Residents living near the Scituate Wind turbine met with selectmen Tuesday, Oct. 3 to address complaints about turbine noise.
Since the 400-ft. wind turbine was installed on the Driftway in early spring 2012, neighbors have been complaining about the noise and flicker associated with the turbine.
As a result, the Scituate Board of Health began tracking noise complaints from neighbors of the turbine.
“Complaints usually occurred at night in the late spring, summer and early fall, with most complaints coming from the southwest at less than 10 mph,” said Health Agent Jennifer Keefe.
The town launched a pilot program in June 2016 to power off the turbine between 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. when the wind was coming from the southwest at less than 10 mph.
According to Keefe, during this test period, complaints from areas where disturbances were reported dropped 65 percent.
As a result selectmen voted to cease operation during occurrences of southwest winds of less than 10 mph during the hours of 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. from June 1 through Oct. 15.
While complaints dropped off, they have not stopped.
“Scituate Wind’s turbine continues to disrupt the sleep and adversely impact the lives and health of both my neighbors and myself,” David Dardi told selectmen Tuesday, Oct. 3.
Dardi, who lives near the turbine, has become a spokesman for some of the neighbors, and points out that complaints have dissipated for several reasons, but not because the noise has become tolerable.
“My view is that the financial windfall to the town is preventing officials from doing the right thing and that is to protect public health and safety,” he has said.
The turbine has allowed the town to provide a clean source of energy. The energy is sold to National Grid and covers one-half of the town’s municipal energy requirements. By the end of 2016, over $1 million had been collected by the town in energy credits from National Grid.
Selectmen agree, however, the noise remains a problem during certain nighttime hours particularly in the summer months.
Selectman Tony Vegnani raised the questions of the cost to the town should the turbine be shut down over certain dates and times where complaints were being made.
A cost analysis based on data collected from Oct. 16, 2016 through May 31, 2017 indicated that should the turbine be shut down from Oct. 16 to May 31 from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. with wind from the WNW (west north west) and NW (north west) as measured at the turbine with a margin of 22 degrees, and speed up to 28 mph, the cost to the town would be $111,815.
The cost to the town, based on data collected from June 1 to Aug. 29, 2017, showed that if the turbine was shut off from June 1 to Oct. 15 from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. with wind from the SW (south west) to NW (north west) as measured at the turbine with a margin of 22 degrees and up to 22 mph, would be $51,360.
There were also concerns the turbine was not reading the same weather patterns that were being tracked through the closest weather point – Marshfield Airport.
“I did my best to identify what the closest weather station was providing, and what the turbine was seeing,” Keefe said.
Selectman John Danehey asked what the cost would be to the town if the turbine was turned off from April 15 to Oct. 15, from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. in any winds. He also asked about costs should the turbine be turned off over the same dates and times but with the wind blowing from the northwesterly direction towards the southwesterly direction.
Keefe will look into finding that information, she said, and will present it at a future selectmen meeting.
The discussion will remain ongoing.
“We’re all here to solve a problem,” Curran said, adding she did not want to see the health and wellbeing of the residents negatively impacted. “I think we do need to see what the impact is to our town if it’s turned off every night during the summer hours.”