Research

Wind Turbine Syndrome? A Survey of Midwestern Residents

 A new survey came out today which questioned residents in the Midwest about their thoughts on renewable energy and included questions about wind turbine syndrome.  The following quote is from an article in Midwest Energy News titled Midwesterners not buying ‘wind turbine syndrome’:

 "A bipartisan poll on energy issues released earlier this week found that in six Midwestern states – Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin – only 14 percent of respondents believe wind  turbines harm human health.

 The survey of 2,477 voters was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and FM3 on behalf of RE-AMP, which publishes Midwest Energy News.

Among the states surveyed, the lowest percentage of people who believe wind turbines cause health problems (7 percent) was in Iowa, a state that leads the nation in proportion of energy from wind.

Meanwhile, the highest percentage believing such claims (21 percent) was in Wisconsin, a state which has far fewer wind farms and where some political leaders have in recent years been hostile to renewable and distributed energy."

Relationship Between Wind and Residential Property Values in MA

No Evidence of Residential Property Impacts Near Wind Turbines According to Third Berkeley Lab Study

 

Massachusetts-focused study finds other factors, such as proximity to highways, beaches have price impact

 

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) along with University of Connecticut analyzed more than 122,000 home sales near 26 wind facilities (with over 1,500 within a mile of operating turbines) in densely populated Massachusetts, yet was unable to uncover any impacts to nearby home property values.

“This is the third of three major studies we have conducted on this topic [the first was published in 2009, and the second last August], and in all studies [using three different datasets] we find no statistical evidence that operating wind turbines have had any measureable impact on home sales prices,” says Ben Hoen, the co-author of the new report.

 

Hoen is a researcher in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division of Berkeley Lab.

 

One of the unique contributions of this most recent study is that impacts from turbines as well as a suite of other environmental amenities and disamenities were investigated.  The study found strong evidence that highways, major roads, electricity transmission lines, open space and beaches impact property values, but no similar evidence was uncovered for turbines.

 

“When we find our model so accurately predicts impacts from other amenities and disamenities, we are considerably more confident of our findings for turbines”, says lead author Carol Atkinson-Palombo, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography of the University of Connecticut.

 

The full study report is available here.

Wind and Solar Integration Study for the West from NREL

Near the end of September 2013, the National Renewable Energy Lab published a Western Wind and Solar Integration Study which showed conclusively that wind and solar energy reduces net pollution emissions on a virtually 1 for 1 basis. Anti-clean energy forces have spread the lie for years that because wind and solar are intermittent sources, just as much fossil fuel energy is still needed, thus resulting in no lowering of harmful emissions. NREL's study uses real world data demonstrating, as honest observers have noted, that wind energy directly displaces the output of the most expensive power plants, which are almost always the least efficient fossil-fired power plants.

In addition, the report concludes that boosting renewable production in the West to 25% of energy would save consumers billions of dollars.

An excellent summary of the report's highlights by Michael Goggin is here, and the NREL link is here.

Two Recent (2013) Studies Confirm Wind's Negligible Impact on Eagles and Prairie Chickens

A 7-year study of the impact of wind development on Greater Prairie Chickens came out in May, 2013 with the suprising result that wind development has no negative impact on the population of the birds. In fact, it found evidence of positive impact on the suvival of the females. A summary of this study is here, and its official write-up is here.

Highly regarded scientist Paul Kerlinger, who specializes in birds, has written an insightful piece (published Aug. 1, 2013) supporting the relative safety of wind turbines for bald eagles. Writes Kerlinger: "If an eagle is found dead at a wind facility, turbine owners must insist that the federal authorities allow the carcass to be analyzed to determine whether lead poisoning was involved. Eagles having even slightly elevated lead levels can be weakened and fly erratically, causing them to collide with various objects. In the event that the bird has elevated lead levels, the ultimate responsibility for the fatality may not be the turbine. Instead the agency [U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] that funded and licensed the lead dispersal should accept responsibility." The full article is here, and we recommend it also for the other insights it contains.

Energy Information Administration 2013 Report with Projections to 2040

The EIA's 2013 Annual Energy Outlook with Projections to 2040 is available here. The projections are not favorable for the environment and the fight against global warming. We must do better. The EIA projects that coal will continue to be the top source of electricity even in 2040, and that it will produce more electricity at that time than it did in 2011. Here's a graph from the report.

2011 Harvard Study Found Full Cost of Coal Very High

Published in 2011, this study estimates, in a conservative manner, the full life-cycle cost of the US's reliance on coal for electricity. Its main finding is that the true cost of coal for electricity is between 9 and 27 cents per kWh (best estimate: 18 cents/kWh), considerably more than competently developed wind power. Taxpayers are paying this price, although it doesn't show up on our electric bills.

The official study, through Wiley, is here.

County Wind Ordinance Survey

The County Wind Ordinance Survey was designed to help users navigate through the permitting regulations for wind energy development at the local level. The information provided will be useful for all wind developers but specifically targets Community Wind developers who are interested in local permitting and siting rules as well as local officials who are working to develop wind ordinances for their area. This survey provides a single place to access the local permitting and siting rules for a certain area as well as providing additional resources for information relating to wind energy siting, such as wildlife interactions and federal permit requirements.

This survey fills an important role in supporting Community Wind by providing an easily accessible and understandable mechanism that will help rural residents to more easily navigate the local wind energy permitting and siting process and will assist local officials who are working to develop wind ordinances in their area. This first phase of our expanding County Wind Ordinance Survey builds on the research performed by a university intern and focuses on Minnesota because of its leadership in successful Community Wind development.

Read specific information from the survey about Permitting Wind Projects in Minnesota.

Using the County Wind Ordinance Survey

The Windustry County Wind Ordinance Survey provides basic information about each county and a quantitative listing of the wind energy regulations that exist in that county, if applicable. Similarly this resource can provide a listing of the counties that regulate in a particular category. Also included in the survey is a listing of the many other informational resources that are available on permitting of wind energy conversion systems. Phase One of the project focused only on Minnesota counties, however this resource will be expanded to include additional states in the future.

Once you have selected the desired state, there are two ways to search for information:

  1. Search by County: Searching for the regulations by county is particularly useful if you are interested in all the areas of regulation within a particular county. Also, this option allows for county officials to look at what regulations nearby counties or similar counties across the state have found to be important.
  2. Search by Regulation: Searching for county regulations in a particular category is useful for local officials and state regulators who are interested in seeing which counties find a certain category of regulation to be important in their area. View Permitting Regulation Categories in the Windustry Wind Energy Glossary for definitions.
MN County Wind Ordinance Survey
Click above link for interactive tool.

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