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Fairhaven and Nantucket wind turbine debates heating up

The debate over what to do with two town-owned turbines in Falmouth, MA is far from over. But, with an agreement to turn off Wind 1 indefinitely and run a two-month trial of Wind 2, things have hit a bit of a lull. Meanwhile, the situations in two other communities in the region are really starting to heat up.

What’s going on in Fairhaven is particularly interesting. At the most recent town meeting regarding a proposal to erect two large turbines at the wastewater treatment plant (if that sounds familiar, it’s exactly what Falmouth did), the town’s Board of Health requested an official legal ruling on what its actual powers are in this situation. Falmouth’s Board of Health has also struggled with its role in the wind turbine debate, so it will be interesting to see whether such a ruling will reverberate back toward Falmouth.

The relative paucity of scientific data regarding the health impacts of wind turbines has also been a sticking point in Falmouth. In an attempt to address some of the gaps, a Falmouth resident commissioned a study by two noise consultants. That report has just been released, and also featured prominently in the SouthCoastToday.com article on the Fairhaven proposal. A copy of the report is sitting on my desktop, so details will be forthcoming. I don’t expect it to rock the boat in Falmouth, where heavy emphasis has been placed on peer-reviewed science (i.e. studies that have been scrutinized by other scientists and published in scientific journals). But the SouthCoastToday coverage suggests it may get more traction in Fairhaven.

On a different note, Nantucket residents are also gearing up to fight a smaller (900 kilowatt) turbine intended to power the island’s solid waste facility. A group of residents opposed to the project have amassed a good chunk of change for legal fees, prompting town officials to reevaluate whether a wind turbine is really the right option.