KEYSER – The owners of the Pinnacle Wind Farm announced Tuesday that they will install muffling devices on all 23 turbines after successfully testing a prototype in response to noise complaints from residents living near the wind farm.
Edison Mission Group said the “acoustic louver” tested on one of the Mitsubishi turbines over the past two months succeeded in reducing noise levels from cooling machinery housed in the bus-sized “nacelles” atop the turbine posts.
The company will invest approximately $500,000 to install the noise mitigation equipment on all turbines at the site and expects that the work will be completed by the end of June.
“Based on concerns expressed by some area residents, we performed extensive analysis of the noise from these turbines,” said Charley Parnell, vice president of Public Affairs for EMG. “We believe Pinnacle is operating in a manner that meets the requirements of our permits, but taking additional steps to mitigate noise is an important part of our commitment to be a responsible corporate citizen of the communities in which we operate. We look forward to many years of providing clean energy generated by Pinnacle, and we intend to work in good faith to address local concerns.”
In February Green Mountain resident Richard Braithwaite filed a protest with the West Virginia Public Service Commission, saying noise levels recorded both inside and outside his home exceeded limits set forth by the Commission in approving the project. Earlier this month, PSC staff who reviewed the Braithwaite complaint determined that the appeal had merit and should proceed through the regulatory process.
Contacted Tuesday, Braithwaite welcomed Edison’s move, but said it would only address half of his concern. While the nacelles produce the high-pitched noise that most impacts his home – “like a jet engine,” he said of the sound – Braithwaite said company officials have consistently declined to address his related concern about the noise from the turbine blades, which he described as a “low bass” sound.
“They don’t even want to talk about that noise…,” he said. “(The muffler) is definitely not going to stop that low bass noise.”
Braithwaite said PSC officials contacted him Tuesday to advise him of the company’s decision to install the mufflers. He said they also reported that his case remains active with the agency. “They said they’re still going to be involved,” Braithwaite said.
Delegate Gary Howell, who worked with neighbors of the wind farm in pushing for noise abatement, applauded Edison’s decision to install the devices on all of the turbines.
“After hearing concerns from area residents about the noise levels of the wind turbines, I contacted Edison Mission on their behalf,” Howell said. “Edison Mission from the beginning said they were not just going to be a company in Mineral County, but they would be active members of our community. I’m pleased that the company has been good to their word and found a solution to this issue.”
Mineral County Commissioner City Pyles also credited the company with moving to address the noise concerns.
“I’ve worked with the company for the past few months and appreciate that they are committed to being an active member of this community,” Pyles said. “Actions speak louder than words and this proves to me that Edison Mission wants to be a good neighbor to the folks in Mineral County.”
In addition to installing the noise mitigation equipment, Edison said that it will re-surface portions of two roads adjacent to the site. Braithwaite had noted in his complaint to the PSC that roads damaged during construction of the wind farm last year had never been fully repaired.
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