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University of Delaware hears public’s comments on Lewes turbine

The University of Delaware’s new wind turbine has divided the population of Lewes.

Some consider the turbine an architectural masterpiece on the Lewes skyline. Others praise the university for embracing green energy and setting up a test platform at its Lewes campus.

But talk to the dozens of residents who live nearby and it can be a different story.

“It’s somehow less beautiful when it’s right in my backyard,” said Janice Pinto, who lives nearby.

For Pinto, the noise from the turbine can sometimes be a problem and suggestions that she just shut the windows and turn on the air conditioning just don’t cut it.

When the wind is out of the southwest, “it’s like the jet engine that won’t land,” she said.

That was the kind of detailed information that Nancy Targett, dean of UD’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment, was looking for Thursday night.

The university hosted a meeting at the Lewes campus Thursday to listen to questions and concerns about the turbine – which has been up and running since June.

Targett told the crowd of about 100 people that she welcomed detailed information on noise complaints – such as the approximate wind speed and direction when the turbine caused noise problems.

“I understand there is an issue” with noise sometimes, Targett said.

The key is determining whether steps can be taken to address it, she said.

Others worry about the impact on property values and a condition called “wind turbine syndrome.” University officials on Thursday questioned the findings of one study, saying it was not peer-reviewed and encompassed a narrow sample set.

Targett said the turbine is designed to provide power to the Lewes campus and to serve as a test platform for future offshore wind turbines.

The one at Lewes is covered with a special coating to resist corrosion, and researchers will be watching to see how it holds up in coastal conditions.

While many of the concerns are raised by nearby homeowners, some who live farther away, like Thomas Mandel of Gills Neck Road, praised the turbine.

“It’s an exceptionally beautiful object,” Mandel said.