Plans to study the town’s new wind turbine are off to a rocky start because the two parties with a vested interest can’t agree on what to study.
Residents of Scituate’s Third Cliff neighborhood, who say they have experienced sleep deprivation, headaches and other ailments because of the 390-foot-tall turbine off the Driftway, are calling for an in-depth acoustical study that goes outside the scope of state testing regulations.
Turbine owner Scituate Wind, a joint venture of Solaya Energy and Palmer Capital Corp, said it will pay only for a test that measures noise standards defined by the state Department of Environmental Protection.
In 2010, the town’s planning board granted Scituate Wind a special permit to build the turbine per state requirements – which say a turbine cannot emit noise that is more than 10 decibels louder than ambient noise.
“We have very specific conditions in our special permit,” Gordon L. Deane, president of Palmer Capital, said last week. “We said early on we’re not going on a witch hunt, and we won’t go outside of the permit requirements.”
On Monday night, Deane and several Third Cliff residents attended a board of health meeting to voice their differences concerning the study. Scituate Wind had already agreed to pay for an acoustical study, dozens of residents having filed health complaints about the turbine’s noise and shadow flicker.
Tom Thompson of Gilson Road, one of two Third Cliff residents on a turbine-study steering committee, said his neighbors will only approve a study that measures the low-frequency sound emanating from the turbine and the fluctuating amplitude modulation. He said the testing now required by the state only measures the weighted, audible sound and thus does not adequately assess a turbine’s noise impact.
“Those (state standards), in our opinion, are very antiquated regulations that were designed and developed long before the industrial wind-turbine industry was ever in the imagination of anybody in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or any other place,” Thompson said.
Thompson said his neighbors also want the turbine’s shadow flicker tested, and a health survey of Third Cliff residents conducted. However, Deane has stated that Scituate Wind is not contractually obligated to fund those additional studies and does not plan to fund them.
The shadow flicker is most prevalent at the McKeever residence at 151 Driftway, about 600 feet from the turbine, residents say. The McKeevers’ attorney, Tanya Trevisan, said the family’s home is subjected to up three hours of flicker per day – far above the commonly accepted tolerance of 30 hours per year.
Last month, the McKeevers sued the Board of Health in hopes of shutting down the turbine.
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