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Lake Winds Energy Park sound study explained, questioned

The Mason County Planning Commission have yet to discuss and decide what to do about a sound study done on Lake Winds Energy Park following a two-hour meeting Wednesday night in which the results were presented, questioned, explained and criticized by some of the about 40 people in attendance and defended by Brian Howe of HGC Engineering. Before the meeting ended, Howe left abruptly, looking a bit angered by some of the questions and comments directed his way.

The Canadian firm was hired to do the sound study required both by the Mason County Zoning Ordinance and the special land use Consumers Energy received to build the 56-tower, 100 megawatt wind farm in Riverton and Summit townships.

Lake Winds went into operation Thanksgiving Day 2012. The study was required to be finished within the first year of operation of Lake Winds.

In essence, Howe said the study shows there are times when turbines exceed the prescribed sound limits of 45 decibels at the property line of unpooled parcels and 55 decibels at the homes on unpooled parcels, but that based what was found during the April 24 – May 10 study, the violations are not systemic – meaning, they’re not predictable as in caused by wind out of a certain direction or some other definable factor that could create a problem – and could be solved by a change in operations. Based on that, the wording of the ordinance, and the data in the study, Howe stated Lake Winds Energy Park is operating within the established guidelines.

Several critics of the wind farm questioned that data.

Eric Jefferies of Riverton Township said he believed HGC’s results were cherry-picked. He had HGC’s data for turbines near his residence studied by Rand Acoustics out of Brunswick, Maine.

For more see the print edition of the Ludington Daily News available at newsstands or digitally in the eEdition.