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I have been following a NIMBY story in the nearby town of Kingston MA after encountering this article and video on a friends FB page. You can use these coordinates to find the wind turbine they are talking about on Google Earth 41.978808°, -70.715810°
Here is an article that provides some background on the Kingston turbine.
I dug around to learn more. I was intrigued that someone who bought a home 100 yards from a divided highway would have this level of sensitivity to a relatively benign environmental factor. The shadow flicker that these residents are raising concerns about impact their homes for a limited time in the spring and fall at times of day when most people wouldn’t be home. I was interested to find that some recent research has shown that sensitivity to shadow flicker appears to be enhanced as negative press increases.
A similar situation occurred in Hull MA but without so much vitriolic negative press. The general response of homeowners nearby has been pretty low key. I spoke to one nearby home owner who initially didn’t want the Hull turbine but as their children embraced it they weren’t far behind. I initially thought I detected some ambivalence, so I asked them for clarification; “all things considered which outcome would you prefer, turbine or no turbine.” They were emphatic that they were glad it was there. I recently spoke to two other people who had interviewed residents near the site. All but one were fine with it and the one who lived closest – 500 ft, liked it a lot.
I think that NIMBY is sometimes justified; for example, in West VA where entire mountains are being leveled (see ILoveMountains.org.) Those folks have huge problems such as poisoned ground water, significant devaluation of property and a decimation of the neighboring landscape. And while the jury is still out on hydraulic fracturing there are some real concerns about it as well. Certainly in some cases where the drilling companies have been sloppy there has been some very troubling outcomes. As I watch the Kingston case I have to conclude, that in RE siting, NIMBY tends to be over-dramatized, backed up with distortions half truths and weak if not disingenuous arguments For example, the article I led off with ends:
“Shut the turbine off,” Alves said. “That’s the only thing I’ll be satisfied with…it just doesn’t make sense to put this [turbine] in the middle of a residential neighborhood.” ‘
A quick look Google Earth flyby shows that rather than being “in the middle of a residential neighborhood”, as the homeowner claims, the turbine is atop a landfill in a commercial and industrial area with a divided highway between his home and the turbine.
There is something called a nocebo effect which is the opposite of a placebo. You have probably heard that studies have shown that symptoms can be reduced by giving people pills that are inert while telling the patient that they actually have active ingredients to treat the symptoms. That is called the placebo effect. The opposite is the nocebo effect where symptoms can be initiated by power of suggestion. See this article. To date, the credible evidence on wind turbine siting suggests that the health impacts due to flicker, noise and infrasound are minimal and the preponderance of evidence suggests that to the degree that they exist they are primarily induced through the nocebo effect.
This is the website for the folks in the town who support the turbine Click Here.
I found this flicker study online, the CEC is apparently going to do another one. If it is consistent with this one, the neighbor in the video will see a total of about 15 hours of flicker in a year. Many of those that are complaining about the turbine are claiming that there was no study done but it appears that the town did a good deal of exploration on this – Here is the part of the town web site that has links to documents relating to their inquiry.
Here is a Powerpoint presentation on flicker. It provides some guidance on what is emerging as the standard acceptable flicker. In general the guidance appears to be 30 hours, average, annually with some discretion thrown in.
It turns out that flicker can trigger epileptic seizures for small high speed turbines. However flicker from large, slow spinning turbines such as the one in Kingston does not trigger seizures. In this document they have a study on seizure incidence due to flicker.
It is conspicuous that this has been blow into such a large controversy a similar project in Hull MA was handled in a way that seemed to reflect the desires of the community .
One wonders if there is a bigger hand in this .
Here is an interesting article in which it is pointed out that loss of control may be the cause of ‘Wind Turbine Syndrome’. From the article “Interestingly, it is vanishingly rare in farm families who are paid to have turbines on their land. “