WELLFLEET – Voters won’t be asked to approve the proposed 400-foot wind turbine at the upcoming Annual Town Meeting. But the turbine issue is far from dead.
That was evident Tuesday when more than 125 people filled the senior center, many forced to stand along the walls as four speakers talked about the proposed Wellfleet turbine, in particular, and the turbines operated by the towns of Brewster, Harwich and Falmouth.
Geof Karlson, chair of the Wellfleet Energy Committee, tried to touch on a number of concerns, including financial and regulatory issues, and the potential of sound and the blades’ shadow flicker to affect people living near the turbine. He also touched on the objections of some to siting an industrial turbine on town-owned land within the Cape Cod National Seashore.
Town counsel Betsy Lane, he reported, opined that a turbine on town-owned land within the Seashore is an allowed municipal use.
“If the Seashore superintendent chose to challenge the issuance of a permit, such a challenge would be subject to dismissal by the court for lack of standing,” Karlson quoted from Lane’s opinion.
The Seashore itself, Karlson said, is considering putting up a turbine on its land in Truro.
Seashore Supt. George Price attended the meeting, held by the Wellfleet Community Forum, but did not speak.
Dennis O’Connell, an opponent of the turbine, said he and Jim Rogers, another critic of the project, visited the turbines at Vinalhaven, Maine, and Newburyport. “What I saw furthered my resolve that there are going to be negative impacts from this project,” O’Connell said. He challenged the selectmen to visit Vinalhaven “and then go to your proposed site in the heart of the Cape Cod National Seashore and see if that is what you want to do to this property.”
He spoke with people in Vinalhaven and Newburyport, he said. “Many were very supportive of the project when it was proposed, but now they are against it. These people have suffered,” he said. “They’ve seen a decline in the quality of life and they’ve been marginalized.”
Sound and flicker were issues with the turbines in both towns, he said.
Wellfleet is talking about a turbine that is 400 feet tall, he said, noting that is 3.2 times the size of the town’s water tower. “To me the water tower is benign, it doesn’t move, it doesn’t catch the eye,” he said. It casts a shadow a little bit, but it doesn’t do anything like a wind turbine does. It does not rip apart an unfragmented area.”
One of his major issues with the turbine, O’Connell said, is that it is a “heavily subsidized” industry. “When you start playing around with Mother Nature and Father Economics, then you are creating things that just don’t make sense. You are going to end up in trouble,” he said. “The subsidies involved in this project are huge. … This synthetic pricing has a habit of going away when people realize what is going on. You can see this as subsidies are disappearing in Hawaii, in Europe and California. And as all these are drying up, they are being left and they are a blight on the countryside.”
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