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Website maintained by Dawn Bruns* (Sunset Beach Resident, Sunset Beach Community Association board member) *The findings and conclusions in this website are those of the author and do not represent the official views of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Summary of public health effects expected to occur on Oahu from the low-frequency impulse sound from the proposed wind turbines Folder: Wind Turbine Noise Health Effects
- The Na Pua Makani 3.45 Vestas Megawatt turbines would be the largest ever installed on land in the United States.
- Na Pua Makani, owned by AES Corporation from Arlington, Virginia, has inexplicably received approvals to construct eight Vestas 3.45 MW turbines (0.31 mile (502 meters, 549 yards, 1,648 feet) from the residential-zoned subdivision of Kahuku, where Kahuku Elementary, Kahuku High School, and Kahuku Medical Center and Emergency Room, and approximately 450 homes would be within 2,000 meters of the wind turbines.
- The 2014 TetraTech Noise Assessment in the EIS says, in black and white, the low-frequency noise from the wind turbines (if they were smaller 3.0 MW turbines assessed in their EIS) would cause 83 dB at 8 Hz and 76 dB at 16 Hz in the residential area of Kahuku, exceeding the 65 dB 16 Hz ANSI threshold for onset of annoyance / nuisance. and far exceeding the 45 dB 16 Hz threshold for severe impact from wind turbine low-frequency pulses shown in the graph below (Cape Bridgewater study by the wind farm itself, 2014).The noise attributes of the actual 3.45 MW turbine they are bringing in is not disclosed – all we know is the low frequency impulses from the 3.45 MW turbine will be higher sound pressure levels than any other wind turbine operating on land in the US (Larger Turbines = Higher Sound Pressure Pulses). Because the applicant’s own document anticipates nuisance noise, we don’t need to experience it to get it shut down. Because the applicant’s noise assessment is for a 3.0 MW turbine and they are bringing in a 3.45 MW turbine, nothing more is needed to halt their construction (nuisance noise litigation summary) (Nuisance law, everybody has the right to do what they want with their property — as long and they don’t prevent me from using my property.), Getting Permits Does not Allow Nuisance Wind Farm to Operate). There is no mitigation other than distance – the damages would far exceed the wind farm’s gross receipts (for power they dump into a tiny distribution line where most of it will dissipate as heat – this is crazy). We can’t all go live in underground bunkers for the next 20 years to be able to sleep. If these turbines are built, they are coming down.
- Na Pua Makani’s EIS asserts “Adverse effects to property values not anticipated.” The EIS also asserts there would be “no high or adverse effects to any minority or low income population and, therefore, no environmental justice issues resulting from this Project.”
- Folder: Wind Turbine Noise Health Effects; Videos: Falmouth, MA Health Board 2012, 2019 NY Wind Turbine Health Hearings, Australia, New Zealand Residents, Infrasound Noise Equipment Midwest, UK residents 10 km setback request.).
- Honolulu, Kauai, and Maui will be exposed to low-frequency pulses of air (inaudible sound) from the Na Pua Makani wind turbines. Even at my house’s three-mile close distance, most of the low-frequency sound from the current small turbines comes from above.
- A high percentage of the Kahuku and Pupukea residents living within 1.3 miles (2,100 meters) of the smaller existing wind turbines are experiencing annoyance (including sleep disturbance, headaches after exposure to the wind turbines for two hours, waking with tinnitus, high blood pressure that resolves when the person moves away from the wind turbine, and children acting up). These symptoms are markedly absent when the wind turbines are off. I live three miles downwind from the 2.5 MW smaller turbines of the Kahuku Wind Farm and I feel noticeably rested in the morning when the Kahuku turbines are off – even when it’s windy – and feel tired, even after sleeping 10 hours, when the turbines are on at night. The existing wind turbines are smaller than the proposed turbines – there are 30 2.3 MW turbines one mile (1,600 meters) downwind from the Pupukea neighborhood and there are 12 2.5 MW turbines 0.7 mile (1,200 meters) downwind from Kahuku. If the existing turbines were not scheduled for removal in 12 years, it would be worthwhile to litigate to have the existing turbines removed due to nuisance noise.
- If the low frequency sound of the 3.45 MW turbine is only 3 dB higher than the current 2.5 MW turbines, the sound pressure level I am exposed to at my house when my sleep is disturbed by the current turbines, would occur 6 miles from the new turbines. Laie and Sunset Beach would experience similar levels of low-frequency sound pressure level. The rule of thumb for low-frequency sound attenuation is each increase of 3 dB, doubles the distance exposed to the annoyance-levels of low-frequency wind turbine noise.
- In 2011 through 2013, when these turbines became operational, residents in Kahuku and Pupukea, even in places where the wind farm noise is not audible, immediately noticed not feeling rested after “sleeping”, irritability, headaches, tinnitus, and heart palpitations. Chronic exposure to the wind turbines has given some people high blood pressure. When the turbines are off (when there is no wind or they are all off for some other reason), children in Kahuku and Pupukea who are normally rambunctious and agitated in the morning (what the parents thought as their child’s normal personality) have noticeably calm mornings.
- When the existing smaller wind turbines in Kahuku and Kawailoa Wind Farms are off for the 5 m/s April – November low wind speed curtailment, or when they are down for maintenance during high winds, residents, even 3.2 miles away are now realizing we feel tired the next day, even after eight hours of “sleep”; when the turbines are completely off, it is striking how soundly we sleep. We would like the existing turbines to be turned off at night to prevent endangered bat deaths and to enable us get a good night’s sleep. In Wisconsin, eight 2.5 MW Clipper wind turbines (the same model as the 12 turbines currently operating in Kahuku) were declared a public health hazard because they adversely affected human health at residences 4.2 miles away (low-frequency sound detected in homes 6 miles away).
