Further examining the issues of wind towers

To the Editor: Marble River Wind Farm's developers' said their extensive research across Clinton County shows the only place Beekmantown has enough wind to pay a wind farm's way is Rand Hill. Lake Champlain's shore falls short. Referencing their wind map's key, pink bears this out. Expressing noise concerns, some Rand Hill residents want to ban commercially scaled wind development across the entire "R-2" residential zone. They say, "Put it elsewhere: how about off Cape Cod, or Vermont's Mount Equinox?". The Cape's opponents ask: "Why not on VT's Mount Equinox or NY's Rand Hill?"; near Mt. Equinox, critics say, "build it off Cape Cod or on NY's Rand Hill ." They all tell us they "support wind energy, just not here"; if all had their way, how much of wind energy would blow away, wasted? Others express support of wind by holding siting leases. Beekmantown's government is undecided. Is significant energy extraction hopeless? Is banning commercially viable wind turbines from an entire residential zone the only way to prevent disturbance by their noise? A Marble River source said noise levels vary between makes/models of turbine. In rather densely populated regions, such as America's east, we were told, only the quietest machines should be used, like the GE 1.5 MW windplants at Noble Environmental Power's 2007 Ellenburg/Clinton project. This model is already planned for Beekmantown. Since sound levels decrease as dispersed by distance, maximum levels reaching residences can be established by the town. The 40 dBa (decibels adjusted for human hearing's pitch sensitivity profile) of a typical living room (Manwell, J. F., et al. 2002. Wind Energy Explained. p. 484.) might be used, or perhaps 25 dBa as found inside a typical bedroom (ibid). From that, we'd derive legally binding setback distances from structures. Using that setback, turbine siting wouldn't be allowed without written waivers from all residents and/or structure owners inside the setback's perimeter. Where pre-existing structures are sited densely enough to fall within, waivers must be obtained from all, for that site to be used. That means even one can veto it, without having to eliminate a whole project. Clinton County towns with developed wind power have localized variations in residential development. With higher densities, no turbines exist, though where wanted, they'd be permitted. Both Ellenburg and Clinton have established setback radii. Neither specifically excludes wind from residential areas, yet with the entire Noble project's turbine construction having been completed, none are within areas whose residential density exceeds that required by the setback. Controlling noise levels neither requires flatly banning wind turbines zone-wide, overriding any and all who want them, nor permitting unregulated development, overriding all who object. Careful management requires establishing a legally binding setback radius for all wind development. David E. Manwell

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