Turbine noise study signed with Vermont firm; Juniata Township supervisors ink contract for Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm
Juniata Township supervisors have signed a contract with a Vermont company to study pinpointing how much noise is created by the Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm turbines.
But how fast the study gets done may depend on the time residents take to complete survey forms documenting noise, followed by company personnel visiting the area based on weather forecasts.
At last week’s supervisors meeting, township solicitor Mike Routch advised resident Myrle Baum and his son Brian to work with Resource Systems Group Inc. on study arrangements.
Survey forms have been printed, with residents expected to gauge the noise level, how long it lasted, how windy it was at the time and the cloud cover, if any.
Baum asked supervisors last week about delaying the study until winter when the noise levels are likely to register high readings. That prompted Supervisor Dave Rimbeck to ask if the turbines are loud only in the winter.
“No,” Baum and resident Jill Stull said.
Stull said she hears the wind turbines every week but the highest readings may be achieved when the wind is strong, such as in November.
Because supervisors already had incurred $4,165 in expenses toward the $23,000 contract, Routch advised signing the contract, as previously agreed, and allowing the Baums to coordinate timing with RSG.
For more than a year, residents living near the wind turbines have complained about intermittent noise from the wind turbines, created under various weather conditions. Sixty people signed a petition asking for help.
Supervisors initially forwarded complaints to Babcock & Brown, the company that owns the wind farm, and Gamesa Energy, which built the turbines. The company initiated some measures they believed might lessen the noise, but residents say the noise remains.
Late last year, Babcock & Brown hired a company that used readings from four days to conclude that the turbine noise does not exceed the 45 decibel limit permitted in the ordinance. Routch has said that for the township to be in a position to require the company to make changes that lessen the noise, it has to have evidence that its ordinance is being violated.
The 45 decibel level was set when Gamesa Energy worked on arrangements with the five municipalities where the wind turbines would be located.
“It was described as the sound of a refrigerator and who in their right mind would object to that?” Stull asked.
Stull and her husband, Todd, sued the Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm and Gamesa Energy in Blair County Court, asking for the noise to be reduced or to be compensated financially for the loss of their property. Their property is surrounded by five turbines.
By Kay Stephens
9 June 2008
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