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Actual “Flicker” Study to Dispel Phantoms?

May 5, 2013

Two years after approval, KWI submitted a Google Maps “Flicker Contour” now located on the town’s Planning Department site.

According to Kingston Planning Board Chair Tom Bouchard, and Town Planner Tom Bott, there was no flicker “study” prior to the Independence Turbine being built, just “shadow flicker information” from the town’s Green Energy Committee.

In her Wicked Local Kingston article “Clean Energy Center explains how flicker study is conducted; Kingston town planner challenged, Kathryn Gallerani details the town’s admission that no pre-construction study had been done and explains the strobing study process. First the shadow effect is modeled, then field work is conducted based on the modeling. Catherine Williams, spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, described the process and said the CEC is coordinating a study that includes all five wind turbines in Kingston – the Independence, Mary O’Donnell’s three turbines, and the MBTA’s. A consulting firm will do the actual study.

Gallerani points out:

 The question, was there ever a shadow flicker study done before the Independence was installed, has been a point of contention at public meetings as recently as last week. Town Planner Tom Bott, for one, has come under fire by Leland Road residents Doreen and Sean Reilly, among others.

When the Reillys met with the Planning Board last week, they demanded to see the shadow flicker study that the Planning Board cited in its site plan approval for the Independence. They say Bott had been misleading about whether there was an official flicker study and finally acknowledged there wasn’t one.

At the April 29, 2013 meeting, the Planning Board Chair said little information about flicker was known at the time, although the board based its citing recommendation (6/28/2010) on site plan information “based on the shadow flicker study.” He acknowledged that the information was more reading material and not a site-specific study. “In retrospect, [he said]…that probably should not have said shadow flicker study and probably should have said shadow flicker information”.

Bott said this week that he has provided more than 100 pages of information, including a document titled “Community Wind: The Future of Wind Energy,” dated Oct. 21, 2008, from the Green Energy Committee, to the Reillys to respond to their questions.

The MassCEC provided a grant of $137,860 to fund the Independence wind turbine, in spite of its website’s claim, “When providing funding for a project, MassCEC requires that shadow flicker be evaluated.” This requirement was noted in the Boston Globe’s story “Flickering shadows from wind turbines draw complaints” by Peter Schworm and David Filipov (4/5/13). They continue, “the MassCEC website states ‘Projects should ensure that shadow flicker impacts are minimized.’”

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