FAIRHAVEN – The number of complaints about the wind turbines has declined, Board of Health agent Patricia Fowle said July 25.
Fowle said the complaints are less frequent but the health board still receives them. She said the complaints are coming from about five to 10 families in about four neighborhoods on all sides of the two wind turbines.
Fowle said they are generally from the streets where the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) found exceedances of the noise level permitted by state law. The state has a 10 decibel limit for how much noise can be added to existing background sound.
Fowle said all complaints are passed along to Laurel Carlson of the DEP who conducted the tests as well as to Fairhaven Board of Health members. She said she wasn’t aware of any testing by the DEP since last year. She said she assumed the DEP would “let us know” if it was conducting testing.
Spokesperson Edmund Coletta of the DEP said in an e-mail, “MassDEP is not planning to conduct more turbine sound testing in Fairhaven. However, we are assisting the Board of Health with review of the turbine operator’s sound collection protocol and we would be happy to review any data they provide us.”
Select Board Chairman Robert Espindola said, “The number of complaints have clearly dropped from what I’ve seen,” adding that selectmen don’t receive all of them from the health board. He said it seems that the mitigation plan the town worked out with developer Fairhaven Wind LLC last year has helped bring the turbines into compliance.
The mitigation plan calls for the turbine blades to be shut down in certain wind conditions.
But Espindola added, “It’s not clear to me whether the mitigation is the only reason they’re (complaints) are trailing off or frustration.” He said some people who’ve complained in the past told him they’ve just given up.
Espindola said, “I do think the mitigation plan has helped if they are on less during the periods when they were known to be out of compliance.”
Fowle said the Board of Health in Kingston had contacted the Fairhaven board to ask “how things were going” here. As for reports from the developer on the turbines, Fowle said, “The reports were daily from December through April as part of the mitigation plan. I don’t have info for the present.”
Karen Isherwood, who lives on one of the streets where exceedances were found, said the wind turbines are still disturbing her life and her daughter’s. She said it is enough of a continuing problem that they are planning to move.
Isherwood said they suffer headaches and “pressure” from the turbines. “Chelsea and I are still suffering,” she said.
Isherwood said they are still filing complaints with the Board of Health, but that other people she’s spoken to have given up.
“People have given up,” she said, “especially after that last election to the health board. If you elect the same people over and over again, you’re going to get the same results.”
In the election last April, challenger Louise Barteau, an opponent of the turbines, lost to incumbent Jeannine Lopes.
Isherwood said, “The town doesn’t care about ‘the few’ and it’s a few people whose lives are affected negatively by the wind turbines.”