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Kimmell coy on noise testing

One official’s claim of compliance is another resident’s sense of violation as turbine noise testing lags. The Globe South on Sunday June 16, 2013 quoted Commissioner Ken Kimmell defending Department of Environmental Protection policy (Wind advocates say critics’ assertions are exaggerated by Robert Knox). According to Kimmell, most turbines are in compliance most of the time. But this belies the very few tests that have been run (“staffing limitations” were cited by DEP spokesman Ed Coletta), and the flawed methodology in use:

“It’s consistent with the methods used to deal with a variety of projects, such as sand and gravel and asphalt batching plants, for years,” Kimmell said. “We have people on the staff trained to recognize wind gusts and discount them.”

(Most gravel pits and batching plants do not run through the night and don’t suddenly appear in a neighborhoods without notice to the abutters).

in May residents of Clarksburg, Fairhaven, Florida, Kingston, Monroe, and Scituate sent a letter to the Mass. DEP. These communities, impacted by five different wind turbine projects, asserted that DEP used outmoded standards for testing wind turbines. The letter also noted that developers have special access during testing, while community input  is limited. The raw data is not shared, so it is not open to independent verification. The letter called for:

  • Use of a fast meter (8 data points per second) setting during sound sampling. The present  use of the slow setting (1 data point per second) fails to accurately capture the highs and lows of turbine sound.
  • Allow independent monitors during data gathering sessions.
  • Include the experiences of affected neighbors during testing, as in the recent study by multiple INCE Board Certified Acousticians at the Shirley Wind project in Wisconsin.
  • Prohibit the turbine operators’ paid employees or subcontractors from joining the data gathering team, in order to prevent the potential for manipulation of the turbines during testing.
  • Determine the actual production status of the turbine(s) during testing. Some of the testing should be performed unannounced to the turbine operators.
  • Make the raw data publicly accessible in a spreadsheet or other digital format.
  • Accept comments from independent INCE Board Certified acousticians before finalizing findings.