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Falmouth Residents: Take the Turbines Down [Video]

Nearly one hundred Falmouth residents attended a Board of Selectmen meeting last night to peacefully protest and speak out against the ongoing operation of three identical industrial wind turbines in the Falmouth Industrial Park, pleading with selectmen

 

The public was invited to provide comments at Wednesday night’s meeting in Town Hall related to various options that will be presented to voters at town meeting this spring.

Prior to the meeting, dozens of residents held a candle light vigil and prayed that the selectmen would not only hear their voices, but also take immediate action to stop what they described as a nuisance and danger to their health.

Nearly 50 residents voiced their opinion during the public comment session, with almost every comment opposing the future operation of the turbines.

Eric Sockol’s home at 819 Falmouth Highway is just 1,000 feet from Wind 2, a town-owned industrial wind turbine. Sockol passionately urged selectmen to remove the turbines immediately. He said Falmouth has an obligation to protect the health of its citizens, despite any economic consequences that may come from tearing down the turbines.  

“Understand there are some issues that are more important than simply economics,” Sockol said.

Richard Bowen’s home also neighbors one of the town-owned turbines. Bowen said that the town had somehow made a great error by installing the turbines and feels town officials are not willing to own up to the mistake. Bowen also urged selectmen to take the turbines down.

“Do the right thing, please, for our sake,” Bowen said.

John Ford, a resident living on Blacksmith Shop Rd., said neighbors of Wind 1 and Wind 2 have lost peace and quiet and good health. Ford suggested using solar panels as an alternative to wind power.

“I request that you join your fellow residents and neighbors and decide to remove the wind turbines and replace them with people friendly photovoltaic arrays,” Ford said.

Judy Fenwick does not live near the turbines, but she was a member of the working group that was organized by the town to develop options for dealing with the wind turbines.  Fenwick told selectmen that after much deliberation she believes that the health of Falmouth residents should be placed above any financial repercussions of removing the turbines.

“I ask that you don’t be counter dependent and that you ask the state for help before you ask the Falmouth taxpayers,” Fenwick urged.

Residents who were unable to make Wednesday night’s meeting can still submit a statement to the Selectmen’s Office by 4:30 p.m. Monday January 28th. Statements can also be emailed to townmanager@falmouthma.org by the deadline.

