SHEFFIELD --Sheffield residents Luann and Steve Therrien are anxiously awaiting the results of sound texting conducted at their home in November.
Late last year additional sound testing was conducted at the Therrien's home, which is close to the 16-turbine Sheffield Wind project, operated by First Wind. The Therriens and the Vermont Public Service Department are still waiting for the results.
A noise expert, brought in by the Vermont Department of Public Service, gathered sound results from a noise monitoring device for three days. That data has been reported to the state as part of an independent sound report in response to the family's concerns.
The family continues to express deep concern about how they say the noise -- audible and inaudible -- is impacting their family's sleep and health.
Since the additional testing was done by the state, the couple have testified before the Governor's Energy Siting Commission, the town's select board and at the annual meeting in Sheffield, pleading for help to relocate.
Geoff Commons, director for public advocacy for the Vermont Department of Public Service, admitted to frustration at the pace with which First Wind is providing requested data in a phone conversation last week.
In a subsequent statement, Commons wrote, "The Department has requested information from First Wind to correlate with the monitoring data and provide a more meaningful report. Due to mis-communication and some lack of clarity in the request for technical data, we have not yet received all of the information from First Wind."
He added that First Wind has assured them that the requested data would be provided without delay; the timing of the department's report will be dependent on when they receive the information from First Wind.
John Lamontagne, First Wind's spokesman in Boston, said late last week, "After seeking clarification on the scope of the information needed, we provided the relevant operational data to the DPS on February 15. We received a request from the DPS last week seeking additional data. We have requested a call with the DPS to discuss this additional request."
Trying to move
The Therriens reside at 2924 Duck Pond Road and have been asking for help with their concerns for a year this spring; from their home, they can see 12 of the 16 turbines. They approached the select board in February asking for help to move off their property.
Annette Smith, executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment (VCE), who has been advocating for the family's rights, said that since that meeting they have heard "Zip! Zilch! Nada!"
At last week's annual town meeting, Steve Therrien submitted a letter to the Sheffield Select Board, stating: "As we see it the town is benefiting at our expense. Our home has become toxic and uninhabitable. The town needs to do the right thing to take care of the residents impacted. We are asking the town to use the money they are receiving to move us to a home that is safe."
Sheffield Town Clerk Kathy Newland, speaking on the town Select Board's behalf, said that the town has contacted Town Attorney Richard Saudek and had not received his opinion as of the March 6 meeting.
First Wind has been found to be in compliance with the sound levels set as part of its Certificate of Public Good issued by the Vermont Public Service Board, but there have been criticisms raised about the testing, because it was done by a consultant hired by First Wind. The Therriens have said that system is akin to a fox guarding the hen house.
Spokesman Lamontagne confirmed that the Therriens asked for a buyout in the $100,000-$150,000 range, but said the company had not discussed nor pursued the request further.
In the recent annual report sent to the Sheffield Select Board by First Wind's new operations manager, Brad Drake, touched on sound testing at the project, and said, "In all four seasons of testing, the project was found to be in compliance with the PSB's sound standards. To date, the project has received a total of two sound complaints. ... The fact remains that the project has been in compliance at their structure as determined by specific analysis," conducted by First Wind's sound testing firm, Hessler and Associates, he stated. "In addition, we have met with this family on multiple occasions but have not been able to ameliorate their concerns."