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Ambrose Nudges DEP on FGW Compliance

February 16, 2019

He doesn’t say it in so many words. But with his latest comment to the MassDEP, Stephen Ambrose points out it doesn’t take rocket science to predict that people living near wind turbines will experience excessive noise. He recommends the Department continues investigating the sound study of Plymouth’s Future Generation Wind project.

As if resident complaints weren’t enough, there are also the things left out of the Plymouth Sound Compliance Monitoring Report.

Skepticism is warranted for omitting critical information: 1) wind turbine SCADA files with noise measurements. 2) turbine specifications for electric power output and sound power levels with and w/o NRO. 3) noise model predictions with input parameters and results. 4) noise level vs time history plots showing wind turbine fluctuations. 5) name, title and qualifications for author, reviewer, and approver.

Ambrose said in an earlier message to the DEP, “This review finds FGW exceeds the MassDEP noise policy by 10 to 20 dB at all locations.” His analysis cites the report issued in May 2018 by Waltham-based Tech Environmental.

Turbine Roulette

January 13, 2019
ar-160309648Falmouth is facing a tough decision in its next roll in the wind turbine gamble–move, dismantle, or share. On Monday January 14, 2019, the Selectmen will hear that discussion at 7:45 PM:
Discussion and vote on moving, repurposing or dismantling wind turbines. Options to include:
  • a. Wind 2 to alternative Falmouth wastewater site or a site outside of Falmouth
  • b. Wind 1 to a site outside of Falmouth

As Mark Cool reports on his Firetower Wind blog, Falmouth Selectmen to Weigh Relocation Option,

The Falmouth Board of Selectmen intend discussing and voting to potentially relocate a major piece of municipal infrastructure, at an upfront cost to taxpayers of 3 million dollars, while an official zoning classification of the wind turbine structure goes without address or determination.

Read more on the 2018 timeline of dismantlement–or not.

Wind in the 500 foot Rafters

December 23, 2018

How can the the Plymouth Future Generation Wind turbines be louder when turned off than when they are running? Chris Kapsambelis, trying to figure out the difference, noticed that before the turbines were built, the quiet night time noise ranged from 26.6 to 35.6 decibels (dBA).

Now, according to Tech Environmental noise testing, background noise is 7 to 18 dBA higher in the same locales. What could explain this? Consider the one new element in the cranberry bogs. There are now 4 wind energy plants, with nacelles alone that weigh 26 tons, suspended on 500 foot towers. 

Recently, I wrote about the curious phenomenon, where the wind turbine noise appeared softer than the ambient background, a seemingly impossible condition.

Since then, I have come across evidence that might explain how this is possible…. 

In retrospect, one must conclude that the extra noise with the turbines off, must be generated by the turbines themselves, even though they are turned off.

For more on the mystery, read the explanation Chris Kapsambelis came to.

Bourne finds noise nuisance from Plymouth turbines

October 26, 2018

Two years after Bourne complaints began, the Board of Health has taken action. According to Cape Cod Times reporter Beth Treffeisen, “The board will communicate to the Plymouth Board of Health its determination that the turbines are a nuisance to the residents of Bourne” (Bourne health board declares Plymouth turbines a nuisance” 10/15/18).

Facing the BOH chair, Karen Gibides presents noise complaint information

Karen Gibides (left) addresses Bourne BOH August 2018

“To me, this is a good first step and it will put the ball in the court of the regulating authorities,” said Plymouth resident Larry McGrath. “It is an obvious nuisance that is being ignored by the town of Plymouth and MassDEP. The town of Bourne is bringing light to the two regulating jurisdictions now.”

Speaking for a local group, the Buzzards Bay Action Committee, Ian Davies “told the board that there have been approximately 350 complaints filed with the board of health over the turbines ” (“Bourne Health Board To Press Plymouth Officials, DEP On Turbines” by Michael J . Rausch 10/25/18 in the Bourne Enterprise).

BOS Chair Belittles Noise Complaint

September 14, 2018

Frustration was the order of the day at the open forum period of the September 4, 2018 Board of Selectman meeting in Scituate. David Dardi had another sleepless night to recount. The select board chair felt he had heard it all before.

