It’s not birds chirping.
It’s not the wind rustling through the leaves.
Fairfield residents June and Jimmy Salamone compared the noise of the 455-foot wind turbines surrounding their home to jet engines or nails on a chalkboard, grating their nerves.
“It wakes you up. It makes you feel like your whole body is pulsing to the whoosh of the turbine,” said June Salamone, who lives on Davis Road.
In hopes of correcting the issue, Iberdrola Renewables — which owns the Hardscrabble Wind Farm — installed a noise-reduction system at four turbines in Fairfield shortly after a June town board meeting, said Bernard Melewski, an environmental lawyer based out of Altamont representing the towns of Fairfield and Norway.
Both towns recently announced approval of the systems and require Iberdrola to report its findings in September.
Since the Hardscrabble Wind Farm was installed in the towns in 2010, two post-construction noise studies requested by the towns have been conducted by Iberdrola. They found there were times when certain turbines exceeded the towns’ permit limits of 50 decibels — the sound of a moderate rainfall, according to American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Melewski said most of the spikes were in the 50-to-60 decibel range. Sixty decibels is equivalent to the sound of a dishwasher or clothes dryer.
During the second study, done over the course of 80 days, Melewski said samples were taken every 10 minutes, and there were a small percentage of spikes that added up to hours over that period.
“And that’s too much,” he said.
The majority of the time, however, Melewski said the turbines were operating within the limits.
Iberdrola Communications Manager Paul Copleman said in an email that this is the first time these noise-reductions systems are being installed in the United States. He said the company is confident the system will address residents’ concerns.
Melewski said the company has reported that the testing has been successful so far.
“What the town wants is for us to be satisfied that the company is operating within the limits consistently,” he said. “Reducing the noise generated by the turbines will be good for everyone.”
Carol Riesel has been living on Davis Road for about 15 years and said her home is in the center of about 10 turbines, yet none of them are on her property.
“Every window I look out of has a turbine in it,” she said. “They just whoosh and whoosh and grind and grind. It’s not why I wanted to live in Fairfield.”
Riesel said she’d have to wait and see whether the noise-reduction system actually solves the problem.
“I think it’s just a Band-Aid on a major injury,” she said. “I’m hoping that these noise reducers work, but I’m truly not optimistic.”
Riesel also said she’s considering moving.
“Moving is an option. It’s certainly something I thought about,” she said. “I’m kind of stuck between a rock and hard place.”
For the Salamones, who have lived on Davis Road for 35 years, the turbines aren’t something they planned on dealing with. Jim Salamone said it has gotten to the point where they’re thinking of moving, too.
“This is what causes the anxiety because you can’t get rid of it,” he said, motioning out his kitchen window to a turbine about 1,300 feet away. “My house is surrounded.”
Riesel and Jim Salamone are worried they won’t get the price their property is worth if they try to sell.
Van Billings, owner of Van Billings Real Estate LLC in Dolgeville, said he couldn’t prove by sales whether his properties in Fairfield have been affected negatively by the turbines.
“On the other hand, I’ve had people out to the lots in that area, and if they’re close to the wind towers, they basically say they don’t really want the property,” he said.
Billings also said he’s had one property owner in Fairfield sell their home prior to the turbine construction due to concerns of the noise they’d make.
“It clearly has an effect because you can hear them” he said. “People are going to choose not to be there.”