Cohocton Wind Watch: Require Lower Noise Limits and Greater Setbacks
Cohocton Wind Watch is a community citizen organization dedicated to preserve the public safety, property values, economic viability, environmental integrity and quality of life in Cohocton, NY and in surrounding townships. Neighbors committed to public service in order to achieve a reasonable vision for a Finger Lakes region worthy of future generations.


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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Require Lower Noise Limits and Greater Setbacks

Require Lower Noise Limits and Greater Setbacks

My name is John Servo, and I live across the town line in Prattsburgh. I'd like to present a 6/9/09 document from the Province of Ontario Ministry of Environment. This government agency is tasked with supporting windfarm development and protecting their citizens. Their new turbine setback guidelines are very specific. If there are one to five 106dBA Sound Power Level turbines – like the 2.3MW Siemens – within 9800 feet [3km, 9842 feet] of your house, the setback should be 3100 feet (1.5km, 3116 feet). For 11 or more turbines, the setback should be 4900 feet [1500m, 4921 feet] – almost a mile. These setbacks are consistent with the Ministry of the Environment’s Noise Guidelines for Wind Farms (October 2008) and the noise level limit they set last year of 40 dBA – not Ecogen's 50dBA – at the Point of Reception, regardless of wind speed. Please note that accepting 40dBA is still a compromise, as it's 15dBA higher then Italy's very quiet (25dBA) night-time background levels.

Well, since Ecogen wants to put 4 turbines on the ridge across from my house, this 3100 foot setback sounded pretty good. So my neighbor Terry Drake and I met twice with Pattern Energy's representative, who was quite agreeable. When we told him about Ecogen's dealings, he laughed and shook his head, telling us Pattern Energy treated people right. On our side, we even compromised to a 3000 foot setback. And when I spoke again two days ago with Pattern's representative, he said their engineers told him that three turbines could be moved like we want, and he's looking into finding a home for the fourth.

So, how about that? With 3000 foot setbacks – not the 1500 feet they've offered Italy – Terry and I just maybe won't be ruined. But, just like I wouldn't want to make a deal just for myself where my neighbor was hung out to dry, I thought you should know about it, too. Italy can and should get a better deal. Don't your citizens deserve 3000 feet setbacks, and more? And have stiff penalties for non-compliance. Otherwise, even your current bad deal can go horribly wrong.
• Take amenities. In Prattsburgh, a few months back Ecogen promised a new ambulance. Now that's changed to a one-year lease on a used ambulance another town no longer wants. Just ask yourself, what is Ecogen's word worth?
• Ecogen has sued you, and has threatened to sue Italy again – if you don't let them have their way. So what do you really think the "Wind Energy Incentive Zone" will be for Phase 2 of the project? It's obvious – the whole town.
• And do you really believe the noise levels will be only 50dBA? It's not like you don't have clear warning. Just look at what's happening in Cohocton, where the developer violates 50dBA with impunity. What makes you think that you will have any control over Ecogen's behavior once you hand them the hammer?

The facts are clear. Get those 3000 foot to 4900 foot setbacks. Set noise level limits for the Ecogen Project no greater than 40 dBA. However, if you chose to approve a higher noise limit, you are condemning your fellow citizens to live bathed in industrial noise, their health threatened, their property devalued. And this will be only the beginning. Italy may never recover from the damage.

John Servo, Black Lock Road, Prattsburgh, New York

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