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The Sounds of "Silence"

During the public review phase of NY State's SEQR Environmental Impact process, we attended public meetings, spoke before the Cohocton Board and Planning Committee, wrote letters, and published many articles about the noise problem that industrial wind turbines have (see Noise link in Post Labels list at right). Now that Cohocton's turbines are up and some are running for us to hear, what kind of noise are they making?

There are 4 turbines within 1/2 mile of our dwelling on Lent Hill, none of which are within the tight 1500-foot margin set by our Town leaders. We can see 2 of them towering above our treetops. Only 3 are actually spinning. There are 3 distinct noises that the turbines make:

  1. A "threshing" sound, like machinery whirring or a train running by on tracks, that is constant while a turbine is spinning and is probably the massive turbine/gearbox unit itself.
  2. A "whumping" sound, like a heavy towel being flapped rhythmically in the wind about once a second while the blades are turning, that is made by the blades as they pass by the tower.
  3. A "groaning" sound, like a not-so-distant train horn blowing or metal wheels screeching on tracks, that comes on in 2 to 20+ second intervals 30-40 times an hour while the wind is shifting and appears to be coming from the mechanism that rotates the schoolbus-sized turbine nacelle unit to keep the blades facing the wind.

These remarkably intrusive sounds come from various directions, depending on which way the wind is blowing and which turbines are spinning. Even though the decibel level of the noises we hear may technically be under the unrealistically high limits set by our Local Law, the whole effect is that of living in an industrial district about a block or two away from a busy train switching station. Our quiet, pastoral countryside has clearly been overtaken by an industrial installation.

When the original noise studies were done, we seriously doubt that the second 2 noises were measured at all. Unfortunately, now that we've all been deceived by the developer and the turbines are up, there is probably little that can be done.



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