- One low-frequency noise source does not “mask out” another (as Na Pua Makani claims) – they are additive. The 2014 noise assessment says the existing ambient sounds in these low frequencies sometimes exceeds the 16 Hz 65 dB annoyance threshold – Presumably from the existing wind turbines or the continuous white noise of large ocean surf rumbling across the reef. The concerning thing is noise is cumulative – one source of noise does not “mask out” another – they are additive. For this reason, the loud window AC units the wind farm funded for Kahuku schools (presumably to mask the audible turbine sound) are likely to backfire and cause the impulses of sound to appear even louder in the classrooms. A 40 decibel 8 Hz pulse from a wind turbine in a soundscape with 40 decibel 8 Hz sound means distinguishable 44 decibel pulses from the turbine register. (Note, Because decibels are logarithmic, 40+40 = 44, rather than 80). Noise effects are cumulative – because Kahuku (from existing turbines) and the North Shore (during the winter swells) are already exposed to high levels of low-frequency noise, the impact of the proposed turbines would be even more serious than if the turbines were located somewhere with low levels of low-frequency sound. At our house, North Shore breaking surf is usually white noise as the large whitewater rumbles across the Sunset/Backyards and Waialee reefs – only once in a while does a giant individual wave break on Twisted Sister and wake us up – surf can be giant and as long as Twisted Sister isn’t causing individual standout noise, we sleep very soundly when there is big surf (when the turbines are off).
- All of these adverse health effects constitute “nuisance” and “annoyance”. The burden of proof for prosecuting nuisance is easy so that’s how wind farms all over the world are litigated. The burden of proof for adverse health effects is more difficult; it is not necessary to say these are adverse effects to health – simply they are annoyance and nuisance.
- Low-frequency sound attenuates (decreases) at a rate of 3 dB per doubling of distance (Nasa 1985), the sound impulses experienced three miles from the smaller turbines would occur six miles from a turbine that is 3 decibels louder. A turbine that is 6 dB higher pulse pressure would cause a person 12 miles away to experience the same pressure pulses we experience at three miles from the smaller existing turbines. The island of Oahu is only 44 miles long.
- Two US wind farms have been taken down because of sleep disturbance, psychological conditions in children and adults, high blood pressure, and other adverse health effects, which are, in laws protecting US residents, considered “nuisance” and “annoyance” Falmouth, MA Health Board 2012, and Iowa, November 2018. Nuisance and annoyance include all of the adverse health effects, but have a lower burden of proof – nuisance is easy to prosecute. If even one of the proposed 3.45 MW turbines is built and allowed to operate, the human health effects would be so far-reaching, I assume the City Council will legislate updated wind turbine size limits and setback requirements that will result in Na Pua Makani removal (or this may be a good time to re-consider splitting Honolulu’s rural areas into a separate county so we can protect ourselves). It costs only $150,000 to take down one wind turbine. And there will be no need for the estimated $100,000/day it is costing AES to arrest the public blocking the trucks hauling turbine parts to the wind farm. AES indicated decommissioned wind turbine blades would be put in our landfill. The wind turbines, tower sections, and blades should be loaded back on the ship they came in on.
- Prosecution at other wind farms is based on annoyance from wind turbine low-frequency (for instance 8 Hz) sound resonating structures in the audible 38-42 Hz, 60-80-110-115-120 Hz frequencies in homes, schools, the hotels, and the hospital with a line of sight to the new turbines. If the turbines end up being built and allowed to operate, a class action law suit would require the affected people to raise a minimum of $700,000 (by taking out home equity loans, during a period when their home equity has evaporated because of the wind turbines) to pay lawyers and an expert witness acoustic specialist. Class-action litigation enables residents, parents of affected school children (including wealthy North Shore lawyer parents), and the hotels to recuperate the harm done to them during any periods of time the turbines are allowed to operate. Turtle Bay Resort, alone, with 400 rooms at $400/night reimbursing their guests who have trouble sleeping – at 80% full occupancy would cost them $128,000/night. I have no idea what harm done to their 5-star ratings would do to Turtle Bay’s future profits, but I have a feeling Na Pua Makani is about to find out. At maximum capacity, Na Pua Makani would only gross around $10 Million a year – so it’s ideal that AES is a multi-billion dollar company.
- AES Chief Operating Officer Mr. Miller’s assertion that these high-decibel impulses of audible and low-frequency sound from the spinning turbine blades would not directly affect human health is like saying cigarettes do not directly affect human health – as if the “direct” connection is limited to something like a pallet of cigarettes falling and crushing someone.
- The 65 dB ANSI threshold for low-frequency sound is based on effects of less-harmful traffic and aircraft noise. The physiological response to wind turbine sound is significantly greater than the physiological response to the same decibel sound from traffic and aircraft noise Schaffer 2016.
- There is no safe place for a 3.45 MW wind turbine to operate on any island in Hawaii; no turbine larger than 2.5 MW should be built on Oahu, and the existing 2.3 and 2.5 MW turbines should be shut down at night or moved farther away from our residential areas. Alternatively, areas we want to operate industrial wind turbines near residential areas should be re-zoned industrial.
- To inform updated wind turbine setback requirements, ALL Oahu residents should begin noting, on a calendar, days you wake and feel well-rested. If you have time, jot down the following each day when you wake up:
You should also jot on a calendar each morning if you: Have a Headache? Have ringing in your ears? Feel very tired? Children are quiet or agitated? Because high blood pressure can occur after six months of chronic exposure to wind turbines, and the high blood pressure can resolve when the wind stops or when people living near turbines go to work in another town, it’s also important for Oahu residents to learn to monitor blood pressure at home. Permanent damage to your heart and kidneys can develop from undetected, untreated high blood pressure.
