LOWELL – Green Mountain Power is compliant with its reporting about noise-reduced operations at the Lowell wind project, but state regulators on the Vermont Public Service Board want GMP to write these reports in a way that the average Vermonter can understand.
This part of the oversight of the Lowell wind project is occurring as the Legislature and other groups are discussing how towns, regional commissions and individual Vermonters could have more say in large energy projects like wind.
One of the issues that keeps coming up is the highly technical and legal aspects of the process used to consider new energy generation projects, which make it difficult for average citizens or small towns to participate without hiring expensive experts.
The order came this week after Lowell wind project neighbors Don and Shirley Nelson complained in January about the reporting and said that GMP had violated its certificate of public good.
The board said GMP is providing all the data about what’s called noise-reduced operational mode that is required at certain times of day for some of the 21 turbines, and when the wind direction and speed would create unacceptable noise.
But it’s not easy to determine, based on the type of reports that GMP’s experts are providing to the board. The reports are sufficient but not easy to analyze, the board stated.
“We believe the current format employed by GMP may prove challenging to average readers because they must correlate the programmed noise-reduced operational mode times with two sets of data … to draw a conclusion about the impact of noise-reduced operational mode on project operations,” board members James Volz, John Burke and Margaret Cheney wrote.
GMP is required under its certificate of public good to trigger the noise-reduced operational mode for half of the 21 turbines overnight and for all turbines when certain wind conditions are present.
The overnight noise-reduced operational mode affects turbines 1 through 5 and turbines 11 through 18, when the turbine blades are feathered to reduce impact on bats and humans.
Between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., the noise-reduced operational mode is triggered based on wind speeds and changes in wind direction.
The board has ordered GMP to give a written description of each time when the noise-reduced operational mode goes into effect and why during the daytime hours based on wind direction.
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