NJ Windmill Saves Money, But at a Cost

Campaign 2016 South Carolina Primary

The only municipal windmill in New Jersey is just six or seven months old, but it is already stirring up quite a storm of protest from its closest neighbors.

"It's kind of a grinding 'whoosh, whoosh,'" said Lori Ditzel who lives across the street from the windmill, and compared it to bad brakes on a car.

The 50kW generator doesn't compare to the behemoths you see in pictures of wind farms in upstate New York, or out on the Western Prairies.

But it is big enough to stir up an outcry from people who live within two or even three blocks of the municipal complex in the small, residential community of Ocean Gate, on the edge of Barnegat Bay near Toms River, N.J.

"I was in my yard recently trying to have a conversation with my neighbor over the fence and we couldn't hear each other," said Michelle Francese who, like Ditzel, said she considers herself to be 'green' when it comes to the environment.

"The noise we were anticipating is louder than we thought," Mayor Paul Kennedy admitted to NBCNewYork.

But he said daytime decibel measurements show the noise level to be within legal limits.

And while residents claim nighttime readings by the Ocean County Health Department have just this past week show the windmill to be above the acceptable limit, Mayor Kennedy said he was told by officials that more study is needed and the windmill does not need to be shut down at night.

Kennedy did say the windmill is not generating quite as much power and savings as he had hoped.

But he quickly added "Seven years from now the savings will increase because as we know the electric rates will increase as they always have every year."

Ditzel said the noise lowers her property's value. "I wouldn't even consider buying this house," she said, if she were in the market now, instead of when she bought it three years ago.

And she said she is considering asking for a lower assessment, which would mean lower taxes. And that, she said, would eliminate much of the savings the town is getting now from lower electric bills.

But Mayor Kennedy is convinced the windmill will be an overall net benefit for Ocean Gate.

In fact, he is so convinced that he has lined up grants and financing for a second one, to be built about a block away. Construction on that , he hopes, will begin as soon as this September.

Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY

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