BAD AXE – After mulling proposals from two firms specializing in acoustics, the county has decided to pay an estimated $10,500 to Acoustics By Design to help revise Huron County’s wind ordinance as it relates to sound emitted from turbines.
The company says it will prepare and submit a report of findings and recommendations for improving the county ordinance, or creating a new one. The $10,500 cost includes an estimated 60 hours of work. Commissioner David Peruski said those 60 hours will likely span 30 to 45 days, and that the firm could begin work in September.
According to its proposal, the company will help create an updated noise ordinance as it applies to commercial wind turbine noise and prepare and submit a template for such an ordinance.
The template will include appropriate levels for audible noise and sound pressure or other phenomena, such as vibrations, “that may have an impact on the health and safety of humans residing in close proximity to a wind energy facility.”
“From my perspective, people are in their homes and there is a problem with infrasound, or low-frequency,” Commissioner David Peruski said.
Infrasonic sounds are those with frequencies less than 20 Hz, which is the lower limit of human hearing.
Some studies show effects from the infrasound emitted from wind turbines contribute to nausea, headache and sleep disturbance, while other studies show there is no risk to human health.
County officials say an outside and independent source is needed because no one on county government boards has the expertise to help revise the ordinance as it relates to sound from turbines.
The need also is driven by input from several residents speaking at committee meetings in past months, who have complained of noise from turbines nearby their homes.
The Wind Energy Zoning Committee interviewed Van Wyk and Phase To Inc. of Lansing at its meeting last week, with representatives from various wind energy developers in attendance.
Of the eight members voting at the committee’s Monday night meeting, six chose Acoustics By Design, while Carl Duda and Robert McLean opted for the $12,000 proposal from Phase To Inc. Member Brion Dickens was absent.
County commissioners made a late resolution Tuesday to accept the committee’s vote and pursue a contract with Acoustics By Design.
Both firms agreed there are major deficiencies in the ordinance and that it is outdated.
Kenric Van Wyk, president of the Grand Rapids-based Acoustics By Design, said the county’s wind turbine ordinance is “very general in nature.”
“It definitely needs updating, from my standpoint,” Van Wyk said in a teleconference interview last week.
Van Wyk said after reviewing the ordinance, he’s concerned that it is not specific enough given modern technology, and does not include specifics on instrumentation used to measure sound levels coming from turbines.
“Wind has its own peculiarities and … wind noise is fairly new to ordinances,” Van Wyk said.
Peruski said a deciding factor was that Acoustics By Design was most responsive in the process. Complaints from constituents also influenced his decision.
A letter was sent to both firms on June 30 inquiring of services. The Wind Energy Zoning Committee has devoted the duration of most meetings to addressing and revising the county’s wind ordinance as it relates to sound from wind turbines.
Acoustics By Design touts itself as one of the leading independent acoustical consulting firms in the Midwest. Acoustical consultants have a minimum of 15 years each of work experience in acoustical engineering, according to its proposal.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding