Stephen Wiehe of Weston & Sampson has proposed moving one of the town’s turbines, Wind 2, to another location on the wastewater treatment plant site.
“Both Wind 1 and Wind 2 could be relocated out of town, but only Wind 2 could be relocated within town,” Mr. Wiehe said at the board of selectmen’s meeting on Monday, October 15.
The proposed relocation of Wind 2 is set back further on the wastewater treatment facility site, approximately 2,400 feet from its current location. The structure’s elevation would be reduced from 130 feet to 115 feet above sea level.
He calculated the relocation as financially feasible. While it would cost approximately $3.025 million to dismantle, move and re-erect Wind 2, he estimated that it could generate 70.33 million kilowatt hours of energy, generating a net value of $5.7 million for the town.
The new location would put it 2,147 feet from the nearest residence to the north and 2,244 feet to the nearest residence to the south.
In its current location, Wind 2 is 1,102 feet from its nearest residential abutter.
“The rule of thumb used to be 1,000 feet,” Mr. Wiehe said.
Because of the increased distance from neighbors and reduced elevation, the turbine’s impact would be reduced.
“Shadow flicker in any of the residential areas would not be experienced if you moved it 2,400 feet to the east,” he said.
However, commercial abutters in Falmouth Technology Park could experience the shadow flicker caused by the spinning turbine blades.
Neighbors living approximately 2,000 feet away would hear hear the turbine but the noise level above background noise levels would be small.
“Increases above background in the one to three range are barely audible,” Mr. Wiehe said. “One to three decibels is considered pretty low by most people’s standards.”
However, he added that Falmouth is a quiet town, with a background sound level of approximately 28 decibels. A two decibel increase here will be more noticeable than a two decibel increase in a louder, more urban area.
Mr. Wiehe also addressed Wind 1. Unlike Wind 2, Wind 1 cannot be relocated within the town. He listed a number of potential options for the turbine, including dismantling it and using it for parts, scrapping it for salvage, selling it, moving it for use out-of-town or using it as a cellular communication tower.
He noted that scrapping it or selling it would likely be a wash, with the town only earning back the cost to dismantle and remove the turbine.
“It wouldn’t be a large windfall,” he said.
While using it as a cellular communication tower is an option, the town would need to find a company willing to rent space on the tower for that to be feasible.
“That cellular network is largely built out,” he said. “You see that in TV commercials all the time.”
Selectmen allowed 10 minutes of public comment at the meeting. Several residents spoke, both those in favor of and opposed to the turbine relocation.
Fire Tower Road resident Mark J. Cool praised Mr. Wiehe’s presentation but argued there was an uncertainty regarding any location. He said it needs to be clarified if Wind 2 is considered a non-complying structure or non-conforming structure. He argued the town should determine this before expending time, effort and money on relocation.
Woods Hole resident Ronald D. Zweig noted that the Barnstable Superior Court will hear the Green Center of Hatchville’s appeal of Judge Cornelius J. Moriarty II’s decision to uphold a Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals decision that deemed the turbines a nuisance.
“We need to keep in a mind a decision will be coming, and we don’t know when, from the appeals court, that may change the situation we are in,” Mr. Zweig said.
Mr. Zweig is one of a dozen people listed on the Green Center’s motion to intervene and appeal the decision regarding the turbine.
Falmouth resident David Moriarty described the idea of relocating the wind turbine as “a loser.”
“There is no way this town can afford to move Wind 2 and keep a straight face and face the citizens of Falmouth,” Mr. Moriarty said. “It is just not economically feasible.”
Abutter Kathryn L. Elder said the idea of relocating the wind turbine on the same site blew her mind.
”I’m overwhelmed with the idea of moving Wind 2 to a location that is still so close to all the impacted neighbors after everything we’ve been through over eight years of litigation,” Ms. Elder said, noting Mr. Wiehe’s presentation only showed one alternate location.
She suggested if the wind turbine was appropriate here, it would be appropriate in other areas of town.
”If any citizens, like the Green Center, would like to get a petition going to put it in their neighborhoods, I think that would be an excellent solution,” Ms. Elder said.
Selectmen chairman Susan L. Moran said there would be additional opportunities for public comment at future meetings. Interested parties are also invited to provide written comment on the wind turbines to the board of selectmen.
Selectmen took no vote on the matter on Monday night.