GREC Says Biomass Noise Panels Are Working, Despite Not Releasing Operations Log
Published December 17th, 2013
ALACHUA COUNTY -- Officials with the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center said on Monday they are satisfied with initial results after installing noise-absorbing panels inside the main stack of the new biomass plant -- that's despite a few lingering concerns among some neighboring residents.
Ever since the plant first came online earlier this year, residents of the nearby Turkey Creek community have voiced concerns over noise coming from the plant, saying it often disrupts them at night.
After last hearing the noise on Friday, most residents say they haven't heard it since -- that's despite GREC officials saying the plant has been running continuously. Those officials say the noise reduction is a sign that the new panels are indeed helping to mitigate the reported noise.
"Based on what we can tell so far, the panels are definitely working," said Mark Rodgers, Communications Director with Energy Management Inc., one of the current stakeholders in the plant.
Rodgers says the panels were installed last week, at a cost of $500,000 -- a price Rodgers says GREC payed for itself. Rodgers says the last noise residents reported hearing on Friday was a noise associated with the start-up of the plant.
"When it hasn't been running at all, and you're working it up to run, there's certain venting that takes place, and it's a bit loud," said Rodgers. The plant was fired up for the first time last Friday, after sitting idle for nearly a month as officials prepared for the panels' installation.
Despite the current lack of noise, some Turkey Creek residents say they remain skeptical of GREC's claims. That's because GREC has refused to provide the public with operational logs showing when the plant is running and at what capacity.
When asked why they would not release those records to residents, Rodgers stated the practice is uncommon. After pressing him further, he then declined any additional comment.
Rodgers, who flew into Gainesville on Monday from Boston, says he is actually staying in a home in Turkey Creek to listen to any possible noise for himself. He says he does plan on meeting with residents over the next week to address their concerns.
Meanwhile, GRU Interim General Manager Kathy Viehe said in an email to the city manager last week that GREC officials were hoping "to declare the plant Commercial at 12:01 AM Tuesday, December 17." Once the plant is declared "commercial", whoever owns it at the time will then receive millions of dollars in tax credits.
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