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Falmouth Wind Turbine Noise Studies  

Author:  | Massachusetts, Noise, Regulations


Presented at the 2nd Falmouth Conference on Human Rights, Oct. 19, 2013.

Back to the Future … This is a true story, depicted by Marty and Doc. Their mission: identify the ignored warnings in the Falmouth wind turbine studies. Only then can Marty and Doc correct significant warnings in history that opened rifts into an alternate universe, where noisy wind turbines were permitted to invade homes. The wayback clock is set to: NOV 21 2003 …

First study: November 21, 2003
Renewable Energy Research Laboratory (new name; UMass Wind Energy Center)
University of Massachusetts Department of Mechanical Engineering
Support from Massachusetts Technology Collaborative

Massachusetts state law does not allow a rise of greater than 10 dB above existing background levels at a property boundary … due to new activities at the site. This sound level is unlikely to be reached in any case at any of the sites we examined. Furthermore, any eventual turbine will most likely be inaudible or minimally audible at the nearest residences. … Possible noise levels can be examined in more detail when a site is chosen. A baseline measurement of the ambient sound level should be measured eventually so that this study can be done.

Geez, they wrote this … with no measurements, no calculations …

Second & Third Studies: April 19, 2003, & November 2005
KEMA, Inc., & Ecology and Environment, Inc.
(now part of DNV, an international risk management company)
Support from Massachusetts Technology Collaborative

Noise Impact
While noise levels from wind turbines can easily be measured, the public’s perception fo the noise impacts can also be quite subjective. This subjectivity stems largely from the wide variations of individual tolerances for noise and the inability to precisely predict corresponding reactions of annoyance and/or dissatisfaction. However, with continued advances in wind energy technology, noise produced from modern wind turbines has significantly decreased and is often masked by ambient or background noise of the wind itself. [added November: For reference, a 1 MW Fuhrlander wind tubine can be heard at 42 decibels (dBa) at a point 300 feet away and ten feet from the ground. Forty decibels is the equivalent of noise heard from inside in an urban environment.]

They’re saying public noise reaction is unpredictable?
Marty, it’s INCREDIBLE!! They ignored reliable methods to assess community noise reaction!


Doc, is 42 dBA true, for a 1 MW turbine at 300 feet?


Falmouth’s property line noise limit is 40 dbA.
Is Falmouth an urban environment?

“Falmouth’s quietest nighttime measurement is 27 dBA. HMMH’s chart identifies area as ‘Quiet Rural Nighttime’” —Christopher Menge, Senior Vice President and Principal Consultant, Harris Miller Miller & Hanson, Inc., Burlington, Mass.

[Town of Falmouth Community Wind Project Feasibility Study, November 2005] The following figures estimate the maximum noise impact for a GE 1.5 MW and a GE 2.5 MW turbine. In both cases, the estimated maximum impact is about 42 to 44 dB(A) at the property line of residences to the west or the south. … Consistent with the Town Ordinance, there should not be excessive noise from the wind turbine above 40 dB(A) at the property line of the site.



There were no plans for the Mass. DEP to review Wind 1 reports.


Yikes! How could this be missed? EVERYONE who replied was CONCERNED about NOISE!
These reports were done by groups that promote wind turbines!
Marty, they’re unable to admit that WIND 1 IS TOO LOUD!

Fourth study: September 2010
Harris Miller Miller & Hansen, Inc.

The study was prompted by concerns and complaints about noise from the Wind 1 turbine from a few nearby residents … and by the Town’s interest in understanding the noise implications of the Wind 2 turbine in the surrounding community prior to the erection of that turbine. The purpose of this study was twofold.

The first purpose was to conduct a noise measurement program at some of the closest community locations during times when the turbine was operating and when it was turned off for maintenance, to establish background noise levels. …

The second purpose of the study was to model the noise levels int eh surrounding community that would be expected from the operation of both the Wind 1 and Wind 2 turbines.

Why measure noise levels, and then model for compliance?
Measurements should be used for compliance.




Marty! This is INCREDIBLE! Measured Wind 1 L90s are 9-10 dB higher than Mass. DEP’s Lmax limit.


How’d they get a L90 37.5 dBA for background with Wind 1 OFF?
Doc, This MAKES NO SENSE!!! Model data conflicts with measurements.
What’s going on? Can’t anyone read, … where’s the comprehension?
IMPOSSIBLE!! Don’t they understand? WIND 1 IS TOO LOUD!

Fifth study: June 6, 2011
Noise Control Engineering, Inc.
Aerodynamic Amplitude Modulation (AAM) Is Important for the Evaluation of Wind Turbine Noise


Wind 1 noise levels are 9 dB above the Mass. DEP Lmax noise limit.

Sixth study: March 15, 2012
DNV KEMA Services for Managing Risk (DNV KEMA Energy & Sustainability)
Review of the Falmouth, MA, Wind-1 and Wind-2 Mitigation Report

What’s going on? These are the same agencies that did the first site assessment in 2003!

[A] characterization of ambient sound levels based on only one condition understates the range of possible ambient noise levels at receptors and when problematic conditions might occur. … DNV suggests that additiional measurements be made to understand better under what conditions neighbors of the Falmouth wind turbines experience which noise levels and when state or local noise guidelines might be exceeded.

Nine years after the first study, they are still asking for more noise measurements [to understand why there are complaints]??

Seventh study: November 29, 2012
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

MassDEP’s sampling results conclude that during the day time period, the combined sound levels from the two wind turbines do not exceed the 10 dBA threshold established in MassDEP’s Noise Policy.

Daytime makes NO SENSE! Complaints occur at NIGHT!



Download original document: “Falmouth Wind Turbine Noise Studies: Back to the Future

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