Stephen Ambrose continues his series of commentaries on the draft report presented by HMMH consultants at the Kingston Board of Health meeting on June 18, 2015.
Distance is attenuation.
All wind shear models are not equally valid.
Hub height wind shear compared
Hub height wind shear compared
A presentation to the Kingston Board of Health on June 18th will review the noise study conducted by HMMH of the Kingston Wind Independence (KWI) turbine. The event is a BOH meeting and they have not indicated whether the public will be permitted to speak.
In an effort to understand the data HMMH collected over the winter of 2013-2014, and to analyze the findings in the “Draft for Public Comment,” Stephen Ambrose is producing a series of quick takes on the problems with the study. Ambrose, an acoustician, is an expert on reducing industrial noise to a level where neighbors are not adversely impacted.
Here are the first two in a series of 10 points on the study findings.
|Part one:Wind speed is not an indicator of power output.||Part two:Noise is a function of power output.|
As background, Ambrose’s February 2015 Letter to Martin Suuberg notes, “Kingston’s wind-turbine noise measurements were performed last spring by HMMH without findings. Conjecture after many years’ experience would conclude: 1) noise measurements were contaminated, therefore the test needs to be repeated, or 2) measurements show non-compliance.”
He goes on to ask, “What are we to think after almost a year of continued operation” when there was no further compliance testing and also no action taken to protect public health.
To date, Kingston has wiggled out of its responsibility to turn off the offending turbine. In response to persistent public complaints, the town ordered reduced operations under very limited criteria in August 2014. The order, according to Scott C. Smith writing in Wicked Local Kingston (8/12/14 “Independence turbine abatement order served” 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.
This abatement order has provided no relief for Kingston residents. A chronology of testing and subsequent reports follows:
- May 21, 2013 Operator of the Independence turbine in Kingston refuses to cooperate with DEP testing of the turbine.
- October 2013 – April 2014 – testing of Independence by HMMH (Paid for by MassCEC)
Data collected in the winter season on December 13, 2013, January 20, February 20, February 22, and February 28 2014 were not used. A daytime sampling event at the Intermediate School was considered successful. The only monitoring results presented were from the two spring sampling dates on March 2 and March 15, 2014.
- June 13, 2014 Interim report is issued.
- July 8, 2014 MassDEP reveals that Kingston Independence turbine exceeded Mass Noise Regulations on two separate occasions in the Spring of 2014.
- July 8, 2014 MassDEP writes a letter to Kingston BOH stating that the winter is the time for data collection.
- August 12, 2014 Kingston BOH issues limited abatement order for Independence turbine
- April 16, 2015 Draft for Public Comment “Kingston Wind Independence Turbine Acoustical Monitoring Study Technical Report,” HMMH Report No. 305270.001, is issued.
A “Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition” again urged Congress to renew the production tax credit in a May 26, 2015 letter to the leadership. Chris Kapsambelis of Bourne, who has been following the claims of wind production promoters, takes issue with the letter’s assumptions in this response:
Letter: We anticipate that wind energy will be truly competitive with traditional energy sources soon given innovation in the industry.
CK: Wind energy competitiveness can only be realized when combined with sufficient energy storage to match the dispatchable properties of conventional power sources. Such storage is not yet available in necessary amounts and until then, the competitiveness of wind energy is based on false assumptions
Letter: We also believe it is important to recognize all the public policy benefits of wind energy, including
a diversified energy portfolio,
CK: The need for firming the volatile, intermittent, and variable nature of wind with natural gas is driving coal and nuclear into early retirement decreasing the level of energy diversification
public health benefits,
CK: In the absence of grid-scale energy storage little to no carbon is avoided. Noise and infrasound have introduced health impacts, nuisance, and a lower Quality of Life for residents living within a mile and a quarter from wind turbines.
CK: New England is looking to import wind energy from Canada
Letter: We are also concerned that thousands of manufacturing jobs could be lost without stable federal policy
CK:Wind turbines are made overseas. Increasing electricity rates drive manufacturing jobs overseas resulting in a net job loss.
Chris Kapsambelis also points out:
In addition, there are severe ecological impacts:
Unacceptable levels of migratory and raptor bird kills.
Widespread bat kills from barotrauma while flying through the low pressure waves downwind of the turbines.
Mountain ecology disruption from blasting and access road construction. Access roads act as water channels robing the mountains of necessary rainwater absorption.
In a Technical Memo issued by the lead investigator of a recent infrasound study, Noise Control Engineering states in no uncertain terms what Neil and Betsy Andersen of Falmouth have known since late in 2010–
Based on our experience, NCE can unequivocally state that the infrasonic signature captured inside the Andersen residence with the wind turbines operational is 100% attributable to one or both of the Town’s Wind Turbines. To put the conclusions more commonly, this study finds that the wind turbine(s) produce acoustic emissions which are “acoustically trespassing” into the Andersen home.
The study report is dated February 27, 2015 and will enter the record for the Andersens’ nuisance lawsuit against the town of Falmouth. Judge Christopher J. Muse had issued a ruling in November 2013, requiring the town to turn off its two turbines for 12 hours each night.
The study Michael Bahtiarian performed for this lawsuit follows a string of studies on the emissions wind turbines produce below the threshold of human hearing. Infrasound was studied at the Shirley Wind Project in Wisconsin in 2012. Since then, acoustician Steven Cooper’s 2015 study at the Cape Bridgewater Project in Australia also addressed infrasound. To date, the MassDEP has not been willing to act on infrasound and low frequency noise.*
In this video, Jorge Arenas states that “low frequency can be transported a lot of miles from the source to the receiver.” “So low frequency noise is very difficult to reduce and to control and to mitigate.”
