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Sullivan is CWOI on Wind

July 8, 2013

Secretary Richard K. Sullivan told Patrick Cassidy of the Cape Cod Times (“Taking sting out of wind turbine siting” 6/28/13) that the new initiative announced last week would look at successful wind energy projects. The definition of “successful” is left unstated.

Being coy about wind projects is part of the game for this administration. In this case, the “coyness” is CWOI–short for Community Wind Outreach Initiative:

The effort announced by Sullivan — dubbed the Community Wind Outreach Initiative — will include representatives from his office, the Department of Energy Resources, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the state Department of Environmental Protection and the state Energy Facilities Siting Board.

The question is, how will the administration promote safe siting? That requires finding locations where turbines will produce no noise impacts and no strobing hazards. To date, the most recent studies that establish distances at which effects are felt are Nissenbaum’s (et. al.) studies in Maine, The Shirley WI research, and Shepherd’s study in New Zealand. International groups call for a minimum distance of a mile and a quarter (2 km). With the safety of these distances in doubt, it is wise that Secretary Sullivan does not rule out a more robust and scientific study than the selective literature review sponsored by Mass DEP and MDPH in 2011-2012.

“Again, we’re not sitting here saying we have all the right answers,” he said. “We want to get this right.”

Sullivan said he is open to the possibility of a more comprehensive state or federally supported study of the health effects of wind turbines.

Malcolm Donald, in a Cape Cod Times Opinion piece “Turbine neighbors unmoved by new wind outreach plan,” elaborated:

This should offer a smile to the Falmouth Board of Health, whose request to the state Department of Public Health to conduct such a study a year ago was rejected because it didn’t have the funds. (Oh, but Sullivan is not the DPH commissioner. He only controls the vast pools of Massachusetts Clean Energy Center money collected from every electricity ratepayer in the commonwealth each month.)

As a caller to WCAI’s On Point with Mindy Todd, Donald noted that the promise Governor Patrick made–not to leave Falmouth “holding the bag”–seems in doubt. Malcolm said, “Falmouth is still holding the bag. Either the turbines must go or the neighbors must go.” The program “What’s the Future for Land based Wind Turbines in Massachusetts?” was broadcast on June 27, 2013.

2012. Nissenbaum, M., Aramini, J., and Hanning, C. “Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health.” Noise & Health 14 (60) 237-243. 2012. [full text]

The authors conclude that “noise emissions of IWTs [industrial wind turbines] disturbed the sleep and caused daytime sleepiness and impaired mental health in residents living within 1.4 km of the two IWT installations studied.”

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 10, 2013 8:25 am

    The state’s model By-law adopted by most municipalities is responsible for these problems. Three years after these problems surfaced, the state has yet to modify the By-law by increasing the setback distance to a safe point.

    In the meantime, local boards across the state have taken notice and revised their by-laws to protect local residents. This action has limited the advancement of many wind turbine projects around the state.

    All we need is for the state to bail out the mistakes in Falmouth, Fairhaven, Scituate, and Kingston, and leave the local boards to deal with future installations. The system is working as designed. The mistakes have been noted and corrected. There will not be any future ill-sited wind turbines.

    The state is not trying to solve the problem. The state is using the widespread complaints to remove the authority vested in local rule and move the siting responsibility to the state. We need to stop them. The tradition of Local Rule has served us well. You do not want state bureaucrats on Beacon Hill deciding just how much noise you can stand and still get a good night’s sleep.

    In a contest between your quality of life and the money lobbyists can pump into the political system to put wind turbine in your neighborhood, you will always lose!

    We need to retain Local Rule!

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  1. State Wants Wind to Sail Ahead as DPU Solicits “Best Practices” | Wind Wise ~ Massachusetts

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