Augusta – The Board of Environmental Protection voted to lower the sound level standards of industrial wind turbines. The move is being called a good compromise by a Department of Environmental Protection spokesperson Samantha Depoy-Warren.
After hearing public testimony in Augusta for much of the day on Thursday the BEP voted 5-to-4 in favor of reducing the nighttime noise level from 45 decibels to 42 if those turbines within a certain distance of people’s homes. One member of the BEP was not present to vote.
Depoy-Warren says the Maine DEP says they were hoping the matter would be held over until more public testimony could be heard. More hearings are possible. The board’s ruling now heads to the legislature where lawmakers could order more public hearings on the divisive issue.
At Thursday’s meeting people from both sides of the debate over wind turbine noise got the chance to speak. Steve Thurston lives in Roxbury where a a 22 turbine industrial wind farm is being built. He told the board what he stands to lose. “Piece of mind. The values that we’ve enjoyed down through the generations of the peace and the quiet and the natural beauty and the wildness of the area,” Thurston said at Thursday’s hearing. “These turbines turn the area basically into an industrial zone.”
Gordon Smith is an attorney representing wind power developers who also addressed the board about his concerns. “What the problem is is if some of these areas and provisions get adopted that are unduly restrictive it can prohibit wind power development in areas where it would otherwise be a fine place for wind power,” Smith said.
Thursday’s decision to reduce the allowable noise from wind turbines now heads to the legislature for a vote in January. The Board of Environmental Protection is being reduced from 10 members to 7 as a result of legislation passed in the last legislative session.
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