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By Helen Parker, PhD, LCP

The human health consequences of manipulated measurements

Like the tobacco industry before it, the wind industry has spent decades vehemently denying known harmful consequences associated with its product, while promoting its fraudulent feel-good image. Dismissing or denying the serious health impacts of industrial-scale wind turbines is wishful thinking, akin to insisting that tobacco is harmless because we enjoy it.

The problem with wind energy is not just its costly, subsidized, unreliable electricity; the need to back up every megawatt with redundant fossil-fuel power; or its impacts on wildlife and their habitats.

Infrasound (inaudible) and low-frequency (audible) noise (slowly vibrating sound waves collectively referred to as ILFN) produced by Industrial-scale Wind Turbines (IWTs) directly and predictably cause adverse human health effects. The sonic radiation tends to be amplified within structures, and sensitivity to the impact of the resonance increases with continuing exposure.

These facts have been known to the wind industry and the US government since the 1980s when it became a ‘hot topic,’ with numerous studies presented and published by acousticians working under grants from the Departments of Energy, Defense and NASA. The wind industry response?

Deny the science. Insist that “what you can’t hear can’t hurt you.” Claim that “neighbors will get used to it.” Measure only outside dwellings, and allow only noise measurements in the field that reflect the relative loudness perceived by the human ear, while drastically reducing sound-level readings in the lower frequencies that are known to cause problems.

From a distance, many view the massive turbines as majestic – as a clean, seemingly quiet and free source of endless energy. To untold thousands of families clustered within 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) or more of the pulsing machines, however, the IWTs bring strangely debilitating illness – increasingly incapacitating for some, yet scoffed at by wind proponents.

Common sense tells us that fifty-story-tall metal structures with blades as long as football fields moving at 180 mph at their tips would negatively impact quiet neighborhoods. But the extent and severity of the IWT’s effect on body, mind and spirit comes as a surprise to most people.

When I’m at home I’m usually sick with headaches, nausea, vertigo, tinnitus, anxiety, hopelessness, depression. My ears pop a lot and I hardly ever sleep…. Suicide looks to be my only relief. Land of the FREE Home of the BULLSHIT! … Million to one odds anybody contacts me back.”

The primary pathway of turbine assault on human health is no mystery. The Israeli army has used low-frequency sound pulses as high-tech crowd control for years. People are made nauseous and confused, with blurred vision, vertigo, headaches, tachycardia, heightened blood pressure, pain and ringing in the ears, difficulties with memory and concentration, anxiety, depression, irritability, and panic attacks.

This also describes the Wind Turbine Syndrome (WTS), a constellation of symptoms first given a name by the brilliant young MD/PhD, Nina Pierpont. She followed her astute and compassionate observations of turbine neighbors around the world with epidemiological research, using a robust case-crossover statistical design: subjects experienced symptoms that varied with proximity to the turbines. When the same subjects were placed at a greater distance from the turbines, their symptoms abated; returning them to the scene brought the symptoms back.

Michigan State University noise engineers explain that “Inaudible components [ILFN] can induce resonant vibration in liquids, gases and solids … bodily tissues and cavities – potentially harmful to humans.” A subject in the groundbreaking Cooper study describes how the resonance shows up in a glass of water on her kitchen table, and in the toilet bowl, and how she feels it in her body.

Pierpont hypothesized that a significant pathway from ILFN to symptoms might include disruption to balance mechanisms located in the inner ear.

Dr. Alec Salt and colleagues, otolaryngologists at Washington University, later found that inaudible ILFN reaches the brain via inner ear Outer Hair Cell (OHC) displacement, leading indeed to unfamiliar and disturbing sensations paralleling WTS.

As turbine size trends upward, the sickening ILFN emissions worsen. There’s a lot of money riding on keeping the science under the radar of public awareness, and regulations to a minimum.

When Denmark’s EPA proposed tightening turbine noise regulations to protect turbine neighbors from increasing ILFN (May 2011), the Vestas CEO wrote the DEPA Minister, asserting: “It simply isn’t technically possible to curtail the ILFN output,” and “Increased distance requirements [setbacks from residences] cannot be met whilst maintaining a satisfactory business outcome for the investor.”’ DEPA folded, turning instead to looser standards that were “likely to be copied by other countries.”

Although alerted to the increased endangerment of turbine neighbors around the world, the press remained silent, and Big Wind’s central players ramped up their game plan undeterred.

