MAYVILLE – Jim Congdon said two friends living in the town of Byron are experiencing significant sound problems and constant blade flicker since the $250 million Forward Wind Energy Center began operating.
“It’s extremely irritating,” he said. “What is the company going to do with somebody like that?”
Laura Miner, asset manager associate for Chicago-based Invenergy Wind LLC, said it’s currently fielding all complaints .
“What we did when we built the project was to have a 1,000-foot setback and try to prevent some of those things from happening,” she said. “Now we’re doing drive-by tests and going up to the houses to try to gauge what’s going on.”
Congdon said one of his friends lives 1,100 feet from a wind turbine and the other is 1,500 feet away.
“We built the project thinking that wouldn’t happen,” Miner said about the problems. “I don’t mean to diminish the complaints at all, but sound is one of those things that’s very subjective. So we want to make sure we get within what the (recommended) decibel level is.”
Darrell Erb, operations and maintenance manager for Invenergy Wind, said wind turbine manufacturers determine the sound level and obviously if there is a problem they’ll have to address it.
“They’re are several things we can look at if that’s going to be an issue but we won’t know those until the (post-construction) sound study will be completed in June,” he said.
Miner and Erb on Wednesday provided 30 people with an overview of the wind farm in the Brownsville area during the Lions Club monthly dinner meeting at the Mayville Golf Club.
Bird rehabilitator Barb Harvey of Horicon asked if the turbines will stop running during peak bird migration.
“We’re required by the state to do a three-year bird and bat study,” Miner said. “And that is to study bird and bat use in the area as well as mortality.”
Harvey said she was curious about monitoring because many of the raptors that migrate through this area have used those fields in doing so for so long.
“I hope there’s going to be an honest evaluation as to if there is and what the mortality rate would be and reported as such,” Harvey said.
Miner said Invenergy Wind has contracted with the University of Wisconsin-Madison to conduct a bird and bat study this summer so she expects it’ll publish findings along the way.
“I’ve never seen any dead fowl under a turbine in 12 years,” Erb said, referring to his tenure with other other wind companies.
Lions Club member Jerry Moede asked Erb if the wind turbines can withstand a tornado and Erb said they’re designed to resist winds up to 160 mph.
“A lot of people ask me if they’re going to topple but apparently they won’t,” Moede said after the meeting.
By Brian Paynter
22 May 2008
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