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Should Cape push land-based turbines? Not until science answers many questions  

Credit:  Mark Cool, Cape Cod Times, www.capecodonline.com 4 April 2011 ~~

The remedies to Falmouth wind turbine complaints have been found to have no ready reference guide, or authoritative body to which to turn for answers.

Frustrated with the enormous learning curve and time requirement, town hall’s sentiments are that the “experts” aren’t expert at all. Proper scientific investigative protocol seems marginal, at best, as emerging research trends toward caution.

Local boards, the Cape Cod Commission, state and federal governments have no where near the science to completely pin down answers to these issues and complaints. Why?

Here’s a possible excuse. A Cape & Vineyard Energy Cooperative wind advocate illustrates that the proponents may appear convincing, but mislead and misrepresent with their touting all is hunky-dory with the turbine siting process.

On WGBH radio, the advocate said “in the Brewster study, everything (infrasound test) was so low, in terms of the neighbors and (the) boundary periphery, it’s just not realistic to bring forward the concerns we’re seeing in Falmouth and taint this really valuable project.” The truth is looking at what was measured, or modeled for infrasound in Brewster, in terms of whether there will be harm or not, is flat out impossible!

Standards for acceptable infrasound levels aren’t even in the books to apply. No rigorous consensus of science, involving the full scope of wind turbine sound effect, to say nothing of standards, exists.

There is no way to evaluate Brewster, in light of what is or isn’t happening in Falmouth. Falmouth’s experience merely serves as an example that current definitive siting standards the “experts” point to are rubbish.

The “bet” might work in Brewster or Dennis. At the same time, the “bet” may be another Falmouth. Worth the gamble of taxpayers’ safety and money? Do you feel lucky?

The card that Gov. Deval Patrick is hoping to play is the wind-siting reform act legislation. The Patrick administration acknowledges that Cape Cod is crucial to the governor’s pro-wind agenda. It can be implied the agenda would stall without Cape Cod’s participation.

The state has had on the books a bylaw towns can look to as a regulatory guide for siting turbines. It calls for a special permit process in all siting of turbines one megawatt or greater. Listen up Brewster!

That being said, in January, state Rep. Demetrius Atsalis, D-Barnstable, proposed a bill requiring a 3,000-foot buffer between turbines and homes. How far is far enough? Mr. Atsalis, taxpayers near proposed turbine sites want science-backed setbacks. The controversy shows that the public is done with the hocus pocus or another “dead man’s hand.”

State Rep. Susan Williams Gifford, R-Wareham, filed a bill in January to create a commission to study the effects of wind turbines on nearby residents’ health. It is the best display of “sense” so far, albeit late. This bill reflects the concerns of Falmouth, as well as other areas of the state where land-based turbines are being considered.

“Before we rush into doing these massive projects, let’s make sure that we have the best interests of the people of the commonwealth at heart first,” Gifford said. “Then we can move forward.” Amen Sister!

It’s a very simple principle. The glue of our society. Cape Codders should press policymakers to stop the nonsense, stop the betting with people’s health and the enjoyment and value of their property.

Until science can quantitatively substantiate adequate address of wind turbine effect, the gamble of an ill-sited wind turbine has no place in the halls of municipal or county government, let alone residential areas. Not until science can prove otherwise.

Mark Cool lives in West Falmouth.

Source:  Mark Cool, Cape Cod Times, www.capecodonline.com 4 April 2011

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

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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