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Citing Wisconsin turbine noise study, Cape councilman calls for statewide wind moratorium

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CAPE VINCENT — Town officials are urging the Association of Towns of the State of New York to support a resolution calling for a ban on industrial wind development, pointing to a similar movement in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Towns Association last month adopted a resolution advising the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to enact a moratorium on wind farms after several noise consultants recommended to the PSC that more in-depth impact studies be conducted.

One of the four consultants who produced the report on low-frequency noise and infrasound for the Shirley Wind Farm in Brown County, Wis., was Hessler Associates Inc. — a Haymarket, Va., firm also hired by wind developers in Cape Vincent for a noise assessment.

In the report submitted to the Wisconsin PSC on Dec. 28, Hessler Associates suggests a limit of 39.5 dBA — A-weighted, audible spectrum noise — at neighboring homes on properties not leased for wind development rights.

John L. Byrne, a Cape Vincent councilman who is advocating a wind moratorium in New York state, said Cape Vincent Wind Farm’s former project manager, James H. Madden, a few years ago provided the town with several development scenarios, all of which exceed Hessler’s recommended noise limit.

“BP’s business developer Jim Madden told the Cape Planning Board that creating a project with a noise limit of 42 dBA — which would exceed Hessler’s suggested maximum threshold — would not be economically feasible,” Mr. Byrne said.

BP’s current director of business development for the Cape Vincent Wind Farm, Richard Chandler, did not return calls and emails seeking comment.

In 2010, two years before Cape Vincent Wind Farm’s merger with Acciona Wind Energy USA’s St. Lawrence Wind Farm, BP submitted to the local Planning Board an analysis showing the correlation among noise levels, project size and financial benefits.

The largest array scenario BP had considered at that time was projected to produce 124 megawatts of electricity and meet a noise limit of 50 dBA at non-participating property lines. The smallest configuration, which would meet a noise limit of 42 dBA, would have produced only 36 megawatts.

BP is seeking a state Article X siting process for a 124-turbine project of up to 285 megawatts in Cape Vincent.

Following in the footsteps of the Wisconsin Towns Association, Mr. Byrne said, he hopes the Association of Towns of the State of New York would call on the state PSC to halt the Article X certification process for industrial wind developments through a formal resolution so that long-term studies on potentially adverse health and environmental effects due to wind farms can be properly conducted.

“In the case of wind power development, I think it’s important that our people have a good understanding of what adverse health effects, if any, are caused by turbine noise, the spinning of the blades or the transmission of power,” Mr. Byrne said. “We should learn how our soil, water and land may be impacted by the installation of turbines and if any steps need to be taken to mitigate or eliminate negative impacts.”

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