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Letters – Falmouth Enterprise  

Credit:  Falmouth Enterprise | January 29, 2013 ~~

Time To Care About The People

Time to remove the wind turbines; the sooner the better. A toxic environment has been created. The remedy needs to be quick and surgical. The option of buying out affected residents will start another long agonizing process further dividing and damaging the town. Not a good choice.

In 1970 I joined the medical staff of the Falmouth Hospital as its 13th member. For 42 years I have been living and practicing psychiatric medicine in Falmouth. I am closely watching the impact of the turbines on people who live near them. The “decibel” debate is a mechanism for delusional avoidance for those who believe the debate is valid. The human nervous system is more to the point. Homo sapiens possesses an exquisite
perceptual array which is not matched by a decibel recording device. People know when they are sick. Doctors who carefully listen to patients find the trail to a diagnosis. Homo sapiens is the meter, and a good one at that; the best meter built to date! One can stand in the woods all day and all night day after day and night after night with a decibel meter and miss the point. You can argue values on the Y axis and X axis of a graph forever and continue to miss the point.

The Falmouth wind turbines are making people sick who live too close to them. This is a public health issue, not an alternative energy issue. Sorry that money gets in the way. It usually does. Would have been better if the wind turbine project had been successful on all fronts. Time to change course and design an alternative people can live with, enjoy and be proud of. Falmouth had a good idea and tried it.

Now, let’s stop injuring people and start protecting and caring for them.

Dr. William Hallstein
South Road
Falmouth

Suggests A ‘Just’ Solution

It is unthinkable to consider further abusing our fellow town members with the misplaced industrial wind turbines. The town faces a moral issue: do we sacrifice our neighbors for Mammon? Does greed and corruption rule in our fair township or do our elected officials take the correct action and remove the turbines?

A one-time additional fee on our land tax, combined with state and federal funds, would seem to me a proper and just solution to this great error that has plagued the conscience of our community.

The Reverend Thomas E. Adams Jr.
Mill Road
Falmouth

Choose Well-Being Over Cost

The Stakeholders Statements in Friday’s Enterprise made it very clear why they have not given the selectmen any clear advice. They were too far apart to reach consensus. I vehemently opposed the continued use of the two turbines before I read those statements. I feel even more strongly now.

I was appalled by the Fiscal Stakeholders casual, almost disdainful, dismissal of the personal damage that their recommendations would inflict on specific families. Richard Latimer’s letter expresses that same disdain about the harm his proposals would cause individuals in the name of the greater good of the real estate taxpayers of Falmouth.

The Fiscal Stakeholders go on to pose an incredibly divisive choice: “If the town has to divert revenue from the FY14 budget from the fire department, or close an elementary school, or be unable to update water lines to pay off the debt to remove the wind turbines, would it still be meeting its commitment to community well-being or public welfare?” What a dreadful way to short-circuit the fellow feeling that Town Meeting members and voters have for their neighbors who live near the turbines. For that matter, what a dreadful working definition of “community well-being” and of “public welfare.”

The statement from the Health Impacted Neighbors includes the undeniable remark that, “No one voted for a renewable energy project that would cause this kind of damage to the neighbors and the community.” To me, that statement is far more accurate than the Fiscal Stakeholders assertion that, “…we knew all of the changes and costs before installation…” Town Meeting members absolutely did not know the impact of all of the changes and costs they were asked to approve. The Town Meeting members I served with for more than 30 years would never have voted for a voluntary municipal project that would knowingly destroy the lives and property of their fellow residents.

I will close with one last quote, this one from the Town Employee Stakeholder Statement: “The need for outside financial assistance will be in the millions no matter what option is chosen so that Falmouth taxpayers are not burdened with large increases during this difficult economic time…” That outside financial assistance is being offered for removing the turbines. Let’s accept it promptly and gratefully.

Judith G. Stetson
Quissett Avenue
Woods Hole

The State’s Responsibility

The debate over the wind turbines in Falmouth has centered on the undeniable health impacts the wind turbines have had on the neighbors. And it has focused on the town’s responsibility for putting the turbines up, and the cost to the town of shutting them down.

But the responsible party here is not the Town of Falmouth. The neighbors, and the town, are both the injured parties. The responsible party is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, through its Clean Energy Center (CEC). CEC assured the town these turbines could be installed at this location with no ill effects on the neighbors. CEC told the town it would make lots of money by doing this.

