Mayflower Wind is planning a connection point in Falmouth Heights to deliver power from offshore wind turbines to the electrical grid through undersea cables.
Some residents are opposed to the plan, citing health and environmental concerns.
In October, Falmouth agreed to let the company test two sites where power could come onshore. It conducted geotechnical surveys soil analysis in the Surf Drive and Falmouth Heights beach parking lots. Recently, the company filed with the state its preferred route and an alternate route, both of which transit under Falmouth Heights.
During Monday’s, December 20, select board meeting, chairman Douglas C. Brown said the board recently learned of Mayflower Wind’s site preference.
“The town preferred Surf Drive, but we were recently notified of their preference in a letter, without giving notice to the town first,” he said.
Although Mayflower executives have made their preference known, town officials and residents will have ample opportunity to weigh in on the site selection and several other aspects of the project, assistant town manager Peter Johnson-Staub said. There will be public information sessions, and a Town Meeting vote, of which a two-thirds majority will be required, he said.
“The town is in the early stages of evaluating the proposal, and neither the town nor staff has taken any positions to date,” he said, explaining the select board met earlier in the evening in executive session to discuss strategies in negotiating with Mayflower Wind.
“If we move forward with landfall in Falmouth, there will be opportunity for public input before a final decision is made,” Mr. Johnson-Staub added.
Mayflower Wind was selected unanimously by Massachusetts utility executives in 2019 to build and operate an up-to-1,600-MW wind farm about 20 nautical miles south of the western end of Nantucket. The power from that project is expected to be brought onshore in Falmouth, and Mayflower officials said a connection at Brayton Point will supplement the Falmouth landing.
Mr. Johnson-Staub presented a map of the preferred and alternate undersea cable routes and locations for a new substation. The cables will connect to an onshore station at a site to be determined. This station will feed into a transmission station at Joint Base Cape Cod.
The preferred route is on Worcester Avenue and Worcester Court to Jones Road. The alternative route is located under the Central Park field, along Falmouth Heights Road to Gifford Street. The substation could be at 396 Gifford Street on Lawrence-Lynch property or at the intersection of Thomas B. Landers and Blacksmith Shop roads, where Cape Cod Aggregates is located.
Some Falmouth residents are upset and are particularly concerned about the danger of high-voltage cables beneath their neighborhood.
“The electro-magnetic field will be substantial. Who is going to protect us from this?” Grand Avenue resident Marc P. Finneran asked.
David Buzanoski, chairman of the community group Falmouth Heights-Maravista Neighborhood Association, expressed concerns on behalf of the neighbors.
“I know you say there will be ample time for public comment, but Mayflower is moving ahead aggressively,” he said, noting two deadlines for public comment have passed, according to the company’s website.
The organization surveyed its membership and found 86 percent of area residents are opposed to the plan.
“To be clear, we are not opposed to clean energy or wind generation, but we are opposed to cables transiting our beach and our densely populated neighborhood.” Mr. Buzanoski said.
“Science, experts and history have run into conflict on this. The exposure to high voltage and EMFs remains a long-term question for all of us,” he said. “We need some answers and hopefully the consultant can either confirm or oppose what Mayflower’s experts are saying.”
The town hired an independent engineering, scientific, environmental and health consulting firm called Exponent to evaluate the proposal, Mr. Johnson-Staub had said. The analysis will be made available to the public prior to a Town Meeting vote.
Falmouth Heights resident Greg Mazmanian echoed the opposing comments and reminded the board that Falmouth Heights is a full-time community with concerned parents, grandparents and veterans.
“Why would you put high-voltage wires under the most high density area in town? Mayflower Wind wants it there because [it is a shorter] distance to a substation. It is all about cost. They do not care about you and me…we need to challenge them to find alternative routes that do not affect us,” he said.
Mr. Johnson-Staub said the project still needs federal, state and local permits, including approval from Falmouth’s conservation commission, location approval from the select board, and Town Meeting approval for easements and Article 97 relief. Article 97 relief refers to protection of land that has been taken for open space or conservation. A variance from the terms of that protection—in this case, of the town-owned Falmouth Heights Beach—requires Town Meeting approval.
The town has begun negotiations with Mayflower for a community host agreement. This is where the town’s interests can be protected, the assistant town manager said.
“Mitigating the impacts of construction and disruptions in traffic, tearing up roadways, and compensation for these things can be made,” he said. An agreement is in place for the company to reimburse Falmouth $50,000 for the cost of environmental and health studies.
The company wants to begin delivering the energy by the mid-2020s, Mr. Johnson-Staub said.
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