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Noise study shows Maine wind farm easily in compliance

Human impacts, News, Wind turbines Add comments

About a year ago, ten wind turbines began operation on Spruce Mountain in Woodstock, Maine, and as residents began arriving at summer camps at two ponds between three quarters of a mile and a mile and a half away, they found the turbine noise louder than they had been prepared for, as recounted in a July AEInews post.

Patriot Renewables brought in a sound consultant, who monitored noise levels at a home on Concord Pond, 1.6 miles from the closest turbines, for three weeks during August and September; the results were analyzed both by the consultant and the Maine DEP.  During this period, noise levels only topped the state noise criteria of 55dBA during the day and 45dBA at night when there were nearby sounds other than the turbines.  Turbine noise is reported to have varied between 23-32dB.

Neighbors were asked to report periods in which noise was bothersome, in order to identify any particular wind conditions that may be responsible.  Many (but not all) notifications from neighbors came when the wind was from the northwest at night; a hill to the north of the complaint locations may have shielded the area from wind, making the turbines more audible.

The state DEP consultant noted that turbines were most audible “late at night and in the early morning hours, when background sound levels can be well below 30 dBA. The residents who have filed complaints are evidently characterizing any audible turbine sound from Spruce Mountain Wind during those times as ‘high’ because at those times it is the most noticeable sound.”  

An Oxford Hills Sun Journal article includes more detail on the study, and affirms that some residents have said that it’s been difficult to go from the usual quiet or background noise of singing birds to the repetitive sound of turning blades.  This may well be a case in which noise levels are modest, but still more noticeable than residents had imagined they’d be.  Some pond residents had earlier noted that they were clearly audible on some days, and when at its worst, the noise drove them inside. The town has been considering a new wind ordinance for any future wind farms, in response to the complaints.  The Norway Advertiser-Democrat reported that Bob Elliot, Chair of the committee drafting the new ordinance, stated his group’s website had received “around 30 noise complaints,” but could not tell how many were from the Concord Pond community.  Nearby Shagg Pond is a bit closer to more turbines than is Concord Pond.

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