DANVILLE — The spot is, quite literally, in the middle of a corn field off County Road 2150N, west of the Oakwood Junior High School.
On the right is a tall wind turbine; on the left are two more wind turbines. And in the middle is Greg Hansbraugh — disputing complaints against the turbines not with his words, but simply the sound of his voice.
With winds at a little more than 10 mph, the sounds of the wind turbine and its three large rotating blades are barely noticeable in the background as Hansbraugh — wind energy instructor at Danville Area Community College — talks about the turbine.
“If you’re in your home and have your windows open and you live the allotted distance from the turbine, the normal sounds of your refrigerator running or things in your home would be louder than what you would hear from the turbine,” he said.
The Invenergy California Ridge wind farm — which includes 134 turbines, 104 in Vermilion County — officially began operations at the end of December. The wind farm came under fire at a Vermilion County Board committee meeting in February when claims were made of sound and shadow flicker problems.
Standing a little more than 200 feet away, a slight hum is audible from the turbine — a production of either the inner workings of the turbine hub at the top of the tower or the generators at the base. As the wind shifts, Hansbraugh points out a quiet “swoosh” sound is produced each time a blade spins downward.
“At that point, that’s the loudest that turbine is going to be,” he said.
“This is far closer than they’re going to build to any house,” Hansbraugh said. “In Illinois you won’t find a home any closer than where we’re standing right now.”
Currently, the Vermilion County wind ordinance, which was adjusted last year, calls for the turbine towers to be set back 1,200 feet from the primary structure on a property. However, the original ordinance — the one Invenergy applied and received a permit through — allows for turbines to be 1,000 feet from the primary structure on property.