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Bourne Board of Health Quandary

August 17, 2018

The Bourne BOH faces a “critical test of board of health power” in the words of Paul Gately, reporting in Bourne Wicked Local (The Bourne Courier).

“What [residents] seek this side of the Plymouth line could represent a critical test of board of health power in the public health, safety and welfare of Buzzards Bay residents,” he wrote in “Buzzards Bay residents raise issue with turbines” (8/10/18).

Plymouth's Future Generation Wind impact zoneAccording to the article, the Board is awaiting the results of testing of the turbines on the Mann property in Plymouth where the four turbines of the Future Generation Wind project operate. The Mass Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) was reviewing the recently completed noise report of Tech Environmental.

The MassDEP issued their review and found multiple inadequacies. In an August 2, 2018 letter, Maria E. Pinaud, the Southeast Deputy Regional Director, said

“…MassDEP is unable at this time to concur with Tech Environmental, Inc.’s conclusion presented in the report that ‘…all four of the FGW wind turbines are in compliance with MassDEP Noise Policy….'”

Pinaud addressed her letter to Plymouth’s Director of Inspectional Services and emphasized that there are 12 points requiring further details.

Noise, as an environmental pollutant, comes under MassDEP’s jurisdiction. To date, they have not acted to protect those residents who are impacted by the wind plants but live outside the communities where the projects operate.

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Savoy Denies Appeal for Turbines

August 10, 2018
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60 meter Otis turbine

The Zoning Board of Appeals in Savoy filed their determination with the town clerk on July 31, 2018, finding against Minuteman Wind LLC on two points:

 

  • the 2018 application did not match an earlier special permit issued in 2010 and
  • the amount of construction at the site did not meet the level needed to qualify for extension of the 2010 permit.

Minuteman Wind has 20 days to take action on the finding. For Berkshire Eagle reporter Larry Parnass’s take on the July ZBA hearing, read “Savoy board rejects developer’s wind power appeal” (7/18/18).  Earlier in the year he published the “Timeline of wind turbine project in Savoy“(5/29/18). In a letter to the Eagle, “Turbine builders should stop stalking Savoy” (3/8/2018), Salvatore Raciti also offered a timeline: 

The town has made it abundantly clear that it does not want Minuteman’s wind turbines! On Aug. 24, 2017, angry citizens assembled and shouted their opposition at the town meeting. On Sept. 27, Savoy voters easily defeated the effort to enlarge the size of the blades. And on Dec. 21, 2017, voters overwhelmingly reversed a 2008 bylaw to formally prohibit wind turbines of any sort in the town of Savoy.

Noise Complaints Raised at Bourne Board of Health

August 9, 2018

Chris Kapsambelis and Karen Gibides addressed the Board of Health in Bourne at their Wednesday, August 8, 2018 meeting. She asked the BOH for guidance on how to address resident concerns,Bourne-BOH-BourneTV

We feel that regardless of where the noise is coming from we are suffering a nuisance…. And we don’t know where to turn, so we’re turning to you again now that we’ve reached this point where [the turbines] are in operation and we are suffering a nuisance from them. As the court said, we then could approach the board of health, who has great power in the area of public health. It seems that under any other circumstance this would be a public health issue that requires address by our town administrators. I guess we want to know what do we do next. How do we work with you to get some relief?

Kapsambelis explained the impact noise is having on Bourne residents whose homes are closer to the Future Generation Wind turbines than most Plymouth residents. He submitted a 25-page compilation of the complaints residents have been filing on a web form.
Among the comments submitted online, Larry McGrath wrote, “Turbines very loud- first like a train and then like a jet plane” and Karen Gibides reported:

This morning at 6:02 am, I was awakened by the throbbing and whirring of the turbine closest to me as it geared up for the day. Again, not the way I want to start my day, my day off from work, when perhaps I could sleep in. And the noise continues to distract and annoy me as I work from home. We are enjoying a moderate southwest wind, and the turbine noise is horrible for us. Of course, this is not a wind direction that was ever sound tested in our neighborhood.

Kapsambelis reminded the BOH of the town’s bylaws and their responsibility to address complaints when citizens’ health is impacted. The inability to sleep was a top complaint, followed by headaches, vertigo, nausea and distraction due to strobing light. He pointed out the limitations of the Tech Environmental’s May 2018 report. His submission concluded:

We request that the BOH raises these points with MassDEP and demands a reevaluation. In the meantime, the wind turbines should be turned off, and only allowed to run for any additional testing.

In “Buzzards Bay residents raise issue with turbines,” Paul Gately reported on the meeting (Bourne Wicked Local 8/10/18):

Board Chairman Kathy Peterson on August 8, however, did say she and Health Agent Terri Guarino would contact the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to determine when its Mann turbine testing would conclude, and also try to secure technical assistance to review results.

Peterson says this would involve a request to learn why state testing of the towering commercial-grade turbines was conducted away from the neighboring Head of the Bay homes in Bourne.

DOER Models a Comprehensive Energy Plan

August 2, 2018

The Massachusetts  Department of Energy Resources (DOER) hosted several public meetings at the end of July to introduce the scope of its Comprehensive Energy Plan. Several WWMA volunteers attended the Westfield meeting. A comment periodPower Sector Energy Use
presents an important opportunity to urge DOER to exclude any further land-based wind development in Massachusetts. The comment period ends August 3rd.

The slides for the presentation are posted here
You can make comments of 60 words or less through this survey or send longer statements by email to doer.markets@mass.gov.  

Questions focus on: 

 

  • The thermal, transportation, and power sectors;
  • The drivers and inputs into the modeling assumptions; and
  • The challenges and possible policy pathways for achieving our future energy goals.