Bill Carson January 24, 2013 at 05:11 PM
Princeton ,Massachusetts pays the highest electric rates in Massachusetts because of the failure of its 1.5 Megawatt three year old wind turbine. The Town of Falmouth is only about six months behind Princeton . It is true they provide clean energy but at a cost of health of the residents of Falmouth and soon the expense of the entire town. These are commercial megawatt turbines placed in residential locations .I understand the people who don't live near the turbines only care about money and not your neighbors health . You need to look at the future and the cost associated with a small town operation of a turbine ! http://www.windaction.org/documents/36015 Princeton Municipal Light Department's (PMLD) admits wind turbine failure
D. I. Vided January 24, 2013 at 05:33 PM
Mr. Carson - I don't know how to judge your comparison between two different makers and models of turbines. I have been told that I'm a decent judge of character. Good character was on display by the selectmen at the public hearing. The character of decision makers are most valued when they ask what “the People” think. I would urge decision maker and citizens, embrace the character of being neighborly. The problem seems not about whether you’re for or against wind energy. The problem is about the character of our community. It's sad day when Falmouth neighbors cease to care for the welfare of each other. We can't afford the damage of community character that would cost.
sue hobart January 24, 2013 at 05:35 PM
Tulinskis comment goes to the true root of the problem. If it doesn't bother ME it's not a problem. Most Falmouth residents are not bothered at all. But what about me and the home I designed built loved and have been forced to abandon for the sake of my health? What about lives that are being shortened by the hour and the devastation of the few. If I was your MOTHER would you care then? We have lost our community indeed with people like this at the wheel and making up the quiet and unrepentant majority. This is why no matter what happens I will not be able to return in good faith to Falmouth. The world is changing too fast and NOT for the better. It's every man for himself now I guess. It's just been such a bitter awakening because that's not how I have behaved over the years and it's a sad conclusion to accept after living a life where I believed in peoples overall goodness and trusted, obviously way too much. Many did in fact come forth in support of the turbine victims last night and I am grateful for their efforts. Unfortunately I am still concerned that they, like me, are just beginning to see the harsh new reality and hoping to make a last stand against this selfish thinking and hoping to makes a difference. Personally I fear it is too late for Falmouth and I'm not holding my breath anymore. So I will pray for a miracle but expect this loss of caring to proliferate. It's sad and inevitable.
Bill Carson January 24, 2013 at 06:31 PM
Sue , Don't worry these turbines break down in a short period of time ,Falmouth Wind 1 is just starting to break down with the condensation on that electric switch at Thanksgiving . That's just the start of the problems . This turbine has been a curse on the town since they bought it with a 1 million dollar advance of Renewable Energy Credits from the state ! What a deal NOT ! Vestas Wind Systems of Denmark has purchased other wind companies like NEG Micron and Nordtank Energy Group in the early 2000s. Vestas recently has admitted issues with 376 of its V90 3MW gearboxes. The gear box issues continue today. The Otis AFB ,Cape Cod says their three year old Furlander 1.5 MW turbine has no problems .The air base is in denial of how much the gear box is going to cost to replace. One company made many of the same gear box units for all the wind turbine manufacturers . The Falmouth Town Meeting Members are only being told the good news about the older commercial wind turbines that were sold to last twenty or thirty years - The truth is three to five years before mega operation and maintenance issues - small towns can't afford a catastrophic gear box failure.
Bill Carson January 24, 2013 at 06:32 PM
The turbine is cursed : Sue , Don't worry these turbines break down in a short period of time ,Falmouth Wind 1 is just starting to break down with the condensation on that electric switch at Thanksgiving . That's just the start of the problems . This turbine has been a curse on the town since they bought it with a 1 million dollar advance of Renewable Energy Credits from the state ! What a deal NOT ! Vestas Wind Systems of Denmark has purchased other wind companies like NEG Micron and Nordtank Energy Group in the early 2000s. Vestas recently has admitted issues with 376 of its V90 3MW gearboxes. The gear box issues continue today. The Otis AFB ,Cape Cod says their three year old Furlander 1.5 MW turbine has no problems .The air base is in denial of how much the gear box is going to cost to replace. One company made many of the same gear box units for all the wind turbine manufacturers . The Falmouth Town Meeting Members are only being told the good news about the older commercial wind turbines that were sold to last twenty or thirty years - The truth is three to five years before mega operation and maintenance issues - small towns can't afford a catastrophic gear box failure.
