Falmouth's Wind Turbines Attract National Attention

Two of Falmouth's wind turbines, one at the Falmouth Wastewater Treatment Facility (left) and the other at the Falmouth Technology Park, as viewed from the Chapoquoit Beach parking lot.GENE M. MARCHAND/ENTERPRISE - Two of Falmouth's wind turbines, one at the Falmouth Wastewater Treatment Facility (left) and the other at the Falmouth Technology Park, as viewed from the Chapoquoit Beach parking lot.

The issue with Falmouth’s turbines has put the town in the national spotlight in the last few months.

On September 15, New York Magazine published a 4,000-word story titled “Never Stops, Never Stops. Head Ache. Stop.” The article investigates the affects of turbines on abutters. At the core of the article were Falmouth residents, including an opening paragraph about Mark J. Cool of Fire Tower Road, Falmouth, and the health effects he has experienced since the turbines have been in operation.

A little over a month later, in October, ABC’s “Good Morning America” broke with a four-page article, featuring an attached video, called “‘Wind Turbine Syndrome’ Blamed for Mysterious Symptoms in Cape Cod Town.” The author, Susan Donaldson James, began her article with the story of Suzanne C. Hobart, who had moved from her Blacksmith Shop Road because of the Notus turbine in the Technology Park.

And, within the past week, news has been circulating that ABC’s “World News with Diane Sawyer,” a daily show with an average reach of nearly 8 million viewers per week, will air a segment on the town’s turbines. Word was that the segment was to air on Monday, December 9, but although some watched the program that day, it never came.

J. Malcolm Donald, Ambleside Drive, West Falmouth, had distributed an e-mail announcing the show on the day ABC reporter Linzie Janis told him that it would air.

Mary Godfrey, producer of the show, said in a phone interview recently that the turbine story was halted after Nelson Mandela died, dominating national headlines for special programming.

Ms. Godfrey added that she was not free to comment on when the turbine story might run and could not say that it would ever do so. She did, however, confirm that “World News” had footage for a segment on the turbines and that local Falmouth residents had been the subject of it.

For Mr. Andersen this recent national news coverage has been uncomfortable. “I hate the publicity,” he said. “I’m a private person.”

Also interested in the story is The New York Times. Katharine Q. Seelye, the New England bureau chief for the Times, said she has researched the topic and worked on an article but has not yet been able to publish anything.

She attended public hearings in Falmouth and interviewed a number of residents who were voting during the May town election in which voters opted to keep the turbines erected.

“What has happened in Falmouth, the sharp divide in the community over possible health implications, the locating of the turbines, the financial burdens and gains, is a cautionary tale for the rest of the country,” Ms. Seelye said. “With the national push for more alternative energy, other towns could be confronting these same issues.”

Mixed Reaction to National Attention

The reactions from Falmouth residents to the recent attention have been mixed.

advertisement

Mr. Cool is both glad that national news has taken to the story, but remains committed to the cause here in Falmouth. 

“I did it more to heighten the sense of urgency felt by the neighborhood to the selectmen,” he said. “If it is going to take national media coverage to make selectmen come to a decision, than so be it. That was my point in standing in front of ‘ABC News’,” he said.

“I’ve gone so far as to support other communities in their interest of gathering information, before or after a wind energy project has been put in, but my focus at this point in time has been purely Falmouth.”

“It’s a shame that it takes attention from national media but if that is what it takes to move on to some sort of acceptable way to get through this wind problem, I’m all for it,” he said.

In the ABC interview, Mr. Cool said that he only spoke of the health effects he has experienced in Falmouth. “I’m not going to talk about the town, I’m not going to talk about the lawsuit or the recent verdicts in court. I will talk strictly about my health and how it affected me,” he had said to Ms. Godfrey before the interview.

Neil P. Andersen of Blacksmith Shop Road, another abutter and outspoken critic of the turbines, was mentioned in e-mails about the possible ABC segment, although he said Ms. Janis did not interview him for “World News.”

For Mr. Andersen this recent national news coverage has been uncomfortable. “I hate the publicity,” he said. “I’m a private person.”

There is a silver lining to the recent news however, he said, in that it could bring hope to others affected, he said.

He added that Falmouth could be attracting national attention because of the recent success some of the residents have had. “We’ve had some success here,” he said. “This is a big problem worldwide and I hope I can help out."

“It exposes the problem,” said Mr. Donald. “Some reporter is going to get a Pulitzer for this story. They’ll uncover this whole thing, all the health concerns and the health issues that are associated with wind turbines and the money involved with all the government and all these private companies.”

Kristen French, author of the article that appeared in New York Magazine in September, said what first struck her interest in the subject was a documentary called “Windfall,” produced in 2012. The film discussed the experiences of some abutters but did not delve into the science behind it with any depth. “I was curious about this one element of this documentary that seemed very odd. It seemed strange and mysterious,” she said.

She began by getting in touch with as many people involved with turbine complaints as she could, which led her to Fairhaven and then eventually to Falmouth.

Mr. Cool became the lead to her story, she said, because he seemed like a member of the community who was well liked. “There was a real life that was impacted, that could be measured. Something clearly went wrong and he was obviously losing sleep whether it was the turbines or not. Something dramatic did happen,” she said.

Comments

Please sign in to leave a comment.

  • Marie Jane

    The missing link has finally arrive, "The National Spotlight" is here. The missing link has been that no one has connected the dots; what is happening in Falmouth is happening across the State and across the country. At last a nationally recognized and viewed or read segment of the media is trying to connect the dots, become curious about the stones unturned. In your capable hands and because of your curious minds, the industrial wind turbine agenda may be exposed for what it is, a nation greenwashed, possibly, beyond recovery of common sense. Link, please, the PTC (Production Tax Credit) and the helter-skelter and frenzied nation wide need (before December 31, 2013) for immediate wind turbine farm permitting. Link the "players" in high places, check out the Durkin story which appeared in MetroWest Daily News (12/13), "The "confluence of influence" behind state energy grants (Massachusetts)". Link the 17 towns in Massachusetts who will be purchasing wind energy at the expense and destruction of the natural beauty and natural resources of the States of New Hampshire and Maine. Link the fact that there has been little investigation done to determine the true health impacts with why the industrial wind turbine agenda is allowed to move forward at the expense of human health and well being. Low frequency noise is an issue, but the agenda is allowed to continue while Boards of Health and the Departments of Environmental Protection turn their backs on the people and change the "noise rules" to adjust to the proliferation of the industrial wind turbine and not to or for the health and well being of the citizens who have been and will be impacted. Hats off to Mark Cool for telling his story. Ms. Seelye do continue to focus on New England because they are the link to and voice of the people nationwide, worldwide. Hoping to see you "published" real soon! XXX
  • Billcarson

    Falmouth Massachusetts :Wind Turbines “Never Stops, Never Stops. Headache. Help.” Here is the story in New York Magazine : http://nymag.com/news/features/wind-turbines-2013-9/index1.html
  • MCool

    2013: WIND STORM EVENTS AND LOCAL DAMAGE - A REVIEW The most reliable way to forecast the future is to try to understand the present ~ J. Naisbitt Falmouth Massachusetts ~ JAN - The 'Wind Turbine Options Process' panel, after eight months reviewing information, deliver their report to the Falmouth Board of Selectmen. - Upon review of the ‘Wind Turbine Option Process’ Report, Selectmen unanimously vote to support Town Meeting warrant article asking town voters to fund removal of town’s turbines. - State Department of Public Health (MassDPH) without warning abandons Falmouth’s Board of Health and the board’s request for wind turbine impact assessment assistance. No definitive reason offered. - Town Manager, during FY14 budget presentation to Finance Committee, reports that the 12 hour OFF operating model is financially unsustainable. Town Manager states that if allowed to continue, it will bankrupt the town. FEB - At a municipal wind conference at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) representative advises audience that the State is considering turbine-specific noise regulations. MAR - Falmouth’s Energy Committee led by it's Chairperson, breaks ranks with town policy and protocol and asks the state’s energy secretary not to help pay to take down the town’s two wind turbines. APR - At spring Town Meeting, voters approved a bylaw that dramatically reduces the size of wind turbines allowed in Falmouth. MAY - Town ballot fails. Voters will not fund removal of the town’s turbines. - Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals finds Wind 1 and Wind 2 are “offensive, obnoxious and objectionable” and are deemed a private nuisance. JUNE - Falmouth Board of Selectmen voted to appeal, in Barnstable Superior Court, the Zoning Board of Appeal’s decision that the town-owned wind turbines are a nuisance. - Senate President Therese Murray sponsors a bill to help Falmouth borrow funds to remove the controversial wind turbines. - Falmouth Health Agent tells Cape Cod Times ~ complaints of sleep disturbance among the neighbors have significantly diminished, to the point of elimination, since the 12-hour operation schedule. JULY - Falmouth residents testify before the State Joint Committee on Public Health urging lawmakers to do a thorough, scientific study on the effects of wind turbines on humans. - Falmouth Board of Health votes to support a bill filed by State Representative Sarah K. Peake (D-Provincetown), that would create a commission to investigate health impacts on individuals living within proximity of wind turbines in Massachusetts. AUG - Falmouth Board of Selectmen receive the Wind Turbines Alternative Report from Town Manager. The report frames assumptions operating town turbines at at least 76% of their combined capacity each day (to generate $1.6 million to $3.8 million in revenue cumulatively between FY15 and FY25, according to town estimates). Mitigation addressing neighbor’s adverse impacts is conditional to project profitability. SEPT - Falmouth Board of Health submits cautionary letter regarding turbine operation hour modification. Warns Selectmen that local observations (May 24, 2012 testimonials) are consistent with state Wind Turbine Health Impact Study conclusions. Healthy Sleep period mandated. - Falmouth Board of Selectmen vote an eight (8) hour shutoff model per day. New wind turbine operation model is conditional on State financial aid. No response from State. NOV - Superior Court judge issues injunction order requiring Falmouth to return immediately to daily 12 hour shutoff model. Court further stipulates Sundays and Holidays turbines to be shut down. 75 days given before mitigation effectiveness review by Court. - Town of Falmouth and 16 turbine neighbors begin official ‘Settlement Agreement’ negotiations. Conditions are designed to end all outstanding zoning and nuisance claims and provide relief to turbine neighbors. DEC - Town’s Zoning Board of Appeals finds Wind 1 and Wind 2, are “offensive, obnoxious and objectionable” in another private nuisance hearing. Zoning Enforcement Officer directed to mitigate nuisance condition. Wind’s Fiscal Damage Forecast - If permanent protocol remains 12 hour shutoff model, the Town’s projection of $6,296,673.00 wind project deficit through FY2025 will equate to a $524,722.00 annual deficit. Financial projection does not include Sunday and Holiday injunction conditions if regulated to remain permanent. HAPPY NEW YEAR