- If you are interested in assessing whether or not the wind turbines are affecting your sleep, you can look at the hourly wind speed data for yourself. April through November, all Hawaii wind turbines are shut down (to somewhat reduce bat kills) when wind is less than 5 meters/second (around 11 mph). So if wind speed, all night, at the weather station 20 feet off the ground, was well below 11 mph, the turbines at Kahuku and Kawailoa Wind Farms were off all night, if it was near 10 mph, the turbines could have started up/stopped several times during that hour (Hourly Wind Speeds – James Campbell NWR weather station)
- If you find the current wind turbines have affected your health, send confidential health effects of the existing small wind turbines to: email@example.com, to inform the November 22, 2019 hearing about Na Pua Makani Wind Farm, send general (not confidential) information about the health effects to PUC.firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Docket # 2013-0423 (the Na Pua docket number).
- Low frequency 16 Hz sound caused by the wind farm would exceed 65 dB – they do not disclose the distance the exceedence will occur; they do not disclose any sound information about the new 3.45 MW turbine. The EIS indicates the 65 dB low frequency noise would be masked by existing noise, even though no such noise currently exists in their residential area noise monitoring data. Their EIS indicates “2.3.1 15BANSI S12.9 Part 4 The ANSI S12.9 Part 4 (ANSI 2005 https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ENwJAf_6lSUE98rhQKeeR2NcakcJbt4T ) provides guidelines for determining annoyance from sound propagating outdoors. Annex D of ANSI S12.9 Part 4 includes methods for assessing environmental sounds with strong low-frequency content. Annoyance is found to be minimal when sound levels in the low frequency midband frequencies of 16 – 63 Hz are less than 65 dB, which corresponds to the threshold for the onset of impacts in these lower frequencies. Part 4 also states that LFN passes through structures with relative ease and is nearly equal to outdoor predicted sound” “Negligible low frequency noise/infrasound impacts.” Page ES-6. Infrasound: “The nearest legal residence is located 814 feet (248 meters) from a proposed turbine. Low frequency noise/Infrasound level is predicted to be 83 dB at 8 Hz and 76 dB at 16 Hz which are both well below the threshold of human hearing and the DEFRA limits but higher than the ANSI S12.9 Part 4 guideline of 65 dB at 16 Hz. With regard to the 65 dB ANSI S12.9 Part 4 guideline, because the baseline sound levels are already above this threshold, the likelihood of complaints is low given that the low frequency noise/infrasound would be at least partially masked by existing low frequency noise / infrasound. Therefore, there is no anticipated low frequency noise / infrasound impact from the Project”.
- The EIS says there would be “no high or adverse effects to any minority or low income population and, therefore, no environmental justice issues resulting from this Project.” According to the Census Bureau, Kahuku has a total population of 2,614 people in 622 housing units (53% owner-occupied; 47% renting) that are 8.6% (224) white, 34% (888) Native Hawaiian; 26% (641) Filipino, and 31% (823) two or more races, 62% born in Hawai‘i, 23.5% born in foreign country. Twenty five percent of the of population 25 years and older did not graduate from high school; 53% of Kahuku residents completed no more than 8th grade.
Na Pua Makani Wind Farm’s gross misrepresentations of the effects of the 3.45 MW turbines to human health in their application submittals for various licenses and permits give the regulatory agencies grounds to rescind the Na Pua Makani Wind Farm licenses and permits without a need for litigation.
Impacts would be far-reaching – well beyond Kahuku:
Based on published sound data from other wind farms (see links to publications below) and the limited infrasound data provided by the developer, the 1 Hz low-frequency (inaudible) impulse sound produced by each turbine blade pass could be between 103 dB and 143 dB. Because low-frequency sound does not attenuate rapidly like audible sound, these impulses would impact residents more than 30 miles away (see figure below). These turbine blade impulses (spikes) of sound are below 1.5 Hz (harmonics develop at higher frequencies).
Residents many miles from the proposed Na Pua Makani Wind Farm would be exposed to chronic high-energy impulses of low-frequency, inaudible sound energy. Link to Video of Oct 10, 2019 Koolauloa Neighborhood Board Meeting (starting at 56:00) and Link to Oct 10, Koolauloa Neighborhood Board Powerpoint
Impulses of the fundamental frequency, approximately 1 Hz, low-frequency sound would exceed 90 decibels at the two schools in Kahuku and may be 71 decibels in Kaaawa and Waialua. If Na Pua Makani Wind Farm is allowed to operate during school hours, the schools and university in Kahuku, Laie, Sunset Beach, Haleiwa, Waialua, and Hauula should be closed to protect student health. The Hawaiian Islands are too small to house such large wind turbines.
Kahuku Community Association, Kū Kia’i Kahuku, Sunset Beach Community Association, North Shore Neighborhood Board members, Keep the North Shore Country, Life of the Land, State Senator Gil Riverie, State Rep Sean Quinlan, City Councilmember Heidi Tsuneyoshi, pro-bono lawyers, paid lawyers, and members of the community are working on many fronts to prevent implementation of Na Pua Makani Wind Farm.
