In Massachusetts, Voting up Wind Turbines

December 17, 2013


In the Denio-verse, wind turbines are evil giants, purveyors of herpes and headaches, that upend cars miles away.  In the real world? Neighbors who know them, like them. When they notice them.
In Massachusetts, where public school students recently scored far above their peers in other states in science and math, and among the world’s leaders – wind turbines keep winning elections.

The Green Mile:

It’s happened again, this time in Plymouth. Once again, an effort to limit wind turbines was put before voters, citing hazy “health” concerns, and once again clean energy has won in a landslide.

The Plymouth Town Meeting on Saturday rejected a de facto ban on new wind turbines:

If approved, this article would have limited the construction of wind turbines to two overlay districts – one at the Camelot Industrial Park, the other along Commerce Way – and would have modified the required setbacks and the total height allowed. Opponents of the article suggested that if it were approved no additional wind turbines could be located in town.

Town Meeting Rep. Simon Thomas, part owner of the Camelot Wind turbine, said that Plymouth was already the toughest place in New England to try and get a permit for a new turbine.

The article would’ve required a two-thirds supermajority to pass, but didn’t even come close to a simple majority, losing 49-68. The clear defeat for turbine opponents comes just weeks after the Plymouth Zoning Board rejected Stop & Shop’s request to build a wind turbine, citing the dangers of an I think I might be able to hear it pandemic and don’t forget deadly shadows.

The Plymouth vote comes on the heels of similar election results over the last few months in the nearby towns of Fairhaven and Falmouth. Falmouth elected officials put a plan to tear down the town’s wind turbines before voters, who rejected it by a nearly 2-to-1 margin. And in Fairhaven, voters chose a pro-reality candidate for Board of Health over an turbine hysteria candidate, also by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.

While elected officials keep trying to pander to the vocal handful of wind hypochondriacs who show up to complain at meetings, Massachusetts voters continue to strongly support local wind energy projects. How many times to do they have to send that message at the ballot box before it sinks in?

But now, for the first time, a study by psychologists, engineers and built environment experts at The University of Nottingham, has found no link between the ‘measured’ level of noise from small and micro  and reports of ill health.

The research could be helpful in prompting pre-emptive action in future planning applications for small and medium sized wind turbines to help reassure those concerned about the impact of small and micro wind turbines on their wellbeing.

Midlands survey

This collaborative study involved researchers from the Faculty of Engineering as well as Social Sciences and was funded by the UK Energy Research Centre . It is the first project to examine how personality, and specifically ‘negative orientated personality’ (NOP), affects reported levels of non-specific symptoms like headache, sleeplessness, stomach upsets and general malaise. It was carried out as a public survey of 1270 households within 500 metres of eight 0.6kW micro-turbines and within 1 km of four 5kW wind turbines in two Midlands cities.

Dr Claire Lawrence from the University’s School of Psychology said: “We measured the actual noise from the turbines and used  modelling software that helped us to predict how much sound is actually heard by those living in the vicinity. We found there was no relationship between the ‘real’ level of noise and reports of ill health. ”

The personality traits measured from the 138 returned questionnaires were neuroticism, (propensity to be more anxious, to take longer to revert to an equilibrium), negative affectivity (the propensity to feel ), and also frustration intolerance (sensitivity towards frustrations, discomforts and annoyances).

The researchers concluded that the people who live near a turbine and can hear some noise, did not suffer more non-specific health symptoms than people who could not in reality hear the same sound. The study indicated that generally it is not the turbine noise per se that is causing the symptoms. Indeed, for those individuals who did not score highly on these negative orientated personality traits, reporting hearing the sound was not associated with symptoms. This association was only evident for those higher in these traits.

While there is general public support for renewable energy, and indeed the majority of respondents in the reported study were positive about wind energy in general, it is acknowledged that individuals are often more negative when faced with the prospect of having wind turbines near their homes. This research is the first study ever carried out to show the relationship between personality and perception of wind turbine noise in relation to a so-called ‘‘. The results could be significant in informing local authority decision-making on the increasing number of planning applications for wind turbines across the UK.

No big surprise here. As I’ve reported before,  your windbaggers are nutjobs, and should not be allowed to hold sharp objects, much less dictate policy. They are being defeated everywhere sensible people have the chance to make their voices heard.

33 Responses to “In Massachusetts, Voting up Wind Turbines”

  1. kingdube Says:

    Wind and Solar are progressive magic that (unfortunately) don’t live up to reality.

    • Wind turbines in Texas, known for our progressive magic, generated 9.2% of our electricity in 2012. The business section in the Dallas News, a famous Midwest hippie mecca, enthusiastically reported a 20% wind power increase in 2013 as well as record breaking capacity additions under development, including storage.

  2. Rob Kerr Says:

    Kingdubious, do you have any news of failures in the record number of wind and solar arrays installed in recent times? Perhaps you can highlight some tales of massive product recalls, or point us to hordes of disgruntled customers demanding their money back? Maybe they can’t complain because they don’t have enough power for their internet machines, eh, eh?! Because the burden of proof lies with you, laddie, if the consensus lies elsewhere.

    • do you have any news of failures in the record number of wind and solar arrays installed in recent times?

      Is that the goal?  Because if those wind farms and PV arrays aren’t actually leaving fossil fuels unburned, they’re not doing what was advertised, and what climate science says we must do.  From the post:

      Massachusetts voters continue to strongly support local wind energy projects. How many times to do they have to send that message at the ballot box before it sinks in?

      But are they sending that message based on facts, or propaganda?  You can point to any number of states where voters would remove evolution from the textbooks and replace it with “intelligent design”.  Does that make them correct?

