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Planners rule some Lake Michigan Energy Park wind turbines violate Mason County ordinance  

Long-time Lake Winds Energy Park critic Evelyn Bergaila had urged the commission take that literal interpretation of “though shall” rule in violation if there was an exceedance of 45 dba. She said in 2003, during a planning commission meeting, she had been told if there was a violation the turbines would be shut down, and she said she was also told they’d be taken down if found to be in violation. She read from meeting minutes to make her point. Following the vote to order mitigation, Bergaila urged the commission to extend its order to the entire 56-turbine park saying the violations found at the four turbines in question mean the park is in violation of conditions. She further said, since all the turbines weren’t tested for sound compliance, it is likely more turbines are in violation than the four cited. John Kreinbrink suggested the commission consider an emergency order requiring the turbines to reduce power output to 1.2 megawatt, an 80-percent capacity level he said if not exceeded would reduce turbine noise so they are in compliance. Riverton resident Kei Hunter said the noise from the turbines on either side of her house come at her from both ways and that there’s no getting away from the sound.

Credit:  Planners rule 4 Lake Michigan Energy Park wind turbines violate Mason County ordinance | Planners rule Lake Michigan Energy Park wind turbines violate Mason County ordinance | Steve Begnoche - Managing Editor | Ludington Daily News | Friday, September 13, 2013 | www.ludingtondailynews.com ~~

Consumers Energy will have to come up with a plan to mitigate noise from some of its 56 turbines in Lake Winds Energy Park, following a decision Thursday night by the Mason County Planning Commission that the turbines in question have violated the 45 decibel maximum noise standard set forth in the special land use permit it issued allowing the 100 megawatt wind farm to be built in Riverton and Summit Townships.

The decision followed a question and answer phone session with sound consultant Brian Howe of HGC Engineering in Ontario in which Howe said the decision would hinge on whether the planning commission determines if the county’s ordinance means any exceedance found over a 10-minute testing period meant the company was in violation of the ordinance. On the other hand, if the ordinance intended to consider if on average the turbines are at or near 45dbs, there is no violation.

If an averaging standard is used, Howe said the park, considering a margin of error, statistically operates within the county’s standard. If the standard meant any testing period over 45 dbs means there’s a violation, then there were violations.

That assessment came as the commission asked Howe 11 questions it had come up in the wake of Howe’s August presentation on the April sound study the firm conducted as required by the special land use permit the county issued Consumers Energy.

Chuck Lange, planning commission member and county board chairman, said he spent a lot of time studying the county’s ordinance and he said it is clear it is a “thou shall not exceed” ordinance, with no mention of allowing any exceedance.

Planning commissioners Doug Robidoux and Bruce Patterson agreed. Lange than moved the commission accept a motion, prepared before the meeting by Mary Reilly, county zoning administrator, to declare that turbines 1,2,6 and 7 are out of compliance and that Consumers Energy respond by creating a mitigation plan for those turbines.

The motion passed unanimously with only planner Ralph Lundberg absent.

No timeline for coming up with a plan was stated in the motion. Reilly said after the meeting typically parties have 30 days to respond, but she noted, this could be complicated.

Janet Anderson, a Victory Township resident who was opposed to the special land use permit and who subsequently was elected to the Mason County Board of Commissioners, was pleased by the decision.

“The planning commission did its job tonight,” Anderson said after the meeting. “It is a first step.”;

Eric Jefferies, whose property is one affected by one of the turbines ruled out of compliance, also was at least partially pleased.

“I want to thank you for trying to do something about it,” he told commissioners in public comment that resumed after the phone call with the sound engineer and the board’s decision on the matter.

Jefferies later told the Daily News, “It’s a step in the right direction. I would like to see that they don’t limit it to the four tested sites.”;

One other site tested, turbine 5, was left out of the motion for mitigation because of corrupt data caused by a malfunctioning microphone. Neighboring resident Susan Kieser said she shouldn’t have to suffer because of microphone problems, saying her house is closest of all to a turbine.

Jefferies also noted a concern about how long it might take for mitigation to take place.

“It would be nice to see them do something now so we don’t have to wait who knows how long,” he said. He complained earlier in the evening that Consumers Energy hasn’t been responsive to complaints he’s made.

Consumers Energy representatives in attendance made no comments during the meeting and declined to comment when given the opportunity by the Daily News after the meeting.

Long-time Lake Winds Energy Park critic Evelyn Bergaila had urged the commission take that literal interpretation of “though shall” rule in violation if there was an exceedance of 45 dba. She said in 2003, during a planning commission meeting, she had been told if there was a violation the turbines would be shut down, and she said she was also told they’d be taken down if found to be in violation. She read from meeting minutes to make her point.

Following the vote to order mitigation, Bergaila urged the commission to extend its order to the entire 56-turbine park saying the violations found at the four turbines in question mean the park is in violation of conditions. She further said, since all the turbines weren’t tested for sound compliance, it is likely more turbines are in violation than the four cited.

John Kreinbrink suggested the commission consider an emergency order requiring the turbines to reduce power output to 1.2 megawatt, an 80-percent capacity level he said if not exceeded would reduce turbine noise so they are in compliance.

Riverton resident Kei Hunter said the noise from the turbines on either side of her house come at her from both ways and that there’s no getting away from the sound.

“Noncompliant is noncompliant,” Hunter said. “If we’re not compliant with the speed limit, we get a ticket.”;

Twenty-five people attended the meeting moved to the Mason County Courthouse courtroom to accommodate those wanting to attend.

For much more, see Friday’s Ludington Daily News.

Source:  Planners rule 4 Lake Michigan Energy Park wind turbines violate Mason County ordinance | Planners rule Lake Michigan Energy Park wind turbines violate Mason County ordinance | Steve Begnoche - Managing Editor | Ludington Daily News | Friday, September 13, 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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