In addition to the impact of ILFN radiation, turbine neighbors suffer from Turbine “Flicker” – a strobe-like effect caused by turbine blades alternately blocking and allowing sunlight to skim rhythmically and repeatedly across the land, or ricochet in bursts across interior walls and stairwells.

The direct impact extends to nearly a mile from the turbine – long after sunrise, and again long before sunset. It is mesmerizing, disorienting, and often brings on nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness, irritability, even panic, indoors or outside.

Repetitive sleep disturbance and stress-related symptoms are the most common health complaints of IWT neighbors. The audible sound constantly fluctuates, described as akin to low-flying jets or the rumble of helicopters, “freakish, screeching sound sludge.” It is unnatural. People say the noise gets into your head, and you can’t get it out.

Advising the Falmouth, MA Board of Health, Dr. William Hallstein wrote: “All varieties of illnesses are destabilized, secondary to inadequate sleep: diabetic blood sugars, cardiac rhythms, migraines, tissue healing. Psychiatric problems intensify … all in the ‘normal’ brain. Errors in judgment and accident rates increase.”

As with seasickness, not everyone is similarly affected. But for many, the experience becomes literally intolerable. Devastated families and individuals around the world, having lost their health, jobs or farms, return their keys to the bank, sell their homes at fire-sale prices, or simply pack up and flee. Some never recover their health.

(For more details on this human health travesty, see my three-part series on MasterResource.org)

The continuing expansion of Big Wind is a tale of money and power shunting aside integrity and compassion, abetted by a disinterested news media, leading to an un-informed public, further betrayed by “human rights advocates” loathe to break ranks from popular positions.

The myth that “saving the world” requires tolerating the costs of Big Wind could not be further from the truth. Responsible stewardship demands critical thinking, common sense and grade school science, not just following Big Wind’s Pied Piper and supposedly good intentions.

In fact, allowing wind into the energy mix squanders our non-renewable environment and taxpayer billions that are greatly needed elsewhere, wasting them on the most idiotic of engineering conceits.

Reliance on wind actually increases emissions and fossil fuel use overall, due to inefficiencies introduced into the system. Big Wind eliminates none of the need for conventional capacity, but rather consumes vast quantities of additional fuel and raw materials, while spewing emissions during the manufacture, transportation, construction and maintenance of the enormous redundant turbines and their uniquely demanding infrastructure.

The Wind Game is nothing but an obscenely costly, mostly useless energy redundancy scheme. It funnels unimaginable profits from our taxpayer and rate-payer pockets to its inner circle, while knowingly ignoring its victims’ desperate pleas for relief – and indeed ridiculing them and trying to bury all the growing evidence of harm to their health and wellbeing.

We’ve witnessed three decades of this callous, mercenary assault, this arrogant denial of what is known to be true, this untold suffering of thousands of innocent victims around the world. It’s time to bring in the human rights and social justice referees – and call “game over.”

___________

Helen Schwiesow Parker, PhD, is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and a Past Clinical Supervisory Faculty member at the University of Virginia Medical School. Her career includes practical experience in the fields of autism, sensory perception, memory and learning, attention deficit and anxiety disorders, including panic disorder and PTSD.

(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Northwest Connection.)

 

 

One Response to Science deniers in the wind industry

  • Great Article Doctor, FYI – here is the cost side:

