Imagine being awakened in the middle of the night by a wind turbine. It was happening for years to several residents of Ridgeville Township near Archbold until they got fed up and turned to Call 11 for Action for help.
“Sometimes it’s really shrill and loud, other times it just hums,” said Joni Decator, who lives on County Road U. “But when it’s shrieking, you can’t even hear to talk to someone on the patio.”
Decator says she can hear the noise from inside her home, too, even with the doors closed and the air conditioner running.
“In the spring, we don’t open our windows at night because we can hear it,” said neighbor Mandy Walker. “It’ll wake you up. It’s loud enough to wake you up at like 3 in the morning when it starts in.”
Walker and her family have a clear view of the turbine from the house they moved into nine years ago. They say the problem started in the summer of 2012 and prohibits them from even spending time outside at their pool.
“There have even been times when a week goes by and it doesn’t make a noise, but then it will start up and for three days straight it will make the noise,” Walker said.
Walker says her husband reached out to the township zoning commissioner in August of 2012, and they started going to Ridgeville Township trustee meetings.
“There’s never an update,” she said. “It’s just ‘We’re working on it, we’re working on it.’ It never changes. For two and a half years, it’s never changed.”
The wind turbine belongs to TJ Automation. After Emilie Voss made calls to the zoning inspector and county prosecutor’s office, she reached out to TJ Automation owner Tracy Hammersmith.
Hammersmith says they’ve spent a lot of money trying to fix the problem.
“They’ve serviced it. They’ve been up it. They’ve been up inside of it,” he said.
Hammersmith admits there’s a problem but doesn’t think it’s as frequent as his neighbors believe.
“I am here 5 o’clock in the morning to 5:30 at night, and I bet if I hear it three hours out of the month I’m lucky,” he said. “But there is a noise. It’s not supposed to do that.”
So Hammersmith also asked Call 11 for Action for help with reaching out to Virginia-based Northern Power, the company that made the turbine. He says he had expressed concern to them previously about the noise, but service calls didn’t seem to fix the problem.
“It’s not like nobody is not trying to do anything,” said Hammersmith. “I guess we just don’t have the solution or we don’t know what the problem is. It makes us frustrated and it makes the neighbors frustrated.”
Emilie called Northern Power on March 31, 2015. By the end of the week, crews were out looking for the problem. The following week, a spokesman with Northern Power said they found the problem.
The spokesman said the issue was with one of the blades that somehow lost its lightning puck, which is designed to protect the turbine in severe weather and divert the current from a lightning strike to the ground.
A new puck was manufactured and re-installed in May.
“I think we do have it fixed,” Hammersmith said. “Hopefully we can have a happy ending to this story.”
The Walkers say the noise has stopped but they’re still concerned. Mandy says they’ve been down this road before.
“Over the last three years, we’ve been told many times that it has been repaired and it just starts making the noise,” she said.
“I’m just really glad we contacted [Call 11 for Action], because you’ve done more for us in a few months than Ridgeville Township has done for us in three years,” Walker added. “They’ve been really disappointing on this whole thing.”
“It’s not like we haven’t been trying to fix it, but it has taken a very long time and actually, probably thanks to you guys, this process seemed to speed up a little,” Hammersmith said.
If you have a problem you need help with, contact Call 11 for Action by calling 419-255-2255. For fastest results, fill out the online complaint form here.