Falmouth-Resident January 24, 2013 at 06:54 PM
I am a resident and I vote.... TAKE THEM DOWN PLEASE
Bill Carson January 24, 2013 at 07:50 PM
Several years back, we wrote how the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC), a quasi-public agency tasked with encouraging renewable energy technologies in the State of Massachusetts, gambled $5.28 million in public funds to purchase two new (at the time) Vestes V82 – 1.65 megawatt wind turbines. MTC hoped to jumpstart local public renewable projects by making the Vestas turbines available for sale. The Town of Orleans was one of the first candidates for the towers but sensitive watershed areas compromised the plan. The agency then moved aggressively to place them in Mattapoisett, MA and neighboring Fairhaven, MA, but public opposition to the giant turbines too close to residential areas stymied the effort. MTC took delivery of the V82 turbines in September, 2006 and warehoused them in Houston, TX at storage fees as high as $3,000 a month. They eventually found a 'home' -- in Falmouth, MA. WIND 1 went online in early 2010 at Falmouth’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. WIND 2, currently under construction, will be located only 1000 feet (less than five rotor widths) away. With homes a short 1,350 feet from WIND 1, as soon as it started spinning complaints about noise and shadow flicker hit the media.
Bill Carson January 24, 2013 at 07:54 PM
GE and Buy America While WIND 1 was community funded through a combination of general bonds, grants and advanced payments on renewable energy credits sold under the State's Renewable Portfolio Standard program, the second is being funded entirely through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) . Recall, ARRA Section 1605 asserts a "buy America" provision and MTC's Vestas V82 (vintage 2005-06) turbines were not American-made. Falmouth needed a waiver to get its hands on the stimulus money or change out MTC's turbine in-hand for a domestic-made equivalent. Apparently, the Town solicited General Electric as a potential turbine supplier, but GE's siting standards required a safety setback of 1.5 times the hub height plus rotor diameter be maintained in the event of icing. The setback distance would be measured from occupied structures, roads, property lines and public access areas. Unless the turbine was moved, GE was unwilling to do business.
Bill Carson January 24, 2013 at 07:56 PM
Waiver granted The federal government, in this case the EPA, determined that no domestic manufactured wind turbines were available that could meet WIND 2's project design and performance specifications. The waiver was granted. The notice of waiver that appeared in the Federal Register on April 27, 2010 included this text: Section 1605 of the ARRA requires that none of the appropriated funds may be used for the construction, alteration, maintenance, or repair of a public building or a public works project unless all of the iron, steel, and manufactured goods used in the project is produced in the United States, So, let's be clear here. GE, which has more of its turbines installed in the United States than any other manufacturer, and arguably the most experience with operating turbines in the varied climates within the US -- certainly more experience than EPA and the Town of Falmouth -- raised public safety concerns over the risks of ice throw, and Falmouth looked the other way. EPA, in turn, agreed that applying GE safety standards to the site would be "inconsistent with the public interest". Is it any wonder Falmouth is the latest poster child for poor turbine siting?
Bill Carson January 24, 2013 at 07:57 PM
The risk is real If anyone doubts that ice builds up on turbines in the Massachusetts area, it's worth watching this short video clip from Newburyport, MA where a smaller 600-kw turbine standing just under 300-feet was erected. Or watch this clip from Wisconsin involving turbines similar in size to the V82. The story doesn't end there. Two months prior to Falmouth receiving its waiver, EPA supported a waiver request by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (“MWRA”) to acquire a turbine built by Chinese turbine maker, Sinovel. The turbine is expected to power the DeLauri Pump Station in Charlestown, Massachusetts where GE found the setback distances insufficient to protect the public from ice throw. Lucky for the MWRA, Sinovel was more than happy to take the money.
Kathy Driscoll January 24, 2013 at 08:34 PM
