TIPTON - Since it began operation in January, numerous complaints have been filed about the Wildcat Wind Farm in northern Tipton County. At least one is valid, said Steve Edson, administrator of the Tipton County Plan Commission.
He said a noise complaint filed June 24 seems to demonstrate the turbines were exceeding the permitted noise level.
Wildcat developer E.ON Climate & Renewables has until Sept. 24 to resolve the issue, Edson said. He is waiting to see how the company plans to lower the noise.
Those who have filed complaints aren't satisfied with the current process for handling them. The county's zoning ordinance states a wind company has 90 days to address any complaints, but includes no recourse should the issues remain unresolved.
John West, president of the Tipton County Citizens for Responsible Development (CRD), said the county should take responsibility for the handling of the complaints and there should be some form of enforcement action.
"We want the county to ask E.ON to shut down the turbines until the complaints are resolved," West said.
Asking the people making the complaints to take legal action against E.ON is not the answer, he added. "We need some way to enforce the zoning ordinance."
But that appears to be Edson's best solution right now, as he told CRD members if they are not satisfied with the resolution of their complaints, they could take civil action.
"We're in the process of rewriting the zoning ordinance," he said. "There is an inadequate process for handling complaints. The plan commission is looking at an arbitration process."
Filings also allege loss of television and cellular telephone signals. Edson said the 90-day time limit to resolve complaints only deals with electromagnetic interference.
"E.ON has done a lot of work on the electromagnetic issues," he said. West countered the company has had 90 days to complete a study regarding the complaints, and has done nothing.
Bob Zahn, a contractor with E.ON, said the company is investigating the complaints and has asked those with issues to check with their cellular telephone and satellite television providers to make sure the systems are working properly.
"We have not verified the cellphone reception is E.ON's problem," he said.
Commissioner Joe VanBibber said the county doesn't have the authority to shut down the turbines.
"This has caused continual unrest in the community," he said. "Our process for handling complaints is inadequate."
Mike Cline, president of the board of county commissioners, said the county is waiting for an update from E.ON on the complaints.