Green Mountain Power barely had its 21 turbines up and spinning on Lowell Mountain this fall, before complaints from a handful of local residents about noise and other health concerns began rolling in.
"It sounded like a rushing loud-- like an airplane-type of sound," said Mike Nelson of Albany.
It has been called Wind Turbine Syndrome; low, infrasound vibrations below the threshold of human hearing that some claim can account for a range of health problems, from headaches to sleep loss. Whether it can be chalked up to medical science or emotions running high-- the verdict is still out.
On Tuesday, the Senate Natural Resources Committee waded into the issue as part of its hearings on a proposed three-year moratorium on ridgeline wind development.
Vermont health officials say that from their review of the literature, as well as research by a number of other states, they can find no evidence that turbines cause health problems.
"People can be annoyed by wind towers. They could be annoyed by that ugly building across the street, the barking dog. And annoyance in and of itself can cause health effects in terms of having anxiety, having trouble sleeping. So, there may be effects related to wind turbines, but they're not specific to wind turbines," said Dr. Harry Chen, the Vermont health commissioner.
Wind opponents argue that there are valid health concerns that have been overlooked.
"I don't think they understand what's happening to Vermont families, to Vermont communities and that they're downplaying what's happening in the real world and looking at some out of date evidence and ignoring the latest date investigations which show that infrasound is a real issue and that there's more science necessary to understand the depth of the problem," said Matt Levin of Vermonters for a Clean Environment.
Sen. John Rodgers, one of three committee members who are co-sponsors of the bill, says whether it's called a moratorium or something else, further study into health impacts is needed.
"It's quite disturbing because I've read several studies that say there are health effects, but they only seem to read the ones that say there are no health effects," said Rodgers, D-Essex/Orleans. "It does depend on the studies you read."
An extensive new study just getting under way in Canada to measure health effects of people living near wind turbines should be available next year and may provide further insight into whether wind turbines are making Vermonters sick.
In addition to health, moratorium supporters have raised other issues, from environmental concerns to impacts on tourism. Lawmakers this session will not be able to review the recommendations of the governor's Energy Siting Commission. That group's report isn't expected until April.
Friday, May 24 2013 11:30 PM EDT2013-05-25 03:30:10 GMT
A hole in the road closed one of the routes into Canada Friday.State Police say Route 5 in Derby Line is closed near Caswell Avenue because of a hole in the pavement just a couple of feet over the lineMore >>
A hole in the road closed one of the routes into Canada Friday.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:17 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:17:06 GMT
It was a storm that left residents with more damage than they could have ever imagined. "The basement has about 13 inches of water," said Bob Genter of Underhill. And preparing for the aftermath of theMore >>
Flash floods left destruction across the region. And the rain is not over. Heavy downpours left some people trapped in their neighborhoods as emergency crews work to try to clear the roads.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:54 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:54:18 GMT
Vermont State Police say the following roads have been closed due to flooding:UNDERHILL: VERMONT ROUTE 15, CILLEYHILL POKER HILL ROAD NORTH UNDERHILL STATION ROAD PAIGE ROAD DAUDLIN ROAD BROWNS TRACE,More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:20 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:20:50 GMT
As the cleanup gets underway from Thursday night's flash flooding, the focus shifts now to the broader impacts of rising rivers from around the region. All the rain so far and more to come is running intoMore >>
All the rain is running into larger streams and rivers that are moving rapidly toward flood stage.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 12:44 PM EDT2013-05-24 16:44:50 GMT
Heavy rains have caused more flooding problems around our region, and the situation could get worse as the rain continues to fall over the holiday weekend. So far, the impact has mainly been seen in roadMore >>
Heavy rains have caused more flooding problems around our region, and the situation could get worse as the rain continues to fall over the holiday weekend.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 9:51 AM EDT2013-05-24 13:51:55 GMT
Over the river and throught the woods isn't just the way to grandma's house, its the way a lot of people are having to travel just to make it to their front door. Dormant brooks and sleepy streams turnedMore >>
Strong rains Thursday flooded roads in Essex.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:25 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:25:14 GMT
A rainy Vermont City Marathon forecast isn't slowing down runners or organizers. "Well, we're going to make some liquid sunshine out of all of this rain. That's the only choice we've got right now," saidMore >>
The countdown is on to this weekend's Vermont City Marathon and final preps are underway. Those finishing touches are coming in the rain, but organizers say the weather isn't slowing things down.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:35 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:35:15 GMT
The bad weather has forced the postponement of the annual Memorial Day parade in Essex. The parade is held annually on the Saturday morning of the holiday weekend. But after all the rain and flooding damageMore >>
The bad weather has forced the postponement of the annual Memorial Day parade in Essex.More >>