December 30, 2013

Turbines tower over the year’s issues in Kingston

2013 A LOOK BACK: Turbines tower over the year’s issues in Kingston | By Kathryn Gallerani | Wicked Local Kingston | Dec 28, 2013 |

The operation of the Kingston Wind Indepenence and No Fossil Fuel owner Mary O’Donnell turbines continues without curtailment in 2013 to the consternation of residents upset about the sound and flicker effects they produce.

The lawsuit filed by a group of residents against the town, and O’Donnell challenging the site plan review process and notice requirements for her turbines, continue to be heard in the courts while the much more public process plays out relative to the Independence turbine on the town’s capped landfill.

The whole year long, residents, town officials and other interested parties have been waiting for a sound study of the Independence turbine to begin.

The Board of Health can statutorily rule the turbines to be a nuisance, resulting in possible enforcement action, including seeking removal of the nuisance or abatement of the nuisance, but board members are waiting for the results of the sound study to take any action.

The sound study started the second week in December after the long wait. At least one night’s worth of readings were taken. Weather and wind speeds impact when the testing can be carried out.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has committed to reviewing the results of the sound study when it has been completed to ensure compliance with state noise regulations. Among the reasons for the delay include a lightning strike in July that knocked the Independence offline and subsequent mechanical issues.

The results of a shadow flicker study of the four turbines and the state’s turbine at the commuter rail station conducted by EAPC Wind Energy Services on behalf of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center were released in June, but the study raised more questions than it answered. A subsequent study with a more narrow focus is planned.

When the flicker study results are available, both the Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee have given their blessing to the Board of Health’s hiring of a wind power consultant, K2 Management, to review them. The Finance Committee in December approved the expenditure of up to $10,000 for this purpose. K2 Management will be paid an hourly rate.

Since April, the Board of Health has been operating without former longtime board member Dan Sapir, who had been critical of the lack of action on behalf of the board. An effort to put a new face on the board was successful with Toni Cushman’s election, but she’s just one voice urging action without Sapir on the board, too.

Selectmen are wary of challenging the contractual agreements the town has with Kingston Wind Independence without the results of the sound study. They are following the advice of town counsel. Both the Board of Selectmen and Board of Health were even wary of acting on requests to ask Kingston Wind and No Fossil Fuel to shut the turbines down for the holidays.

In the meantime, the reports of sleep deprivation and other physical ailments due to the sound generated by the turbine and shadow flicker effect continue. Everyone is waiting for the results of the sound study.

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