The year began with a collective Community sigh of relief – Falmouth’s Board of Selectmen planned to hire a consultant to help determine how to comply with the building commissioner’s December 2017 dismantling and removal order for Wind 1 (Jan. 8). That good news was quickly followed by the Selectmen announcing that Falmouth received a break on the $1.5 million debt owed the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MCEC). The debt was negotiated down to the sum of $178,000 (Jan. 12).
Selectmen later unanimously voted to remove Wind 1 from its current location with no option considered to relocate it within Falmouth (May 21).
Unfortunately, Selectman “re-neged” on its commitment to the community to end Falmouth’s wind project fiasco. Town staff, the same administrative officials acting to negotiate the loan debt reduction with MCEC, somehow (???) convinced Selectmen that it was still possible Wind 2 could be relocated on the Waste Water Treatment Plant property by special permit under a new zoning bylaw.
Backstory—Mixing a agency’s ‘mission’ with a municipality’s ‘promise to its people’ – The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MCEC) is a state economic development agency dedicated to accelerating the growth of the clean energy sector, including onshore wind energy, across the Commonwealth. Falmouth officials, as representatives of the Board of Selectmen, could only muster a position predicated on a request for financial forgiveness.
Falmouth emerged from negotiations with Wind 1’s debt nearly totally forgiven. MCEC emerged without any compensation at all it would appear. Or did they? Perhaps something happened between town and MCEC officials away from prying public eyes? Something that involves Wind 2, something that compromises the ‘word’ of Selectmen to residents? Something that fosters the very mission of MCEC? Shockingly telling, something that continues to cost Falmouth Selectmen dearly – trust & respect?
It’s suspicious or, at the very least, ironic that the recommendation by the negotiation team of town staff (Jan. 8) to Selectmen … should then be so quickly followed by the MCEC debt reduction announcement 4 days later. Hmmm !
The Town of Falmouth settled 10 nuisance complaints with turbine project neighbors (June 1). In total, the town paid $255,000 to the 10 complainants without ‘officially’ (per the requirement of the Town’s insurer) admitting any violation, liability or fault. Official or not, the legacy of Falmouth’s wind project will be one of misrepresentations, mistrust and a misguided prioritization of community values. All of which to date, have a lingering and endemic effect upon the governance of the Town.
After a request was filed (June 25) for zoning enforcement alleging that Wind 2 is a non-complying structure with Falmouth Zoning Code [exactly similar zoning classification as Wind 1], Falmouth’s building commissioner denied the zoning enforcement action request (Sept. 12). A determination certain to entertain pending legal challenge if the Town should make application for Wind 2’s relocation and special permit. And – providing further argument supporting Wind 1’s debt forgiveness ‘compromise’ perhaps has extended influence upon local government positions otherwise legally required to be independent and objective.
The Falmouth “Greenie Society” appeal to intervene into the Falmouth Wind Turbine Nuisance Ruling (Nov. 2017) was denial by the State Appeals Court. Thus putting an end, at least to that chapter, of Falmouth’s wind turbine debacle.
December 12 the MASSACHUSETTS COMPREHENSIVE ENERGY PLAN was released. Of particular note in the 212 pg. report is the absence of any strategy, vision or forecasted plan concerning future “onshore wind energy development”. It’s worth further noting, that report authors claimed no consideration was given to ill-sited onshore wind comments. Yet, the absence of anything about onshore wind in the 212 pages is clearly indicative that through comments, convictions and the calamity of a few WIND WARRIORS – 2018 culminated in a state energy report (whether they admit it or not) recognizing the fatal flaws of land-based wind projects and our voice forced all future wind energy resources in Massachusetts ~ into the sea.
The best of Christmas spirit and New Year blessings to All !!!
Your Obedient Servant
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