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Critics say wind act lacks turbines’ noise evaluation

CANTON – The public comment period for Article X of the 2011 Power NY Act ended Tuesday with the exception of municipalities, which have another two weeks to get their statements in.

In one of the many last-minute public comments submitted to the state Public Service Commission, local acoustical consultant Charles E. Ebbing argued proper impact studies on low-frequency noise for wind farms should be required under the Article X siting process.

Stakeholders representing wind developers, on the other hand, have argued that assessing C-weighted, or low-frequency, wind turbine noise impacts in addition to A-weighted, audible spectrum, sound analysis is an unnecessary expense.

“The wind turbine applicants should provide the information needed to evaluate the noise impact on the adjacent community. The largest impact, in my opinion is inside the occupants’ homes. They cannot estimate this without knowing a rational estimate of the expected dBC outside their homes,” Mr. Ebbing, president of Ebbing Acoustics, LaFargeville, wrote. “Low-frequency noise problems cannot be anticipated or prevented from dBA data.”

His comments echo that of Cape Vincent town councilmen and environmental attorney Gary A. Abraham, Allegany, who also insist that impact studies should not be limited to dBA, or A-weighted, noise.

Coalition on Article X, a statewide grassroots organization, said in its comments to the PSC that the state needs “to protect and preserve home rule throughout New York state” instead of violating such basic rights by overriding local zoning laws.

“Since the New York State Public Service Commission is employed by and for New York State taxpayers and ratepayers, we expect the regulations for Article 10 to both enforce and strengthen the PSC posted mission statement, ‘to ensure safe, secure and reliable access to electric … services for New York State’s residential and business consumers, at just and reasonable rates,’” wrote COAX member Robert E. Aliasso Jr., Henderson.

But local supporters of wind farms advocating for Article X – which they believe would override strict municipal zoning laws that could prohibit commercial wind projects – say the state’s involvement in the siting of commercial energy projects is the only way to bring divided communities back together.

“I think it is about time for the state to take over the siting of wind projects in the present and near future because it has become such a controversial issue. Especially in the town of Cape Vincent and most of the north country, people are not using common sense anymore,” said Harvey White, a Cape Vincent resident and wind lease holder. “They feel it’s OK if you have wind power or atomic energy as long as it’s not in my backyard. That is the NIMBYs battle cry. They are absolutely rude and obnoxious about it. They don’t care what they say or do, as long as they get their way.”

The state Public Service Commission will accept comments from municipalities until June 15.