On March 6, the Maine Supreme Court ruled for lower noise on Saddleback Ridge wind turbine project for "health" reasons. There was enough information on "adverse" health effects for the Board of Environmental Protection and the legislators to lower Maine’s nighttime noise limit to 42 dbA.
The World Health Organization has studied the noise issue and claims 35 dbA is the maximum level of tolerance for rural areas. Tech Environmental gave a report to Industry, Maine, based on the WHO recommendations. The report scaled height to setback distance, meaning that a 500-foot turbine would require a 7,000-foot setback to maintain a noise level of less than 35 dbA.
The Court had concerns about language in the Wind Energy Act, that a project should "reduce the potential for controversy regarding siting of grid scale wind ..." and in "places where it is most compatible with existing patterns of development and resource values." There are 34 residences — that is an existing pattern. Ten of them were built in the past five years. That is a pattern.
Most of these new homes were built because of natural resource value — spring water, wilderness, southern exposure and quiet. Many of those homes do not depend on "the grid" — they have solar panels on site. Many of those homeowners do not want to sell to the developer.
Most of the owners of those residences have no recourse unless the Department of Environmental Protection opens the application and all the new revisions are presented to the public.
Alice McKay Barnett, Carthage