Wind-generated electricity faces headwinds from homeowners

December 18, 2014 By and    

The propane industry has had decades of experience in dealing with the “Not in my backyard” battle cry from energy activists and other under-informed opponents.

Propane industry members have faced resistance to everything from the placement of an aboveground residential tank in a backyard, to new bulk storage at a plant or satellite location, and to a game-changing storage facility like Finger Lakes LPG in New York. Experience, patience and an excellent safety record usually pay off when it comes to propane storage and distribution improvement projects for our clean American energy.

In similar fashion, renewable energy advocates, especially wind turbine crusaders, are finding strong resistance to the placement and operation of wind farms to supply the grid. The champions of wind-generated electricity are struggling to deal with the “Not in my backyard” battle cry of opponents. Environmentalists are assuming that consumers will be completely satisfied with the declared utopia of wind-generated electricity and are now facing homeowner opposition and, in some cases, outright hostility toward the operation of industrial wind turbines.

Critics of wind turbines are quick to point out some obvious and some, as yet unproven, claims that could make a case for severely limiting the placement and operation of wind farms in the future and even affect the viability of some wind farms already in operation.

One of the more obvious issues with industrial wind turbines is the noise from the revolving turbine blades. In some cases, this noise can be audible inside a home more than six miles away. While this noise is not at dangerous decibel levels, it is objectionable and can cause health issues. Recent noise objections have turned to more difficult-to-measure infrasound, a low frequency sound pattern being produced at reportedly dangerous levels in industrial wind turbine operation. Homes near wind farms in Wisconsin and several other parts of the country are being abandoned by homeowners due to claims of nausea, headaches and other symptoms brought on by the sound characteristics of wind turbine operation.

Another common complaint of homeowners located in that big “backyard” of a wind farm is “shadow flicker.” Shadow flicker occurs when the rotation of wind turbine blades causes alternating periods of shadow and light on adjacent property. Shadow flicker, while not a proven health hazard, certainly is an irritating visual phenomenon to most people. Proper siting of wind farms can help to minimize the effects of shadow flicker on neighboring houses but does not seem to be a priority for wind-farm planners.

The other less-talked-about concern with wind farms is their somewhat unpredictable effect on local weather. Wind turbines remove energy from the wind, and that causes change. Some effects, such as ground warming and drying for miles around a wind farm, are already known, but cumulative effects on the weather and ultimately the climate are unknown and should be studied. Climate-change fanatics should take note.

Don’t confuse industrial wind turbines that supply the grid with small turbines designed to directly supply a home or other building. In off-grid applications, the small turbine’s variable output is balanced by battery storage and usually supplemented by an on-site backup generator. A propane backup generator is an excellent partner with renewables in this type of wind turbine application and is usually a gateway to other propane usage points in the building.

Electricity is your main energy competitor, and industrial wind farms are gaining a toehold in electricity production. Learn more about the gross inefficiencies of industrial wind farms that can never be overcome by taxpayer-funded government subsidies at www.wind-watch.org. You need to learn the pros and cons of all of your energy competitors to be able to successfully sell propane-clean American energy.

Now you know some of the reasons homeowners are crying out loudly “Not in my backyard” when it comes to wind turbine farms.

May winter winds lift your holiday spirit. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Tom Jaenicke is the founder and principal adviser at ATomiK Creative Solutions LLC. He can be reached at tom@atomikenergysolutions.com or by calling 810-252-7855.

 

1 Comment on "Wind-generated electricity faces headwinds from homeowners"

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  1. GFS Prez says:

    “Game changing storage facility….”? “Climate change fanatics….”? This article isn’t biased……