      Face it:  the wisdom of crowds notwithstanding, popularity is not a valid measure of truth.

      The only figure of merit for the climate is GHG emissions.  Over at The Energy Collective, Willem Post looks at the actual CO2 reductions in countries with substantial amounts of wind on their grids and finds it’s far less than advertised.  Ireland’s net reduction is a mere 52.6% of the gross.  That should be worrying, and raise demands for better management of RE generators to make their results meet the promises.

      Mostly, this means smoothing their output and making it at least somewhat dispatchable.  How?  Batteries, compressed air, dump loads… there are too many ways to list in a blog comment.  All I can say is that the onus should fall on the RE generators, because they receive the public incentives to cut FF use and they should be the ones responsible for actually (not theoretically) achieving that end.

        • “Effective”, but the question is, effective enough?  The SciAm piece notably refuses to cite its source.

          I’m not going to pay for a copy of this Argonne paper to verify what’s being written about it, but it does mention this:

          Our results for the power system in the state of Illinois show significant emissions effects from increased cycling and particularly start-ups of thermal power plants.

          The graph in the abstract carries enough information to make some conclusions.  The curve of emissions vs. wind penetration is not a straight downward line; it curves upward considerably between 0% and 40% (which is the endpoint of the graph).  I am in the process of extracting numbers from the graph to determine the slopes and whatnot, but I can say just by eyeball that 80% reduction in CO2 is not in the cards.  Remember, that’s the minimum we need.

          Peter has declared that long comments are unwelcome here.  Since none of these issues are either simple or un-controversial enough to be dealt with in sound bites, I’m going to write up the analysis as a blog post and link it instead.  That will also allow me to include graphics, which I cannot do here.  You are welcome to comment at The Ergosphere.

  3. kingdube Says:

    I guess if your expected reality is that wind and solar will provide expensive, unreliable energy that requires enormous Fed/State/local subsidy then you might argue that they are performing well.

  4. That’s interesting. Green energy requires enormous subsidies! Have you checked the subsidies enjoyed by the oil and gas industry? How about coal? And then there’s nuclear, that requires exemption from accident risks and massive government financing. Does that count?

    You do understand that many of our oil sources are now past their half lives. Where do you think that energy is going to come from in the future?

  5. Nick Carter Says:

    I dunno, Dube. My conservative folks just bought solar and not a penny of gubment subsidies went to their purchase. The company that sold them the solar loaned them the money, their annual utility bills went down by about 500 bucks, and everyone seems happy…except the utility company that has pushed for gubment legislation to “protect” their “free market” interests. Government laws to protect the free market interests of a dinosaur industry. Sounds like protectionism to me. Nothing free market in that arrangement.

  6. Don’t expect anything but reality challenged unreferenced distorted diatribes (worthless opinion) from dubious sources. There are PV installations going up all over the place. Here is a nice PV installation plot to cheer you up. Solar is turning the corner.

  7. For now, I won’t question the efficacy of wind power, but I do question the great popularity of wind mills as neighbors (which is what this article was about).

    I can’t imagine that I’d want to live near a wind tower. Maybe if it was very small and non-obtrusive. I do have one friend who has one, but it’s small (a 400 watt model) and somewhat hidden behind a few trees (which reduces its effectiveness). I suppose that I could live with one of those tiny ones if it’s not noisy. But along the coast I’ve seen those big wind towers, and they are every bit as ugly as high-voltage transmission towers. I don’t know how anyone could say that they aren’t bothered by it, unless they’re blind. Really ruins the beach.

    Here in Taiwan, we’ve had communities protesting against wind farms because of the noise and visual pollution. Yes, everyone thinks wind farms are a great idea, just as long as it’s far away from where they live.

    Solar panels are at least quiet, and not highly visible.

  8. Nice video by Johann Harter about energy storage solutions and projected growth, enabling both higher solar and wind penetration.

  9. MorinMoss Says:

    Check out this impressive, real-time global wind map generated –

    You can zoom in or out using your computer mouse scroll-wheel, and can choose one of 8 map projections and one of 7 pressure levels by clicking on “earth” in the lower left corner.

    Here’s the 250 hPA wind patterns overlaid on an orthographic projection centered on North America.,50.23,988

    Some of the fastest winds are over 300 km/h (!) which you can see by clicking on them.

  10. kingdube Says:

    Guys, guys, guys…your miraculous vision requires compounded miracles.

    Energy storage solutions that don’t exist.

    Massive environmental impact solutions of those broken storage systems that do exist.

    Chronically unreliable and forever expensive power from wind and solar.

    Chronic inefficiency from fossil plants that have to instantaneously respond to changing wind and solar output.

    And for what end? To minimize carbon – the fundamental basis of life on Earth.

    The Earth was warming…naturally. Now it’s about to cool naturally. CO2 was never more than a tertiary, 2-bit player regarding Earth temp.

    Peak oil. Peak coal. Peak uranium. Destitute polar bears. Fire and brimstone. Global famine. Chronic disease.

    OK you just didn’t get a single thing right.

    Can we start to focus on things that do matter?

    • dumboldguy Says:

      The King of Dubious (Intelligence and Sanity) is 100% correct. We need to start to focus on things that DO matter!

      Like how are we going to convince Peter to release The Dube’s email address to us so we can track him and his family down and help them conduct an intervention before he hurts himself. I’m sure they love him and may not be aware of “what he does on the computer”—they need to know.

      And this comment of his rates four+ LLAD’s on a five point scale—that’s Lord Love A Ducks. I may start awarding them like the Pinocchios the WashPost fact checker uses, both as a measure of truth and the consternation-amazement-disbelief that they evoke.

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