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Kingston Forum Meets, Falmouth Wind Neighbors Don’t

June 8, 2012

A Kingston forum organized by Tim Dwyer of Kingston Wind Aware drew a crowd of 60 to the auditorium on Thursday, June 7 2012. The panel of Eleanor Tillinghast, Dr. John Cowl, Preston Ribnick and Kathryn Elder presented four different aspects of concerns about turbines with the emphasis on health effects.

Audience members included many people who live near or are impacted by the turbines as well as a wind developer and a former town selectman who supports turbines. Wind Aware is trying to bring to the public facts that did not receive an airing in the permitting process because as a “Green Community” Kingston’s wind turbines enjoyed “as of right” expedited siting. Several attendees asked for details about how to bring complaints about noise, sleep disruption, light strobing through the blades, and other concerns. They expressed worry about the well-being of their children, whose school is within a half mile of one or more turbines. From the parking lot, two turbines loomed over the outdoor playing fields as practice was held in the after-storm light of late afternoon.

The Falmouth “consensus-building” process met a hurdle this week when the Wind Neighbors met with the Selectmen’s “Option Analysis” group on June 6, 2012 to explain their resistance to taking seats reserved for them. The Falmouth Wind Turbine Option Analysis Group (FWTOAG) is a state-supported project to find solutions to turbine impacts. The Wind Neighbors insist that the turbines must first be shut down to preserve their health.

A press release and text of Kathryn Elder’s statement follows:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 8, 2012

Wind Turbine Neighbors Appear Before the Falmouth Wind Turbine Option Analysis Group to Explain Why They Cannot Participate While the Turbines Continue to Operate

Falmouth Wind Turbines Continue to Harm Neighbors’ Health

Contact:  Malcolm Donald  508.566.5830  MD@Zefarus.com

Falmouth, MA –  Representing wind turbine neighbors, Kathryn Elder appeared before the Falmouth Selectmen’s Falmouth Wind Turbine Option Analysis Group [FWTOAG] Wednesday night and read a prepared statement clarifying why neighbors cannot take their seats at the table while the turbines continue to run.   Ms. Elder told the group members that the primary reason is: operation of the turbines continues to harm neighbors’ health.

April Town Meeting voted for Selectmen to pursue the facilitation process which, with the assistance of Consensus Building Institute of Cambridge, has created the FWTOAG.  However, Town Meeting also recognized the adverse health impacts of the Town’s industrial wind turbines (at the Wastewater Facility) on neighboring residents and voted to turn the turbines off.  That directive Falmouth Selectmen have chosen to ignore.

Jeffery Oppenheim and Judith Fenwick, members of FWTOAG representing interests of all Falmouth residents, reached out to wind turbine neighbors in a separate meeting Tuesday evening.  Neighbors responded by coming to the FWTOAG meeting Wednesday night to explain their reasoning and further the dialog.

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6/6/2012 Statement read by Ms. Elder to the Falmouth Wind Turbine Option Analysis Group

I would like to thank Judy and Jeff for taking the time to meet with some of the affected neighbors last night.  We’re grateful for their efforts and you could not have chosen better emissaries.

Unfortunately we do not feel that we can join you at this time and I’m here to try (as best I can) to explain why. The main reason is that we continue to be harmed.  And we can’t come to the table if all the options for restoring our basic rights are not on the table. 

I hope you can bear with me as I try to put this into context and explain why we feel this way. Foremost a lack of direct communication between the neighbors and Town Hall has been, and continues to be a huge obstacle.

Our efforts to engage selectmen have repeatedly failed. Last November our article to shut the turbines off while important studies and information could be gathered was looking like it would pass. The selectmen pre-empted that vote, shut Wind I off until the April Town Meeting and made a plan to test operation of Wind II to see if there were similar problems around that turbine. There are.

 There was no dialog nor any communication with effected neighbors throughout this period.

Because we had no indication that our problems were recognized or would be addressed, we placed another article on the Spring TM warrant to shut down both turbines and stop the terrible health problems until a solution could be found – problems that even more people are now experiencing around Wind II.

The first and only indication of the intention of the Board of Selectmen with regard to our fundamental problem came in the form of their Statement of Principles released just days before the April Town Meeting on March 23.

The Statement of Principles stipulates that with assistance from the Consensus Building Institute and this group that alternatives for a final operating plan will be developed that meet the goals established in items 1-4- these alternatives are to be presented to and adopted by the Board of Selectmen.

Item 1 requires that the plan be responsive to the negative impacts expressed by residents.  However, item 7 stipulates that “at no point will the operating plan result in a budgetary deficit in Fiscal Year 2013.”  These principles are mutually exclusive.

Item 2 of the principles stipulates the plan will generate $624,000 for debt, operating expenses, services and mitigation.

Item 3 stipulates that in addition to annual expenses the operating plan will offset $146,000 in energy demand for the WWTF.

Item 4 stipulates that the operating plan will not negatively impact the Town’s defense of legal actions related to operation and installation of Wind I.

 The town has already paid for an options analysis package from Weston and Sampson. The principles changed the process from one about building consensus around one of them -and mandated a new process to determine options that will protect an income stream while continuing to harm residents.

