Government wind plan is abusive

The way the wind energy program has been imposed on rural Ontario is more than a shame – it is an abuse.

Watford Guide Advocate – May 12th 2011

I read with interest the recent article based on interviews with two households experiencing negative health effects from the turbines sited near Kettle Point and Ravenswood. What struck me most was Laura Wilde’s statement, “…she has a tall dresser leaning against the south-facing window in her bedroom to help muffle the noise. On worse nights she will throw a few pillows in between.” 

Clearly she is having a problem with intrusive noise that is causing sleep disturbance, and the obvious source of the disturbance is the wind turbine noise.  After 10 PM there would be little else in a quiet, rural community to cause someone to be suddenly awakened. Her experience is not singular, rather it is the very essence of most complaints about wind turbine noise – sleep disturbance. Repeat this experience over many nights and other more serious health problems will develop. Sleep disturbance  is a well-known cause of serious health effects, and acknowledged by the medical community.

Why is this happening?  One would expect as the ground wind dies in the evening, the turbines would cease turning and there should be no noise. There is another feature of wind turbines that is obvious, but overlooked. They are not “ground sources” of noise like a highway or an industrial plant. They are “aerial sources” more like a helicopter albeit one that remains in one place. At the height that wind turbines reach , 80m – 130m ,  wind conditions are quite different than they are at ground level. 

The dirty little secret the wind industrydoesn’t want you to know is a phenomenon called, “WindShear”, which describes a condition where the ground winds are very light or nothing at all; but, the upper level winds are blowing very strongly. Upper level winds blow at a more constant velocity than ground winds because the temperature is cooler and much the same, day or night  -”stable atmosphere” is the term. Ground winds vary more due to the surface temperature difference between day and night. During the daytime surface heating from  sunlight  causes convection currents to rise,and so mix the upper level winds with the surface winds. As a result, the wind speed is constant from 0 – 100m or more. In the evening the surface heat subsides and the ground winds drop.

Think of a summer night and how still it is at night. However, at 80m – 100m the winds can be blowing at  20km/h – 40 km/h, fast enough that the turbine is producing near full power and noise. This is a condition of high wind shear. High wind shear values are common throughout all of SW Ontario; and, not surprisingly, are highest nearest the lakeshore where Laura Wilde lives. The meteorological towers the wind companies put up are basically a hoax – they already know that their machines are tall enough to “harvest” the upper level winds – that’s where the power is.  Wind shear guarantees their profit – at the expense of  residents sleep. Conditions of high wind shear will occur from 50% to 70% of time over the course of a year, mostly at night.

To make matters worse, wind shear will actually accentuate the noise of the turbines. Post construction measurements have shown that the slight “swishing”noise caused by the blades passing the tower, which is usually about 1dBA – 3 dBA during the daytime, will become a pronounced “thumping” at night, increasing to 5dBA – 15dBA under conditions of “high night time windshear”. The noise will also carry further, as it tends to follow the”boundary layer”  of wind shear, much as it will when it travels over water.  

So, the basic problem is that much of the wind turbine’s production will be at night when people are sleeping– or trying to. Little wonder the companies never explain anything about wind shear and its effects on noise. People are not being given proper information. The “community consultation” meetingsare little more than farce. The MOE is protecting the interests of large corporations – not residents. 

The way the wind energy program has been imposed on rural Ontario is more than a shame – it is an abuse. It has and will  cause serious health issues for a significant portion of the population.

This is a program which rural Ontario must confront, and repudiate. With the hundreds of turbines that are planned for the area (that we know of),there will be no refuge – town or country. The people of Ravenswood and the Lakeshore area will not be alone – others will suffer too. Many people will be displaced. Where will they go?

Harvey Wrightman

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Posted on May 19, 2011, in Health, Noise, Watford Guide Advocate. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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