It’s troubling that the sources of guidance to be used by the Board of Selectmen in their deliberations concerning operational wind turbine strategies (i.e. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center) are largely to blame for the Falmouth Wind mess. Merely gathering more of the same, is far from actually processing and qualifying new information. Haste will make waste!
The existing State noise regulation method (circa 1972) used to evaluate noise level effect is the ʻAʼ weighted decibel scale. The professional opinion of the townʼs noise study consultant HMMH (Falmouth Wind Noise Report 20 Sept. 2010. Appendix A – Description of Noise Metrics) is; A-weighting significantly de-emphasizes those parts of the frequency spectrum from a noise source at lower frequencies.
The Mass DEP noise guideline simply has not kept up with dimensional growth of wind turbine industry technology. This fact cannot be overlooked or down played when qualifying the re-cycled information from Mass DEP.
The turbine low frequency characteristic, evidenced by Wind 1 and the Notus Clean Energy (Webb) turbines has not been accurately regulated. Nor will it ever be, if this agency continues to subscribe to ineffectual measurement methods.
Selectman Putnam questioned whether the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MCEC), given itʼs State advocate role for renewable energy, could be objective.
MCEC was a co-sponsor of the Falmouth Wind 1 project. The townʼs decision to move forward with Wind 1 was largely based upon the merits of MCEC recommendations and expertise. In addition, and as an incentive, MCEC gave Falmouth an advanced payment of one million dollars for Renewable Energy Credits (REC’s) against the redeemed production of Wind 1. Thereby making project capital start-up costs more palatable to the town Finance Committee.
Both events paint MCEC as a fiduciary stakeholder in the outcome of operational predicaments being deliberated.
Putnamʼs concern highlights MCECʼs vested interest in debt payback and itʼs co-sponsorship credibility appeal. These dynamics call into question, to say nothing of compromise, MCECʼs expertise objectivity. And, the same can be inferred upon those MCEC contacts in the industry that stand to support MCECʼs position.
If it is truly imperative that the board has all possible information, all the facts, before trying to make the best possible recommendations as stated by Mr. Murphy, why hasnʼt the Cape Cod Commission (CCC) resources (i.e. the State sanctioned regional wind turbine siting regulatory body) been sought?
Wind Turbine Siting Standards were passed last Spring as enabling Barnstable County regulations. It only stands to reason that after recent first hand exposure and experience with developing siting standard criteria, and a county appreciation of our unique Cape Cod environment, the CCC would be very useful in providing input for a better pool of qualifying information.
As a Falmouth taxpayer, I respect the town’s argument that expended costs, potential debt penalties and unanticipated fiscal burdens must be components of consideration in the boardʼs deliberations. However, no matter how we got into this problem, it remains incumbent upon the board to ensure that there is no foreseeable danger to public health or safety.
This principal must be our guide, and is expected to be given greatest weight during the boardʼs deliberations.
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