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GMP Touts Lowell Wind Noise Record; Board Finds Faults

Montpelier — Vermont’s largest utility is touting what it says is an excellent record of preventing excess noise at its wind power project on Lowell Mountain, while state regulators are demanding to know why the company shouldn’t be fined over it.

The Public Service Board has set an Aug. 8 show-cause hearing to hear arguments on why Green Mountain Power should or should not face penalties for exceeding noise limits at its Kingdom Community Wind Project.

The Department of Public Service, which represents the administration and consumers before the board, said GMP should be required to redouble its efforts to meet the standards, but should not be fined.

Meanwhile, this past week, GMP issued a statement touting its record of staying within noise limits more than 99 percent of the time.

The excess noise came during testing periods in early and mid-winter, the Public Service Board said.

GMP’s statement focused on a later testing period, from May 22 to June 5, during which it said no excess noise — above the limit set by the board of an average of 45 audible decibels over the course of an hour — was found.

“For most of the testing period, sound levels were well below the maximum level allowed,” said GMP spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure. “While some community members can hear the turbines from time to time, the report shows that the sound falls within the range of typical background noise in a rural community.”

The board said it would not hear from individual neighbors on their concerns about noise, but has invited the towns of Craftsbury and Albany, which have been acting in tandem to raise criticisms about the wind power project, to the hearing.

Schnure, meanwhile, noted some people living near the turbines have said they are not bothered by the noise.

Steve Wright, a former Vermont Fish & Wildlife Commissioner who lives in Craftsbury and has been representing local critics of the project, said he expected the towns would decide this coming week the degree to which they want to participate in the Aug. 8 hearing.