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A Molokai Wind Farm

Basic questions and answers – part 5

Community Contributed

By Steve Morgan

Do windmills make noise?
A study in Albany County, Wyoming determined that the Siemens 2.3 megawatt (MW) wind turbine, at a speed of 22 mph, generated a noise level of 47 decibels (db) 800 feet away; 40 db at a mile and a half away; and 21 db at 7 miles away. Comparable studies showed little noise variation in winds ranging from 15 mph to 30mph. 
Examples of comparable noise levels are: library ambience 30 db; refrigerator hum 40db; air conditioner (20 feet away) 60 db.
According to the EPA, noise levels above 45 db can disturb sleep. The wind itself also makes noise which may compete with or even eliminate turbine noise.
A more controversial noise problem associated with windmills is “amplitude modulation” created by infrasound waves under 20 hertz (Hz). Various studies seem to deny any true medical condition associated with this problem; however, an AWEA report states that “the fluctuating noise created by the up down motion of the blade can be a concern.” Low level frequencies can affect the vestibular system and effect balance and even create dizziness. Some living in close proximity of windmills have reported these types of effects.
*Study conducted by EMI for Shell Energy

What will happen to the windmills if they are no longer in operation?
According to both First Wind and Pattern Energy, upon ceasing operation, all windmills would be removed as well as the concretes support bases. Elaborating on this more fully, David Parquet of Pattern stated that his company would bond the dismantling process. Bonding would insure that money would be a set aside at the development stage of the project, in order to cover all related costs of dismantling. Bonding also insures that these allocated moneys could only be used for the sole purpose of dismantling.

Will the Kaunakakai wharf have to be modified to accommodate loading or transportation of turbines?

According to First Wind, the wharf would need modifications to accommodate the large blade and tower pieces. A consultant would be hired to determine the necessary modifications and community input would be brought in to this process.

How many people will the wind farm employ during the construction phase?

The initial construction phase will require 200-300 workers. Some of these jobs will go to local workers, but a significant number of the workers would come from off island.

Where will these people live while they are on Molokai?
Speaking at the Maunaloa Molokai Properties Ltd. meeting, Parquet of Pattern made a suggestion of refurbishing the abandoned hotel(s).  He stated that this could accomplish two things 1) the hotel rooms could provide accommodations for transit workers; and 2) upon completion of the project, the refurbished hotel(s) could resume tourist operations and offer employment. Mr. Parquet went on to state, “if this is something that the community wants.”

How many jobs will there be after construction is finished?

According to First Wind, the project would employ three operations and maintenance personnel and three wildlife biologists. Additionally the turbine manufacturer would provide one maintenance technician for every 10 wind turbines. It is possible that qualified residents could be trained at other project sites in order to prepare them for work on Molokai.

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