Member National Council of Acoustical Consultants
Noise Control Services Since 1976
Hessler Associates, Inc.
Consultants in Engineering Acoustics
Hessler Associates, Inc. has been retained by BP Alternative Energy to evaluate potential noiseimpacts from the proposed Cape Vincent Wind Farm Project on residents in the vicinity of theproject area, which is located in Jefferson County, NY just east of the Town of Cape Vincent.The study consists of three phases:
A field survey of existing background sound levels during leaf-on, summertimeconditions
A field survey of existing background sound levels during leaf-off, wintertime conditions
An impact assessment based on the measured levels of background sound from bothsurveys and the predicted project sound levels developed from an analytical noise modelThis interim report covers only the first phase, the summertime survey, which was carried out inlate August and early September of 2007. The leaf-off, wintertime field survey will be carried outwhen seasonal conditions permit. An impact assessment will then be prepared based on the resultsof both surveys.The measurement of existing sound levels at the site is necessary to determine how much naturalmasking noise there might be - as a function of wind speed - at the nearest residences to theproject. The relevance of this is that high levels of background noise due to wind-induced naturalsounds, such as tree rustle, would act to reduce or preclude the audibility of the wind farm, whilelow levels of natural noise would permit operational noise from the turbines to be more readilyperceptible. Because it would be incorrect, for example, to compare the maximum turbine soundlevel, which occurs only during windy conditions, with the background level during calm andquiet conditions, the background sound level must be determined as a function of wind speed. Fora broadband noise source the audibility of and potential impact from the new noise is a function of how much, if at all, it exceeds the pre-existing background level under comparable conditions.The evaluation of new sound sources on the basis of their audibility above the natural backgroundlevel is the approach set forth in the Program Policy
Assessing and Mitigating Noise Impacts
published by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), Feb.2001. This assessment procedure looks at potential noise impacts in relative rather than absoluteterms by comparing expected future sound levels (developed from modeling) to the pre-existinglevel of background sound (determined from field measurements). The procedure essentiallydefines a cumulative increase in overall sound level of 6 dBA as the threshold between nosignificant impact and a potentially adverse impact. Hence the need to determine what thebackground sound level is.
BACKGROUND SOUND LEVEL SURVEY
The purpose of the survey was to determine what minimum environmental sound levels areconsistently present and available at the nearest potentially sensitive receptors to mask or obscurepotential noise from the project under summertime conditions when the trees are leafed out. Anumber of statistical sound levels were measured in consecutive 10 minute intervals over theentire survey. Of these, the average (Leq) and residual (L90) levels are the most meaningful.