The members of the Fairfield Town Council have authorized the testing of a noise reduction system by Iberdrola Renewables in an attempt to ensure the 37-turbine Hardscrabble Wind Farm is in compliance with the noise levels required by the special use permit issued to the company.
Twenty-five turbines are in the town of Fairfield. If testing proves successful, the system will also be installed as part of the operational system for wind turbines in the neighboring town of Norway, which hosts an additional 12 turbines in the Hardscrabble project.
The two towns were granted a permit for the construction of the Hardscrabble Wind Farm in 2010. The turbines, at 476 feet, are the tallest constructed in New York to date.
The towns of Fairfield and Norway were the first towns in the state to require post construction testing of the sound generation of wind turbines.
After complaints from nearby landowners, Iberdrola Renewables agreed with the request from both towns to test sound levels adjacent to several homes in spring 2011.
The sound testing was repeated in leaf-off conditions late in calendar year 2011. The final report from the testing was delivered to the respective town councils at their June meetings last month.
The test results show repeated excursions beyond the legal limit. Simultaneous with its release of the report on sound testing, Iberdrola Renewables announced it would immediately begin testing the use of a proprietary noise reduction system developed by Gamesa, the manufacturer of the turbines.
As stated by Iberdrola Renewable representatives, it is hoped that making changes to the operating system can reduce overall sound levels and ensure the turbine arrays are consistently operating within the town’s permitted noise limit of 50 dBA.
The town councils were informed that testing would occur at three turbines near the sites where sound testing had occurred in Fairfield. If the results are promising, Iberdrola Renewables proposed to implement the system at other sites within the Hardscrabble Wind Farm.
The town councils in both Fairfield and Norway have directed Iberdrola Renewables to report back to them on the results of the test implementation of the Gamesa noise reduction system and the company’s future intentions, no later than their next meeting in the month of September.