Another issue that is brought up in trying to stop the development of wind projects is
that wind turbines are noisy. Wind energy proponents claim that an operating modern
wind farm at a distance of 750 to 1,000 feet is no noisier than a kitchen refrigerator or
a moderately quiet room. Industry studies estimate wind turbine noise levels to be
around 45 decibels.
They do acknowledge that two situations can occur where wind farms can be louder.
The first situation is when older turbines are in operation. Older turbines form the
1980’s tended to be louder. The other situation occurs in hilly terrain with modern
turbines. Homes located in sheltered dips or hollows downwind from a wind farm
could experience a noisier environment due to noise carrying further. The second
situation can often be anticipated and avoided in the development process through
Some opponents find the thought of dozens of wind turbines to be an eyesore on the
landscape. Other people find a wind farm to be beautiful. This complaint is somewhat
subjective. One thing that developers can do is to virtually depict what the finished
wind farm will look like from different vantage points to allow local stakeholders to
assess the situation prior to development.
Another aesthetic problem is lighting on wind turbines. The Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) recommends lighting for most structures more than 200 feet in
height to ensure aviation safety. This lighting can be irritating to some people. The
wind industry is currently working with the FAA on lighting setups that would limit the
amount of lights needed for a given wind project.
Shadow flicker is the term used to describe what happens when rotating turbine blades
come between a viewer and the sun, causing a moving shadow. Shadow flicker can be
annoying to people trying to read or watch television. In the U.S., shadow flicker
should not be a problem as the sun’s angle is not very low in the sky due to the U.S.’s
latitude (except in Alaska). This problem is rare today due to better project planning
and larger setbacks. If there is an affect, it is generally for a few hours total over a
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