Helping You Control Alternative Energy!

Solar Hot Water Who We Are Why Now? RE News and Products Solar News & Products Conservation tips Negawatts Wind NIMBY News Skystream 3.7 Swift SREC Extreme Makeover 2010 Our Solar Micro-Hydro UGE


Inspired after spending an evening in Walker Township, Centre County, PA at a conditional use hearing meeting for a proposed residential wind generator on a 12 acre parcel.

The new "NIMBY" top ten list.

Proposed site. Yes, ironically that's a cell tower nearby the proposed site.

Top 10 Checklist

for the uninformed or misinformed person

trying to ban small wind in their township.

So you just learned your neighbor wants to install a residential wind generator on his or her property and your first reaction is

"Not in my back yard!" 

Having attended many public hearings on behalf of our clients, we have heard all the so called valid concerns, read "irrational fears" as to why our client should not be allowed to install a wind generator on their property.  To save everyone some time, we decided to put together this top ten list of misinformation in order to save you the time and trouble of doing the research and finding it on your own.  The price you pay for this convenience is I will do my best to debunk the misinformation and fill your head with common sense and reality. 


  1. Property values will go down as wind generators go up.


 Property values actually increase! 

No study has ever concluded that wind turbines - neither large nor small - have had a depressing effect on nearby residential property values.

A recent survey found that most people are interested in or willing to pay more for homes equipped with solar panels or wind turbines.

If you had to choose between the purchase of two identical homes, the only difference being one had a much lower electric bill due to

the installation of a small wind generator which one would you buy?  Which one do you think would command a higher price?


  1. The wind generator, aka “bird guillotine,” would kill many birds.


 10,000 X more birds are killed each year by the common house cat and plate glass windows than by wind generators. 

Even the vastly larger, utility-scale wind farms that are grouped closely in large arrays account for less than 0.003% of all human-caused bird deaths.


  1. The wind generator would make constant noise, upsetting the peace of the neighborhood.


Today's turbines emit sound that is barely discernible from ambient noise, even with a decibel (dB) meter. Sound from traffic, rustling trees, airplanes, and people in fact often sufficiently mask the dull, low, "white noise" sounds a small turbine can make at certain wind speeds.

Only during short-term events like severe storms or utility outages do turbines make distinctive sounds, but in these occurrences ambient sound levels increase as well.

Sound decreases significantly with distance from the source (including height - another good reason to allow tall towers).

Doubling the distance from the turbine decreases the sound level by a factor of four.


  1. Trespassing children would attempt to climb the wind generator’s small diameter metal pipe tower and kill themselves.


How could a child climb a small diameter metal pipe, and why would anyone attempt to climb such a structure?

Using this logic, every utility pole in the town should be removed because it poses a danger to children.

Perhaps most detrimental of all, fences prevent access to the turbine in emergencies.


  1. Shadow "Flicker".


Small turbines are shorter, have narrower blade profiles, and spin much faster than utility-scale turbines so that any shadows become essentially invisible at operating speeds.

 Turbines of all sizes are designed to start spinning only after a minimum wind speed has been attained, so chances are very slim that a small turbine will spin slowly enough to make shadow flicker a concern.

Furthermore, normal setback distances dictated by property lines or sound requirements mitigates, if not entirely eliminates, this potential nuisance, especially at U.S. latitudes.



  1. The local utility already provides electricity, so your neighbor should not be allowed to have a wind generator because it is inefficient  and unnecessary.


While electricity is readily available in most locations, one could argue just because local grocery stores provide fresh produce, does not mean people should be banned from having home gardens.

Additionally, 65% of the electricity produced by your utility company is wasted energy lost in transmitting it large distances to your home. 

Distributed generation (producing power close to where it will be used) eliminates the wastes associated with transmission and is far more efficient than producing it at a power plant and pushing it long distances. 


  1. The danger of Icing.  Some would argue that in the winter time, a spinning wind generator will throw ice from its blades causing a safety hazard to those nearby.


