SCITUATE – The wind turbine on Driftway will shut down for seven hours nightly from May 15 to Oct. 14.
The turbine sits just 650 feet from the nearest home and has been a source of complaints from neighbors since it started operating in March 2012.
The Scituate Select Board voted to pause the turbine during its meeting Tuesday night. The only dissenting vote was Tony Vegnani.
Board member Andrew Goodrich said he met with the turbine owner, Scituate Wind, along with Vegnani, and the company provided estimated costs to the town if the turbine were to be halted during parts of the day.
Shutting down the turbine for seven hours at night for six months will bring a total estimated cost of $96,000, which includes the revenue the town will lose from the turbine, as well as any payments the town had to make to the turbine owner for it not operating.
Goodrich said he wanted everyone in the town to be treated the same and that the board was giving much better treatment and consideration of residents around bars and clubs, ordered to shut down at 11 p.m., than it was to the people who live near the turbine, which will continue to operate all night until May 15.
The board members said during a meeting in January they would entertain the possibility of shutting down the turbine at nights to alleviate the complaints of neighbors.
Neighbor Ellen Kasper said previous efforts to stop the turbine from running when the wind was blowing in specific directions did not work at all.
“In reality, it was never shutting off,” she said.
Kasper said the acknowledgement, eight years after the turbine started generating power, that the neighbors complaints about being woken up in the middle of the night by the noisy turbine is nice but it does not solve the problem.
“It needs to go further,” she said.
Kasper and other neighbors are pushing for a peer-review of a previous wind study the town commissioned that found only a little non-compliance with sound.
Kasper said she did not like that the 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. shutdown period is not longer because it dictates when everyone in that neighborhood should go to bed if they want to get any sleep.
“Eleven at night is really not a good time for everyone to go to sleep,” she said. “We’re being dictated when to go to sleep.”
That study was approved in 2017. It is the third to be conducted by the town. A previous study, conducted between 2013 and 2015, found the turbine to be in compliance with noise regulations despite endless complaints from neighbors. The turbine was built in 2012 and has been a source of contention ever since.
Wind turbines built near houses have been a problem to the people who live near them in Kingston, Falmouth and Plymouth.
The turbine in Scituate is closer to any residence, 650 feet, than the turbines that shut down in other communities.
In Kingston, the turbine stopped spinning in 2019 because it was too noisy, the result of a defect in the turbine. In Plymouth, the board of health declared the four turbines along Route 25 a nuisance. In Falmouth, two turbines were shut down by a court order.
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