A representative of a local grassroots group said he’ll ask Libertyville officials on Monday to effectively ban wind turbines from the village.
The meeting marks plan commissioners’ third discussion of wind turbines since last month, when the village enacted a six-month moratorium on the machines.
Dave Gates is a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Aldridge Electric Company, 844 East Rockland Road. He’s one of several residents who live between 200 and 700 feet from Aldridge’s 150-foot-tall wind turbine. They’ve formed Citizens for the Protection of Libertyville, which is waging the legal battle shut down the turbine.
“If we had our choice we would do what Grayslake did who said ‘keep them out of here,’” Gates said.
Grayslake officials voted in February to prohibit wind turbines in residential areas. Any other wind energy proposals must go before the board for approval.
Libertyville officials have proposed allowing wind turbines as long as they do not create noise louder than 45 decibels, said John Spoden, director of community development. The proposal also regulates “shadow flicker” created by wind turbines.
“Basically, they would have to show that there wouldn’t be a shadow on a neighboring property unless you are able to come to an agreement with a property owner that would have to be filed with the Lake County Recorder’s office,” Spoden said.
But 45 decibels is not quiet enough, Gates said.
“We would like to see 35 (decibels) max, not 45. They should not be obtrusive, 45 is the sound of a quiet car running next to your house,” Gates said.
He said the Aldridge turbine sounds like a helicopter.
“You have this ‘whoop, whoop, whoop’ sound over your house,” he said. It’s so irritating that he doesn’t want to open the windows in his home.
The village delayed authorizing wind turbines in March while the Lake County Wind Energy Task Force and Lake County Regional Planning Commission work on a wind energy model ordinance.
Libertyville used a draft of the county’s model ordinance to come up with its wording, Spoden said. The proposal also covers small wind turbines.
“Those also should be special use permits,” Spoden said. “That would be something not allowed by right. The overall height of any of these units, we’re proposing it couldn’t be any taller than the maximum height in that district. If somebody had a one-story house, they could put one up to about five feet on their roof. It has to meet requirements, such as it can’t make sun glints, it cannot have any lighting, advertising and it cannot create electromagnetic interference. It also could not be operated between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.”
That does not satisfy Gates.
“We’re not thrilled it would be run at all because it would still be disruptive no matter what,” Gates said.
But he’s glad the plan commission is looking at the issue.
“The past ordinance they created for Mr. Aldridge was terrible,” Gates said.
It gave Aldridge clearance to build three commercial wind turbines, but a court order mandated the turbine that was installed could only run for part of the day, and the construction of the other two are on hold while the lawsuit is pending.
Ken Aldridge, CEO of Aldridge Electric Co. could not be reached for comment. But last year he said he had hoped the wind turbines would pay for themselves by generating energy the company could sell.
“It was our intent and we were permitted to run it 24 hours a day,” Aldridge said. “The pay back was 20 years on the turbine, but with the limited hours, the pay back is 50 years, which is not really worth it. I’m hoping we can get new operating hours.”
Aldridge said last year that he had not yet decided if he’ll shut down the Rockland Road turbine if he does not win the lawsuit.
Gates said he thinks Aldridge sold the village a bill of goods by saying the turbine would save energy and costs.
“We feel they’ve (the plan commission) really has taken the job seriously this time around and they realize we all got tricked,” Gates said. “We’re going there to support the plan commission because we think they’re taking a reasonable approach, but obviously we’d like to see them make the ordinance even tighter.”
If the plan commission approves the text amendment on Monday, the village board could discuss and possibly vote on the issue as early as May.
Even if the village board approves a favorable recommendation from the plan commission, it would not affect the Aldridge Electric Company turbine since it is still being litigated, Spoden said.
And it is possible the discussions will continue at the plan commission level after Monday, Spoden said.
“I think it’s going to be a continuation of a discussion. I do not know if the plan commission will be ready to vote on it or not,” Spoden said.
Gates has concerns about what will happen the plan commission makes its recommendation.
“We’re happy with the plan commission,” Gates said. “Our biggest fear is the village board will take their work and trash it.”
There should be a middle ground, said Mayor Terry Weppler.
“I think anybody would like to see alternative energy sources,” Weppler said. “We’re not against wind turbines then, but we don’t want there to be a negative impact on residents.”
If Citizens for the Protection of Libertyville loses its lawsuit, the second and third wind turbines Aldridge proposed to build in the past might not receive the mayor’s support in the future.
“If those wind turbines were the same as the one that is up now, and the same noise level, I would not support it. I personally don’t think that one works properly. I don’t think it ever has. I think it’s louder than it needs to be. I think a proper wind turbine in a different location would be okay if it doesn’t have any shadow flicker on properties and noise or shadow flicker on neighboring residents.”
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