Here is a comment submitted by Dale LaBonte:

As there was no mention of onshore wind turbines, I assume that the wind in the modeling is all off-shore. As there is no guarantee planned projects will be built, this seems to deviate from the status quo modeling. Wind is not a good option for reducing greenhouse gases (GHG), especially as it isn’t clear that they work. (There is almost no information about actual power production). Poorly sited turbines onshore are a hazard to health and well-being, even if DEP ignores complaints.

Letter: “Brodie turbines benefit others while we suffer”

July 25, 2018
Trina Sternstein’s letter to the editor in the Berkshire Eagle (7/18/18) notes the winners and losers in the 2-turbine expansion at Brodie Mountain in Hancock MA:
The Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative plans to install two new additional turbines on Brodie Mountain. To me this new wind project is an illustration of the extreme lack of understanding many people have of the wind industry and wind turbines themselves. For example, their electricity is unreliable and most available when least needed — in spring and fall. Adding more and bigger turbines callously disregards the complaints made by those in the vicinity of the first Brodie project.

We are told that the cooperative is an initiative of the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Co. with 14 municipal utilities who participated in the first phase of this project. The participants in the second project (the two new turbines) include the towns of Boylston, Chicopee, Hull, Marblehead, Peabody, Russell, Sterling, Wakefield and West Boylston. David Tuohey, spokesperson for the company, said that customers (of the company) “desire to be more involved in clean energy projects.” With the exception of Russell and Chicopee, all of these towns are within an hour’s drive of Boston. These people will not hear the turbines, see the environmental damage or view these massive industrial machines. They don’t seem to care about the impact that their “feel good” project will have on people in Western Massachusetts.

The last two paragraphs allude to very bad problems with wind turbines, the environmental destruction they cause and the noise they make. We are told that when the original turbines were installed “access roads (for two more) were built and pad sites cleared so the only work (for the two new ones) will involve transport and the erection of towers minimizing the impact on the Brody mountain ridge line.” I am unable to see the difference between damage done in the past and the same damage done in the future.

Feathered blades will be used to minimize noise. Where is the proof that they do so?

Trina Sears Sternstein,

Hawley

Noise: Too Much in Plymouth, Expect More at Brodie

July 16, 2018

SA-NGW-analysisAcoustician Stephen Ambrose has issued a new analysis, finding that all the Future Generation Wind turbines in Plymouth exceed noise levels at night.

In his message to MassDEP Regional Director Millie Garcia-Serrano, Ambrose said “This review finds FGW exceeds the MassDEP noise policy by 10 to 20 dB at all locations. Nighttime turbine noise curtailment does not work. All turbines should be turned off at night.” His interpretation of the noise testing confirms what Plymouth and Bourne residents know from experience: the turbines are too loud to operate at night in the quiet rural area.

The analysis cites the Plymouth Sound Compliance Monitoring Report issued in May 2018 by Waltham-based Tech Environmental.

BrodieMtn2addlLOC

Anticipated position of cleared pads for 2 more turbines on Brodie Mountain.

Meanwhile the Brodie Mountain power plants will expand by two under an initiative to add larger, 2.3 MW, turbines on previously-cleared sites near the 10 existing 1.5 MW turbines. Apparently anticipating the potential for noise complaints with 8 homes in proximity to the new turbines, reporter Scott Stafford wrote “The turbine blades will utilize a feathered blade trailing edge, reminiscent of a bird’s wing, to minimize blade wake and sound levels.” The turbines are to go up in the fall and begin operation in spring 2019, according to the Berkshire Eagle article (“2 more turbines slated for Berkshire Wind Power project on Brodie Mountain” 7/12/18).

 

Of Russian Gas, Nuclear Power, and Renewables

February 19, 2018

LNG Everett terminal against a sunset skylineWhen shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) reach the Massachusetts Distrigas Terminal in Everett, they are usually from Trinidad.  But this winter, extra shipments were needed to meet the high demand for gas heating and to keep the lights on.  This LNG came from Russia through their new terminal in Yamal, a site in the Arctic Circle 1550 miles from Moscow. A Boston Globe editorial offered its opinion on the Yamal LNG facility in “Our Russian Pipeline and its ugly toll” (February 13, 2018).

Chris Kapsambelis, a regular Wind Wise Massachusetts commentator, posted this  response on the Globe web site. “We might all wish for a clean energy future,” he wrote, “but realistically we may be forced into a system of wind and solar with dirty natural gas firming which pollution-wise is no better than what we got.” Read his full comment here:

The early retirement of coal and nuclear power plants is based on the expectation that renewable energy from wind and solar is a replacement that avoids fossil fuel pollution at a lower cost. It is not working out. The loss of both coal and nuclear cancel each other out for a net zero change in carbon emissions. Variable and intermittent wind and solar need backup firming from inefficient natural gas peaking power plants, again for a net zero change in carbon emissions.

Our rates are going sky high to support a policy that is not working. ISO-NE tells us that for the policy to work, we need seasonal energy storage. That is we need to store enough wind and solar energy in the Fall and Spring to address peak demand in the Winter and Summer. No one knows when, if ever,  in the future seasonal storage may materialize. Until then we should put a halt to land based wind turbines with their high impact on the health of nearby residents, bird and bat kills, and mountain ridge destruction. Furthermore, we should rescue nuclear power plants like Pilgrim, and promote the development of new and safer nuclear power for the future.

We might all wish for a clean energy future from wind and solar backed up by seasonal energy storage, but realistically we may be forced into a system of wind and solar with dirty natural gas firming which pollution-wise is no better than what we got. Of the three choices, nuclear with a small amount of natural gas to address demand fluctuations looks to be our best and cheapest solution.

The editorial addresses the environmental cost of Russian gas processing. The letters and comments in response form an intriguing thread, worth the time to follow.

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