Library filed under Noise from New York
The 10-member committee discussed material presented at the Feb. 12 meeting by Gregory C. Tocci, principal at Cavanaugh Tocci Associates ...Among his recommendations were that the town adopt a law that uses a certain number of decibels above ambient noise as opposed to the current flat allowed rate of 50 decibels. The state Department of Environmental Conservation recommends no more than six decibels.
A Town of Cohocton man tells us that he has a turbine on his property and that there is a wind turbine next door, and because of the turbines, he has trouble sleeping at night. He says he has asked the wind companies to turn the wind turbine off, and he says they won't.
Two local noise experts advised the Orleans wind committee to change the basic noise standard used in the town law that governs wind power development. In its draft environmental impact statement, Horse Creek developer PPM Energy, a subsidiary of Iberdrola, estimated the turbines would create 45 to 50 decibels of noise. The measurement for night-time noise was 26 decibels. "This means the noise could frequently exceed 20 decibels above ambient, which according to DEC guidelines is very objectionable or intolerable," Mr. Schneider said. "And this frequently-occurring condition is permitted under the current town of Orleans law."
Ebbing said he is not for or against wind energy but cautioned town officials to set noise guidelines for the project after obtaining independent readings of ambient sound levels from at least 20 different locations at different times of day and in different seasons. He warned that turbine noises are magnified during temperature inversions and will be heard at greater distances if the community's ambient readings are at or below the 25 or 30 decibels prevalent in rural areas.
Can the noise generated from a wind turbine be detrimental to the health of nearby residents? That question and others were touched upon during a special presentation made to the Allegany Town Planning Board on noise impacts of commercial wind farms. The presentation was made by Charles E. Ebbing, a retired acoustic engineer in response to a request made by residents of Chipmonk and their attorney, Gary Abrams.
A demonstration of potential noise impacts generated by wind farms will be presented at 7 p. m. today to members of the Allegany Town Planning Board by an acoustic expert. The board's special meeting will be held in the Senior Center on Birch Run Road and is open to the public.
Before the turbines have been fully placed online, the first noise and shadow flicker complaint was brought before the Cohocton Town Board Tuesday night by David Hunt of Kirkwood Road. Hunt complained that the noise of the turbines, which he said has a constant high-pitched sound like a train whistle, an occasional roar and a loud whooshing sound, has regularly kept him awake at night since the blades started spinning in August.
The town wind law committee created to produce a zoning amendment to deal with wind farms added a sound measurement protocol and changed setbacks from roads during its meeting Thursday afternoon. The sound protocol came from recommendations from the acoustical engineering firm Cavanaugh Tocci Associates, Sudbury, Mass., based on a wind development zoning law written for the Association of Towns and rules for noise studies written by Cape Vincent resident Clifford P. Schneider.
Over the last couple of years, concerned citizens all around Jefferson County have sponsored informational sessions on wind turbine issues. These sessions have brought out the facts and the health hazards of placing wind turbines where people live. ...The facts are there and the facts are being stepped over to pick up money our Congress has made available for renewable energy. This is your money, and this is just another giveaway program for an inefficient source of energy. We need to channel our tax dollars into the development of real fuel-cell technology for cars and trucks.
Members of the committee formed to produce a zoning amendment to deal with wind farms want specifics. During a meeting Thursday afternoon, the committee agreed to ask the acoustical engineering firm Cavanaugh Tocci Associates, Sudbury, Mass., to evaluate the noise-measuring methods in different laws. That firm panned Hessler Associates' ambient noise study in BP Alternative Energy's draft environmental impact statement for the Cape Vincent Wind Farm. "My request would be that these documents should be sent to Cavanaugh and Tocci for their review," said Richard Macsherry, Tibbetts Point.
As we stood on Telegraph Road in the Town of Eagle, looking at a landscape of turbines erected by Noble Environmental ... one turbine in particular almost seemed to whistle. The rest of them raised a steady whoosh, whoosh, woosh. Maybe it was just one errant whistling turbine, and a field of them may be scenic, but what if New York fulfills its alternative energy goal, and there are thousands of these 400 foot towers in the upstate countryside? Would you live next to one?