David Dardi:

This morning when I dragged myself out of bed after a sleepless night, I told myself I would come in here and tell you once again, even though I know you’ve heard it so many times, of the problem that’s out there with that wind turbine for me and my neighbors.

The problem for the board was that the town is starting noise testing, so they felt they were taking reasonable steps. But to anyone listening to the exchange, it sounded like an attempt to muzzle complaints.

Board Chair John Danehey interrupted Dardi’s remarks:

… it’s the same song and dance you sing….  I know you want it all shut down, it doesn’t matter what direction the wind comes from and I know you like coming in here for TV land for 5 minutes to talk to us. Please bring something new to the table.

But the bottom line is, as Dardi concluded, “Anyway, you’ve heard it again, we’re still not sleeping.”

This clip appeared on the Scituate Monthly ~ Our Town, a private facebook page and prompted over 50 comments. The full coverage of the meeting is on Scituate’s cable access channel SCTV on YouTube.

Graphs Contradict the Story

September 7, 2018

Engineer Chris Kapsambelis was scratching his head recently about the Plymouth Sound Compliance Monitoring Report. How, he wondered, could it be possible that the ambient lowest noise level for the cranberry bogs (L90–usually a quiet night time) was right up at the 50 dBA point? The quiet level shown here by a blue line is actually louder than some of the periods when the turbines were operating.

In the Tech Environmental Report, the Appendix Section, I came across this graph, and others like it, which I am having difficulty understanding. The note on the upper left corner states that the increase over ambient is only 0.6 dBA applying the DEP method. The blue line at the center, close to the 50 dBA level is described as the Ambient L90 background sound level with the turbines OFF.

Here is my problem. By casual inspection, the L50 metric, applied to the plot for turbine ON noise, would yield a level close to the L90 Ambient background level. Does that mean that the noise is softer when the turbines are running? Is the noise that falls below the L90 line on the graph inaudible? What kind of instrument is there that can record sound that one cannot hear?

We need to ask the DEP if their method for wind turbine compliance testing yields sensible results.

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 For more on L90 and other noise measurements, Kapsambelis explains in his essay Acoustics and Wind Turbine Noise.

Acoustician Stephen Ambrose issued an independent peer review citing numerous problems with the compliance report.

Bourne Board of Health Quandary

August 17, 2018

The Bourne BOH faces a “critical test of board of health power” in the words of Paul Gately, reporting in Bourne Wicked Local (The Bourne Courier).

“What [residents] seek this side of the Plymouth line could represent a critical test of board of health power in the public health, safety and welfare of Buzzards Bay residents,” he wrote in “Buzzards Bay residents raise issue with turbines” (8/10/18).

Plymouth's Future Generation Wind impact zoneAccording to the article, the Board is awaiting the results of testing of the turbines on the Mann property in Plymouth where the four turbines of the Future Generation Wind project operate. The Mass Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) was reviewing the recently completed noise report of Tech Environmental.

The MassDEP issued their review and found multiple inadequacies. In an August 2, 2018 letter, Maria E. Pinaud, the Southeast Deputy Regional Director, said

“…MassDEP is unable at this time to concur with Tech Environmental, Inc.’s conclusion presented in the report that ‘…all four of the FGW wind turbines are in compliance with MassDEP Noise Policy….'”

Pinaud addressed her letter to Plymouth’s Director of Inspectional Services and emphasized that there are 12 points requiring further details.

Noise, as an environmental pollutant, comes under MassDEP’s jurisdiction. To date, they have not acted to protect those residents who are impacted by the wind plants but live outside the communities where the projects operate.

Savoy Denies Appeal for Turbines

August 10, 2018


60 meter Otis turbine

The Zoning Board of Appeals in Savoy filed their determination with the town clerk on July 31, 2018, finding against Minuteman Wind LLC on two points:


  • the 2018 application did not match an earlier special permit issued in 2010 and
  • the amount of construction at the site did not meet the level needed to qualify for extension of the 2010 permit.

