(BEATRICE) – The Gage County Planning Commission has forwarded revised regulations governing wind farms, to the county’s board of supervisors. Following a public hearing last night, the commission agreed to establish a sound limit on wind turbine noise affecting non-participating landowners in a project, at 47 decibels, with leeway for ambient sound.
The commission appeared to lean heavily on the testimony of Dr. Peter Goldberg, of Waltham, Massachusetts…..a senior principal at Tech Environmental. He is an expert in sound consulting who has worked with developers of more than 80 wind farms across the U.S. He supported the 47 decibel sound limit.
Goldberg said the World Health Organization recommendation of a 40 decibel limit is based on an annual average, which the 47 decibel limit would meet. He pointed out that wind turbines generally run at full power, about 20% of the time. Goldberg cited a Canadian study that looked at annoyance caused by wind farms.
The commission’s recommendation also sets a 5-decibel maximum over ambient noise, such as that when the wind is blowing hard, during a storm.
Several opponents of a Volkswind U.S.A. wind farm that was proposed for southern Lancaster and northern Gage Counties, attended Thursday night’s hearing. One was Curtis Schwaninger.
Gage County Extension Educator Paul Hay cautioned the commission about the setting of decibel limits….not taking a position on wind farms. He said ambient noise that occurs now, is extremely variable.
It was alleged at the hearing that Volkswind instituted a gag order on property owners who had reached agreement to allow wind turbines on their property. A Volkswind official denied that any gag order, exists.
Among other zoning revisions for wind farms in the commission’s recommendation….
- A required pre-construction wind noise study
- A 60 decibel limit for participating landowners in a wind farm
- A minimum setback of wind towers from non-participating landowners of 1,650 feet, or three-times the height of a tower, whichever is greater
- No setback for participating landowners
- A non-participating landowner could waive the setback requirement at the time of application for a wind farm project.
- A bond requirement for when a wind farm is de-commissioned….and…
- A grandfather clause allowing the Steele Flats Wind farm to operate under regulations in place at the time that southern Gage County project was built.
The Gage County Board is planning to hold its’ public hearing on the wind farm regulations, March 17th, 6 p-m. About 30 people attended the zoning commission’s public hearing, which lasted about 80 minutes.