How does my community benefit by hosting a wind turbine?

Wind turbines are the most environmentally-friendly technology for electricity generation available. Hosting a wind turbine demonstrates community support for safe, clean, and sustainable development. To live by example could inspire other communities to join in as stewards for the environment we all share. The technology of wind turbines stimulates the imagination and creativity of adults and children alike, while raising awareness of science and engineering within the schools.

What are some environmental benefits of a wind turbine?

Wind turbines reduce the demand for dangerous, unsustainable, polluting energy sources. The Independence’s environmental benefit is equivalent to about 500 acres of forest. To generate this otherwise, you would have to shut off 30,000 60-watt light bulbs every single day of the year.

What did the wind turbine cost the Town of Kingston?

Nothing. No public funds or taxes from the Town of Kingston were used to finance the project. The turbine was fully funded and paid for by Kingston Wind Independence, a private developer.

How does a wind turbine work?

Wind turbines are very simple machines. They work only when the wind blows past the rotor blades, causing lift. This is very similar to how a pinwheel turns, or a kite flies. A spin of the rotor blades turns a generator which produces electricity like any other generator. Note that a wind turbine cannot turn on its own, it has no power source of its own and is not a motor—it only turns when it is windy enough, which is not all of the time. The beautiful thing about wind turbines is that they are so clean for the environment.

Wind turbines use no fuel and produce no emissions. They are simply one of the best technologies we have to become energy independent and reduce pollution.

Is the electricity produced by the Independence the same as what I am using in my home?

The electricity produced by the Independence, along with the electricity produced by other generators, goes into the same “pool” and is distributed along the same network that services your home.

How much electricity is the Independence expected to generate?

The turbine is expected to generate over 5 million kW hours per year. This is equivalent to the energy consumption of 1,000 typical homes in one year.

How loud is the wind turbine?

At 600 feet of distance from the turbine, the average noise level is 40 dBA, which is equivalent to the background noise of a household refrigerator. The project is guaranteed not to exceed 50 dBA at 600 feet from the tower.

In 2010, prior to the installation of the Independence, the noise level of the surrounding neighborhoods routinely exceeded 50 dBA. There are many sources of sound which were present prior to installation. The Independence is a quiet wind turbine—it meets all of the MA DEP regulations for ambient noise.

Am I going to hear it 24/7?

The mild sound of the turbine can only be heard when the turbine is operating. The turbine only operates when wind speeds are higher than about 8 miles per hour (3.5 meters per second). The only audible sound from the wind turbine is the mild swooshing of the blades. The generator is not audible outside of the turbine. The sound cannot be heard inside your home. If you hear sounds inside your home, they are most likely NOT from the wind turbine.

We have already seen some reports of “hearing the wind turbine” at times when the turbine was not even operating or turning because there was no wind!

How big is the turbine?

The Independence’s tower height is 262 feet. When one of the blades is pointing in the 12 o’clock position, the tip of the blade reaches 404 feet. The turbine’s rating is 2,000kW.

How will the Independence affect local property values?

A detailed study of property values near wind turbines has found no correlation between wind turbine installations and property values in a community. In neighborhoods hosting a wind turbine, such as in nearby Hull, MA, million-dollar homes have been sold and sale prices and volume have not been affected by the proximity of the turbine.

What about “Infrasound?” I have children and I am concerned.

There is absolutely no need to worry about infrasound. Many sources of noise produce infrasound, including…

  • waves at a beach
  • swing sets at a playground
  • your car
  • your refrigerator
  • your air conditioner
  • your voice

Wind turbines produce some infrasound at a very low level. Scientific studies, including those from MA DEP/DPH, have concluded that there is no evidence to suggest wind turbine sound is harmful to the public.

Is there any way that the wind turbine’s tower could fall?

The foundation system of the Independence meets or exceeds the MA State Building Code. The foundation anchors the tower into the local bedrock. This design has been installed in over 5,000 turbines without fail.

The other day, I heard a noise that sounded like a jet engine, or a small plane, hovering over my house—did that come from the turbine?

We investigated this matter and found that the turbine was not operating on the dates and times submitted. Therefore, the noise could not have come from the Independence. Wind turbine sounds are not at all similar to that of a jet engine or propellers—it is a mild swoosh more similar to the rustling of leaves.

Is the turbine safe for air travel?

Yes. The Independence is registered with the Federal Aviation Administration and meets all FAA regulations.

The turbine appears to be very close to Route 3. Could “ice throw” or “blade throw” pose a public hazard?

The Independence is set back 468 feet from the edge of Route 3. The maximum documented distance that a fragment of ice, or fragment of any kind, can travel from a wind turbine is approximately 328 feet. Therefore, there is ample distance from any vehicles or bystanders.

The turbine features redundant safety systems, such as ice monitoring and vibration monitoring systems, and a mechanical break. These systems detect any imbalances and automatically shut down the turbine. The public is protected.

How does the Town of Kingston benefit from the electricity produced by the Independence?

The electricity produced by the Independence is sold to the Town of Kingston at up to a 30% discount versus retail rates. It also generates over $120,000 per year in lease payments and property taxes for the benefit of the Town.

Are wind turbines safe?

Yes. Over 300,000 wind turbines have been in operation worldwide for many years with no reports of injury to the public.

Is there any evidence that a wind turbine could be detrimental to my health?

No. There is no scientific evidence that wind turbines are harmful to human health. See the MA Department of Environmental Protection & Department of Public Health’s 2012 report which confirms this statement: Wind Turbine Health Impact Study (PDF) →

How is the town protected, in terms of liability, from loss or damages?

The Independence is fully insured for such damages and the Town of Kingston is additionally insured.

Is there somewhere online to track the turbine’s energy production?

Yes, you can track the Independence here (Note, this website is still being updated.)

Where can I learn more about wind turbines?