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Town of Freedom Wind Turbine Ordinance  

Author:  | Maine, Ordinances

9.1 Wind Turbine Classifications

Type 1 – Small Wind Turbine means a wind turbine with a nameplate capacity less than 10 kW, and a turbine height less than 150 feet.

Type 2 – Intermediate Wind Turbine means a wind turbine with a nameplate capacity between 10 kW and 100 kW, and a turbine height less than 150′.

Type 3 – Large Wind Turbine means up to three wind turbines with a nameplate capacity less than 1 MW, and a turbine height less than 300′, regardless of whether approval is required by the Department of Environmental Protection under 35-A M.R.S.A. §3451, et seq. (Expedited Permitting of Grid-Scale Wind Energy) or Title 38 M.R.S.A § 481, et seq. (Site Location of Development Act).

Type 4 – Industrial Wind Turbine means one or more wind turbines with a Nameplate capacity of greater than or equal to 1 MW, and/or a turbine height greater than 300′, regardless of whether approval is required by the Department of Environmental Protection under 35-A M.R.S.A. §3451, et seq. (Expedited Permitting of Grid-Scale Wind Energy) or Title 38 M.R.S.A § 481, et seq. (Site Location of Development Act).

13.1 Setback Standards

13.1.1 Setback standards for Type 1 Wind Turbines:

a. Non-participating Landowner Property Lines –Type 1 Wind Turbines less than or equal to 100′ shall be set back from the property line of any Nonparticipating Landowner a distance of no less than 1.5 times the turbine height. Type 1 Wind Turbines greater than 100′ and less than 150′ shall be set back from the property line of any Non-participating Landowner a distance of no less than 3 times the turbine height. Non-participating property owners may waive this setback with a written Mitigation Waiver. (See Section 13.4 -Mitigation Waiver), but in no event shall any Wind Turbine be located at a distance from an Occupied Building that is less than the height of the Turbine.

b. Public Roads – Type 1 Wind Turbines shall be set back from any public road, from the edge of the right of way, a distance no less than 1.5 times the turbine height.

13.1.2 Setback standards for Type 2, 3, and 4 wind turbines:

a. Non-participating Landowner Property Lines – Type 2, 3 and 4 Wind Turbines To protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Freedom, Turbines shall be set back from the property line of any non-participating land owner a distance of no less than 13 times the turbine height. Nonparticipating property owners may waive this setback with a written Mitigation Waiver (see Section 13.4 – Mitigation Waiver), but in no event shall any WindTurbine be located at a distance from an Occupied Building that is less than the height of the Turbine.

b. Public Roads – Type 2, 3 and 4 Wind Turbines will be set back from any public road, from the edge of the right of way, a distance no less than 4 times the turbine height.

13.1.3 Setbacks from Scenic or Special Resources:

All Wind Turbines exceeding 80 feet or average tree height on site, whichever is greater, must be set back a minimum of 2,500 feet from any Scenic or Special Resource as defined in Section 8.

13.2 Noise Standards

13.2.1 Noise Standards for Type 1 and 2 wind turbines:

For Type 1and Type 2 Wind Turbines, audible noise levels (dBA)at any property line due to wind turbine operations shall not exceed 35 dB(A) from 6 AM (8 AM on Sundays) to 8:30 PM and 30 dB(A) from 8:30 PM to 6 AM (8 AM on Sundays). Property owners may waive this noise restriction with a written Mitigation Waiver. (see Section 13.4 -Mitigation Waiver).

13.2.2 Noise Standards for Type 3 and 4 wind turbines:

a. Audible noise levels (dBA) due to wind turbine operation shall not exceed either of the following two conditions:

1. The pre-construction ambient noise level by more than 5dBA as measured at any property line. Pre-construction ambient noise studies shall be conducted, by the applicant, for all properties located within 2 times the setback of proposed wind turbine site.

