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Scituate health board hires engineering firm for turbine noise study  

Credit:  By Patrick Ronan | The Patriot Ledger | Posted Mar 29, 2013 | www.patriotledger.com ~~

SCITUATE – Health officials wanted the acoustical engineer with more experience. The owner of Scituate’s turbine wanted the engineer with more experience – and a cheaper price tag.

In the end, both parties got what they wanted, because Scituate’s board of health decided Thursday night to hire Tech Environmental of Waltham to conduct a noise study of the town’s wind turbine. The study, set to start next month, is being done in response to complaints from neighbors who say the turbine’s noise is hurting their health.

The health board interviewed representatives from Tech Environmental and Noise Control Engineering of Billerica during a meeting Thursday night at Scituate’s GAR Hall.

The study, to be paid for by turbine owner Scituate Wind LLC, will determine whether the turbine violates the state law that say turbines can’t emit noise that is 10 decibels louder than ambient noise.

“Tech Environmental has more experience and they seem a little more flexible,” said Gordon Deane, principal at Palmer Capital, the manager of Scituate Wind.

Deane said Tech’s cost estimate was lower than Noise Control’s by about a third. Also, Marc Wallace, an associate with Tech, said his company would not charge more if extra testing dates were needed.

Michael Bahtiarian, vice president of Noise Control, said one or two extra days of testing would be OK, but the company would consider charging more after that.

Deane would not disclose either company’s cost estimate.

In 2008, Scituate Wind hired Tech to conduct a feasibility study at the site of the existing turbine off the Driftway.

“But that was looking at totally different types of wind turbines,” Wallace said.

Board of health members said they chose Tech because it has more experience using state-approved noise-testing standards. Those standards call for measuring sound in one-second intervals. Noise Control, on the other hand, has been hired in the past to test factors not recognized by the state, such as amplitude modulation, in which the measurement intervals are even shorter.

The neighbors of Scituate’s wind turbine said they will pay for their own turbine noise study, one that measures low-frequency sound and amplitude modulation.

Source:  By Patrick Ronan | The Patriot Ledger | Posted Mar 29, 2013 | www.patriotledger.com

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