I sat in my living room reading this article last night with painfully throbbing ears and a headache, due to turbine noise that penetrates through the walls of my house. The noise kept me awake until 3 a.m. I had to write a reply to the tripe that was published in the OBSERVER (Feb. 19).
I bought my home to reside, because of its semi-secluded, quiet and peaceful nature. There is a river across the road from me and wooded area that surrounds me. I enjoyed listening to the river and birds, which is about all I ever heard, until a wind farm was erected around my property. There is a never-ending, jet-like sound that rips through my property and house. There is nothing natural about the noise that comes from these turbines and they are loud! The peaceful existence I once enjoyed here has been stolen from me!
EDP Renewables and the town of Chateaugay’s Jericho Rise Wind Farm was planted too close to my house. There are four 482-foot turbines approximately 1,800 to 2,600 feet from my home. The industry standard for turbine “setbacks” from residences are ridiculously too close.
Much of the time, sound levels at the west and south side of my home is above the allowable 50 dBA which the town of Chateaugay has deemed to be acceptable and legal. The lower frequency dBC levels for sound, or infrasound, are not even taken into account. According to acoustic engineering experts, dBC sound levels have a much higher pressure rating than dBA readings. This noise is detrimental to human health and is well documented throughout the world. I am living proof. The noise inside and outside of my home is a completely menacing nuisance.
I am not a “naysayer.” I am living with these behemoths that surround my property. In fact, I have been living with wind turbines from an older wind farm approximately 3-4 miles from me for the past 6 1/2 years. About 7 months out of the year, due to leafless trees, I can see 15 of them from my front porch. They really don’t bother me. I can’t say I like them, but I can’t hear them either.
I was never an opponent of wind power. I am a science teacher of 11 years and teach about sound and alternative energies. It is in the state curriculum. I even went to an all day wind power teacher’s workshop to get a better understanding of wind energy eight years ago. The wind industry has been setting us up for a fall a long time ago.
By the way, standing directly underneath a turbine is the quietest place to listen to them. Stand back 500, 1000, 1500 feet and downwind from them, and if you still think they are not loud, then you must be deaf. If anyone would like to come to my home in Chateaugay to get a true experience of what these monsters sound like, you are welcome to visit. A town councilman from a neighboring town was here yesterday and he said, “When I first came inside, it almost sounded louder inside than outside.” Yes, it does. It’s like living inside a drum.
As far as a tax base for your community is concerned, there will be none. They will not pay any business property tax whatsoever. The wind farm company will cram a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) Program down your throat. The county, town and possibly school district will receive a pittance compared to what the wind developer receives in government subsidies. This is how they can afford to build these wind farms.
The absurdity of saying that birds will just fly around the towers is also ridiculous. Birds of prey are looking down to the ground for food, not what’s in front of them. Migratory birds are flying in excess of 40 miles per hour. They do not have the ability to just stop in mid-air and fly around.
Putting “hope and trust” in the wind company is dangerous. I have made many complaints to EDP Renewables and Chateaugay about the nuisance noise. They have been to my house once to take a sound test. It was taken on a day with 2-3 mph wind speeds, and in between my house and garage which blocks all of the south wind. The town engineer said the reading was 38.5 dBA.
Folks, it is not a far stretch from 38.5 dBA to over 50 dBA when the winds are from the west or south in excess of 12 miles per hour. I know, because I have been taking my own sound level readings since Jan. 1. The town and EDP Renewables said they would be taking multiple tests. Two days later, with no notice, town board members popped into my backyard at 9:30 a.m. with a sound meter. I wondered what they were doing here, because it was a legal holiday and again, practically no wind. They acted as though they didn’t realize I was home. They didn’t even knock on my door.
They stated they would be back. Just before they left, one town board member stated, “We wouldn’t want these in our backyard either.” I called the town supervisor later in the day and asked to be notified 24 hours in advance and that I want to be present when these tests were done. They have not been back since. It has been almost two months. I have been lied to and ignored.
During this time, I was introduced to a well credentialed acoustic engineer through a friend. He sent me data on what a proper sound test should include. I have continued to call the EDP Renewable complaint hotline. They were supposed to take more tests last week. I sent EDP Renewables operations manager, town engineer and town supervisor data from the acoustic engineer about what I would be expecting for a proper sound test. I am being ignored once again. So, if anyone thinks that the process of developing a wind farm (before, during or after) is honest and trustworthy, you really should be talking to people that are living in the middle of a wind farm.
Please, do not be fooled by any wind farm company! Also, if you are a non-participating landowner, do not sign their “Neighbor Agreement.” You will lose all your rights (on, under, over, around, etc.) as a property owner. If you have any of the problems I am experiencing right now, you will lose the ability to do or say anything to anyone about it. It is a “gag order” for a very small annual payment.
In closing, I need to say that I gain nothing by writing this. It is only to help those that may be in danger of having to live with a wind farm near their home.
Kevin Sigourney is a resident of Chateaugay, which is located in Franklin County in northern New York near Massena.