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Work on Spruce Mountain wind farm to begin next week

WOODSTOCK – Construction on the Spruce Mountain Wind Project is set to begin as early as June 20, according to the project’s developer. The project is expected to be finished and generating power by the end of the year.

Andy Novey, developer for Patriot Renewables of Quincy, Mass., said the group Friends of Spruce Mountain dropped its appeal on June 6. Novey said his firm and Friends of Spruce Mountain came to a settlement. The details are not public.

“It was a private agreement that we can’t discuss,” Novey said Monday.

On June 9, the project received a building permit, the last hurdle. On June 20 they hope to begin construction on the roads up to the building sites, he said, and they expect to be erecting the turbines by the fall. He called it a “tight frame.”

Novey said the site plan hasn’t been altered and will go forward as it was approved in October 2010. “There have been none to this point. Hopefully it will stay that way.”

The site plan calls for 10 towers capable of producing up to 20 megawatts total.

Patriot Renewables will pay the town of Woodstock $80,000 for conservation purposes, and another $20,000 per year for as long as the turbines are operating.

In February, Friends of Spruce Mountain appealed the Department of Environmental Protection permit to the Maine Board of Environmental Protection, which rejected the appeal 5-1. The group planned to bring the appeal to the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine.

Friends of Spruce Mountain argued that the low-frequency sounds from the turbines could disrupt the sleep and the health of abutters, a disputed affliction called “wind turbine syndrome.”

The site plan permit has strict rules for wind noise, capping noise levels at 55 decibels during the day and 45 at night. The DEP order includes a provision requiring that Patriot Renewables collect data at permanently-established sites and to operate a toll-free complaint hot line where residents can report loud turbine noise.

The firm must collect data on the noise and submit it to the DEP. If the DEP finds they are exceeding noise limits, Patriot must reduce the noise levels of the turbines. Smith called it a “belt and suspenders approach” to turbine noise concerns.

The vice president of Friends of Spruce Mountain did not return requests for comment Monday evening.