MONROE – After failing to meet an end-of-year deadline for fixes that would reduce the noise-level of Crum Hill wind turbines, Iberdrola Renewables LLC’s Hoosac Wind Power Project has been cited by the state Department of Environmental Protection for being too loud.
Until the problems can be remedied, the company is now under an administrative consent order to take operational steps to bring the project into compliance with permissible noise levels whenever a noise complaint is found to be true through sound tests.
Last year, the DEP notified Iberdrola Renewables that the wind turbines exceeded the allowable noise level of 10 decibels above ambient noise levels. The company agreed to correct the problems by the end of the year.
But because the company didn’t finish making all the recommended corrections, it was found to be out of compliance. If the company violates any terms of its Administrative Consent Order, it could face fines of up to $1,000 per day.
The DEP order required Iberdrola to complete an “icing protocol” by Jan. 1; to review sound tests and submit more mitigation measures, if they are needed, by April 1. Iberdrola is to complete putting “trailing edge” saw-like serrations on the Crum Hill turbine blades by July 1. Also, it is to perform noise-compliance testing between October and March 2016, to see if the mitigation measures have worked.
Iberdrola spokesman Paul Copleman said the icing protocol is in place. Equipment inside the turbines detects wind direction, velocity and other factors. Copleman said the company plans on meeting all the agreement measures by their respective deadlines. He said the company made modifications to the 10 wind turbines on Bakke Mountain, in Florida. Work on all nine of the wind turbines on Crum Hill in Monroe, including installing noise-reducing serrated edges on the turbine blade, wasn’t completed.
As ordered, the company has set up a 24-hour complaint hotline, monitored by an independent person who was hired for the job by the DEP, according to Copleman.
“It is one of the corrective actions we have established in partnership with the DEP. It’s a new protocol enabling us to authenticate valid complaints and respond appropriately,” he said.
According to the consent agreement, the independent monitor is to respond to all noise complaints as soon as is reasonably possible and conduct sound measurement tests. If the testing validates the complaint, Hoosac Wind must act to reduce the noise. If three complaints from the same location have been shown to have no merit, additional monitoring will not be necessary for that location.
Michael Farineny of the town of Florida said he has called the hotline and a respondent came to his house within 90 minutes, to sound-test the turbines. According to Farineny, the person called National Grid to shut down the turbines, to take an ambient-sound measurement, then took a second sound measurement after the turbines were turned back on. “He didn’t give me any results right then,” said Farineny. “He was to send in a report to DEP.”
Farineny said the town of Florida hasn’t sent him or other town residents any notification that they can call the hotline with complaints, so a grassroots group, calling itself “Friends of Florida and Monroe,” has posted the hotline on its website:
Farineny said he found out about the consent order and the hotline through state Rep. Gail Carriddi’s office. Farineny had lived in his home for 25 years before the 340-foot wind turbines were built, with the closest turbines about 3,000 feet from his home.
EDITOR’S NOTE: SOME INFORMATION IN THIS STORY HAS BEEN CHANGED FROM A PREVIOUS EDITION.