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Sheffield family unhappy with governor’s take on wind

A Sheffield family’s plea to Gov. Peter Shumlin begging for relief from wind turbine noise did not produce the hoped-for results.

Luann Therrien hand-delivered a letter to the governor on Aug. 5 on behalf of her family and 12 others near three Vermont wind projects. She received a personal response from the governor dated Aug. 13.

Therrien lives with her husband Steve and their two children within a mile of turbines operated by First Wind in Sheffield.

The letter sent to the governor from the 13 families requested that he call personally and visit their homes to “get a better understanding of how we are being affected.”

In the governor’s response he wrote, “I understand you have been in close contact with the Vermont Department of Public Service regarding your concerns and I would encourage you to continue to work with them. I am also aware of the dockets before the Public Service Board (PSB) related to wind energy generation and sound levels. Finally, I am hopeful that the work of the Energy Generation Siting Policy Commission, and the legislative committee work building upon that report, will help resolve some of these issues moving forward as local communities take an active role in the energy planning process. My administration is closely monitoring all these developments and is aware of the perspective of those living in close proximity to wind projects.”

Shumlin said he has forwarded Therrien’s letter to Commissioner Chris Recchia at the Department of Public Service (DPS), “so that his office remains up to date on your concerns. Thank you for your continued advocacy on this issue and will keep your concerns in mind as we move forward.”

Annette Smith, executive director of Vermonters For A Clean Environment, on Monday expressed disappointment in the response, saying “the governor’s letter to the Therriens is tone deaf to the difference between public policy moving forward and public health issues occurring now.”

She was critical of the independent noise study conducted at the Therrien home by the state, noting in an email Monday that, “Chris Recchia’s study did harm to the Therriens and there are no ongoing discussions with the PSD. There is no noise docket before the PSB regarding the Therriens or Sheffield,” Smith went on, of the governor’s reference to that being the case, and stating, “The energy siting commission’s recommendations do nothing for the Therriens or anyone being victimized by already-constructed wind projects.”

An independent noise monitoring report conducted at the Therrien residence was unable to make a concrete determination, but the state noted that the report “strongly suggests that the facility was operating within” noise levels accepted as part of the Sheffield wind project’s Certificate of Public Good.

The Therriens have asked the town of Sheffield, which receives more than $500,000 a year in taxes and supplemental payments from First Wind, for help, but none has come. The couple has also asked First Wind of Boston to buy them out, but the company has said it is not willing.

In addition to the Therriens, from the Sheffield area, also signing the recent letter to the governor were Paul and Carol Brouha of Sutton, who fought the Sheffield wind project; from the Lowell project, Paul and Rita Martin, Carl Cowles, Kevin McGrath, Robbin and Steve Clark, Don and Shirley Nelson, Jim and Kathleen Goodrich, Gordon Spencer, Gilbert and Linda Hill and Leonard and Margurite Thompson, all of either Albany or Lowell. From the Georgia project, two families signed the letter, Scott and Melodie McLane and Reggie Johnson and Shirley Phillips, both of Fairfax.

Luann Therrien, asked about the couple’s home being on the market, said, “As for our house, it hasn’t been shown since it was listed and it looks like we’ll have to walk away. Right now, our best hope is to become homeless in order to protect our health.”