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Wind turbine ‘wong’ to come up at Tuesday meeting  

About 60 complaints about Lake Winds Energy Park have made it to the county planning office, Reilly said. Generally they can be divided into two general areas of concern. One, she said, is noise from the turbines that could correlate with difficulty sleeping and other types of health effects. The second and growing area of complaints is television signal interference experienced by those using antennas to receive their TV signal. Reilly said Friday she was mapping where those complaints came from. Bergaila and others have cited concerns that flicker — a strobe-like shadow created when a turbine blade passes in front of the sun — is being experienced at a greater distance than Consumers Energy had said it would be. Bergaila said it is being experienced in some cases 5,400 feet — a little more than a mile — away.

Credit:  Steve Begnoche, Managing Editor | Ludington Daily News | February 2, 2013 | www.ludingtondailynews.com ~~

When the Mason County Planning Commission meets Tuesday evening at 7 in the courtroom at the Mason County Courthouse, Consumers Energy representatives will be on hand to explain what they’ve learned about the Lake Winds Energy Park’s ice detection system plan that, according to Zoning and Building Director Mary Reilly, needs correction.

Also likely to be discussed is what is described as a “wonging” sound coming from the hydraulics in the turbines, and possible corrections, Reilly told the Daily News.

Summit Township resident Evelyn Bergaila has complained about the “wonging” sound she likens to a foghorn that she said was occurring at her house at a rate of one wong every 15 seconds for two months, whether or not the turbine blades were spinning. Bergaila told the Daily News Thursday night it appears some adjustments have been made, though last Tuesday a wong was being heard from one turbine every seven seconds and another one every 12 seconds.

Reilly confirms the wonging is real but the frequency varies. The source of the sound, she said, is a hydraulic pump in the turbines. The Lake Winds Energy Park has been in production since Thanksgiving morning 2012 and is made up of 56 turbines in Summit and Riverton townships. Outland Energy was hired to operate the turbines.

An ice storm in January shut down the turbines due to ice on the blades. Consumers said then their plan worked, but declined Daily News requests to explain what specific process was used in that shut down.

Bergaila said the turbines were allowed to run Jan. 13 for seven hours after the ice event began. “It seemed apparent the wind turbine ice warning system didn’t work that night,” Bergaila said.

Reilly said the utility is “well aware” that a correction needs to be done to the ice detection system.

“They’ve already explained it, but through the recent icing events we’ve had they’ve learned about the system and one portion operates slightly different than explained to the planning commission,” she said.

In particular, that is the Vestas ice detection system, on top of two meteorological towers. Reilly called the presentation on the ice system informational and no planning commission approval is needed.

60 COMPLAINTS

About 60 complaints about Lake Winds Energy Park have made it to the county planning office, Reilly said. Generally they can be divided into two general areas of concern. One, she said, is noise from the turbines that could correlate with difficulty sleeping and other types of health effects. The second and growing area of complaints is television signal interference experienced by those using antennas to receive their TV signal.

Reilly said Friday she was mapping where those complaints came from.

Bergaila and others have cited concerns that flicker – a strobe-like shadow created when a turbine blade passes in front of the sun – is being experienced at a greater distance than Consumers Energy had said it would be. Bergaila said it is being experienced in some cases 5,400 feet – a little more than a mile – away. Consumers Energy had used 3,200 feet as a maximum in its flicker study. Reilly said Consumers is looking into changing the length of flicker in its plan, but she isn’t certain the utility is ready to address the matter in detail that Tuesday night.

“It’s a large and complex system,” Reilly said of the Lake Winds Energy Park. “As they are operating it and working with it they are learning about the system. It’s something we all experience in life if we by a new house, a new car, an airplane. As we use it, we learn from that, we make changes and move on.”

She said she’s visited the area about 30 times since the turbines went into production and has listened to the sound from the turbines in a variety of geographical locations. The mix of weather, geography, vegetation, structures and where one experiences the sounds, makes a difference in what one hears, she said.

“It’s really quite remarkable how different turbines sound at different houses even on the same day,” she said.

Later this month the planning commission will interview potential firms to do the sound survey required for later this year. Reilly said all that have applied are from out of state and one is from Canada. The interviews will be done via phone.

The firm hired will make the decisions on where to test for the sound, but Reilly said she will provide information for possible sites.

Source:  Steve Begnoche, Managing Editor | Ludington Daily News | February 2, 2013 | www.ludingtondailynews.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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