READSBORO- On Tuesday, January 31, the Public Service Board will conduct a visit to the site on Bailey Hill where Star Wind Turbines LLC proposes placing a small scale turbine. The visit is part of the board’s attempts to investigate resident Debra Pavin’s concerns about the effects the company’s windmill could have on the aesthetics and noise levels near Pavin’s home as well as other regulatory issues. A technical hearing that will consider the information gathered during the site visit, as well as other technical information provided by Star Wind, and Pavin, is scheduled for April 4.
According to the PSB’s procedural order dated September 16, 2016, the application was originally submitted to the PSB in July 2016. The Readsboro project was declared “deficient” by the board on August 5. According to the PSB order, this was because insufficient data related to noise levels was included in the applications. The PSB gave Star Wind until August 19 to provide a detailed explanation, and gave people wanting to comment on those explanations until September 2 to file any concerns or thoughts on the matter. Star Wind filed a response on August 19 that included more information about the projected sound levels that the proposed turbine would create, but the PSB responded that the company still needed to either submit a sound monitoring study that was conducted at the nearest residence, or information based on “literature values.”
Pavin said that Star Wind’s proposal was not complete, because a final sound study had not been submitted. “You would think that the PBS would only move forward when Jason Day (founder of Star Wind Turbines) has submitted the documents required by PBS to make his proposal complete. One would think, because his proposal is not complete, nothing would be done until it is,” said Pavin.
Annette Smith, executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment Inc., agreed. “The main question I have is why the PSB is taking up this application when it is clearly incomplete because it does not contain a sound study. Until that is in the record, they shouldn’t be moving it forward. Not that this is unusual for this PSB, which is doing very bizarre things. But there are requirements to meet and Jason hasn’t met them.”
Day said he was confident that his company would be able to address any issues related to sound and aesthetics. “We are doing our best to make sure that any visual or sound impact at Ms Pavin’s house is very minor. Her house would be over 700 feet away from the proposed turbine and I expect that she will not be able to hear the turbine from her house at all.”
Day said that Star Wind’s turbines were very unlike large scale turbines found on ridgelines in Vermont. “The Star Wind turbine will fulfill the existing and any future Vermont sound requirement by far,” he said. “Unlike other wind turbine companies that prioritize making the most energy in high winds with high rpm and high sound, the focus of the Star Wind turbines design is in making energy in low to moderate winds with low RPM and low sound.”
Day also said that any regulatory hurdles based on visual impacts on nearby residents would be easily cleared. “Concerning visual impact, the turbine is positioned at a side view from Ms. Pavin’s house and there is a 400-by-1,000-foot. tree screen blocking the view of the turbine. Her house is about the same level as the base of the turbine and her view is upward through many tall 80- to 90-foot. evergreen trees that will block directly the view throughout the winter. In the summer, the leaves will make an impenetrable barrier. Concerning shadow flicker, her house is far enough north that it is impossible to receive any shadow at all.”
Pavin said her house was only 600 feet away from the proposed turbine site, and that she doubted Day’s assertions that it would not be visible from her home.“I want to know how can something so tall and situated 600 feet from my living room window be obstructed by ‘trees with leaves.” (There are) a lot of ‘should’ and ‘I believe’ in Mr. Day’s response to my comments. Nothing he says is backed up with facts, which the PBS and I are demanding.”
Day and Pavin said that they were going to communicate with each other directly before the technical meeting. “We are meeting with Ms. Pavin and will be having many communications with her over the next couple of months to ensure that we stay within the siting rules of the Public Service Board,” said Day.
According to Helyn Strom-Henriksen, selectboard chair and current zoning administrator, zoning permits from Readsboro will not be required from Star Wind.
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