KINGSTON – More homes than previously reported are affected by sound outside of acceptable limits from the Independence wind turbine.
A final report from consultants hired to conduct a sound study shows additional exceedances of state Department of Environmental Protection noise regulations and policy beyond those identified in the initial acoustical monitoring study report.
Out-of-compliance readings could result in amendment of the abatement order for the turbine or in other mitigation measures. It’s the decision of the Board of Health whether to make changes to the abatement order or take other action.
These additional exceedances based on actual results and predictions based on mathematical extrapolation of actual measurements are reported at sampling locations on Schofield Road, Leland Road and Copper Beach Drive.
What happens next is up to the Board of Health.
MassDEP Assistant Commissioner Douglas Fine said the town will take the lead in deciding what action to take in response to the final report, with DEP offering its support to those efforts.
“DEP’s entire focus is on how the study relates to DEP noise regulations and its policy,” he said.
Fine said amending the abatement order is a possibility after the Board of Health and other stakeholders review the results in a public forum at an open meeting.
“If the town feels a modification of the abatement order is warranted, they would follow a similar process to last year,” he said.
The initial report released in July 2014 identified exceedances of 10 decibels on Schofield Road, and the Board of Health adopted the abatement order in August as a result.
The order calls for “a modification at the very least if not an outright shutdown” of turbine operations from midnight to 4 a.m. when the wind is traveling from the south or southwest at eight meters per second or more at the turbine hub.
The results in the final report detail measured exceedances of 10 decibels based on turbine impact sound data collected in February, March and April combined with ambient data collected in September.
Acting Board of Health Chairman Jack Breen said the board will discuss the results following a presentation by MassDEP and Harris Miller Miller & Hanson (HMMH), the consultant under contract with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to conduct the study.
Breen said the board will discuss possible meeting dates for the review of the report at its next meeting, Monday night. He said he hopes the meeting can be scheduled for within a month.
HMMH will present and explain its findings and then answer questions at that meeting, according to MassCEC spokesman Matt Kakley.
The role of MassCEC, Kakley said, is to gather information and present that information to the Board of Health so it can make its own decisions. He said it’s not the role of MassCEC to make any judgments on what they expected the testing to show or to make recommendations to the Board of Health.
In addition to the information regarding state noise policy, the report gathered information relative to other sound measurement approaches and metrics, low frequency sound, and “amplitude modulation,” or the change in sound levels over time. Kakley used the “swish-swish” heard in the vicinity of an operating wind turbine as an example.
Fine said he hopes the town and turbine operator, Kingston Wind Independence, will work together to make any changes to the abatement order that the Board of Health deems necessary.
The release of the full report was delayed first by HMMH encountering wind turbine operational issues, less than ideal wind conditions for measurement on several occasions and other variable factors such as background noise interfering with measurement.
When MassCEC was asked by the town this past summer to conduct further testing and analysis, Kakley said, that resulted in a delay in the release of the final report.
While residents have complained about noise from the turbine, flicker effect has equally been a problem. After an initial flicker study was deemed incomplete, MassCEC said a more thorough study would be conducted.
Kakley said MassCEC is in the midst of an ongoing process to hire a firm to refine the earlier assessment of flicker related to the Kingston Wind Independence turbine and to estimate the financial impacts of reducing turbine operation to limit flicker.
Fine said DEP would not have a role in a flicker study because the state does not have flicker regulations.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding