August 8, 2013

GMP faces noise fines

Michael Page | 08/08 |

MONTPELIER, Vt. – Green Mountain Power faces thousands of dollars in fines related to noise violations at its Lowell, Vermont wind farm. The company faced tough questions at a public hearing today.

Donald and Shirley Nelson live just below Green Mountain Power’s Lowell wind farm. They say they’re fed up.

“We’ve got six-hundred acres that nobody would ever want to build a house on again,” Mr. Nelson said.

The Nelsons, and others who live nearby, say noise from the 21-turbine farm is annoying and harmful to their health.

“My wife wakes up every morning with ringing ears and a headache,” Nelson says.

GMP faces five noise violations. It fielded tough questions from Vermont’s Public Service Board and concerned citizens Thursday.

“We have said right from the start they can’t possibly operate these turbines at full capacity and stay within the noise guidelines- it’s going to be impossible for them to do,” Nelson said.

The farm’s noise standards, tougher than those recommended by the World Health Organization, are mostly exceeded during snowy weather. GMP says the impacts of snow were not known prior to installation.

Robert Dostis, a spokesman for Green Mountain Power, says, “we now know that, we are addressing that-we invested $100,000 in new equipment.”

Thursday’s public hearing in Montpelier focused on a potential fine for Green Mountain Power, but residents of the Northeast Kingdom say the concerns go far beyond that. Cash-strapped towns like Albany and Craftsbury feel they can’t compete with GMP’s resources to advocate for future changes.

Albany, Vermont selectboard member Frank Coulter says, “it requires lawyers, it requires expert witnesses, and it requires years of time and unless you’ve got the money you can’t really participate in a meaningful way.”

As part of GMP’s agreement with the state they only need to monitor noise levels in Lowell for two years. The Nelsons, and many others, want the company to offer continuous monitoring. That’s a costly and unlikely move to be taken by GMP. A decision on GMP’s fine is likely within a few weeks.

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