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Wind Turbine Trip Measures Up to Low Noise Expectations

Even standing less than 1,000 feet away, visitors say they couldn't hear the blades turning.

Several staff members and officials from traveled to Fond du Lac County on Fri., Nov. 11, 2011 to put wind turbines to the test. Residents were also invited, but were unable to make the trip.

They were interested in measuring the noise levels of wind turbines similar to those proposed by SC Johnson for their Waxdale plant. The Brownsville, WI, location features 86 wind turbines over 12 square miles, at least one of which sits less than 500 feet from a landowner who leases his land for the turbines.

According to Planning Director Ron Meyer, measurements were taken at 800 and 1,200 feet away from a geared turbine. The SCJ turbines would be gearless and probably quieter.

"At 800 feet, measurements came in at 46 - 47 decibels, and at 1,200 feet it was less than 40 decibels, " he said. By comparison, Meyer said a passing car on the paved road came in at 62 decibels. "The readings could be on the higher side as the corn stubble and hedge row created ambient noise."

Since Waxdale is located in a mixed use neighborhood of residential, commercial and industrial development, it's not unreasonable to think most of the surrounding area would muffle the noise from the turning blades.

SCJ is proposing two or three wind turbines of between 300 and 400 feet tall to generate some of the electricity needed to power the Waxdale plant. Predicted to produce about 15 percent of the total energy needed, the turbines are part of SCJ's plan to generate 100 percent of Waxdale's energy needs on-site with 60 percent coming from renewable energy sources.

At a , Mount Pleasant residents listened to a presentation from SC Johnson officials. Tom Joy from Mount Pleasant and Paul Kocourek from Sturtevant both expressed concerns about the turbines on several levels: noise, sun flicker, aesthetics, property values and deaths of flying wildlife.

"I wish residents could have made the trip," said Trustee Gary Feest. "I think a lot of their fears would have been put to rest."

SCJ's wind turbines are expected to go back before the Village Planning Commission at 1 pm on Wed., Nov. 23, at Village Hall, 8811 Campus Drive. Call (262) 664-7800.

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