By Chris Long
The last few weeks have been busy ones on wind turbine sound, with new developments continuing to cast doubt on anti-wind groups' claims.Perhaps the most telling is a new study from Canada's Pembina Institute, looking at wind farm complaints (or rather, the lack of wind farm complaints) in the province of Alberta, where some of the earliest wind farms in Canada were installed.
In a blog post about the study, Pembina's Benjamin Thibault explains, "[U]nlike some parts of the country, we don’t tend to hear much about [wind power in Alberta], so my colleagues and I wondered whether, in fact, we were just missing something."
In fact, it turned out, while the Alberta Utilities Commission, which regulates electricity in the province, has a 13-year-old database with the records of 31,000 contacts from members of the public, not one of those 31,000 contacts has been about the sound of operating wind turbines. That's a very striking finding, but it lends credence to the work of Australian Prof. Simon Chapman of the University of Sydney, who has a pending study finding that complaints about turbine sound in Australia are heavily focused on areas where anti-wind groups have been conducting public campaigns.
Pembina researchers went further to unearth evidence of complaints, Mr. Thibault says, contacting:
"- Operators of existing wind energy projects;
- Municipalities (municipal districts and counties) where operating wind energy projects are located;
- Local and provincial health authorities; and
- Municipal agricultural fieldmen."
"The operators of the wind farms did report some complaints during operations, noting eight unique complaints, most of which were resolved noise complaints (five), along with a few generalized complaints about wind energy broadly.
"Only three complaints about operating wind farms came to the seven Alberta municipalities with wind energy projects: one about ice throw that was investigated and dismissed, one about the density of wind turbines offering a terrorism opportunity, and one about noise, which was referred to the operator.
"No more complaints were found with the health contacts surveyed (two regional health inspectors covering municipal districts with over half of Alberta’s wind energy) or the livestock contacts (five agricultural fieldmen also covering the majority of the experience)."