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Fairfield residents given noise generators to drown out sound of windmills

FAIRFIELD, N.Y. (WKTV) - Fairfield resident James Salamone says he hasn't slept well since a number of windmills went up right near his home on Davis Road in Fairfield about a year and a half ago.

Salamone said, "It's torture. You cannot sleep with this frequency of noise. It's just torture, I can't explain it any other way."

Salamone says he just received a noise maker from the company that installed the windmills, Iberdrola Renewables.

The small round machine is supposed to help drown out the sound of the windmills so people can sleep at night.

Salamone says he turns the device on and it sounds like a small fan. He said, "it's a noise making machine. This is what they sent me. Put this by your bedside, put this eight feet from your bed, this will help drown out the noise coming in your house from the wind turbines."

Salamone says the machine doesn't help at all, and he says he shouldn't have to have something like it, in order to be able to get a good night's sleep in his own home, he says something is wrong with the system.

Salamone is not alone. Tobias Tobin lives right around the corner from Salamone on Cole Road.

Tobin says people don't realize what it's like to try to try and sleep at night with these windmills going around and around when everything else is quiet. Tobin said, "I've had a few friends of mine that came up from Middleville to visit, and when they came up the first time, they said 'well that aint nothin'. When they sat there and were were talking, the said 'my gosh, how the heck do you put up with this'. Yea, cause it's constant. It don't go away. It sounds like a plane that never stops. It just goes and goes and goes."

Here's how landowners have had to have to deal with this problem. Other landowners lease their land to the company Iberdrola Renewables, and receive $8000 per turbine, per year.

The turbines cannot be within 1250 feet of someone else's property.

Salamone and Tobin say the ones next to their homes which sit on neighboring properties, are way too close.

Salamone says he feels trapped, and is ready to just up and move. He said, "you can count from my house right here, eleven, from right here at my house, they're very close. This one here is about 1500 feet, the rest of them are about 2000 feet."

But there may be some relief in sight for Salamone, Tobin and other Herkimer County homeowners who have been forced to live next to the windmills.

On Thursday, the Town of Fairfield authorized the testing of a Noise Reduction System by Iberdrola Renewables to make sure the turbines are in compliance with the noise levels required by the special use permit issued to the company.

After complaints from landowners back in the spring of 2011, Iberdrola Renewables agreed with the request from the Town of Fairfield to test sound levels adjacent to several homes.

Testing was done in the spring of 2011, and in late 2011 after the leaves had fallen from the trees.

Those test results were delivered to the town at their June Town Board Meeting.

According to attorney Bernard Malewski, a special counsel hired by the Town of Fairfield, the test results showed repeated levels beyond the legal 50 decibel level limit.

Malewski says Iberdrola Renewables immediately told him the company would like to begin testing a brand new Noise Reduction System (NRS) developed by Gamesa, the manufacturer of the turbines, on three of its turbines in Fairfield.

At this past Thursday's (July 12th) Town Board meeting, the Town of Fairfield passed a resolution which supported the deployment of the NRS system as an opportunity to to cure the problem.

Today, we talked with a landowner who now has the sound detection equipment on his property to see if the new NRS is working.

That homeowner did not want his name used, but says he hopes the new system works.

If the results of the NRS are good, Iberdrola says it will implement the technology on all of the turbines in the entire Hardscrabble Wind Project, 25 of which are in the Town of Fairfield as well as 12 more which are in the neighboring Town of Norway.

The Towns of Fairfield and Norway were the first towns in New York State to require post construction testing of the sound generation of wind turbines.

If the noise problem is not fixed, both towns have the authority to suspend or revoke Iberdrola Renewable's permit, or the towns can shut down any offending individual turbine.

The Town of Fairfield and Norway have directed Iberdrola Renewables to report back to the Town Boards on the results of the NRS, no later than their next Board meeting in the month of September.

Fairfield Town Supervisor Henry Crofoot told NEWSChannel 2 on Monday, "we are waiting and seeing, and hoping for the best."

Meanwhile, Iberdrola Renewables released a statement to NEWSChannel 2 Monday afternoon as well.

Communications Manager Paul Copleman said, "the issue of Hardscrabble's sound is one we are taking very seriously, as some neighbors have expressed concern. We are working closely, as we have been through the multi-year development and construction of the project, with the communities and individuals who have reached out to us. As a long-term community partner we are working to address the concerns."

Copleman goes on to say, "it is too early to reach any conclusions as to the trial results for the new software but we fully expect it will accomplish what it is intended to do. We designed the project to be in compliance with the local sound regulations and will honor that obligation. Sound is a complex issue. Wind conditions are always changing and background noise, which can exceed the 50 dBA limit on its own, can make it difficult to measure and isolate the sound coming from the turbine. While our studies do not show turbine sound levels by themselves exceeding the permit limit, we do acknowledge we have received complaints from some of the residents and we are working diligently to address the situation."

Jimmy Salamone says he hopes the new system does work well, but if the levels come back as compliant, but the noise from the turbines still continues to keep him awake at night, he won't stop fighting, "we gotta sleep at night. Turn them off or move them."
Salamone says he hopes the new system does work, but if the levels come back as compliant, but still continue to keep him awake at night, he won't stop fighting. He said,"we gotta sleep at night. Turn them off or move

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