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Published On: Tue, Jun 25th, 2013

[VIDEO] Planning Board wants flicker regulation, sending turbine debate to town meeting

breakingnews-15_600TOWN HOUSE- Kingston’s center of political gravity, the Planning Board, is sending the ongoing debate about shadow-flicker regulation to a town meeting with a recommendation allowing no more than 30 hours of flicker per year at any residence.

That upcoming town meeting, which is not yet scheduled, will first have to endure an August 8 public hearing on shadow-flicker.

Public hearings, which can only be held if a regulation is being discussed, are the first step of the process before declaring a special town meeting.


Tom Bott (right) speaks as a 1200-page flicker study lies on the table in front of him. Planning Board-member Dave Gavigan (left) reads along.

Tom Bott, Kingston’s Town Planner, got the ball rolling last night by suggesting a regulation that would limit shadow flicker from wind turbines in Kingston to no more than 30 hours a year. Bott described the 30-hour per year limit as “an industry standard.”

Bott also described the recent comments of turbine owner Kially Ruiz as “unconstructive” and “over the top.”

“While a couple of the turbine owners have recommended they’ll buy curtains and blinds for people, I’ve not seen anybody else who thinks that’s a proper mitigation,” Bott said. “I think…the proper mitigation for excessive flicker is to turn [the turbines] off when you’re in that condition.”

Tom Bouchard, the Chairman of Kingston’s Planning Board, agreed, calling the suggestion to buy blinds for affected residents “silly.”

“I think it will help with what we have in place now,” Bouchard said when speaking about the possibility of a townwide regulation on shadow flicker. “If there’s a standard and the town has adopted the standard…then I think the [turbine] owners will have to deal with it.”

Bouchard found agreement from other members of his board.

Snapshot 2 (6-25-2013 2-57 PM)

Bob Gosselin

Planning Board-member Bob Gosselin pointed out that some residences in Kingston “really exceed the time” of exposure to flicker when considering a possible future regulation.

A recently released Clean Energy Center (CEC) flicker study put some locations in Kingston at over 80 hours of flicker per year.

“Maybe by not running [the turbines] at that time of the day…it’d solve the problem,” Gosselin suggested.

Fellow Planning Board-member Mike Ruprecht also chimed in, saying the 30 hour per year suggestion “sounds great.”

Snapshot 1 (6-25-2013 2-59 PM)

Sean Reilly (left) and his son (right) at Monday night’s Planning Board meeting.

The only parties in the room who weren’t on board with Bott’s “industry standard” suggestion were the Reilly’s, who live on Leland Road–within 1,000 feet of the Kingston Wind Independence (KWI) Turbine.

Sean Reilly, who sat next to his son in front of the Planning Board on Monday night, called even 30 hours of shadow-flicker per year “unacceptable.”

“I have a family that lives in a house that can’t come home and do homework in the afternoon because of shadow flicker,” Reilly said. “It’s a major problem.”

Reilly also said he believes the KWI Turbine should be “shut off until it’s fixed,” which led Bouchard to fire back, “okay, well, that’s your opinion.”

“We’re not prepared to have this discussion right now,” Bouchard said to Reilly. “I know what you’re going through…I appreciate you being here but this is not the time for it.”

Snapshot 1 (6-25-2013 2-56 PM)

Tom Bouchard is the Chairman of Kingston’s Planning Board

Bouchard continued, telling Reilly that “the idea of putting 30 hours on the table was an idea to start somewhere.”

“Whether it changes from 30 to ten, or five, or zero is fine with me. I just want to start somewhere because right now we have nothing,” Bouchard said before Reilly interjected, asking why Bouchard wouldn’t start at zero.

“I don’t know that that’s the right thing to do,” Bouchard said, which prompted Reilly to ask why not.

“Wait, don’t interrupt me. I’m talking,” Bouchard said to Reilly. “Listen, the train comes through. I can’t tell them to turn off the siren, can I?”

“Whatever part of town you’re in, you deal with some kind of an impact,” Bouchard said. “What level of impact that should be, I don’t know.”

Bouchard said he was glad the town didn’t shutdown the turbines six months ago, when the Board of Selectmen (BOS) voted 3-1 to shutdown the turbines before flip-flopping and reconsidering the vote minutes later.


