Madaket Wind Turbine Project
Wind Turbine Opposition Groups:
The Energy Study Committee and Town Administration are very concerned about the possible negative impacts of any alternative energy project on Nantucket, including the propopsed wind turbine at the Madaket landfill. It is the intention of the Committee and Town Administration to recommend only the most economically viable alternative energy options that are also safe, stable and tested.
For this reason, the Committee and the Madaket Wind Project Team review all analysis and opinions regarding wind turbines, not just the positive ones. We feel this is the only way to have effective open public dialog and make informed decisions. Therefore, the Committee shares all information with the public - the potential pros as well as the potential cons. We recommend that everybody become educated on fact-versus-fiction and make your own informed decisions!
Modern Wind Turbines are excessively noisy
Falmouth is our neighbor and we hear and read lots about concerns over their wind turbines. What is the issue with their turbines and how can Nantucket avoid this?
Wind Energy Myths & Facts
This link is a list of Benefits of wind energy compiled by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
NREL has also debunked a number of common myths about wind energy in this document.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory prepared this report about the impact of wind projects on residential property values in the US.
Environmental Law & Policy Center developed this publication detailing community wind development.
FACT: Operating wind turbines, much like trucks, aircraft, boats, and buildings, do emit sounds. The audibility of a wind turbine is influenced by factors such as the turbine type and size, wind speed and direction, and distance from the turbine. For this reason it is important to perform thorough acoustic studies during the project development period. These studies must evaluate both the existing ambient acoustic levels and model the future acoustic levels with a wind turbine operating. These studies should be used to inform the community decision-making process.
Wind turbine sounds come from two sources: the mechanical components of the turbine and the aerodynamic sounds from the flow of air over the blades. Modern wind turbine structures include sound insulation that effectively limits the audibility of the mechanical sounds. Most commonly, it is the aerodynamic “whoosh-whoosh” of the turbine blades that people hear. A number of studies have found no evidence that noise from wind turbines causes direct health effects (see also “health impacts” below). However, peoples’ reactions to sounds, similar to their reactions to seeing turbines, vary, and some may consider the sounds bothersome. Wind projects must comply with the same Department of Environmental Protection noise standards as other sources of sound and all projects should strive to minimize acoustic impacts as much as possible through proper siting.
Myths & Facts: Addressing Public Concerns
Modern wind turbines have been designed to drastically reduce the noise of mechanical components so the most audible noise is the sound of the wind interacting with the rotor blade. The Madaket Wind Turbine is projected to emit an acoustic level of 56 decibels, approximately the same volume as a quiet conversation in the next room. (see video footage).
Shadow flicker is dangerous to human health
FACT Wind energy is a benign technology with no associated emissions, harmful pollutants or waste products. In over 25 years and with more than 68,000 turbines installed around the world, no member of the public has ever been harmed by wind turbines.
Shadow flicker is a phenomenon that occurs under specific environmental conditions when the rotation of wind turbine blades causes alternating periods of shadow and light. This phenomenon occurs at predictable times of the day or year when the position and height of the sun, cloudiness, and wind speed and direction may align to create a flickering effect that can be visible at nearby homes. No direct health effects result from shadow flicker, though it can be considered a nuisance. Shadow flicker impacts can be predicted with a high degree of accuracy in pre-construction studies and project proponents should properly site projects in order to minimize impacts as much as possible. Modern wind turbines can also be programmed to shutdown during times of expected shadow flicker. Flicker impacts can also be mitigated with vegetative buffers or window blinds.
There is a direct link between turbines and illness
Understanding the health implications of any new technology is crucial for its long-term viability and has been taken very seriously for wind projects throughout the world; modern wind turbines are relatively new to the New England landscape, but have been installed in Europe for several decades. The importance of this topic has resulted in multiple scientific studies and government reviews related to wind energy. These studies have consistently found no direct health effects from wind projects. However, the studies do acknowledge that excessive sound and shadow flicker from wind turbines may cause annoyance. In Massachusetts, the Department of Public Health and the Department of Environmental Protection have convened a health panel to review existing literature on potential health impacts from wind turbines. The panel has recently released this report (here), which a Town subcommittee is presently reviewing. From the 27 wind projects over 100 kW installed in MA, there have been very few people that state that they are experiencing health impacts from nearby turbines. The vast majority of projects in Massachusetts have been well-accepted by their host communities and immediate neighbors. The MassCEC is not aware of concerns raised by any workers at locations where turbines are located adjacent to industrial or wastewater treatment facilities.
