View of the Colorado Rockies along I-80 west of Cheyenne.

Wind Turbines Out West Part II

Kevin Kilty

This is a continuation of an earlier essay found here. I have repeated some background information for the convenience of the reader. 

Background

Wind energy development has suddenly exploded in southeastern Wyoming. In just two counties we have now in operation, or permitted, some twelve wind projects involving 613,000 acres (958 square miles) and offering nameplate rating of 6,300MW. In this continuation of the earlier essay I am going to focus on the more technical uncertainties involved in permitting a wind energy conversion plant.

Completeness

The purpose of an applications process at the county level followed by a similar one at the State level is to ensure that a project not present hazards to the health, safety, or welfare of citizens or wildlife. Albany county zoning for example states its purpose as

“To assure that any development and production of wind-generated and solar-generated electricity in Albany County is safe, effective, and that it will minimize impacts to wildlife; … To acknowledge that these facilities are clearly visible and cannot be hidden from view, however, design consideration should include minimizing the degradation of the visual character of the area”

To achieve this the zoning regulations demands an application should address these selected items

“…general nuisances, specifically such as noise, vibration, that may affect off-site property owners. And show that the WECS Project or the solar energy facility will not be a significantly negative impact on wildlife species in the area…” [1]

in a complete manner. If I were to add “fire safety” to my list of concerns, these would cover virtually all of the local complaints and concerns about wind energy generally.[2] Let me speak about each.

Impacts to wildlife

The widely known problem with wind turbines is they kill birds, and particularly soaring birds with small populations often at risk. Altamont Pass in California is an especially egregious example that is a black-eye for the wind energy industry. A recent essay here addressed some of these concerns.

A lesser qualified wildlife threat is to big game. In southeastern Wyoming these include Wapiti and Mule Deer populations, but mainly pronghorn populations which in this neighborhood are vast – perhaps 100,000 individuals. These pronghorn have no documented migratory paths to other winter ranges in the state, and appear to be permanent residents to this particular area.[3] One might suspect they are in a sort of equilibrium among other grazers and browsers according to the carrying capacity of this home range.

In addressing impacts to big game one recent application noted that they expect no permanent harm to survival, and for big game to return to this range during operations when there is minimal human activity, noise, and traffic within the project. They cited two documents in support. Naturally I had a look.

While a guidance document from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department stated essentially  that “little is known about the impact of wind energy on big game” it gave some guidance on reducing impact such as how to construct proper fencing.[4] A research paper concluded wind energy presented no threat to survival of pronghorn,[5] but they listed limitations of their study not mentioned in the application including:

  1. The study area involved a small wind farm (12 sq. miles) thus could not say much about larger facilities. All other facilities are larger ranging from 40 square miles up to 500. We are thus in unknown territory as far as impacts go.
  2. The study duration was only 3 years and so could not state much about long term operations.

To these I could add that during their baseline winter they were still netting and collaring animals. Therefore their baseline data is partially censored.

The scientific literature on big game and wind energy is thin, but there do exist a couple of studies done at Wyoming field sites that focus on pronghorn alone. What seems to be the most robust finding of this research is first, that wind turbines are placed in the same ground pronghorn prefer for winter grazing; and second, that pronghorn tend to avoid wind turbines long after the construction is over and operations begin.[5] This indicates a behavioral change for unknown reasons, but behavioral changes can lead eventually to demographic changes. All research suggests a need for longer term monitoring.

There is a population of about 4,600 pronghorn that are permanent residents of a lune-shaped region of land bound by I-80 on the south and the Union Pacific mainline and US 30/287 on the north. The Rock Creek wind farm will cut across the center of this territory, and itself contains about 15,000 acres of what the Wyoming Game and Fish calls “critical winter range.” The applicant in this case has produced a draft Monitoring Plan for wildlife. Yet the plan is so carefully worded and vaguely aspirational that I do not know if any longer term monitoring plan will actually occur.

The Clear Air of the West

Visual impacts that turbines present include flicker, viewshed, and aircraft warning systems. Some time ago I wrote an essay regarding flicker and why rules of thumb which may be reasonable to use at sites in the midwest and eastern U.S. are not appropriate to the clear air of the West. I won’t repeat that discussion.

Applications contain a section on view impact. In one case the photographs provided were terrible. The views were overwhelmed by smoke and haze from forest fires in Colorado. Several views chosen were not representative of the visual impact the project will make. This should have been easy to correct and that it wasn’t is probably due to there being no standard or measurable regulation to meet – no one cares, in other words.

There are three points to make about viewshed.

First, photographs do not present a scene in the same way that a human sees it, so photographs cannot inform a commission about visual impact. A study done by Argonne Labs in 2011 to assess the visual impact of wind farms in Wyoming and Colorado noted that photographs consistently under-represent the degree of visual impact observed in the field.[6]

Second, people simply have no idea how visually arresting 600+ foot tall turbines with turning blades are going to be under morning or evening light with a dark sky behind. One person at a county hearing explained that no one would even notice these turbines at a distance; this person had no idea. I have yet to find a way to make this apparent, but the aforementioned Argonne Lab study noted that in the clear air of the West 383 foot tall turbines were likely to become a visual focus at a distance of 12 miles, and scaling up to 600+ feet puts that out to 18-20 miles. In more plain language, once the current permitted plants are built wind turbines will be a focus of visual attention along a continuous stretch of 180 miles of I-80 for 18 miles either side of the highway – 6,480 square miles of territory.

Third, travelers, vacationers and hunters would all probably prefer to see natural scenery. This is borne out by surveys of highway travelers.[7] In other words, wind turbines might have bad implications for other local income.

