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New spin needed

This much is clear: many people who live near these towers believe that the structures are adversely affecting their health. Local officials do not need Falmouth's experiences to understand that there is virtually nothing that will placate people when they believe that their health, and their property values, are suffering. Better to clear the air ahead of time before trying to harness the wind.

The days may be numbered for a pair of wind turbines in Falmouth, but the multimillion dollar demise of these two towers should not herald the end of wind's fortunes on Cape Cod. If anything, Falmouth's experiences should serve as a cautionary tale for the next town bold enough to put its stamp on renewable energy.

Real estate agents will tell you that location is everything, and this was certainly the case with Falmouth's foray into wind power. Voters approved the installation of these wind turbines as part of an effort to offset the town's electric costs while also taking a positive stand on renewable energy. The fact that the turbines were sited near residential areas, however, was a concern long before the blades began spinning.

After nearly three years of studies, meetings, and health complaints, selectmen announced last month that they would approve dismantling the towers. Whether or not they will follow through with this remains to be seen: last week they recommended a town meeting article that would keep the turbines operational through the end of the fiscal year, and voted to indefinitely postpone two articles that would decommission the turbines and cover the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The days may be numbered for a pair of wind turbines in Falmouth, but the multimillion dollar demise of these two towers should not herald the end of wind's fortunes on Cape Cod. If anything, Falmouth's experiences should serve as a cautionary tale for the next town bold enough to put its stamp on renewable energy.

Real estate agents will tell you that location is everything, and this was certainly the case with Falmouth's foray into wind power. Voters approved the installation of these wind turbines as part of an effort to offset the town's electric costs while also taking a positive stand on renewable energy. The fact that the turbines were sited near residential areas, however, was a concern long before the blades began spinning.

After nearly three years of studies, meetings, and health complaints, selectmen announced last month that they would approve dismantling the towers. Whether or not they will follow through with this remains to be seen: last week they recommended a town meeting article that would keep the turbines operational through the end of the fiscal year, and voted to indefinitely postpone two articles that would decommission the turbines and cover the costs associated with dismantling them.

No doubt many in Falmouth are experiencing some degree of buyer's remorse; the town may be looking at a $15 million tab if and when it takes down the two turbines. That is a sizable bill for a three-year project that will generate no future benefits. Still, although an expensive lesson, other Cape towns may benefit from Falmouth's multimillion dollar experiment.

Although there are plenty of arguments regarding the location of wind turbines, there is little debate that renewable energy sources are preferable to traditional fossil fuels; replacing finite, polluting resources with clean, renewable energy is a matter of long-term financial, as well as environmental, practicality.

As Falmouth has discovered, however, it is not always easy to make everyone happy. Siting the turbines on town-owned property may make perfect sense from most perspectives, but not without some sort of distance buffer between the towers and homes. Future turbines proponents would do well to take this into consideration as they decide where and how to place towers. Similarly, it would be wise to engage any abutting residents prior to any development plans. People who are a part of the process from the start, and who feel as though they are being given due consideration, are less likely to complain about the results later on.

There are competing studies in terms of whether or not the visual and audio impacts of the turbines actually cause medical issues, but this much is clear: many people who live near these towers believe that the structures are adversely affecting their health. Local officials do not need Falmouth's experiences to understand that there is virtually nothing that will placate people when they believe that their health, and their property values, are suffering. Better to clear the air ahead of time before trying to harness the wind.


Source: http://mjoecool.wordpress.c...

MAR 24 2013
http://www.windaction.org/posts/36653-new-spin-needed
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