Noisy wind farm petition can move forward, judge rules

E&E • Posted: Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A legal petition aimed at reinstating a state rule for curbing noise from a Maine wind farm can move forward, a judge ruled Friday, denying a motion for dismissal from the farm’s developer.

Neighbors on the island of Vinalhaven have complained about the noise from the Fox Island Wind farm’s three 1.5-megawatt turbines since it began operating in late 2009. After a number of complaints, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection found in 2010 that the project had been too noisy on two occasions.

In 2011, Fox Island Wind submitted a new operating procedure meant to fix the infractions. The state agency drafted a new set of rules and accepted the company’s proposal but added a requirement that it actively show it was complying during certain testing periods.

But last June, Patricia Aho, a former lobbyist for Fox Island Wind’s law firm, took over as acting environmental commissioner and removed the provision requiring the company to actively prove its compliance from the regulations when she finalized them.

The next month, a group of neighbors filed a petition to review the order, saying the move was “politically motivated, arbitrary and capricious, contrary to law, unsupported by substantial evidence, and the product of an abuse of discretion,” Judge Michaela Murphy of Kennebec County Superior Court said in Friday’s ruling (Diane Cardwell, New York Times, March 23). — AS