Aircraft warning lighting presents another problem to address. Even people who are quite favorably disposed toward wind energy tell me they dislike the red blinking lights all over the countryside at night in the clear air of the West. In response to this the wind energy applicant usually promises to seek permission from the FAA to install an aircraft detection lighting system (ADLS) that operates only when an aircraft flies within an envelope 3 nautical around the perimeter of the wind farm and from 200 feet above ground surface to 1,000 feet above the tallest obstruction. However, permission for this is solely at the discretion of the FAA who care neither about the feelings of residents towards blinking red lights nor for the needs of the wind industry.

Even granting a request for ADLS does not completely solve all problems. The Roundhouse wind farm along I-80 west of Cheyenne has an ADLS running, but there is so much air traffic that the lights are on often anyway.  If the FAA does not grant the request for ADLS then the applicant will ask for a variance to fall back and install the usual aircraft warning lights. This will probably be granted.

Acoustics

Everywhere wind turbines are proposed noise becomes a concern. I have written an essay about wind turbine noise here before, so I will keep this short. The problem as I see it is three fold: 1) expected noise levels are calculated using a standard that does not pertain everywhere, 2) local noise ordinances are often poorly written, and 3) rarely does anyone check actual noise levels against these projections to learn about their deficiencies.

ISO9613-2 has become a U.S. customary method for  calculating noise from wind turbines. This is so largely because it can be employed when one knows few details about the site.[8] This ISO 9613-2 standard is not specific to wind turbines and is rather a general means of noise calculation “applicable, directly or indirectly, to most situations concerning road or rail traffic, industrial noise sources, construction activities, and many other ground based noise sources.” (ISO9613-2 p. 1)  How does a customary method work when so few details are available? Because it makes numerous simplifying assumptions.

The terrain and weather of the western U.S.often violate these assumptions. On top of this, turbines are becoming taller and more powerful which violates assumptions further.[11] It isn’t that the standard is worthless, but each violation of its many assumptions renders the calculations made with it increasingly uncertain.

The following violations of these assumptions make its use at many Western locales problematic and are backed up by wording in the standard or by published research.[9]

  1. A noise source height limit of 30m as noted in the literature and implied by Table 5 in the standard itself.
  2. Geometrical diverge leads to attenuation at 6dB per doubling, but meteorological conditions common to the West in winter could lead to something more like 3dB decline per doubling. This is especially so for high capacity turbines.
  3. As turbines become more powerful they emit mechanical noise of lower frequency (6MW turbines likely shift their noise spectrum by ½ octave). Thus more of the noise lies below the A weighting scale of the ISO9613-2 standard.
  4. Ravines and arroyos common in western terrains can duct sound in a manner that leads to even less than 3dB per doubling of distance.
  5. Ground attenuation assumed to result from reflections with the ground interfering destructively with direct sound. Tall sources can violate this.
  6. Ground attenuation requires ground that is flat or is a level slope per the standard itself. See item 4, above.
  7. Note 24 of the standard suggests uncertainties in Table 5 (see item 1, above) may be exceeded greatly at a given site on a given day – the result of weather and terrain.

Peer-reviewed literature has documented deviations from ISO9613-2 estimates by 5-6dB for octaves and 4dB overall A weighted. Weather alone can induce deviations by 7-14dB.[10] Figure 2 shows weather related issues, common to much of the mountainous west which lead to 3-D influences on sound propagation, and which ISO9613-2 cannot account for. Figure 3 shows several deep ravines within an otherwise constantly sloping peneplain which leads to very strange acoustic surprises.

Figure 2. Right hand panel shows the typical daytime temperature profile along with wind shear increasing rightward both of which cause phase fronts to bend away from the surface, leaving a quiet zone downwind. Left hand shows a typical night time profile and shear increase with height to the left, both of which cause phase fronts bending toward the surface and enhanced noise downwind. 

One puzzling thing is that despite estimates of uncertainty stated within the standard itself, and additional ones known from turbine manufacturers – no one seems to use this to make reasonable design margins in a way that engineers should. As Moller and Peterson say, “A safety margin must be incorporated at the planning stage in order to guarantee that the actual erected turbines will comply with noise limits.” [11] The process of building such a margin I outlined in an earlier essay. In many places this is not an easy process to accomplish credibly.[12]

Figure 3. The red arrows indicate the location of deep ravines in what looks otherwise like an ideal terrain for the application of ground attenuation calculations in ISO9613-2. These ravines intersect downslope and then intersect with others connecting to other parts of the wind turbine plant.

While noise is not a direct cause of health problems, it is a contributor to sleep disturbance which can become an indirect cause. About 5% of turbine installations account for a majority of noise complaints according to a 2012 study.[10] However, as more wind energy plants invade residential areas in the west, where ISO9613-2 can be expected to provide uncertain noise calculations, these problems will probably grow, and public backlash will hopefully increase. As this study wisely suggested 

“Efforts directed at evaluating models used to predict noise levels from wind turbines–in contrast to actual measured noise levels–would be valuable and may be helpful in informing and reassuring residents involved in public discussions.”

Certainly this would be helpful, but so would writing useful noise ordinances in the first place. For example, in the two counties of southeastern Wyoming I have referred to, one has no ordinance at all except to say the noise should not present a nuisance. The other county has a noise limit of 55 dBA but with no metric stipulated. Thus, applicants apply a metric they prefer. I would suggest instead using one that meaningfully addresses the problem like Lden, which applies a penalty for evening (5 dBA penalty) or night-time (10 dBA penalty) which are the time periods of most concern with regard to noise.

