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Falmouth Board of Selectmen's decision last week to remove the two town-owned wind turbines at the wastewater treatment facility could have implications not only for Falmouth, but for wind projects across the state and the country, according to both proponents and opponents of the project.
The three articles collectively ask town meeting members to: appropriate money to cover debt obligations the town holds for construction and maintenance costs; fund the dismantling and disposal or relocation of the turbines; and supplement the fiscal 2013 and 2014 operating budget as necessary due to the turbines being curtailed or shut down.
In the suit, six plaintiffs - all Falmouth residents who live near two turbines at the wastewater treatment facility on Blacksmith Shop Road - are challenging a 2011 ruling by the town's zoning board of appeals that affirmed building commissioner Eladio Gore's approval of the turbine without a special permit.
The Massachusetts Departments of Public Health and Environmental Protection continue endorsing noise guideline and noise sampling protocol tools which, both agencies admit, do not adequately address, nor properly mitigate the unique noise characteristics associated with Industrial Wind Turbines (June 30, 2011 letter from MassDEP to Falmouth Selectmen & Health Agent).
Senate President Therese Murray, D-Plymouth, praised the idea of removing the turbines. Murray, whom selectmen named as a legislator they would likely approach seeking financial assistance, said in a statement she looks forward to hearing more about Falmouth's decommissioning plans.
Leland Road resident Doreen Reilly said it's obvious from their inaction that the owners of Kingston Wind refuse to acknowledge the nightmare she, her family and other residents are living due to noise and flicker from the turbine. "It's so discouraging."
Fairhaven officials and critics of the town's two turbines will be watching closely as Falmouth selectmen begin the process of removing two turbines there. ..."There's a lot of energy and optimism about if this can transfer here."
Reading from a prepared statement, Selectman David Braga said industrial-sized turbines don’t belong in residential neighborhoods. “We have an issue that has gone on for too long and it has divided our town. I want to be very positive and move forward to rectify this issue,” Braga said. “I think it’s time that we start building trust with the residents of Falmouth over this issue.”
Hanover Town Manager Troy Clarkson announced to selectmen Monday night that the town would terminate its contract with Lumus Construction, the builder of its wind turbine. Clarkson said the contract needed to be terminated because the company still hasn't managed to get the turbine up and running. The project was originally pegged for completion nearly two years ago.
Daniel H. Webb, owner of the Notus Clean Energy turbine, said that the town-owned turbines have not been running at night for eight months and questioned how the board will take that into account. "I think Dan has a valid point that ideally we would have done this last year," said Dr. Goldstone, when the town turbines were running 24 hours a day. Unlike the town-owned turbines that have been turned off from 7 PM to 7 AM since May.
The letter reviewed by town counsel Monday essentially says that while willing to meet with the town about possible mitigation, the Independence turbine owners prefer to wait for the results of a sound study they have commissioned from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.
In the suit, six plaintiffs - all Falmouth residents who live near two turbines at the wastewater treatment facility on Blacksmith Shop Road - are challenging a 2011 ruling by the town's zoning board of appeals that affirmed Building Commissioner Eladio Gore's approval of the first turbine to be erected.
Scituate Wind, the turbine's owner, had told the board it would only pay for a study that determined its compliance with state standards, but nothing outside of that scope. The Board of Health said it had no money to fund a study not paid for by Scituate Wind.
KWI maintains a 400-foot tall wind turbine atop Kingston's capped landfill, along Route 3. Since its erection last year, the turbine has been the focus of numerous complaints from Kingston residents, ranging from infrasound to flicker. Critics say the KWI turbine should be shut down or moved to further removed location in town.
Nearly one hundred Falmouth residents attended a Board of Selectmen meeting last night to peacefully protest and speak out against the ongoing operation of three identical industrial wind turbines in the Falmouth Industrial Park. Duration: 33 seconds
"There has been no previous study completed, be it acoustic, shadow flicker or health impact related, since the industrial wind turbine became operational," Thompson said. "What [was done] is flawed modeling that was utilized as part of the approval process, that grossly understated both the actual noise and shadow flicker emanating from the wind turbine."
While wind turbine advocates aren't happy with Nissenbaum's study, no court case was dismissed or contested it or its findings on the effect of industrial wind turbines on people living within close proximity to them. "It has not been refuted and is not refutable by prior studies," Nissenbaum said. "This study, in fact, seems to confirm known science and known plausible pathways resulting in disease."
Morality over money: That was the overriding theme in what was a rather civil Jan. 23 meeting held by the Falmouth Board of Selectmen, in which they heard public comments on the town's two wind turbines.
If passed, the bill would establish two funds using money from the current Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust Fund. One fund would set aside $15 million for residents, businesses and towns that incurred losses such as negative health effects and property loss.
Tuesday night, Prospect Street resident Mark Wheeler told the Board of Selectmen that he had not heard from Ruiz, although he had done as requested and submitted medical evidence of harm to his family. He said they are asking for some relief, and he's losing faith that the government will deliver.