Sound engineers hired to find out whether Scituate’s wind turbine is too noisy will follow a new testing protocol after neighbors expressed dissatisfaction with the wind direction and turbine output captured in the first round of tests.
Director of Public Health Jennifer Sullivan on Monday said the new protocol set forth for Tech Environmental of Waltham, the firm hired by the turbine’s owner at the behest of the board of health, will require a southwesterly wind, rather than westerly.
The energy output of the 390-foot-tall turbine, which is owned by Scituate Wind LLC, made up of Palmer Capital and Solaya Energy, must also be at least 60 percent. Power Dash, a website that records the turbine’s production, showed it was operating at 30 percent during testing Aug. 14.
Results from the first of four rounds of testing determined that sound emitted by the turbine was within noise limits set by the state, but Sullivan said those results will likely be thrown out for consistency, requiring four new testing nights that meet the new protocol.
Sullivan said the issue of fast and slow testing, or the intervals at which testing results are taken, still needs to be resolved.
“The community group and some specialists feel that the turbine generates a pulsing noise, and the best way of capturing that is through a faster testing sequence, but the regulations of the (state Department of Environmental Protection) call for the slower sequence,” Sullivan said.
The state approved fast testing for the Kingston turbine, Sullivan said, in addition to slow testing.
“At this point, we’re staying with the slow because we have questions to investigate about the fast testing,” she said.
Tom Thompson, a Gilson Road resident and executive director of a group called the Alliance for Responsible Siting of Alternative Energy Installations, said he is encouraged by the board altering the protocol, but feels fast testing and wind speed issues need to be resolved.
Sullivan said the most complaints about turbine noise come when the wind speed is between 8 and 14 mph, but it must be stronger for the turbine to reach 60 percent output.
Sullivan said wind speed is tricky because the board does not know who is measuring the wind speed or where it is being measured. The engineers base testing conditions on data from Marshfield Airport, but Sullivan said the elevation there relative to the turbine’s Driftway site is unclear.
Thompson said such questions exemplify the problem of having industrial turbines in neighborhoods.
“At the very least, (the turbine) should be shut down while the issues are addressed,” he said.
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