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Public Service Board Rules Georgia Turbines Don't Require Additional Sound Studies

The Public Service Board is siding with the owners of the Georgia Mountain Community Wind project over continued testing of the sound levels near the wind turbines.

Scott and Melodie McLane live near the turbines, and the couple wanted the owners to test the sound levels outside and inside their home to verify that the project is operating within the limits set out in its state permit.

But the board ruled last week that the testing that has already been done is accurate, and that Georgia Mountain Community Wind doesn't have to perform additional sound studies near the McLanes' house.

The McLanes' complaint of excessive noise coming off the turbines goes back to 2015, when the couple first asked the Public Service Board to investigate the wind project.  

About a year later, the board ruled in favor of Georgia Mountain Community Wind and determined that noise coming off the spinning turbine blades was not in excess of its state permit.

But in that ruling the board said the McLanes and the Public Service Department could request additional testing if they could convince the board that the previous sound testing was not accurate.

The McLanes were asking for additional tests to see how sound affects the inside and outside of their home, as well as what happens to the sound when the windows are open and closed.

The Public Service Board on May 10 closed the investigation and determined that the sound levels have remained below the limit of 45 decibels allowed in the certificate of public good.

The state has set sound levels for wind projects on a case-by-case basis, but the Public Service Board is working on a statewide sound standard.

Wind power advocates say the draft sound standards are too low and would block future projects.

The PSB is expected to issue the final sound rules within the next few weeks.

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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