    Responsibilities of a Cost Engineer: Economic Return of Investment from Wind Power Renewables with Financial Sensitivity Study
    Anonymous
    The last 130 years of human development has witnessed astounding progress in science, technology, and the rise of a middle class. One may assert, electricity is one of the factors that may have contributed to the rise of this healthy and new “middle class”. Hard workers can study at night and advance themselves under a light. Individuals willing to learn, can apply devotion, commitment, and time with electricity’s help to improve one’s condition. In the early days of electricity, it was reading simple books, with the help of a bright light at night, without the risk of a fire burning down the farm or the entire town (Many cities, including London and Chicago were nearly destroyed due to fires). Electricity provides for refrigeration, preventing food spoilage. With the improvement of food storage, mankind can spend more time researching other endeavors for overall improvement or leisure. Currently, electricity provides for internet access, computing tools, and a vast informational network at one’s fingertips. The lower and middle class can research information on any topic, ranging from researching stock investments, to learning about new areas of potential employment or other vast economic potentials. Such improvements in electricity have not only permitted the rise of this new middle class, but assisted middle class individuals to skip college and proceed directly to payday while becoming multi-billionaires, such as Gates and Zuckerberg to name a few. In summary, electricity and its ease of use by all, is very (STRESSED), very important to society. With that fact established, let us examine the cost of renewable electricity from wind generation.
    Proper project management starts with scope development. Based on project scope, the cost estimate is generated. Depending on the stage or phase of the project, at some point, a profitability and economic financial analysis is conducted, or should be. If the project is not economically profitable it is shelved, scraped, or value engineered. Many projects happen in reverse, the available budget is established then the work is determined based on what the budget can pay for. This approach is wrong and can bankrupt organizations. The same inappropriately backwards process occurs when a project is given the approval without the economic analysis. This too can lead to bankruptcy or financial strain for an organization.
    Perhaps professional cost engineers have failed to do their jobs? True sustainability should include financial and economic analysis. Economically sustainable organizations calculate the financial return on invested capital before determining if a project is going to receive approved cash flow. It is foolish and financially irresponsible to buy-in to investments that do not generate a return, only to afterwards, find one’s organization financially strained, and defeating the purpose of sustainability. Have we forgotten, sustainability starts with the financials?
    Financial and economic calculations are evaluated by the prudent fiduciary before an investment is executed. Such financial and economic comparisons include: Internal Rate of Return (IRR), Payback Period, Net Present Value, Profitability Ratio, (Douglas) and ROIC – Return on Invested Capital. This economic analysis is explained in an AACE Recommended practice published in 1990. In twenty-five short years, the industry has forgotten to conduct fundamental assessments as to a project’s viability.
    The AACE recommend practice explains: IRR is the interest rate at which the net present value of the cash flows (both positive and negative) from a project or investment equal to zero. IRR is used to evaluate the attractiveness of a project or investment.
    Payback Period is the length of time for an investment to recover its initial outlay in terms of profits or savings.
    Net Present Value is the difference between the present value of cash inflows and the present value of cash outflows.
    Profitability Ratios include GPM (Gross Profit Margin – cost of goods sold subtracted from total revenue and dividing by total revenue), NPM (Net Profit Margin – percentage of revenue remaining after all operating expenses, interest, taxes and preferred stock dividends (but not common stock dividends) have been deducted from a company’s total revenue), ROE (Return on Equity – amount of net income returned as a percentage of shareholders equity. How much profit a company generates with the money shareholders have invested), ROI (Return on Investment – is very popular and it is the net profit divided by total assets), and ROA (Return on Assets – divides annual earnings by total assets).
    ROIC (return on invested capital) = (net income – dividends)/total capital.
    For financial sustainability calculations on a so called “renewable” wind turbine project, developing reasonable assumptions, include development of a good cost estimate. The cost estimate is the second step after scope development for any well executed project project.
    After the cost estimate, AACE recommended practice 16R-90 should be followed. Assume there are no dividends to pay out, any and all income is net income. There are no bills, no maintenance costs, no operational costs, so effectively, ROIC= income/total capital. Of course there are no fuel costs, as the wind is free, but one may find it comes at a cost of inconsistency, which leads to short lifespan and far less than designed output capacity for electricity generation. For the purposes of economic discussions, let us assume the operational costs are minimal to non-existent.
    Sustainability, by definition “…is the capacity to endure…” and being “able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed; involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources”. (Mariam-Webster) Money and financial resources seem to be overlooked these days. The world does not have an infinite supply of money, unless it’s worthless.
    In understanding the return on a power investment, it is very important to understand the revenue generated by the production of electricity. One megawatt (MW) is equal to 1,000 kilowatts (kW) is equal to 1,000,000 watts. “One megawatt hour is enough electricity to provide for the needs of approximately 400 homes up to 900 homes.” (Hagadone). Recently installing a backup full home natural gas generator, 15 kW (fifteen thousand watts) are ample to power my lower middle class 2,400 sf home, with an air conditioner, an electric stove and electric range, two energy star refrigerators/freezer combinations, but no Jacuzzi hot tub (Gas furnace and gas hot water heater). These things people understand. The electrical contractor used a safety factor of 1.25 to properly size the generator, meaning it is designed to handle 25% more of the household’s peak load, for safety.
