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Appeals board to hear proposal for wind turbine  

The application for a wind turbine in the Falmouth Technology Park will go before the Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals Thursday night, in one of many steps in a multi-agency permitting process.

Douglas C. Webb, owner of Webb Research Corporation, is applying to the board of appeals for a special permit to install a 1.5-megawatt turbine on the company’s property in the Falmouth Technology Park.

The board of appeals will hold a public hearing on the project during its meeting Thursday at 6 PM in Falmouth Town Hall.

The base of the turbine is planned to be 15 feet in diameter and 262 feet high, and the blade is 126 feet, according to the project’s application on file with the town.

Douglas Webb’s son, Daniel H. Webb, who is president of Webb Research, has said that the turbine would provide energy for the company, and that any additional energy would be sold back into the regional power grid. Daniel Webb is also president of Notus Clean Energy, which will install the wind turbine.

Though the only direct abutter to the property is Cape Cod Aggregates Corporation in the technology park, residents who live nearby have brought up concerns about the installation of the turbine.

At an information session held by Webb Research for residents in November, many questioned the noise that would be generated by the turbine, and some also said that they were worried about negative health effects.

According to a noise study conducted by Epsilon Associates that is linked on Notus’s website, however, the estimated amount of increased noise from the turbine would be small and “generally not perceptible to the human ear.” The study reports that in the worst-case scenario, noise from the turbine would be only slightly audible when outside at the residences nearest to the turbine.

Also on the website is a letter from the director of facilities at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy that states there have been no complaints of noise about their wind turbine. That turbine is 552 feet from the nearest residence, according to the letter, while the nearest house to the proposed Webb Research turbine is about one-third of a mile.

A study cited on the website says that there are no documented health effects.

At November’s meeting, Mr. Webb cited the environmental benefits of the project. He said that the turbine would produce enough energy for 476 homes and could prevent the emission of 1,029 tons of carbon dioxide, 3,253 pounds of sulfur dioxide, and 1,000 pounds of nitrous oxide per year.

In Falmouth, there is already a 10-kilowatt wind turbine at Falmouth Academy, and plans are underway to construct three others: at the town’s Wastewater Treatment Facility in West Falmouth; at the Woods Hole Research Center on Woods Hole Road; and at Coonamessett Farm in Hatchville.

Also on the Upper Cape, there is a 10-kilowatt turbine at the Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School.

This past September, the Department of Agriculture awarded a $300,000 federal grant to Webb Research, and in 2005, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative awarded $575,000 for the design and construction of the tech park turbine.

Webb Research has already surmounted a couple of hurdles for the turbine.
In fall 2005, Town Meeting approved an article that revised zoning bylaws to allow wind turbines at the technology park, and in August 2006, the Falmouth Historical Commission gave Webb Research permission to move forward with the process of constructing the turbine.

In addition to the board of appeals and the historical commission, the project requires approval from 11 other local, state, and federal agencies, including the Falmouth Building commissioner, the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and Department of Environmental Protection, the Federal Aviation Association, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, according to the website.

More information on the proposed turbine, including the results of the noise study, is available at www.notuscleanenergy.com, and the full application to the zoning board of appeals is available for review at the board of appeals office in town hall.

By Martha V. Scanlon

The Enterprise

15 April 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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