Alternatively one would hope to have counties without specific limits at present, mandate ones tighter than is typical. For example, Washington County, Colorado has noise limits at the property line of a non-participating property not to exceed 45 dBA for more than 6 minutes of any hour or not to exceed 50 dBA (Leq,60).[13] These are not as stringent as most European standards, but are better than what we have in Wyoming.

References:

  1. Albany county zoning sections found in ZoningUpdated_1-20-22_202201201614459171.pdf
  2. Safety concerns killed the Fountain project in California. The Roundhouse plant in eastern Wyoming had a turbine catch fire about six months into operation. It’s a real concern.
  3. Kauffman, et al, 2018, Wild Migrations: Atlas of Wyoming’s Ungulates, Oregon State U Press. 
  4. WGFD 2010. This is a guidance document from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for minimizing wind energy impacts on wildlife. Colorado guidelines are essentially the same.
  5. The original study cited by the applicant in this case was: Kaitlyn L. Taylor, Jeffrey L. Beck, Snehalata V. Huzurbazar, Factors Influencing Winter Mortality Risk for Pronghorn Exposed to Wind Energy Development,  Rangeland Ecology & Management 69, 108–116, 2016. But see these following studies adding more detail: Smith, Kurt T., Taylor, Kaitlyn L., Albeke, Shannon E., and Beck, Jeffrey L., Pronghorn Winter Resource Selection before and after Wind Energy Development in South-Central Wyoming, Rangeland Ecology and Management, 73(2) : 227-233, 2020. And, Milligan, M. C., A. N. Johnston, J. L. Beck, K. T. Smith, K. L. Taylor, E. Hall, L. Knox, T. Cufaude, C. Wallace, G. Chong, and M. J. Kauffman, Variable effects of wind-energy development on seasonal habitat selection of pronghorn. Ecosphere 12(12), 2021.
  6. Robert G. Sullivan, et  al, Wind Turbine Visibility and Visual Impact Threshold Distances in Western Landscapes, Environmental Science Division Argonne National Laboratory Argonne, IL found online.
  7. William C. Gartner and Daniel L. Erkkila, Attributes and Amenities of Highway Systems Important to Tourists, Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 1890, TRB, National Research Council, Washington, D.C., 2004, pp. 97–104.

Stephen E. Keith, Katya Feder, Sonia A. Voicescu, Victor Soukhovtsev, Allison Denning, Jason Tsang, Norm Broner, Tony Leroux, Werner Richarz, Frits van den Berg, Wind

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Kevin kilty
April 3, 2022 10:44 am

Mod. and all — there is about a page of references missing for some reason. Add 7 to each reference below.

  1. Stephen E. Keith, Katya Feder, Sonia A. Voicescu, Victor Soukhovtsev, Allison Denning, Jason Tsang, Norm Broner, Tony Leroux, Werner Richarz, Frits van den Berg, Wind turbine sound pressure level calculations at dwellings, The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 139, 1436 (2016); doi: 10.1121/1.4942404
  2. See for example Hansen C. and Hansen K., Recent Advances in Wind Turbine Noise Research. Acoustics, 2(1):171-206, (2020). https://doi.org/10.3390/acoustics2010013.Or, Stephen E. Keith, Gilles A. Daigle, and Michael R. Stinson, Wind turbine low frequency and infrasound propagation and sound pressure level calculations at dwellings, The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 144, 981 (2018); doi: 10.1121/1.5051331
  3. McCunney, Robert J. MD, MPH, et al, Wind Turbines and Health, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: November 2014 – Volume 56 – Issue 11 – p e108-e130 (doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000313) This is a very detailed meta study which wind energy proponents cite approvingly, but actually does not aid their case in the instance of noise being a nuisance and sleep disturbance.
  4. Henrik Møller, and Christian Sejer Pedersen, Low-frequency noise from large wind turbines, The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 129, 3727 (2011); doi: 10.1121/1.3543957
  5. The general methodology is explained in the Guide to Uncertainty in Measurements (GUM), but I provided an example in my earlier essay.
  6. (95-2021) Wind Energy Regulations for Unincorporated Areas of Washington County, Colorado, “95-2021 Wind Solar Regs.pdf” accessed February 15, 2022. This standard, as it turns out, is mal-written in one regard. It says that “If the ambient sound pressure level exceeds 45 dBA, the standards set forth in the preceding sentence shall be the ambient sound pressure level plus 5 dBA.” Surely plus should actually be minus as a SPL plus 5 dBA above ambient would be exceptionally noticeable. Minus 5 dBA would put it just noticeable within the background. or perhaps minus 5 dBA down to the minimum of 45 dBA.
Last edited 4 months ago by Kevin kilty
Ron Long
April 3, 2022 10:56 am

Good report, Kevin. The area of wind turbines I have several times mentioned as bird killers is included in your comment area. I also saw mule deer and antelope near the line of turbines, but did not notice them responding to the noise of the turbines. The biggest impact was without doubt the killing and maiming of our flying friends, the problem exaggerated by vultures showing up to eat the free dinner and getting chopped up themselves.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Ron Long
April 3, 2022 11:41 am

As you undoubtedly recall from experience, pronghorn display wide variation in their behavior. Many avoid having anything to do with humans. On the other hand we have a small group in town here whose main activity is occupying the golf couse on fathers’ day and making everyone play through.

If the studies I referenced had seen fit to quantify the avoidance conditioned on the individual pronghorn, rather than average over all animals they collared to produce a marginal distribution we might have a little better idea of how wind energy might impact populations.

