A final review could come Monday for Tippecanoe County’s rules governing wind energy systems that are expected to sprout here in the next few years.
Proposed changes to the county ordinance have sat on the back burner since early December, when some residents raised concern about raising noise limits for the systems.
The commissioners approved an ordinance in August that set the wind turbine noise limit at 45 decibels. But afterward, some representatives of wind energy companies sought to raise it to 50 decibels.
That’s still where the limit is set in the revised ordinance that commissioners will discuss Monday. But there’s a provision to protect nearby residents from “tone” noise.
“There have been some complaints in other developments of production of tones, which are basically a constant annoyance,” Commissioner Tom Murtaugh said. “This addresses that issue.”
The commissioners said even at 50 decibels the county’s wind ordinance would be one of the strictest in the state. But the board had agreed to seek counsel from a sound consultant after hearing from concerned citizens.
According to Purdue’s audiology department, 50 decibels of sound equates to the noise of soft talking, a washing machine, a quiet air conditioner or an electric toothbrush.
Another change in the revised county ordinance outlines a process for measuring sound and tones from the turbines once they are constructed. Murtaugh said developers would have to have testing plans approved at the beginning of the process that lay out the specific protocol and use of a qualified sound consultant.
Official plans for Tippecanoe County’s first wind farm were announced in early September.
Carmel-based Performance Services plans to build a 25-turbine wind farm on about 2,500 acres in the northwest part of the county.
In the southwestern part of Tippecanoe County, Invenergy Wind LLC of Chicago is planning a wind farm with 133 turbines.
Greg Leuchtmann, development manager for Invenergy’s project, spoke in support of the proposed noise limit changes at last month’s meeting.
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