> > > > Falmouth Wind Turbine Noise Study, Massachusetts

Project Experience: Third Party Review of Proposed Gloucester Engineering Wind, Massachusetts

The Challenge

The City of Gloucester received an application for a special permit from Equity Partners Inc. for a two turbine wind energy project on the property of Gloucester Engineering Company located in the Blackburn Industrial Park. The City’s Planning Department sought an expert review of the potential environmental impacts of the project for compliance with the City of Gloucester’s Wind Energy Ordinance. The City hired HMMH to assist in the review of environmental information and present its findings before the City Council subcommittee responsible for reviewing the special permit.

The Strategy

HMMH reviewed a sound level assessment and a shadow flicker study to assess potential impacts of the project on nearby land uses. To comply with the City Ordinance on noise, the applicant must demonstrate that the wind project will not increase noise by 10 dBA over existing levels in accordance with the State Noise Policy, and not exceed a maximum noise level specific to the City. The shadow flicker analysis must demonstrate no significant impact without providing a specific impact performance standard. Sensitive receptors surrounding the proposed project site that might be impacted by the wind project include industrial uses, residential areas, a school, and a hotel currently under construction.

The Solution

HMMH concluded that noise levels comply with existing regulatory standards with the exception of within a portion of the Fuller Elementary School and at the proposed hotel site. Curtailment during high noise generating periods or a noise easement might be necessary to achieve compliance. Shadow flicker impacts approach significant levels customarily employed in regulatory review at one residential location and throughout the industrial park. The applicant has already agreed to a curtailment program to limit shadow flicker impacts which will become a condition of the issuance of a special permit.