Mass. considering new turbine noise regulations

Posted May 21, 2012, at 8:40 p.m.

BOSTON — Massachusetts environmental officials are considering new regulations that would require state review to determine if proposed wind turbines would be too noisy in generating power.

The Boston Globe reported Monday that state officials might also conduct sound studies in Fairhaven and Kingston, where residents have complained about noise from existing turbines.

Last week, officials in Falmouth shut down a town-owned turbine after the state Department of Environmental Protection found it made too much noise at a nearby residence.

DEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell said the Falmouth measurements, plus a prior recommendation in favor of such testing from an independent panel, have the state “giving serious consideration to implementing additional procedures to limit noise impacts.”

He said the possible new regulations could require manufacturers to report the expected noise levels to turbine operators. The state could then use computer models to predict their noise at various distances, Kimmell said.

Such modeling is standard practice for facilities that generate a lot of noise, such as power plants that use fossil fuels, Kimmell said. But he said the state, to date, has mainly left such testing to local permitting boards.

Geoffrey Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, said he has no problem with state efforts to prevent noise pollution from future turbines. But he said local communities should be careful they don’t lose their say along the way.

“Municipalities would be very cautious about any attempt on the part of the state that could override local decision-making,” he said.

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