KEYSER – Eight Mineral County residents, all with their homes a short distance from the 23-turbine Pinnacle Wind Farm, voiced their concerns about the noise emitted from the turbines during a Community Advisory Panel meeting on Monday evening.
Brad Christopher, Edison Mission Group (EMG) site manager for the wind farm, said the noise issue was first reported in November and EMG is working on a solution for “noise reduction.”
He explained about a part, designed by Mitsubishi, manufacturer of the turbines, which will be installed on the top of a turbine by the cooling fan, to act as a muffler-type system.
Adding to this information, Christopher said, “The delivery of the part will be in March,” with installation to be on one turbine.
Billy Foster, residing on Pinnacle Road, was optimistic about the part easing the sound of the windmills heard at his home, but asked, What if the new part doesn’t work?”
Christopher answered, “If that doesn’t work, we will keep trying.”
Richard Braithwaite, being vocal about the noise since November, mentioned “a hammering sound, like thunder when the wind is out of the west.”
Christopher stated that particular sound could be blade noise, and, “There is not too much to do about that.”
Braithwaite stated he had measured the sound he hears and the loudness “is 60 decibels inside my house” – a cause, he said, for loss of sleep.
Albert Lee invited the panel to “come to my house” and listen to the “low thump thump thump” that he listens to most of the day and night.
He also mentioned the noise is a “rhythm-like vibration” and is sure this will contribute to hearing loss.
Dave Friend, CEO of U.S. Wind Force, pointed out that a sound expert was hired to conduct a study on how well Mitsubishi turbines would perform in situations with wind from all sides
He said what was derived from the study was the noise level “was well below” what is suggested by neighbors of the wind farm.
A brother to Braithwaite, Gary Braithwaite, told those present at the advisory meeting of the noise heard in his home, and said of a time before construction of the wind farm, a representative of the developing firm “stood in my yard and guaranteed me there would be no noise.”
Another resident, Kenny Mason, addressed the panel and wanted to know why he and his neighbors were not informed about the noise prior to turbine construction.
He also said the loud noise is not just heard in the Cross area, but mentioned a co-worker who “lives in New Creek and must wear ear plugs to sleep at night, and that is a long way from the windmills.”
“We just didn’t know the windmills would be so noisy, and now we have to live with them,” Mason said.
Christopher said two other wind farm sites of EMG “with the same type of turbines” have had no noise issues.
Naming the states of Texas and Oklahoma as the locations of the wind farms, he said the noise level depended on the “positioning of how the sites are laid out.”
He added the two wind farms are not located on a mountain ridge as in Mineral County.
Saying that he was here to run the Pinnacle Wind Farm, Christopher said in pertaining to the noise factor, “I don’t like it anymore than you do.
I came from a site where there were no problems, and I can’t snap my fingers and make the noise go away,” he said.
Donnie Ashby, a member of the advisory committee, stated he was “disappointed no representative was present” at the meeting from the corporate office of EMG, hoping perhaps something could be settled about the noise guidelines.
He also wanted to convey to those present how he feels about the value of his home, saying because of being near the wind farm, “My house is worth nothing.”
In other business discussed during the meeting, the recipients of the U.S. Wind Force Foundation grants were announced.
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