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Kingston Independence operators refuse to cooperate, challenge methodology

KINGSTON – In an abrupt about face late last week, the Independence turbine owners at Kingston Wind Independence are refusing to participate a long-awaited acoustic monitoring study.

The Board of Selectmen and Board of Health are sending a letter to the state Department of Environmental Protection this week asking that officials step in and provide assistance to the town. The letter was not available at press time.

In a May 17 letter to Town Counsel Jay Talerman, Kingston Wind Independence co-manager Kially Ruiz writes that the decision was made reluctantly but asks for “an accurate, consistent and scientifically valid methodology to be put in place before any further testing is done.”

Explaining the reason for the decision, Ruiz writes, “The proposed methodology has been considered by a number of reputable acoustic experts as having serious scientific flaws which would make the study’s conclusions invalid.”

It’s disappointing – but not surprising – to Leland Road residents Doreen and Sean Reilly that KWI won’t cooperate. They argue that KWI has violated any good will that existed and should have the burden of proving to the town that the turbine is in compliance with state noise regulations.

Tuesday night, they said town officials need to make sure that whatever agency conducts the study – preferably MassDEP – be qualified to say whether the turbine is in compliance.

“We just to make sure the testing is compliance testing so it can be enforceable,” Sean Reilly said.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Elaine Fiore said the board is sensitive to the time it has taken to reach this point.

“We’re trying to keep everything moving so we don’t lose any ground,” she said.

At their meeting Monday night, members of the Board of Health agreed to approve the letter and intend to sign it after selectmen approve it. Chairman Joe Casna said he’s in disbelief that KWI would wait until the 11th hour, with the start of the study just days away, to make this decision.

Fiore described the decision by the turbine owners not to cooperate as expected in the study set to start Saturday as a major setback and a disappointment.

“We understand the urgency of all this, and we’re putting out a two-week window to the DEP for a response,” she said, explaining that the letter will include a request that DEP respond by the next selectmen’s meeting June 4.

Last Friday, DEP spokesman Ed Coletta released the following statement.

“MassDEP also received notification from MassCEC yesterday about the issue with the Kingston wind turbine,” he said, “and we are exploring all of our options at this time.”

Thursday, May 16, Alicia Barton, chief executive officer and executive director of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, which was overseeing the study, announced KWI’s decision in a letter to town officials and interested residents.

“We have also consulted with MassDEP to discuss whether MassDEP has the authority to seek cooperation from KWI in order to allow the collection of acoustic data to proceed,” she said in the letter. “We expect that MassDEP will work directly with town officials to explore those possibilities.”

The Board of Selectmen and Board of Health will hold a joint meeting at 7 p.m. June 4 to discuss the possibility of selectmen approving the hiring of an acoustical engineer to review the results of a study if one goes forward.

Also, Town Planner Tom Bott will be asked to review the turbine information posted on the town’s website to ensure that the documentation is appropriate for posting. Selectman Dennis Randall said the Reillys have valid questions about the accuracy and integrity of the information.

Another request from the Reillys, that the town secure a sound meter reader from the state, was also being met. At least three members of the Board of Health were expected to go this Friday for training on use of the sound meter.