2. The audible noise levels will not exceed 40 dBA during the day or 35 dBA during the night.

b. Low frequency noise levels (dBC) due to wind turbine operation as measured inside an occupied building or at any property line will not exceed:

1. 20 decibels (measured as dBC) above the pre-construction ambient noise level (measured as dBA). Pre-construction ambient noise studies shall be conducted, by the applicant, for all properties located within 2 times the setback of proposed wind turbine site.

2. 50 dBC.

13.3.1 Wind Turbines shall be designed and sited so that shadow flicker and/or blade reflection will not fall on a shadow flicker receptor as defined in Section 8. The flicker or reflection shall not exceed 10 hours per year for any given receptor.

16.7.1 Wind Turbine Projects shall be sited and operated so that they do not interfere with emergency (fire, police/sheriff, ambulance) radio two way communications (base stations, mobile, and hand held radios, including digital) and/or paging, television, telephone (including cellular and digital), microwave, satellite (dish), navigational, internet or radio reception to neighboring areas. The Owner/operator of the project shall be responsible for the full cost of any remediation necessary to provide equivalent alternate service or correct any problems, including relocation or removal of the Wind Turbine, and any and all related transmission lines, transformers, and other components related to the interference.

23.0 Decommissioning Standards

23.1 The Owner/operator shall, at its expense, complete decommissioning of the Wind Turbine Project within:

1) twelve (12) months after the end of the useful life of the Wind Turbine as determined by the Owner/operator or;

2) as specified in the materials provided at the time of application or;

3) pursuant to remedies described in Section 22.8, The Wind Turbine will be presumed to be at the end of its useful life if no electricity is generated for a continuous period of twelve (12) months.

23.2 Decommissioning shall include removal of wind turbines and foundations to a depth of 36 inches. All buildings, cabling, electrical components, roads, and any other associated facilities shall be removed unless, at the end of the Turbine or Wind Turbine Project‟s useful life, as determined in accordance with section 23.1, the Applicant provides written evidence of plans for continued beneficial use of these components of the Wind Turbine Project.

23.3 Except as otherwise provided by section 23.2, disturbed earth shall be graded and re-seeded, unless the Participating Landowner of the affected land requests otherwise in writing. Any alterations to Town roads or property during decommissioning must be approved by the Town.

23.4 Special Decommissioning Standards for Type, 3 and 4 Wind Turbine Projects

23.4.1 An independent and certified Professional Engineer shall be retained to estimate the total cost of decommissioning (“Decommissioning Costs”) without regard to salvage value of the equipment and the cost of decommissioning net salvage value of the equipment (“Net Decommissioning Costs”). The Planning Board shall review the estimates and determine the amount of decommissioning funds that must be guaranteed prior to operation of the Wind Turbine Project. Additional estimates by an independent and certified Professional Engineer shall be submitted to the Code Enforcement Officer every fifth year after approval, along with the application for renewal of the Operational License, and additional funds shall be guaranteed at that time if necessary in accordance with the revised estimate.

23.4.2 The Owner/operator shall post and maintain decommissioning funds in an amount equal to Net Decommissioning Costs; provided that at no point shall decommissioning funds be less than twenty five percent (25%) of Decommissioning Costs. The decommissioning funds shall be posted and maintained with a bonding company or Federal or State-chartered lending institution chosen by the Owner/operator and Participating Landowner posting the financial security, provided that the bonding company or lending institution is authorized to conduct such business within the State and is approved by the Town of Freedom, whose approval shall not be unreasonably withheld. Adequate funds shall be posted or guaranteed before the Code Enforcement Officer may issue an Operational License to the Owner/operator.

Appendix A – Noise Measurement Standards and Procedures

1. A qualified independent acoustical consultant shall conduct all noise studies. The acoustical consultant shall be hired by and report to the Permitting Authority during the permitting review stage, and by the Code Enforcement Officer for review of any suspected violations or for review of an Operational License.

