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Couple sues wind farm over noise levels

HOLLIDAYSBURG – A Blue Knob couple is seeking unspecified monetary compensation and is asking a court to intervene to reduce noise and vibration from energy generating turbines in the Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm.

A Pittsburgh attorney representing Todd and Jill Stull of Pine Springs Lane, Portage, filed a 14-page civil lawsuit in Blair County court naming Gamesa Energy USA, developers of the wind farm in Portage Township, Cambria County, and Juniata and Greenfield townships, Blair County.

Also named is Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm LLC., sold by Gamesa in 2007 to Babcock & Brown.

The lawsuit alleges that Gamesa and Allegheny Ridge have created a public and private nuisance through the operation of the wind turbines, which the Stulls say create a noise level greater than allowable by ordinances enacted three years ago by the three municipalities.

An attorney representing Gamesa did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Babcock & Brown spokesman Matt Dallas said the company has not seen the lawsuit and couldn’t comment.

Attorney Bradley Tupi, representing the Stulls, alleges in the lawsuit that Gamesa misrepresented to local officials the noise levels from the turbines to get approvals for construction of the wind farm.

Gamesa, the Spain-based energy company approached local officials in 2005 regarding a three-phased wind farm which eventually will put 90 turbines along the Cambria-Blair county line stretching from Portage to Cresson Township in Cambria County.

Constructed two years ago, the first phase has 30 turbines that became operational in 2007.

Local ordinances set perimeters for the farms including setbacks from other properties and allowable noise levels.

At times these levels are being exceeded, the Stulls and residents from Portage Township have told local officials.

At the urging of residents, the Portage Township supervisors say they will hire a sound expert to determine whether the turbines are being operated in violation of the ordinance. Similar action already has been taken by Juniata Township officials.

“They assured the officials in the township in question that the turbines would be quiet. The turbines are quite loud. They wake Dr. Stull up and he must go to the basement to sleep,” Tupi said Thursday.

In April, Stull told Portage Township officials the excess noise does not occur all of the time, but is determined by operating speed, wind velocity and direction and other conditions.

Juniata, Portage and Greenfield townships were not named as defendants in the lawsuit.

“We shouldn’t be named. We’re doing all we can do,” Juniata supervisor Dave Kane said Thursday.

By Kathy Mellott

The Tribune-Democrat

4 May 2008