Sean Corcoran’s piece, Cape Cod Community To Vote On Status Of Wind Turbines for WCAI–a National Public Radio affiliate–sets the scene:
Falmouth was among the first towns in Massachusetts to install large turbines so close to homes. When people complained, the town tried curtailing their operation when it got real windy. Then they shut them off at night. They even considered buying out the homeowners.
But now Board of Selectman chairman Kevin Murphy says the turbines simply need to come down.
In “Falmouth turbine removal up for vote“ in the Cape Cod Times of 5/19/13, Sean Teehan captures one of the views frequently expressed: townspeople were for wind energy until they saw the effect the giant turbines had on residents.
Linda Davis supported building and paying for two town-owned wind turbines when the project came before voters at town meetings between 2007 and 2009.
But as the complaints from neighbors living near the turbines grew since the first one started spinning in 2010, Davis had second thoughts and began poring over her notes and reviewing videos of those meetings.
“Clearly, very few people asked questions, and everyone was on board,” Davis said. “It became clear this year to me and to other people who were sort of on the sidelines watching “» we really had a problem here, and it was tearing our community apart.”
Laura M. Reckford’s article in the Cape Cod Wave, (“Falmouth Real Estate — ‘The Turbine Effect’” 5/15/13), explores the uncertainty the real estate market is feeling as properties stay on the market longer and are sold a reduced prices.
Realtor Nadine Krasnow of Falmouth Fine Properties said she has no doubt that the turbines have affected property values in the West Falmouth neighborhood with views of the 400-foot high towers.
“In my opinion, it’s had a noticeably chilling affect and it has definitely become more difficult to sell houses there; and the reason is, if people have other choices, which they do, why are they going to buy in a place where value has gone down and it’s unclear what will happen in the future?”
Krasnow said that slow home sales in the neighborhoods near the turbines seem to be an exception from the rest of town, which has rebounded well from the recession in recent months.
When Brian Tarcy interviewed three former selectmen (Cape Cod Wave: Three Former Selectmen Offer Prespectives on Turbines 5/15/13), Eric Turkington (also former State Representative) observed:
“As more and more people testified that they had experienced health problems, others heard their voices and went up to investigate, and it became clear that this was not a bunch of hypochondriacs. Defenders of the wind industry say the connection between the turbines and the health problems haven’t been proven in scientific studies. Well, it will be.”
More information on the costs and issues can be found at the Heal our Town website. For a chronology of Falmouth’s town-owned turbines, Mark Cool’s Firetower Wind blog offers editorials from an impacted wind neighbor. The recent events are highlighted in “A warning to communities…” (3/20/2013). The earlier sequence is detailed at Falmouth’s Energy Debacle Timeline | Firetower Wind.
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.
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.
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.
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.
According to Kingston Planning Board Chair Tom Bouchard, and Town Planner Tom Bott, there was no flicker “study” prior to the Independence Turbine being built, just “shadow flicker information” from the town’s Green Energy Committee.
In her Wicked Local Kingston article “Clean Energy Center explains how flicker study is conducted; Kingston town planner challenged, Kathryn Gallerani details the town’s admission that no pre-construction study had been done and explains the strobing study process. First the shadow effect is modeled, then field work is conducted based on the modeling. Catherine Williams, spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, described the process and said the CEC is coordinating a study that includes all five wind turbines in Kingston – the Independence, Mary O’Donnell’s three turbines, and the MBTA’s. A consulting firm will do the actual study.
Gallerani points out:
The question, was there ever a shadow flicker study done before the Independence was installed, has been a point of contention at public meetings as recently as last week. Town Planner Tom Bott, for one, has come under fire by Leland Road residents Doreen and Sean Reilly, among others.
When the Reillys met with the Planning Board last week, they demanded to see the shadow flicker study that the Planning Board cited in its site plan approval for the Independence. They say Bott had been misleading about whether there was an official flicker study and finally acknowledged there wasn’t one.
At the April 29, 2013 meeting, the Planning Board Chair said little information about flicker was known at the time, although the board based its citing recommendation (6/28/2010) on site plan information “based on the shadow flicker study.” He acknowledged that the information was more reading material and not a site-specific study. “In retrospect, [he said]…that probably should not have said shadow flicker study and probably should have said shadow flicker information”.
Bott said this week that he has provided more than 100 pages of information, including a document titled “Community Wind: The Future of Wind Energy,” dated Oct. 21, 2008, from the Green Energy Committee, to the Reillys to respond to their questions.
The MassCEC provided a grant of $137,860 to fund the Independence wind turbine, in spite of its website’s claim, “When providing funding for a project, MassCEC requires that shadow flicker be evaluated.” This requirement was noted in the Boston Globe’s story “Flickering shadows from wind turbines draw complaints” by Peter Schworm and David Filipov (4/5/13). They continue, “the MassCEC website states ‘Projects should ensure that shadow flicker impacts are minimized.’”
“It’s a constant ringing and buzzing in the ears and I am head-achy in the back of the scruff of my neck.”
“It sounds just like a prop jet outside the house,” says Keith Dillenbeck, a dairy farmer in Herkimer County. He says wind energy is not only affecting his health, but the health of his animals as well.
“I never had this happen before until they erected the windmills,” says Dillenbeck.
…Here are a few of the governor’s statements:
- He described the turbines as “2 older turbines”
- “They’re not working well, right?”
- “At least one of them needs to come down”
- “I’m sending love [to Falmouth] through this microphone”
- “Let’s see if we can’t close on it [getting State financial help] soon”
That’s right: There’s no typo above. The governor actually said that at least one of the Falmouth turbines “needs to come down”. He was also very enthusiastic about getting Falmouth some financial help to defray turbine removal costs.
Oddly enough, as the Governor was busy “sending love” to Falmouth, his administration was busy punishing the town.
First, the state rejected a request by Falmouth to assist with repayment of $5 million in debt incurred to erect Wind #1. Then the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) rejected a request that it forgive its $1 million prepayment for Falmouth renewable energy credits.
Host Margery Egan referred listeners to the WGBH-TV2 “Greater Boston” program on the Falmouth Turbines reported by Adam Reilly and featuring Emily Rooney’s discussion with Eleanor Tillinghast and Megan Amsler.
In his letter to the editor “Wind will blow in electricity at 40 cents/kilowatt-hour,” Cape Cod resident Chris Kapsambelis points out an often-overlooked aspect of Denmark’s wind energy reliance–its cost.
In response to the April 6 letter “Cape Cod, look to Denmark for the possibilities of wind,” we do not want to follow in Denmark’s footsteps with wind energy.
Denmark pays some of the highest electric rates in the world. According to Wikipedia, it pays 40.38 cents per kilowatt-hour. We pay between 8 and 17 cents per kilowatt-hour. Denmark not only sells electricity to Norway and Sweden, but pays them to take it, and pays them to return it. They do this because without energy storage, which exists only in small quantities in most places, the power grid becomes unstable.
A better story on what is going on in Denmark and Europe in general can be found at New Europe Online at www.neurope.eu/blog/gone-wind.
Cape wind will increase the cost of electricity. Make no mistake about it.
Chris Kapsambelis, Pocasset