One of the most common concerns about wind farming is the potential noise disturbance. The good news is that, unless you’re living directly under a turbine, noise is definitely not a problem – and there’s research to provide it.

A study evaluating the noise generated by a 36-turbine wind farm in Nebraska found that, at 100 meters from the nearest turbine (slightly more than a football field), the ambient noise was approximately 25 decibels higher than normal. The whisper of rustling leaves in the wind clocks in at about 20 decibels, according to Purdue University’s industrial noise level chart. At 500 meters away (about three city blocks or a third of a mile), the ambient noise was approximately 16 decibels higher than normal. The sound of human breathing clocks in at 10 decibels.

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You have probably heard horror stories about shadow flicker from wind turbines and the many problems this phenomenon causes. The research proves, however, that shadow flicker (the visual effects of turbine blades coming between the human eye and the sun) poses no health threat to humans, including epileptics. Neither do the red, blinking lights that prevent aircraft from hitting turbines in the dark. These lights pose no more of a health risk than any aviation warning lights on towers and antennas.

Shadow flicker only occurs at sunrise and sunset and passes in a brief period of time. In the case of the Chevelon Butte project, turbines will be located so remotely that, unless you are on the ranchland where the wind farm is situated, nearby communities will not have any substantive exposure to either shadow flicker or blinking lights.

The assertion that wind turbines use more energy than they produce is false, as the research demonstrates. In fact, studies show that wind farms repay their construction-related carbon footprint in as little as six months.

Advancing technology has made today’s wind-generated power highly effective – and cost effective – with virtually no wasted energy. Wind turbines do not require fossil fuels to operate and they do not waste any natural resources.

Once complete, the Chevelon Butte project will generate enough clean, inexpensive energy to power 150 homes every year.

In fact, generating wind energy does just the opposite – it benefits the environment. Wind turbines produce no emissions and they do not require the burning or use of any fossil fuels for their operation.

Researchers have quantified the environmental benefits (specifically air quality and climate-related) of renewable energy generation. The results are striking, with cumulative climate benefits exceeding $100 billion and tens of thousands of premature deaths prevented.

Because wind and solar power generation fluctuate depending on weather factors – the presence of wind and/or sun – some people assert that the presence of renewable energy plants (like wind farms) cause the power grid to become unstable.

Research shows that is not the case, however, and that the existing power grid is designed to handle fluctuations in both energy production and demand. In fact, traditional (fossil fuel-based) methods of generating power are more prone to tripping the power grid offline without notice.

One of the most common safety concerns involves the risk of wind turbine blades falling off during a storm or high wind. Other concerns involve the potential danger that turbines might pose to the health and well-being of those who live nearby.

A large body of research, which studied conditions such as hearing loss, nausea, sleep disorders, dizziness, blood pressure, tinnitus, and cortisol levels, found no correlation between the presence of wind turbines and any of these health problems.

The only negative impact noted by researchers involved people subjected to nearby visibility of turbines. The Chevelon Butte project has been carefully designed and sited to avoid any issues of visibility to the neighboring communities.

One of the most common arguments against building wind farms is that they kill birds and bats. Avian species fall prey to all sorts of threats, from feral cats to jet engines. And although it is true that birds can be killed by wind turbines, a comprehensive study demonstrated that each wind turbine is responsible for, on average, the disappearance of three breeding birds.

Consider this by comparison: Cats kill almost 4 billion birds every year in the U.S. Aircraft kill more than 15,000 birds every year, according to the FAA.

Another common assertion is that wind farms pose a risk to local forestlands. However, unless the project is sited in forested lands – the Chevelon Butte project is not – turbines do not pose a threat to any nearby vegetation.

Fires are a cause for concern in Arizona and this is a valid question. Fortunately, the design of today’s wind turbines make fire a highly unlikely threat. The Chevelon Butte project incorporates advanced technology and state-of-the-art protections such as temperature monitors and automatic shut-off systems to prevent overheating.

Turbines also contain sensors and the ability to shut the equipment down remotely, in the event of any potential threat.

Finally, turbines contain arc detectors and lightning protection, to further minimize the risk for fire danger.

The Chevelon Butte project will benefit the local community in both the short- and long-term. In the short term, the project’s construction will create hundreds of well-paying jobs over the next few years. Once construction is complete, the ongoing operations will create multiple permanent job openings for local residents.

Land lease fees and tax revenues will roll in year after year, helping our schools and contributing to road improvements and other infrastructure support. The economic benefits will extend throughout Navajo and Coconino counties for decades to come. Wind farms are the source of economic growth for local communities and, by helping us gain energy independence, offer short-, medium- and long-term benefits for individuals and businesses throughout the region.

In a recently published study, researchers found that people living in communities near wind farms view their presence as positive. In fact, people were seven times more likely to have a positive view of the turbines than a negative one.

These perceptions become even more positive over time, as residents see and enjoy the many benefits the wind turbines bring to their local area. Although some residents who lived close to turbines did report hearing them operate, the participants in this study were not bothered by the red, blinking lights on the turbines. The location of the Chevelon Butte project was selected specifically to help ensure that turbine noise would have minimal impact on the surrounding area residents.

Your home is your biggest investment and you naturally care about how your property’s value might be affected by the Chevelon Butte project.

Research demonstrates that the presence of a wind farm does not devalue residential properties located in nearby communities. The only risk to residential property values is if turbines are located on or immediately adjacent to homes – which is not common practice and definitely not the case with our proposed Chevelon Butte project.

As for the property where the turbines are located, land owners often see an increase in property value. This is due to the fact that the land can continue with its current use and purpose (ranch land, in the case of the Chevelon Butte project) while enjoying a decades-long increase in revenue thanks to the land lease fees associated with the turbines.

Some of the most common myths about wind energy generation have been debunked by researchers.

Wind turbines do not:

  • Blow away the carbon blanket in the sky
  • Cause wind cancer
  • Require more energy to run than they produce
  • Lower property values in nearby communities
  • Subject local communities to shadow flicker, wind turbine syndrome, or other illnesses
  • Harm the environment
  • Disrupt the power grid

Before you fall for the hype, consider the primary sources of misinformation. Some very powerful people have a lot of money invested in the fossil fuel industry, and renewable energy threatens their bottom line. They are betting on our resistance to change and our inability to sort the truth from the misinformation they spread.

Take the time and do your own research. You’ll soon see that the benefits of wind energy and the promise of the Chevelon Butte project just make good sense for our community.