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MASS DEP NOISE REGULATION AND WIND TURBINES Alicia Barton McDevitt Deputy Commissioner, MassDEP Massachusetts Wind Working Group July 18, 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "MASS DEP NOISE REGULATION AND WIND TURBINES Alicia Barton McDevitt Deputy Commissioner, MassDEP Massachusetts Wind Working Group July 18, 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 MASS DEP NOISE REGULATION AND WIND TURBINES Alicia Barton McDevitt Deputy Commissioner, MassDEP Massachusetts Wind Working Group July 18, 2012

2 Mass DEP Noise Regulation and Wind Turbines What is Noise? How does MassDEP Regulate it? How does MassDEP handle Noise Complaints? Wind Turbine Issues Update

3 MassDEP Noise Regulations Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution (Ratified Nov 1972) “ The people shall have the right to clean air and water, freedom from excessive and unnecessary noise……” 310 CMR 7.10(1) “ No person owning, leasing or controlling a source of sound shall willfully, negligently, or through failure to provide necessary equipment, service or maintenance or to take necessary precautions cause, suffer, allow, or permit unnecessary emissions from said source of sound that may cause noise.”

4 DEP Noise Policy # A source of sound will be considered to be violating the DEP noise regulation if the source: 1. Increases the broadband sound level by more than 10 dB(A) above ambient (background), or 2. Produces a “pure tone” condition - when any octave band center frequency sound pressure level exceeds the two adjacent center frequency sound pressure levels by 3 decibels or more.

5 Report of the Independent Panel, January 2012 Independent Third party Review of Literature Key findings re Noise: Insufficient evidence that the noise from wind turbines is directly causing health problems or disease, BUT A possibility that noise from some wind turbines can cause sleep disruption. Sleep disruption has been shown to adversely affect mood, cognitive functioning, and overall sense of health and well-being Three Public Hearings, over 500 comments received. Many comments concern noise, infrasound.

6 How MassDEP Addresses Noise Pre-Construction Permitting Complaints Municipal Regulation Review

7 MassDEP Pre-construction Permitting Noise impact analysis for projects requiring air permits Ambient background study Sound modeling used to predict impacts at property line and nearest residence EFSB limit 6 dB(A) for power projects DEP typically seeks to permit the project below 5 or 6 dB(A) based on BACT analysis Wind turbine projects typically do not require MassDEP pre-construction permit

8 Complaints City/Town first line of defense MassDEP Provides BoH Guidance BoH should try to reconcile the issues (determine nature of complaints and conditions when impacts are felt). MassDEP loans out sound meters and provides training Short term attended study, attempts to measure the maximum impact of the sound source MassDEP will apply the policy and make a formal “compliance determination”

9 Municipal Regulation Review Oversight of BoH Regulations adopted under Chapter 111, Section 31C, which governs municipal air pollution regulations MassDEP Review: No less stringent than state regulation Regulations are reasonable Local regulations effective after MassDEP approval and publication Munis can also regulate noise under zoning or other by-laws

10 Falmouth In response to complaints, Town directed their consultant to sample the sound from the Wind #1 Turbine. MassDEP reviewed consultant work and recommended some additional sampling. Town asked MassDEP to assist. MassDEP sampling of Wind #1 found levels > 10 dBA during quietest night time period. Wind #1 shut down until daytime sampling could confirm that sounds from Wind #1 and #2 does not exceed 10 dBA during daytime conditions. Wind #1 and #2 are now operating 7am-7pm.

11 Other Noise Complaints Town of Fairhaven Board of Health has requested MassDEP’s assistance in determining if the two Fairhaven Wind Turbines comply with MassDEP Policy. Testing should begin soon. In Kingston complaints have been reported relative to the Independence Turbine from one neighborhood. MassDEP supports project developer’s efforts to address complaints, in coordination with BoH and support from CEC.

12 Technical Issues and Questions Re: MassDEP Noise Policy Only “A” weighted sound used Impacts of amplitude modulation and infrasound ignored No limit on total day/ night sound (relative impact standard) Use of attended study relies on technician judgment Application of the 10 dB(A) compliance standard based on use of maximum sound levels versus average sound levels


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