Sound engineers hired in March to find out whether Scituate’s wind turbine is too noisy first couldn’t start testing because the weather wasn’t cooperating.
Then the turbine, located off the Driftway, was out of commission for several weeks after it was struck by lightning at the end of June.
But the 390-foot-tall turbine has been back online for more than a month, and neighbors want to know why Tech Environmental of Waltham, the firm hired by the turbine’s owner at the behest of the town’s board of health, still hasn’t started collecting data.
“Why haven’t you pushed for the noise compliance test for the turbine? It has been on your books since March,” Gilson Road resident Michelle Banning wrote in an email to Jennifer Sullivan, Scituate director of public health, on Sunday night.
“It’s just after 10 p.m. on a beautiful evening. I’d like to sleep with the windows open. But the winds are 4 mph southwest, according to weather.com, and the noise inside and outside my window sounds like I live next to a freeway.”
Sullivan on Monday said the sound engineer has a meteorologist tracking the weather conditions, and they still have not been conducive to testing.
“We’re trying to follow (Department of Environmental Protection) protocol and that’s based on wind direction and wind speed, and we’re also tying in high tide,” Sullivan said. “Residents said they feel (noise) is worse when the marsh is flooded.”
A group of residents have complained that their health is adversely affected by the noise and shadow flicker from the turbine, which is owned by Scituate Wind LLC, made up of Palmer Capital and Solaya Energy.
The town’s board of health requested that Scituate Wind hire acoustical engineers to see if the turbine complies with noise standards.
State law says turbines cannot emit noise that is more than 10 decibels louder than the ambient noise.
”We’re getting weekly updates, and there hasn’t been a time when conditions match up,” Sullivan said, adding that it’s important to follow protocol so that “one study can be compared to another study.”
Engineers plan to test on four different nights between midnight and 5 a.m., when the ambient noise is at its lowest level, and from the east and west.
Banning said nights when wind speed is low, like on Sunday, are ideal for testing.
“Regardless of what the turbines’ owners tell you are optimum testing conditions, our consistent representations tell you otherwise – come hear it for yourself,” she wrote. “Enough is enough. Do your job and stop this monstrosity.”
Gordon Deane, president of Palmer Capital Corp., on Monday said engineers are eager to start collecting data, but they’re waiting on conditions requested for testing by the community group looking to shut down the turbine.
“We basically haven’t been able to find those conditions except when it’s raining,” Deane said. “We’re happy to look at other conditions.”
Town Administrator Patricia Vinchesi said at the selectmen’s meeting last week that some testing needs to begin, even if conditions fall outside the “narrowly defined areas where the data is.”
“We need to start getting some data, and even if it’s not going to be in the confines of the four walls we agreed to, I want us to start getting some data,” she said. “(Engineers) hope to do some (testing) in the next week or so.”