FALMOUTH – It’s fairly well established that many Falmouth residents have serious concerns about the municipally owned Wind 1 turbine at the Falmouth Wastewater Treatment Facility as well as the new Wind 2 turbine slated to go online this fall.
What to do about it is the real question, a Gordian knot Falmouth selectmen began the process of untying Monday night.
“We have to find a way to move forward,” Selectmen Chairwoman Mary Pat Flynn said near the end of a lengthy discussion of the wind turbine issue in the auditorium of Falmouth High School. The forum was itself a continuation of a June 6 disussion.
Moments later, the board unanimously voted to request that its consultant, Weston & Sampson, devise a scope of services in the coming weeks to explore what the board called “mitigation scenarios.” Specifically, the board wants facts and figures on four possible courses of action: operating the turbines according to manufacturer specifications; removing or relocating the turbines; providing remediation to residents affected by the turbines; or curtailing or otherwise altering the operation of the turbines to limit adverse effects.
Selectmen also discussed the possibility of purchasing the property of affected residents but did not include that scenario in its request. Several selectmen acknowledged the possibility but called it “a last resort.”
“The range of these mitigation scenarios should all be on the table,” said Selectman Kevin Murphy. Later, he said real data on the costs and benefits of the scenarios might produce common ground on what has proven a polarizing issue.
“Numbers don’t lie,” he said. “Let’s put it out there.”
At nearly 400 feet, the 1.65-megawatt Wind 1 turbine has been operational since April of 2010 but its operation is curtailed during certain hours and at certain wind speeds because of the complaints of residents, many of whom live on or near Blacksmith Shop Road.
Wind 2, also located at the facility, has had connection problems that, according to Weston and Sampson’s Fran Yanuskiewicz, have been addressed. That turbine should be operational by October, Yanuskiewicz said at Monday night’s meeting.
Chris Menge of Harris Miller Miller & Hanson, the project manager of a noise study on Wind 1, also addressed the audience. He responded to questions raised at the June 6 meeting concerning infrasound, low frequency sound, flicker and aerodynamic modulation. He reiterated his confidence in the firm’s numbers although he did say the state has requested what he called “limited, additional, short-term attended monitoring” at the site.
However, several residents – Malcolm Donald, Mark Cool, Jill Worthington and Katherine Elder – made presentations of their own. They each chronicled what they say are the adverse effects of living too close to an industrial turbine. Among those effects are sleeplessness, headaches, fatigue, nausea, depression and anger.
“How and when are you going to restore my good health?” asked West Falmouth’s John Ford, who told selectmen of having to spend thousands of dollars on two acoustical windows just to be able to sleep at night.
“The problems are real,” said Blacksmith Shop Road’s Neil Andersen, who described the sound of the turbines as “jet engine loud.”
Over and over, residents urged the board not to look at statistics, averages or studies but to listen to their first-hand experiences.
“You have wronged our neighborhood,” said Colin Murphy, a resident of Blacksmith Shop Road. “You know how to fix it. It’s time to step up to the plate and do your job.”
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