AUGUSTA, Maine — Members of the public will have three weeks to weigh in on a proposal by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to reduce wind turbine noise slightly during overnight hours.
On Monday, the Board of Environmental Protection voted tentatively to approve staff recommendations to reduce the noise level from 45 decibels to 42 decibels from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. During daytime hours, turbines would still be allowed to reach 55 decibels.
Once the public comment period ends, the change still needs final approval by the board in September.
Some critics of wind farms already have said the changes do not go far enough.
Chris O’Neil, speaking for the Friends of Maine’s Mountains, said recently that his group believes excessive wind turbine noise amounts to noise pollution.
O’Neil said his organization would like to see the noise threshold drop to 35 decibels at night, particularly in rural areas whether there is little other competing noise.
Through a petition-gathering process, the Friends of Maine’s Mountains forced the BEP
to begin the rule-making process to address wind turbine noise. The current noise standard applied to wind farms is several decades old.
In some instances, wind turbines are located far enough away from homes and businesses that noise is not an issue. In others, residents have lodged complaints that excessive noise affects their quality of life and their property values.
As Maine engages in more and more wind farm development, the BEP could be further pressed to address noise concerns, which along with aesthetics have been the biggest impediments to wind power development.
Already, Maine has nearly 200 wind turbines scattered across the state with many more awaiting permits and other regulatory approval.
The public can comment on the DEP’s proposal until Aug. 29 by contacting Mike Mullen at 446-1611 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.