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Falmouth Wind Turbine Noise Study's credibility called into question

Dear Falmouth Board of Selectmen,

In the course of my investigation into a matter before the Zoning Board of Appeals [ZBA] regarding a professional engineering review of the Notus/Webb turbine noise study, I obtained an email indicating that the engineers were prejudiced. I asked the ZBA to disqualify the engineer, Tech Environmental Inc. [TE], and dismiss their evaluation but to no avail.

I found the subject email to be troubling because here the ZBA had a supposedly professional engineered review performed by a firm which is actively working against “organized opposition to community wind projects”.

So here we have a Town board (ZBA), supposedly attempting to objectively implement the terms of the Notus/Webb Special Permit which affects the health and well-being of Falmouth neighbors, basing its judgment of a noise study performed by the owner on the evaluation by a “professional” engineer, TE, who is actively engaged in working against the very group which the study affects. How is that? Is this ethical? Is the work of the professional engineer credible? Is this in the best interests of the residents of Falmouth?

However, most disconcerting is the fact that this same “professional” engineer was meeting “to handle the organized opposition to community wind projects” in the very offices of the Town of Falmouth’s own professional sound engineering consultant, HMMH (Harris Miller Miller & Hanson, Inc.)!

HMMH, as you are undoubtedly aware, is the same professional engineering firm who performed the Falmouth Wind Turbine Noise Study in June of 2010 and issued its report in September of the same year.

Furthermore, the point person for information on the agenda of the meeting to discuss how “to handle the organized opposition to community wind projects” is none other than the HMMH Director of Clean Energy, Steve Barrett!

The actual complete copy of the email message can be found on page 37 of the attached document entitled: CEC FOI Records Request April 2011.pdf but I present it below for your convenience. The email message is as follows with my identifications in brackets:

From: Peter Guldberg [President, Tech Environmental]
To: Orlando Martinez [Project Manager of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center]
Subject: RE: conference call
Date: January 12, 2011 3:11:15PM

… Did you get the message that I sent about the EBC [Environmental Business Council of New England, Inc.] wind energy group meeting on 1/18 Tuesday 10 a.m. at HMMH [Harris Miller Miller & Hanson, Inc.]? The group would welcome your attendence to discuss how our respective organizations can handle organized opposition to community wind projects in Mass. Are you available? (For more information – call Steve Barrett at 781-852-3125 [HMMH Director of Clean Energy 781-229-0707 Burlington MA Headquarters of HMMH])

This email message seems to indicate that HMMH, the so-called “professional” engineer that the Town is basing its assertions that there are no problems with noise from Wind-1, is absolutely prejudiced. How can anyone think that HMMH is impartial? How can anyone think that HMMH can keep its agenda out of its work? How can anyone take the findings of the Falmouth Wind Turbine Noise Study with any credibility? How can the Town rely on statements by HMMH, the study’s author, when HMMH is actively working against “organized opposition to community wind projects”? Is not Wind-1 a “community wind project”?

I request that you call HMMH before you to testify and ask them to account for their actions. In light of the fact that Wind-1 neighbors’ own professional engineers have found serious flaws with the Falmouth Wind Turbine Noise Study, Falmouth residents may have their own questions of HMMH which they would like to ask at the same time. Falmouth residents want to know whether HMMH can be trusted.

The work by the HMMH directly affects the health and wellbeing of many Falmouth residents, who have been attempting for more than a year, to bring to your attention scientific facts and assertions related to the noise from Wind-1 and both flaws and shortcomings of the Falmouth Wind Turbine Noise Study. HMMH’s activities in working against groups, of which the Wind-1 neighborhood organization is one, may explain why Wind-1 neighbors’ scientific facts and assertions have been summarily dismissed by HMMH.

In addition to interrogating HMMH about their activity, I request that you initiate an investigation of HMMH with the objective of determining their credibility and the appropriateness of purpose for which the Town has contracted with them and continues to use their services. HMMH’s actions against “organized opposition” call into question the Falmouth Wind Turbine Noise Study’s credibility. Please determine whether or not the Falmouth Wind Turbine Noise Study should be discarded and explain to the residents of Falmouth why or why not.


J. Malcolm Donald