The Vermont Public Utility Commission (PUC) announced that it has adopted a rule that establishes standards for the sound produced by wind-generation facilities, as required by legislation passed in 2016 (Section 12(a) of Act 174). The PUC’s rule sets standards for three categories of wind facilities: small (up to 50 kW), medium (50 to 150 kW), and large (greater than 150 kW).
For the small and medium categories, the PUC rule sets a 42-decibel limit 100 feet from nearby homes. For the large category, the limit is 42 decibels during the day and 39 decibels at night. With their permit applications, project developers will be required to file information representing the expected sound levels at neighboring residences.
Once constructed, large wind projects will be subject to sound monitoring to determine if they comply with the sound-level standards, while medium projects can choose to conduct sound monitoring or simply construct their facilities a minimum distance from nearby homes. For all projects, a neighboring landowner may agree that the limits in the rule do not apply to his or her property.
“The Legislature entrusted us with a most difficult task,” said Commission Chair Anthony Roisman. “The PUC undertook an extensive process that included a thorough review of scientific research and practices in other jurisdictions, while listening to hundreds of Vermonters with many different perspectives regarding wind projects. We sincerely appreciate the constructive input given by Vermont residents, state agencies, legislators, and acoustic experts who assisted us in developing the rule.”
Under Act 174, the PUC was required to adopt a rule “regarding sound from wind-generation facilities approved under 30 V.S.A. § 248.”
The Commission was directed to consider:
1. Standards that apply to all wind facilities
2. A methodology for determining sound levels and measurement locations for each such facility on a case-by-case basis, or
3. Standards that apply to one or more categories of wind generation facilities, with a methodology for determining sound levels and measurement locations for each wind facility on a case-by-case basis.
The adopted rule will take effect on November 22, 2017, and will apply to any facility that files for a certificate of public good on or after that date. The rule will not apply to any existing or pending wind facilities.
Filed Under: News, Policy, Projects