Turbine Shut Down in High Winds
By: Christopher Kazarian
Over the past month, the town’s wind turbine at the Wastewater Treatment Facility on Blacksmith Shop Road has been voluntarily shut down 39 times when wind speeds have been in excess of 22 mph as a way to mitigate the noise being emitted from the machine.
Falmouth Town Manager Robert L. Whritenour Jr. told selectmen that this is just one way his office is attempting to appease disgruntled residents who have complained about the turbine since it became operational in March.
Those residents, mostly from the Blacksmith Shop Road area, convened last month at the Fire Tower Road home of Annie Hart Cool to discuss ways to force town officials to respond to their concerns about the impacts the turbine is having on their quality of life.
They have argued the machine has created excessive noise, created sleepless nights and negatively affected the health of some, and potentially lowered their property values.
The residents have since hired a lawyer as well as a consultant to assist them in the process, Mr. Whritenour said. The two representatives were present last Thursday at a kickoff session for the town’s acoustical engineering study of sound from the wind turbine, Mr. Whritenour said.
He said the session began with remarks from both him and Assistant Town Manager Heather B. Harper before consultants from Weston and Sampson, the firm that oversaw construction of the wind turbine, led a discussion on the history of the project and the regulatory process to date.
In addition, he said, they also reviewed efforts by the turbine’s manufacturer, Vestas, to make adjustments to the machine as a way to limit the sound.
As part of this effort, he said, the turbine now shuts off when wind speeds are in excess of 22 mph when the sound would be at its peak. Mr. Whritenour said this has had a positive impact on minimizing the sound.
The town has hired the firm Harris, Miller, Miller & Hanson Inc. of Burlington to conduct the sound studies, and the firm’s acoustical engineer Christopher Menge was on hand last Thursday to discuss his company’s qualifications and the proposed scope of work and analysis for the Falmouth wind turbine.
Included in this analysis, Mr. Whritenour said, will be taking into account ambient noise for the area as well as the impacts of topography and vegetation on sound.
Mr. Whritenour said residents had a chance to indicate the types of sound that were of concern to them, particularly pure tones as well as low frequency ones that can cause vibrations.
Over the next month, he said, the acoustical engineers and residents agreed to meet to finalize the scope and methodology of the study before data is collected.
He was hopeful that the results of the study will allow the town to deal with the issue in a way that addresses the concerns of the residents.
Ms. Harper said she termed the initial meeting a success and “we’ve developed what is a positive dialogue moving forward and I agree it was a positive discussion.”