Minuteman Wind has 20 days to take action on the finding. For Berkshire Eagle reporter Larry Parnass’s take on the July ZBA hearing, read “Savoy board rejects developer’s wind power appeal” (7/18/18).  Earlier in the year he published the “Timeline of wind turbine project in Savoy“(5/29/18). In a letter to the Eagle, “Turbine builders should stop stalking Savoy” (3/8/2018), Salvatore Raciti also offered a timeline: 

The town has made it abundantly clear that it does not want Minuteman’s wind turbines! On Aug. 24, 2017, angry citizens assembled and shouted their opposition at the town meeting. On Sept. 27, Savoy voters easily defeated the effort to enlarge the size of the blades. And on Dec. 21, 2017, voters overwhelmingly reversed a 2008 bylaw to formally prohibit wind turbines of any sort in the town of Savoy.

Noise Complaints Raised at Bourne Board of Health

August 9, 2018

Chris Kapsambelis and Karen Gibides addressed the Board of Health in Bourne at their Wednesday, August 8, 2018 meeting. She asked the BOH for guidance on how to address resident concerns,Bourne-BOH-BourneTV

We feel that regardless of where the noise is coming from we are suffering a nuisance…. And we don’t know where to turn, so we’re turning to you again now that we’ve reached this point where [the turbines] are in operation and we are suffering a nuisance from them. As the court said, we then could approach the board of health, who has great power in the area of public health. It seems that under any other circumstance this would be a public health issue that requires address by our town administrators. I guess we want to know what do we do next. How do we work with you to get some relief?

Kapsambelis explained the impact noise is having on Bourne residents whose homes are closer to the Future Generation Wind turbines than most Plymouth residents. He submitted a 25-page compilation of the complaints residents have been filing on a web form.
Among the comments submitted online, Larry McGrath wrote, “Turbines very loud- first like a train and then like a jet plane” and Karen Gibides reported:

This morning at 6:02 am, I was awakened by the throbbing and whirring of the turbine closest to me as it geared up for the day. Again, not the way I want to start my day, my day off from work, when perhaps I could sleep in. And the noise continues to distract and annoy me as I work from home. We are enjoying a moderate southwest wind, and the turbine noise is horrible for us. Of course, this is not a wind direction that was ever sound tested in our neighborhood.

Kapsambelis reminded the BOH of the town’s bylaws and their responsibility to address complaints when citizens’ health is impacted. The inability to sleep was a top complaint, followed by headaches, vertigo, nausea and distraction due to strobing light. He pointed out the limitations of the Tech Environmental’s May 2018 report. His submission concluded:

We request that the BOH raises these points with MassDEP and demands a reevaluation. In the meantime, the wind turbines should be turned off, and only allowed to run for any additional testing.

In “Buzzards Bay residents raise issue with turbines,” Paul Gately reported on the meeting (Bourne Wicked Local 8/10/18):

Board Chairman Kathy Peterson on August 8, however, did say she and Health Agent Terri Guarino would contact the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to determine when its Mann turbine testing would conclude, and also try to secure technical assistance to review results.

Peterson says this would involve a request to learn why state testing of the towering commercial-grade turbines was conducted away from the neighboring Head of the Bay homes in Bourne.

DOER Models a Comprehensive Energy Plan

August 2, 2018

The Massachusetts  Department of Energy Resources (DOER) hosted several public meetings at the end of July to introduce the scope of its Comprehensive Energy Plan. Several WWMA volunteers attended the Westfield meeting. A comment periodPower Sector Energy Use
presents an important opportunity to urge DOER to exclude any further land-based wind development in Massachusetts. The comment period ends August 3rd.

The slides for the presentation are posted here
You can make comments of 60 words or less through this survey or send longer statements by email to  

Questions focus on: 


  • The thermal, transportation, and power sectors;
  • The drivers and inputs into the modeling assumptions; and
  • The challenges and possible policy pathways for achieving our future energy goals.

Here is a comment submitted by Dale LaBonte:

As there was no mention of onshore wind turbines, I assume that the wind in the modeling is all off-shore. As there is no guarantee planned projects will be built, this seems to deviate from the status quo modeling. Wind is not a good option for reducing greenhouse gases (GHG), especially as it isn’t clear that they work. (There is almost no information about actual power production). Poorly sited turbines onshore are a hazard to health and well-being, even if DEP ignores complaints.

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