May 29, 2012
Massachusetts, Opinions

Windwise fight isn’t over by a long shot

By HENRY FERREIRA, 29 May 2012

At the heart of our government lies an obligation to protect the well being of all its citizens. That charge at the state level falls to the DEP, and ultimately at the local level it lies with the health board. From dumps to sludge plants and now turbines, the DEP and Fairhaven town officials have a history of failure, if not malfeasance. These entities have failed to do their jobs again. Instead, infected with conflicts of interest, they’ve helped a developer make millions and politicians blinded by hubris achieve their ends by any means.

The facts are, that in no other place are turbines like these as close to as many homes. They do make noise and obviously they do have an impact on property values. If the wind is blowing in your direction you will hear a constant jet plane sound, low and under all other noises, in a futile effort for sleep you’ll keep your window closed on those warm summer nights. When you see those 400-foot towers with their spinning blades above your roof you can think about the loss of home equity Gordon L. Deane and your town officials have cost you.

Most who live away from these things congratulate themselves on being green, but more importantly saving the green. They’ve been told by those seeking approval about the tax dollars they’ll be saving. They tell themselves the affected are just disgruntled, chronic complainers, NIMBYS who will eventually suck it up and learn to live with the turbines. Those in power know the right buttons of human nature to push. Love thy neighbor doesn’t count when I might be able to save a buck.

In Falmouth, the turbine has been shut down by the DEP, but in Fairhaven the state, developer and the town continue to stand against its citizens, and the truth.

“But DEP and Fairhaven officials caution against drawing comparisons between the two towns, citing different types of turbines, differing topography and the relatively short period of time Fairhaven’s turbines have been operational.” Deftly defying logic, DEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell said, “Being in closer proximity to turbines does not necessarily make them louder.” (“Officials caution against wind turbine comparisons,” May 18.)

And continuing to use double talk as defense “The location and the topography of the turbines in the two towns are very different, so you can’t use Falmouth as an example of the turbines in Fairhaven,” Kimmell said. “There are trees around the Fairhaven turbines that Falmouth doesn’t have and those could act as a buffer.” Speaking for Palmer Capital’s Gordon Deane, Sumul Shah said, “Falmouth’s Wind 1, the turbine shut down by the DEP, is a ‘stall-regulated turbine, which are louder than pitch-regulated turbines.'” Last and least, from the Board of Health chairman, “Overall, DeTerra said it was too soon to tell the fate of Fairhaven’s turbines. … ‘We are only in the beginning stages, but the Board of Health is taking this seriously.'”

And to prove it, DeTerra said, “he did not see a conflict of interest in the turbines’ own developers testing” for their own violation.

Now when the warnings about the turbines in Fairhaven are being realized and the state is forced to act in Falmouth, where the turbines impact fewer people, they all circle the wagons. Kimmel, head of the DEP, says being closer doesn’t matter and there’s a forest around those in Fairhaven; guess he hasn’t been here to see and hear these monsters across the marsh. It’s the stall kind of turbines that are noisy says Palmer Capital’s Sumul Shah, and we have the pitch kind. So we ain’t like Falmouth, we’re OK. Peter doesn’t know what to say.

Howard Gosting a chemical engineer who spoke at the DEP Hearing in Falmouth and used the DEP’s own data to disprove the myth that pitch-regulated turbines like those in Fairhaven are quieter than the stall-regulated turbine in Falmouth that was just shut down. In fact, he concluded that pitch regulated turbines like the ones in Fairhaven are louder.

Gordon L. Deane should know this isn’t over for Palmer Capital and his friends in Fairhaven. Health board members Peter Deterra and Brian Bowcock’s secretary still haven’t done the job they were elected and obligated by law to do. Jeff Osuch and Brian Bowcock still have some questions to answer. We’ll see them all in court.

Henry Ferreira lives in Fairhaven.

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