    12 kW is my house’s peak and 15 kW is my house’s maximum draw. This suggests, 1 MW can effectively support 83 homes safely, or 67 homes near capacity.
    1 million watts (1 MW) / 12,000 watts (12 kW) = 83. 1 MW / 15 kW = 67.
    This is a very different number than the above listed Hagadone’s footnote reference stating 1 megawatt can support 400 homes or even 900 homes.
    “In 2014, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,932 kilowatthours (kWh), an average of 911 kWh per month.” (U.S. Energy Information Administration). In a very simple case, 3kW per house may be appropriate but with permanent loads such as heating, Air Conditioning, the number may be 5kW. Therefore 1 MW could supply peak demand for 200 houses. Under the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s guidelines, that demand could support 100 houses.
    Getting to the bottom of this answer, “How many homes does 1 MW power?” California ISO (Independent System Operator, responsible for management of much of California State electrical load and capacity) uses 750 houses for its calculations, and on peak 600 homes. When the power demand from 600 homes of 1 MW is exceeded, there are brownouts, power failures, and outages. As a side question, where are the outages, brownouts, and failures most prominent? Perhaps California ISO standards are out of bounds to use in the analysis? However, understanding and using this range of numbers in the sensitivity analysis illustrates best and worst case for the investment returns on wind power. Let’s use 600 homes as a maximum and 200 homes as a reasonable minimum.
    1 MW of generation wind turbine power is not 1 MW of electricity. “(Transmission) losses…would account for between 8% and 15%. (Schonek). Additionally, wind is like the ocean. It can be a severe and harsh place to work at times. How many wind farms have you driven by? Speaking from experience, I have driven by four wind farms on numerous occasions. One with a 124 units generating 270 MW; the other with 115 units generating 230 MW. Driving by such wind energy generating facilities, one can look out of the window of your car and count the non-spinning turbines. Having not closely inspected the turbines, just concluding at a glance, both wind farms had visually 8 and 7 wind turbines not spinning, and this was within two years of the generation facility going online at 100%. Having worked with a manufacture of such turbines, I was informed, that the turbines do break, often, and there are not ample spare parts to repair the turbines, as all the manufacturing facilities are too busy making the turbines themselves. When a turbine breaks, it can be used as a source for spare parts when a second turbine breaks, as the factory supply of spare parts is not timely nor abundantly available. Based on this simple observation and math, it is safe to conclude that roughly 6% of the turbines are not functioning. This fact with T-loss (transmission loss) drops the generation capacity by 14% to 21%.
    Additionally, due to wind’s unreliability, turbines have diminishing capacity not only attributable to turbine down time and transmission loss, it is also attributable to wind’s inconsistency as a fuel source. Wind does not blow all the time. Add to this, “Every wind turbine has a range of optimal wind speeds, typically between 30 to 50 mph, at which it will produce its rated, or maximum electrical generation capacity. At slower speeds, the production falls off dramatically.
    “If the wind speed decreases by half, power production decreases by a factor of eight. Therefore, wind turbines do not consistently generate near their listed capacity. Industry estimates forecast an annual output of only 30%-40% of designed capacity, but real-world experience shows that annual outputs of 15%-30% of capacity are more typical.” (National Wind Watch). “The average capacity factor for 137 U.S. Wind projects reporting to the Energy Information Agency in 2003 was 26.9%.” (National Wind Watch).
    Consistently windy locations are not everywhere. Wind Energy Developers logically desire to install wind turbines in economically feasible areas, were frequent and consistent high winds occur, and the price of real estate or land lease is nominal. The existence of wind generation “wind farm” areas at the time of this paper in 2016 compared to 2003, are likely considerably lower. All the “good spots” are taken. It is a reasonable assumption that the overall capacity factor may have decreased from 26%. This decrease in capacity is strictly attributable to the “conditions” and the wind source. Add to this, the broken turbines, and t-loss, it is conservative to say, wind energy generation facilities, generate far less than listed capacity. At the time of this article publication, a Midwest municipal power reported that two wind farms in their generation portfolio are generating 13% and 8% listed capacity (Gerken), in two different calendar years (2015 and 2016), both during the month of July, when electricity is needed most.
    So therefore, the potential range for 1 MW of wind power listed capacity is actually:
    Best Case:
    1 MW x 86% (best case transmission loss) x 94% (non-functional turbines) x 26% (reliability) = 21 KW Generation
    Worst Case:
    1MW x 79% (worst case t-loss) x 94% (non-functional turbines) x 10% (reliability) = 7.4 KW Generation
    Therefore, 1 traditional and reliable BTU of coal burn or atom split MW can power between 200 and 600 homes. However, with wind, the sensitivity analysis would yield a best case 21 kW supporting 8.4 homes for the equivalence of wind, and 12.6 homes at the peak. Similarly, a worst case 7.4 kW (the equivalent of 1 MW wind generation output) can support 1.5 homes on the low side and 4.5 homes for a peak.
    Wind Turbines cost approximately $2 Million / megawatt to design, permit, manufacture, and install. News sources report (2014) that a recently designed and constructed wind farm with the designed capacity of 115 MW cost $235 million. This is 2014 Cost Data.
    Relating to the economics of electricity demand, the average monthly household electric bill during 2014 in the same geographic location is, “$114/month” (U.S. Energy Information Agency). Therefore:
    Worst Case (Peak):
    4 homes x $114/month x 12 months = $5,472 revenue generated per year.
    Best Case (Peak):
    12 homes x $114/month x 12 months = $16,416 per year.
    $5.5k to $16.5k per year would be the range of potential income at the regulated rate paid to the utility supplying and electricity and presumable that built the wind farm.
    If $2 Million is needed to design and install a machine that generates electricity for 4-12 homes the resulting economics would be:
    IRR (worst case): $-2 Mil Year 1: $+5.5k income for 100 years = -3% (this is a losing investment, and would not attract prudent financing). Assume wind turbines last 100 years (it is 5 times higher than a best case 20 year life span)

