CLINTON — Noise was the big issue during the Wind Facilities Planning Board’s recent public hearing, and it wasn’t the noise coming from the 40-plus people packed into the Town Hall.
The meeting, which was set to address local concerns with variance requests from Horizon’s Marble River wind farm project, focused on noise issues surrounding Noble’s wind farms and the fear that this project will only bring the same problems.
Chad and Rose Garrow shared a complaint that the noise study done on the current turbines was unfair due to reported battery malfunctions.
“I’m getting vibrations, and I haven’t slept in I don’t know how long,” Mrs. Garrow said. “But I don’t think anybody’s looking out for our interest.”
Richard Green of Churubusco said he can feel the sounds from the turbines, citing the low range and the repetitiveness.
“It’s a constant noise that you can feel in your body.”
But Burlington, Vt., resident Martin Lavin, who owns 1,350 acres in Clinton, said he deals with noise from passing cars and loud college students at his home.
In Horizon’s original project proposal, Lavin was to have eight turbines on his property, but “we lost them all” in the scaled-back proposal, which calls for taller, yet fewer turbines.
“But I’m still in support of the project,” he said.
Jennifer Ruggles of Churubusco argued that Lavin’s example of noise was a result of his choices.
“You chose to buy a house in a city. We chose to buy a house in the country. We did not choose to move next to these things. I have 35 acres, and I can still feel (the noise). This noise came to us.”
Green said that of the landowners with turbine contracts, 49 are not town residents and just 24 are.
“The income isn’t going to town residents. They don’t have to live with the windmills.”
The town’s wind lawyer, Daniel Spitzer, suggested that the Wind Board summon a Noble representative and call a special public meeting to respond to residents’ noise complaints and address the enforcement of the noise laws.
Horizon’s variances request that it build turbines exceeding 400 feet, increasing their height to 492 feet, which raises concerns with Customs and Border Protection Supervisor Richard Bowman.
“I’ve flown around the ones that are 400 feet, and those are pretty up there,” he said, adding that the turbines’ proximity to the border is also of concern.
“We fly as low as the tress, depending on what we have to work on.”
Ruggles shared Bowman’s border concern.
“It is getting worse at our border, not better. We really should consider safety of the community before money.”
But Spitzer said the new proposal removes most of the turbines from the wetlands area, which are in the northeast area nearest to the border.
The proposal reduces the number of turbines to be built in the towns of Clinton and Ellenburg from 109 to 74.
In return, they’re replacing them with taller, more powerful turbines, generating 0.9 megawatts more than the originals, going from 2.1 to 3, which allows them to reduce the footprint of the project.
The total electrical output would remain the same as the original proposal.
Janice Padula of Plattsburgh owns land in the town but will not have turbines.
“But I am in very big support of this project,” she said.
Padula is a wind professor at Clinton Community College and supports wind energy, calling the turbines “majestic.”
“When I hung my very first load of laundry, I thought, wow, I’m going to put a turbine up here someday.
“I really know these people are reputable. Don’t throw out the project because of someone else,” she continued, referring to residents’ issues with Noble’s turbines.
“I really believe in the reputation of Horizon.”
Nancy Neubrand, a student of Padula’s, said renewable energy is necessary today.
“Wind is free. We need to get into renewables. We’re using substantial resources.”
Will Rogers of Clinton agreed.
“We need to go to renewable or be at the mercy of the Mideast.”
The Wind Facilities Planning Board will have a public meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20, at the Fire House, 1301 Clinton Mills Road.
They committee will review Horizon’s application for variances.