KINGSTON – Residents concerned about the health impacts of the wind turbines near their homes have asked Rep. Tom Calter, D-Kingston, to reach out to state environmental and public health officials on their behalf.
Calter and a representative from Senate President Therese Murray’s office met with some residents Saturday morning to discuss potential involvement by the state Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Environmental Protection.
In particular, he said, he agreed to reach out to the DEP about its involvement in an acoustical monitoring study overseen by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and commissioned by the owners of the Independence wind turbine.
Calter said he wanted to address residents’ concerns that the study will not be biased because of CEC’s known advocacy for wind energy by ensuring the involvement of the state.
“I assured them that DEP will be involved in the study and ensure the integrity of the data,” he said.
Calter said he also agreed to reach out to DPH to arrange the sharing research and other information about shadow flicker, the effect of the sun reflecting off the turbine blades as they turn.
The discussion at the meeting was restricted to what he could do to involve the state, Calter said, not any possible involvement with the actions of local government officials.
“I will not in the future be involved in issues being managed under the purview of town government,” he said.
The draft scope of the sound study for the Independence won’t be ready until mid-February, and the delay is being attributed to the volume of public comment as well as an issue with the cost of the study.
It was also mentioned at Monday night’s Board of Health meeting that Mary O’Donnell is invited to have her three turbines on Marion Drive as part of the study, not only the Independence. If the answer is yes, the monitoring locations can be set based on all four turbines.
CEC Director of Communications and Marketing Catherine Williams said Monday that the timeline has been extended “due to the volume of comments and feedback we received from the public and town officials. We needed more time to make sure all the feedback submitted was reviewed.”
She said the budget that noise consultants Harris Miller Miller & Hanson Inc. submitted was too high, requiring Mass CEC to begin renegotiating the cost with them. She said the cost the consultant quoted was three to four times higher than expected.
“The timeline was extended to ensure this process was fair and cost-effective,” she said.
Once the draft scope has been completed, she said, it will be made available to the public. The public will then have two weeks to provide feedback. Contact information will be released along with the study.
The Board of Health received the same information Monday in an e-mail from CEC project manager Peter McPhee. At that meeting, Country Club Way resident Tim Dwyer said the CEC is the wrong agency to oversee the study. He said McPhee used to work for the company that produced a feasibility study in support of the turbines.
Williams said the job of the CEC, a publicly funded agency, is to provide the community with technical assistance. When gathering data, they seek out people with proven expertise in siting renewable energy projects that support clean energy.
Monday night Dwyer called approval of all four wind turbines a public health failure. He said the DEP needs to be engaged to at least validate the study.