel suit against Esther Wrightman, a Canadian activist who opposed a project NextEra wanted to build in Kerwood, Ontario. Wrightman’s offense? She called the company “NexTerror” and “NextError” on her website, ontario-wind-resistance.org. That libel suit, filed four years ago, is still pending.
To be certain, the oil and gas industry has filed lawsuits against local governments that have sought limits on hydraulic fracturing. The difference is that NextEra is using taxpayers’ money to fund its courthouse mugging of small-town America. Between 2008 and 2015, according to a recent report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, NextEra accumulated profits of $21.5 billion but didn’t pay a dime in federal income taxes. Over that time frame, only ten other American companies received more in tax subsidies than NextEra. Nor does it appear that NextEra will be paying federal taxes any time soon. In its 10-K filing for 2016 with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company reported $3 billion in tax-credit carryforwards that it can use to directly offset tax liabilities in future years. Remember, tax credits are more valuable than a deduction from revenue or accelerated depreciation. As my accounting consultant (and brother) Wally Bryce, a CPA, reminds me: “You’d much rather get a tax credit because it applies dollar for dollar against what you owe the government.”
NextEra wants more tax credits. And it’s litigating to get more. But each lawsuit NextEra files against a yet-smaller rural town or yet-smaller website owner provides another example of the backlash against Big Wind and, even more appalling, how Big Wind is using the issue of climate change as an excuse to make a run on the Treasury. Since 2015, more than 130 government entities in states from Maine to California have moved to reject or restrict the encroachment of the wind industry. And while other wind companies have also sued small towns, none can match NextEra’s scorched-earth tactics……
Sir: Chatham-Kent municipal Corporation continues to make taxpayer funded investments that continue to end in taxpayer liability, when continually given evidence not to.
Municipalities should not be in the investment business. They are hired by taxpayers to prudently manage to create dividends, not to mismanage to create liability. The Bradley Centre, with hundreds of thousands of dollars in net annual losses; the Industrial Park, which accumulated a $20 million total to date loss; the Capital Theatre, having a total provincial and municipal gross loss of about many millions, not the skimpy losses generally reported; Kingston Park with a $2 million overrun in costs; taxpayer funded annual municipal wage and pension payout of about $138M, with only about $146 million in general annual revenues.
If I understood the recent clouded, scattered and incomplete municipal budget correctly, C-K has nearly $40 million in interest payments on such capital projects. Canada-wide, taxpayers are paying about $62 billion and $11 billion annually just to service the debt of Canada and Ontario respectively. All of day-to-day cash of government operations come from the private sector, you and I, but yet, governments continue to financially rape their only source of income by introducing about 120 taxes on everything we do, on every nickel we earn, and continue to make irresponsible and fool hardy investments that never comes out of their pocket book, only ours.
The Provincial Green Energy Act, paving the way for wind turbines, created a 70-per-cent hike in electricity costs, costs consumers an extra $37 billion, and under the Auditors report will cost us an additional $133 billion by 2032.
The auditor’s report confirms for each wind energy job created, three Ontario jobs are lost. The mayor supports wind turbines, and his short sighted thinking makes Chatham-Kent nickels and dimes, while the province is losing billions, whereby billions have to be made up by taxing us more to make up the losses.
Recently, C-K council approved an $8-million investment in wind turbines, cited by the mayor to give us an $11-million profit after 20 years, which will keep taxes down. This thinking is worse than a migraine and mirrors how the province manages tax dollars. More specific to the wind turbine investment. C-K will become “common” shareholders in 15 per cent of a foreign company, meaning if the company dissolves or liquidates or reconstructs itself we as “common” shareholders lose all to preferred stock holders, bond holders, creditors, etc., not to mention if no profits are realized due to provincial or legal intervention. $8 million from reserves invested with compounding interest could give us up to $15M after 20 years without risk. Taking money from reserves means we have to replenish it, either by cashing in bonds, creating higher taxes, reducing infrastructure investment or by other means.
We have reserves for good reason.
If any dividends were realized from the turbine investment taxpayers won’t see a dime nor will any reduction in taxes be apparent. C-K will create a separate corporation, under the Business Corporations Act, RSO- 1990 for this manoeuvre, transferring same to Entegrus, which disallows taxpayers, although it’s all your money, to not know what’s going on, unless Entegrus/Corix wishes you to.
Additionally, Entegrus is courting to grab up to $30 million more from Chatham-Kent taxpayers for future investments with private companies.
Companies like Entegrus are more inclined to use investment income as an indirect way to feed their own wages, pensions, travel, perks and allowances, office upgrades, company vehicles etc., before any benefit is given to the taxpayer.
Furthermore, having Chatham-Kent a wind turbine investor, how the hell can council and our municipality speak against the turbine company respecting any legal action, public safety liability or other?
Ireland’s wind industry has been put on notice. Damages and costs will be decided for the families adversely harmed by the noise emitted from wind turbines. The implications for the industry will no doubt reverberate worldwide. (Read prior court ruling by following link below)
“…neither the environment nor the economy is served by aggressive environmental policies that prove to be economically unsustainable. The energy transition requires good planning and sustained momentum.
But the province has yet to revise its policies to reflect this lesson. For instance, it has not repealed the Green Energy Act which set overly expensive rates and led to overly generous long-term electricity contracts. It has suspended, but not cancelled, the second round of its Large Renewable Energy Procurement (LRP II) process, despite forecasts showing that this additional electricity supply will not be needed.”
To build a cost-effective, low carbon, reliable and resilient electricity system, Ontario must learn from its mistakes and face its challenges and risks.
Written By: John Haffner, Mark Cameron, Jim Burpee April 20, 2017
“The Liberal government forced turbines on municipalities across rural Ontario against the wishes and concerns of residents and communities such as West Lincoln,” said Oosterhoff. “This stubborn initiative of the Liberals shows no respect for municipalities or for the ordinary concerns of Ontarians.”
“Industrial wind turbines are one of the causes of our sky-rocketing energy costs because of the unaffordable contracts made by the Liberals,” noted Oosterhoff. “Heat or eat is not a decision people should have to make.”
“The Liberals have a long history of ignoring municipalities and local residents. The NDP pretend to support local decision-making, but instead they supported the legislation that left municipalities without a voice on the placement of industrial turbines,” said Oosterhoff. “Tomorrow, they will have a chance to make amends and show respect for our communities by voting for my Motion.”
“That in the opinion of this House, the Government should place a moratorium on the installation of industrial wind turbines in unwilling host communities in the Province of Ontario.”
“This brings us to indefatigable wind warrior Esther Wrightman, an Ontario wind turbine refugee who fled to New Brunswick. Last year she filed a Freedom of Information request (FOI) with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry in order to obtain the wind industry’s mandatory bird and bat mortality reports. In January she finally received “loads” of them, for a hefty fee. The mortality numbers are disturbing. Esther writes:
As the bird and bat mortality reports are slowly uncovered, the numbers just seem to get worse and worse. I never imagined it could get this low, but then again nobody was releasing this info to the public, so how were we to know?”