A story of a town’s hope – hung out to dry …
Wind energy is an industry that develops in rural settings. Falmouth Massachusetts was one of these places in 2005. The wind industry’s surrogate state wind energy agency came in, found a location with good wind yield and recommended industrial wind turbines be located at the town’s waste water treatment plant.
You see, the remote-ness, the rural-ness, the small town country bumpkin-ness of Falmouth lead the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to believe it would have control over the town’s installation and operation of the state’s flagship industrial wind energy project on Cape Cod.
Unfortunately for the community, the personal and property rights of immediate neighbors were never given consideration nor the respect they should have been given.
Attempting to defend their rights, neighbors severely impacted by the turbines implored local boards for relief. They sought help from legislators and even the governor. No one listened. Justice seemingly could be served only through the court. Wind lawyers (not your small town country-bumpkin type either) tried to shape zoning law and local zoning code in favor of the faulty project’s purpose. The idea of an outside legal team representing an iconic state flagship project was about brute force, bully neighbors into economic submission. Town leaders had too great an investment, state project consultants didn’t want egg on their face, and the wind industry’s image was at stake. It seemed the only way neighbors were going to get their rights was by depleting an enormous bank roll they didn’t have.
Over the many years of litigation, neighbors experienced the costs – the challenges – the frustrations. The fight was on multiple fronts against the wind industry, the state agencies and against local politicians that pretty much sold them out for “blood money.”
Economic exploitation. That’s the key narrative in this Falmouth wind energy failure. Along with the nuisance conditions imposed by these industrial machines, residents suffered through economic oppression. Most are still suffering, repaying the cost of justice. The industry, the state and town leaders exploited a hand full of victims. Hoping to win through economic attrition, the wind industry, the state and town leaders were Goliath. The neighbors – David.
Falmouth neighbors pressed for their rights through the courts, through the media, but mostly through neighbors. They wanted townfolk to understand, wanted their community to be supportive of other neighbors, of the law. Their pleas were often condemned by those unaffected, or by those believing the project too big to fail. Because of local condemnation, stone-walling by local, state and federal politicians, the wind industry propaganda machine was allowed to further distort the reality of living too close to industrial wind turbines. The sad reality – the wind industry continues to be given a pass to wreak havoc upon the average citizen standing up for their rights. For shame!
A nice pretty bow has been wrapped around the Falmouth “screw-up.” For Falmouth’s wind turbine neighbors the court’s nuisance determination set everything right … wrong. It has made things a little better but the lessons of years of litigation has taught these Don Quixotes that there is still too much wind energy influence over politics in Massachusetts. The wind industry and the state’s windys still get away with practically everything they want without consequence. If a few more neighbors or neighborhoods get their personal and property right sold in the name of climate change … so be it. That’s the way it’s working so far in Bourne, Scituate, Fairhaven, Kingston, Florida, Monroe, Hancock … to name a few.
Four state agencies and two governors have done little, if anything to protect wind turbine neighbors. Each has had a ready reason that they don’t have authority. Governor Baker, recently in Washington DC, admitted the state sponsored wind project implementation failure in Falmouth. Yet, he’s determined to perpetuate the problem. The governor is well aware of proposed legislation directed at wind energy installations (i. e. H2473 – to establish a commission to study the health impacts from land based wind turbines to protect the health of the citizens of the commonwealth, H1777 – to compensate people, businesses, and municipalities adversely impacted by wind turbines, and to help compensate municipalities to remove or relocate wind turbines, H2133 – to include low-frequency noise, infrasound and aerodynamic amplitude modulation in MassDEP’s power to regulate noise, H464 – to include the terms low-frequency noise, infrasound, and aerodynamic amplitude modulation in the definitions of noise and air pollution regulated by MassDEP). Yet, he has been silent on all, giving support to none. He, his staff and his administration has done nothing to mitigate the dangers or calculate the collateral impact risk of poorly implemented industrial land-based wind energy projects.
Let’s face it. Even though Governor Baker admitted the Falmouth “screw-up,” the Falmouth community is still on the hook for at least $12 million after being misled by the state’s original Pied Piper of wind.
Charlie’s admission is shallow without action. He hides behind a different piped tune. One that systematically uses Commonwealth communities as pawns in a “Not So New Deal” to indemnify industry, corporate and political friends.
It goes like this …