A Portage Township-funded study to determine noise levels generated by turbines at Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm will be delayed at least until fall.
Meanwhile, supervisors continue to look for a consulting company with the experience to conduct the study, as well as a firm that is acceptable to township residents and wind-farm owners Babcock & Brown.
Indications are that the study could be conducted in various weather conditions spanning a period of 30 days or more.
“We want to be sure the study is for a sufficient period of time to determine if there is any problem,” township Solicitor C.J. Webb said. “We also want to make sure it is fair to the windmill company and the residents.”
Under consideration is Mountain Research of Altoona, which plans to contract with a California company that has experience in windmill noise studies.
The first of what will eventually be three phases of the wind farm was developed by Gamesa and sold to Babcock & Brown.
The site began generating energy in mid-2007, and Portage Township officials first fielded complaints about noise from the windmills last fall.
Residents living in Portage Township and Juniata Township, Blair County, said that at times the noise level far exceeds the limit spelled out in local ordinances adopted two years ago.
Complaints are coming from residents who live at a point in the Blue Knob area where Portage, Juniata and Greenfield townships converge.
Portage Township resident Bruce Brunett said conducting the study at the right time is important.
“We’re just kind of biding our time. There’s a wind season and there’s a non-wind season,” Brunett said.
Juniata Township already has agreed to pay a Vermont firm $22,000 to determine noise levels, a study now set for this summer.
Brunett and others think the study is best done when foliage is off the trees and there are more changes in weather patterns than usually seen in mid-summer.
Early this year, Gamesa tweaked some of the windmills in hopes of addressing the noise issue.
However, residents said the turbines continue to make a noise similar to a jet airplane.
But at a recent Portage Township meeting, Babcock representative David Smith said the site is operating within local standards.
“Babcock & Brown is in compliance with all laws and permits,” Smith said.
By Kathy Mellott
19 May 2008
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