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State expertise could assist on turbine strategy

Falmouth selectmen are seeking real costs on several mitigation strategies for two controversial wind turbines.
They’ve also reached out to the state for help on the issue and at least two agencies have expressed interest.
Monday night selectmen unanimously voted to direct the town’s consultant, Weston and Sampson, to provide cost estimates for what the board calls “mitigation scenarios” for the Wind 1 and Wind 2 turbines at the Falmouth Wastewater Treatment Facility on Blacksmith Shop Road. Scenarios include removal of the turbines, relocation of the turbines, curtailing of operations or operating according to manufacturer’s specifications. They also include providing sound mitigation options for residents adversely affected by the noise of the turbines.
The work, which is expected to cost between $18,000 and $27,000 and take about two months, also includes assessment of “flicker” and “ice throw” concerns. During that period, selectmen have decided to keep existing operating restrictions on Wind 1 in place.
Wind 2 has yet to become operational.
Selectmen received a scope of services from their consultant a month ago and spent little time debating whether to move forward with the cost-benefit analysis. They did, however, discuss offers of technical expertise and resources from both the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.
Assistance could come in the form of technical review, additional sound studies or the exploration of alternatives.
“It’s kind of like a third party coming in with a considerable amount of expertise,” said Selectmen Chairwoman Mary Pat Flynn.
The board did not vote on the matter but, by consensus, directed acting Town Manager Heather Harper to pursue the offers. The offers are apparently the result of outreach efforts on the part of Flynn and interest in the issue on the part of state Senate President Therese Murray, D-Plymouth.
“Her office has asked them to help us do this,” said Flynn, who expressed gratitude to Murray and the state agencies involved.
Selectman Kevin Murphy added that the state has a vested interest in seeing Falmouth’s turbine issues come to a successful resolution so that it can use that experience statewide.
“The state does want to be a participant,” he said.
About two dozen residents listened to the discussion on the turbines and left the room shortly after the vote was taken.