Last nights meeting was courteous and friendly. There was a mix of residents in the audience in which 43 people spoke. And yes most of those indicated that the turbines should be removed or curtailed. And 4 of those were from out of town (and outspoken wind opponents in every town where there is a wind turbine). There were noticeable faces and some new voices. The thing I found very interesting is that not one person asked a question about the options or the report or how taking the turbines down might affect fiscal concerns (don't infer that I am putting finance over health, but it is important to understand the economics). If you support taking the turbines down, then provide a way to minimize the fiscal impact on the whole town. And asking the state for money is not the sole answer because if it were we wouldn't be here today having these discussions. It is easy to say take them down, and I am not totally against that, but I want a real answer to how the debt obligations will be paid. I don't have a lot of money and the tax rate just went up to $8.00 per $1000 from $6 and change. This will have an affect on my household income. And with new tax increases due to the fiscal cliff, I am looking at less money for my family this year than last year. And that money does provide for my family's health and welfare. Taking the turbines down and bearing that cost in my property taxes may cause me to have to leave Falmouth. It's an issue and a choice I will have to face.
Bill Carson January 24, 2013 at 09:09 PM
1st - You have to understand the turbines don't last twenty years - five years is a stretch . The tubines like in Princeton Mass are costing more than if they didn't have one. 2nd I have forwarded all the negative information to Vestas Wind Company . They approved it .They should pay .Here is the response that says they are working with the customer . The town is the customer : Dear Mr Carson, Thank you for your email to Vestas .We can inform you that Vestas has worked diligently with our customer on a solution so they can manage the turbines’ operating hours. From: Vestas Press Centre (Mailbox) <pressoffice@vestas.com> To: Bill Carson Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2013 7:18 AM Subject: RE: Falmouth MA USA Vestas Noise Issues 2013 Yours sincerely Pressoffice Vestas Wind Systems A/S http://vestas.com/ Third and last the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative knew exactley what they were doing when they dumped the turbines on Falmouth . They should pay too. The MTC now the Mass CEC is paying 100 million to build the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal - They have the money to pay back Falmouth
Kathy Driscoll January 24, 2013 at 09:36 PM
Once again, you are not providing solutions to the debt obligation but who YOU THINK should pay for them. As you continually state in your various posts that Vestas and MTC (MassCEC) and the state are all responsible for where the turbines ended up, but Falmouth decided to buy the turbines and is the owner (regardless of the good or bad of the situation). The debt obligation belongs to the town of Falmouth and therefore the taxpayers. It is unlikely to think that Vestas, MTC (MassCEC) or the state is going to take ownership and just hand over the money; if it were there or they saw fault they could/would have done it by now. The turbines have been operating for almost three years with intermittent down times for various reasons. The turbines function. Each one of those entities has a case to say that the debt belongs to Falmouth. Now we need to hear reasonable and salient solutions to the debt obligation should the turbines be removed. And no, solar is not an option - it REQUIRES a $3M grant to install the array(s) and another $3.9M to be put into a stabilization type account to pay the turbine debt. If we could get $3.9M to put into an account, we could pay the debt and take down the turbines so NO that option does not relieve the debt obligation. It assumes that there is money available to install an array and not have it cost the taxpayers - UNLIKELY. Are the complaining neighbors willing to take on the burden of the debt obligation since they want them gone?
Julie Cunningham Goulart January 24, 2013 at 09:44 PM
How could we ever turn our backs on our neighbors....how sad! This is why i LOVE living in Mashpee....Mashpee Town Hall and all its people are some of the best people i ever met-No Good Old Boy's club here.... Sue....you and all the others who have fallen victim to the wind turbines my heart goes out to you-I am all for clean energy but NEVER at the health of my neighbors!
Julie Cunningham Goulart January 24, 2013 at 09:45 PM
you took the words right out of my mouth!
Bill Carson January 24, 2013 at 10:48 PM
Once again its the money before the health of the neighbors. What price do you put on a human life ? The bottom line here is the residents of Falmouth got taken on the purchase of the turbine .Why didn't anyone in Falmouth question why it took almost ten years to sell these turbines ? What happened in Fairhaven, Dartmouth ,Mattapoisett and Marion why did those towns turn down the turbines ? Why couldn't the MTC sell the turbines at an auction ? Why did the MTC give the Town of Falmouth an advance of 1 million in RECs ,renewable energy credits ? The town got taken they bought a Trojan Horse ! In the next year you'll understand the maintenance costs sky rocket . Commercial wind turbine development is “mainstream news” .It is being exposed as just another massive political ponzi scheme in which local politicians are now being accused of criminal acts that affect humanity. Instead of placing a complete moratorium on all commercial wind development at once until a complete public review is concluded, these local political committed tyrants are pushing ahead against all the negative tales flowing in hourly to newsrooms around the world.
