BAD AXE – Residents and wind energy officials debated wind turbine noise Wednesday before the Huron County Planning Commission.
During the meeting’s public comment, some county residents stated their opinion on how far away you can hear a wind turbine.
Dennis O’Neil said that Robert Gaffke, who has a complaint against Heritage Sustainable Energy’s Big Turtle II Wind Farm, would not be able to hear a turbine from three-quarters of a mile away.
Sally Kain then stood up and said that she can hear turbines from over a mile away from her house that sound like a tractor or truck.
And Carolyn Guza said she could hear a turbine that is three-quarters of a mile away from her home.
The commission spent considerable time hearing from Gaffke and Heritage officials about Gaffke’s complaint.
Gaffke is disputing the company that Heritage has hired to sound test for both the complaint and the post-construction compliance report.
Heritage officials said that the window of opportunity is closing for proper testing to be done because the weather is changing.
If testing is not done by the last week of April, it will have to wait until fall, said Xiomara Cordoba, project manager for Heritage,
Gaffke would like a company other than Epsilon Associates Inc., which Heritage has contracted with, to do the testing.
Gaffke says the company is unacceptable because the developer chose it.
County officials have said that if any of the data seems doubtful, another acoustician would be sought.
Cordoba said the company would be willing to supply the raw data to the county.
Commissioner Robert McLain suggested that Gaffke’s complaint be treated as separate from the compliance report.
The compliance test will be done from three locations in the wind park, and will test the entire park, Cordoba said.
It will be done annually, as required by ordinance, she added.
Commissioner Terry Heck said that’s not sufficient.
“I think that’s insane,” Heck said. “You should be testing every windmill on a regular basis.”
Heck told Heritage officials: “My take on it is you created the problem, you fix it.”
Dale Hass has also filed a noise complaint against Deerfield Wind Energy regarding a turbine 1,650 feet away from his house.
When there is a strong north wind and it is precipitating, “It sounds like a 747,” Hass told the commission.
He urged the commission to require testing when it is raining, snowing or foggy.
Jeff Smith, county building and zoning director, said the American National Standards Institute does not allow testing when there is precipitation.
Once the temperature falls below the mid 30s, the noise becomes loud, Hass said.
Heck suggested that both turbines in question be shut down until the noise is fixed.