The long-awaited full report on the Horse Creek Wind Farm noise study will go public in a week, the town announced Wednesday. But the availability of the report was not enough to satisfy upset residents who stormed into the council meeting demanding that the town start formulating a local law to limit noise levels of wind turbines and establish setbacks. "We need to start clearing the air," said Patricia Booras-Miller, vice president of Environmentally Concerned Citizens Organization of Jefferson County.
First of all, I want to say that Cape Vincent's Town Supervisor Tom Rienbeck is doing the right thing. I never thought I would ever say that, but I saw firsthand what he is trying to do for the town. He has appointed a committee of local residents to hammer out a wind-turbine zoning law. They are working from a draft document written by the town's law firm.
Why are wind turbines being rammed down the throats of people who don't want them? They are fine for people who want them, but if their neighbors don't want that noise, why isn't there help for them? I know people who are being forced to move because their neighbor wants the turbines, and the company is putting them within 500 to 750 feet from the home of the people who don't want them.
Cavanaugh Tocci Associates (CTA) was hired by the Town of Clayton NY to review the noise analysis prepared by Iberdrola/PPM for the Clayton wind farm project. CTA's report was delivered to the town on February 15, 2008 but refused by the Town Board with objections that the report was too technical. CTA was asked to prepare an executive summary of their report. The executive summary of the report can be accessed by clicking on the link below. To date, the town has refused to release the full CTA report to the residents of Clayton or to the Planning Board.
Town officials have refused to let residents see a report evaluating the noise study done for Horse Creek Wind Farm. The officials claim the report, by Cavanaugh Tocci Associates, an acoustic engineering firm in Sudbury, Mass., is too complicated and preliminary to be released. Residents argue that the original noise study, done by consultant CH2MHill for Iberdrola, also was complicated, but that there are residents with acoustic expertise.
I attended the July 30 showing of BP Alternative Energy's proposed 95 wind turbine settings in the town of Cape Vincent. A presentation by Dereth B. Glance, program director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment, stated that in her experience there was no noise at 750 feet away from operating turbines. She also stated that studies have shown that there is no reduction in property values as a result of proximity to wind turbines. These statements are in sharp contrast with the reality that I have encountered in my efforts to learn the truth about wind turbines.
Currently, the wind law is designed to accommodate the noise levels expected by the developer PPM Energy. These levels are measured at the outside wall of a resident's home, disregarding one's property line, and are unhealthy. Federal guidelines state that an appropriate level of noise in a bedroom during sleep is 24dBA (A-weighted decibels). However, our current local laws allow noise levels to reach 50dBA. State guidelines in New York state that an increase of 6dBA above normal background will cause complaints and should be avoided. According to the guidelines, an increase of 20dBA is intolerable. ...We have shown our local government that placing 62 turbines in a four- by five-mile populated area is harmful to residents. To date the town leaders in Clayton continue to ignore the plea from residents to protect us.
Concern about noise impact on neighbors again delayed a vote to allow residential windmills in the Town of Ithaca. At a Monday night meeting, the Town Board voted 4-3 to send the law back to committee. Town Supervisor Herb Engman and board members Pat Leary and Bill Goodman voted against, hoping to get the law passed Monday. ...Board member Rich DePaolo called the change in the law a "loophole" that would potentially allow "the noisiest windmills in the quietest areas." "I think it applies the law unequally, based on where you live," DePaolo said.
Blades have begun to turn on 121 wind turbines here and in neighboring Ellenburg, a 35-minute drive northwest of Plattsburgh. Saturday, they turned with a soft whush, whush, whush. "Whush, whush, whush, all day long, all night long - I moved here because it was so peaceful and quiet," groused Allen Barcombe as he pointed to the nearest tower, jutting up 400 feet into the sky behind his house. ...The New York turbines, in two projects developed by Noble Environmental Power, are the first of nearly 400 expected to go up in five towns on a windy plateau just south of the Canadian border. When completed, the development about 90 minutes from Burlington will represent the largest concentration of wind turbines in the eastern United States.