On October 10, the Florida Massachusetts Selectmen heard from residents, calling themselves “The Friends of Florida and Monroe”, concerned about the Hoosac Wind Project that is scheduled to go online later this year. Representatives from wind developer Iberdrola attended the meeting to hear and answer the residents; concerns. Mike Fairneny of Moores Road in Florida was surprised to find turbines visible from the front of his house, and now wants to make sure that the noise from the turbines won’t cause problems like those being reported around the state. “We are really surprised to see these turbines from our house. We looked at the special permit and noticed that it said nothing about the turbines being visible from our road. Other neighbors on our road said the same thing. Now we are worried about the sound too.”
The nineteen 1.5 Megawatt turbine project will be the largest industrial wind facility to be operating the in the state. The project was first proposed in 2003 and went through years of appeals. The turbines began to be erected this past summer. The Florida Selectmen and the representatives from Iberdrola referred the residents to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) whose standards limit sounds from facilities to not exceed 10 decibels above background, or ambient, sound. Otherwise, according to the members of the Selectmen and the town’s attorney, the time frame for appeals of the special permit that was given to the project is past. The residents have asked the DEP to do an ambient sound study before the turbines get turned on instead of relying on a sound “modeling” that the developer included in its application. A representative of Iberdrola stated that an ambient sound study was done, and added that it’s up to DEP to enforce its own sound regulations.
Farineny presented a letter from acoustics expert Robert Rand. “When we talked with Robert Rand at Rand Acoustics, he explained that when the sound is tested with the turbines on, the measurements need to include things that are specific for sound related to wind turbines. Unless those are included in a sound study, you really haven’t accounted for how the wind turbines are really going to affect us.” Fairneny also referred to a recent request from DEP and the Massachusetts Clean EnergyC enter to review how noise nuisances from turbines should be determined. “DEP has questions about its own process for looking at these sound issues. They know that their existing procedures don’t account for things that are unique to wind turbines and the problems that are being reported. We would like an independent sound study done that reflects the latest research on sound issues from turbines, and we would like Iberdrola to pay for that, just like they are paying for sound studies for Herkimer County New York.”
The residents believe that recent noise complaints about wind turbines operating around the state should give the residents and town officials in Florida and Monroe reasons to be concerned. According to Moores Road resident JoAnn Upper, “We have visited other places with turbines and in some cases I thought it was very loud and certainly visually imposing. There are complaints about pretty much every wind turbine operating in the state, and I can see why. Sherman Derby is a Selectman in Hancock, MA. He lives about ½ mile from the Berkshire Wind turbines. We found this quote from him.
“You wake up sometimes at two in the morning and it sounds a jet plane. When they said it would be no louder than a vacuum cleaner, that may be but if your wife starts vacuuming next to your bed in the middle of the night, you’ll notice. It’s a heck of a roar.”
Fairneny also read a quote from Massachusetts Senate President Therese Murray in a recent letter to the Plymouth MA Selectmen.
“I have consistently stated that industrial size turbines do not belong in residential neighborhoods and that siting standards are needed to ensure these turbines are not placed too close to homes. I certainly believe that wind should a be part of our renewable energy conversation as it has the potential to save cities and towns money. But residents’ health and well-being should not suffer as a result of any project.”
Upper added, “I can understand that when the Selectmen gave this special permit many of us didn’t know as much about possible problems with wind turbines as we do now. But we hope that the Selectmen will help us lobby for whatever help we are going to need to make sure our homes and our health are protected.”
Fairneny also met with State Representative Gail Cariddi of North Adams on Tuesday October 16 at the turbine site. Farineny hopes that she shares his concerns.
“Representative Cariddi got a close up view of this project. I hope that she will be able to give us some assistance if it turns out there noise are problems for any of the residents of Florida or Monroe.”
“The Friends of Florida and Monroe” group’s website is www.hoosacwindproject.com.
A recording of the meeting with the Selectmen along with the documents presented can be found on the website.