Wind turbines were the hot topic at the Tippecanoe County Commissioners meeting Monday morning, as commissioners voted two-to-one to pass the Wind Energy Ordinance and its noise level amendments .
Five decibels have many Tippecanoe County property owners upset. Originally, the ordinance stated the turbine noise level average for an hour couldn’t exceed 45 decibels, but a wind energy company asked the commissioners to reconsider to 55. Commissioners said they settled on 50 decibels.
How the decibel average works is the sound wind turbines give off is measured over a period of an hour. The highest decibel and the lowest decibel are used to come up with an average. That average cannot exceed 50 decibels.
So, one after one Tippecanoe County residents took to the podium, most upset with what commissioners call a compromise with wind energy company Invenergy.
“Now, it just seems like they are getting a free pass,” Robert Brooks, who is opposed to the 50 decibel amendment, told commissioners during the meeting.
“My question is, why has this one company so much allowance to come back and ask for changes to a regulation?” Sarah Tyler asked the commissioners.
Commissioner John Knochel voted against the change in decibels.
“It was to accommodate the wind turbine people,” he said.
Invenergy representative Greg Leuchtmann spoke to the commissioners during the meeting.
“We are trying to get to something that is very objective and measurable that will protect residents as well as allow for this project to happen,” he said.
The commissioners got a sound consultant firm’s opinion on the county’s noise amendments.
“Feedback we got from the consultant was mainly negative on the amendments that were being proposed,” Knochel explained. “In other words, he thought they were a little too high.”
Other amendments include how the sound from wind turbines will be measured, establishing the definition of a tone noise from a wind turbine and the decibel level with a tone is 45.
Commissioner Tom Murtaugh voted yes for the amendments and ordinance. He said the county still has one of the strictest ordinances on wind energy.
“Not only because of the actual limit on decibels, but also the fact that it does address tone, frequency, and a lot of different acoustical measurements,” Murtaugh explained.
Murtaugh said Benton County has a decibel limit of 55 and White County doesn’t have any regulation on decibel levels.
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