Like trees, street lamps, or other structures, turbines in cold climates can become covered in ice, which falls to the ground as it melts. But just as an airplane's wing must be de-iced in order for it to fly, a turbine's blade must be free of ice in order to rotate at any significant speed. The weight and aerodynamic interference of ice buildup slows the blades' rotation to a near stand-still, making any melting ice fall straight downward rather than being thrown from the blade.

To put this in further perspective, a 1998 study calculated that the risk of personal or property damage from ice falling from a (large) turbine is lower than the risk of being struck by lightning.



  1. The danger of Lightening Strikes.  Some would argue that the tall metal tower supporting a wind generator invites lightening strikes causing a safety hazard to those nearby.


Wind turbines do not attract lightning, so pose no threat to neighboring properties.

Lightning is essentially the release of pent-up static electricity that moves from a turbulent atmosphere to the ground. Small wind turbines are "grounded," meaning that any static electricity on the tower or generator is dispersed into the ground, preventing a build-up that could invite lightning strikes. As a result, even though small wind turbine towers are made of metal (a conductor of electricity), by virtue of their grounding they are less susceptible to lightning strikes than trees, which cannot shed built-up static electricity.  To a lightning bolt, a turbine is therefore no more "appealing" than the ground itself.

However, lightning strikes are still possible, which is why small wind turbines incorporate back-up technologies like surge and lightning arrestors (also known as silicon oxide varistors) and metal oxide varistors, which are also used to protect home computers from electrical surges.  Lightning strikes are never completely preventable, but these industry standard measures offer the best protection available to the owner of the wind system. Good practice in the wind industry includes grounding of all towers and guy wires, which significantly reduces the chance of a lightning strike.


  1. The wind generator would ruin the character of the neighborhood.


When other concerns are refuted by facts, the next argument against a wind generator is based on “ruining the character of the neighborhood.”

Because the character of a neighborhood is hard to quantify, we need to approach this myth differently.

Take a look at most neighborhoods and you will see utility poles with wires near every house, antenna and water towers, and propane tanks in front yards.

I would argue that so long as a turbine is installed safely, particularly on private property, they should be allowed.

I compare the aesthetics of a turbine to that of a street lamp, utility pole, or flag pole, and like a flag on a flagpole, a turbine only moves or makes a sound when the wind blows.   I would also point to precedent, noting that communities already accept water towers, buildings, billboards, relay towers, cell phone towers, utility poles and lines, grain silos, and radio antennas as part of the landscape.

Pictured in the background is a Control Alt Energy, LLC installed wind generator on a 45' tower in Hegins, PA near the Tri Valley football field.

As you can see the Schuylkill Haven Area Cheerleaders nor anyone else at the game so much as even noticed the addition of the Bair's new wind generator.

I would suggest the flag flanked by the wind generator at the football game perfectly symbolizes what makes this country great "Independence", be it "Energy Independence" or the liberty we enjoy! 

Small wind only adds to the character of a community!


  1. Installing a wind generator requires separate costly insurance policies.


The small wind system should simply be added to existing homeowner, farm, or business policies as an "appurtenant" (uninhabited) structure and does not require a separate policy.

Precautions such as setback requirements for wind turbines are designed specifically to protect that which is beyond one's own property line.

Source American Wind Energy Association and Home Power Magazine.

Other issues concerns

Despite tens of thousands of installations, there still exists a lot of confusion and misinformation about small wind systems especially when you get to the local and county zoning level.

I strongly encourage everyone to get involved with their local planning board by attending meetings and voicing your support for the right to generate your own clean renewable electricity from the wind.  If you don't, someday you too may want to generate your own clean power only to learn the NIMBY's have beat you to the game by enacting ordinances based founded on misguided information.

The American Wind Energy Association has a great document for local governments wrestling with enacting or adopting appropriate wind ordinances

Another resource for wind information

The first social network for the wind turbine industry!

Visitors can interact with wind industry professionals and learn all about wind as an alternative energy source.

Still have questions?

Ready to start saving money on your utility bill?


Andy Wollyung



Ed Woll



Greg Woll