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Windmill proposal hearing wraps up developer testimony

The long-delayed hearings for Broad Mountain Power’s windmill farm proposal before Packer Township’s zoning hearing board resumed Aug. 31.

Broad Mountain Power’s expert for the night was Robert D. O’Neil of Epsilon Associates, Maynard, Massachusetts, engineers specializing in acoustics. He testified via Zoom since Massachusetts rules would require him to quarantine for two weeks if he had come to Pennsylvania in person.

With BMP’s attorney, Brian Stahl, questioning, O’Neil testified that he disagreed with project opponents’ expert Robert Rand’s testimony, given Jan. 14, that sound from the turbines from the Broad Mountain Power project would at times exceed the maximum sound output allowed by Packer Township’s ordinance of 50 A-weighted decibels.

Rand had concluded that the sound from these turbines can exceed 50 dBa at multiple township locations, during a maximum sound event known as Lmax. O’Neil said certain variables that would predict Lmax over 50 dBa do not apply at this location, and that Lmax “is very unreliable.”

O’Neil agrees with the conclusions of BMP’s expert, Michael Hankard, who testified in May 2019 that the maximum sound at various home locations would “... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The long-delayed hearings for Broad Mountain Power’s windmill farm proposal before Packer Township’s zoning hearing board resumed Aug. 31.

Broad Mountain Power’s expert for the night was Robert D. O’Neil of Epsilon Associates, Maynard, Massachusetts, engineers specializing in acoustics. He testified via Zoom since Massachusetts rules would require him to quarantine for two weeks if he had come to Pennsylvania in person.

With BMP’s attorney, Brian Stahl, questioning, O’Neil testified that he disagreed with project opponents’ expert Robert Rand’s testimony, given Jan. 14, that sound from the turbines from the Broad Mountain Power project would at times exceed the maximum sound output allowed by Packer Township’s ordinance of 50 A-weighted decibels.

Rand had concluded that the sound from these turbines can exceed 50 dBa at multiple township locations, during a maximum sound event known as Lmax. O’Neil said certain variables that would predict Lmax over 50 dBa do not apply at this location, and that Lmax “is very unreliable.”

O’Neil agrees with the conclusions of BMP’s expert, Michael Hankard, who testified in May 2019 that the maximum sound at various home locations would “conservatively” be 41 dBa.

During cross-examination from opponents’ attorney Bruce Anders, O’Neil admitted to never having come to the project site.

Anders’ next point was about how ground can absorb noise, where O’Neil predicted a factor of 0.5, meaning the ground would soak up some of the noise. Anders explained that the site, particularly in the winter, had small, skinny trees and lots of rock, so at least then, the calculation of sound absorption from the ground should be factored at zero - adding “2 to 3 dBa” to projections.

Anders pointed out that the ground absorption factor for a project proposed in nearby Penn Forest Township, and rejected in a ruling in Carbon County court, was zero - noting that the soils and trees at that project are not very different from Packer’s Broad Mountain. O’Neil said the two wind farm proposals were distinct, with different variables.

Anders noted that the blades and turbines are up in the air hundreds of feet, and so there would likely be less ground absorption. He said Rand predicted Lmax events that exceed maximum sound allowed at 13 of the 16 Packer study locations.

Anders next read that Hankard’s report has the large units operating at 4.2 megawatts, versus their full rated capacity of 4.5. O’Neil was asked if these turbines, operating at full capacity, would be louder, getting an answer of yes. O’Neil said the units can be operated at the 4.2 level as a “condition of operation.”

Anders referred O’Neil to a report by his own company that states it was “conservative” to add 6 to 11 dBa to the numbers on another of their projects. Anders said that, with these parameters in place, sound during Lmax could exceed 50 dBa at all of the sound collecting locations in Packer - too loud for Packer’s ordinance.

Anders concluded by quoting Carbon County Judge Steven Serfass’ ruling about Atlantic Wind’s proposal in Penn Forest Township that the Lmax is an accepted measure.

Attorney Greg Mousseau, solicitor for Packer’s zoning hearing board, who moderated the meeting, said the next hearing will be at 5 p.m. Sept. 29, in person at the Packer Township municipal building and via Zoom. This meeting will feature members of the public speaking. He said “many, many letters” have been sent to the board, and he plans to enter these into the record that night.

Residents who still wish to enter items into the record can send them to the Packer Township Zoning Hearing Board, 2234 Hudson Drive, Weatherly, PA 18255 (to arrive by Sept. 28).


Source: https://www.tnonline.com/20...

SEP 11 2020
http://www.windaction.org/posts/51784-windmill-proposal-hearing-wraps-up-developer-testimony
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