December 6, 2013

Buzz from CMP substation disturbing Benton neighbors

Residents and town officials have been working on potential solutions, but they think Central Maine Power is failing to rectify the problem.

By Jesse Scardina jscardina@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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MAKING NOISE: Cherry Strohman says the buzz from a Central Maine Power Co. substation near her Benton home is waking her and neighbors. The area’s residents are using town-provided sound meters to measure the noise.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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SOUND: A Central Maine Power Co. official says the company is taking seriously residents’ concerns about noise from the company’s Benton substation, but that solutions to the noise problems take time.

Staff photo by David Leaming

“It woke me up at 2 a.m. this morning,” Strohman said Thursday from her kitchen. Out her living room door, two tall, skinny antennas from the substation could be seen poking out from behind a grove of evergreens about 500 yards away. Strohman lives off East Benton Road with her husband and her niece on more than 90 acres that have been in her family for 70 years. Strohman’s family hunted deer every year she can remember, to supply meat for the winter; and she said this was the first year they never came close to finding one. Between the noise of the substation and the effects it has on her and her family, she has thought about selling her family’s property, a thought that brings her to tears.

“I’m thoroughly disgusted,” Strohman said. “I’ve called customer service almost every day, and they call back and say, ‘Thank you for calling; we’ll report it,’ and nothing gets done.”

Thursday morning, when Strohman was awakened at 2 a.m. from the noise at the substation, she went to her bathroom window and held the sound meter outside to get a reading from the substation.

“I was getting readings in the 50s continuously, and the high was 60.9 decibels,” Strohman said, referring to a log where she wrote down the readings. A reading of 60 decibels is equivalent to the noise of a conversation from three feet away.

Cyrway, who had reservations about the substation’s construction back in 2009, said he sent more than 40 emails to CMP about the noise problem and that nothing has been done to solve it.

“We had one of the most peaceful areas in Benton, and now it’s one of the loudest and obnoxious,” Cyrway said. “CMP and the town owe it to the residents to solve this problem.”

On Nov. 20, sound engineers for CMP went to four residences, including Strohman’s and Patterson’s, to take sound measurements. Once CMP gets the results, it plans to return to Benton to talk with residents and the selectmen.

“Once we get the report back and have the information, we’ll ask to be put on the agenda,” Carroll said. “Taking those results and putting them in report form takes a little bit of time. We’re committed to going back to them.”

In the meantime, the board will decide on Monday, at its next meeting, whether to go through with an independent sound measurement to counter CMP’s report of less than 45 decibels. The town is looking at hiring an independent acoustical consultant to run the test.

“If there’s a problem, fix it,” Morin said. “That’s what the affected neighbors want to see.”

Jesse Scardina — 861-9239jscardina@centralmaine.comTwitter: @jessescardina
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