mark cool January 24, 2013 at 11:08 PM
Falmouth Son, State Representative David T. Vieira has made our community proud. Great moments are born from great opportunity ~ Mr. Vieira, by this courageous Act, has seized both. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts _________________ PRESENTED BY: David T. Vieira _______________ To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in General Court assembled: The undersigned legislators and/or citizens respectfully petition for the passage of the accompanying bill: **"An Act relieving the adverse effects of wind energy"**
mark cool January 24, 2013 at 11:30 PM
Hey Neighbor - I very much appreciate the point you've made, as well as your 'real' concern. Your livelihood and income relate directly to your family's well being. The debt obligation was assumed by the community (via town meeting). In effect, as soon as that petition passed - everyone in the community went "all-in". Here we are now, looking at a municipal capital project being a mistake. From the beginning , I suggested that the solution to the town's "all-in" capital investment had to be another "all-in" capital bailout. Sure the state will do something to soften the blow, whether it be for the appearance of maintaining 'party solidarity', taking responsibility for bad advise or whatever... Yet Falmouth is the primary owner of the debt. We went 'all-in' when we expected (and were told) this was a WINDFALL Unfortunately, we now know better. And yes, I know for a fact complaining neighbors WILL take on the burden of debt obligation... we're all equal partners in our community ~ We're "all-in" for the problem being solved. Health has no price tag. This mistake does & I'm willing to pay.
sue hobart January 24, 2013 at 11:33 PM
God bless David Viera... sign me up. I have already lost so much . And Bill , thanks for attempting to comfort me but unfortunately My bane is the NOT US webb turbine and the town will never deal with it. So I get to sue WEBB and TELEDYNE ... a mutli million corporation with big lawyers and bank accounts. Not sure I can gamble with what little money we have left after leaving our home. I do wonder what might have happened if 2 of the dangerous turbines were NOT owned by the town.... would they have still let the harm continue. heartless corporations, heartless town managers and damaged lives...Until we call this behavior out and give victims a way to defend themselves everybody better keep their eyes wide open .
D. I. Vided January 25, 2013 at 12:12 AM
Sue - I plan to watch the playback of the meeting but my first impression from newspaper and online reports is that clearly, a mandate to effect a sense of priority to selectmen was attempted. One "value," so crucial to our community's integrity that, without its resolution being accomplished first, compromises Falmouth's fundamental principles of ethics. I still have faith in the good neighbors of Falmouth!
mark cool January 25, 2013 at 12:29 AM
Hey Neighbor - According to another local news outlet Falmouth has it's own "fiscal cliff." Town Manager Suso, in his proposed budget to the Finance Committee, spoke of FY 2014 (2015?) projections based upon a “sustainable model” involving 24/7 turbine operations. Mr. Suso’s budget proposal, given the “purchasing of home” contingency portion of one option, and the "break-even" fiscally static result of the other wind operational options, I wonder if our town manager has a pulse on what's happening? His proposal doesn't account or make contingencies for purchasing homes/ if turbines are operated 24/7. The "who'll pay for the debt obligation" question seemingly is being ignored by our town's top exec.
Bill Carson January 25, 2013 at 12:48 AM
Sue , It won't be that long before the operation and maintenance shuts down the turbines anyway . I don't understand why the town didn't have the maintenance contractor give the CBI and the Town Meeting Members a report on the expected maintenance of the turbines in the next year and what to expect from them . Many turbines have broken down big time in the last year that are only three years old . A small town can't buy and afford to run a couple of turbines it's not economically feasable .
Kathy Driscoll January 25, 2013 at 01:51 AM
Mr. Cool (that sounds funny) - the debt obligation is a function of the operation of the turbines not a tax on the taxpayers. TM voted the funds PROVIDED they were repaid through turbine revenue and from what I have read, they do produce revenue (when fully operating). Now I'm not saying they can't come down, but how will the debt obligation be repaid? In the short time frame before TM this year, the selectmen need a specific answer to that question. And that is what TM members will be asking as well. It's not that anyone is really against the neighbors, I don't believe that. It's that there are other real questions and issues, too.
Bill Carson January 25, 2013 at 02:12 AM
