Renewables also hear “Not in my Backyard”

 Wind gen­er­ated elec­tric­ity faces head­winds from home­own­ers 

The propane indus­try has had decades of expe­ri­ence in deal­ing with the “Not in my back­yard” bat­tle cry from energy activists and other under-informed oppo­nents.  Propane indus­try mem­bers have faced resis­tance to every­thing from the place­ment of an above ground res­i­den­tial tank in a back­yard, to new bulk stor­age at a plant or satel­lite loca­tion, and to a game changer stor­age facil­ity like Fin­ger Lakes LPG in New York.  Expe­ri­ence, patience, and an excel­lent safety record usu­ally pay off when it comes to propane stor­age and dis­tri­b­u­tion improve­ment projects for our clean Amer­i­can energy. 

In sim­i­lar fash­ion, renew­able energy advo­cates, espe­cially wind tur­bine cru­saders, are find­ing strong resis­tance to the place­ment and oper­a­tion of wind farms to sup­ply the grid.  The cham­pi­ons of wind gen­er­ated elec­tric­ity are strug­gling in deal­ing with the “Not in my back­yard” bat­tle cry of oppo­nents.  Envi­ron­men­tal­ists are assum­ing that con­sumers will be com­pletely sat­is­fied with the declared utopia of wind gen­er­ated elec­tric­ity and are now fac­ing home­owner oppo­si­tion and, in some cases, out­right hos­til­ity toward the oper­a­tion of indus­trial wind tur­bines. 

Crit­ics of wind tur­bines are quick to point out some obvi­ous and some, as yet unproven, claims that could make a case for severely lim­it­ing the place­ment and oper­a­tion of wind farms in the future and even affect the via­bil­ity of some wind farms already in oper­a­tion. 

One of the more obvi­ous issues with indus­trial wind tur­bines is the noise from the revolv­ing tur­bine blades.  In some cases this noise can be audi­ble inside a home more than six miles away.  While this noise is not at dan­ger­ous deci­bel lev­els, it is objec­tion­able and can cause health issues.  Recent noise objec­tions have turned to more difficult-to-measure infra­sound, a low fre­quency sound pat­tern, being pro­duced at report­edly dan­ger­ous lev­els in indus­trial wind tur­bine oper­a­tion.  Homes near wind farms in Wis­con­sin and sev­eral other parts of the coun­try are being aban­doned by home­own­ers due to claims of nau­sea, headaches, and other symp­toms brought on by the sound char­ac­ter­is­tics of wind tur­bine oper­a­tion. 

Another com­mon com­plaint of home­own­ers located in that big “back­yard” of a wind farm is “shadow flicker”.  Shadow flicker occurs when the rota­tion of wind tur­bine blades causes alter­nat­ing peri­ods of shadow and light on adja­cent prop­erty.  Shadow flicker, while not a proven health haz­ard at this time, cer­tainly is an irri­tat­ing visual phe­nom­e­non to most peo­ple.  Proper sit­ing of wind farms can help to min­i­mize the effects of shadow flicker on neigh­bor­ing houses but does not seem to be a pri­or­ity for wind farm plan­ners. 

The other less talked about con­cern with wind farms is their some­what unpre­dictable effect on local weather.  Wind tur­bines remove energy from the wind and that causes change.  Some effects, such as ground warm­ing and dry­ing for miles around a wind farm, are already known, but cumu­la­tive effects on the weather and ulti­mately the cli­mate are unknown at this point and should be stud­ied.  Cli­mate change fanat­ics should take note. 

Don’t con­fuse indus­trial wind tur­bines that sup­ply the grid with small tur­bines designed to directly sup­ply a home or other build­ing.  In off-grid appli­ca­tions the small turbine’s vari­able out­put is bal­anced by bat­tery stor­age and usu­ally sup­ple­mented by an on-site backup gen­er­a­tor.  A propane backup gen­er­a­tor is an excel­lent part­ner with renew­ables in this type of wind tur­bine appli­ca­tion and is usu­ally a gate­way to other propane usage points in the build­ing.   

Elec­tric­ity is your main energy com­peti­tor and indus­trial wind farms are gain­ing a toe­hold in elec­tric­ity pro­duc­tion.  Learn more about the gross inef­fi­cien­cies of indus­trial wind farms that can never be over­come by tax­payer funded gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies at  You need to learn the pros and cons of all of your energy com­peti­tors to be able to suc­cess­fully sell propane-clean Amer­i­can energy.  Now you know some of the rea­sons why home­own­ers are cry­ing out loudly “Not in my back­yard” when it comes to wind tur­bine farms.  

May win­ter winds lift your spir­its.     





Tom Jaenicke is the founder and prin­ci­pal advi­sor at ATomiK Cre­ative Solu­tions, LLC, a com­pany that pro­vides mar­ket­ing ser­vices, tech­ni­cal advice, con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion solu­tions, and busi­ness devel­op­ment assis­tance to energy com­pa­nies and sup­port orga­ni­za­tions.  He can be reached at 810 252‑7855 or