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PSB Will Investigate Noise Complaints At Sheffield Wind Project

FILE- In this Oct. 26, 2011, file photo, wind turbines line the hillside at First Wind's project in Sheffield, Vt.
Toby Talbot
AP file
In this Oct. 26, 2011 file photo, wind turbines line the hillside at First Wind's project in Sheffield, Vt. The Public Service Board is opening an investigation into noise complaints stemming from the project.

The Public Service Board will open an investigation into noise complaints stemming from the Vermont Wind project in Sheffield.

Paul Brouha, who lives near the site, originally filed a complaint with the Public Service Board in March 2014.

Brouha said the commercial wind project was in violation of its certificate of public good because sound levels at his home near the turbines exceeded thresholds set by the state.

Brouha declined to comment on the pending PSB hearing, but his attorney Denise Anderson says Brouha believes that the monitoring of  the sound off of the turbines has not been done properly.

"Mr. Brouha's position is the same as it always has been," Anderson says. "He is holding Vermont Wind accountable to the requirements under the noise monitoring plan, and the other conditions, of the CPG."

The certificate of public good for the Northeast Kingdom wind project was issued in 2007, and the turbines were built by Boston-based First Wind in 2011.

SunEdison acquired First Wind in 2014.

"We will continue to participate in the process with the PSB," says SunEdison spokesman John Lamontagne. " We believe the project is in compliance with the sound protocols established by the DPS.  There has been extensive testing by an independent organization and the project was in compliance."

Brouha included a sound study in his original complaint, and the Department of Public Service did its own independent analysis of Brouha's study.

In October of this year the state said that it was possible that sound at the Brouha residence may have approached levels that violate conditions of the certificate of public good.

The PSB last week agreed to open a hearing on the noise issue.

Brouha is asking the PSB to require permanent, continuous sound monitoring at his home by a third party.

The Public Service Board has scheduled a hearing for Jan. 8 to determine if additional clarification of the sound standards is needed, and whether the commercial wind project  is in violation of its certificate of public good.

This story was updated at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 19 with a comment from SunEdison.

Howard Weiss-Tisman is Vermont Public’s southern Vermont reporter, but sometimes the story takes him to other parts of the state.
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