The town bought this story, and incurred millions in long-term debt to erect the first wind turbine. CEC gave the town $5 million to put up the second turbine and $1 million to pay the carrying costs of the first. Now we are told CEC will want all its contributions paid back, with interest, and maybe penalties, if the town ends the turbine operations. And ending the turbine operations would mean no revenue to pay down Falmouth’s own debt.

CEC is responsible for persuading the town to take these two turbines, after they had been rejected by other towns, and for assuring the town it was perfectly fine to install them this close to residential areas. CEC used Falmouth as a prototype test site for its plan to put up these wind turbines all over Cape Cod. The test failed. Every other Cape town has learned from our experience; none of them are even considering installing wind turbines.

The state should be responsible for making the town whole, and making the neighbors whole. And I don’t mean more sound studies, or consensus building exercises. The Town of Falmouth didn’t create this problem. It was created as the direct result of a deliberate state policy. A defective product was sold to the town by a state agency through representations which turned out to be untrue.

The state created this problem. It is time for our town leaders and our state legislators to get the state to accept the financial responsibility it owes to the neighbors and the town to fix it.

Eric T. Turkington
Sheeps Crossing Lane
Falmouth

First Have A Plan, Then Act

Selectman Chairman Kevin Murphy has stated that no comment or questions would be allowed at Wednesday’s turbine meeting. All but one of the 20-plus speakers [last week] asked that the turbines be taken down. The majority of these speakers said that the cost would be paid by the state. I do not believe there was one person from the state at the meeting, although we were told that the governor said that he would help us.

My question is, if Wednesday night you decide to take the turbines down, where is the $9 million coming from? I asked Kevin after the meeting, and he said state, override or deep layoffs. We have lots of overrides in sight—water plant filtration, sewers, football field and capital expenses we have let go over the last 10 years. Many of our children would like to live here in the future; let’s not let our debt drive them away, so please have a plan in place before we tear the turbines down.

Daniel H. Shearer
Chapoquoit Road
West Falmouth

A Lesson To Be Learned

I have just been watching playback of public comments to the selectmen concerning the wind turbines. Mr. Latimer’s (I believe it was) idea of the town buying out or taking by eminent domain the homes of those affected by the turbines would set a bad precedent.

Would the town, in the future, feel the need to make more informed decisions, or would the town feel that whatever decision was made could be offset by buying out the unfortunates or covering up or burying in some other way, a bad decision? We need to trust and have faith in our elected officials; not only in the belief that they are doing what’s best for the majority, but for all. Acting on a new and exciting idea without all the information seems to be a common happening in Falmouth.

Putting aside the minority and taking care of the majority is what happens too often. This is not necessarily good government. This is a lesson I would hope that all town boards and committees would learn.

Rebecca M. McCullough
Palmer Avenue
Falmouth

Fix The Mistake

I asked to join this Wind Turbine Process because I was concerned that none of the affected neighbors were involved, and I sought to entrain them in this process.

Neither my wife nor I have been directly affected by the operation of the wind turbines. Our house is slightly more than a half-mile from Wind I and we seem to be well shielded by the forest. We have been and continue to be very concerned about the value of our property as this controversy has escalated with little effort to address the underlying impacts upon our neighbors living closer to the three wind turbines.

While some suggest that there will be no long-term effect on property values, once this neighborhood becomes identified as toxic, the effects on property values will be dramatic and painful.

I have been astonished by the attempts to treat those who are affected by the turbines as somehow having made this up, become psychologically impaired or hyper-sensitive.

At best, this is a naïve interpretation of the epidemiology of environment effects on health—remember that although we know that smoking causes lung cancer, only about half of heavy smokers are diagnosed with lung cancer, although we know that inhaling coal dust can induce black lung disease, not everyone exposed gets it, and similarly for many other cancers, or environmental toxic situations such as Love Canal.

I see the wind turbine situation as a relatively simple story—insufficient thought and analysis together with a laudable but naïve desire to help the climate and make some money for the town, led to a mistake—siting industrial scale turbines too close to residents. This has been acknowledged by Senate President Therese Murray, and, ironically, by the Falmouth Planning Board.

The state and local environmental regulations are not adequate for assessing the impact of the turbines, having been designed for noise from other kinds of industrial facilities, where the dominant noise is at higher, more audible frequencies. The dominant energy radiated from industrial-scale wind turbines is very low frequency, sub-audible, and correspondingly long wavelengths. This energy is not currently included in the state and local regulatory framework.

This has happened before—we now test environments for many chemicals that we never thought were harmful—DDT, mercury or PCE in the Falmouth water, for example.

The Town of Falmouth needs leadership—acknowledge the mistake, fix it and move on.

