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Neighbors sick of noise from PGP plant

Piedmont Green Power, which came on line May 1, is not proving to be a good neighbor, at least in the eyes of 24 people who signed a petition asking Barnesville city council to do something about the 60 decibel-plus noise they can hear from the plant. Mike Lenhart presented the petition to council at its May 7 meeting. ’I’ve enjoyed living in the city for the past six years, enjoying the peace and quiet,’ said Lenhart, who lives on Lambdin Circle. ‘Now I’m getting exactly the opposite. It sounds as if the Atlanta airport has landed in my back yard. It’s dropped my already low property value. Many residents don’t like this.’ He provided a fact sheet from PGP that promised no noise outside the perimeter of the complex, among other things, and asked council to solve the problem. It was noted the problem has been ongoing since October, when testing began. ’We have to shut our doors and windows and cut on our fans,’ he said. ’Since May 1 we’ve experienced extremely loud up and down noises every 14 seconds or so for most of this week. I’m sure it has to do with the stack. No one is benefitting from this. I don’t want to be here complaining. I want my house back.’ Councilman Mark Stone said it is the plant’s responsibility to figure out a remedy. City manager Kenny Roberts agreed the problem was caused by the stacks or possibly fans ‘“ the sound of air moving. ’I don’t take exception to anything he said,’ said Roberts. ‘We’re continuing to monitor it. When the contractor was in possession of it the objective was to meet performance standards. PGP will operate it trying to maintain maximum efficiency. That will have an impact on reducing the noise. If not, we’ll get PGP to identify methods of attenuation.’ These could include stack mufflers that lessen sound waves, he said. ’We’ve transmitted our opinion to PGP the need for an engineering study to identify the sources and ways to fix it. They’ve started that process and brought in an engineer. I haven’t seen the results of that. There are concerns. They acknowledged that. The noise is enough to bother a reasonable person. We need to give them time to perfect their operations. If it’s still offensive they can get experts to lessen the sound.’ Lenhart asked if the company failed would Barnesville hold them to the standards on the fact sheet. Mayor Peter Banks said the city would do everything in its power to do so. ’We need industry and jobs,’ noted IDA director Missy Kendrick. ‘It’s a tough balancing act sometimes.’ Gary Larkey of Gordon Road about 500 yards away from the plant, said he used a smartphone application to measure the decibels and got readings of 60 and over with only the turbine and trucks running. He contacted plant manager Greg Pitts about it. ’They’ve never contacted me,’ he said. ‘They overlooked me when they did the testing. We have to turn the TV on at night. It’s miserable. They’re destroying my life.’ He added county commission chairman Jay Matthews texted him one night that he could hear it from two miles away. Danny Tant, who lives in the Fredonia Church and Bush roads area, said he could hear it too. ’I’ll invite every one of you to come sit at my dining room table and listen to that screaming noise,’ said Earl Fortson. ’It’s unbelievable. The wind blows it right toward the house ‘“ and I can see every inch of that place.’ The Michigan plant PGP was designed from is enclosed in a building, Fortson said. ‘Here there’s nothing to confine the noise.’ Mayor Peter Banks shared his concern, noting sometimes he could hear the plant and sometimes he could not. ’They’ve got to do some testing themselves,’ said Mayor Banks. ‘Try to be patient.’ Lenhart noted hearing protection is required by OSHA at 65 decibels.

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