Plans to study the town’s new wind turbine are off to a rocky start because the two parties who have a vested interest can’t agree on what to study.
Residents in Scituate’s Third Cliff neighborhood, who claim they’ve suffered from sleep deprivation, headaches and other ailments as a result 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’ll only pay for a test that measures noise standards defined by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. In 2010, the Scituate Wind received a special permit to build the turbine from the town’s planning board based on the state requirements – which says a turbine can’t emit noise that’s 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 Scituate Board of Health meeting to voice their differences concerning the study. Scituate Wind has already agreed to pay for an acoustical study of the turbine after dozens of residents 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 state’s existing testing requirements only measure the weighted, audible sound that doesn’t adequately represent the 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 to test the turbine’s shadow flicker and conduct a health survey among Third Cliff residents. However, Deane has stated that Scituate Wind is not contractually obligated, nor does it have plans, to fund those additional studies.
The shadow flicker is most prevalent at the McKeevers’ residence at 151 Driftway, located about 600 feet from the turbine. 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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