State board to look at noise standards for Vermont energy projects; Faced with a growing number of complaints, board opens investigation
Noting that it has received a growing number of noise complaints about a growing number of energy projects, the state Public Service Board this week asked for public comments on how to determine appropriate standards for measuring noise.
“The complaints have raised questions about whether the limitations that the board has previously adopted are adequate,” the board said in an order dated Monday. “As a result, the board has determined that it is appropriate to commence a general investigation into the issue of appropriate sound standards for facilities that are subject to the board’s jurisdiction.”
The investigation was welcome news for both supporters and opponents of projects that have generated complaints.
Annette Smith, executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, has been advocating for neighbors bothered by the noise from large wind turbine projects in Lowell, Sheffield and Georgia.
She said of the board’s investigation, “It is long overdue.”
“It is our expectation and hope that the board will also be looking at the standards they have set for existing projects and be willing to review them,” she said. “If this docket is only about projects going forward then we will be going to the Board and asking them to re-open the dockets on projects that are known to be causing harm to the public.”
Gabrielle Stebbins, executive director of Renewable Energy Vermont, which represents developers of some of the projects and maintains that the noise standards being used are acceptable, said she also looks forward to seeing the issue clarified.
“Hopefully, this might put it to rest,” she said. “Hopefully, it will simply show the board has been doing its job.”
The investigation will allow the board to hear from a wider variety of people than those who complain about specific projects, she said.
The board is taking comments through Dec. 31 and set a hearing for Jan. 8 in Montpelier. The board plans to create a web page where it will outline the proceedings and comments, the order said. For information, visit http://psb.vermont.gov/orders and click on “recent orders.”
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