Neighbors of the Vinalhaven wind farm filed a second formal complaint with Maine DEP against the local operators of a controversial wind turbine farm on the island in Penobscot Bay, Fox Islands Electric Cooperative and its affiliate, Fox Islands Wind, LLC.
Since the commissioning of the wind farm in November 2009, neighbors' lives and property values have been severely impacted by turbine noise exceeding state law. When local officials ignored their complaints, neighbors undertook the arduous process of evaluating acoustics from the turbines; acquiring the expertise, measurement techniques and expensive equipment and undertaking costly analyses to document violations of the state noise standard. Neighbors have spent tens of thousands of their own dollars in an effort to get the local utility simply to obey the law.
The controversy has attracted the attention of national media including front page stories in The New York Times, Boston Globe, and AP. Meanwhile the utility has done nothing to alter a pattern of violations of state law.
On Friday, the Fox Islands Wind Neighbors filed the additional complaint based on acoustic measurements in early November. The State of Maine has delayed ruling on their earlier noise complaint registered in July. At that time, the culmination of six months of complaints and documented data caused the state DEP to negotiate a "protocol" requiring citizens, at their own expense, to meet scientific measurement baselines in order to challenge the local utility. Despite the fact the DEP consultant Warren Brown found a "significant body of meteorological and sound data" which supports neighbors claims that Fox Island Wind is not operating within DEP noise regulations, the State of Maine has not made a final determination.
A decision by Maine DEP on the earlier complaint is expected on Tuesday this week. The neighbors allege that during the planning of the Vinalhaven wind turbine farm, the local utility officials, including ex-Harvard Business School professor George Baker, knew noise could be a serious issue and failed to inform neighbors. Today, the neighbors are concerned about political interference by interests who are running into stiff headwinds for new turbine permits in New England because of increasing citizen concern about poorly regulated noise impacts.