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Acoustics (Noise) Mitigation Measures

Mitigation measures to avoid or reduce acoustical impacts (noise) from solar energy development.

The following are examples of mitigation measures that could be applied to reduce noise impacts depending upon site- and project-specific conditions. Noise impacts are related to the source of the noise (e.g., vehicles, construction equipment, workers, explosives, and project facility components), the proximity to the noise receptor (e.g., humans and wildlife), and the times of day at which noise-producing activities are taking place. Many impacts can be reduced or avoided when considered during the siting and design phase.

Develop a final set of mitigation measures for any project in consultation with the appropriate federal resource management agencies and stakeholders. Conduct these consultations early in the project development process and preferably prior to final project siting and design.

Siting and Design Mitigation Measures

Siting and design considerations that mitigate impacts include:

  • Proponents of a solar energy project should take measurements to assess the existing background noise levels at a given site and compare them with the anticipated noise levels associated with the proposed project. Nearby residences and likely sensitive receptors should be identified at this time.
  • Locate all stationary construction equipment (i.e., compressors and generators) as far as practicable from nearby residences and other sensitive receptors
  • Locate permanent sound-generating facilities (e.g., compressors, pumps) away from residences and other sensitive receptors. In areas of known conflicts, consideration should be given to the installation of acoustic screening.
  • Where feasible, incorporate low-noise systems, such as ventilation systems, pumps, generators, compressors, and fans.

General Mitigation Measures

General mitigation practices and principles that could apply to any or all phases of a solar energy development project include:

  • Limit noisy activities (including blasting) to the least noise-sensitive times of day (weekdays only between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.).
  • Whenever feasible, schedule different noisy activities (e.g., blasting and earthmoving) to occur at the same time, since additional sources of noise generally do not add a significant amount of noise. That is, less-frequent noisy activities would be less annoying than frequent less-noisy activities.
  • All equipment should have sound-control devices no less effective than those provided on the original equipment. Muffle and maintain all construction equipment used.
  • Use exhaust silencers, quieter cooling fans, and optimized acoustical pipe lagging (acoustical wrapping) to minimize compressor noise.
  • Place noisy equipment, such as steam turbine generators, in enclosures.
  • If a wet cooling tower is in use, locate the louvered side facing away from sensitive receptors. If possible, locate the cooling tower in such a manner that nearby equipment can act as a barrier and provide additional noise reduction. Select quieter fans in the design and operate fans at lower speed, particularly if operating at night. If a high degree of noise reduction is required, install silencers on the fan stacks.
  • Notify nearby residents in advance when blasting or other noisy activities are required.
  • To the extent feasible, route heavy truck traffic supporting construction activities away from residences and other sensitive receptors.
  • Post warning signs in high-noise areas and implement a hearing protection program for work areas where noise exceeds 85 dBA.