From Open Energy Information

Geothermal Noise

Present, Potentially Affected

  • Barren Ridge Renewable Transmission (Barren Ridge Renewable Transmission Project Environmental Impact Statement)
  • CA-96062042 (Fourmile Hill Geothermal Development Project Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) / Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Geothermal/Power Plant, Geothermal/Well Field, Geothermal/Transmission)
  • DOE-EA-1621 (Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) Deep Geothermal Well and Power Plant Project EA at Klamath Falls Geothermal Area for Geothermal/Power Plant)
  • DOE-EA-1733 (Calpine Enhanced Geothermal Systems Project EA at Geysers Geothermal Area for Geothermal/Well Field)
  • DOE-EA-1849 (EA for Northern Nevada Geothermal Power Plant Project at McGuinness Hills Geothermal Area)
  • DOI-BLM-CA-017-05-051 (Basalt Canyon Geothermal Pipeline Project Environmental Assessment and Draft Environmental Impact Report for Geothermal/Well Field)
  • DOI-BLM-CA-C050-2009-0005-EA (Engineered Geothermal Enhancement System Demonstration Project EA at Geysers Geothermal Area for Geothermal/Well Field)
  • DOI-BLM-CA-EA-2002-??? (Glass Mountain Exploration Environmental Assessment/Initial Study for Geothermal/Well Field)
  • DOI-BLM-CA-ES-2013-002+1793-EIS (Casa Diablo IV Geothermal Development Project EIS at Long Valley Caldera Geothermal Area for Geothermal/Power Plant)
  • DOI-BLM-ID-220-2009-EA-3709 (Raft River Geothermal Drilling Project EA for Geothermal/Exploration)
  • DOI-BLM-NV-CC-ES-11-10-1793 (Salt Wells Geothermal Energy Projects EIS for Geothermal/Power Plant Development Drilling)
  • DOI-BLM-NV-W010-2011-0001-EA (EA of the Leach Hot Springs Geothermal Exploration Project at Grass Valley Geothermal Area for Geothermal/Exploration, Geothermal/Well Field Drilling and Well Testing)
  • DOI-BLM-NV-W010–2012–0005–EA (EA for Development Drilling at New York Canyon Geothermal Utilization and Interconnect Project for Geothermal/Power Plant, Geothermal/Transmission, Geothermal/Well Field)
  • DOI-BLM-OR-P040-0021-EA (EA for Exploratory Wells at Midnight Point and Mahogany Geothermal Exploration Projects, Glass Buttes, Oregon for Geothermal/Exploration)
  • DOI-BLM-OR-V040-2009-0059-EA (Department of Energy Loan Guarantee for U.S. Geothermal's Neal Hot Springs Geothermal Facility in Vale, Oregon for Geothermal/Power Plant)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set federal noise standards with the Noise Control Act (42 USC §4901-4918 et seq. 1972) to:

  • Conduct noise control research
  • Limit industry noise impacts
  • Provide information to the public about noise abatement technology

Environmental Protection Agency-Summary of Noise Control Act

State standards have the ability to be more rigorous than federal standards to account for specific industries in the area. Geothermal projects include specialized equipment to reduce noise impacts and train employees about health risks posed by consistent exposure to excessive noise. Safety training reviews include how to wear personal protective ear wear and how to reduce noise while working.

Noise surveys are conducted before the construction of a project to measure the existing decibels from background noise at the site. This determines how much noise the project can produce and the hours of operation allowed at the project site. An acoustic engineer monitors the sound impacts throughout the project.

Noise Impacts & Mitigation

Mitigate typical noise impacts with the following mitigation measures:

Hours of operation: Each contract and leasing agreement states whether or not 24 hour operation is allowed. In most cases, 7am-7pm incurs the least amount of impacts to community members. If any noise complaints occur, additional professional consulting assesses which mitigation measures to take to reduce noise impacts. All site traffic must comply with the hours of operation and oversized vehicle arrival and departure will be coordinated with the local traffic schedules.

Infrastructure construction:

  • Set up the drill rig in a way to shield the drill rig motor and air compressors from the receptors.
  • Reinforce the drill rig floor and V-door with metal plates and line them with wood or rubber to muffle the noise from the pipes as it rattles against the metal surfaces.
  • Equip pipe connectors with mufflers like air tuggers and winches.
  • Add a check valve on the drill string to enable a slow release of high air pressure. This mitigates the high-pressure air rush noise.
  • During air drilling and well testing, a blooie line and cyclonic separator decrease the noise from steam release.
  • All vehicles will be equipped with mufflers.
  • Vinyl fencing slats or chain link fences with poly-slats will outline the perimeter of the project site to act as noise buffers.