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The Scituate Board of Health is awaiting the return of proposals from contractors interested in performing an acoustical study on the wind turbine.
During the board’s meeting on Monday (March 11), Gordon Deane, president of Palmer Capital Corporation, the manager of Scituate Wind, LLC, gave an update on the progress of the study.
On March 1, Scituate Wind sent out a Request for Proposal (RFP) via email to 10 contractors, according to Deane.
Deane said Scituate Wind sent out the RFPs, “Because it is less cumbersome for Scituate Wind to issue an RFP than the town in terms of limited distribution, answering questions, and contracting.”
“In addition, Scituate Wind expects to pay for the study,” he said, adding as long as the study stays limited as per the RFP approved by the board of health.
The board of health agreed to have an acoustical study performed after residents complained that noise and flicker from the 400-foot turbine located off the Driftway was responsible for headaches, dizziness, nausea, and sleep deprivation, among other negative health affects, they have experienced since the turbine went online in the spring of 2012.
In cooperating with the board of health, Deane said Scituate Wind felt it was in all parties’ best interests to proceed to demonstrate compliance, and that means paying for a compliance study for noise.
This does not include a study of flicker.
A steering committee was formed in the fall of 2012 by the Scituate Board of Health to address issues relating to the wind turbine.
The steering committee – comprised of Deane, Michael Vazza of the board of health, Director of Public Health, Jennifer Sullivan, Sumul Shah, president of Solaya, one of the owners of Scituate Wind, and community members Tom Thompson, and Gerard Kelly – oversaw the scope (job description) for an engineering firm that would be hired to evaluate noise from the turbine.
From the onset there was discord within the steering committee.
Thompson, often acting as the spokesman for a group of residents living near to the turbine referred to as the Community Group, said it was felt a flicker study should also be included as a means of determining the effects of the turbine on residents.
He also expressed concern that the Community Group would not have adequate input in the decision of the firm that would perform the study.
At the March 11 board of health meeting, Deane said that Scituate Wind had recommended six of the ten contractors that received RFPs, and that four had been recommended by the Community Group.
The firms suggested by Scituate Wind include TechEnviornmental, Harris Miller and Hanson, Inc., CH2M Hill, the ESS Group, Inc., Tetra Tech, and Tighe & Bond.
Those recommended by the Community Group are Rand Acoustics, S.E. Ambrose & Associates, E-Coustic Solutions, and Noise Control Engineering, Inc.
Deane said that Scituate Wind asked the contractors “for expressions of interest just to gauge the response, but any proposal will be accepted.”
As of the board of health meeting on March 11, Deane said he had received confirmation of receipt of the RFP from seven of the firms but only two – Tech Environmental and Noise Control Engineering, Inc. – had affirmatively responded by that time that they planned to submit a proposal in response to the RFP.
At the request of the board, Scituate Wind will contact all ten firms again to provide an update on the RFP and again ask if they plan to respond.
The contractors will sample noise downwind of the turbine during given atmospheric and tidal conditions, Deane said.
In order to directly compare the then occurring background noise with the sound from the turbine, Deane said it is expected – subject to MassDEP (Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection) review of the final sampling protocol) – that there will be two to three 10 minute intervals, each sampling background and then sampling with the turbine.
“The key is to be sampling background close to the time that you are sampling the sound from the turbine so they are directly comparable,” he said. “We are expecting four nights of sampling since the Community Group wanted both low and high tide sampled, and both to the east and to the west (in each case, downwind) of the turbine.”
The goal, he continued, is to complete sampling by the first of May, “but we cannot predict when the wind conditions will be right and match with the tide conditions at night.”
Deane explained that MassDEP offered to review the final sampling protocol proposed by the contractor to ensure that MassDEP could accept the results from the testing program.
There were no members of the Community Group present at the March 11 meeting.
Proposals from the contractors are due on March 21, 2013.
The Scituate Board of Health will conduct interviews of the firms, if needed, on March 25.
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