FALMOUTH – Malcolm Donald likens the Wind 2 turbine’s sound to that of a jet engine; his neighbor two doors down, Debra Cookson, says it sounds more like the light swish of a clothes dryer.
About three weeks ago, Wind 2 started spinning, beginning a 60-day experimental period meant to log the complaints of nearby residents. On Monday, residents of the area closest to the turbine had varying accounts of how disruptive the turbine is.
“My ears are ringing right now,” Donald said, peering out the window of his Ambleside Drive house to see the spinning blades. The turbine is 1,250 feet from his house, he said.
Minutes before, Cookson said she hears the turbine frequently, but it does not cause any problems for her.
“There are no health side effects in our family,” Cookson said. “One could focus on the noise … (but) it’s just a sound.”
When the Wind 1 turbine was operational, some abutters complained the 1.65-megawatt turbine, which stands at the town’s wastewater treatment plant, caused negative health effects such as migraines and vertigo. Wind 2 is also at the wastewater treatment plant, but farther from Blacksmith Shop Road.
Town officials will log complaints during the 60 days. Residents may send their comments to email@example.com.
After the 60-day trial, Wind 1 and Wind 2 both will remain off for the most part until Falmouth’s annual town meeting in April. Wind 1 will run intermittently, however, so that experts hired by the state Department of Environmental Protection can study its effects on people.
The deal came as part of an agreement in November between town officials and supporters of a nonbinding town meeting article that called for the shutdown of Wind 1.
About a mile from the turbine, Patricia Handley said she hears “a mild swish” that is “faintly noticeable” from the turbine but cannot hear it from inside her house.
Handley, who expressed sympathy for people who have complained about negative health effects, said the turbine noise could become more noticeable in the summer when she often leaves windows open and spends more time outside.
Dick Nugent of Blacksmith Shop Road said Wind 1 was a problem in warmer weather. “It’s a continuous annoyance in the summer,” he said.
Bill Wixon, who lives on Ambleside Drive, said his wife has noticed the turbine noise while working on her computer at home. She described the noise as “very annoying,” Wixon said.
But Tim Kelleher, a neighbor on Ambleside Drive, said he hears only a faint swishing noise from the turbine when he takes his daily walks in the area.
“I think we ought to put more turbines in,” Kelleher said, standing at his front door Monday afternoon.
Another Ambleside Drive resident, Chuck Eastman, called the turbine noise troublesome.
“It’s a constant noise … very hard to get out of your mind,” he said.
As of Monday, Donald had logged 20 complaints with the town about noise and shadow flicker causing ear ringing and ear pressure.
“I think that people’s physiologies are different,” Donald said when told of neighbors who have experienced no negative health effects.
Although residents are free to email the town about their Wind 2 problems, Mary Pat Flynn, chairwoman of the board of selectmen, said she had yet to read complaints, noting that the town hired a consulting firm that will peruse complaints and report its findings to the town after the trial period.
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