FALMOUTH, Mass. – One of the two town owned-and-operated wind turbines in Falmouth, called Wind One, sits idle, shut down by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection a little over a week ago, citing the noise it makes is more than 10 decibels above the sound of the rest of the neighborhood.
“It’ll be turned on and off at periodic times over the next 30 days” for additional tests, said selectman Brent Putnam.
Wind Two, which went online just a few months ago on the same piece of town wastewater treatment property, is only allowed to run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. while tests continue on it. The town voluntarily shuts it off when winds go above 23 mph.
“It’s not necessarily the volume of the noise. A lot of folks are complaining about the type of the noise and the persistence of it,” Putnam said.
A number of complaints about the wind turbines come from residents who live nearby in the Craggy Ridge neighborhood of Falmouth.
Diane Funfar said her husband, Barry, who suffers from Vietnam-related post-traumatic stress, was doing much better until the turbines came along.
“It has created anxiety, depression, anger,” Funfar said. “He’s unable to work in his yard. The sound from the wind turbines – just boom, boom, boom, boom – it just, it drives him absolutely crazy.”
The first Falmouth turbine went online two years ago.
Supporters have no problem, impressed with the green energy and 40 percent reduction in the cost of electricity to run the town.
But now, with the curtailed operation until complaints are resolved, the town is losing money and facing lawsuits.
“It’s hard for some people to understand because they don’t live here, but you certainly don’t want to dismiss their concerns without having been in their shoes,” Putnam said.
It’s not just the audible sound. Funfar said the sub-audible sound has health affects too, called wind turbine syndrome.
“It causes heart palpitations. It causes headaches,” Funfar said.
There is no standard for sub-audible sound, and not everyone is affected by it.
The company that was awarded the contract to install the turbines in Falmouth said, “There is no proven scientific evidence that sound which cannot be heard has any effect, either psychological or physiological, on humans.”
The controversy, though, is a curveball for the burgeoning green industry as neighbors begin to push back against the winds of change.
“We think they’re great if they’re put them in the right place. But they are harming people,” Funfar said.
A special meeting hosted by the Falmouth Board of Health will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at Town Hall to accept testimony from residents directly impacted by the wind turbines in that town.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding