Unable to agree on an expert to gauge noise from Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm turbines, Portage Township and Juniata Township in Blair County will conduct separate studies.
Portage officials said they likely will hire a company next week to conduct the sound study from their side of Blue Knob Mountain.
“At this next meeting, we should have all of the information and I would hope we can come to some resolution,” Supervisor Ken Trimbath said.
Juniata already has hired a Vermont firm to analyze the noise created by the turbines, township Supervisor Dave Kane said Monday.
“Portage Township won’t go in with us, so we’ve got to fit the bill ourselves,” said Kane of the $23,000 cost.
Without offering specifics, Trimbath said Portage Township supervisors prefer a company other than Resource Systems Group Inc. of White River Junction, Vt., the company contracted by Juniata Township.
At issue are a group of about a half dozen windmills in Portage and Juniata townships and in Greenfield Township, also in Blair County.
Neighbors living near where the three township lines converge have complained for months that – during some weather and wind conditions – the turbines operate more loudly than the 45 decibels spelled out in local laws.
The allowable level is compared to the sound of a residential refrigerator.
Todd Stull, a Juniata Township resident who lives close to the turbines, calls that comparison laughable.
“This must be Paul Bunyan’s refrigerator sitting on my hill. That’s ridiculous,” he said.
The Vermont company already has started to prepare, with actual work tentatively set for July.
Trimbath said the company doing the study must be acceptable to Babcock & Brown, owners of Allegheny Ridge.
“My concern is the other way also: The results must be accepted if there is not a noise problem,” Trimbath said.
Portage is considering Mountain Research, a local firm that would bring windmill sound experts from the West Coast.
Trimbath said he likes that it involves local people with no apparent loyalties to the wind industry.
Using a neutral company is paramount, said Bruce Brunett, a Portage Township resident bothered by the noise.
It also might be a good thing if two separate studies are made of the Blue Knob windmills, he said.
By Kathy Mellott
28 April 2008
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