HAMMOND – A sound expert told the Wind Advisory Committee that Hammond’s “rural soundscape” will be changed with the construction of wind turbines and that it would be foolish to take any wind developer’s sound level plan as gospel.
Clifford P. Schneider, Cape Vincent, who retired from the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Fish and Wildlife Division, told the committee that he became interested in measuring wind turbine sound in 2006, after he was appointed to Cape Vincent’s Town Council. With Cape Vincent immersed in its own wind power issues, Mr. Schneider said, he was not satisfied with the initial sound study performed by commercial wind developer AES-Acciona Energy, which sought a project in Cape Vincent.
He said the wind developer did only a few sound readings at noisy locations at the noisiest times of the day. Mr. Schneider did a “mobile survey” of the entire town of Cape Vincent. He said he found that the developer’s findings were limited and neglected to consider nighttime, worst-case wind conditions and noise impacts.
Mr. Schneider described Hammond’s evenings as calm, quiet times during which the noise from turbines would not be masked. The result, he said, would be turbine noise that is “very noticeable.”
At the heart of the issue of turbine noise, according to Mr. Schneider, are two questions: What is the existing noise level in Hammond? And what will a wind farm project do to those sound levels?
DEC, Mr. Schneider said, measures background noise and says that any new source should be no more than six decibels above the standing background noise level.
He measured the noise level at about 30 decibels inside Hammond’s village hall. Mr. Schneider played a recording of a German wind farm, increasing the noise levels all the way up to 25 decibels.
“It’s not going to drive everyone crazy, but it will affect some people,” he said.
Besides his “systematic sampling” advice, Mr. Schneider suggested building a strong compliance survey and complaint resolution and property value assurance plan into the town wind law. By doing this, he said, the committee would be requiring the developer to provide a more inclusive and careful plan that would better ensure proper placement of turbines.
Committee member Michele McQueer said she would like to hear from a sound expert from Iberdrola. Facilitator David B. Duff said he will attempt to make that happen for the next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. June 7 in the village hall.
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