Ron Long
Reply to  Kevin kilty
April 3, 2022 1:23 pm

Hi, Kevin. Actually, I am a licensed Hunting Guide in Nevada (guided a Heritage Tag holder for Desert Bighorn Sheep, for instance), and guided both mule deer and antelope hunts. I was surprised by the mule deer maintaining a normal resting location, view downhill to the front and wind coming from behind, and the sound of the turbines easily heard by me. The antelope were more mobile and I never saw one bedded down. My casual observations are not a substitute for an actual scientific study, and I like the idea of collaring a bunch of both and noting if they gave the turbines a wide berth. Here’s a question, if I could hear the turbines does that mean that the animals are suffering low-frequency sound distress?

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Ron Long
April 3, 2022 1:42 pm

Pronghorn are exceptionally vigilent animals and I have wondered if the sight of constantly turning blades bothers them, or the sounds. Perhaps they view the constant sound as potentially masking predators. Those are about the only two explanations I can entertain.

Reply to  Ron Long
April 4, 2022 11:12 am

Not a mule deer, but I have had three different dogs that within a few months of living with us that must have known I was going to be home soon because they started scratching at the back door and got all excited about two minutes before I got home. They must hear the car from at least a mile away. If the dog was outside, they would be waiting for me at the corner of the property.

griff
Reply to  Ron Long
April 4, 2022 1:22 am

If turbines are properly sited, they don’t kill birds.

They don’t kill birds in the UK and EU.

Most of the bird chopper false narrative takes the unique situation at Altamont pass and falsely extrapolates it to whole USA.

Eagle numbers have continued to rise across the USA and the biggest threat to them currently is actually lead shot.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  griff
April 4, 2022 4:52 am

Stop lying!

Kevin kilty
Reply to  griff
April 4, 2022 5:39 am

Here we have a comment cut and paste from an earlier thread. For now I am going to take the advice of a colleague long employeed by the USFWS and then in private research who says numbers are inflated, wind turbines are a hazard, the transmission lines are also, and thinks these enormous wind farms will do irreparable harm…

observa
Reply to  griff
April 4, 2022 7:49 am

Boris is walking them back for the obvious griff and anymore need to piss off out to sea away from decent folk-
Boris Johnson plans seven new nuclear reactors as he drops wind plans (msn.com)

beng135
Reply to  griff
April 4, 2022 8:12 am

the biggest threat to them currently is actually lead shot.

No, it isn’t. You don’t know jack-sh*t about eagles in the US. Stick to your own birds, bird-brain.

Ron Long
Reply to  griff
April 4, 2022 10:25 am

I walked the walk, griff, and I’m wondering if you ever walked along a line of wind turbines in a grassy area, and saw the dead bird carnage? This is my true observation, what is yours?

Ron Long
Reply to  griff
April 4, 2022 10:29 am

griff, steel shot has been mandatory in the USA since 1992, for waterfowl hunting and all other hunting in any area with potential for contact with raptors or vultures. Why don’t you have enough intelligence/introspection to check something out before you drool?

Robert of Texas
Reply to  griff
April 4, 2022 10:31 am

That is one of the most ignorant responses I have ever read. Of course European wind turbines cause bird deaths, there are many published studies out of Europe on this including ways to hopefully reduce the impact.

As per usual for activists obscuring facts to support their view, you often see charts showing that many other activities kill many more birds – and this is true. What they are failing to point out is a much higher proportion of protected bird species are affected by wind turbines, such as eagles. A single dead bald eagle found in a mud pit of a oil drill site lead to it being shut down and millions in fines, but a single wind farm often has dozens of eagle fatalities each year – counting only those we actually find.

Far more disturbing (to me a6t least) is the impact on bats. In Western Texas we have many shallow gypsum caves that are perfect roasting spots for tens of millions of bats. They come out at night to eat insects caught flying around and if there is a wind turbine farm anywhere near, they are killed by the hundreds. Again, most of these are protected species but green activists do not seem to care.

As wind turbine farms increase in number, so will the problem. Best to recognize and deal with the problem now instead of ignoring it until it’s a disaster.

Reply to  griff
April 4, 2022 11:18 am

Griff, you need to send your resume to FB, Twitter, Google, etc. They are looking for “Fake” fact checkers that know all of the Wind/Solar propaganda..

Rich Davis
April 3, 2022 11:10 am

Sad to see.

n.n
April 3, 2022 11:54 am

Intermittent drivers and the laundered, ecohazardous Green Blight unreliables.

mkelly
April 3, 2022 11:57 am

I sent requests to Trump’s Secretary of Interior asking him to rescind wind farms exemption for killing endangered/protected birds. Never heard anything. If the exemption is taken away wind farms would have to shut down.

Bryan A
April 3, 2022 12:07 pm

Here’s an interesting tie bit. The size of the “Wind Farm(s)” is 958 mi². The size of the state of Wyoming is 97,914 mi². So the proposed wind generation area of coverage is roughly 10% of the entire state to produce what a single 2-1100MW unit nuclear generation site can. Talk about ineffective, low density energy sources…

Last edited 4 months ago by Bryan A
Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Bryan A
April 3, 2022 12:33 pm

1%

Still too much

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
April 3, 2022 12:46 pm

Oops, sorry Pat, didn’t see your reply when I did mine.

Bryan A
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
April 3, 2022 7:03 pm

Yep. The keyboard on my phone has the “0” and “1” adjacent sooo Fat fingers and no proof reading

Last edited 4 months ago by Bryan A
Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Bryan A
April 3, 2022 12:46 pm

I think it’s 1%, not 10.

