SCITUATE – Insects and passing vehicles make more noise than Scituate’s wind turbine, preliminary data from a study paid for by the turbine owner shows. But officials are considering changes to the testing protocol after neighbors expressed dissatisfaction with it.
Results from the first of four rounds of testing at the 390-foot-tall turbine, located off the Driftway, showed that sound it emitted was within noise limits set by the state. Tech Environmental of Waltham, the firm hired by the turbine’s owner at the behest of the board of health, found that the machine made hardly any noise Aug. 14.
“The turbine is not, in this situation, being very audible. What you’re picking up is other background sounds going on,” Mark Wallace of Tech Environmental said at the most recent health board meeting, Aug. 27.
The board made no decision because its chairman was absent. Members are scheduled to discuss testing protocol again on Monday night.
Wallace said the protocol, set by the board and the turbine owner, calls for sampling easterly or westerly wind from six different sites. The board next week will revisit whether tests should capture a southwesterly wind, when neighbors to the turbine say it is the loudest.
“We need a wind from the southwest and, from what I can tell, you don’t plan to test from that area,” David Dardi, a Gilson Road resident, said at the Aug. 27 meeting.
Neighbors said the turbine, which is owned by Scituate Wind LLC, made up of Palmer Capital and Solaya Energy, was not at its maximum power output during testing. Gilson Road resident Michelle Banning said data from Power Dash, a website that records the turbine’s energy production, showed the turbine was operating at 30 percent.
“You weren’t even close to full operation,” she said to Wallace during the Aug. 27 meeting. “I’m shaking at this point that you have the audacity to come here and give incomplete results.”
Wallace said the final report will include the turbine’s power output.
Board member Michael Vazza said that he did not consider the data to be complete. “I consider it one sampling, then we have a lot more to go. I absolutely do not consider it a successful test,” he said.
Gordon Deane, president of Palmer Capital Corp., said Dardi on Aug. 14 considered testing conditions to be optimal. He said they would follow any new protocol set by the board, but they aren’t “testing every night for the next year.”
“If the board deems it necessary to test more, you can refuse, but I would suggest that it wouldn’t be beneficial,” Vazza responded.