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Kimmell Coy on Noise Testing

June 19, 2013

One official’s claim of compliance is another resident’s sense of violation as turbine noise testing lags. The Globe South on Sunday June 16, 2013 quoted Commissioner Ken Kimmell defending Department of Environmental Protection policy (Wind advocates say critics’ assertions are exaggerated by Robert Knox). According to Kimmell, most turbines are in compliance most of the time. But this belies the very few tests that have been run (“staffing limitations” were cited by DEP spokesman Ed Coletta), and the flawed methodology in use:

“It’s consistent with the methods used to deal with a variety of projects, such as sand and gravel and asphalt batching plants, for years,” Kimmell said. “We have people on the staff trained to recognize wind gusts and discount them.”

(Most gravel pits and batching plants do not run through the night and don’t suddenly appear in a neighborhoods without notice to the abutters).

in May residents of Clarksburg, Fairhaven, Florida, Kingston, Monroe, and Scituate sent a letter to the Mass. DEP. These communities, impacted by five different wind turbine projects, asserted that DEP used outmoded standards for testing wind turbines. The letter also noted that developers have special access during testing, while community input  is limited. The raw data is not shared, so it is not open to independent verification. The letter called for:

  • Use of a fast meter (8 data points per second) setting during sound sampling. The present  use of the slow setting (1 data point per second) fails to accurately capture the highs and lows of turbine sound.
  • Allow independent monitors during data gathering sessions.
  • Include the experiences of affected neighbors during testing, as in the recent study by multiple INCE Board Certified Acousticians at the Shirley Wind project in Wisconsin.
  • Prohibit the turbine operators’ paid employees or subcontractors from joining the data gathering team, in order to prevent the potential for manipulation of the turbines during testing.
  • Determine the actual production status of the turbine(s) during testing. Some of the testing should be performed unannounced to the turbine operators.
  • Make the raw data publicly accessible in a spreadsheet or other digital format.
  • Accept comments from independent INCE Board Certified acousticians before finalizing findings.
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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 20, 2013 10:03 am

    The graph above shows the wind turbine noise coming from Wind -1 in Falmouth during turbine shutdown, 1,320 feet from the turbine. The left side of the graph shows the noise before shut down and the right side shows the ambient noise after shutdown. Ignore the reading above 44 dB(A) because they are associated with gear clanging as the rotor comes to a stop.

    Developers are claiming that the increase in the L90 ambient, which in the graph is from 27 dB(A) to about 36dB(A), is the proper methodology to use for compliance.

    MassDEP has traditionally used the L90 to establish ambient, and the Lmax to determine the increase in broadband sound level above ambient for compliance. In the graph, the ambient is about 27 dB(A), and the impact sound is about 43 dB(A), a 16 dB(A) increase above ambient.

    Do not let the developers use junk science to convince the MassDEP to change their methodology.

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