Bryan A
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
April 3, 2022 7:04 pm

^

Derg
Reply to  Bryan A
April 3, 2022 1:01 pm

This ^

Bryan A
Reply to  Derg
April 3, 2022 7:04 pm

^
^

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Bryan A
April 3, 2022 1:19 pm

The life of a UK nuclear power staion is around 45 years, there’s a possibility those left might last a bit longer. Wind turbines last about 20 years I believe. So assuming a lifetime of 45-50 years for a nuke then when a nuclear station finally closes the wind turbines will be on their third set. In those intervening 20 years technology will have moved on so the old ones will have to be removed and replaced

chemman
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
April 3, 2022 4:46 pm

Assuming a life cycle analysis included the decommissioning and removal of the old generators.

griff
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
April 4, 2022 1:23 am

wind turbines last 25 years.

and how long and what cost to dismantle a nuclear power station?

Trawsfynydd (Welsh!) stopped operating in 1991 and decommissioning will continue till 2078.

Macha
Reply to  griff
April 4, 2022 3:45 pm

Turnine blades in western Australia only last a couple years on the coast due to the sand/seabreeze abrasion.

Drake
Reply to  griff
April 5, 2022 9:57 am

Nuclear power plans can easily last 100 years. There are several in the US already “licensed” to continue operation for up to 80 years, with licensing of extensions on a 20 year basis. 40 year original license and now on their second 20year extension.

So instead of decommissioning, just continue operation until there is a technical reason to shut them down, mot a POLITICAL reason as is the case for California and German nukes.

So spreading the decommissioning cost over 100 plus years compared to the wind guaranteed maximum of 25 with MANY turbines failing before reaching 25 years.

Of course the wind systems would never have been built without MASSIVE government subsidies and preferential power purchase requirements costing rate payers MUCH MORE in added charges hidden in their monthly bills.

Robert of Texas
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
April 4, 2022 10:36 am

There are several wind farms that have shut down before reaching 20 years of age, and many wind turbines actually undergo a lot of replacement within a wind farm through the lifetime of the farm. It is extremely hard to determine the real operational costs and lifetime costs of current wind farms as the technology keeps changing. What is not in doubt is the extremely high retirement costs of wind turbines if the cement base is to be removed.

Pat from kerbob
April 3, 2022 12:32 pm

Big game like pronghorn (North American speed giraffes) elk and deer are prey animals and therefore they tend to avoid things that cause noise which interferes with hearing predators.

commieBob
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
April 3, 2022 1:14 pm

I have faith in prongies. They will blithely graze within a mile of the Trans Canada while cars buzz past. On the other hand, if a car stops, they’re gone.

It just occurred to me that hunting prongies is probably good training if you want to be a sniper. 🙂

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  commieBob
April 3, 2022 3:27 pm

They tolerate noise when they need too but move along smartly when they can.

You are likely referring to that big herd west of Medicine Hat.
There are also herds of elk in that same area but you almost never see them, because they leave the noise and stay far from the highway.

Prey animals will always prefer noise free areas.

commieBob
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
April 3, 2022 3:55 pm

Medicine Hat

Nope, more like somewhere in the vicinity of Maple Creek where one of my buddies lived around half a century ago. Things have probably changed since then. I wasn’t aware that there was such a thing as a big herd of pronghorn antelope. 🙂

Kevin kilty
Reply to  commieBob
April 4, 2022 6:27 am

Pronghorn nearly vanished in Wyoming in the 1920s but rebounded into populations of 600,000+ by the mid 1960s. We do have some big herds here. A large one (100 maybe) used to graze on my most remote alfalfa field.

Hunters take about 40,000 or so each year.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
April 3, 2022 1:44 pm

Sorry, Pat, I see I just answered Mr. Long with a similar speculation before I noticed your comment.

Albert H Brand
April 3, 2022 12:35 pm

So what would cost more? One nuclear power plant or 956 square miles of wind farms? How about interconnections, are they included in the calculations?

Derg
Reply to  Albert H Brand
April 3, 2022 1:03 pm

Nuclear costs more because of over regulation and litigation. Until that is rectified we won’t be building new plants like the 2 in MN that have been around since the 70s 🙁

George Daddis
Reply to  Derg
April 3, 2022 4:38 pm

If nuclear is the answer to avoiding existential demise, then surely we should ignore the costs. We didn’t ask the cost of WWII did we?

Why does that argument ring a bell?

Leo Smith
Reply to  Albert H Brand
April 3, 2022 1:07 pm

You are asking the wrong question. What would cost more? One nuclear plant or 956 square miles of windmills, the attendant high voltage transmission lines, the frequency stabilising grid scale batteries, and the gas turbines to replace their output when the wind drops…and which would have the higher carbon footprint?

Rick C
Reply to  Leo Smith
April 3, 2022 2:34 pm

Leo: You could also add that the turbines on the wind farm will need to be replaced 3-5 times during the operational life of a nuclear plant. Of course that won’t happen as the failure of wind and solar energy schemes will be obvious long before they start falling apart. Tried to find info on a 20 year old wind farm still in operation but came up empty.

DHR
Reply to  Albert H Brand
April 3, 2022 2:42 pm

The cost for constant backup power should also be included.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  DHR
April 3, 2022 4:30 pm

. . . and that cost should be based on a “hot rolling backup” condition that is able to come on-line within a matter of 10 minutes or less in event of an abrupt lowering of wind speed. Which, in turn, means the backup generation capability will invariably be fossil fuel based, with labor hours allocated for the staff required to operate the plant in standby mode and then ramp up to full power on short notice.

Electrical energy storage batteries? . . . those might serve to bridge the 10 minutes of so of switchover time, but if you expect them to be sized to provide full replacement of a given wind farm’s rated capacity for something more than 12 hours you can forget about that!

