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Mary O’Donnell turbines won’t be part of Independence study in Kingston

KINGSTON – Marion Drive wind developer Mary O’Donnell’s three turbines won’t be part of the sound study commissioned by the owners of the Independence wind turbine.

In a letter to the board, attorney John Yunits wrote that O’Donnell has declined to participate in the acoustical monitoring study.

O’Donnell said she has had several consultants review the draft scope of the study and decided against being a part of it. She said she cannot be part of the study as constituted.

“I’m ready, willing and able to be part of any study that studies conformance with what the law says,” she said.

The draft scope indicates that with O’Donnell’s company, No Fossil Fuel, not participating in the acoustical monitoring process, it’s likely the consultants conducing the study, Harris Miller Miller and Hanson, will be able to accelerate the study.

The study schedule includes the acceptance of comments about the draft scope by Thursday, Feb. 28; finalization of the scope by March 15; a study area visit, site selection and acoustical monitoring completed by April 5; audio recording review, data reduction and analysis completed by May 10; direct comparisons, regression analysis and trend comparison completed by May 24, and completion of a draft report by May 31.

Comments are to be submitted by e-mail to the project facilitator, Stacie Smith of the Consensus Building Institute, at Stacie@cbuilding.org. A final study scope is expected March 15.

Harris Miller Miller and Hanson proposes to conduct its study at three residential sites close to the Independence. The proposed sites for the placement of sound monitors are one on either Schofield Road, Leland Road or Prospect Street, one on Copper Beech Drive near the schools and one at the far end of Copper Beech Drive or at an adjacent location on Country Club Way.

In a letter, consultant J. Eric Cox writes, “These measurement sites will be selected to represent the areas from which local citizens have expressed and formally documented concerns regarding wind turbine sound levels via complaint forms submitted to the town.”

According to Cox, the study is designed to “assess wind turbine sound levels and compare to ambient acoustical conditions is (sic) generally consistent with state Department of Environmental Protection and Massachusetts Clean Energy Center protocols.”

The Independence, O’Donnell’s three turbines and the MBTA turbine had been shut down since Feb. 8, the day the Blizzard of 2013 struck. O’Donnell said hers were back on Wednesday after NStar notified her the shutdown was no longer needed because of a distribution problem.

According to Kingston Wind Independence co-owner Kially Ruiz, the highest wind gust the night of the storm was registered at 75 miles per hour at 10 p.m. The Independence automatically shut off when winds exceeded the maximum limit of 55 miles per hour at hub height.

While Board of Health member Dan Sapir said he’s interested in waiting to see the public’s reaction to the draft scope before commenting, he said he finds it bizarre that Board of Health Chairman Joe Casna continues to have discussions with Ruiz without direction from the board.

He said he thinks it’s improper that Casna would contact Ruiz about shutting down the turbines when attorneys for Kingston Wind Independence have become the contact people between the owners and the town in the midst of heated public debate about the turbines.

“I’m chagrined by the unilateral manner in which the chairman has contacted Mr. Ruiz,” he said.

Casna could not be reached to respond late Wednesday.