These proposed Na Pua Makani turbines would be the largest wind turbines ever built on land in the US. The repetitive low-frequency impulses (0.5 to 1.5 Hz, inaudible sound (1 Hz sound has a wavelength of 1,100 feet (343 meters)) from each turbine downward blade pass of the tower (and the harmonics of that sound (2, 4, 6, 8 Hz, etc) adversely affect human sleep, blood pressure, and psychology. Because these wind turbine health effects resolve (with the exception of permanent damage resulting from undetected, untreated conditions such as high blood pressure) when there is no wind or when people sell homes/move, the cause of these health conditions is attributed to the wind turbines (Reviewed in Punch and James 2016; Peer Reviewed Scientific Journal Articles Health Effects Wind Turbines: 2012, 2010; link to health effects references folder: Folder: Wind Turbine Noise Health Effects; Videos: Falmouth, MA Health Board 2012, 2019 NY Wind Turbine Health Hearings, Australia, New Zealand Residents, Infrasound Noise Equipment Midwest, UK residents 10 km setback request.).
Kū Kia’i Kahuku – A’ole Turbines (photo by Nate Yuen)
We need to know what the maximum sound pressure level of 0.5 to 1.5 Hz sound the turbine will produce. Based on the information in the wind farm’s 2014 noise study, and sound physics information, we can estimate anticipated low-frequency noise levels. Because page 44 of the wind farm’s 2014 noise study discloses the low-frequency 8 Hz sound pressure level (if this were a 3.0 MW turbine, rather than the “louder 3.45 MW turbine) would be an extraordinary 83 dB at 205 meters (where the elementary school and residential subdivision are), sound pressure level at 8 Hz would exceed the 65 dB ANSI S12.9 Part 4 (ANSI 2005) Annex D threshold for onset of adverse effects to humans two miles away from the wind farm (based on 6 dB attenuation for the first 1.2 km, and 3 dB attenuation for the subsequent doubling of distance (Nasa 1985 and Hansen et al 2015).
Rhythmic low frequency impulses in the 0 to 1.5 Hz range are produced when the fast-moving turbine blade passes the support tower (harmonics of that frequency result at 2x, 4x, 8x etc., that fundamental frequency). Low-frequency noise sound pressure level increases with turbine blade length and because available turbine size increases each year, previous noise research was conducted near turbines that are smaller and produce significantly less low-frequency (0-1.5 Hz) sound than the proposed Na Pua Makani 3.45 MW wind turbines. The number of impulses per second increases and decreases with wind speed and adjustments made to the turbine blade – the human brain appears to be particularly interested in paying attention when the rhythm is changed. Each impulse also causes harmonics (see below).
Very high rates of adverse health effects would occur in the town of Kahuku if Na Pua Makani was allowed to operate. Example of “Very high” rates of adverse effects: Nissenbaum et al 2012 found that more than 70% of people living within 1,400 meters of industrial wind turbines wish to move away from the wind turbine, 24% of them started new prescription psychotropic drugs in the six months to three and a half years since the turbines were installed (versus zero in the farther from turbines groups), and 36-64% reported improved sleep when away from the turbines (versus 4-9% of people living farther from turbines). McMurtry 2011 and McMurtry and Krogh 2014 attribute the cause of adverse health effects to a wind turbine when the person resides within 3.1 miles (5,000 m, 5 km) of a wind turbine and symptoms ameliorate when the person moves farther than 3.1 miles (5 km) from the wind turbine. The risk of adverse health effects is reduced four miles from wind turbines Nissenbaum et al 2012 although 2.5 MW Clipper turbines (the same model as the 12 at the Kahuku Wind Farm) were declared a public health hazard because they were adversely affecting resident’s health 4.2 miles (6,759 meters) away (Wisconsin eight 2.5 MW turbines declared public health hazard).
List of Health effects of wind turbine inaudible low-frequency infrasound:
High blood pressure (Sometimes only when the person is sleeping does their blood pressure become dangerously high – 24-hour monitors are sometimes needed to diagnose dangerously-high blood pressure caused by wind turbines. Very dangerous permanent damage can occur if untreated, however, taking high blood pressure medication is particularly dangerous because when the resident near the wind farm takes medication to control the high blood pressure, the person’s blood pressure becomes dangerously low when the wind stops and when they move away from the wind turbines);
Sleep Disturbance: In Kahuku town and Sunset Beach, parents report children are sleeping poorly when the existing smaller wind turbines are on – agitated, not staying in their beds, not sleeping through the night. And when the turbines are off for whatever reason, children sleep through the whole night and don’t have tantrums in the morning. Most adults in Kahuku and Sunset Beach who are tracking the quality of their sleep in relation to turbine operation also notice improved sleep when the turbines are off, even on windy nights with large ocean swells (where there would be a lot of ambient infrasound). If the turbines are off, people who wake feeling tired when the turbines are on wake feeling well-rested. Three miles away, I notice even if I am sleeping for 9 hours, I feel tired when the wind turbines were on at night – I feel like I am not getting deep sleep, and when I’ve slept for only six or seven hours when the turbines are off, I wake feeling well-rested.
Tachycardia [abnormal heart beat] and heart palpitations (usually at night, appears to begin to occur approximately six months after the wind farm has been operating; resolves when the person is away on a work trip or when they sell their house and move to safety);
Headaches: Headaches occur within about an hour of exposure (within 2 miles) of the existing 2.5 MW turbines, and resolves about 30 minutes after leaving the wind farm area, headaches are occurring. These seem to be classified as migraines – the reported pain is either sharp pain (but focused on the entire forehead or front/top of the head, rather than starting on one side or the other) or a dull pain from a feeling of fullness/pressure of the whole head;
Irritability (Children’s irritability and misbehavior is often attributed to their age, until the turbines are off and the children are normal or family moves away from the wind farm and the parents notice the child isn’t irritable);
Panic attacks (Seems to be associated with tachycardia and startling awake at night, occurring a distance of three miles from wind turbines (Nissenbaum et al 2012) MA, Aramini JJ, Hanning CD. Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health. Noise & Health, 2012;14:237-243);
Tinnitus, feeling ears popping, Nausea, Feeling Carsick, and Visual blurring
The sound pressure of sounds at frequencies below 10 Hz is generally not high enough (loud enough) to be audible to humans (dogs can hear low frequencies better than humans, and whales, elephants, and other animals regularly communicate using low-frequency sound, low-frequency sound). However, the structures of the human ear are very attuned to detecting low-frequency sound because this is the range of sound produced by very dangerous things such as volcanoes, avalanches, and earthquakes. It’s likely that this is why the wind turbine blade impulses detected by our ear are of great interest to our brain (even when we are asleep and completely unaware of the impulses). Turbine blade startup and stoppages, and changes in blade rotation speed appear to be particularly problematic (the brain appears to pay particular attention when changes in the rhythm occur). The physiological response to wind turbine sound is significantly greater than the physiological response to the same decibel sound from traffic and aircraft noise Schaffer 2016 and Rapley 2019.
