Sunday, June 16, 2013

Accountability Threat sends Outlaw Wind Industry scurrying to Australia

The Guardian has an article on the outlaw wind industry mobilizing to attack "astroturfing" opponents of wind in Australia, and then expanding the campaign to Britain, and Canada.

Allow me to lay out a welcome mat.

The grinding of teeth is due to the pending Australian election where polls apparently indicate the wind-friendly government of PM Gillard will fall to a coalition mouthing support for existing renewables targets, but not-trusted by the outlaw wind industry.

Here's a point from the Guardian (UK) article I think I have something to offer on, so ...

Turbine company and green groups to fight anti-windfarm campaign | World news |
As Guardian Australia reported last week, the federal Coalition would impose new noise monitoring rules on windfarms, which the industry says will inflict crippling costs. Shadow ministers argue it is the only way windfarms can maintain sufficient public support to continue operating.
The Coalition's policy is to maintain the current target of 20% renewable energy by 2020, but several Coalition MPs who believe new windfarms should be banned and the renewable energy target wound back will attend the rally on Tuesday.
So here's the issue from the perspective of myself - an active anti-wind campaigner in Ontario, Canada.

The noise regulations, or terms of operation in some cases, are poorly defined and difficult to measure - which works out great for the outlaw wind companies.  Many of the stipulations refer to sound levels about the background noise, and that provides a great deal of weasel room to avoid accountability for the actual noise from the turbines.

A couple of coalition senators introduced a bill in Australia that included:
...Wind farms—publishing on internet information about noise, wind speed and direction, weather conditions and power output
(1) The nominated person for an accredited power station that is a wind farm must ensure that information prescribed by the regulations relating to the following is published on the internet:

(a) noise attributable to the wind farm;
(b) wind speed and direction at the wind farm;
(c) weather conditions at the wind farm;
(d) power output of individual turbines at the wind farm.
(2) The information must be published on the internet in accordance with any requirements prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this subsection.
Example: A requirement that the information be published in real time.
This is, presumably, the type of information that would "inflict crippling costs"

Except it wouldn't.

It's the type of thing that would allow regulators to hold operators accountable to the terms of their operation - which may include maximum sound levels from the operation at certain times of day, limits on the average, etc.

One of the witnesses to speak at hearing into the bill was Stephen Cooper of The Acoustics Group, and he spoke to one relevant noise and annoyance measurement, which is the sound above background noise:
The standards say that if a noise is above the background it is likely to be annoying and that exceedances of up to five are of marginal significance. So the concept has been that for general noise you can have noise that is audible but once you get to about five, above the background, it starts to present problems to the community or those people being affected by the noise. So if the background is higher in a city environment, then you can have a higher noise level. If you are near a large industrial estate or near a freeway that generates noise, then you are in a noisier environment and you can have a higher level of noise emission from the industrial sources.
To the relevance of "noise monitoring rules:
Senator XENOPHON: Can you indicate what you have experienced when you have been asked by residents to measure noise—the difficulties you have in getting information from proponents?Mr Cooper : Yes, if I can assist the committee, the graphs that I handed up this morning appear as appendix E1 in my report. It is a graph that is used prior to the development of a wind farm. It is a graph that plots the noise level for different wind speeds measured at the hub height. This becomes the assessment procedure—that is, the noise emission for the wind farm is expressed in terms of a dBA level versus the wind at the hub height. So the only way you can do a compliance check is to measure the noise at the residence and compare it with the wind at the hub height. If you cannot get the wind at the hub height, you cannot determine acoustic compliance. So you need that information. It is not available. The wind proponents or the authority will not supply the material.Senator XENOPHON: To use one of Senator Cameron's classic phrases, there is some information asymmetry here with respect to that?Mr Cooper : Yes. It is impossible for anybody to do a compliance check without this data. 
So here's the worry of the outlaw wind industry: not that flat-earthers are turning everybody against the glory of their turbines, but that a bill might put some real responsibility on generators to honour the terms of their operation.

Why did I say the cost of this type of information isn't crippling?

IESO Market manual Part 1.2
The type of information laid out in the Australian Senate bill, and needed to measure actual sound levels in relation to background levels, is already collected, in Ontario, from "Nacelle mounted data collection points" (ie. hub height).

It doesnt' seem plausible the data demands are what scares the outlaw wind industry, but the daunting possibility of tools forcing them to perform within the sound levels they agree to perform within.

Health, Impact studies, and negligence | Wind Concerns Ontario

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