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Acoustical study on Scituate wind turbine at a standstill

SCITUATE – An acoustical study of the town’s wind turbine has yet to yield solid results, a year after the board of health ordered that it be completed.

But people who live near the turbine on the Driftway say the results will be moot unless the state Department of Environmental Protection accepts different noise standards.

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, a partnership of Palmer Capital and Solaya Energy.

At the behest of the board of health, the turbine’s owners last March hired sound engineers to determine whether the machine is too noisy.

After the first round of tests, neighbors questioned the wind direction and speed captured in that testing. They also wanted to see results from fast metering, or short-interval testing.

“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 MassDEP call for the slower sequence,” Health Agent Jennifer Sullivan said in September.

The board approved different wind speeds and directions, but the state declined to use fast metering to gauge sound.

“The state doesn’t care if you do fast metering, but they won’t make the determination of whether there’s too much sound or not using fast metering,” Sullivan said Tuesday.

With little achieved in the past year, Sullivan last week sent neighbors Jerry Kelly and Tom Thompson letters asking that they attend Monday’s board of health meeting “to discuss possible changes that would allow favorable conditions for testing.”

In a letter back to Sullivan, Thompson and Kelly declined the invitation, stating, “Until such time as the MassDEP reverses its decision, and … the Scituate Board of Health finally commits itself to protecting the health and safety of those negatively impacted by the Scituate industrial wind turbine, it is our option that we have completed due process.”

Thompson on Tuesday said the testing protocol matters little now.

“Until (fast metering) is approved by MassDEP and used to determine compliance, it’s not worth going through the exercise,” he said.

Sullivan said the board will still revisit the parameters for wind direction, speed and turbine output when it receives data from Gordon Deane, principal at Palmer Capital.

“We’ve asked him to look at the records of complaints and what the wind speeds and capacity were at those times, as well as the tide situation,” she said. “(The board) doesn’t like that testing hasn’t been done, either.”

As for next steps, Thompson said neighbors have done as much as they can with authorities.

“It may have to be resolved in another fashion,” he said, declining to elaborate.