Wind energy is one of the safest ways to generate electricity.
Unlike other generation types, wind energy doesn’t require potentially hazardous activities to mine or extract its fuel, and that fuel doesn’t have to be transported – sometimes over great distances – to the point where it will be used. Our fuel is literally blowing in the wind. That helps increase the overall safety of wind generation.
Wind Turbines in the U.S.
Like any mechanical equipment, wind turbines do make some sound. However, that sound is minimal and often quieter than other ambient noises like wind blowing through crops or trees (since the turbines only spin when the wind is blowing strongly enough), and they are significantly quieter than common noise in agricultural communities like combines, farm equipment, or light traffic. In fact, you can carry on a conversation at normal speaking volumes right under a wind turbine with no problem. Clinton County’s ordinance stipulates a setback distance of 1,520 feet from an occupied dwelling, which means little, if any, sound from the turbines would be heard near or at a home, let alone inside the home itself. E.ON will conduct a comprehensive sound analysis to ensure compliance with the County ordinance.
The county ordinance stipulates a setback distance of
feet from an occupied dwelling.
From the American Wind Energy Association:
How loud is a wind turbine?
Independent studies conducted around the world, including the U.S. have consistently found no evidence that wind farms cause any negative physical health effects.
- Typically, two people can carry on a conversation at normal voice levels even while standing directly below a turbine.
- Many thousands of people worldwide live near wind farms with no ill effects.
- Emitting virtually no air or water pollution, wind energy is essential to reducing energy-sector public health impacts.
- Studies and government health organizations around the world have given wind a clean bill of health. For example, a Massachusetts study found no evidence for a set of health effects from exposure to wind turbines or for the existence of what some have tried to characterize as “Wind Turbine Syndrome.”
- A major study in Canada of over a thousand homes confirmed this again, stating, “No evidence was found to support a link between exposure to wind turbine noise and any of the self-reported illnesses.”
- Studies have found that a “nocebo” effect can take place, the opposite of the well-known “placebo” effect. The nocebo effect describes a situation in which individuals who are led to expect physical symptoms may actually experience these symptoms, whether or not the supposed cause of the symptoms is actually present. In this case, increased exposure to misinformation about wind actually seems to increase the likelihood that certain individuals will report negative health effects such as headaches or nausea, although no scientific evidence shows wind turbines cause any such health effects.
Shadow flicker refers to the moving shadows that a turning turbine blade can cast on houses when the sun is in just the right position at certain times of the year. E.ON carefully designs its projects to minimize the incidence of shadow flicker impacting surrounding houses. We make sure that flicker only happens for a few minutes a few days out of the year when the sun is at just the right angle.
From the American Wind Energy Association:
Shadow flicker is predictable, harmless, and passes quickly. It is based on the sun’s angle, turbine location, and the distance to an observer; it can be avoided by several methods.
- With modeling, shadows from moving wind blades are predictable and turbines can be sited to minimize flicker to a few hours a year.
- Shadow flicker typically lasts just a few minutes near sunrise and sunset and can be addressed through use of proven mitigation techniques such as screening plantings.
- The rate at which wind turbine shadows flicker is far below the frequency that, according to the Epilepsy Foundation, normally is associated with seizures.
- An expert panel for the National Academy of Sciences found shadow flicker “harmless to humans.” A study commissioned by the Massachusetts Departments of Environmental Protection and Public Health found that according to scientific evidence shadow flicker does not pose a risk for causing seizures.
- Local / county zoning ordinance restrict shadow flicker to 30 minutes a day and # hours a year.
As with any structure, ice can also build up on a wind turbine and its blades. This build-up can pose risks as the ice melts. The built-up ice can potentially come loose with temperature increases, wind, turbine motion, vibrations or gravity. We at E.ON take the risk of ice throw very seriously and design our projects with the safety of the community in mind. We always do the following:
- Monitor the turbines to enable us to deactivate them when ice accumulation poses a risk of ice throw.
- Create appropriate setbacks based on turbine height and blade diameter.
- Utilize feedback from on-site staff and others regarding physical and visual concerns to provide an additional layer of safety.