James R. Luyten
Fire Tower Road
West Falmouth

Questions About Turbine Decision

I attended the January 23 selectmen’s meeting for public comment on the wind turbines. I am left with two questions:

1. When was the decision to go from a 660-kilowatt wind turbine to power the sewage treatment plant changed to a 1.65-megawatt wind turbine to make money? 2. Who Is Responsible? The prevailing wisdom for most people today is either not to get involved, it doesn’t concern me, or it’s not in my back yard. None of these are good reasons for ignoring a problem in Falmouth, namely the wind turbines.

From all that I have been able to determine, they are the wrong piece of equipment that has been put in the wrong place with a total disregard for the people living around them. Whether the effect of these turbines is real or imagined I have no way of telling. However, real or imagined, it has had a very real effect on the people living in their shadow. A simple look at a half-dozen people standing in the cold by the Green with signs trying to bring their concern about the turbines to the residents of Falmouth is reality.

The latest selectmen’s meeting, on the 23rd, seemed to have a majority of individuals wanting the turbines removed. Even with state aid this isn’t going to be inexpensive for any of us, but, if it solves this problem and restores a quality of life to the people who have to live in that area, maybe it is worth the effort.

Since this has been a long-running concern, perhaps there should be an Enterprise back-ground article which gives all of us the time line history of those turbines, where they came from, who were they actually built for, were they state-of-the art or older models and “who” pushed for that particular unit for Falmouth. Also, let’s put some names on those who made the trips to Hull to evaluate their turbine and a little about their background for making that decision. Also who, by name, made the acquisition decision, who, by name, was responsible for researching the suitability of those units, and who, by name made the location decisions? It’s our town, our money and I think we should know who to personally thank for all of this.

Alan H. Driscoll
Parsons Lane
Waquoit

Fiscal Projections Needed

Support for removing the town’s two turbines at the public hearing was a tremendous lift. Haste, however, should be exercised by selectmen to accurately provide definitive fiscal projections to Town Meeting and voters.

Not one town hall employee, Town Meeting member or citizen expected this calamity to happen. Not one wind turbine neighbor expected illnesses or sleep deprivation as a result of what was initially thought a good idea. A windfall was anticipated by all. A windfall was what we were told to expect. Unfortunately, we are the “owners” of a capital mistake.

There is encouraging movement toward becoming “owners” of the solution, thanks to so many citizen neighbors. The solution, not withstanding any outside state aid, must be an “all-in” capital expenditure to remove the turbines.

As Falmouth taxpayers, I and my neighbors will share in defraying the financial burden. And as Falmouth taxpayers, a toll on our health and the enjoyment of our properties will no longer be the extra cost levied, due to poorly sited industrial wind turbines.

Mark J. Cool
Firetower Road
West Falmouth

So Many Questions

We have two industrial-sized turbines that are not doing their job. They are not operating at full capacity and never will. If the selectmen choose to curtail the operation of the turbines as little as possible, the turbines will still be turned off at times when there are exceedances to the DEP sound guidelines. Choosing to run the turbines at break even or restricted hours still requires on and off again scenarios for the turbines. Based on the findings in the WTOP report, more testing is needed to establish better guidelines, and quite possibly there will be more areas of noise exceedances at high winds and that’s when these turbines do their best work.

According to the manufactures’ recommendations, these industrial-sized turbines need to run full time. To curtail their operation, shutting them down, starting them up again is to compromise the integrity of these machines. And that causes more wear and tear on parts and on these machines. We have already seen our turbines shut down for repairs, and that also means costs, lost income and smaller contributions to lessening CO2 emissions.

But in addition, compromising the integrity of the turbines with curtailment of any sort also compromises our financial investment. If you look carefully at the data in the WTOP report on surplus revenue that can be generated by these turbines, you will see increases in income come at the end of the life of the turbine, years 2029 and beyond.

Will the turbines make it that far? If we plan to eventually use that income to offset home purchases or mitigation strategies, how will we financially balance that equation?

Curtailment criteria and criteria for purchasing homes is all open to controversy. Who will establish the criteria to give the aggrieved neighbors some relief?

What consultant will we need to hire to investigate, establish criteria and implement a process? How much will that cost? And will there be consensus among those affected by the turbines?

What avenues will be made available if people are still aggrieved and dissatisfied? Will the courts be used as “final” remedies? Will any curtailment bring closure to our problem? What will be the real costs? Will we be any closer to healing our community?

Linda E. Davis
Boxberry Hill Road
Hatchville

Source:  Falmouth Enterprise | January 29, 2013

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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