People from California to New York and from France to Germany are becoming aware of the problems with wind power due to its noise pollution, scenic disruption and unfulfilled promises. In Germany, many anti-wind groups have launched litigation against developers and government to either prevent wind farms from being built or to seek substantial financial compensation for the loss of the use and enjoyment of their homes. San Bernardino, California—the state’s largest county—banned the construction of large wind farms of over one million acres of private land because residents do not want their rural desert community littered with industrial renewable generators. In France, associations of local residents reported disturbances from the “wind turbine syndrome” where noise that is described as “piercing, preoccupying, continually surprising, and irregular in intensity,” is the frequent complaint. The spontaneous recurrence of the noises disturbs sleep, awakening individuals when the wind increases in intensity and preventing their return to sleep. It seems that the more people become familiar with the downsides of wind power, the less people support it.
In New York, the state legislature passed a bill that gave the New York State government authority over approvals for large-scale wind and solar energy projects, silencing the interests of local citizens and the governments they elect to represent them. The law—passed in April during the height of the coronavirus pandemic—abolishes siting boards, which included two residents from a community affected by a project. Instead, a new state agency, the Office of Renewable Energy Siting, is ruling on renewable energy applications. Faced with the threat of thousands of wind turbine farms, upstate New Yorkers produced a documentary about noise from local wind turbines. The video, which is posted on YouTube, is called “Arkwright Monitors Wind Turbine Noise,” and is about 30 minutes long.
In Massachusetts, the Town of Falmouth had documentation prior to the installations of its wind turbines that the wind turbines were too loud for residential locations. Nonetheless, the first Falmouth wind turbine began operating in 2010 due to a political agenda that sought to achieve 2000 megawatts of commercial wind turbine power by 2020 in Massachusetts. Six years later, up to 65 individual residents out of 45 households (including children) stated that their health and well-being were negatively affected by the operation of the turbines. (Sleep disturbance, headaches, increase in blood pressure, shortness of breath, tinnitus, vertigo, etc.). The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center had been following a commercial wind energy agenda and ignoring the health and safety of the general public affecting thousands of Massachusetts residents. The Town of Falmouth and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center were well aware of the wind turbine noise warning and kept it secret for 5 years.
Another example where the results were known before a costly enterprise was undertaken was in Canada where politicians again ignored the early warning. In 2009, the Ontario legislature passed the Ontario Green Energy Act—an act to increase Ontario’s use of renewable energy such as wind power. The act requires a schedule of subsidized electricity purchase contracts (Feed-in-Tariffs) that provide long-term guarantees of above-market rates for power generated by renewables. A recent analysis published by the Fraser Institute, Environmental and Economic Consequences of Ontario’s Green Energy Act, demonstrates that the Act has had disastrous impacts on Ontario’s energy rates, which will continue to escalate for decades, and will threaten economic competitiveness for the manufacturing and mining sectors.
The Green Energy Act caused major price increases for large energy consumers and additional price increases of 40 percent to 50 percent are expected over the next few years. The study expects returns to investment in manufacturing to decline by 29 percent and mining by 13 percent. The government originally promised that the Green Energy Act would create 50,000 jobs, which did not materialize because most of them were temporary, and the estimate did not account for the jobs that would be lost by increasing electricity costs under the Green Energy Act. A 2005 report commissioned by the government showed that if the province continued with ongoing retrofit projects of its existing energy-generation fleet, all of the claimed benefits of the Green Energy Act could have been secured at one-tenth the cost. That report was kept confidential from the public and was ignored by wind proponents.
A controversial Green County wind farm consisting of 24 turbines and 65 megawatts of capacity in the town of Jefferson near the Illinois border has been scrapped. The project was expected to generate about $250,000 a year in tax revenue for the town and county in addition to some $300,000 a year in rent for participating landowners.
The project had generated opposition from some residents who feared it would affect property values, health and views. In June, the state Public Service Commission denied a request to stop the project. A group of 56 people who live or own property within the 5,870-acre project area and did not have leases with the developer appealed the county’s approval, arguing that the county continued to gather information even after declaring the application complete and holding a public hearing.
Folks around the world are becoming smarter regarding problems associated with wind energy, including noise pollution, health effects, destruction of scenery and expensive subsidies, and are fighting their construction. And, some are even winning. These are lessons that the U.S. Congress needs to understand because the nation’s representatives just passed extensions to renewable energy subsidies that take tax payers’ money and gives it to the wind and solar industrial farms that U.S. residents are fighting. Just like the examples above, the U.S. politicians are following a “green energy” agenda and ignoring the health and safety of the American public, something which may come back to haunt them as consumers and voters become more aware of the impacts of industrial renewable energy production.