Only 30 feet

The townspeople of Savoy are being asked to vote on an amendment to the Revised Zoning By-Laws permitting an increase in the height of the proposed wind turbines to 455 feet. They are also requesting that minimal ground clearance be reduced from 100 feet to 70 feet. These changes would add 60 additional feet to the diameter of the rotational sweep making these the largest onshore wind turbines anywhere in the state. The image above compares the 1.5 MWh turbines operating on Florida Mountain (currently the largest wind farm in Massachusetts) to turbines proposed in Savoy. When traveling west on route 2, the Hoosac Wind turbines, each taller than the Statue of Liberty, tower over Whitcomb Summit. Their blades have a rotational sweep of better than a full acre. Many see these turbines as disruptive to the iconic views that have been a Massachusetts hallmark for generations.

The five turbines proposed in Savoy would dwarf the 1.5 MWh units operated by Hoosac Wind Project. They would each have a rotational sweep of more than 2-2/3 acres! (Try to imagine that.) It’s fair to say that few people in this state have ever seen a turbine of this size. So large, in fact, that it’s difficult to comprehend the total impact of these enormous industrial power generators. If constructed they would completely alter the rural character of this town, subjecting a dozen homes to potentially harmful noise levels negitively affecting families that live within a mile and half of West Hill. Few people in Savoy will be unaffected by these massive Wind Turbines.

Large Wind Turbines make large noise. Larger Wind Turbines make larger noise.

The force that drives these enormous generators is massive and the sound emanating from the sweeping blades is egregious. The Minuteman Wind Project claims to have conducted a noise analysis many years ago, measuring Savoy’s “background noise” and factoring in noise modeling for the originally proposed turbines. The sketch they published (still available on line) suggests that no house would be vulnerable to sound levels above State approved guidlines… then stated simply: “Remote location alleviates noise concerns”. Subsequent to that study, the project has received a “Superseding Order of Conditions” from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection with exacting directives addressing wetland concerns and with rigorous conditions for compliance.

The locations of the Wind Turbines are fixed.

If the town votes to enlarge the size of the rotational sweep, the increased sound levels would be additive – extending the area of concern well beyond earlier estimates posing a definite health risk. Is the town of Savoy prepared to deal with health complaints caused by these enormous wind turbines?

Here is a composite depiction created by Stephen Ambrose. Stephen is a Board Certified Member of the Institute of Noise Control Engineering (INCE) with over 40-years’ experience. Since 2009, his career has focused on why there were very vocal negative reactions from neighbors living near industrial wind turbines.  He has visited many wind turbine sites, and even slept as a neighbor at Mars Hill, Fairhaven and Falmouth. Other sites visited include, Vinalhaven, Freedom, Maine and Kingston, Situate, Ipswich, Charlestown, Hull, Plymouth, Bourne, and Gloucester, Massachusetts. Professional experience and accurate measurements support neighbors complaining about excessive noise and adverse health situations. Unfortunately, these complaints are not acted upon by regulatory agencies and town boards.

His dipiction is placed on top of the original noise level study commissioned by Minuteman Wind [Epsilon cal #3, fig.2, 2009]. The yellow circles represent the [10 x diameter] CCC recomended distance from each turbine and includes the number of homes that fall directly within the area of concern. Note: This depiction is for the ORIGINALLY proposed Turbines with a 325′ diameter — NOT the 60′ addition — with a diameter of 385′!

No one can estimate the exact level of audible sound without a final design plan, exact locations, and the make and model of the Turbine.

No one.

The Cape Cod Commission in Massachusetts several years ago adopted 10 X, ten times the diameter of the wind turbines to residential homes after massive noise complaints from at least twenty one communities. Falmouth, Massachusetts is ground zero for poorly placed wind turbines in the United States taking health and property rights with no compensation. Falmouth has nine ongoing unresolved lawsuits over its wind turbines. The symptoms reported are: lack of sleep, fatigue, headaches, anxiety, insomnia, dizziness and irritability (aka human annoyance).

Many towns in Massachusetts have been fighting the insult of onshore wind turbines. The two 1.6 MWh turbines in the town of Falmouth were recently declared a nuisance by Superior Court and have ceased operation.

Another serious threat is inaudible Barometric Pressure Ossillations (Infra-Sound).

The blades of a turbine work like the wing of an airplane. Air passing over the curved surface creates low pressure resulting in LIFT, the same principle that enables an airplane to fly. When the blade passes by the tower, low pressure is sheared off abruptly eliminating lift. The blade jolts forward creating a sharp pulse that is “felt” but not heard. This Pressure Oscillation is responsible for motion-sickness and nausea in 1/3 of all people. If you have ever suffered from motion-sickness, you will probably be affected. Unlike audible sound, Barometric Pressure Ossilations travel great distance. Some have been detected miles from the turbine. Guidelines suggest that setbacks to avoid issues from Pressure Oscillations should be at least four times the set-back for audible sound.

What else can rural Savoy expect?

Hundreds of truckloads of heavy materials… excavators… cranes… explosives… materials and workers will drive up and down Upper Loop Road, Chapel Road, and Brier Road – day after day. All three roads will be widened and paved over. Powerlines will be upgraded and positioned out of the way for the delivery of the five giant Nacelles weighing hundreds of tons along with the enormous sections of the towers. More than 400 cement trucks will be needed for the the platforms alone.

A blade from the enlarged turbine is longer than the fuselage of a Boeing 787. Imagine the extensive re-design of Savoy’s rural roads to accommodate fifteen such blades! For residents, there will be endless days where Black Brook Road may be the only way out of town. The mature lilacs along the front of your property may have to go… along with your favorite apple tree, perennial hedges, livestock fencing, stone walls, and anything else that might impede the passage of the giant blades. There will be serious changes to rural Savoy. Minuteman Wind will be providing their own engineer to plan the clearing and excavation. It’s good to know that the planning board will oversee the operation, but let’s be clear, the ultimate goal is not the beautification of Savoy property, the goal will be getting blades that weigh up to 70 tons up to Harwood Road and West Hill.

“In towns south of Boston and west of Cape Cod, there are no plans for new onshore turbines, and one of Massachusetts’ leading wind experts said a lack of new activity across the state has led him to move away from studying onshore wind.

State government has also turned its focus elsewhere, as new energy legislation signed last year emphasized offshore wind and other renewable sources.”

— The Boston Globe, February 3, 2017

Crossroads in Savoy

The concerns of all residents must be aired and acknowledged. A hasty vote to increase the size of the largest wind turbines in the state, without a complete and credible sound test performed by a independent consultant and without full assurance of equitable compensation to the town, would be reckless. Dialog on these issues, for as long as it takes, is essential. If Savoy moves forward with these turbines without the support of it’s residents the town will never enjoy the unity and prosperity it seeks.