Many People Will Feel Pressing Need to Get Away from the Turbines; The Danger is Greater for Those Who Stay: People who are uncomfortable because of the low-frequency wind turbine sound will be motivated to find a way out (due to nausea, feeling carsick, visual blurring, headaches, irritability, panic attacks with sensations of internal quivering, feeling ears popping, or tinnitus). This is expected to be approximately 30% of people – and tend to be the people who also experience motionsickness, people with damage to their hearing, people who experience migraines, people younger than six, and kupuna. The remaining 70% of people would not experience discomfort, but by staying near the turbines, they would face serious health consequences including high blood pressure and adverse permanent damage to their heart.
Sensitization: To make matters worse for Kahuku and Haleiwa residents, humans don’t habituate to low-frequency sound – previous exposure sensitized people to the sound, increasing their risk of health effects with exposure. North Shore residents who have been chronically exposed to the smaller levels of infrasound from the 12 smaller 2.5 MW Kahuku wind turbines 1,200 meters from the residential area, and the Pupukea residents 1,600 meters away from the 30 3.0 MW Kawailoa wind turbines may be more sensitive to wind turbine low-frequency sound than people who have not been exposed. People with previous chronic exposure to a wind turbine may have a heightened physiological response to the effects of wind turbines.
Wind Turbine Low-Frequency Sound Measurement and Sound Attenuation with Distance:
Examples of sonograms of the sound recorded near wind turbines are shown below. The first figure shows 13-seconds of sound – full-spectrum, including audible noise:
The 2014 TetraTech noise study told us the 8 Hz found pressure level would be 83 dB at 200 meters. The figure below shows us how much quieter the 8 Hz sound is than the fundamental frequencies (at 1.0 and 1.3 Hz) (Pilger and Cerrana 2016). The figure shows the 5-minute averaged sound measured over three days. 1.0 and 1.3 Hz fundamental frequencies produced by the turbine blades, and harmonics of those vibrations (multiples of the fundamental frequency, like octaves, all produced by the original/fundamental (and louder) 1.0 and 1.3 Hz vibration of air (sound) visible as horizontal stripes. The lower-frequency sound is wind pressure on the sensor. Because these are five-minute averages, the decibel level of the impulses (distinct high-pressure sounds) are much higher decibels than the five-minute average.
In all of the data I’ve seen, the fundamental frequency impulses (below 1.5 Hz) are at least 20 decibels louder than the 8 Hz sound level. The following figure from Salt, shows wind turbine blade sounds in relation to the threshold of human hearing. 8 Hz wind turbine sound is around 68 decibels and the sound pressure level of the turbine blade fundamental frequency (below 1.5 Hz) is above 90 decibels. Low frequency sound is audible if it’s very loud – you can listen to low-frequency sound on your cell phone or or computer speakers if you turn the volume up very high (lots of YouTube videos of low-frequency sound played as continuous, white noise – high volumes can damage your hearing but the white noise is a continuous sound, not an impulse sound, so other than damage to your ear structures, listening infrasound at an audible (high) volume will (depending on the frequency) generally not hurt you.
Low-Frequency Sound Attenuation (Transmission Loss):
Rule of thumb is low-frequency sounds attenuate with doubling of distance at much lower rate than audible sound. A rule of thumb is low-frequency sound attenuates at an initial rate of 6 dB/doubling of distance the first 1.2 km, then 3 dB/doubling of distance (Nasa 1985 and Hansen et al 2015) while audible sound attenuates at 6 to 7.5 dB/doubling of distance.
Sound moves and attenuates differently under different weather and atmospheric conditions. Sound is pushed by the wind, low-frequency sound is reflected by the ground (reflection shown in figure below) and sound bounces off “stable” levels of the atmosphere, essentially creating a tunnel conduit for the sound. Because of the bouncing, areas of the landscape far removed from the wind turbines can experience high levels of low-frequency sound, as shown below.
These sound reflections appear to cause what looks like ripples in the 5 pm transmission loss map below – there will be parts of the downwind landscape that receive much higher sound levels than areas closer to the turbines (the sound will skip over some parts of the landscape when the atmosphere is unstable (cumulus cloud conditions for example)). Sound transmission loss maps (shown in the example below) show how many decibels lower the sound will be than it is at the source. Because the Na Pua Makani turbines are larger than any installed on land in the US, and they don’t disclose the maximum level of 0.5 to 1.5 Hz sound the proposed turbine would produce, the ranges presented below are estimates based on the information they did provide in the 2014 noise assessment. The 1 Hz (fundamental frequency) of the low-frequency turbine sound will be between 103 dB and 143 dB (as described below) 200 meters from the wind farm. Using the transmission loss maps below (subtract the transmission loss on the map below to determine what the dB level would be at any particular point), that means that people five to six km (3.1 to 3.7 miles) from the wind farm would be in an area where transmission loss is less than 50 dB, so the low-frequency impulses from the turbines would be 53 to 93 dB (103-50 to 143-50), day and night. At 30 km (18.6 mi) downwind from the wind farm, where transmission loss in the unstable (daytime) atmosphere is approximately 72 dB, the 143 dB sound would be 71 dB (143-72); 103 dB sound would be 31 dB (103-72). At night, during stable air conditions, the transmission loss 30 km (18.6 mi) downwind would be only 67 dB, and the sound pressure level would be 35-75 dB.
