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Wind turbine noise standards stricter

AUGUSTA – Thursday, May 3, at their regular meeting at the Augusta Civic Center, Maine’s Board of Environmental Protection acted on the final adoption of changes to Chapter 375, Section 10 pertaining to noise emissions from industrial wind turbines.

In March, Maine’s 125th Legislature overwhelmingly approved stricter noise rules for industrial wind turbine noise emissions. All future wind projects in Maine, either in the jurisdiction of the Land Use Regulation Commission or the Department of Environmental Protection, will be subject to the safer standards. The major change is a night time sound limit of 42 decibels instead of the prior 45 decibels. The new rule also improves protection relative to Short Duration Repetitive Sounds, which are best defined as undulating high and low sounds.

The rule making proceeding was initiated in the summer of 2010 when Maine’s Citizen’s Task Force on Wind Power brought a citizens’ petition to the Board of Environmental Protection. Friends of Maine’s Mountains attorney, Rufus Brown, assembled a team of experts and presented the case for enhanced protection from turbine noise emissions. Despite steadfast opposition by the wind lobby, the BEP heeded the testimony of experts, citizens and those who are suffering from the effects of wind turbine noises, and in September provisionally adopted new rules.

“We are pleased to know that if more wind projects are built, they will be located in areas where they will have a lesser negative impact on people,” said FMM President, Chris O’Neil.

Due to this new sound standard, wind projects built in Maine will be less likely to be sited close to homes. The new rule will not apply to existing wind projects that were permitted according to the old noise standards.

“We are pleased that the BEP was willing to spend time examining the noise issue which was a consistent concern and was willing to do something about it,” Brown stated May 3. “While the BEP did not go as far as we felt necessary, the rule that was adopted today was a step forward and sets a foundation for further examination of this important issue in the future.”