Freeborn Wind Noise Again!

November 9th, 2021

The Xcel Energy Freeborn Wind post-construction noise modeling equipment is up, this time at the tree line, not behind it.

Just filed today at the Public Utilities Commission:

Xcel Energy has 14 days to respond, and then off to the Public Utilities Commission for consideration. The Commission needs to take a hard look at what they’re doing, because these wind projects sited without rules and too close to people is harming those living in the project footprint.

Noise remains a problem for those trying to live in the middle of a wind project. No surprise when the owner uses a 0.5 ground factor to model bigger, louder turbines, several hundred feet above the ground (these have rotor diameter of 120 meters, or 393.701 feet!). This has been ongoing for so long, going on 5 years, I find I’m forgetting crucial details. But what’s happened in this docket, and what has happened in other dockets, all adds up, particularly with the Bent Tree noise exceedences demonstrated, and resulting settlements, and the Blazing Star noise issues going on right now.

Noise was a problem in Bent Tree with Vestas V-82 for the Hagens and Langruds.

Bent Tree Noise report confirms permit violations!

Wind turbine noise is a problem for the Blazing Star wind project with these bigger and louder Vestas V-120:

Blazing Star Wind NOISE!

More on Blazing Star noise

Freeborn Wind noise has long been an issue. Noise was a problem when the Freeborn Wind ALJ recommended denial of the permit because they had not demonstrated, using 0.0 ground factor, that they could comply. Yes, do not forget that we won that round, first recommendation of denial of wind permit application ever:

WE WON!!! ALJ Recommend Freeborn Permit be DENIED, or…

So then the PUC changes the rules, moves the goal posts, and allows use of 0.5 ground factor in modeling to predict noise, and don’t forget, these are now Vestas V-120 turbines, bigger and louder.

Freeborn? PUC upends ALJ’s Freeborn Wind Recommendation

Can you spell U-N-D-E-R-E-S-T-I-M-A-T-E ?? GI-GO???

Tried for an Environmental Assessment Worksheet and got the gong:

PUC Freeborn Mtg 2-6-2020

Filed a MERA claim (Minn. Stat. 116B.03) and we were booted out of court:

Association of Freeborn County Landowners v. Public Utilities Commission

And we appealed the Commission’s final decision on Freeborn:

Freeborn Wind appeal – we lose…

We are persistent. The noise numbers are too high, and they’re higher than pre-construction noise modeling predicted. Yeah, well, DOH, using the wrong ground factor.

The Commission needs to address this obvious problem and deal with the consequences. Avoidance just doesn’t cut it. This is real, and it’s not going away.


Wisconsin Power and Light, owner/operator of the Bent Tree Wind project is under the Alliant Energy corporate umbrella.  Recently, Wisconsin Power & Light filed a response to the noise study for its Bent Tree wind project:


In this response, well, it’s not wind turbine noise, it’s the birds! It’s the rustling leaves!

Here’s the noise study, in case you missed it:

Bent Tree_Noise Monitoring_20179-135856-01

It’s out today, Dan Gunderson at MPR has done an extensive piece on the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission “investigation” of wind turbine noise and health impacts, looking at, per the PUC:

The Commission is gathering information to determine if current permit conditions on setbacks remain appropriate and reasonable.


Here’s the audio — full text is way below:

What concerns me is that, again, they only gave notice of this docket to the wind industry, and not the people intervening or commenting in PUC wind dockets who raised this issue in the first place, and my comment on that to the PUC, urging them t expand the Notice:

Overland Comments – Request for Broader Distribution of Notice

To see the PUC’s wind turbine setback docket, go to, click “eDockets” on lower right, and search for docket 09-845.

And here’s the MPR piece in writing:

Wind turbine noise concerns prompt investigation

by Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Public Radio

August 4, 2009

Valley City, ND — Wind farms are rapidly expanding across the Midwest, and a growing number of residents who live near the wind turbines are complaining about noise.

In Minnesota, those complaints prompted the Public Utilities Commission to investigate.

When Dennis and Cathryn Stillings chose a place to retire, they were looking for solitude and quiet. So a couple of years ago, they bought a farmstead in the rolling hills of eastern North Dakota.

Soon after they moved in, dozens of wind turbines sprouted in a neighbor’s nearby field.

Dennis Stillings said he wasn’t bothered at first because he supported wind energy and he was told the turbines were quiet, no louder than 55 decibels.

“Which is about the same level as your refrigerator running, or the same level as my conversation right now,” Stillings said. “Well, if I was holding a conversation with someone in my living room and someone in the corner was sitting there going bop, bop, bop at 55 decibels, it would drive me nuts and I’d kick him out.”
Larger view
Wind turbines

The Stillings said what bothers them is the pulsating, low-frequency sound. They say it’s like a giant dishwasher, or a helicopter in the distance. Cathryn Stillings said there’s no escaping the sound and that she’s having trouble sleeping.

“It’s a duller sound in the house but it’s still out there,” she said. “You can hear it through the walls. It just kind of gets in your bones.”

The Stillings’ complaints are similar to cases popping up around the country in the past couple of years, as wind farm expansion moves closer to populated areas. Complaints include headaches, dizziness and trouble sleeping.

In Minnesota, a handful of groups have organized to demand tougher regulation. They want the state to require more distance between wind turbines and homes. A report by the Minnesota Department of Health concluded there are potential health concerns.
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