Is it easier to build a large turbine in the country, or a small turbine in your neighborhood?
Whether it is easier to build a large rural turbine or a small suburban turbine depends a lot on the community involved. One needs to consider the reasons people object to industrial wind turbine facilities. On the local basis, one needs to consider whether a wind turbine would raise the aggravation level approaching the point at which people would typically raise the issue.
Throughout the United States and overseas, opposition to wind turbines has arisen due to a number of causes even though the American Wind Energy Association has sponsored polls which purportedly show widespread support for wind turbine. An industry sponsored survey, while informative, often loses credibility since the proponents are sponsoring the survey. (References 1 – 4) Similar nuclear power plant surveys run into the same credibility issue.
Objections to facilities often are attributed to the following reasons.
Concerns about noise are not unreasonable when one considers that freeway noise from I35 in Minnesota could be heard 10-15 miles away even with intervening trees, hills, and lakes. Noise from trucks on the State Highway 142 Klickitat valley grade can be heard 5 miles away, but may not be heard closer. Proximity to a turbine does not determine noise level as noted in some references. Perceived health issues should be aggressively addressed (References 8, 9).
The offshore wind turbines in Nantucket sound were stalled for years even though the simulated effect on the view was limited (Reference 10)
One might ask the question – what could be done to improve the acceptability of the industrial towers?
Money and fair compensation can go a long way toward minimizing with the industrial wind turbines.
Through the years that I have owned real estate, I have observed or heard of numerous neighbor or community issues from friends or family, or in the news. In many cases the issues may seem minor, however, to the individuals, the issues were significant. Some cases led to physical violence, court cases, or even assignment to a mental institution. It is not unreasonable to expect that erection of a wind turbine on someone’s property could trigger a negative response from some neighbors.
Examples of items cited as neighborhood issues or complaints
I live in a rural area where small turbines have been accepted. However, a number of those in our area really dislike the idea of industrial wind turbines in the county. Some of the anger was reflected in the local paper letters to the editor during several weeks following an article on the wind farms. Causes cited were health, ice, and view considerations (Reference 11)
In a more urban setting, local planning agencies could be expected to use a permit or variance process for authorizing installations of small wind turbines. In practice, the permit process usually accompanies a comment period whereby the rules were pre-noticed and discussed within the community. Once the permit process has been approved by the community board, installations that meet the criteria could then be authorized. Personally I have seen the impartiality of a zoning or planning commission affect upset residents both ways – suave their concerns or frustrate them further. Response really depends on the people.
Considering all of the above, I expect that small turbines would be accepted better than the large turbines.
Biased Poll on Wind Power Manufactured by Dennis Scanlin and ASU Energy Department , Mountain Ridge Protection Act Alliance, http://mountainridgeprotectionact.com/appalachian-voices-and-environmental-groups-for-wind/propaganda-techniques-of-appalachian-state-university-appalachian-voices-and-their-austin-p-hall-and-the-wind-industry/biased-poll-on-wind-power-manufactured-by-dennis-scanlin-and-asu-energy-department/
Google search, opposition to wind turbines, http://www.google.com/search?num=100&hl=en&newwindow=1&q=opposition+to+wind+turbines&aq=f&aqi=g1&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=
Google search, wind power opposition, http://www.google.com/search?aq=f&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=wind+power+opposition
Oregon wind farms whip up noise, health concerns , The Oregonian, March 26, 2009, http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/03/oregon_wind_farms_whip_up_nois.html
Wind power takes a blow around Minnesota , Minneapolis Star Tribune, January 12, 2010, http://www.startribune.com/local/81195972.html?elr=KArksUUUoDEy3LGDiO7aiU
View from the Cape and Islands, Simulations, http://www.capewind.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=9&page=1
County wind farm harvest mixed reviews , Goldendale Sentinel, May 21, 2009, http://goldendalesentinel.com/news/2009news/05-21-09_news.htm
In the preceding discussion, I did not mean to imply there is a health issue. As long as there is a perceived health "syndrome", the industry should seek a truly independent assessment that can prove or disprove the issue beyond any reasonable doubt. For years, the opponents of the 500 KV DC power line in western Minnesota kept their protests going because of farmers' claims that their cows' health and their families' health were affected.
The following 3 papers illustrate disagreements that can arise on a health issue and how long it can take to scientifically resolve an issue:
Renewables Home - Virtual Nuclear Tourist - Tuesday March 29, 2011