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New Regs or Policies? Weigh in on Noise!

March 30, 2016

Update: The comment period has been extended to May 13, 2016.


As a result of the series of meetings held with the Wind and Noise Turbine Advisory Group (WNTAG), new regulations, guidelines, or policies may be in the cards. And while the deck has been largely stacked against wind neighbors, this is an opportunity to throw down the aces: include infrasound, set L-90 low, use fast meter settings, recognize amplitude modulation. Play the wild card, too: anticipate wind shear.

Public comments are due April 8, 2016. Send them to the MassDEP’s Deputy Regional Director Laurel Carlson (Laurel.Carlson@state.ma.us) and to the Consensus Building Institute’s Senior Mediator Stacie Smith (stacie@cbuilding.org).

This table shows the relevant slides on potential regulation and guidelines. Click on a slide to view it or access the whole draft at  Scope of Possible Noise Regulation and Policy.

WNTAG-Under-consideration WNTAG-Requirments WNTAG-Regulation-1 WNTAG-Regulation-2
WNTAG-Guidance-elements WNTAG-Permit-elements WNTAG-Alt-compliance-metrics WNTAGNext-steps

If models low-ball noise, will ears cooperate?

March 15, 2016
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Acoustician Stephen Ambrose has released a one-page illustration (with the two graphs shown here) of the difference between modeled noise and the experience of measured noise as described in an RSG report from 2008. Modeling the current class of industrial wind turbines turns out to be a poor predictor of noise, either as recorded by instruments or as heard by the humans who come into contact with it.

Ambrose’s reminder comes at a time when the Wind and Noise Turbine Advisory Group (WNTAG) is about to have it’s “final” meeting, which will feature the “final report” the DEP plans to issue. According to Bethany A. Card, Deputy Commissioner for Policy and Planning of the  MassDEP, in an email on March, 14, 2016:

The March 18th meeting  is to provide an overview of the final  report. In addition,  MassDEP will also present ideas for possible revised noise policies and regulations. We will accept comments on that presentation and the ideas until early April and any on-going work related to possible regulation changes will provide additional opportunity for stakeholder and public involvement and comment.

RSG2008caution-underprediction-noise

Wind 1 Going out of business

March 5, 2016

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No published decision today, but Sean Driscoll reports in the Cape Cod Times that the Falmouth turbine permit (is) headed for denial.”

The majority of board members found fault with the application on more than one front, including the zoning requirement that the turbine known as Wind 1 will not have “adverse effects” on either the neighborhood or the town. Throughout the permit hearing, which stretched over a half dozen meetings and several months, neighbors of the turbine presented evidence on multiple fronts, including personal testimony, in an attempt to show the negative effects of the turbine.

While Wind 1 has not been operating since September 2015, the final decision will assure that it does not start up again.

For a better understanding of the permit status, read Mark Cool’s Firetower Wind post, “Falmouth Turbine Found Not Eligible for Permit” (3/5/16).

Filing Frenzy-Kingston & Bourne Take Turbines to Court

January 28, 2016
Kingston-Independence-kerrykearney-sm

A KWI turbine lurks behind a Kingston home

Kingston finally took action against the KWI project that has spawned frequent complaints. On January 27, 2016, the town filed a countersuit to the one brought by Kingston Wind Independence in late December (“Kingston Wind Independence appeals turbine abatement order“). In the suit, the town asserts KWI has breached its contract: “with respect to the requirement for compliance with governmental standards for the operation of the turbine” and

As  a direct result of such breach of contract, the Town and its residents have suffered severe injury and damage while KWI has continued to be unjustly enriched by the operation of the turbine.

Oh, and by the way, they haven’t paid their rent.

This is the first time the town has put any teeth behind either the Board of Health’s first abatement order or its more recent order (October 2015). The town is asking for an injunction as part of the suit.

Meanwhile “Bourne plans lawsuit against wind energy company” according to Cape Cod Times reporter Ethan Genter, who filed his article on January 27th. The Bourne Board of Health has previously found that the turbines under construction in Plymouth could affect Bourne residents. The article reports that town counsel Robert Troy asked people to wait for comments until the litigation has been filed in Barnstable Superior Court–in a matter of days.

 

Wind Wise Backs Open Records

January 21, 2016

In the experience of Wind Wise – Massachusetts, trying to get some response to a request for public records is met with delays, blacked-out text, or demands for ransom ($18,000 demanded for activities of the Mass. Department of Environmental Protection). That’s why organization President Louise Grabowski urges the Senate to pass “An Act to Improve Access to Public Records” (S.1676).Publicrecordsbill_Senate

This bill could expedite request responses by sending records in electronic form if they already exist in electronic form, limit the use of redaction to “exempt” matters in the existing law, and lower fees for public records to nominal levels.

Here is the Wind Wise statement:  Publicrecordsbill_Senate.

Peru’s Garnet Hill feasibility study is one location where the data in a table has been redacted.

Bourne Selectmen Support BOH Action

December 2, 2015
Turbine under construction. Photo: Ron Schloerb, Cape Cod Times

Photo: Ron Schloerb, Cape Cod Times

Selectmen in Bourne authorized the Board of Health to meet with town counsel to pursue an injuction against Future Generation Wind.

The Bourne Board of Health’s request to the Selectmen came from its November 18th meeting. This  led to action on December 1, 2015, when
the Bourne Selectmen heard over an hour of debate, according to Madeleine List, reporting in the South Coast Today (“Bourne selectmen approve legal action to stop Plymouth turbines“) and the Cape Cod Times (“Bourne Selectmen approve legal action on Plymouth turbines“).
After over an hour of debate, the selectmen authorized the Board of Health to meet with the town counsel and discuss filing an injunction against Future Generation Wind.
The logistics and budget of doing so remain unknown, but residents expressed overwhelming support for the move.
Whether it is noise, strobing light, infrasound, loss of property value, or the viewscape, Bourne will experience impacts, as wind turbine developer Keith Mann himself admitted in at a December 2014 Board of Health meeting. In fact, the closest Bourne neighbors live just under 1,400 feet from one of the FGW turbines, which are sited on the Bourne town line in neighboring Plymouth.
An arbitrator’s ruling in the case of the Granite Links Golf course, adjacent to the  turbine site proposed for Milton, may have relevance in this situation. The arbitrator ruled that the turbine operations could not interfere with the golf course’s activities. For more on this, look back to 2013: “Golfers rule as arbitrator makes a point about ‘as of right’ siting.”

 

Bourne-Act Now or Lament Later

November 1, 2015

The Bourne Board of Health could take action to protect residents from wind turbine pollution in the neighboring town, Plymouth, if it heeded the evidence of other towns with turbine issues. These are laid out by Bourne resident Chris Kapsambelis in the message he sent this week to the BOH. 

The Future Generation Wind project will most likely produce widespread complaints, as did similar projects in Falmouth, Fairhaven, and Kingston. These complaints will compel authorities to investigate, and conduct studies that will find violations leading to orders for curtailment. Any curtailment of operations on these wind turbines will destroy the project profit margin.

He notes that distance from turbines is key to avoiding harm to neighboring residents, and the Future Generation Wind project in Plymouth is too close to some Bourne residents.

 

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