The low-frequency sound information in Na Pua’s 2014 noise study are so incomplete there is much room for cherry-picking and misrepresentation of anticipated infrasound from these very large turbine blades. As shown in the figures above (from Marcillo et al 2015), depending on exactly where the measurement is taken, low-frequency sound levels vary dramatically (by more than 40 dB) in different directions and in different patterns in the area within 3 km of the turbine. In this Albequerque, New Mexico wind farm landscape example, with a west wind, sound is very high on the south side of the wind farm and almost silent/background levels that same distance north of the turbine within 3 km of the turbine. Therefore, we can’t discount the possibility that the 83 dB disclosed in the 2014 Na Pua noise study (at 205 meters) for 8 Hz sound could be 123 dB on the other side of the wind farm at an equal distance. Additionally, because the highest sound pressure of low-frequency (the fundamental frequency) produced by a wind turbine is between 0.2 and 1.5 Hz range, and sound pressure from wind turbines appear to consistently be 20 dB higher than the 8 Hz sound level (as shown in Hansen et al 2015 Figure 6, for 3 MW Vestas90 44-m blade length turbines), the 0.2 to 1.5 Hz sound pressure level that could be caused by operation of the Na Pua turbine, at 205 meters, could be 143 dB (or more). If Na Pua Makani turbines cause 0.2 to 2 Hz impulses of 103 dB at 205 meters those very low frequency impulses from each turbine blade pass could exceed the 65 dB ANSI threshold more than 100 km (62 miles) away at night. If the 1 Hz sound at 205 meters is 143 dB rather than 103 dB (since 1 Hz fundamental frequency would be around 20 dB louder than 8 Hz harmonic, and to allow for the 205 meter sound level reported being on the “quiet” side of the wind farm), high sound levels would extend even farther than 100 km.
Peaks in sound level will occur on the landscape where sound from one turbine overlaps from sound from the other turbines (or with the white noise background sound of surf whitewater rolling in over the reefs).
Thorne heightened noise zones will occur where sound from adjacent turbines overlaps. Residents closer to the turbines may experience less noise disturbance than these heightened noise zones farther from the turbines.
The most stable atmospheric conditions occur at night (the worst-case scenario would be infrasound sound from a turbine in a gulch such as those above Wā’iāle’e, Paumalū, and Waimea Bay, where the inversion and sinking cold air from the mountains would trap and funnel the sound down through the valley – already known to cause wind turbine sleep disturbance problems at the mouth of Waimea Valley, below the Kawailoa Wind Farm). Fortunately, when the atmosphere is unstable (because of daytime land heating, mixing, cumulus cloud conditions), this sound would attenuate as it’s lost into the atmosphere (so maybe we would all just need to sleep during the day).
In the past three weeks, we’ve realized that since at least 2010, peer reviewed scientific studies have documented harmful health effects of wind turbines and yet Na Pua Makani has always asserted there would be “no high or adverse effects… from this project”. October 1, 2019, AES Chief Operating Officer of the US unit of AES Mark E. Miller, in response to a request from the public for a 2.8-mile setback, made the bold startling assertion (to 100 members of the public, who’ve been sitting in contraflow traffic at Waimea this past week, relocating their farm operations, and suffering sleep disturbance due to blasting at the wind farm construction site) at City councilmember Heidi Tsuneyoshi’s public meeting) that the wind farm “will not have an adverse impact to people”.
The World Health Organization Assessment of Wind Turbine Health Impacts include the following “The other irrefutable conclusion is that the wind industry has been given a regulatory path to profits with an unfathomable license to hurt in the form of sleep deprivation (and associated disease) for a very long time….there is a direct pathway to disease resulting from wind turbine noise.” and “The impacts recognized by the WHO Guidelines are likely to cause some concern for the wind industry that has chronically, methodically, and systemically, over a long period of time, blocked the flow of information, denying, obfuscating, and blaming helpless victims for “poor coping skills.”
Na Pua Makani Wind Farm’s gross misrepresentations of the effects of the 3.45 MW turbines to human health in their application submittals for various licenses and permits give the regulatory agencies grounds to rescind the Na Pua Makani Wind Farm licenses and permits without a need for litigation.
Without any New Legislation, Na Pua Makani May Exceed the Existing Legal Nighttime Audible Noise (dBA) Limit: Na Pua Makani Wind Farm operation would exceed the legal limit that prohibits noise from exceeding 45 decibels more than 10% of any 20-minute period at night in residential-zoned areas. Na Pua Makani said the wind farm would cause audible noise level (dBA) to average (Leq) 44 decibels in the residential-zoned area – if the average is 44 decibels, the noise will exceed 45 decibels more than 10% of the time. Na Pua Makani said ambient noise in the residential area is already 44 decibels at night, but nighttime Leq is a very quiet 28 dB (or lower). Their three permanent noise sensors are located a sea of 6-ft tall guinea grass rustling in the wind (because they claimed they couldn’t get permission from any homeowners to put the noise sensor in the neighborhood (see screen capture from noise study below).
