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Concerns Continue Over Hoosac Wind

Michael Fairneny

Massachusetts residents living near a wind turbine farm in the Northern Berkshires are once again expressing concerns about noise pollution.

The so-calledHoosac Wind Project has raised concerns about noise pollution since it opened in December 2012. Iberdrola Renewables owns and operates the 19 turbines in the Berkshire County town of Florida and neighboring Franklin County town of Monroe. Larry Lorusso lives about a mile from the nearest turbine in the neighboring town of Clarksburg. He shares the concerns of a group called the Friends of Florida and Monroe who filed noise complaints with state officials in early 2013.

“It’s this very unnatural rhythm that’s not regular and it makes everything vibrate,” said Lorusso.

Lorusso says he has trouble sleeping one out of every ten nights and kept the windows closed in his house during the summer. Under state law, wind turbines must comply with regulations from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, by producing noise no louder than 10db above ambient sound. Under the requirement and oversight of the DEP, Iberdrola conducted a noise study in March. Ed Coletta is a DEP spokesman.

“For the Bakke Mountain site, none of the test samples that came back from Iberdrola were above the 10 db guideline that we have set out for our noise policy,” said Coletta.

Lorusso says he did not allow monitoring at his property because he wanted noise levels to be tested at locations closer to the turbines. He raised concerns about testing equipment being placed behind trees.

“It was noticeable, the difference,” Lorusso said. “Walking 25 feet from behind the tree, you could hear there was less sound behind the tree.”

Coletta says tests are conducted at multiple sites with readings taken every few seconds, hours at a time. He says the tests at Bakke Mountain showed no gaps.

“Any monitor that was placed out in the field was something where you were going to get a good set of data that would be utilized for this type of sampling,” Coletta said. “If there in fact were any kind of data points that were an issue that did show data gaps perhaps, then we would require them to go out and do more monitoring which we have required at the Crum Hill site.”

Lorusso also says Iberdrola has offered residents gag orders to keep quiet complaints about the project. Paul Copleman is the communications manager for Iberdrola.

“Our lease language with landowners in Massachusetts and with dozens of other projects across the country has no such language,” Copleman said. “We encourage all of our landowners at our projects to communicate with us and with others, including outside parties, if they have any concerns about the project operation.”

Lorusso says he wants the Hoosac Wind Project to comply with state regulations.

“I do not feel like they’re protecting us,” said Lorusso.

Democratic state representative Gailanne Cariddi represents the Berkshire towns of Florida and Clarksburg. She says she is supportive of a bill that would create a commission to look into the health concerns of those living near turbines. As a result of DEP testing, in November, a judge ordered the town of Falmouth to shut off two turbines it operates during evening hours and on major holidays. The DEP is currently overseeing the additional study at the Crum Hill site and will make those results available when the study is completed.

Jim is WAMC’s Associate News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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