KINGSTON – The Board of Health isn’t ready for the glare of lights that would shine on the board for adopting a shadow flicker regulation.
Board membevoted 3-2 Tuesday night to table a decision on whether to adopt a regulation until they have additional information.
Board members cited the lack of a final, revised flicker study as one reason to delay a decision. A flicker study, the results of which were released in June 2013, was deemed to be incomplete, according to Town Counsel Jay Talerman.
EAPC Wind Energy conducted the first flicker study on behalf of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. Residents who claim to be affected by flicker say the results of the first study adequately prove their point. Talerman said plans for a more complete study are moving very slowly.
Board Chairman Joe Casna said it has not been proven to his satisfaction that flicker causes adverse affects or is a nuisance.
“I am not hearing health impacts,” he said. “I’m not satisfied we have enough information to proceed.”
Jack Breen and Bill Kavol voted with Casna, while Toni Cushman and Bill Watson voted in the minority.
Talerman said he wrote the proposed regulation with the goal of making it solid enough to survive scrutiny or a challenge by a turbine owner.
He cited the limited number of flicker regulations in the state and elsewhere as an important reason.
“There’s not much out there in the industry in terms of shadow flicker regulations,” he said.
The regulation would have applied to both current and future Kingston turbine owners through a special permit-type process that would have kicked in within 60 days.
Cushman said that if the question is how much flicker the wind turbines are really generating, and Talerman said that is the question, then how else is the board going to determine that? She said none of the turbine owners have shown a willingness to help mitigate flicker.
“We have to have some type of a solution,” she said. “No one has come forward with a mitigation plan.”
Watson said he thought the regulation was solid.
“Overall I think it was well put together,” he said.
The existing turbine owners would have had to prove to the Board of Health that the amount of flicker from their turbines did not exceed whatever acceptable limits the board decided on.
A legal appeal of the regulation by multiple wind turbine owner Mary O’Donnell was practically assured when the board heard directly from her.
O’Donnell said any approval of a flicker regulation would end up in court, because there’s no proof flicker causes adverse health impacts.
“Where is your documentation? I certainly think it should be on the record,” she said. “We have documentation saying just the opposite.”
Talerman said the Board of Health has jurisdiction when there may be an adverse health risk or a nuisance that affects the health of residents.
Leland Road resident Doreen Reilly supported the flicker regulation. She said flicker has been impacting her family’s health for long enough.
She said no limit other than zero flicker hours should be adopted. She said it’s wrong that flicker is allowed to drive her out of her own home.
“It makes you want to leave your house,” she said. “You shouldn’t have to leave your house.”
Residents spoke out for and against the flicker regulation during the public hearing Monday.
Landing Road resident and turbine supporter Pine duBois argued against the regulation by listing a litany of complaints about things she calls nuisances.
“I’m just trying to suggest that you’re going out on a very frail limb,” she said.
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