It is unfortunate that what began as such a noble cause has unfolded as a monumental error. Falmouth was among the leaders of communities with vision when it took advantage of state and federal incentives to buy and erect turbines in West Falmouth. Getting the turbines up was a long process that needed to clear a number of hurdles, including Town Meeting votes and FAA approvals.
Falmouth was breaking new ground in the energy field and its turbines promised to provide a significant amount of clean electricity. But as we all know, that noble endeavor has had a terrible side effect; it has rendered life almost unbearable-outright unbearable-for many of those who live nearby. In two weeks, voters will have the opportunity to follow the selectmen’s lead and put the town on a path to setting things right. We hope voters will approve Question Two by a large margin.
At stake here is Falmouth’s self-image as a community that cares. This is no small thing. Falmouth has long been a community of neighbor helping neighbor. In no place is this better exemplified than by the Falmouth Service Center, which provides assistance to thousands with the help of hundreds of volunteers and financial contributions from hundreds of donors. Similar kindness is extended in smaller, less visible, ways time and again. Around the Table, for example, serves lunch to the needy three times every week throughout the year, all with volunteers and donations and with no fanfare. Falmouth is rich in volunteers and generous people.
We cannot, as a community, tarnish this wonderful tradition by making an exception of a group of residents, small as it might be, by telling them that it is tough luck that the town installed the machines but their needs are outweighed by the greater good. We, as a community, should never ignore people in need.
There will be a price tag to removing the turbines. But when has Falmouth ever said “no” to bringing relief to fellow residents?
There will be some who decry the expense as another bungled municipal project. They will be wrong. Installing turbines was right but the site was wrong and no one knew that at the time.
There will be many who believe that taking down the turbines will be a step backward in the effort to develop clean energy and lower our carbon footprint.
We don’t think so. As long as the turbines stand, they will hold captive the attention of policy makers and sap the will of the community to move forward with other renewable energy and energy conservation projects. The turbines need to come down so Falmouth can move forward.
Further, the turbines have become a lightning rod for anti-wind zealots. Our turbines have become “proof” that wind energy is evil. It will be better to deprive them of fodder for their propaganda.
A number of residents in the neighborhood of the turbines say the machines have made them ill. That, unfortunately, is an arguable point. What is not arguable is that the lives of some number of people living around the turbines have been made miserable. It’s time to move deliberately forward and bring them relief.