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State conducting its own test of Scituate wind turbine

SCITUATE – The state is testing the noise coming from Scituate’s wind turbine, but the results won’t influence the pending noise-compliance study requested by town health officials.

Last week, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, or MassCEC, and the state Department of Environmental Protection started recording noise levels around the 390-foot-tall turbine, which is off the Driftway.

Matt Kakley, spokesman for MassCEC, said the Scituate testing is part of a statewide acoustical study of wind turbines. He said the study, funded by the state, started in November.

He said Resource Systems Group, the engineering firm hired to do the testing, started measuring noise levels in Scituate last Wednesday.

“The mission is just to get more research of the turbines” for MassCEC and the DEP, Kakley said.

Gordon Deane, principal at Palmer Capital, a co-owner of the Scituate turbine, said the state’s test is for research only and, unlike the one recently mandated by the town’s board of health, will not determine the turbine’s compliance with state standards. The compliance study, likely to start in April, was prompted by complaints from residents who say turbine noise has adversely affected their health and caused them to lose sleep.

Deane said the compliance study will require an engineer to be physically present when noise levels are being recorded. The state study uses unattended equipment to measure noise around the clock.

Deane said the state will test Scituate’s turbine for about two weeks before moving on to another turbine. He said MassCEC approached Deane for his permission to include Scituate’s turbine in its research study.

“The more data we collect, the better we’ll understand the (noise) situation,” Deane said.

MassCEC commissioned the acoustical study in hopes of adding data to the growing debate about whether turbines are a detriment to public health. Residents in Kingston and Falmouth have also raised concerns about turbine noise in recent months.

The state’s study will cost as much as $400,000. The turbine’s owner and the residents allowing the state to use their land for the study are not being compensated, Kakley said.