After an unexpected, in-person plea from an opponent of Falmouth’s wind turbines to Gov. Deval Patrick, it’s clear state officials are open to various solutions to solving the perceived problems the turbines cause for some.
The face-to-face encounter between Patrick and West Falmouth resident Malcolm Donald occurred Dec. 3 in the western Massachusetts town of Florida. Patrick was there to celebrate the near completion of the Hoosac Wind Power Project, the largest wind energy facility in Southern New England. Donald and West Falmouth resident David Moriarty were there to protest the same project and to confront the governor about turbines in Falmouth.
Donald approached Patrick to express his concerns that the Falmouth wind turbines are causing adverse health effects that include sleep deprivation, elevated blood pressure, ear pressure and Tinnitus. He and a Florida, Mass. resident were then invited to sit down for a 30-minute discussion with Patrick and Richard Sullivan, secretary of energy and environmental affairs.
“I told [Gov. Patrick] that Falmouth bought two wind turbines from the state and the state had a responsibility for the project, and that the turbines were too big and too close to residences,” said Donald, who lives within 1,250 feet of the turbines. “We recommended the state remove the turbines and replace them with solar installation on the town’s capped landfill.”
Donald said Patrick listened intently but did not commit to any of the proposed suggestions. “I think he felt like it was more money, and he needed more convincing,” Donald said.
Chelsie Oullette, deputy press secretary for Patrick, said in a written statement that Patrick was happy to engage in an open discussion about the turbines.
“Wind turbines are an important part of our clean energy strategy, but we also recognize they are not right for every community. That’s why the governor has pushed for a wind siting bill to create agreed upon standards for responsible siting,” Oullette said. “Our teams at the Clean Energy Center and the Department of Environmental Protection are working with the Falmouth community to find a solution that both advances our clean energy agenda while protecting local interests.”
Sullivan agreed, telling The Bulletin the state can learn a lot from the ongoing issues in Falmouth.
“We’ve been very clear there needs to be a responsible siting of wind turbines and standards in place for communities, residents, and developers. We want to get it right and have standards that are both reasonable and responsible,” he said.
“There are multiple solutions on the table for Falmouth. We discussed everything from removing the turbines, moderating the turbines, relocating them, and amending their hours of operation. All is on the table. We’re looking to see how it all plays itself it at these community meetings in Falmouth,” Sullivan said.
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