KINGSTON – The acoustical monitoring study of the Independence wind turbine will collect data on at least eight separate nights, at various monitoring locations, both while the turbine is operating normally and when it’s shut down, according to the consultants hired by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to conduct the study.
The scope of the study has now been finalized, after nearly 100 comments were collected from town officials, the state Department of Environmental Protection, the turbine owner, residents and other interested parties.
Board of Health Chairman Joe Casna said the board has been criticized for “doing nothing,” but this study is a major step forward in determining the future of the Independence wind turbine.
The Board of Health voted against taking action to shut down the turbines until the study has been completed, he said, and that vote still stands. That decision, he added, was based on the board’s concern that such a vote would put the town’s contract with the turbine owner at risk without scientific evidence.
“This study will determine whether that turbine is compliant,” Casna said.
While board members had talked about hiring a consultant to review the results, Casna said that won’t be necessary, because the state has committed to doing so.
“Mass DEP will be doing all the review here,” he said.
According to CEC Project Manager Peter McPhee in a letter to all interested parties, consultant Harris Miller Miller & Hanson will provide preliminary results of the monitoring and data analysis to DEP for its technical review.
The study schedule calls for the draft report to be submitted to DEP by May 31 and released June 14. The draft report will then be circulated to all stakeholders and written comments will be accepted.
The study has already officially started, an area visit, site selection and acoustical monitoring to be completed by May 3 and the data analysis and other tasks done by May 17.
In the letter, McPhee explains that the final scope incorporates comments from stakeholders to “the maximum extent possible,” based on technical feasibility, scientific rigor, cost effeciency and an expeditious schedule.
“This means the scope was not able to fully satisfy the requests of every commenter, but rather sought to the extent possible to respond to stakeholders’ underlying concerns and make the best possible use of available resources,” McPhee said.
Leland Road residents Doreen and Sean Reilly sent an email to the Board of Health immediately after reviewing the scope saying they are not comfortable with it. The biggest problem, they said, is the timing.
“They have chosen a time when ambient sound will be very high due to peepers and insects and the two-week window is not likely to capture all conditions of operation,” Doreen Reilly wrote.
They believe the consultants should at least mandate that the turbine be operating at full capacity and that the study factor in the worst-case scenario for noise. They also take issue with technical aspects of the monitoring process.
At the last Board of Health meeting, Casna was chastized by other board members for not asking that selectmen consider entering negotiations with Kingston Wind Independence to mitigate the effects of the wind turbines as directed.
Casna, who also serves as chairman of the Board of Selectmen, has committed to presenting that Board of Health request at the next selectmen’s meeting, set for next Tuesday, March 26.
A public hearing to gather input on flicker has been scheduled for Monday, April 1.
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