An example of the shadow that emanates from the flicker effect of wind turbines, taken at the transfer station in Kingston.

“The reality might be that you have to live with some flicker,” Bouchard told Reilly. “And your neighbors might have to. And somebody in Indian Pond might have to.”

Bouchard said he is only intending to get a conversation about flicker-regulation started as he reiterated “because right now we have nothing.”

The upcoming shadow-flicker public hearing is scheduled for August 8, although it is not yet listed on

Next Monday, on July 1, a joint meeting between the BOS and the Board of Health (BOH) will discuss the results of the CEC’s site-specific flicker study. Representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection, CEC and EAPC will be on hand for next Monday’s joint meeting.

A site-specific flicker study was not conducted for any of Kingston’s wind turbines, as first reported by the Journal in February, until this month when a study was conducted by CEC nearly a year after the turbines’ construction.

For nearly six months, the Kingston BOH has declined to regulate shadow flicker despite emotional pleas from residents who claim to be negatively affected.

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  1. Shadow says:

    The suggestion of “no more than 30 hours of flicker per year at any residence” could work if the limit was also no more than 15 minutes of flicker per day on any residential property.

    The regulation/bylaw would read something like this “no more than 30 hours of flicker per year at any residence nor more than 15 minutes per day”

  2. No Shadows! The phenomena is a nuisance and has to go, completely says:

    1st Mr Bouchard sounds like a bully! If he says he will consider 0 why didn’t he start off with that as a possiblity

    2nd the BOH has already stated in open meeting that they find the shadow flicker a “nuisance”…it is their obligation to abate it…get rid of it not arbitrarily decide how much is tolerable.

    3rd Mr Bott is misrepresenting a “standard” that does not exist all all…he is misrepresenting a German standard cherrypicking a 30 hour limit without going into detail on the reality of the German standard

    4th If shadow flicker creates a health nuisance as testified to by our neighbors and as show in their video why is the planning board hadnling a health issue

    5th I recall seeing a board of health meeting that discussed a Bourne regulation for shadow flicker…Bourne Ma NOT Germany…it was their Health Board that drew up the regulation…their regulation determines flicker to be a health nuisance and has zero tolerance

    6th Mr Bourchard was rude to Mr Reilly…he said he feels sorry then talks to him like a bully…insensitive to their situation

    7th How on earth can a town meeting vote decide on a health and safety issue? This is obviously an attempt to get the vote the way Mr Bott wants…213 people show up to decide an issue…much like wind turbine overlay district vote…that has us now in this horrible situation

    8th Mr Bott sure seems to be working his best to protect the turbines rather than the residents who pay his salary!

  3. Question for Bott, Bouchard & company says:

    What do they have to say about this premise:

    “A subset of society should not be forced to bear the cost of a benefit for the larger society.”

    From: One Page Takings Summary: U.S Constitution and Local Land Use, by: George S. Hawkins, Esq., Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association

    Conclusion: no resident should be forced to bear the burden of nuisance shadow flicker conditions all so mr bott can protect his turbine project.

  4. Serious? says:

    Mr. Bouchard is not a bully. He spoke some fabulous common sense. He said the number could go up or it could go down. The Bourne standard could very well end up being adopted in Kingston, though I doubt it. The anti wind lobbyists would like to quote Bourne all day every day, but it is unrealistic. My Bouchard has shown some genuine empathy to Reilly and has known him for some time from youth sports. We are a community, not just one neighborhood.

  5. Mrs Reilly WAS RIGHT! says:

    Mrs Reilly was right…the town planner Tom Bott is definately working AGAINST the residents and is trying to make up make believe standards to protect the wind turbine operations.

    This is not, at this point, a planning board issue…they had their chance to digest all the important information for the site plan approval and they were provided (by mr bott and mr beaton) very little for the planning board ( or planning bored) to go on…simple…approve it!

    Now mr bott wants to have control of who is exposed to how much…not his job…above his pay grade…he is not a scientist and he is not putting public health and safety first.

