November 13, 2007

Officials on wind turbines: Shhhhh! Juniata supervisors will write letters to companies asking to reduce the noise

DUNCANSVILLE – Juniata Township supervisors will ask the companies that own and maintain wind turbines within their municipality to reduce turbine noise generating complaints from residents.

Supervisors agreed Monday to have solicitor Michael Routch send letters to Babcock & Brown, the company that owns the Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm, and Gamesa Energy USA, which maintains it.

They want to know why the turbines are generating noise louder than 45 decibels and what will be done to lessen that.

Under the township’s ordinance, wind turbines are not permitted to make noise in excess of 45 decibels, a level that has been compared to the hum of a refrigerator.

“Sometimes, it sounds like a jet is going over my place but not landing,” said Myrle Baum, who has four turbines behind his property. “I can’t keep the windows open.”

Todd and Jill Stull provided supervisors Monday night with noise meter readings, up to 79 decibels, registered since Oct. 22 on their property. Similar readings registered on a nearby property.

“We’re not making these up,” Todd Stull told supervisors.

But the noise doesn’t occur every day, Baum said.

“It doesn’t matter,” Todd Stull said. “It shouldn’t be any day.”

Routch said he would take the meter readings and send them to the companies with his letter.

He also advised supervisors to hire sound engineer Paul Heishman of Mechanicsburg to conduct noise level tests.

A month ago, supervisors voted to purchase noise meters but backed away in favor of hiring someone with certification in measuring noise levels. Jill Stull collected her readings with a meter borrowed from Penn State University.

Routch said Heishman has excellent credentials, and if he finds the noise to be in excess of 45 decibels, the township can demand changes or enforce its ordinance by imposing fines.

Supervisors agreed to hire Heishman at $3,120 for 20 hours of work but said they first wanted to send a letter to the companies.

“I think we need to at least give them a chance to respond,” Supervisor Dave Rimbeck said.

Jill Stull said she’s been in contact with both companies for months and got no action.

“I’m tired of waiting, guys,” she said.

Routch said his letter will ask the companies to address the issue within a time frame that doesn’t leave the township “waiting around.”

By Kay Stephens

Altoona Mirror

13 November 2007

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