KINGSTON – The long-awaited results of a long-awaited acoustical study of the Independence wind turbine resulted in some mediation measures under specific conditions, but the debate over the Independence and Mary O’Donnell’s three turbines continued in 2014.
An abatement order adopted by the Board of Health in August calls for modification of the Independence operating hours or an outright shutdown under certain wind speeds and directions, namely when the wind is traveling from the south or southwest at eight meters per second or more at the turbine hub. The proscribed hours are midnight to 4 a.m.
An interim report on the sound study results released in July showed that the turbine exceeded the state’s maximum allowable noise levels measured at a nearby Schofield Road home, reaching 10 decibels or more on two occasions, and was close to exceeding it at another nearby home.
The state Department of Environmental Protection was part of several public discussions on the sound study after committing to reviewing the results to ensure compliance with state noise regulations. The state agency consulted on the drafting of the abatement order.
The final report on the sound study was to include supplemental ambient monitoring performed in September and be released in December.
The sound study was the only study to be completed in 2014. No updated flicker study has been done, although when the results of an initial study were released in June 2013, it was anticipated that a second one would be carried out.
Residents affected by the turbines say the results of the first flicker study, just like the results of the sound study, prove their point that the Independence is operating out of compliance with health standards.
The Board of Health asked Town Counsel Jay Talerman in May to draft a flicker regulation, but then in October the board voted to table a decision on whether to approve it. Their main reason, they said, was the lack of an updated flicker study.
A Land Court judge in March dismissed a 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. No appeal was filed.
The Board of Selectmen decided in December in a recommendation to the Planning Board that a decommissioning fund doesn’t need to be started, at least not right away, for the O’Donnell turbines on her property.
Selectmen continue to monitor the wind turbine projects but are staying at arm’s length because of the contractual agreements the town has with Kingston Wind Independence – the turbine is on town land.
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