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Kingston flicker study shows locations get more than 30 hours a year

KINGSTON – The shadow flicker study for the five wind turbines operating in Kingston was released to the town Monday night.

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center commissioned the study conducted using computer modeling combined with on-the-ground verification of line-of-sight from public streets. EAPC Wind Energy conducted the shadow flicker analysis.

MassCEC spokesman Matt Kakley said that in addition to finding that there is shadow flicker associated with the five turbines in operation in Kingston, the report also outlines possible mitigation measures – such as curtailed operations ranging from six to 336 hours per year, depending on the turbine.

“With the data in hand, community officials can now determine next steps,” he said.

Board of Health Chairman Joe Casna said there will be a response by the board, but he wants to proceed with caution and not rush into action when the board meets Monday night.

“I know everybody’s excited, because apparently the study unveiled more flicker than previously anticipated,” he said.

Casna plans to invite all interested parties to the July 1 Board of Health meeting for a full discussion of the study results and mitigation options.

“I want to make sure that all parties are represented when we talk about this,” he said.

Last week, selectmen agreed to a Board of Health request to fund the hiring of an engineer to independently review the flicker study results. The Board of Health is gathering cost estimates.

The results of the analysis come as no surprise to residents who have documented the flicker effect in their homes and have offered testimony to the Board of Health and the selectmen. They have said all along the estimated 30 hours of flicker a year that was anticipated was grossly inadequate.

The flicker model identified 808 receptors – or a house measuring 20 meters wide and 10 meters in height – theoretically affected by shadow flicker without accounting for tree cover, neighboring buildings and other obstacles.

Of these 808, according to the results, 188 are expected to realistically receive greater than 10 flicker hours per year and 54 are expected to realistically receive greater than 30 flicker hours per year.

For example, the highest “realistic case” measurements of shadow flicker per year are 88 hours and 26 minutes, 84:41 and 80:37 from three measurements taken for 2 Schofield Road. A chart shows 38 measurements between 30 and 88:26 hours per year. The results are available online at www.wickedlocalkingston.com.

According to the assessment results, to reduce shadow flicker to no more than 10 and 30 hours per year at any residential structure, the turbines turbine would have to be curtailed a minimum of six hours and a maximum of 336 hours per year.