'It makes life miserable': Niles residents upset with noise at Indeck power plant
A loud disruptive noise coming from the Indeck Niles Energy Center has raised the ire of Niles residents over the past few months, though the problem appears to be coming to a head this week.
Niles officials say Indeck has temporarily shut down the plan, which produces enough electricity to power 635,000 homes, while crews work on fixing the issue.
However, residents northeast of the city say the noise has been a constant pain for months and say the problem should have been taken care of sooner.
“It makes life miserable. I love to garden, I love to be outdoors and I love to do it in peace. And I can’t. It’s just constant. It’s a constant noise,” said Morgan Frend, who lives on a farm less than two miles from the plant.
Carolyn Nineas, who lives near Frend, described the sound as a deep, loud, constant hum and said many people who live in the vicinity, including her family, are losing sleep.
“It’s anywhere from a low hum to sounding like there’s a literal jet engine in your backyard,” said Carolyn Nienas, who lives near Frend.
Meanwhile officials say the problem is being addressed.
Niles city administrator Ric Huff said Indeck shut down operations on Friday night and crews are on-site this week to try and identify the issue. He added the company first notified the city about the issue on March 26, though Nienas and Frend said the sound has been a problem earlier than that.
Representatives from Indeck did not agree to an interview request from WVPE, but in a statement provided by vice president of management Mike Ferguson, the company said it is trying to "make this right."
“Recently, the plant performance changed slightly resulting in increased vibrations and some noise in the area near the plant," Ferguson said in the statement.
Our team, along with our sub-contractors, immediately went to work to identify the problem and are working to find a solution. We have been in contact with City leadership to provide updates and remain committed to addressing this issue as quicky as possible. We have a long history of being a good neighbor in Niles and intend to make this right.”
The $1.1 billion energy center was announced in 2019 and construction finished last summer. The plant is owned jointly by Indeck, which runs operations, as well as Korea Southern Power and Daelim Energy. A good portion of the equipment at the plant is from General Electric and their crews are on-site this week trying to fix the issues.
Huff believes the company has been responsive and is taking the necessary steps to eliminate the noise. He added the city has formally notified Indeck that the noise is unacceptable and said Niles’ agreement with the company allows them to sue if local ordinances are not followed.
“I do believe, at this point, that Indeck Niles Energy Center has been responsive to the issue and is trying to correct the issues that they have at hand,” Huff said. “If that were to fail at some point in the future, the city of Niles would become more involved.”
Niles Mayor Nick Shelton has also publicly told residents he’s brought their concerns to the company and said the noise has to stop.
Huff added that Indeck didn’t shut down sooner because they had to identify where the noise was coming from and then make plans to take the plant offline while repairs are made.
In an email sent to local residents on Tuesday evening, Shelton said engineers are still working to identify the source of the noise and that the plant will be offline Wednesday night.
Though city officials believe the problem being fixed, Frend and Nienas say it shouldn’t have taken this long.
“We felt like our voices were not heard and it’s taken 14 month,” Nienas said. “It’s just frustrating knowing there’s nothing we can do.”