Iain Reid
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
April 3, 2022 11:16 pm

Gordon,

there needs to be conventional synchronous capacity, i.e. that can modulate output, connected and feeding the grid at all times to ensure load and supply match.
You cannot run on wind and or solar alone, it simply does not work, and there is a limit to how much asynchronous renewable .power can be fed in before the grid becomes out of frequency limit and trips.
Batteries can be useful for frequency support but impossible for intermittency.

chemman
Reply to  DHR
April 3, 2022 4:49 pm

The MBA’s for these wind companies aren’t going to do life cycle cost analyses.

griff
Reply to  Albert H Brand
April 4, 2022 1:25 am

a nuclear plant. which also takes years to actually construct, leaving planning issues aside.

Nuclear electricity from new Hinkley point has had to be given a guaranteed price twice current offshore wind rate to ensure a return on investment

Robert of Texas
Reply to  Albert H Brand
April 4, 2022 10:44 am

You can’t really compare nuclear generated electricity with wind generated electricity. One is reliable and steady while the other is variable and intermittent. Add in the costs and impacts of huge battery farms that must be kept charged (another source of power loss) and you can then make a better comparison. One still has to make decisions of the limits – battery power at what rate to last how long (GWh).

Nuclear power is the clear answer to what comes after fossil fuels…it’s just a matter of letting the idiots in political power to catch up to the understanding. They have bought into a fool’s game, and no one likes to admit they are a fool.

Ben Vorlich
April 3, 2022 1:05 pm

I was reading last week that Siemens-Gamesa are about to start production of turbines with 115 metre blades, This means that the tip height will be at about 280-300 metres or about 900-1000ft.
The other thing is the speed of the tips. Assuming a rotation of 12-15 RPM. that gives a tip speed of 520-650 kph or 320-400mph. I can’t imagine that there are many birds that can dodge a blade going that fast. I would think that there’s a fair amount noise involved as well.

David Blenkinsop
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
April 3, 2022 1:27 pm

I would assume that there is currently no effective way to warn birds to stay completely clear of the sweep of these blades? Given that alone, I can’t imagine how *any* birds could dodge a blade section moving at some hundreds of kph..

Spetzer86
April 3, 2022 1:32 pm

Don’t forget the impact on bat populations. Also, if those monstrosities are visible at 12 miles during the day, they’ll positively glow after dark when the red blinking lights take over. Talk about destroying the landscape.

Peta of Newark
April 3, 2022 2:03 pm

From the amended link list, #2:

Quote:Most people are disturbed by indoor noise rather than outdoor noise from wind farms

We’re also told about ISO9613
Do The Noise testers use a factor called ‘A Weighting‘ in their onsite measurements?
Because, the low frequency de-rating is hideous – please say they don’t use that but rather the Z Weighting
(The A Weighting is to correct for the frequency response of our ears)

So, why is the noise worse indoors that out – and why at night?

Because of the ‘A Weighting’ the power of the acoustic signal at 10Hz is recorded to be easily 60dBbelow the power at 1kHz.
A reduction factor of a million in the power being carried by the sound waves coming off the turbines. Nice.

But houses do not respond as human ears do.
So we may hear a 1 megawatt (per square metre) ‘thing’ thump thump thumping awa as a one watt thing.
But your house, its walls, windows and doors will respond to the full 1 MWatt impact of those thumps.
And they will shake rattle resonate and roll.
IOW: Your house makes the noise in response to being battered by the thumping -hence why it’s silent outside but deafening inside

Next is night-time = generally when everything goes quiet.
Problem is that our ears have a peculiarity in that they must “always be hearing something”

So when the daily household hubbub of TV, music, kids, kitchen, hoover, dishwasher, traffic outside etc all go quiet at night, our ears really crank up their sensitivity so that they can hear something anything
In fact if they still cannot make out any sound coming in, they make their own sound.
And it is not = A Nice Noise.
Basically they tune in to the workings of your own body. OK that shouldn’t be too bad but is is because is is random noise, bumps, gurgles hisses whatevers with perfectly no rhyme reason tune harmony nothing. Classic annoying noise.

It is a fact: Silence Really Is Deafening

(Ever been inside a real proper anechoic chamber? It really does make your ears hurt)

So at night our ears, when there’s nothing else for them to listen to, tune in to the responses of our homes to the gentle bump bump bump of the wind turbine thumping the house and there is nothing anyone can do about it.
ear muffs or defenders will only work to increase the sensitivity of our ears – there is no escape and that is what makes turbine noise so annoying

Even before the turbines are transmitting their bump bump bump into and through the ground.
Shaking the very foundations of your house and hence why the British Geological Survey based in South West Scotland ## got it made = Legal Law that no turbines above a certain power rating were erected with 50 kilometres of their earthquake measuring station at Eskdalemuir

## They were based, until 100++ yrs ago, at Kew Gardens in SW London but the arrival of them new fangled underground trains made their life a misery

Enquiring Minds: “What would happen if a few ‘Z Weighted’ seismometers were placed at varying distance from the bases of any (un)friendly local windmills?

PS: Z Weighted = a perfectly flat frequency response
A Weighted as attached – hopefully you see the sleight of hand the noise testers are using – they attenuate the low frequencies by over 60dB!!!!!

