Aug 13, 2009

Big turbines “blowin’ in the wind”

Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens (pictured) says “harness the wind.” Others say “not so fast.”

More and more critics say windmills aren't that green, aren't a great source of energy and can be harmful to people's health.

The 200- to 300-foot-long blades on industrial windmills look almost whimsical from afar.

They appear to turn slowly. People sometimes stop to take pictures. "They look cool," said Eric Burch, director of policy and outreach for the Indiana Office of Energy Development.

Rows of wind turbines at Altamont Pass in northern California near Livermore.

Coachella Valley in southern California just north of the Salton Sea.

British offshore windfarm

The tips of those giant blades move at speeds approaching 160 mph, creating forces that send low-frequency vibrations through the ground. People three-quarters of a mile away sometimes say they can feel the vibrations in their chests.

If you can feel the vibrations in your chest from People three-quarters of a mile away, what must it be like for people living in the middle of a wind farm in the shadow of the turbines as in the photos below?

Cases of nausea, headaches, insomnia and other ills have become common enough in states with wind farms that they've been given a name: "wind turbine syndrome."

That newfangled illness is just one of a growing list of health effects, inconveniences, risks and cost considerations that have resulted in a backlash against wind farms.