Nighttime shutdown of the turbines, to prevent the turbines from killing endangered bats, will reduce the wind farm’s nuisance noise-harm. The wind farm would gross approximately $10 million/year with their $0.15/kwh power purchase agreement, so they can afford to shut down 45% of the time, at night, to conserve the bats (and the town). The State of Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources (the same Board members who had just approved the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea), who are entrusted with managing this State land to benefit Native Hawaiian people, approved the Na Pua Makani Wind Farm on State land, even though they could have (as pointed out by Keep the North Shore country and Kahuku Community Association in their contested case hearings, as recommended by the State’s attorney) required the nighttime shutdown as required by state endangered species law.
Of the noise aspects of this project the National Wind-Watch.org said “The closeness of this project to homes and a school should worry officials (or they should be made to worry). They should review the nuisance case of Falmouth Massachusetts, where first, the turbines had to be shut down at night to allow the neighbors to sleep, and finally shut down completely, costing the town many millions.” (Wind Turbine Noise Health Effects).
This is our Mauna Kea – We are Mauna Kea. Kū Kia’i Kahuku – A’ole wind turbines. The injustices of this Board of Land and Natural Resources against Native Hawaiians are startling.
September 11, 2019 Update: Last night the wind developer offered to pay $4 million or something for a rec center and pool that the City/County is already working on funding regardless of the wind farm – got zero applause – met with silence (just like Kahuku is going to stay because these things are not going to be built). The residents of Kahuku do not want to move away so they can have a safe place to live – in 12 years the existing Kahuku Wind Farm will be removed – and we can’t imaging the prospect of a new wind farm that would last another 20 years. If we could all pick up and move to a safe place and just be reimbursed for our property value losses, that would be one thing (it would cost the wind farm more than they would gross in 20 years to pay us, but it could be done) – however, we don’t want to move – families have deep roots to this place – the Kahuku, Laie, and Sunset Beach areas are high and dry, safe from sea level rise. Kahuku has affordable housing – where do you expect us to move to if you keep building wind turbines up here? We believe we can shield 40 decibels of low-frequency sound with 1 meter thick sandbags – so we think we can build structures to sleep in when the wind turbines are on for the next 12 years. But if you’re going to force this new wind farm on us, what are we going to do?
Na Pua Makani SFEIS fails to disclose to Federal, State, and County permitting agencies how noisy the wind turbines will be, situated so close to residential areas. Na Pua Makani’s EIS says there would be “no high or adverse effects to any minority or low income population and, therefore, no environmental justice issues resulting from this Project.” According to the Census Bureau, Kahuku has a total population of 2,614 people in 622 housing units (53% owner-occupied; 47% renting) that are 8.6% (224) white, 34% (888) Native Hawaiian; 26% (641) Filipino, and 31% (823) two or more races, 62% born in Hawai‘i, 23.5% born in foreign country. Twenty five percent of the of population 25 years and older did not graduate from high school; 53% of Kahuku residents completed no more than 8th grade.
Video interviews and testimony by residents in Massachusetts, the midwest, New Zealand, and Australia describing effects of wind turbines on their health,and 2019 NY State hearings addressing protection of public health from wind turbines:
Falmouth, MA, 2012 Board of Health public hearing testimony by people living within a mile of two 1.65 MW turbines – the turbines had just been shut down at nighttime – and after this hearing, the turbines ended up being removed permanently: Falmouth, MA, 2012 Board of Health Public Testimony Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rguPxQ93Qc&fbclid=IwAR3VITCbpzZdGHkGzucE0H0Kt49JpvKnAIr38i3rny8pLOQL_PxHiFkGsqg
Video of residents explaining health effects of wind turbines up to 2.8 miles away, in Australia and New Zealand: https://www.wind-watch.org/video-pandora.php
September 10, 2019: New York Wind Turbine Setback Hearings: https://www.wind-watch.org/video-lincoln-ny.php where Jerry Punch presents a summary of decades of research regarding health effects of wind turbines: https://docs.wind-watch.org/Punch-James-Wind-Turbine-Noise-16-09-30.pdf and in Robert Rand, Rand Acoustics talk, infrasound discussion starts around 20:00 and he explained people who are sensitized to wind turbine noise can’t live within four miles of wind turbines.
2019 Iowa County proposes 1.5-mile setback from farm dwellings (all residences, not just residential-zoned areas): https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/money/agriculture/2019/08/27/midamerican-proposed-turbine-setbacks-would-wipe-out-wind-development/2132245001/
Video showing infrasound noise equipment and results near wind farm in the midwest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibsxVKU6B8s&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR2n93wZFMTn-T_4HtscKrfwHqre-7LVqIVMkVhfIGhyxe7_yM5wXq1jaz4
Recommendation to keep wind turbines 10 km (6.2 miles) from homes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEh3sooKU8A&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR3h1gUjAjJzQNH5G_-_2RUmGBi3IPAgQATJkd6z6_jd4x6JDCfwdnPzKRU
More Details about Endangered Bat Litigation
Endangered Bats: To get a license to kill an endangered animal, endangered species law requires the project to offset take of the endangered species with mitigation to the “maximum extent practicable”. This is relatively easy to do for most species – you can boost Hawaiian goose and Hawaiian seabird reproductive success from 5% to 80% by protecting nests from cat, mongoose, and rat predators. Back in 2009-2012, when the incidental take licenses for the first five Hawaii wind farms were issued, it was totally reasonable for the DLNR to conclude the solitary tree-roosting bat population would increase if 20 acres of grazed grassland was restored to native forest. Researchers thought bats preferred native forest and they thought the core area used by a bat was 20 acres. But in 2016 monitoring at a wind farm mitigation site on Maui showed a reduction in bat feeding when pigs are removed possibly because the dung beetle population declines. In addition, it turns out bats prefer foraging in non-native grasslands, low-density developed areas, and gulches; the bats fly over native forest areas to get to these other feeding sites; and the average male bat core area is 9,143 acres (3,700 ha), not 20 acres (Bat Core Area Research). So removing pigs from 1,300 acres of native forest for 8-12 years does not offset take of 51 bats by Na Pua Makani. It’s more likely to hurt bats.
