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Don’t gamble on wind turbines, Wareham  

Credit:  By Mark Cool, Wicked Local Wareham, www.wickedlocal.com 8 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, all Cape town halls are having the same opinion that the “experts” aren’t expert at all. Proper scientific investigative protocol seems marginal, at best, as emerging research trends toward caution.

The “experts” told Falmouth that it was unlikely the impact would be more than minimal. Recommendations were implemented. The boards and of?cials are now posing questions to those who made recommendations. Falmouth is scratching it’s head. The experts’ initial summary couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

Local boards, the Cape Cod Commission, the state, the U.S. Departments of Energy and Environmental Protection have nowhere near the science to completely pin down answers to these issues and complaints. Why, you might ask?

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

She stated on WGBH radio, “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. 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 state renewable policy agenda saw ?t to enamor Falmouth with a “green” giant. Where’s the state’s follow-up guidance and help now? Meanwhile, neighbors continue to ask the local boards for answers, for relief. Of?cials can only point to what “experts” said shouldn’t be happening. Yet, proponents, advocates and pseudo experts continue to cluck out their quasi-truths.

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

The card that Gov. 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 wind agenda. It can be implied the agenda would stall without Cape Cod’s participation.

The state has had on the books, a by-law towns can look to as a regulatory guide for siting turbines. It calls for a special permit process in all siting involving turbines 1 mega watt or greater.

Listen up Wareham and 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. Citizens should press policy makers to stop the nonsense, stop the betting with people’s health, the enjoyment and value of their property, and their money. The commonwealth hesitates with the casino issue. 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

West Falmouth

Source:  By Mark Cool, Wicked Local Wareham, www.wickedlocal.com 8 April 2011

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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