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Groton Wind sound tests pass muster for committee

GROTON — The amount of sound emitted by the Groton Wind facility in town and in surrounding towns is within the state’s guidelines for such projects, according to a contractor that just conducted tests for the owners of Groton Wind.

But two of the original complainants, a Rumney couple, about the sound from the plant’s 400-foot towers, says the sound tests were not done in the right spot.

“They say the sound isn’t a problem, but we have what sounds like the sound of a jet going over — that doesn’t stop — at our home every night,” said Phoebe Sanborn of North Groton Road, whose home is within a few hundred feet of five of the plant’s 24 turbine towers.

The state’s Site Evaluation Committee has released the findings of an environmental consulting firm, Epsilon Associates of Maynard, Mass., which conducted a post-construction sound level assessment report as was required by the SEC in granting the wind plant’s operating certificate.

The 48-megawatt plant went online in December 2012. But at public hearings during the permitting process, concerns were raised about the sound levels from the farm, and the tests were ordered to be conducted after the plant’s construction.

Since the wind-energy plant has gone online, it has been the subject of complaints from the state Fire Marshal’s office and other state agencies that the builders of the plant, Iberdrola Renewables of Spain, did not get all the needed permits for the plant before construction.

The sound testing was not related to the post-construction complaints, Epsilon officials said, but was a requirement of the original operating permit.

The testing was conducted using two sound level measurements, in the summer of 2013 and in the winter of this year. In the summer of 2013 sound levels were measured at seven locations in the towns of Groton, Rumney and Plymouth, and during the winter of 2014 sound levels were measured at six of the same locations.

The test sites included locations from the preconstruction sound monitoring, an additional location required by the SEC, and at the Sanborn home.

“The results of both the summer and winter program showed that sound pressure levels due to the wind turbines under wind speed conditions identified as conditions resulting in maximum sound power levels, were below the New Hampshire SEC sound level limits for this project,” Epsilon officials said in their report.

That doesn’t help the Sanborns. “They didn’t test in the worst spots here,” Phoebe Sanborn said. “If anyone has any suggestions for what we do now, we’d like to hear them.”

dseufert@newstote.com


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