Na Pua Makani’s HCP, that the DLNR approved to authorize the wind farm killing 51 bats, would “mitigate”/”offset” the kills by funding eight to 12 years of pig removal and grass removal in 1,300 acres (526 ha) of native forest at the Poamoho Ridge native forest area and $150,000 in “research” to monitor the bat population at Poamoho Ridge during that time. The problem is, the proposed mitigation will not help bats because A.) removal of pigs, grass, and other non-native plants at Poamoho Ridge would not be expected to help even one bat because bats feed preferentially in grassland and areas occupied by pigs; B.) the “mitigation” site was already fenced by DLNR and the Watershed Partnership; and C.) the 1,300-acre mitigation site is the size of one seventh of one male bat’s core area, so how would 51 additional bats be produced by the small densely forested site to offset the wind farm’s bat take? The bat take license may have been approved because it will help the DLNR meet its own internal acres managed goals (they want to have 20% of DLNR pig-free by 2020 or something like that – because pigs damage native plants and their rooting causes mosquito populations to increase, so the forest birds get malaria – pig control is a high priority for other Hawaii species – but it clearly does not help the bats).
By law, Hawaii wind farms including Na Pua Makani must avoid bat take by shutting down at night, to the extent if is practicable (financially feasible), until an effective bat mitigation method is developed and the wind farm implements it to offset their bat take. According to information provided by HECO, Na Pua Makani would gross more than $10 million/year while wind farm operations (which wouldn’t include the bat mitigation costs) cost approximately $2 million/year. Nighttime shutdown would reduce gross income by approximately 45% ($6.5 million gross, minus $2 million operating cost = $4.5 million PROFIT). Even with the nighttime shutdown (which brings the wind farm into conformance with State noise laws and endangered species laws), Na Pua Makani, because of their generous $0.15/kwh power purchase agreement, would roll in the $4.5 million per year profit. The two new Hawaii wind farms are both proposing $0.10/kwh power purchase agreements, even in light of the nighttime shutdown requirements. Massive profits at the expense of endangered bats (and the Kahuku public trying to sleep at night) are unlawful.
Na Pua Makani is the first wind farm proposed since the new information about the ineffectiveness of bat mitigation became available. After eleven years of industrial wind farm operations in Hawaii, there is no evidence a single bat has benefited from a wind farm mitigation project and it’s more likely mitigation is harming individual bats and bat populations.
To Avoid Killing Endangered Bats, Na Pua Makani Must Shut Down at Night: Na Pua Makani proposes to minimize bat take by implementing low wind speed curtailment when wind speeds are 5 meters/second or lower at night (stopping blade spinning when winds are lighter because bats are flying under light wind conditions). However, new research indicates the relatively large, strong-flighted Hawaiian hoary bats are still flying around wind turbines at existing North Shore wind farms up to wind speeds of 12 m/s (Figure 1, adapted from Gorresen et al 2015, Figure 19, p. 25 https://dspace.lib.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10790/2585/1/TR64_Gorresen_Bats_Final.pdf).
Figure 1. The relatively large, strong-flighted Hawaiian hoary bats are detected flying around wind turbines at existing North Shore wind farms (blue curve) at average wind speeds up to 12 meters/second. By implementing low wind speed curtailment of 6.5 m/s (red arrows) instead of the proposed 5 m/s, Champlin could reduce bat take by 50%. Low wind speed curtailment at 8 m/s would almost eliminate bat take. Graph adapted from Gorresen et al 2015, Figure 19: https://dspace.lib.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10790/2585/1/TR64_Gorresen_Bats_Final.pdf
Status of Permit Applications: Keep the North Shore Country addressed the endangered bat aspects of the project in a contested case at the DLNR, with hearings held August 7 and 8, 2017. On November 1, 2017, the DLNR’s contested case hearing officer Yvonne Y. Izu, Esq. recommended the Board of Land and Natural Resources deny the Na Pua Makani Wind Farm’s application for an incidental take license Hearing Officer Recommends Board Deny License. Without fixing the fatal flaws such as requiring the wind farm to shut down to avoid bat take, the Board of Land and Natural Resources approved the wind farm’s permit on May 15, 2018. Keep the North Shore Country has appealed this decision in State court. The Circuit Court does not have the authority to overturn Agency decisions, so the case is now at the State Appeals Court level.
In addition, the wind farm did not meet the requirements set by the PUC Power Purchase Agreement, so presumably it will be voided (September 11, 2019 PUC Filing by Life of the Land).
October 10, 2019, Filed by Lance Collins to rescind HDOT bridge load permits: Because the heavy loads from the two previous wind farms appear to have caused the failure of two bridges, and the proposed turbines are even larger and would harm historic bridges (which requires a DLNR permit) and cut the North Shore in half, the Hawaii Department of Transportation bridge permits are not lawful. November 19, 2019 update: Both small bridges are being replaced this month – presumably because the heavy loads injured the old ones.
If these Na Pua Makani Wind Turbines are built, they will be removed via class-action litigation, just like the two 1.65 MW turbines the town of Falmouth, Massachusetts installed in a residential area (2012 Falmouth, MA Hearing) wind turbines were. We have rights.