The citizens of Calumet County need to voice their concerns regarding necessary changes to the wind energy ordinance.
Not only do we need noise studies to restrict the increased noise levels produced by wind turbines, but we also need to enforce a minimum setback to homes that will protect the people. The importance of this is evident when reviewing a case study of the Crescent Ridge wind farm in Illinois. The study was reported in the “Harvest the Wind-A Wind Energy Handbook for Illinois” report, which indicated that an independent Noise Report Study was completed prior to the permitting process. The case study reported, “The turbines must comply with the Illinois Pollution Control Board Noise Standard, which are fairly strict in comparison with neighboring states. Nighttime noise levels must be below 30 dBa at residences.”
On a recent visit to this wind farm, a few people were able to talk to a non-participating landowner who has a wind turbine 980 feet from his home. This resident has had continual noise problems since the turbines were installed in 2005. Although he said summer isn’t as bad, during the months of fall through winter he wakes up three to four nights a week due to the noise from the turbines. His wife has said that she can feel a vibration sensation when lying on her pillow at night. He used to be able to open his windows in spring and fall to enjoy the fresh air. But, he can no longer do this, as the noise from the turbines is too loud when the windows are open. Behind his home is an unfinished deck. At this point he doesn’t see the purpose of continuing to spend the time and money on it. If the noise problems are not resolved, he will not be able to sit outside to enjoy his deck anyway. He has had people out to test the noise levels on numerous occasions, and they are generally around 61 or 62 dBA. In fact, one night the noise levels measured between 65 and 70 dBA. Complaints to the wind company fall on deaf ears, as they are passing the buck to the manufacturer of the wind turbines, stating that the manufacturer’s noise level specifications were inaccurate. So, while the wind company and the manufacturer go round-and-round to determine who is at fault and what to do, the turbine blades keep spinning, and the resident has no choice but to live with the excessive noise. Obviously, the noise study that was performed for this wind farm did not prove to be adequate protection for the people.
The Crescent Ridge project is said to cover approximately 2,200 acres, with nearly a dozen homes (mostly farm houses and outbuildings) within the project area or immediately adjacent to it. The projects that are being proposed for Calumet County will have many more non-participating landowners living within the project areas. If we experience the same problems that the Crescent Ridge landowner is having, we could have hundreds of homes having problems with noise, even though a noise study may have been performed prior to the permitting process. We cannot take the risk of this happening to the citizens of Calumet County. Relying entirely on a noise study to determine a safe setback beyond 1,000 feet will not be sufficient. It is not too late to contact your elected officials, to urge them to amend our ordinance to enforce a minimum setback of 1,800 feet from homes, to protect the health and safety of the people of Calumet County.
10 January 2008
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