A Weight Freq Response.JPG
Last edited 4 months ago by Peta of Newark
Kevin kilty
Reply to  Peta of Newark
April 3, 2022 3:02 pm

ISO9613-2 is “A” weighting based. Look at the paper by Moller and Petersen to get a sense of the changes in mechanical noise spectrum per MW rating of turbines, and why “C” weighting eventually becomes important. I record as “Z”, but process otherwise. Nightime is of greater importance because the moderate to large temperature inversion will map more of the mechanical noise onto the surface and make the change from 6dB per doubling of distance to only 3 dB.

chemman
Reply to  Peta of Newark
April 3, 2022 4:56 pm

“In fact if they still cannot make out any sound coming in, they make their own sound.”

I’m losing some of my hearing from many years in the Air Force. Recently I had ear wax build up against the ear drums which dropped by hearing to almost nothing. The next day I developed musical tinnitus. The ears wax has been cleaned out but the musical tinnitus is around. Yep the brain needs sensory input.

Vuk
April 3, 2022 2:33 pm

Over here in the UK the west is the Irish Sea.
BoJo the other day:
“I have a dream of a giant floating wind farm in the Irish Sea that could provide gigawatts of energy and to do it within a year.
I don’t want the PM after the PM after me to be opening them – I want to be opening them myself”.
BoJo on the wind farms few years ago before nut-nuts got hold of his essentials:
“The white satanic mills whose collective oomph wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding.”
BTW only few months ago he wonted to build Irish Sea bridge, when he was told not possible he opted for Irish Sea tunnel, ‘to expensive’ he was told, so his latest fascination is the Irish Sea floating wind farm.
The other day Biden said “I may be Irish but I’m not stupid”.
BoJo isn’t Irish but that doesn’t stop him being stupid.

Last edited 4 months ago by Vuk
griff
Reply to  Vuk
April 4, 2022 1:26 am

already underway, you’ll be pleased to hear, with a hydrogen generating plant attached

Gordon A. Dressler
April 3, 2022 4:18 pm

Hmmm . . . just wondering about the possibility of ice storms occurring in Wyoming.

AFAIK, most large wind turbine blades DO NOT include a de-icing system due to the high cost and reliablity/maintenance costs of implementing such systems.

I also understand that wind turbine farm operators have to shut down operations when there is the chance of significant blade icing for two basic reasons: (1) the icing destroys aerodynamic efficiency of the blade airfoil shape, thereby lowering a wind turbine’s output for a given windspeed, and most importantly, (2) if iced-up blades are left to rotate, there is a real danger of one or more blades randomly shedding ice segments, which leads directly to significant rotational imbalance with associated risk of vibro-structural damage to the blades themselves or to the bearings in the gearbox/generator system in each tower.

Does anyone know if icing (and its attendant technical/cost/generating output issues) have been considered for worst-case winter weather in the plains of Wyoming where these extensive farms are/will be located? And does a given icing weather condition typically last only for hours, days or weeks?

H.R.
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
April 3, 2022 6:02 pm

Wyoming cane be a wee mite nippy and snowy. December, January, and February average about -5C. November and March are about 0C.

Of course, that means there are lot of days colder than that.

Wyoming climate: Average Temperature, weather by month, Wyoming weather averages – Climate-Data.org

Vlad the Impaler
April 3, 2022 4:18 pm

I moved to Casper (Wyoming) in 1980, from Salt Lake City, Utah. One of the BIG attractants for moving here was the wide, open spaces, and the grand vistas.

Now, too much of what was once a beautiful State (not just in terms of the open spaces, wonderful people, and plentiful wildlife) is blighted by these mostly useless wildlife-killers.

True, there is a lot of wind in Wyoming, especially along the I-80 corridor, and a lot of potential harvesting of the wind for energy. There are also times that the wind is well in excess of what the wind-turbine is capable of handling, hence the situation of ‘too much of a good thing’.

Just outside of Casper, there is a farm of (I think) nine wind turbines. For about the past year or so, they have typically run just one hour per day (I end of driving within eyesight of them several times per day, typically). I can only assume that the ‘one hour’ is to lube up the gear box and system; other than this one hour, they sit idle, even on “decent” wind days. My guess is that they have reached the end of their productive life, and the operator is attempting to salvage something from them. The upshot is that they are generally useless eyesores.

Further, I know some people who live within a few kilometres of the installation, and they talk of the incessant noise from the blades, when they were in ‘full-time’ operation. It may be a coincidence, or something else, but until about a year ago, my wife and I could lay in our bed, and “hear” some thumping noise, when things were quiet at night. Now, with the turbines mostly idle, the ‘thumping’ noise has vanished. We live in West Casper, well over eight kilometres from where the turbines are, but it just seems so strange that for a long time there was this strange noise, and when the turbines went into ‘maintenance’ mode, the noise seems to have disappeared.

One man’s thoughts; I welcome yours,

Vlad

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Vlad the Impaler
April 3, 2022 6:59 pm

Last week I paid a visit to someone complaining of noises and listened to one wind turbine on a not very windy day making the sound of a base drum. I have to return to make actual measurements, but for certain some combination of weather wind direction and terrain, and perhaps even particular turbine, will result in obvious and strange noises.

What direction was this small group of turbines from west Casper?

Vlad the Impaler
Reply to  Kevin kilty
April 3, 2022 8:40 pm

The small farm is just NE of the city proper. The area is Natrona County, and not the city. Supposedly, the farm is far enough away from residential that it is NOT though to be a problem.

I drive past the mostly-idle turbines when I take my younger granddaughter out to a working ranch that does horseback riding lessons. The ranch in question is right next to the Rocky Mountain Gun Club; easily seen on any mapping application you might choose to use.

Hope that helps,

Vlad

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Vlad the Impaler
April 4, 2022 6:03 am

I will ponder this, but the Casper area has complex geology which may allow the ground to propagate sound in a direction opposite to what one might expect from the atmosphere. Thirty years ago during August I was farming/ranching in eastern Wyoming, and I would occasionally hear what sounded like a heavy truck slowing down on a washboard road — except this was in places without either truck or road.