Falmouth Neighbor,You don't get it ! The wind turbines are failing at three years. Portsmouth High School ,Rhode Island -Otis ANG Base Cape Cod . Here is the story from Princeton Ma - How long before the Famouth Wind Turbines Fail ? Princeton Municipal Light Department's admits wind facility is losing money, raising rates September 12, 2012 by Brian Allen, General Manager of PMLD Summary: This letter written by Princeton Municipal Light Department's (PMLD) General Manager, Brian Allen, offers a candid assessment of the utility's two-turbine (3.0 MW) project. The turbines have failed to live up to expected production levels. The project has also been plagued by technical problems. Rather than reducing rates for customers, the project lost $1.875 million and will continue to lose $600,000 yearly under current circumstances. Excerpts of the letter are provided below. The full letter can be read by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page. http://www.windaction.org/documents/36015
Bill Carson January 25, 2013 at 02:18 AM
One million in repairs to Portsmouth RI wind turbine three years old . FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS In order to determine the profitability of continued turbine operation subsequent to a gearbox replacement, two scenarios are considered, a three-year and a ten-year gearbox life. http://www.portsmouthri.com/documents/Turbine_Gearbox.pdf
Bill Carson January 25, 2013 at 02:22 AM
Military Base Having Trouble With German-Made Wind Turbine By: Diana T. Barth Published: 01/17/13 "Performance of that machine was impacted by lower-than-average wind speeds, a number of mechanical problems, and poor service by the manufacturer, they said. Those issues included worn generator brushes and loss of charging capacity in backup systems. A wind turbine’s “yaw drive” orients the motor housing of a turbine to the wind, and a major component of that drive is a gearbox. Diagnostic evidence suggests that the German gearbox may be failing due to a bad bearing and, possibly, because of poor design, the AFCEC reported: http://www.capenews.net/communities/bourne/news/2333
Kathy Driscoll January 25, 2013 at 02:40 AM
Mr. Carson, I am not making any reference to turbine lifespan or operation so I don't understand what you mean when saying "I don't get it". You mean that because some wind turbine manufacturer's have had failures then all wind turbines will have failures? I do not agree. There are as many cases for properly functioning turbines as their are problematic ones. My sole question in this issue about removing the turbines, should that be the decision brought to town meeting, is how the debt obligation will be paid. Board of Selectmen MUST have this answer and it must be specific. But I don't think it should be borne on the entire town because that is not what was voted on by the town for the installation and operation of turbines. I am not disputing or supporting anyone's position about their usefulness, their sound impact or possible health issues. But I want to know where $4M+ is going to come from to relieve the debt obligation should they not operate as originally planned.
mark cool January 25, 2013 at 02:42 AM
Hey Neighbor - you're absolutely correct about the debt repayment from turbine production receipts. However, full operation 24/7 will be impossible due to night noise exceedances measured by the DEP on wind 1 & even more impacting when wind2 runs simultaneously. (unfortunately they weren't tested together. The financial projections from the WTOP, clearly indicate (with night curtailment allowing for a healthy period of sleep) that this protocol is unsustainable, in terms of budget. The long and short of it.. Answering your question - the tax payer will pay the debt service by either bleeding a slow fiscal death or by amputating and cutting off the likely more protracted losses. In either case, the fiscal burden will be shared by all taxpayers. Taking them down allows the complaining neighbors to share equally in the burden. Running them with a nighttime curtailment extracts from these neighbors not only a shared fiscal debt, but also a health and well being toll.
Bill Carson January 25, 2013 at 12:40 PM
Health & Windfarms: Experimentation on people without their consent In this video, Curt Devlin explains to windfarm neighbours how they are actually being used as guinea pigs without previous information and consent, which constitutes a clear violation of their Human Rights. Recorded at the Falmouth Conference on Human Rights* - November 10, 2012 - Falmouth Public Library - Falmouth, MA, USA * Science, medicine and engineering were called upon to explain the impacts of living too close to industrial wind turbines. http://www.epaw.org/documents.php?lang=en&article=v4
Jennie Davis January 25, 2013 at 01:40 PM
Then I guess since you don't live near them and don't suffer from them, you have every reason to be their biggest fan, right? I mean, c'mon - they don't bother you since you do not live anywhere near these wind turbines. That's an analogy that even a first grader understands. Unless, of course, you're saying this all with tongue in cheek.

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