For the first time in more than a year, Tom Thompson woke up Wednesday feeling refreshed and hopeful about getting more good nights of sleep.
While the wind turbine near his home in the Third Cliff neighborhood remained out of commission, two weeks after it was struck by lightning, Thompson on Tuesday testified before the state Legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Health about industrial turbines and the effects they have on the health of the people who live near them.
“Folks who live near and have been negatively impacted by wind turbines in Falmouth, Kingston, Fairhaven and, of course, Scituate testified, and were very powerful,” Thompson said Wednesday. “By their questions, I could tell the committee was appreciative of the information, and some were shocked by what has transpired.”
The State House hearing was held regarding a bill filed by state Rep. Sarah Peake, D-Provincetown. The legislation calls for establishing a commission to study the negative health impacts from wind turbines that dozens of people in Massachusetts have complained of.
The Scituate turbine, on the Driftway, has not been operating since June 24, when it was hit by lightning. Thompson said the shutdown has made the turbine’s effects – noise and shadow flicker – even more apparent to him and his neighbors.
“It has been absolutely delightful,” he said. “…People are sleeping, and kids that were experiencing health issues say their headaches have essentially disappeared. You hear it in people’s voices that they’re feeling better, but the fact that people are comfortable and their health is improving brings forward the importance of having the turbine permanently dismantled.”
Palmer Capital and Solaya Energy make up Scituate Wind LLC, which owns the turbine. Sumul Shah of Solaya Energy said the repair and testing of the turbine is in the final stages, but he was not sure when the turbine will be back online.
“We checked each component, system and wire, and we feel pretty confident that we’ve replaced all the components we need to, so now it’s about configuring them and testing them,” he said. “We want to make sure everything that’s done is done right, and that takes time.”
In additional to speaking briefly and providing written testimony, Thompson on Tuesday submitted written testimony from Mark McKeever, whose family lives just 640 feet from the Driftway turbine.
“We are scared about how our children’s continued exposure to adverse effects of the wind turbine will affect their physical cognitive growth and development,” McKeever wrote. “Our children never had a history of headaches. They certainly do now. Our children should not have to go to school tired. They should not be dismissed from school because they have headaches. They should not have to wait to do their homework until flicker has stopped in their home.”
Legislation regarding the placement of wind turbines nearly passed during the 2009-10 legislative session. It received support from Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration.
Thompson said he is confident that concerns expressed by many residents will be taken seriously this time.
“We’ve been ignored by every local official, so what do you do?” he said. “This bill is a step to bring some state attention to what should have been addressed locally.”
With much testimony to be reviewed, Thompson does not expect to hear anything from the Joint Committee on Public Health until the fall.
He said he plans to enjoy the stillness until the noise and flickering resume.
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