 The neighbors replied with their own Statement of Principles:

1)    In order to move forward in good faith, the turbines must be turned off immediately and kept off until consensus is reached.

2)    The neighbors’ health and wellbeing are non-negotiable.

3)    The renewable energy goals of the town must not be achieved at the expense of a minority.

4)    The financial burden for correcting the problem must be shared by all responsible parties.

The neighbors’ Spring [Town Meeting] article passed – the message from town meeting seemed to be turn off the turbines and continue the process.

 And yet, on April 12th the selectmen reported out of executive session that they had received our principles and referred to them as a pre-condition demand.  ” the Board has evaluated the additional exposure to the Town of Falmouth associated with ongoing litigation and in the spirit of cooperation and collaboration has voted unanimously to meet those abutters half-way by terminating the operation of Wind1 and Wind2 from 7PM to 7AM to allow twelve hours a day without turbine operations.”

 On May 15th the DEP report on Wind I compliance was released. The noise exceeded regulations at all wind speeds. The tests were only performed at night and not during the day. 

In light of these findings, the selectmen would clearly and knowingly impose harm if they operate the turbines at night.  We cannot perceive running them during the day as a decision made in the spirit of cooperation.

 There is no evidence that the turbines are not harming us during the day, in fact they are. For some, the effects are even more damaging in the daytime than they are at night.   Some sleep during the day, others spend most of their waking time at home and are being driven away from them.

We know that there are significant health issues involved.  The Board of Health has heard two years of testimony, the seriousness of which justified a special hearing on the 24th.  At no time has the Board of Health said that there are no valid health concerns.  To the contrary they have expressed deep concern in writing to the state DPH and to the DEP, as they have earnestly struggled with a set of health problems caused by a new technology, the impact of which is just beginning to be understood.

The Selectmen’s Statement of Principles makes it clear that they have no intention of adopting a plan that will negatively affect the town’s budget or litigative defense. There is no legitimacy to solving let alone acknowledging the problem within this framework.

 Again the reason why we can’t come to the table is because many important options aren’t on the table.  And I can’t sit down and discuss this rationally and intelligently if my family and my neighbors are being hurt in the process.

Kathryn Elder

On behalf of affected neighbors

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. sheri permalink
    June 9, 2012 9:52 pm

    That statement…trying to paint Falmouth as a unique situation (a marrative the Mass DEP is trying to put out there as well, it is shall we say the “talking point” du jour) well that comment was made by former selectmen and green energy member Mark Beaton…who pushed for the turbine projects and has since marginalized those that now have comcerns as simply people who are not happy with the turbine due to the visual…he NEEDS to find reasons to fight back against any “problems”…
    The fact that he and his green energy members used the Kingston Wind Aware Forum to hand out brochures and leaflets about asthma and coal fired plants as if this entire renewable energy issue boils down to a choice between either “coal fired plants” or wind…one or the other… therefore wind has to be the choice is the implication of the handout with the young child using an inhaler… shows both his disrespect for those holding the forum and his ignorance of the issues..earth to Mr Beaton…when the wind don’t blow the town of Kingston relies on fossil fuels for back up (and conversely when the wind blows too much the turbines shut down as well)…where was Mr Beaton’s brochure about natural gas??? there was no mention of natural gas, why…because in order to promote wind (in spite of the fact people in Kingston, his neighbors, are feeling impacts) he needs to make coal the bogeyman…hey mark the discussion at the forum was not about coal but about the adverse impacts of industrial wind sited too close to neighborhoods…and roads…and schools…
    Also, I look forward to Mr Beaton’s follow-through on offering “green energy” committee $$$ for compliance testing… to make sure his people aren’t suffering in any way…what is the over under on that bet?

  2. Chris Kapsambelis permalink
    June 9, 2012 9:22 pm

    At the forum, a statement was made to the effect that Wind-1 is an old wind turbine that was damaged after years in storage, and generates more noise than is typical. There is no basis for this conclusion. In response to resident complaints, the Town of Falmouth commissioned a noise study by professional acousticians who ran tests and reported that the turbine actually generates a little less noise than specified.

    The MassDEP Wind Turbine Health Impact Study stated that the typical wind turbine generated 103 dB(A) of sound power, enough to affect health, but at 400 feel (1,300 feet) the Sound Pressure Level (SPL) drops to 40 dB(A) which is safe.

    The recent MassDEP noise study of Wind 1 recorded an instance of noise level of more than 50dB(A) at 1,320 feet. This reading reveals that the rated maximum sound power is in error. By at least 10 dB(A).

    This is a very significant finding for local authorities charged with the responsibility of issuing permits for wind turbines. In Kingston’s case, the permit was granted with the assurance from a noise study that assured compliance with the state regulation 310 CMR 7.10. Since the study depends on the manufacturer’s published sound power ratings, it is very likely that Kingston’s wind turbines are in violation of the state’s noise regulations just like Falmouth.

    It is very likely that the Kingston wind turbines will fail to meet compliance at a distance of 1,300 feet or less as did Falmouth.

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