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Hoosac Wind Fails Noise Test

Ribbon cutting ceremony December 2012

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 North:

• 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 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, and to

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