Kingston wind turbine developer won’t conduct sound study; Clean Energy Center to perform it instead
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center will both pay for and conduct a sound study of the Kingston wind turbine Independence, according to Kingston Wind Independence co-manager Kially Ruiz.
Ruiz said Kingston Wind Independence asked the Clean Energy Center to voluntarily step in and conduct the sound assessment, and the quasi-public agency has agreed to do so. He said he wants the facts on the table for everyone to see.
“We have every reason to want an unbiased study,” Ruiz said. “First of all, we take our responsibility to comply with Massachusetts law very seriously. Second, we want to be good neighbors, so we would want to know if anything is wrong. We expect the study will be conclusive in that it will show there are no issues here, except for a couple of neighbors who seem to be attributing noises to the wind turbine, which are likely coming from something else.”
Catherine Williams, a spokesman for the Clean Energy Center, confirmed Wednesday that the center will fund all or a portion of the study but that the funding level is still to be determined. She said the center has conducted studies like it before.
A spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection said last week that the Clean Energy Center was working with the developer to find the resources so the developer could conduct the sound assessment. DEP Director of Public Affairs Edmund Coletta said the state has not commissioned the sound study.
“In this particular issue, MassDEP would be an interested party only at this time,” Coletta said. “The MassCEC is a quasi-public agency, but there is no direct connection to MassDEP, except that we do work on similar issues and, at times, collaborate on those issues.”
He refers to the Independence only without mentioning wind developer Mary O’Donnell’s three nearby wind turbines.
Ruiz said the purpose of the study is to ensure that operation of the facility is in compliance with state regulations for sound. He said the study would be independent, conducted by a reputable acoustic engineer selected by the Clean Energy Center.
“We expect the study to show that the project is in compliance, since existing noise in the neighborhood is extremely loud,” he said. “It is really a mixed industrial, residential and commercial area, so there are many noise emitters even before the Independence went online.”
Town Planner Tom Bott said the DEP informed him and Health Agent Henny Walters in a letter that the Clean Energy Center would find the resources for the developer to conduct a sound assessment in the Leland Road area, from which neighbors have complained.
In that letter, DEP Acting Regional Director Martin Suuberg writes the DEP will continue to monitor the situation and be ready to follow up with the town on the results of the developer’s sound assessment.
“We believe that this is an appropriate first step to addressing the complaints,” he said. “Accordingly, MassDEP will await the results of that assessment before determining whether further action is required.”
Bott, however, is advocating for a broader study using new data from all the baseline locations from original sound studies and including the school property as well. The study would take into account other sound producers as well. He said the funding would come from the town’s green energy fund.
Country Club Way resident Tim Dwyer said prior to Clean Energy Center’s involvement that it would be absurd under the circumstances that the developer would be relied up to conduct the study of its own wind turbine because in no way could it be an independent assessment. He said there must be some way to get an unbiased report.
“It’s important to get people with economic interest away from the process and see what’s there,” he said.
Dwyer isn’t consistently kept awake or similarly affected by the noise or vibrations from the wind turbine like some of his neighbors. He doesn’t believe the town or O’Donnell intentionally set out to cause potential harm by threatening health and safety. However, he said, he believes in getting at the truth based on present conditions.
Tim and Martie Dwyer are among the 15 families that have appealed the denial of cease and desist orders for the four wind turbines. The appeal was heard at the June 20 meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals. That hearing has been continued to Aug. 1.
The Kingston School Committee has been fact-finding about the “what ifs” related to the health and safety of schoolchildren. At a meeting earlier this month, Chairman Joe Chaves said the committee is also interested in seeing the results of a study.
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