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Fairhaven Wind letter: Turbine noise studies tainted

The wind developer for Fairhaven Wind, two industrial-scale towers built near residences, has admitted that the sound survey conducted on October 15, 2012 was tainted due to one of the turbines, while still spinning, was not producing power. The developer insists human error was the cause but claims the no intent to artificially reduce the sound levels. The State of Massachusetts has ordered the results be discarded and for further studies to be conducted.

Farihaven Wind
c/o Palmer Management Corporation
13 Elm Street, Suite 200
Cohasset, MA 02025
Tel: 782‐383‐3200

February 26, 2013

Commissioner Kenneth L. Kimmell
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
One Winter Street
Boston, MA 02108

Subject: Ms. Barteau’s Inquiry Regarding Fairhaven Noise Sampling

Dear Commissioner Kimmell:

Yesterday we received via Ms. Laurel Carlson of your office a copy of an email to you from Ms. Louise Barteau, a resident of the Town of Fairhaven, regarding the noise sampling being conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection's (MassDEP) with respect to the Fairhaven Wind project. Ms. Barteau identifies concerns about the testing that occurred on the evening of October 14-15, 2012. This was the first we had heard that there might be an issue with any of the extensive noise testing being conducted by MassDEP in Fairhaven and we immediately launched an investigation into her concerns.

After a review of the data, the online "Powerdash" data with respect to power production identified in Ms. Barteau's email is consistent with the SCADA data from the turbine that Fairhaven Wind provided the MassDEP for the sampling period with respect to power production from the South Turbine. While those engaged in the sampling program did not note any issues with either the North or South Turbines during the sampling period, it appears as though, despite the rotor being engaged, no power was being produced at the South Turbine during several of the sampling periods between 12:10 am and 4:00 am on the morning of October 15. From our review of the data, at approximately 1:00 am and 2:50 am, the turbines were turned on as requested by the MA DEP. As shown on the attached printout for both turbines, the SCADA system shows that the rotors began to spin at full speed when the turbines were turned on at those times. However, it also shows that no power was produced during those time periods at the South Turbine.

This failure is most likely attributable to a failure in the engagement of the power converter in the South Turbine that occurred during the on-off switching for the sampling. While a representative of Fairhaven Wind was onsite during most of the sampling events, due to scheduling conflicts on the night in question the turbine was being operated using a smartphone by an acoustical engineer engaged by counsel to Fairhaven Wind to do side-by-side testing as explained in Ms. Barteau's email. The acoustical engineer believed that the turbines were operating correctly because both turbines were visibly spinning. He was not trained in turbine troubleshooting and was not expected to diagnose problems. In fact, his attention was focused on doing his job which was noise sampling.

We have performed a cursory review of the other nights and have not seen a similar error during any of the other sampling periods. The MassDEP has the corresponding SCADA data for the other sampling sessions and we will gladly investigate any other anomalies which MassDEP (or any other party) may identify.

Clearly this was a mechanical error that was compounded by not having an extra set of experienced eyes on the turbine production data during the sampling period. Fairhaven Wind adamantly denies that it or any of its representatives ever engaged in any action to seek to manipulate the test data during the compliance testing. The turbines were tested and operated in plain sight of the MassDEP, the Fairhaven Community and the media. SCADA data has been provided to MassDEP and, as Ms. Barteau was able to determine, related production data is posted on a website for public review.

We sincerely regret the inconvenience that this error has caused on the noise testing. We all know how hard MassDEP, the Fairhaven Community, and Fairhaven Wind have worked to obtain viable sampling nights. While the data indicates that the rotors were engaged and operating normally for both turbines, we recognize that the lack of power production at the South Turbine during this period may mean that MassDEP will not accept the data taken to be valid for compliance testing.

We are available to repeat this test, if required, at MassDEP's convenience when weather conditions allow.

Please feel free to contact me or any member of the Fairhaven Wind team should you have any questions on this matter.


Respectfully,
FAIRHAVEN WIND LLC
by its Manager
Palmer Management Corporation

Gordon L. Deane
President

cc: Ms. Laurel Carlson, MassDEP
Mr. Jeffrey Osuch, Executive Secretary, Fairhaven Selectmen

Lettertokenkimmellreoctober15samplingissue_thumb
Letterto Ken Kimmellre October15 Sampling Issue

Download file (149 KB) pdf

FEB 28 2013
https://www.windaction.org/posts/36360-fairhaven-wind-letter-turbine-noise-studies-tainted
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