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July 28, 2012

MassDEP noise regulations (310 CMR 7.10) prohibit noise that is 10 dB(A) above ambient. This is measured by the  difference between the lowest L90 reading with the noise source turned off to the absolute maximum reading with the noise source turned on. (View an interactive tutorial on noise levels.)

DEP Acoustician and Deputy Southeast Regional DEP Director Laurel Carlson has said that she will be using the same protocol as she used in Falmouth,  which did compare the lowest L90 reading with the noise source off, to the maximum reading with the noise source turned on, when she tests turbine noise in Fairhaven. Alicia McDevitt, who just left the MassDEP to become head of the MassCEC, has also said “that the DEP measures the absolute maximum noise to compare to the ambient.” She went on to say at the Wind Working Group presentation on July 18, 2012 that if there are a lot of complaints, the noise source usually exceeds the 10 dB(A) limit.

Peggy Aulisio of South Coast Today reported on the Fairhaven Board of Health meeting of 7/23/12.

Ms. Carlson, who tested the wind turbines in Falmouth, said she will focus on four to five residences.

The homes are all owned by people who have submitted complaints about the turbines to the town’s Board of Health. They are located on Teal Circle, Mill Road, Little Bay Road and Shawmut Street.

Another location, Peirce Point, is also likely to be tested, Ms. Carlson said.

Carlson’s appearance was also reported by Ariel Wittenberg in the 7/24/12 South Coast Today article “DEP turbine noise test will begin as soon as weather allows.”  Fairhaven’s Board of Health has received numerous complaints. Residents at the meeting expressed concern about infrasound, but Carlson said it is not regulated in Massachusetts.

The MassDEP instructions for taking field “background” readings is “Take an instantaneous reading every 10 seconds until you have 100 readings.  The 10th lowest reading is the ‘background’ level” (i.e. the “L90” level, the level which is exceeded 90% of the time.” (MassDEP Guidance, 2003, p. 12).
2 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris Kapsambelis permalink
    July 28, 2012 11:40 am

    The residents of Kingston need to take note of the fact that the MassCEC Acoustic Study Methodology for Wind Turbine Projects does not use the absolute maximum metric Lmax to determine compliance. It continues to use the L90 metric which was used by the developer in Falmouth to initially declare Wind-1 in compliance. Since then the MassDEP has rejected this approach in favor of the Lmax metric which was used to find Wind-1 out of compliance at night.

    You need to verify that MassCEC will use the MassDEP protocol in the upcoming tests. In addition testing will need to be done over the whole operating range of wind speed, from wind directions downwind of the turbine, and that the turbine is operating at rated power during data collection.


  1. Noise Testing–Do it Right « Wind Wise ~ Massachusetts

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