The Kingston moratorium creates a two-year time-out from wind turbine siting while study of noise issues continues. When siting resumes, developers will have to meet more stringent siting guidelines to protect residents from strobing light. Kathryn Gallerani reported for Wicked Local Middleborough in “KINGSTON TOWN MEETING: Future wind turbines will have to prove flicker won’t impact neighbors:”
Any developer hoping to install utility-size wind turbines in Kingston will have to wait until after April 15, 2016.
And, with any proposal, the developer will have to prove that the shadow flicker from that turbine won’t affect neighboring households.
Town Meeting voters quickly approved a moratorium on industrial wind turbines Tuesday night but debated implementing a regulation on flicker that could be prohibitive for new wind turbine projects. The final vote was 101-43; the measure passed by the needed two-thirds majority.
Shelburne’s expiring two-year moratorium for “on-premises” turbines will result in a vote on May 7, 2014 on a proposed zoning bylaw. Shelburne had already banned commercial projects. In her article for the Greenfield Recorder, “Shelburne to revisit bylaw for wind turbines,” Diane Broncaccio writes:
It’s been two years since about 300 residents filled Memorial Hall Auditorium to deliberate windmill zoning at a time when the town was facing a proposal for a large-scale wind farm. Back then, voters banned commercial-scale wind farms from town by a 195-57 vote and voted 229-46 in favor of a moratorium on “on-premises” wind turbines for generating power for farms, homes and businesses.
Now the town Planning Board has drafted a bylaw that will be presented at annual town meeting at 7 p.m. on May 7, for “on premises” wind turbines. The new bylaw provides standards for placement, design, construction, monitoring and removal of wind energy systems. If approved, it would replace the two-year moratorium on smaller wind turbines.
Shelburne’s draft bylaw restricts turbine height, distance from property lines and roads, noise levels, and strobing. It also allows the town to take action when a turbine is considered “abandoned.”
Two recent essays highlight aspects of wind turbine impacts, addressing effects that go beyond audible noise. Both are written by distinguished experts who have the research background needed to comment authoritatively about infrasound.
In How does wind turbine noise affect people? researchers Alec Salt and Jeffrey Lichtenhan point out the physiological mechanisms their studies have uncovered. These contribute to the growing body of evidence that noise from wind turbines, even that below the audible threshold, can impact humans who live near turbines. Acoustics Today published this invited paper in the Winter 2014 issue in March 2014. This magazine of the Acoustical Society of America exists to present technical issues in a form accessible to a general audience. In this article Salt and Lichtenhan explain the recent progress in understanding the ear and its responses to infrasound and low frequency noise. They answer those who dismiss the effect of infrasound on the ear and on other body systems:
The current highly-polarized situation has arisen because our understanding of the consequences of long-term infrasound stimulation remains at a very primitive level. Based on well-established principles of the physiology of the ear and how it responds to very low frequency sounds, there is ample justification to take this problem more seriously than it has been to date.
In Wind Farms and Health, Alun Evans, a medical doctor, epidemiologist and researcher, analyzes the biology of wind turbine emissions in the context of his specialty. Drawing the inferences of disturbed sleep from recent studies, and the rapidity with which the body produces genetic anomalies in blood cells based on lack of sleep, Evans sounds the alarm. Study after study that he cites note problems and impacts that have been ignored or dismissed.
Although the associations between noise pollution and ill health can be argued against, and there are gaps in our knowledge, there is sufficient evidence to cause grave misgivings about its safety.
The MassDEP’s Wind and Noise Technical Advisory group met on 3/7/14 to review the committee’s work. Laurel Carlson, DEP Deputy Regional Director, presented her discussion document overview.
Presentation by Laurel Carlson, MassDEP, on possible changes to the MassDEP approved methods of noise testing.
Compliance Testing–DEP favors retaining 10 dBA. “Slow is out, fast (meter) is in.” Attended data collection is still in; have not settled on “when” or “where” of testing.
Alternatives that have been raised; pre-construction permitting & additional recommendations are reviewed
Laurel Carlson continues with additional recommendations, noting attended sampling is logistically challenged. Comments by Stephen Ambrose, Todd Drummey (about Falmouth), and Michael Bahtiarian. DEP’s Martin Suuberg responds.
Issues with Pre-construction background noise levels
Carlson and Suuberg both repeated the DEP’s interest in getting comments on the findings to date and especially on the unresolved concerns.
According to Stacie Smith of the Consensus Building Institute (CBI), the public can send comments through the end of March 2014 to WNTAG via email@example.com. CBI will compile and post the comments all on the WNTAG website, and notify the group that they are there.
