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Concerns raised about turbine noise  

Credit:  By Suzanne Hodgson, Staff Writer, Kennebunk Post, kennebunkpost.com 9 September 2010 ~~

A new wind turbine planned for Kennebunkport could save the town money, but planning board members are concerned about the noise it could generate.
Barry Sheff of Woodard and Curran engineering met with the Planning Board Sept. 1 to explain engineering plans for the turbine. He did not bring a sound study to address the Kennebunkport situation.
“I think my only concern is the impact on the neighbors and that’s what we have to explore,” said Planning Board member Gordon Ayer.
Although the nearest abutter is 250 feet away from the 60-foot-high turbine, members of the board expressed concerns the noise will disrupt abutters’ lives.
Sheff said the turbine is small, only 2.4 kilowatts. Sheff said the Department of Environmental Protection exempts turbines less than 100 kilowatts from tests of sound and light flicker from turbine blades because of their diminutive size.
“These [turbines] are referred to as appliances almost at this size and scale,” Sheff said.
Sheff presented the board a sound study from a facility in Texas that monitored a small turbine from 58 feet away. While the study showed noise levels at that distance could be compared to low-level talking. He said the study also proved another fact.
“It estimated if you can see it, you can potentially hear it,” Sheff said.
Sheff and town officials are working closely with members of George H.W. Bush’s team because Walker’s Point, where the Bush compound is located, has its own similar-sized turbine.
The only difference between the turbine on Walker’s Point and the one in Kennebunkport is the height.
Sarah Lachance, co-sponsor of the turbine, said the reason Kennebunkport’s pole will be 60-feet high instead the 35-foot Walker’s Point is because of the proximity to sea breezes. The turbine in Kennebunkport needs the height for more wind.
Lachance estimates the turbine will save the Kennebunkport Police Department approximately $375 a month on its electric bill once the turbine is built near the department and connected to its grid.
Lachance said while the savings would be nice for the town, she was most excited about teaching students in RSU 21 about renewable energy, especially children at Consolidated School, who already are learning about solar power through a solar panel on the roof of the school.
“My hope is to get it here and have people see it working, and if it does great why not put another one at point A or B,” Lachance said.
Kennebunkport will host a public hearing Sept. 15 on the wind turbine. Sheff will provide a sound study to answer board members’ questions on noise pollution.

Source:  By Suzanne Hodgson, Staff Writer, Kennebunk Post, kennebunkpost.com 9 September 2010

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

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