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Sound check on wind turbine awaits falling leaves; Meridian Associates disputes claim that sound level estimates are low  

Credit:  By Stewart Lytle, Salem Patch, patch.com 29 September 2011 ~~

When the leaves on the trees turn red and yellow and fall to the ground, it will be time to check the projected noise levels created by the proposed wind turbine on Winter Island.

The current noise level projections, provided by a contractor to Meridian Associates, were done with the leaves on the trees.

“It won’t be much different,” said Jonathan Marley, a professional engineer with Meridian.

The estimates provided were very conservative, he said. The estimates factored in the location of proposed wine turbine near water.

Several Salem and Marblehead residents, who are opposed to the 1.5 megawatt turbine proposed for Winter Island, have banded together in an organization called Salem Wind. They hired an attorney who is experienced in wind turbine battles. They have also contracted with sound engineers to help fight the $4.2 million wind turbine.

“It is something we are used to,” Marley said. “It is part of the permitting process.”

Meridian has provided the professional expertise behind several of the North Shore wind turbines including the current and future ones in Ipswich and Hull.

Salem Wind in its initial press release said its sound engineers believe the city’s consultant “under-predicts” the noise the Salem turbine would make.

Marley said he did not believe that was true.

In its press release, Salem Wind also said a large wind turbine like the one proposed for Winter Island has been linked to “well-documented health risks of sleep deprivation, headache, nausea and ear pressure for people within 1.25 miles.”

Marley said he is not an expert in these issues, but has read several reports from experts that dispute those claims.

“Wind turbines do not belong in densely populated areas where residents would be barraged with constant noise, flickering light and sweeping shadows from the turning blades,” Ed Moriarty, president of Salem Wind, said in a prepared statement.

Marley disagreed. He said that wind turbines can be operated safely and without detriment to nearby residents in urban areas. One of the Hull wind turbines is adjacent to the high school football field. The Massachusetts Maritime Academy also has one in close proximity to the school. The IBEW has one in its parking lot. And Mark Richey’s wind turbine in Newburyport is in an urban setting.

“These are all evidences that turbines can be placed in urban areas,” he said.

In addition, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center has reviewed and approved the proposal for the Winter Island wind turbine, he said.

Some objections are valid, he said. “Some people just don’t like the way they look.” Others, like the opponents in Ipswich, do not like their views marred by wind turbines and fear a wind turbine will hurt their property values.

Wind Salem has hired attorney Christopher Senie, to fight the Salem wind turbine proposal. He has represented residents in wind battles in Falmouth and Plymouth.

The opponents have a website, salemwind.org, which features wind turbines that are noisy.

Marley concedes that some of the wind turbine technologies are not as quiet as the one proposed for Winter Island.

Source:  By Stewart Lytle, Salem Patch, patch.com 29 September 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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