Concerns continue to be raised by residents in DeKalb County over the operation of a commercial wind turbine project in Missouri.
NextEra Energy Resources based in Florida began operating 97 wind turbines near Osborn, Missouri, in December. The project in DeKalb County was one of the first by NextEra Energy to use wind turbines that were manufactured to be 500 feet tall.
Some residents in the county have expressed concern over effects from light flicker, noise levels, vibration of buildings and a lack of access to television and weather emergency services.
Barbara Shatto, owner of Shatto Milk Company, said a concern she has pertains to red lights flashing every few seconds at night near her business and home.
“When you come home at night and you’ve got bright red lights flashing, it’s not exactly a pleasant experience,” Shatto said. “I have window shutters and they do a good job at times to block out the light, but it doesn’t do it completely. You’re just stuck with it. Blocking out the lights is very difficult to do.”
Kim Tindel said there are around 30 turbines within five miles of her residence, with the nearest tower located around 1,400 feet from her home. Tindel said she has documented items in her house shaking.
“The house shakes and it trembles,” Tindel said. “I do have a shelf in my laundry room and stuff has fallen off my shelf. My pictures move. I put a Mason jar on the shelf with water in it and the water is moving.”
Tindel said she hears two noises associated with the project and she has covered her windows to block out the lights.
“It sounds like airplanes hovering 24 hours a day,” Tindel said. “We can hear it over the sound of television and over lawn mowers. Then there’s another sound other than the blades constantly moving. Sometimes it’s a high-pitch sound that’s hard to describe that I can hear outside, but I cannot hear it inside my house.”
Billy and Sherri Sonderegger said there are around 10 wind turbines within two miles of their home.
“I describe it as an airplane flying off in the distance but it never goes anywhere,” Billy Sonderegger said. “It’s always there. The sound just keeps coming. I’ve come home at 11 or 12 at night to unload cattle and left my pickup trailer running and I can hear it above the noise of the pickup.”
While the state of Missouri has no regulations pertaining to the placement or noise levels of wind turbine development aside from county regulations, the state of Vermont’s Public Service Board created rules this spring addressing tower height, light flicker and noise levels.
If passed, the rules would impose a 42-decibel daytime noise limit and a 39-decibel limit at night. There also would be a setback requirement of 10 times the turbine’s height, meaning that a 500-foot-high turbine would need to be at least 5,000 feet away from an occupied building.
Steve Stengel, communication director for NextEra Energy, said the company has received one complaint from a landowner pertaining to concerns over noise and lights.
“While we have received a number of complaints about TV reception interference that we are currently addressing with individual landowners, we have only received one complaint from a landowner related to noise or light issues,” Stengel stated in an email. “We have investigated that complaint and found that our wind turbines were operating normally.”
Stengel said the company monitors the performance and operating conditions of the turbines around the clock, but he declined to state what decibel level the project is functioning.
“There is not a specified sound requirement in the special use permit granted for the project,” Stengel said. “However, I can tell you that this site has been and continues to operate normally.”