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Maine DEP directs Fox Islands Wind to revise operations to comply with existing noise regulations

In a letter issued Tuesday, November 23, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) informed Fox Islands Wind (FIW) company that it was out of compliance with state regulations on noise and requested FIWsubmit a revised protocol for the operation of its wind turbines on Vinalhaven Island.

In the letter, the DEP detailed a turbine-noise complaint filed in July on behalf of some of the neighbors living near the Fox Islands Wind project on Vinalhaven. After reviewing the case, the DEP has asked that FIW alter its operation under specific wind conditions. The directive was based on data collected by the DEP between May 1 and August 31, 2010, with specific reference to one event on July 17 and July 18, 2010, when legal noise limits were exceeded by two decibels.

Chip Farrington, Fox Islands Electric Cooperative general manager, said the co-op looked forward to resolving the wind noise issue. The co-op works with FIW to supply wind-generated power to islanders.

“The co-op and FIW recognize that there are disagreements between the methods used by the sound experts involved with the issues,” stated Farrington. “We welcome the DEP’s effort to finally resolve this issue for all stakeholders. We want to be good neighbors, successfully address these conditions, and bring this matter to a conclusion.”

The immediate step in this process is for FIW to submit a preliminary outline of its revised protocol by December 3 for the DEP’s review and then submit the revised protocol by January 23, 2011.

The Fox Islands Electric Cooperative board says it believes that the DEP’s determination strikes a reasonable balance between addressing the concerns of the neighbors who filed the complaint and the expectation of approximately 1,800 ratepayers on North Haven and Vinalhaven that they will continue to reap the economic benefits of the community-owned wind project.

Completed in the fall of 2009, the Fox Islands Wind Project is the largest community-owned wind-power project on the East Coast of the United States. The project’s three 1.5-megawatt turbines serve the energy needs of the year-round island communities of North Haven and Vinalhaven.

Last Friday, the Fox Islands Wind Neighbors filed an additional complaint with Maine’s DEP.