Mar 30, 2009

Wind Turbine Syndrome?

Oregon News ran an article this weekend, I think, about health issues associated with wind turbines. "Wind Turbine Syndrome" apparently manifests itself with symptoms that include headaches, dizziness and memory loss. This is attributed to prolonged exposure to the noise of the turbines and vibration.

I don't know about that - I have to believe that living near an airport or an intersection is noisier than living near a wind farm. But I also know that anger, stress and frustration can take a very real physical, and emotional, toll on a person, so maybe there is something to this.

I am not sure know what to think. I have seen videos of turbines on You Tube made specifically about the noise issue - some say wind turbine noise is not a problem, others maintain that is a serious issue that is impacting anyone who lives near these units. Neither side seems to be particularly objective on the topic, and I suspect the true answer comes down to design and operating conditions, with older turbines being worse than new turbines.

At any rate, people are rising up and opposing this supposedly green energy source with the same vigor that I have seen applied to "dirty tar sands" oil and other conventional fossil fuels. I think the real challenge here is siting - we are all familiar with NIMBYs (Not in My Backyard) and you may have heard of BANANAs (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything), but the fact of the matter is that good sites for wind farm development are finite, and sometimes people live near those sites. And not every site is suitable for development, so try as we may, we are going to have siting conflicts with wind turbines, just like we do with transmission lines, pipelines and power plants.

1 comment:

  1. There's a big controversy about this where I grew up in Upper Michigan. Basically the community is divided between longtime residents who own land (stand to profit) and those who moved to the area more recently for an inexpensive retirement home.

    Of course, the people opposed to the turbines seem disproportionately concerned about wind turbine syndrome, migratory bird kills, etc.