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Turbine Roulette

January 13, 2019
ar-160309648Falmouth is facing a tough decision in its next roll in the wind turbine gamble–move, dismantle, or share. On Monday January 14, 2019, the Selectmen will hear that discussion at 7:45 PM:
 
Discussion and vote on moving, repurposing or dismantling wind turbines. Options to include:
  • a. Wind 2 to alternative Falmouth wastewater site or a site outside of Falmouth
  • b. Wind 1 to a site outside of Falmouth

As Mark Cool reports on his Firetower Wind blog, Falmouth Selectmen to Weigh Relocation Option,

The Falmouth Board of Selectmen intend discussing and voting to potentially relocate a major piece of municipal infrastructure, at an upfront cost to taxpayers of 3 million dollars, while an official zoning classification of the wind turbine structure goes without address or determination.

Read more on the 2018 timeline of dismantlement–or not.

Wind in the 500 foot Rafters

December 23, 2018

How can the the Plymouth Future Generation Wind turbines be louder when turned off than when they are running? Chris Kapsambelis, trying to figure out the difference, noticed that before the turbines were built, the quiet night time noise ranged from 26.6 to 35.6 decibels (dBA).

Now, according to Tech Environmental noise testing, background noise is 7 to 18 dBA higher in the same locales. What could explain this? Consider the one new element in the cranberry bogs. There are now 4 wind energy plants, with nacelles alone that weigh 26 tons, suspended on 500 foot towers. 

Recently, I wrote about the curious phenomenon, where the wind turbine noise appeared softer than the ambient background, a seemingly impossible condition.

Since then, I have come across evidence that might explain how this is possible…. 

In retrospect, one must conclude that the extra noise with the turbines off, must be generated by the turbines themselves, even though they are turned off.

For more on the mystery, read the explanation Chris Kapsambelis came to.

Bourne finds noise nuisance from Plymouth turbines

October 26, 2018

Two years after Bourne complaints began, the Board of Health has taken action. According to Cape Cod Times reporter Beth Treffeisen, “The board will communicate to the Plymouth Board of Health its determination that the turbines are a nuisance to the residents of Bourne” (Bourne health board declares Plymouth turbines a nuisance” 10/15/18).

Facing the BOH chair, Karen Gibides presents noise complaint information

Karen Gibides (left) addresses Bourne BOH August 2018

“To me, this is a good first step and it will put the ball in the court of the regulating authorities,” said Plymouth resident Larry McGrath. “It is an obvious nuisance that is being ignored by the town of Plymouth and MassDEP. The town of Bourne is bringing light to the two regulating jurisdictions now.”

Speaking for a local group, the Buzzards Bay Action Committee, Ian Davies “told the board that there have been approximately 350 complaints filed with the board of health over the turbines ” (“Bourne Health Board To Press Plymouth Officials, DEP On Turbines” by Michael J . Rausch 10/25/18 in the Bourne Enterprise).

BOS Chair Belittles Noise Complaint

September 14, 2018

Frustration was the order of the day at the open forum period of the September 4, 2018 Board of Selectman meeting in Scituate. David Dardi had another sleepless night to recount. The select board chair felt he had heard it all before.

David Dardi:

This morning when I dragged myself out of bed after a sleepless night, I told myself I would come in here and tell you once again, even though I know you’ve heard it so many times, of the problem that’s out there with that wind turbine for me and my neighbors.

The problem for the board was that the town is starting noise testing, so they felt they were taking reasonable steps. But to anyone listening to the exchange, it sounded like an attempt to muzzle complaints.

Board Chair John Danehey interrupted Dardi’s remarks:

… it’s the same song and dance you sing….  I know you want it all shut down, it doesn’t matter what direction the wind comes from and I know you like coming in here for TV land for 5 minutes to talk to us. Please bring something new to the table.

But the bottom line is, as Dardi concluded, “Anyway, you’ve heard it again, we’re still not sleeping.”

This clip appeared on the Scituate Monthly ~ Our Town, a private facebook page and prompted over 50 comments. The full coverage of the meeting is on Scituate’s cable access channel SCTV on YouTube.

Graphs Contradict the Story

September 7, 2018

Engineer Chris Kapsambelis was scratching his head recently about the Plymouth Sound Compliance Monitoring Report. How, he wondered, could it be possible that the ambient lowest noise level for the cranberry bogs (L90–usually a quiet night time) was right up at the 50 dBA point? The quiet level shown here by a blue line is actually louder than some of the periods when the turbines were operating.

In the Tech Environmental Report, the Appendix Section, I came across this graph, and others like it, which I am having difficulty understanding. The note on the upper left corner states that the increase over ambient is only 0.6 dBA applying the DEP method. The blue line at the center, close to the 50 dBA level is described as the Ambient L90 background sound level with the turbines OFF.

Here is my problem. By casual inspection, the L50 metric, applied to the plot for turbine ON noise, would yield a level close to the L90 Ambient background level. Does that mean that the noise is softer when the turbines are running? Is the noise that falls below the L90 line on the graph inaudible? What kind of instrument is there that can record sound that one cannot hear?

We need to ask the DEP if their method for wind turbine compliance testing yields sensible results.

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 For more on L90 and other noise measurements, Kapsambelis explains in his essay Acoustics and Wind Turbine Noise.

Acoustician Stephen Ambrose issued an independent peer review citing numerous problems with the compliance report.

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.

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.

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