Turbine-sound study finished; results not yet public

DANVILLE — Two acoustical experts have finished a sound study in the California Ridge Wind Project, but whether the results show that wind turbines are exceeding Illinois noise pollution standards is not yet being disclosed, according to an attorney representing the wind farm owner, Invenergy.

Attorney Mike Blazer said the sound study is done, and the two acoustic engineers have enough data to make a conclusion, but that conclusion won't be made public until Blazer delivers an update to the Vermilion County Board at its meeting Tuesday night.

The board meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Vermilion County Courthouse Annex, 6 N. Vermilion St., Danville.

Invenergy is doing the noise study in its 134-turbine wind farm that spreads from eastern Champaign County into western Vermilion County, because some residents who are not leasing their property to Chicago-based Invenergy have complained that the turbines are affecting their quality of life, disturbing their sleep and causing health problems.

The residents have been asking the Vermilion County Board to increase its setbacks, meaning the distance a wind turbine can be built from a primary structure such as a house. Currently, the county's setback is 1,200 feet, the same as Champaign County's. However, Vermilion's original setback when Invenergy built California Ridge was 1,000 feet. The board increased the setback in 2011.

Blazer said the two acoustic engineers hired by Invenergy are still analyzing an enormous amount of data that they've gathered in the last few months, but he will still be able to report to the county board a preliminary conclusion regarding the Illinois Pollution Control Board's noise limit standards and what else needs to be done.

Blazer would not disclose in an interview Friday whether the preliminary conclusion is that the turbines are meeting or exceeding state noise pollution control standards. He said the county board should hear the report before it's revealed publicly.

During an update to the county board earlier this year, Blazer said he was retained by Invenergy in May to address complaints from residents in the California Ridge wind farm.

Blazer, whose law firm is based in Hillside, said the first decision was to do a sound study, so he hired an independent acoustic expert, Michael Hankard.

Hankard is the president and principal engineer with Hankard Environmental, a noise and vibration consulting firm with offices in Wisconsin and Colorado. Blazer said the wind farm residents recommended another expert, Paul Schomer, so he was also hired to conduct the sound study along with Hankard.

Schomer with Schomer and Associates Inc. in Champaign, is a board certified member of the Institute of Noise Control Engineering and an adjunct professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois. He does consulting for industry and government.

Blazer said it will take quite a while for Hankard and Schomer to finish a final report, but once they have, Invenergy will share the complete report with county board members and anyone else interested in the details.

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