Power plant noise causes disturbance for locals
CPV official says steam operation was part of construction
Competitive Power Ven- tures’ continuing construction on a new natural gas plant in Charles County provided a bit of a headache to locals in recent days, but officials at the plant say the rumblings that caused a few complaints are now over.
Mary Miller of La Plata was asleep in her home off of Hawkins Gate Road Thanksgiving night. All of a sudden, she said, both she and her husband awoke to a loud “seismic event” shaking their property.
“It sounded like a freight train or a plane,” Miller said.
After hearing the noise, she and her husband went outside to see what was generating the sound. Their horses were startled and the windows of their home were shaking, she said.
The vibration persisted every night at lower levels, but was still an issue, Miller said. Later in the week, she was riding along Billingsley Road in search of the noise and discovered it was com- ing from the St. Charles power plant.
Miller said a sheriff’s deputy on the road pulled up next to her and said the Charles County Sheriff’s Office received “so many” complaints about the plant’s noise and came to check on the source.
Diane Richardson, a spokeswoman for the sher- iff’s office, said the depart- ment received “at least five calls” regarding the plant between the night after Thanksgiving and Saturday, Dec. 3.
Miller said she was con- cerned the noise would persist and be part of the plant’s operations in the long term, which could affect prop- erty values and lifestyle in Charles County.
However, Steve Sullivan, a managing director for Competitive Power Ventures, said that will not be an is- sue moving forward. The source of the noise was “a steam blow.”
“We blow steam through the pipes and drive out any remnants of welding or pieces of debris. What- ever might be in there, the steam removes them from those pipes before they’re permanently hooked to the facility,” Sullivan said.
As of Dec. 6, Sullivan said the process for steam blowing is over. It was a “one-time event,” he said, the company needed to do before moving into the final stages of completing the plant’s construction.
The company did receive many complaints about the blowing operation, Sullivan said, and had not thought to put out any advanced notice of the operation. However, Sullivan said, it is not something residents will have to worry about moving forward.
“The plant, when it finally operates, will be much quieter,” he said.
In the future, Sullivan said, the company will work on finding ways to notify the public of different processes that will occur and potentially create a public disturbance.
There should have been more public meetings and public notice about the plant and any potential issues it could have, Miller said, and there needs to be more going forward. “I didn’t even know about it,” she said.
Miller said just hearing the disturbance one time could persuade someone to move out of the county and away from the power plant. Many people “did not sign up” to live next to one and do not want the inconvenience of noise in this area.