2. Sound level meters and calibration equipment must comply with the latest version of the American National Standards Institute “American Standard Specifications for General Purpose Sound Level Meters” (ANSI Standard S1.4) and shall have been calibrated at a recognized laboratory within one month prior to the initiation of the study.

3. Except as specifically noted otherwise, measurements shall be conducted in compliance with ANSI Standard S12.18-1994 “Outdoor Measurements of Sound Pressure.

4. Prior to permit application approval, a pre-construction ambient noise level study shall be conducted at each Occupied Building within 2 miles of any proposed Wind Turbine.

5. The tests shall be conducted using both an A-weighting scale (dBA) and low frequency C weighting scale (dBC).

6. Tests shall be reflective of seasonal changes to vegetation and atmospheric conditions. At a minimum one set of tests should be performed during each of the four (4) calendar seasons of the year.

7. All measuring points shall be located in consultation with the property owners and such that no significant obstruction blocks noise and vibration to the site.

8. Outdoor noise level measurements must be taken at 6 feet above the ground and at least 15 feet from any reflective surface.

9. Duration of measurements shall be a minimum of ten continuous minutes for each criteria at each location.

10. Measurements must be made when the wind levels are less than 4.5 mph and with appropriate wind screening for the recording device.

11. Measurements should be obtained during representative weather conditions when the Wind Turbine noise is most noticeable, including periods of temperature inversion most commonly occurring at night.

12. Measurements shall be taken at each of the following three time periods:

  • Day (10 a.m. – 2p.m.)
  • Evening (7p.m. -11 p.m.)
  • Night (12 midnight – 4 a.m.)

13. Each measurement shall be replicated during the same time period over three different days within the same season for a total of 9 measurements per location per season (i.e., three daytime measurements in the winter, three evening measurements in the winter, three night time measurements in the winter). The lowest of the three measurements per time period, per season, will be used to determine the pre-construction ambient noise for that time period and season.

14. For each measurement the following minimum criteria will be recorded:

  • Lmax, Leq, L10 and L90 in dBA (Lmax: the maximum noise level measured; Leq: average noise level for a given period time; L10: sound level exceeded 10% of the time; L90: sound level exceeded 90 % of the time, generally equivalent to ambient noise.)
  • Lmax, Leq, L10 and L90 in dBC
  • A narrative description of any intermittent noises registered during each measurement
  • Wind speed and direction at time of measurement
  • Description of weather conditions at time of measurement
  • Description of topography and contours relative to proposed or actual Wind Turbines

15. A 5 dBA and/or a 5 dBC penalty shall be applied for short duration repetitive noise or repetitive impulse noise. This is a characteristic “thumping” or “whooshing” sometimes exhibited by larger Wind Turbines. Per Maine TA Bulletin #4, intermittent noise is a more serious nuisance than constant noise.

16. A 5 dBA penalty shall be applied for tonal noise. This is a single or limited frequency noise (vs. broadband noise) associated with mechanical noise artifacts (i.e. high pitched whining, screeching, buzzing). Per Maine TA Bulletin #4, noise over a narrow frequency is a more serious nuisance than broadband noise.

17. For sites being measured with existing Wind Turbines two sets of measurements are required: 1) one set with the Wind Turbine(s) off and; 2) one set with the Wind Turbine(s) running.

18. For nuisance complaints after the Wind Turbines are operational, the measurement points, season, time, and duration of measurements shall be selected in consultation with the affected property owner. If requested by the property owner, continuous measurements may be taken for longer periods of time to capture intermittent nuisance noise patterns.

19. When conducting their pre-construction noise prediction analysis, the Applicant shall make specific reference to: 1) the unique aspect of the mountainous contours and terrain of the area and its effect on noise predictability and 2) line source noise predictions ( emanating from a line of Wind Turbines) in addition to the traditional single point source predictions.

20. Any noise level falling between two (2) whole decibels shall be deemed the higher of the two.

Download original document: “Town of Freedom Wind Turbine Ordinance

This article is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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