WindWise Fairhaven has released a video about the adverse noise and flicker impacts of the Hull wind turbines, but the proponents of a similar project in Fairhaven have released studies showing impacts will be acceptable locally.
In the 11-minute video posted at www.windwisefairhaven, producers interview two Hull and Hingham residents who say they are adversely affected by noise and shadow flicker.
The video also shows audible turbines at 100, 275 and 300 feet. Shadow flicker is also shown in home video and in live footage as the blades pass in front of the sun.
WindWise member Ken Pottel said at a meeting Wednesday night that, while he thinks the Fairhaven project “in my heart is a good idea,” he said watching the video results in his opposition to the Fairhaven project.
However, responding to WindWise’s concerns, the town and the project’s proponents Wednesday night presented independent studies addressing the concerns presented in the video.
“I believe I could interview a number of people in the same area who say they hardly notice the wind turbines and that they think this was a good thing for the town and the environment,” developer Jim Sweeney of CCI Energy said Thursday after watching the WindWise video.
The preliminary noise study found that, at five different residential locations, sound levels would increase no more than between 2.3 and 8 decibels, which complies with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the town’s noise regulations.
The DEP allow an increase of 10 decibels.
Nils Bolgen of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the quasi-public state agency that commissioned the study, said the “swishing” noise would only be slightly audible outdoors when the resident is downwind.
Regarding flicker, an analysis found that in the worst-case scenario a few homes on Timothy Street could get at the maximum 30 hours a year of flicker, which is considered moderate by the UMass Amherst Renewable Energy Research Lab, which conducted the analysis. Other areas east and west of the turbines would get less flicker and overall impact was considered limited.
In the case of the Vestas V82 turbines proposed for Fairhaven, that would mean less than one flick a second. “The fact that this is in a wooded area lowers the sound and flicker effects,” Mr. Sweeney said. Route 6 and Little Bay would get no flicker. The study said that, while it could be annoying, flicker doesn’t cause a health concern.
That didn’t make everybody happy.
“Are the people in Timothy Street being reimbursed for the hours they can’t spend in their backyard?” asked Ann Ponichtera DeNardis of WindWise.
The WindWise documentary also presents information about noise-related lawsuits and other problems elsewhere in the world.
Mr. Sweeney of CCI said those problems have occurred mainly with large wind farms.
“We are not building a wind farm,” he said.
Proponents also addressed the issue of setbacks raised by WindWise.
The group has insisted that a minimum 1,200 setback, or three times the turbine height to the blade tip, would be needed under UMass recommendations, but Mr. Sweeney said those same recommendations indicate sound concerns supersede the setback guidelines.
CCI Energy has proposed to erect two commercial 400-foot, 1.65 megawatt turbines on town land in Little Bay. The company would sell power to the town wholesale so it can power its water-treatment plant. The town could save a minimum of $150,000 a year in lease and electricity costs.
While opponents said the project is too close to homes and the bike path in the pristine Little Bay area, town officials said the benefits outweigh the potential costs.
“I’m going to live with everything in that area that you’re going to live with,” said selectmen Chairman Ronald J. Manzone, who lives near the proposed site. “From my eyes, this is not a bad thing.”
Special Town Meeting Tuesday night will vote on a land lease that would pave way for the two turbines.
By Joao Ferreira
Standard-Times staff writer
11 May 2007
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