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Do Wind Turbine Operators “Influence” Noise Testing

August 6, 2013

When Louise Barteau noted in February 2013 that the production numbers were lower than expected in Fairhaven during testing in October 2012, she brought it to the attention of the MassDEP, which ordered a new round of testing.

As Chris Kapsambelis reviewed the report from the Hoosac Project, he noticed a similar decline in the production numbers.

In contrast, when Kingston residents paid a consultant to test noise from the three “No Fossil Fuel” turbines, the testing was done without the knowledge of the project owners, so there was no opportunity for them to manipulate the results.

The concerns that numerous individuals addressed in their May letter to the MassDEP are justified, with the evidence of these two instances. The letter asks for “independent monitors during data gathering sessions,”  and “determin[ing] the actual production status of the turbine(s) during testing. Some of the testing should be performed unannounced to the turbine operators.”

Yet another case of helping the results to fall on the side of the developers emerged recently in Sheffield VT, where a First Wind project is adversely impacting a family with young children.

According the John Dillon, reporting on August 1, 2013 for Vermont Public Radio, the testing showed a drop-off in production in the middle of a 3-day test. When Dillon asked the lead attorney for the Vermont Department of Public Service, Geoff Commons, about their $20,000 study, he said the results were not definitive.

He said the consultant couldn’t distinguish between the background noise of the wind itself and the turbine sound.  And it was difficult to schedule the monitoring when the wind direction makes the sound worse at the Therriens’ place. Finally, there’s the fact the developer knew the testing was taking place. Commons said that wasn’t part of the plan. He said he doesn’t know if First Wind dialed back the turbines to reduce the sound.

“The possibility certainly does concern me, absolutely. I should say it concerns the department, that that could happen. And going forward we are going to try to control for that in any future testing,” he said.

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