The state Public Service Board has initiated a public process for re-examining the noise standards used at wind and natural gas energy facilities in Vermont. Geoff Commons, the PSB’s public advocate, notes that neighbor complaints from wind projects operating in compliance with a 45dB standard are part of the driver for this review.
“Even with these restrictions placed on several recently constructed facilities, the board has received complaints regarding sounds produced by the operation of some facilities. These complaints have raised questions about whether the limitations that the board has previously adopted are adequate,” the PSB stated in December. “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 PSB has established a website to track this process. A pre-hearing conference was held on January 8, and based on discussions there, a scoping document outlining initial ideas about procedures and key questions for the process have were released on January 29, and can be downloaded here. Public comments are being accepted through March 3, after which the final scope of the process will be determined, followed by a series of public workshops to address specific issues. The outcome of this process will be a determination as to whether a new set of binding sound-related standards is needed; if so, that will occur during a separate formal process.
From my first reading of the preliminary scoping document, it appears that the focus may be strongly oriented toward health effects, and the standard effort to determine “state of the art” scientific information; the initial list of questions doesn’t appear to consider quality of life impacts. However, the final scope may change, based on comments during this scoping phase.