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Town keeping mum on noise report

Town officials have refused to let residents see a report evaluating the noise study done for Horse Creek Wind Farm. The officials claim the report, by Cavanaugh Tocci Associates, an acoustic engineering firm in Sudbury, Mass., is too complicated and preliminary to be released. Residents argue that the original noise study, done by consultant CH2MHill for Iberdrola, also was complicated, but that there are residents with acoustic expertise.

HORSE CREEK WIND FARM: Clayton, refusing requests to see findings, says document too preliminary

Town officials have refused to let residents see a report evaluating the noise study done for Horse Creek Wind Farm.

The officials claim the report, by Cavanaugh Tocci Associates, an acoustic engineering firm in Sudbury, Mass., is too complicated and preliminary to be released.

Residents argue that the original noise study, done by consultant CH2MHill for Iberdrola, also was complicated, but that there are residents with acoustic expertise.

At least three Freedom of Information requests, including one by the Times, were turned down on the basis of the Cavanaugh Tocci report being interagency material. The town of Orleans also asked for the report and was refused.

The FOI refusal sent to the Times said, "the report was received and reviewed by the Planning Board Chairman and the Town Supervisor. Due to the technical nature of the report, it was sent back to our Consultant and the Consultant has been asked to provide clarifications to assist the Planning Board to understand the Consultants recommendations."

Clayton Supervisor Justin A. Taylor said the town,... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

HORSE CREEK WIND FARM: Clayton, refusing requests to see findings, says document too preliminary

Town officials have refused to let residents see a report evaluating the noise study done for Horse Creek Wind Farm.

The officials claim the report, by Cavanaugh Tocci Associates, an acoustic engineering firm in Sudbury, Mass., is too complicated and preliminary to be released.

Residents argue that the original noise study, done by consultant CH2MHill for Iberdrola, also was complicated, but that there are residents with acoustic expertise.

At least three Freedom of Information requests, including one by the Times, were turned down on the basis of the Cavanaugh Tocci report being interagency material. The town of Orleans also asked for the report and was refused.

The FOI refusal sent to the Times said, "the report was received and reviewed by the Planning Board Chairman and the Town Supervisor. Due to the technical nature of the report, it was sent back to our Consultant and the Consultant has been asked to provide clarifications to assist the Planning Board to understand the Consultants recommendations."

Clayton Supervisor Justin A. Taylor said the town, through Bernier, Carr & Associates, Watertown, has requested an executive summary to explain the report.

While he said he did not want to promise to release the entire report after the summary is received, he said it could happen "once the Planning Board has a chance to review it."

Clayton also told Orleans, the other town that has turbines planned for Horse Creek Wind Farm, that the report was incomplete.

"It's their report when it comes back, and we'll go from there," Orleans Supervisor Donna J. Chatterton said.

Orleans Councilman Dean T. Morrow said he had assumed that all wind-farm-related information would be shared between Clayton and Orleans.

"Apparently, they paid for the report themselves," he said. "We had no financial involvement, really. But I expect we'll see it once it comes back in its completed form. It's understandable."

Concerned residents say all of this sounds very fishy to them.

"The Planning Board almost sounds like they're hiding something," said Patricia Booras-Miller, vice president of the Environmentally Concerned Citizens Organization of Jefferson County. Ms. Booras-Miller had her FOI request refused.

ECCO had offered the expertise of four different acoustic engineers and consultants on the CH2MHill study to the Planning Board, she said, and all were refused.

"I think they just didn't want to accept what the residents had to say," she said.

But now, after using a third-party consultant, the town insists the consultant's report is too technical.

The Cavanaugh Tocci report could show large gaps in the measurements and conclusions the developer made in its noise study. The same consultants analyzed BP Alternative Energy's noise study for the Cape Vincent Wind Farm draft environmental impact statement.

Charles E. Ebbing, a retired acoustic engineer from Carrier Corp., said, "Out in the rural north country, the noise is going to be very similar."

The studies done for the two farms were very much alike.

"They used a similar number of sites, similar measuring times," he said. "They're going to be much more similar than dissimilar."

Both CH2MHill for PPM and Hessler Associates for BP Alternative Energy used a regression analysis matching ambient noise to wind speeds. They relied on wind speeds from hub height to figure out the wind speed at ground levels.

The developer used a regression curve to estimate background noise based on wind speed, which the analysis said was inappropriate. It overestimates or underestimates background and the effect of wind turbines on the noise level at a given wind speed a significant number of times, the report said.

Instead of trying to link background noise to wind speed, the report said, "We recommend that the noise data be considered irrespective of wind speed."

Neither report mentioned low-frequency sound from turbines. For the BP project, public comments on the draft environmental impact statement asked for information on the sound. The Cavanaugh Tocci report said, "It is recommended that the authors comment on this and present low frequency sound data for the turbine design to be installed."

And, the report said, "It is true that low frequency sound produced by wind turbine blade passage can be, in a sense, amplified inside building spaces because of standing wave effects."

Mr. Ebbing, LaFargeville, said the Cavanaugh Tocci report for the Horse Creek project should be very similar. If so, it should lead the town to the conviction that the noise study was insufficient.

"You have to infer from Tocci's report that it's gotta be redone," he said. "I really don't know what's in there."

One complicating factor is the suspension of Iberdrola's application for Horse Creek Wind Farm. Anything related to the wind farm, including state environmental quality review, or the town's wind development zoning law has lost town officials' attention.

"It's on the back burner because of the suspension of the application," Mr. Taylor said. "The Planning Board has clearly indicated, as has the town board, that we will look at all the information provided by the applicant for the portions of SEQR and address them based on what needs to be addressed based on that information at one time."

He saidthe town sought a third party because of the complicated nature of noise studies. The town may take action because of the Cavanaugh Tocci report, but "It's too premature to take additional action now."

But residents said they don't want to wait until an application is active.

"If the whole changing of our law depends on this report, then let's move on with this," Ms. Booras-Miller said.

Mr. Morrow said the report is one of the pieces of information Orleans officials would like to use in considering the town's wind development zoning law.

"We can make a change, but it would be arbitrary," he said. "It would be best to make any changes with good information."


Source: http://www.watertowndailyti...

AUG 25 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/16720-town-keeping-mum-on-noise-report
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