Property values will be negatively affected
FACT: There are numerous factors that affect property values. Publicly available studies have shown that there is little or no statistical evidence that property values decrease in the immediate vicinity of wind turbine facilities.
March 5, 2012 Memo received from Deborah Dillworth, Town Assessor:
"You have asked what type of adjustments, if any, are being applied to properties located near existing wind turbines on Island. When valuing properties for ad valorem tax purposes, assessors are required to follow very strict guidelines issued by the Department of Revenue. Any unique adjustments to land value, whether positive or negative, require conclusive support from market sales. To date, no adjustments are being applied."
Documents from Hull and Newburyport Assessors and Realtors re: subject of wind turbines and property values:
Wind energy is expensive and economically flawed
FACT: From strictly a cost of energy perspective, wind power is competitive with conventional sources of
energy in areas with moderate to good wind speed. Given that there is no fuel component to wind power, it
is not subject to some of the price volatility that can be experienced by other sources of energy and,
therefore, provides a stable price for utilities and consumers. If external costs (those not included in the market price for energy), such as costs resulting from treatment of air pollution related health conditions and the cost of securing ample sources of fossil fuels, are considered in the evaluation of the relative price of wind power or other forms of renewable energy, these renewable energy sources are much less expensive than fossil fuel burning sources of energy.
Properly-sited wind projects can be financially beneficial for a municipality by reducing electricity prices and providing stability in a time when future electricity prices are uncertain. Wind project economics are highly dependent on the strength of the wind resource at the project site and the Nantucket site has "OUTSTANDING" wind resource. Please visit the economic risk page for more information.
The material provided on this page is for informational purposes only. The studies and analysis are representative of work assimilated by the Energy Study Committee and does not reflect the opinions of the Town of Nantucket nor the Nantucket Board of Selectmen. For alternative analyses of the impacts of wind power on Nantucket, please refer to CommonSense Nantucket at www.commonsensenantucket.org
One turbine will have no impact on climate change or CO2 emissions
Wind power is a clean, renewable source of energy which produces no greenhouse gas emissions or waste products. Power stations are the largest contributor to carbon emissions. We need to switch to forms of energy that do not produce CO2.
Even one turbine yields tremendous environmental and health benefits. There is no “Do Nothing” option that results in no hard to anyone. Unfortunately, doing nothing will continue to cause harmful emissions from fossil fuels that do not need to be combusted: which, for the Madaket project over 20-years, would be 86,958,376 lbs Carbon-Dioxide, 93,352 lbs Sulfur-Dioxide and 194,853 lbs Nitrous Oxide.
Wind Turbines contribute towards excessive bird kills
Today, the wind energy industry has put procedures in place to enhance understanding of birds and how they interrelate with wind turbines. The Madaket Wind Project underwent a series of feasibility studies and environmental assessments before being approved. In this process, the proposed site was monitored and bird populations evaluated. What kinds of birds are on site? What are their habits, flight patterns? Do they nest in the area or simply fly through? Questions like these are answered in an effort to better understand on-site bird populations and to mitigate their potential interactions with wind turbines (see Avian Impact Report). Once built, further monitoring takes place to better understand the ongoing relationship between birds and the wind turbine.
A real concern for birds is noted in the 2004 study in Nature that estimated that up to a quarter of all bird species could become extinct by 2054 due to global climate change, for which wind energy is one of the solutions.
We should invest in other renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency instead of wind power.
FACT: Wind energy's role in combating climate change is not a matter of either-or. We will need a mix of new and existing renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency measures, and as quickly as possible. Wind energy is the most cost effective renewable energy source available to generate clean electricity and help combat climate change right now. Furthermore, developing a strong wind industry will facilitate other renewable technologies which have not reached commercialization yet, accumulating valuable experience in dealing with issues such as grid connection, supply chain and finance.
Additional Information and Alternative Opinions on Wind Energy:
NOTE: The Madaket Wind Turbine Project (Article 13) was defeated in the 2012 Annual Town Meeting on March 31. 2012. This website is retained for archival and reference purposes.