The owner of Scituate’s wind turbine is ready to begin its search for an acoustical engineer to determine whether the turbine is too noisy.
The owner, Scituate Wind, will send out a request for proposals to nine acoustical engineers on Friday.
At its meeting Monday night, the town’s board of health said it expects to interview the bidders at the end of March and for the study to be conducted in April.
The health board ordered the noise study in response to dozens of complaints from neighbors who say the turbine has hurt their health. The study will determine whether the turbine, erected off the Driftway last year, is violating state noise standards.
State law says turbines are not permitted to emit noise that is more than 10 decibels louder than ambient noise.
Scituate Wind, a joint venture between Palmer Capital and Solaya Energy, has agreed to pay for the study – projected to cost about $15,000 – but only if the study tests strictly the turbine’s compliance with state standards. Some residents wanted a more comprehensive study – one in which low-frequency sound and amplitude modulation would be measured – but health officials said there is no money in their budget to fund such a study.
The request for proposals will be sent to five engineers recommended by Scituate Wind and to four firms endorsed by residents. Eight of the nine firms have been dismissed by one side or the other – as either being biased for turbines or against them. The one exception is Noise Control Engineering of Billerica.
“When we look at people’s responses (to the request for proposals), we may be further informed about these issues,” health board member Francis Lynch said.
Lynch said his board will interview several of the bidding engineers at its March 25 meeting, then select one. However, because Scituate Wind is paying for the study and putting out the request for proposals, the company gets final approval of the hiring.
The board and Scituate Wind have agreed to study the turbine’s noise levels at six locations – at homes as close as 640 feet from the turbine and as distant as 3,000 feet.
Gerard Kelly, who lives near the turbine on Moorland Road, said the board would be “cheating” the neighbors if the tests weren’t conducted when winds were high during high tide.
In response, board Chairman Russell Clark said the study would probably take too long if a firm had to wait for high winds and high tides.
“No one is trying to cheat anybody. It’s just if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate, we’re dragging our feet because we’re not getting the study done,” Clark said.
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