Arenas, a faculty member in the Universidad Austral de Chile’s College of Engineering Sciences, is director of its Institute of Acoustics. He will be a collaborator with Virginia Tech’s Ricardo Burdisso, a professor of mechanical engineering in Blacksburg VA. The collaboration announced on March 30th, will include analysis of health effects at a wind project in Chile. Andrea Brunais reported this piece for “Outreach and International Affairs,” a production of Virginia Tech.
The goal of this research is to mitigate turbine emissions, according to the VA Tech piece, “Stormy Weather Ahead for Wind Farms?”
The interaction of blades with air “is a very challenging research problem,” Arenas continues. It would be “nice if we can predict the noise from the wind farms because there are no models–precise models–to do that.”
The “stormy weather” of the title relates to the concerns of residents, whose voices were heard in Ohio last year when legislators prescribed a quarter-mile setback from property lines. This was compounded when the state put the brakes on accepting new projects while it awaits a legislative panel review of its renewable standard, according to Associated Press reporter John Seewer (New rules cloud future for large-scale wind farms in Ohio, 2/14/15). He reported, “West Virginia’s governor signed a bill this month that eliminates its standards.” Groups in other states are trying to convince their governments to remove their energy standards and, with them, the incentives that attract large wind project developers.
“In Mason County, on the shore of Lake Michigan, local residents filed a lawsuit claiming Consumers Energy’s Lake Wind Energy Park has caused headaches, sleeplessness, nausea, dizziness, stress, and fatigue since the facility began operating two years ago,” according to Bonner R. Cohen, a senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research (Michigan May Curtail Wind Lawsuits, 2/19/15).
*”Please Note that MassDEP has concluded that the available information on the impact of low frequency sound and infrasound on public health is currently insufficient to develop a noise policy that would apply to low frequency sound and infrasound at this time. MassDEP acknowledges comments received on this issue in response to the health study and will review and consider the latest scientific information on this topic as it becomes available in the future,”
Ken Kimmell, then MassDEP Commissioner, during the first WNTAG meeting on July 18, 2013.
The small Berkshire community of Hancock, population 775, is not taking a change in their reimbursement lying down, not while they negotiate a new agreement for payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) with the Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative Corporation.
Sherman Derby, left, is chair of the board of selectmen. Reporting in the Berkshire Eagle (“Hancock, Brodie Mountain wind power firm at odds over payments” 3/4/15), Scott Stafford quotes Derby:
Green energy is great, but when they have to pay green money, it’s a problem. They’re making more money than they thought they would, but we’re not getting anything.
The issue for Hancock is to hold out for a PILOT value of $156,600 to match the original agreement which expired in 2014. The Berkshire Wind coop of 14 communities has paid $147,000, but the select board voted to return the check.
iBerkshires staff writer Stephen Dravis indicates that Hancock believes the cooperative is getting a deal with its proposal (“Hancock Suing Berkshire Wind Over PILOT Payments” 3/3/15).
Derby said that while it is true personal property—like the turbines—depreciate, the utility is generating more power from the 10 turbines than it projected before they were built and if it agreed to another three-year PILOT, it would be able to lock in the current tax rate.
“Do you think Hancock’s tax rate is going to be $2.48 three years from now?” Derby said. “They’re getting the benefit of that rate for three years. That would make up any depreciation they got.”
The ongoing dispute escalated on Tuesday when the Hancock board voted to authorize a suit against the power cooperative, WAMC radio’s Jim Levulis reported March 4th in “Hancock Suing Berkshire Wind Cooperative Over Payment Disputes.” Listen to the Midday Magazine report.
According to their own press release, issued November 2014, the Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative is doing very well.
Wind speeds atop Brodie Mountain average about 8 meters/second, making it one of the best inland wind sites in Massachusetts. The project achieved its expected average capacity factor of 40% during the past year, meaning it produced about 40% of its potential output, which is above wind industry standards.
The 10-turbine, 15-megawatt project began operation at Brodie Mountain in Hancock MA in 2011.
Iberdrola missed a few deadlines on its way to meeting a self-imposed schedule to bring its turbines into line with the Mass. noise limits. As a result, the DEP issued a consent order with mandated deadlines, followed by a fine of $1000 per day if the violations continue. To comply with the order, Iberdrola must respond to complaints about noise. A recent complaint brought a less-than-stellar response, as indicated in the report. Analysis by acoustician Stephen Ambrose noted the data gaps, which he detailed in a subsequent letter to the Mass. DEP.
My professional opinion is that this wind-turbine compliance noise test is not credible and does not show that the turbines meet the Mass DEP noise limits.
Click on the images to see the letter and the RSG report data.
Observers have noted that whenever sound monitoring is done at the Hoosac, significant data points are eliminated from the report findings.
Wind turbine noise is different from other types of noise, as acoustician Stephen Ambrose explains through two charts. The first is from the study done in Sweden in 2004, when Eja Pedersen and Kerstin Waye illustrated their findings with the top graph below. In the second chart, Ambrose and Robert Rand developed a schematic to show the results of numerous studies which independently echo the lived experience of wind turbine neighbors. Too loud, which often means too close, is predictable from the volume of complaints. For more on turbine acoustics, click on Wind Turbine Noise Complaint Predictions Made Easy, or link to the “Too Close for Comfort” segment of Chronicle.