Rollins Wind: Can There Be High Annoyance?

Recently a chart was created for predicting the percent of the community highly annoyed by wind turbine noise. Previous research showed that wind turbine noise is much more annoying than transportation noise at much lower sound levels [1].

The equation underlying the annoyance siting chart can be used to predict the percent of the community highly annoyed versus distance, based on the sound levels measured or predicted for an industrial wind turbine facility.

In the chart below, the predicted sound levels versus distance were charted for the proposed Rollins Wind facility, levels obtained from the applicant’s publicly available application document. Also charted were the measured highest hourly average sound levels at Mars Hill, obtained from the project files available at the Maine DEP.

The chart below illustrates the predicted percent of the community highly annoyed for the proposed Rollins Wind Facility, computed using the peer-reviewed equation developed by Pedersen and Waye by distance from the nearest turbine.

The chart illustrates what common sense suggests and what real world experience has already shown at Mars Hill, Freedom, and Vinalhaven. The percentage of the community that is highly annoyed by wind turbine noise levels is predicted to be high near the turbines and lessens with distance. Up to a two-mile setback appears necessary to minimize community disruption.

Has the potential for high annoyance due to industrial wind turbine noise been discussed in the Rollins Wind application process?

This high annoyance prediction method is based on 150kw-600kw wind turbines (smaller than those being installed in Maine) and does not factor in detailed effects of Maine topography. Taller turbines with longer blades may exhibit deeper amplitude modulation than those studied by Pedersen and Waye. In hill-valley or mountainous areas, the sound level versus distance may be channeled and elevated relative to the results from computer modelling. Higher sound levels and high annoyance could be sustained at farther distances than expected.

“Annoyance with wind turbine noise was associated with psychological distress, stress, difficulties to fall asleep and sleep interruption.”

1. Pedersen, E. and K. Persson Waye. 2004. Perception and annoyance due to wind turbine noise: A dose–response relationship, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 116: 3460–3470.