In his slide show revisiting the Bruce McPherson (memorial) study, acoustician Stephen Ambrose demonstrated the shell game used to hide the impacts of wind turbines felt by nearby residents. Rob Rand collaborated on producing this quick, accessible series of images depicting where the harm lurks. Both Rand and Ambrose experienced adverse health effects while studying the Webb turbine from the home of Sue and Ed Hobart in Falmouth.
Ambrose, who is INCE Board Certified, prepared “Wind Turbine Harm” as testimony for the Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals hearing on March 6, 2014. His presentation was not projected, but was distributed at the hearing–in support of the claim brought by the Hobarts that the Webb Research (Notus) Turbine is a nuisance. The hearing was continued to May 1, 2014.
This “Bruce McPherson Study Epilogue” has also been submitted to the MassDEP Wind Turbine and Noise Technical Advisory Group (WNTAG), of which Stephen Ambrose is a member. The last meeting was held on March 7, 2014 and materials have not yet been posted on the WNTAG web site. Unfortunately, “neither infrasound nor low frequency is being addressed by WNTAG,” according to the minutes of the initial meeting held in July 2013.
The original study funded by Bruce McPherson was subsequently published in 2012 as “Wind turbine acoustic investigation: infrasound and low frequency noise – A case study,” a peer-reviewed article in the Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society.
Noise complaints about the wind turbines in Fairhaven continue to come in. Turbine locations are indicated with yellow pins–at the center of the image. This map is based on complaints from a year ago and indicates locations with one or more complaints (red circles). The locations where DEP testing occurred are shown with yellow circles, and the places where exceedances occurred are indicated with blue circles. Additional complaints were lodged at locations outside the range of this map.
The new middle school, built since the turbines began operation, is the large rectangular structure in the lower left corner of the image. This is one of eight schools around the commonwealth located in close proximity to a turbine.
Turbines in this and other communities can be found in a new interactive GIS map developed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
The Boston Globe Magazine listing (2/9/14) of a Kingston home for $899,000 in the Country Club Way neighborhood reads like an ordinary upscale purchase until the last sentence: ” Cons A wind turbine is visible at street’s end.”
The 400+ foot turbine not only looms over the property, but would also be audible to the residents. In fact, all five turbines in Kingston are not very distant from the property location (approximately where the yellow pin appears in the middle of this map–which can be found on page 11 in the report “O’Donnell Wind Turbines Noise Analysis, Kingston, MA” by Allan Beaudry and Michael Bahtiarian).
This could be why the home, which originally listed for $949,900 in June 2013, has been on the market for 224 days and is now offered at a price reduction.
That a disclaimer is needed in a property listing contradicts the findings of the recent report commissioned by the MassCEC and performed by UConn and Lawrence Berkeley Lab (California) statisticians. The report had been prominent on the Kingston town website until residents complained that it was another misleading, pro-wind document similar to others the town had posted. Kathryn Gallerani reported on the concern in The Enterprise (Brockton), “Residents question decision to post turbine study on town website:”
KINGSTON – A study commissioned by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center indicates that despite claims to the contrary it cannot be demonstrated statistically that wind turbines affect nearby home prices.
Critics say the findings of this new study are misleading. Some residents are angry that the study has been posted to the town’s website.
The misleading aspects of the study have to do with the methodology, which lumps together many years of property sale data and homes at various distances from turbine locations. Michael McCann, an appraiser who has been consulted as an expert in many wind turbine siting proposals, has said
The CEC/Hoen study is far from transparent. Not a single property sale is identified, and this of course makes it impossible to independently verify any of the facts or relevance of the data relied on by the author. Further, using 122,000 “sales” in an effort to claim the study is reliable is misleading. Only a minuscule number of those transactions are likely to have been affected by neighboring turbines, so the actual impacts get lost in the rounding of statistical analysis.
Andersen said he hoped state officials would visit the homes of people living near wind turbines but, because he didn’t expect that to happen, he had brought a speaker to replicate the “infrasound” from the turbines near his home in Falmouth.
Andersen said the inaudible sound would likely cause people in the auditorium to become sick, but that he would like to let it run during the remainder of the hearing.
“One thing I can guarantee you is that nobody is going to fall asleep,” he said.
After a quick consultation DPU hearing officer Robert Shea said he was worried about the liability of making people sick if what Andersen said was true.
“I’m not by any means minimizing the complaint you report here,” he said. Watch the video.
“Thank you,” Andersen said. “I don’t have any recording.”
The fact that the mere threat of experiencing the same symptoms as turbine neighbors worried Shea and the other state officials in attendance was enough, he said. Watch another clip.
The WXTK-95 newsradio program hosted by Ed Lambert discussed the hearing. Listen to the 10-minute clip. Lambert believes
The “regulators” at the DPU have already come up with the guidelines. All this is eye-wash, in my opinion, because they’ve already come up with the guidelines. They’re just doing this to make people feel good, and “oh yes, we’re listening to you: the pros and the cons.”