Cheryl Lindgren was excited when the three wind turbines down the road began turning in November, but within days her excitement turned to disbelief. The sound at her house, a half-mile or so away, wasn't what she had expected. As she sat reading in her quiet living room, she could detect a repetitive "whump, whump" coming from outside.
"I can feel this sound," she recalled thinking. "It's going right through me. I thought, 'Is this what's it's going to be like for the rest of my life?'"
Dedicated two months ago with great fanfare, the Fox Islands Wind Project is producing plenty of power, but also, a sense of shock among some neighbors. They say the noise, which varies with wind speed and direction, ranges from mildly annoying to so intrusive that it disturbs their sleep. And they say they lament losing the subtle silence they cherish living in the middle of Penobscot Bay -- the muffled crash of surf on the ledges and the whisper of falling snow [Tux Turkel, "Turbines Turn into Headache for Vinalhaven," Portland Press Herald, 2010.01.24].
Noise pollution can disrupt a community or an ecosystem, just as smog or chemicals dumped in groundwater can. Wind power will make some problems go away (like dependence on carbon-emitting fuel sources that will disappear within 1500 years... or 86 years... or less!). But, like any energy system, wind power will promote its own forms of entropy with which we will have to contend.
Perhaps this news from Maine will light a fire under the folks considering an initiated measure to restrict wind turbine locations.