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Disagreement over Bourne wind turbine project

“There’s a tremendous need throughout America of solving our energy crisis and we feel this is all part of it,” says Greg O’Brien.

“The group has maintained a position that wind turbines are good,” says Jim Potter.

But that’s where the agreement seems to end, at least in Bourne. At issue, is a proposal from a development group called New Generation Wind, to build wind turbines on land between Routes 25 and 6, then sell the energy to the grid. Originally slated for seven turbines, the project has been scaled back, says O’Brien, who is a spokesperson for The New Generation Wind Project.

“There were three turbines that were of great concern to neighbors because they felt it was too close to the neighborhood. So we’ve reduced three turbines,” O’Brien says.

The main point of contention lies in the size of the turbines, says Potter, President of Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy, a group fighting the project.

“The size in question for the proposed project are industrial-sized turbines. They were never really designed to be on-shore, next to neighborhoods,” Potter says.

If you’ve driven over the Sagamore Bridge recently, you may have seen some large turbines over the top of the trees on the grounds of the Massachusetts Military Reservation. We can compare their turbines to the size of those proposed by New Generation Wind. The military turbine is 116 feet taller than the Sagamore Bridge, and the New Generation proposed turbines, would be 100 feet taller than the military turbines.

“There are so many other scaled turbines that are more appropriate that no one would take issue with and it would not produce as much electricity, that’s a fair assessment, but it would at leas coexist in a neighborhood setting,” Potter says.

With today’s wind turbines, the noise may not be what it used to be.

“The noise level at the base of the turbine is 45 decibels, is about the sound level of a conversation in a living room or the sound of a refrigerator,” O’Brien says.

“The refrigerator’s always running. The living room conversations always happening while you’re trying to sleep at night. It doesn’t ever go away,” Potter says.

Opponents also claim that low frequency, inaudible “rumbles” called Infra-sound may also lead to health issues. This was the issue that we reported some Falmouth residents were dealing with last year. Some who live nearby turbines say they suffered from headaches once the turbines were installed.

“When they go through the pressure altitudes and your ears pop, right before my ears pop, that’s what it feels like constantly,” Falmouth resident Mark Cool told us last year.

“The Falmouth situation is an anomaly. Yes, there is noise. It is an older turbine. Our turbine is far more up-to-date. There was really no permitting process for Falmouth. Our permitting process is a very extensive process through the Cape Cod Commission, it goes to the Bourne planning board, board of health. The issues that are experienced in Falmouth will not be experienced in Bourne and we don’t feel it’s appropriate for those two projects to be compared,” O’Brien says.

There’s also the issue of what’s called shadow flicker, which is the shadow cast by the moving blades. New Generation Wind says it’s a non-issue, “within residential areas, we’re guaranteeing it,” O’Brien says. Opponents say, not so. “I believe from what’s left of the proposal, there will always be shadow flicker on the highways, and these are tall enough that they’ll cast a shadow flicker across the Cape Cod Canal,” Potter says.

So like any healthy debate, there are two very different sides to this issue as well.

“We believe it is still a very strong project, one that the revenue generation for the town, for each project, is $30,000,” O’Brien says.

“Industrial-sized turbines just don’t belong next to people, regardless of who’s backyard, who’s neighborhood it is,” Potter says.

So will the winds of change blow this project through, or will these wind turbines get stuck in the doldrums of disagreement? It remains to be seen.