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PSB schedules two more hearings on stricter sound standards for wind projects

The Public Service Board has scheduled two additional hearings as it weighs a new set of controversial sound standards for wind turbines.

The board will hold a public hearing at the Bennington Fire Station on May 1 and then at the Lowell Grade School on May 2.

The two meetings were scheduled in addition to hearings previously announced for May 4 in Montpelier.

The PSB is proposing new sound standards that would set a lower limit for the noise that industrial wind turbines can make while in operation.

The Public Service Board filed the proposed noise standards with the Interagency Committee on Administrative Rules on March 2, and Public Service Board hearing officer Tom Knauer said the committee asked the board to schedule additional hearings outside of Montpelier.

“ICAR recommended that the board consider whether other locations, particularly in areas of the state that have some experience with the topic of wind generation, should be considered for public hearings,” Knauer said. “In response to this recommendation, the board decided to host public hearings in the Northeast Kingdom and in southern Vermont – each an area of the state that has dealt with proposed wind generation facilities.”

He said Lowell was chosen because of the region’s experience with the Kingdom Community Wind project.

And Bennington was chosen because it is near Searsburg and Readsboro, which have wind projects, as well as Windham and Grafton, which were considered for development.

If the new rule is adopted as proposed, sound could not exceed 42 decibels during the day and 35 decibels at night.

Sound emissions would also be measured within 100 feet of a home, which wind supporters say would effectively put a halt on all future industrial wind projects in Vermont.

The new rules also require turbines to be at least 10 times their height from the nearest home. A 500-foot turbine, for example, would have to be 5,000 feet from the nearest home.

[PSB docket: Proposed Rule on Sound from Wind Generation Facilities (Rule 5.700)]