KINGSTON – Sound sampling for the Independence wind turbine acoustical study has been halted with the focus turning to analysis of the data that has been collected.
Board of Health Chairman Joe Casna said it was his understanding that the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center plans to suspend sampling until the fall and has asked the board if there are any objections. Douglas Fine, the town’s contact with the state Department of Environmental Protection, informed Casna the sampling would stop.
More specifically, according to MassCEC spokesman Matt Kakley, the samplings have been suspended because it has been concluded that enough data has been collected from the properties closest to the turbine. He said the process isn’t stopping and is continuing to move forward.
He said a preliminary report will be produced based on the collected data and that may be all the data that will be collected. He said the report will be distributed to all stakeholders as soon as possible but could not give a date.
“The focus is on analyzing the data and getting the report out,” he said. “They’re pushing to get it done quickly. All are understandably eager to see the results.”
Casna said DEP has committed to reviewing the results of the preliminary report based on the readings to date. He said the full board has yet to weigh in, but that he had no objections because the decision was based on a professional opinion from CEC and its consultants with input from DEP.
“There are concerns that ambient noise at this time of the year would contaminate any results they’re going to gather,” he said. “It’s the right approach. They are the professionals. I think the approach is reasonable.”
The study conducted by Harris Miller Miller and Hanson (HMMH) Inc., began last December, and a report on the findings was expected at the end of February. That goal was not met, reportedly due to challenges collecting sufficient data.
Leland Road resident Sean Reilly and his family expected the results much earlier. He said it has taken four months for the consultants to conduct eight samplings at his family’s house. He was present for seven of them, skipping the eighth because there was so little wind that night. The results from Dec. 13, when the turbine was particularly noisy, won’t be counted.
He said he will be particularly interested in seeing the results of the sampling from March 15, because that was the only time they did testing when the 2-megawatt turbine was at full power (producing 2,000 kilowatts), at the time when the sound creates the greatest burden for their family. The other times the turbine was at half power or less.
“I’m surprised that they sampled for four months and only once did they sample at our location at full power,” he said.
Reilly said this foot dragging and focus on wind conditions rather than when the turbines are at full power tells him one thing.
“If it was in compliance, they would have been done in a month,” he said.
In the meantime, the Board of Health has to go back to the drawing board relative to finding an expert to help review the results of a revised flicker study once that is completed. The flicker study is separate from the sound study.
After contract negotiations with wind industry consultant K2 Management fell apart, board members voted to hire special counsel to serve that purpose. Casna said the other options were to reopen the search for a consultant or to leave it to the board to analyze the results.
Casna said the board will have to go back to the Finance Committee with this change in plans. The Finance Committee approved the expenditure of up to $10,000 to hire K2 as a consultant. As chairman he has been tasked with determining how much special counsel would cost.
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