The Freedom Planning Board made a mistake Monday night when it declined to ask Competitive Energy Systems of Portland for more information about the limitations of a study that analyzed how much noise would be generated by its proposed wind power project on Beaver Ridge.
The town’s recently enacted commercial development review ordinance sets strict thresholds for noise from industrial projects. The study concluded the windmills would meet the requirements – but by a very close margin.
An attorney for opponents to the project, and a former college professor who has studied sound, raised significant questions about the limitations of the study.
Those questions could have been easily answered by the author of the analysis, Anthony L. Rogers of the Renewable Energy Lab at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. CES commissioned Rogers to perform the study.
Instead of asking CES to have Rogers address the issue of whether he had adequately considered background noise and prevailing wind direction at the site, the Planning Board voted unanimously to close the public record of the hearing and begin crafting its final decision.
The board also failed to require the developer to provide more information about how it would bring windmill components to the site, and how it would deliver the electricity generated to the regional power grid.
Those are reasonable questions, and members should have the answers in hand before they decide whether to allow the project to go forward.
The Freedom Planning Board should revisit its decision to close the hearing and ask CES to address lingering questions about project. A few weeks’ delay is less important than ensuring the board meets its responsibility to abutting landowners and other residents of Freedom.
By Citizen Editorial Board
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