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Panel: Taking Falmouth turbines offline will be costly  

The turbine called Wind 1 was shut down for 30 days beginning last month when a study conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection found that its noise level at night exceeds the acceptable threshold under state law. The 30-day period ends later this week, Gerald Potamis, Falmouth's wastewater superintendent, said. Selectman Mary Pat Flynn, who also attended the meeting, said the board has not yet decided whether they will turn Wind 1 back on or what restrictions would be put on the turbine's operation.

Credit:  By Sean Teehan, Cape Cod Times, www.capecodonline.com 13 June 2012 ~~

FALMOUTH – Taxpayers will have to come up with nearly $650,000 annually to pay for wind turbine-related expenses if the spinning blades of the town-owned Wind 1 and Wind 2 are brought to a screeching halt.

That was the determination Tuesday of a panel trying to lift Falmouth from its wind turbine quagmire, after meeting for the third time since forming three weeks ago.

The 10 panel members at the 2½-hour meeting at the Gus Canty Community Center Tuesday night found that the two 1.65-megawatt turbines cost Falmouth $644,000 annually – money that will come out of the town budget if abutters have their way and both were shut down.

Town officials have earlier said that Wind 1 alone – which has been shut down per state order – would have generated $440,000 in revenue for Falmouth after a year’s operation.

Three weeks ago, a group of town officials, residents and other stakeholders began regular fact-finding meetings to gauge opinions and possible solutions to problems associated with the turbines.

“(This) will be the process of studying the problems and the solutions to this matter,” said panel member Jeffrey Oppenheim.

On May 30, Stacie Smith of the Consensus Building Institute – a Cambridge-based firm that Falmouth hired to mediate talks – chose a panel of people to serve on a committee responsible for making these recommendations to selectmen.

The panel was originally expected to reach a consensus of Falmouth residents’ collective thoughts on an appropriate way to respond to turbine abutters, who have long-complained noise, light flicker and infrasound, which can cause vertigo, nausea and lack of sleep.

But, after the institute conducted interviews while forming the panel, the prospect of townspeople agreeing upon a solution seemed unrealistic, Smith said Tuesday, as abutters continue to refuse to take part in the process.

The neighbors of Falmouth’s town-owned wind turbines – located at the wastewater treatment plant on Blacksmith Shop Road – balked at the town’s compromise in turbine operation and refused to participate until the blades stop spinning.

Reading a letter he wrote to selectmen, abutter Mark Cool said the board’s vote two weeks ago in favor of shutting off one of the turbines for 12 hours each day falls short of “a good-faith effort toward meaningful dialogue.”

Oppenheim said that he regularly meets with abutters who won’t take part in the official process. He said he would continue to pursue them in hopes they eventually sit down with the panel.

“They feel they’re not able to be here, and I think they have an important message,” Oppenheim said. “They’re thoughts and concerns “» I think should be conveyed to us.”

The turbine called Wind 1 was shut down for 30 days beginning last month when a study conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection found that its noise level at night exceeds the acceptable threshold under state law.

The 30-day period ends later this week, Gerald Potamis, Falmouth’s wastewater superintendent, said. Selectman Mary Pat Flynn, who also attended the meeting, said the board has not yet decided whether they will turn Wind 1 back on or what restrictions would be put on the turbine’s operation.

The panel is scheduled to meet next at the Gus Canty Center at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Source:  By Sean Teehan, Cape Cod Times, www.capecodonline.com 13 June 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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