Wind turbine audibility and noise annoyance in a national U.S. survey: Individual perception and influencing factors
With results from a nationwide survey sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, factors that affect outdoor audibility and noise annoyance of wind turbines were evaluated. Wind turbine and summer daytime median background sound levels were estimated for 1043 respondents. Wind turbine sound level was the most robust predictor of audibility yet only a weak, albeit significant, predictor of noise annoyance. For each 1 dB increase in wind turbine sound level (L1h-max), the odds of hearing a wind turbine on one’s property increased by 31% [odds ratio (OR): 1.31; 95% CI (confidence interval): 1.25–1.38] and the odds of moving to the next level of annoyance increased by 9% (OR: 1.09; 95% CI: 1.02–1.16). While audibility was overwhelmingly dependent on turbine sound level, noise annoyance was best explained by visual disapproval (OR: 11.0; 95% CI: 4.8–25.4). The final models correctly predict audibility and annoyance level for 80% and 62% of individuals, respectively. The results demonstrate that among community members not receiving personal benefits from wind projects, the Community Tolerance Level of wind turbine noise for the U.S. aligns with the international average, further supporting observations that communities are less tolerant of wind turbine noise than other common environmental noise sources at equivalent A-weighted sound levels..