    IRR (Internal Rate of Return – Best Case): $-2 Mil Year 1 with $+16.5k income for 20 years = -13%
    Alternate IRR (Best Case): $-2 Mil Year 1 with $+16.5 income for 100 years = -0%
    Needless to say, an ideal IRR should be above 0%, preferable in line with or better than an expected market return, historically at 7% or better. FERC provides transmission investor owned utilities 15% return on installed and operating assets.
    Payback period (worst case): $2 Mil (cost) / $5,472 (income for electricity produced) = 365 Years.
    Payback period (best case): $2 Mil (cost) / $16,416 (income for electricity produced) = 120 Years
    How long does one’s water heater last? How long does your roof last? How long does your car or washing machine and dryer last? It is fair to say, it is rare for equipment to last longer than 20 years. I have a 35 year old car, but it sits in the garage and is not used, and it still has “issues”. So, one is being very optimistic or lying to you expecting these wind turbines to last anywhere near 80 years.

    Net Present value: Not determined, as it is unrealistic to determine the cost of electricity tomorrow. Yet if wind renewable power is the future, one can predict what will happen to the cost of electricity. As determined later in this paper.

    Profitability Ratios: Not determined, as it is clear, wind turbines are clearly not profitable.
    ROIC (worst case): $109,440/ $2 Mil (20 year realistic model) = .054
    ROIC (best case): =$328,320/ $2 Mil (20 year realistic model) = .16
    Typical ROIC returns range from minimum 5.0 to 14
    At current market rates, electricity from wind turbines is a waste of money. It is throwing one’s money away. There are many and far better things to invest one’s money into, without it being wasted. What is the price of electricity to generate a 10 year payback period? Electricity would range from $4166 / month to $952 / month? Even for a 20 year payback period electricity would cost $2083 / month to $462 / month. This is four to eighteen times higher than current rates, and does not include inflation.
    An investment in a wind turbine is signing off on your electricity bill quadrupling to increasing exponentially. The government that subsidizes these investments with tax payer’s dollars, is only limiting its own sustainability as the tax base dries up, paying to keep lights on.
    AACE International’s Cost Engineers with valuable skills in Total Cost Management should better market their capabilities and services to help unwitting governments and organizations needless waste of money on investments that provide no return.
    References:
    1. Douglas, Fred R. et al, April 1991, AACE Recommended Practice No. 16R-90.
    2. Merriam Webster American Dictionary, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sustainable July, 2016.
    3. Megawhat? Hagadone, Zach. http://www.boiseweekly.com/boise/megawhat/Content?oid=3433953 March 18, 2015
    4. U.S. Energy Information Administration, https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=97&t=3, September 2016.
    5. Schonek, Jacques http://blog.schneider-electric.com/energy-management-energy-efficiency/2013/03/25/how-big-are-power-line-losses/, May 2016.
    6. National Wind Watch, https://www.wind-watch.org/faq-output.php, July 2016.
    7. Gerken, Mark, AMP Update, a weekly newsletter, August 12, 2016
    8. U.S. Energy Information Administration, https://www.eia.gov/electricity/sales_revenue_price/pdf/table5_a.pdf (Data from forms EAI-861-schedules 4A-D, EIA-816S, and EIA-861U), Web site, June, 2016.

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