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Tippecanoe Co. raises limits for wind turbine noise

After hearing more than an hour of debate, the Tippecanoe County commissioners approved changes this morning to noise limits in the county’s wind energy ordinance.

It was a split decision, 2-1, with Commissioner John Knochel voting against the changes.

As it is now amended, the ordinance allows for large wind turbines to generate an average sound output of 50 decibels per hour. There is no ceiling set for noise from the wind systems at any one time, but there is a penalty established if the companies let turbines go above the 50 decibel average per hour.

Resident Jim Pairitz, who lives on the southern end of Tippecanoe County, has spent months fighting for stronger regulation of the wind energy projects planned here. Those developers, he said, “have provided zero evidence why the sound limits should be increased.”

The ordinance adopted last year set the limit at 45 decibels, which opponents already argued was a compromise from the 35 decibels they had sought.

In the southwestern part of Tippecanoe County, Invenergy Wind LLC of Chicago is planning a wind farm with an estimated 133 turbines.

Greg Leuchtmann, development manager for Invenergy’s project, said today that the changes to the county’s ordinance are balancing protections for residents with the needs of the developers.

“(It’s about) what will allow a development and what will cancel a development,” he said.

Carmel-based Performance Services also plans to build a 25-turbine wind farm on about 2,500 acres in the northwest part of the county.

For more on this story, read Tuesday’s Journal & Courier.