  6. Do it the right way! says:

    Mr Bouchard is right here, we need to do this the RIGHT WAY

    Problem is Mr Bouchard and CO were duped into thinking their site plan approval was done the RIGHT WAY…it wans’t…

    Mr Bouchard said at this meeting “we don’t have all the facts” again HE IS RIGHT

    Problem is Mr Bouchard made a site approval decision without all the FACTS…

    So, let me get this straight…Mr Reilly has to suffer as a result of the town AGREEING TO A PROJECT WITHOUT ALL THE FACTS AND THEREFORE THEY DID NOT DO THINGS THE RIGHT WAY

    Doesn’t the planning board understand trespass laws? You can not have an adjacent use trespass and create a nuisance on another private property

  7. Marie-Jane says:

    June 26, 2013

    Another busy week in Kingston and another busy couple of weeks of news events regarding the industrial wind turbine agenda!

    Boston Business Journal on 6/13/2013 had an outstanding blog about the latest information on proven negative health impacts related to industrial wind turbines. On 6/21/2013 a “guest blog” by the Director of Siting Policy AWEA appeared in the Boston Business Journal refuting, the Patricia Resende blog post and essentially saying the health issues were unfounded and “…just, the power of suggestion” (in other words, “it is all in your head”), a very professional comment. And, during this time, “Kingston Turbine Talk” was born (its purpose seems to be to prove that the affected residents are suffering from “power of suggestion”) and one of the developers posted an “Open Editorial” about the subject of the industrial wind turbine (referring to residents’ suffering as: “mysterious sounds” which “somehow enters the body”). I guess that, too, qualifies as “power of suggestion”.

    The latest is that some members of the Kingston Planning Board are making suggestions for what they, personally, perceive to be a humanly tolerable time frame for torture (my word); stating, of course, that it appears to be an “industry standard” (does this make it right?) and, if quoted accurately, another Board member thought the 30-hour a year suggestion, “….sounded great”. And, still another states that if a standard is adopted, the owners of the turbines, will just have to “deal with it” (deal with what??). And, all of this is saying that the impacted residents are expected to shut up and “live” with it! A mandate from Kingston’s center of political gravity.

    My question for all of the Boards and all of the pro-wind residents and, those on the fringes and not quite sure, and, including, the developers/owners: If you knew when these industrial wind turbine projects were being proposed and, prior to approval, that it would have adverse health impacts and noise impacts, would you have approved/and or moved forward with these projects for the people of the Town of Kingston?

    I must presume you have all said “No”, because you would not do this to another human being, right?

    Having all said no, I than ask, What makes it right to any degree today? A mistake was made. Admit it. Shut them down.


  8. VernElliot says:

    Suddenly they all have an opinion? Where was all this gum flapping when the problem came to light or better yet during the … wait for it… PLANNING. This is the planning board, right? It’s like the scene in Blazing Saddles where everybody harumphs to make the Governor happy and cover thier butts. Industry Standard isn’t a solution and should’t be used as one. It shoul be whats best for the people and the town. When you use phrases like ‘ industry standard’ you’re copping out.

  9. VernApple says:

    MarieJane, torture is not allowed per the Geneva Cnvention. Please point me to any military manual that describes wind turbine as torture. Or perhaps some National or State laws on flicker. Surely congress would outlaw such torture?

  10. Question of integrity? says:

    If the recently released EAPC Shadow Flicker Report is flawed, does anybody care?

    If the contour maps are inaccurate, does that finally show that the Mass CEC should never have been allowed so much control over the process here in Kingston?

    Why did Joe Casna insist that the Mass CEC be allowed so much involvement in both the still not done acoustical testing AND the now questionable Shadow Flicker report?

    Why is the fox allowed to care for the hen house?

    Why is Mass CEC allowed to fund faulty pre-construction studies and now allowed to fund with our money a Shadow Flicker report that has bogus contour maps?

  11. Marie-Jane says:

    June 29, 2013

    VernApple. Point me in the direction of any word more appropriate than torture to express more perfectly a machine that drives people from their home, is, now, known to have been placed too close to human kind and, yet, is allowed to remain standing and operating and is supported by the “governing body” of the Town of Kingston, the Governor’s new “Community Wind Energy Initiative, and the President’s industrial wind turbine agenda and recently presented “Climate Change Plan”.

    From my perspective, if you know it hurts and you continue the action then you are hurting intentionally and, if it is intentional, it is torture.

    Unintentionally, at the planning stages and at implementation, a mistake was made. We know that for certain now. It is time to shut the machines off. It is time to remove them.