Highland Wind Farm says wind turbines not too noisy

Highland Wind Farm LLC argued in a Sept. 3 filing at the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin that its 102.5-MW wind project can meet state turbine noise limits and so a commission decision to reject the project due to noise concerns should be reversed.

The Sept. 3 filing was the company’s initial brief based on its application for the PSC to re-look at project rejection. It is seeing a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) to construct a 102.5 MW wind farm in the towns of Forest and Cylon, St. Croix County, Wisc.

On March 15, the commission issued its decision denying the CPCN “because there [were] multiple nonparticipating residences where Highland failed to demonstrate compliance with the Wis. Admin. Code § PSC 128.14(3) nighttime audible noise limit of 45 dBA….” On May 14, the commission issued an order reopening this proceeding to allow applicant to demonstrate through sound modeling, assuming worst case conditions, that the project could comply with the 45 dBA nighttime standard and 40 dBA standard for the six previously identified sensitive residences.

“Using standard capabilities of modern day turbines Applicant has demonstrated through sound modeling using worst case assumptions that the Project can meet the required sound levels,” Highland Wind Farm said in the Sept. 3 filing. “Further, Applicant has proposed the most rigorous post-construction sound monitoring program ever to ensure ongoing compliance with the sound standards. Under these circumstances the record now supports issuance of a CPCN for the Project.”

The company said that both turbine models under consideration – the Siemens SWT-2.3 and the Nordex N117 – meet the noise standards.

“Most of the experts in this proceeding are in agreement that noise emissions from a wind turbine are proportional to the tip speed of the blades,” the company argued. “Further, most experts agree that noise emissions from wind turbines can be reduced by slowing the speed of the blade tips. Due to increasing regulations regarding noise from wind turbines the major turbine manufacturers have all recognized the need to be able to control the speed of the blade tips to reduce noise emissions. Thus most of the major turbine manufacturers including, without limitation, Nordex, Siemens, GE, Vestas, Gamesa and e.n.o., have included noise reduction capabilities in their turbines. The Nordex and Siemens turbines under consideration for this Project are no exception.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.