It took some time to figure out, but there a vibroseis crew working about 15 miles away. The sedimentary stack in that part of wyoming has a resonance that helps return vibrosound back to the surface over a huge area. I am actually surprised that there is next to no research done regarding turbine noise and geology.

Vlad the Impaler
Reply to  Kevin kilty
April 4, 2022 9:41 am

Most of the Casper area is built on the Cretaceous Cody Shale. It is not difficult to find shark teeth in most places, not excessively built up.

Our garden soil is mostly clay and clay derivatives, so our prime tactic to get good growing soil is to add small amounts of coarse sand and mix it up well. We’ve also found that by using a product called ‘soil pep’, it loosens up the otherwise tight soil. After 30 years of work, we are slowly gaining on the soil, and depending on other summer factors, can have some decent crops. Our tomatoes generally come out nice, but I’ve yet to get a decent crop of snow peas; they flower once, and they’re done for the season.

As far as propogation of sonic and sub-sonic frequencies, I’m at as much of a loss as you are. Our house is built up on a high ridge in the western part of the city, so if there is some resonance taking place from the (now part-time) turbines, that is all I can think of for how far the vibration is traveling. Nominally, one would think that the shale would attenuate even low frequencies to the point that they would be imperceptible. When my wife and I first heard the noise, I spent the better part of a day trying to find what equipment might be generating it. I looked into the attic above our bedroom, into the cellar below our bedroom, and even put a stethescope up to the walls to ‘listen’ to the sound. What amazed me the most is that while we could hear the sound with our ears, I could hear essentially ‘nothing’ with the stethescope, so it became more and more confusing.

I’m NOT saying the distant turbines were/are the source of the sound, but the coincidence is certainly interesting.

All our best to your and yours,

Vlad

TonyG
Reply to  Vlad the Impaler
April 4, 2022 8:55 am

blighted by these mostly useless wildlife-killers.

I don’t understand how anyone can look at the lands where these things are placed and think it’s a good thing.

eyesonu
April 3, 2022 9:18 pm

One issue with regards to the low frequency thumping from wind turbines that I have never seen discussed is the possible interference of the mating of drumming birds such as grouse. Ruffed grouse perform the drumming ( beating of their wings) in the mating function and I believe that sage grouse also do the same. Is this a possible problem/issue?

griff
Reply to  eyesonu
April 4, 2022 1:27 am

Well Scotland is covered in turbines and grouse and there is no problem…

beng135
Reply to  griff
April 4, 2022 8:27 am

Well how could you know that? Are you an ornithologist? (Response supported by a US “Supreme” Court judge).

Vlad the Impaler
Reply to  beng135
April 4, 2022 9:51 am

“I’m not a veterinarian, but I know what a dog is.”

Attributed to a young lady who heard the Supreme Court nominee respond to the question about what a woman is.

I’m not a chef, but I know what food is.

I’m not a mechanic, but I know what an engine is.

I’m not an Oceanographer, but I know what water is.

I’m not a carpenter, but I know what a piece of wood is.

I’m not Bill Clinton, but I know what “is” is.

Regards to all,

Vlad

Kevin kilty
Reply to  eyesonu
April 4, 2022 5:54 am

I know very little about game birds, so I’ll have to ask my acquaintance next I see him. However, doing research on wildlife is not only challenging and expensive, but there are so many confounding influences. Even our censuses aren’t very convincing (i.e. they have large uncertainty), so population trends are difficult to state accurately.

For example, look at the statement by Griff, below. “Scotland” is covered in grouse. What does that mean? Is it becoming more or less covered with time?

Last edited 4 months ago by Kevin kilty
April 4, 2022 10:55 am

applicant usually promises to seek permission from the FAA to install an aircraft detection lighting system (ADLS) that operates only when an aircraft flies within an envelope 3 nautical around the perimeter of the wind farm and from 200 feet above ground surface to 1,000 feet above the tallest obstruction.”
I live close to an airport that must be a pivot point as when I look at the sky I can see that the planes at several miles height change course right above the airport. There is a major city airport in most states along I-80 where the same course change occurs. Thus the airlines are following I-80. I have a privet pilot friend who flies from here to Cleveland, OH and he basically follows I-80, as many other private piolets do. Even with an Instrument license, in the dark the lights on i-80, any interstate, helps you keep your perspective.

CultivatingMan
April 4, 2022 8:43 pm

Who pays to rear them down in 10 to 20 years when they are dead? In California apparently noone is.

roaddog
Reply to  CultivatingMan
April 5, 2022 12:46 am

I believe Wyoming state law mandates the wind farm set aside sufficient funds to dismantle and remove the damn things when they reach end of life. Colorado clearly does not, because there is a large, abandoned wind farm just below the WY/CO state line east of I-25 that Excel energy proudly announced in 2017 that they would be removing. Of course, since that time they haven’t touched it.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  roaddog
April 5, 2022 6:21 am

The only problem with Wyoming’s approach of demanding a bond for decommissioning is that in the current inflationary environment the bond might not cover the costs, in fact, might miss by quite a lot.

I think the Ponnaquin wind farm which you are speaking of has been removed. The turbines were pretty small — about 600kW as I recall.

Fran
April 5, 2022 4:01 pm

Infrasound – waves that are well below the limit of hearing – are biologically damaging. Exposure occurs in many industrial situations as well as wind turbines. There is considerable research by space agencies and armed forces.

https://livestream.com/itmsstudio/events/8781285/videos/196181579

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