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Hoosac Wind Fails Noise Test

July 28, 2014

Ribbon cutting ceremony December 2012

UPDATE 7-31-14:

WAMC Radio reporter Jim Levulis describes the reaction of the MassDEP to Iberdrola’s mitigation plans for the Hoosac project  “Report Finds Hoosac Turbines Out of Compliance.”

Impacted resident Michael Fairneny is not impressed with the plans:

“Forget this mitigation,” Fairneny said. “I would want curtailment…these things shut down. If they’re found to out of compliance then I want something real done about it. I don’t see them ever being in compliance. I mean they are quiet a few days here and there. But the majority of the days when they’re not tested, if I’m not getting pounded the people on Tilda Hill are getting pounded.”


Hoosac Wind is loud. It’s too loud to comply with  Massachusetts noise limits. That’s why an April 28, 2014 letter to the Mass. Department of Environmental Protection offers remedies for the loud sounds. Iberdrola lists the exceedences measured in tests performed in January and February 2014 at monitoring stations at Tilda Hill Road and Moores Road:

• January 9, 2014 measurements were 42.4 dBA average Lmax at Tilda Hill South and 37.5 dBA average Lmax at Moores Road North. Ambient at those locations was 32.2 DBA and 26.7 dBA, respectively.
• February 20, 2014 measurements were 44.8 dBA average Lmax at Tilda Hill South and 44.4 dBA average Lmax at Moores Road North. Ambient at those locations was 27.8 DBA and 27.5 dBA, respectively. These unusual sound levels are attributed to a blade icing condition.

Too bad the company has not informed residents in Florida and Monroe, as it says in its letter it will do:

In addition to these technical modifications, New England Wind [Iberdrola Renewables] will be contacting neighboring residents inviting them to an information session. In that session New England Wind will listen to the concerns of landowners, discuss the sound test results, and detail our technical modifications. In addition, New England Wind will be offering scheduled tours of the site.

This report confirms what several acousticians noted after reviewing the original noise testing results from April 2013. Rob Rand  analysed the initial acoustic report, and Stephen Ambrose illustrated the issues in “Back to the Future II” for a Townsend, Vermont presentation in November 2013.

The large increase in noise above what is a quiet rural background turns this sparsely populated rural area into an industrial zone. But because wind turbines are not regulated like normal industries, the noise continues through the night.

Among numerous issues raised about the initial testing in 2013 were:

  • The turbines were run at a reduced power, which means that the turbines were producing less electricity and emitting lower noise. Iberdrola hired the acoustician (RSG of Vermont) to do the test and therefore was completely aware of the date and time of the testing.  This was true in the April 2013 testing and again in the latest January and February 2014 testing.  Even though the turbines were run at reduced power they still exceeded the Massachusetts noise pollution regulations.
  • Much of the original April 2013 testing was unattended when the MassDEP guidance says the testing should be “attended,” which means the noise is monitored by a person with a sound meter.
  • The test microphones were inappropriately placed near trees, raising the background level.

Independent acousticians also found raw data tables in the April 2013 test report that indicated noise violations, but the company rejected the data on those sampling occasions because they were assumed to be anomalies.

Before the project was ever built, the original modeled noise assessment indicated to acousticians that there would be “widespread complaints” and “strong appeals to stop the noise.” This modeling was performed on a computer in California, without any background noise measurements done in Florida or Monroe MA.

People whose lives have been impacted by the Hoosac project should have a chance to be heard. They will have ideas for mitigation that allow them to have a good night’s sleep.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Larry Lorusso permalink
    August 23, 2017 9:41 am

    The neighbors of Hoosac Wind are still suffering from noise pollution!

  2. Chris Kapsambelis permalink
    September 8, 2016 8:49 am

    Here is my report on the Hoosac testing

    https://windwisema.org/hoosac-wind-sound-level-monitoring/

    MassDEP has failed and is failing to protect the environment from excessive noise and infrasonic wave radiation as required by laws and regulations. Political leaders have failed to investigate any complaints from constituents.

    Beacon Hill legislators need to hold hearings to question MassDEP officials as to why none of the accepted mitigation plans, have failed to provide any relief to residents.

    Wind turbine noise has been found to be out of compliance with state noise regulations. Mitigation plans have failed to reduce the noise below compliance levels.

    How much longer will it be before Governor Baker, Beaton, and Suuberg recognize that onshore wind turbines are a public menace, a nuisance, and a health hazard?

  3. August 2, 2014 10:14 am

    Massachusetts officials were well aware of two distinct types of noise from commercial wind turbines in 2006. The types of noise were regulatory and human annoyance as reported in a wind study for Mattapoisett in 2006. The Vestas V 47 was given as an example.

    The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative was the state’s economic development agency for renewable energy. They were stuck with two Vestas V 82 turbines in a warehouse since 2004 at $3500.00 per month until they were installed in Falmouth with 2009 stimulus funds.The turbines were installed in 2010. The storage fees were a political embarrassment and the installation has 50 Falmouth residents up in arms over noise issues.

    Here is the introduction to the MTC report:
    Wind Power in Mattapoisett, Marion & Rochester:Siting Considerations for a Met Tower
    and Fatal Flaws Analysis for a Wind Turbine

    This report was funded by the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust’s Community Wind Collaborative on behalf of the towns of Mattapoisett, Marion & Rochester. It was prepared by Sally Wright and Lynn Di Tullio of the Renewable Energy Research Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts.

    Page 14
    “Noise
    Noise considerations generally take two forms, state regulatory compliance and nuisance levels at nearby residences:

    A. Regulatory compliance: Massachusetts state regulations do not allow a rise of 10 dB or greater above background levels at a property boundary (Massachusetts Air Pollution Control Regulations, Regulation 310 CMR 7.10). This sound level is very unlikely to be a reached incase at the sites we examined.

    B. Human annoyance: Aside from Massachusetts regulations, residences must also be taken into consideration. Any eventual turbine would be sited such that it would be inaudible or minimally audible at the nearest residences. At this stage, to check for “fatal flaws,” a rule of thumb can be used: to minimize possible noise impacts,site wind turbines at least three times the blade tip height from residences. Distances from mixed-use areas may be somewhat shorter.

    Noise will not be an issue for siting a wind turbine at the ORR High School or the Marion WWTP.

    However, noise will be a primary siting constraint for the Brandt Island Road site because much of the parcel is less than 800 feet wide, and there are residences to the western side of the parcel. Consideration of the neighbors will be an important factor in siting a wind turbine on this parcel of town land. Given a specific size and make of turbine, suggested setbacks from residences can be proposed to eliminate or minimize the audibility at the neighbors. This would then inform the exact siting of a turbine. For example, a Vestas V47 on a 50-meter tower has a 241-foot blade-tip, and would need to be sited on
    the far eastern side of the parcel, to be three times the blade-tip height (723 feet) from the neighbors on the western edge.”

  4. July 29, 2014 9:53 am

    Hoosac Wind neighbors finally vindicated with evidence other than their own experience. The question is what is the remedy if any?

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  1. More on Noise Report at Monroe Turbine | Wind Wise ~ Massachusetts

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