Social & Environmental Issues

Aesthetics and Visibility
The visibility of a particular wind system will depend on many factors, including tower height, proximity to neighbors and roadways, local terrain, and tree coverage. Some people may object to a wind turbine being in their field of view, and this could be an issue when applying for a zoning permit. Therefore it may be worthwhile to investigate your neighbors’ concerns before investing in a wind turbine. In most areas of the state, wind turbines are an uncommon sight, so it is natural to expect some reservations about their introduction. Objections are more likely to occur in populated and tourist areas. Opposition is least likely to surface in rural settings.

Noise Factors
The most characteristic sounds of a wind turbine are the “swish…swish…swish” of its turning blades and the whirring of the generator. Improved designs have made wind turbines much quieter over the last decade. Within several hundred feet of a machine, these sounds may be distinguishable from the background noise of local traffic or the wind blowing through the trees, but they usually are not disruptive or objectionable. The impact on any particular neighbor will depend on how close they live, whether they are upwind or downwind, and the level of other noise sources such as traffic.

Television Interference
Small wind turbines, such as those sized for residential and farm use, have not been found to create interference with television signals. In fact, small wind systems are commonly used today to power remote telecommunication stations for both military and commercial uses. Most wind turbines use blades made of wood, fiberglass or composite materials that don’t cause reception problems. Many years ago, a few wind turbines equipped with long, metallic blades did cause some localized problems, but they are no longer commonly used.

Effects on Wildlife
In general, wind turbines are not a hazard to wildlife. Cattle are willing to graze next to them, and sufficient clearance between the blades and ground prevents injury to cattle, deer and other animals. There have been reports of bird kills in a few areas of the world where large numbers of wind turbines are concentrated. However there is little evidence that single installations or small clusters of wind turbines kill birds in significant numbers. By nature, local birds avoid wind turbines by flying around them, and migrating birds tend to fly well above wind turbine height. Some concern may be warranted in areas where birds concentrate, such as in wildlife refuges or shoreline feeding and nesting areas.