ROXBURY — West Shore Road homeowner Linda Kuras knew she’d hear noises from wind turbines atop Flathead Mountain, which lines the east shore of Roxbury Pond.
She and several other residents fought in vain for years against Record Hill Wind LLC’s project to place 22 turbines on town ridges. Turbine noise was one of many concerns.
Now that the multi-million-dollar project has been online for a month and the giant turbine blades are slowly revolving, Kuras said Tuesday evening that she feels somewhat vindicated that her worries proved true.
“I’m not crazy,” she said. “I know what I’m hearing.”
Kuras told Roxbury selectmen Tuesday night that the low frequency noise sounds like something heavy tumbling in a clothes dryer.
She doesn’t hear it every night and she tells her husband not to let her know when he hears the noise. She doesn’t want to be unduly influenced to listen for it.
“I know what the ice in the lake sounds like and this noise is not that,” she said. “This is a repetitive thumping sound: a whemp, whemp. What was once a quiet night’s sleep is now this.”
Roxbury Selectman Tim DeRouche also told the board that he, too, was hearing noises from a turbine or more than one turbine. He lives on East Shore Road in Roxbury.
“It sounds like wind gushing right over the mountain. It sounds like a jet,” DeRouche told Gordon Gamble of Roxbury.
Gamble is Record Hill Wind’s director of community relations. He jotted down the information from Kuras and DeRouche.
Like Kuras, DeRouche said he doesn’t hear it every day or night, just when Roxbury Pond is dead quiet and his truck isn’t running. He said the revolving turbine blades were facing him when he heard the noise.
Board Chairman John Sutton told DeRouche that people with wind turbine noise complaints should contact the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. He said they have the ability to measure levels of sound, but Sutton is incorrect, Samantha DePoy-Warren, DEP spokeswoman, said by email on Thursday afternoon in Augusta.
“The department does not have the equipment, staff, nor expertise to readily measure sound,” DePoy-Warren said.
When necessary, she said DEP contracts a third party sound expert to review sound level data that is submitted by an applicant or licensee.
The applicant/licensee is then billed for the third party’s services.
“Since noise is so subjective and everyone’s hearing is different, the department is in the process of setting up a complaint response protocol similar to ones we’ve used for other sites,” DePoy-Warren said.
“There’s no doubt that residents will hear the turbines, but we’re tasked with making sure the development stays compliant with DEP rules.”
Until that complaint response process is created, she said people should email Beth Callahan, DEP project manager, at [email protected], so they have the complaint in writing.
“To evaluate whether the sound heard is directly correlated with operation of the Record Hill Wind Project and is in compliance with the department’s regulations, they should include their name, location, time they heard the noise, the weather conditions at the time of the sound, and a sound recording, if possible,” DePoy-Warren said.
Sutton also wants turbine noise complaints recorded in the Roxbury town office for the town’s own records.
The board also learned that the Roxbury wind farm has a problem with its No. 20 turbine, which faces Roxbury Pond.
Selectman Michael Worthley said they’re waiting for a part to arrive from New Jersey.
In other news, selectmen unanimously hired Rob Stevens Jr. of Farmington as the town’s assessor’s agent, with a salary of $3,434.50.
A planned presentation on the tax impacts of wind farms on communities by Michael Rogers of the Maine Revenue Services was postponed to Feb. 28 due to illness.
Selectmen also decided to contact a Maine Department of Transportation official at the regional headquarters in Dixfield to find out if DOT will be reconstructing Route 120 in Roxbury in the near future.