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Low frequency noise debate

BROWN COUNTY, WI–Controversy over wind energy in Brown County. A proposal to amend the noise ordinance to include low- frequency noise will go before the Brown County board. That could decide the fate of future wind farm projects.

The Brown County Health and Human Services Committee met Tuesday night and is split on whether to pay an expert to research the effects of all types of low frequency noise. Those who live near the turbines are pushing for the change over concerns for their health and property values.

For some, the sound of these turbines is too much to bear.

“Nothing is settled. We don’t know what we are doing from one month to the next, how long we have to stay away,” said Darrel Cappelle, who moved his wife and two young children out of their Glenmore home.

He says they suffered from headaches, panic attacks and sleeplessness from nearby turbines.

He and other are asking the Brown County board to amend the noise ordinance. Board member Brad Hopp says existing turbines would be grandfathered in, new ones would be prevented.

“It is going to say ‘this level is unacceptable’ and anybody that goes beyond that level wouldn’t be able to operate” said Hopp.

Duke Energy owns the Shirley Wind Farm and says: “Low frequency noise is emitted by many things in the environment, both natural and man-made, and we don’t know enough about the intention or specifics of the county’s proposal to comment. Our windpower project in Brown County was permitted by and is regulated by the Town of Glenmore, and we have been fully compliant under our permit.”

According to Duke Energy’s website, wind turbines make “very little noise”. But Cappelle isn’t convinced.

“We care for our neighbors and we don’t want them to suffer uneededly. ” said Cappelle.

The discussion over the noise ordinance will now go to the Brown County Board on March 20th.