Falmouth’s Two Turbine Wind Farm Fiasco: Shutdown Order Leaves Town $7,000,000 in Debt

Take a small Massachusetts township, add two wind turbines, mix with hubris and arrogance and you have a perfect recipe for disaster.

In the beginning, there was the notion that a wind turbine or two would help Falmouth save on power costs and unite the community in an effort to purportedly save the planet.

That was then, this is now.

For years locals were driven nuts by incessant turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound. But they didn’t take it lying down. Oh, no.

Dogged and persistent, townsfolk lawyered up and, after years of battling, the turbines are finally coming down. For a wrap up on the history of the litigation, see our post: Falmouth Locals Celebrate Brilliant Victory: Noisy Wind Turbines Finally Silenced & Banished Forever

Now, the rent seekers behind the project and the politicians that helped promote it are being grilled over the $10,000,000 that was squandered on a project that’s turned out to be one that the wind industry would rather be forgotten.

Falmouth Wind Turbines Called ‘Disaster’ On National Stage
The Falmouth Enterprise
Brad Cole
7 February 2019

Republican Congressman Thomas M. McClintock of California took Massachusetts Governor Charles D. Baker Jr. to task regarding the Falmouth wind turbines at a hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday, February 6.

“The Wall Street Journal published a scathing editorial on the experience of Falmouth, Massachusetts, which spent $10 million on wind turbines, and it’s been a disaster,” Rep. McClintock said at the hearing. “That small town went deeply into debt to finance them. The townspeople couldn’t bear the noise, the constant flickering of light as 400-foot windmills turned and property values plunged 20 percent. I wonder how that squares with the bright picture that you’ve painted.”

Governor Baker acknowledged, in turn, the Falmouth wind turbine project did not go as planned.

“I think, sometimes when something doesn’t go the way it should go, everybody blames the concept,” he said. “Well, sometimes, we just screw up the way we actually implement it, which makes the concept look bad.”

Falmouth Board of Selectmen chairman Susan L. Moran said yesterday the state and federal government should support Falmouth with the financial consequences of the wind turbine project.

“I think that, nationally, folks are realizing that when you are a pioneer with the encouragement of the state and federal government, as Falmouth was, sometimes there are unexpected experiences, which can be extremely costly, and when that happens, I think the state and federal government should stand behind the local pioneers, which in this case was the Town of Falmouth,” Ms. Moran said.

She said the wind turbines were installed with “good intentions.”

“The municipality and the state that were part of this initiative had good intentions and learned that there can be unexpected results when you try to maximize new technology for the public good,” Ms. Moran said.

The town could end up paying more than $7 million in debt related to the wind turbines. There are $3.6 million in bond payments remaining for Wind 1, which the town is required to pay. In addition, the town might be required to pay $3.5 million to the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust.

The town borrowed $4,865,000 from the trust to construct Wind 2. The loan agreement states the town would not owe principal or interest as long as Wind 2 remains operational. Due to Wind 2’s past operation, the town’s obligation has been reduced to $3.5 million. It is not clear if the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust would forgive the remainder of that debt, should the turbines relocate and operate outside Falmouth.

The town’s two wind turbines were installed at the wastewater treatment plant in 2009 and 2010. Wind 1 was shut down in September 2015 after the Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals issued a cease-and-desist order. Wind 2 was shut down in June 2017, after Barnstable County Superior Court Judge Cornelius J. Moriarty II upheld the zoning board of appeals’ decision deeming the turbines a nuisance.

At its January 14 meeting, the board of selectmen voted not to relocate the wind turbines elsewhere in town. Instead, they asked the town administration to create requests for proposals to either lease property outside Falmouth to run the wind turbines, or sell the turbines, or re-purpose a wind turbine tower as a cellphone and repeater tower.

“We are working with town counsel and the folks involved here in procurement—Jen Petit, Peter Johnson-Staub and myself—in forming exactly how we want to package those,” Town Manager Julian M. Suso said, adding that no RFPs have been issued yet.

Having not seen the interaction between Governor Baker and Rep. McClintock, Mr. Suso said he could see some truth in the governor’s statement, but stopped short of saying how specifically it applied to the situation in Falmouth.
The Falmouth Enterprise

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. This interview needs to be seen by everyone. The distress that the wind company and the government agents who ushered in these turbines have caused these innocent people is unforgivable.

  2. Governor Baker says “I think, sometimes when something doesn’t go the way it should go, everybody blames the concept,” he said. “Well, sometimes, we just screw up the way we actually implement it, which makes the concept look bad.”

    Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

    After Falmouth more than a half dozen installations were made, some with more and larger turbines. The numerous complaints which lead some to sell and move away, State authorities assembled the Wind Turbine Noise Technical Advisory Group (WNTAG) in 2013 to provide advice on recommended changes to Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) noise regulations and/or policies as they apply to wind turbine noise. The MassDEP is charged with the responsibility of enforcing the state’s anti pollution laws and regulations where sound is defined as an “Air Contaminant” and noise is defined as “Air Pollution”.

    • WNTAG uncovered all the shortcomings related to wind turbine siting. After WNTAG, MassDEP has not changed any of its policies, regulations or noise testing protocols. If anything the noise testing protocols have resulted in accepting an increase in the noise pollution environment. The lesson from the Falmouth failure is that a setback distance of 1,600 feet is not enough. To get the noise level down to where it meets state laws and regulations, Falmouth teaches that the setback distance needs to be increased by a factor of four (4). This is confirmed by studies elsewhere which recommend a setback distance of a mile and a quarter.

      Falmouth was not a unique screw up, as Governor Baker states. Falmouth is a typical screw up that state officials have failed to notice. Practically all land based wind turbines in Massachusetts need to be removed just like Falmouth.

      The MassDEP is not enforcing the law as intended, and the Governor is asleep at the switch!

  3. Falmouth Wind Turbines A Dumb Bet With Taxpayers Funds

    “We took on a huge risk and I think we were successful but we’re a large community and I think we can take on that risk,”

    Falmouth Massachusetts 3/7/19

    https://patch.com/massachusetts/falmouth/falmouth-wind-turbines-dumb-bet-taxpayers-funds

  4. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak and commented:
    Take a small Massachusetts township, add two wind turbines, mix with hubris and arrogance and you have a perfect recipe for disaster.

    In the beginning, there was the notion that a wind turbine or two would help Falmouth save on power costs and unite the community in an effort to purportedly save the planet.

    That was then, this is now.

    For years locals were driven nuts by incessant turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound. But they didn’t take it lying down. Oh, no.

    Dogged and persistent, townsfolk lawyered up and, after years of battling, the turbines are finally coming down. For a wrap up on the history of the litigation, see our post: Falmouth Locals Celebrate Brilliant Victory: Noisy Wind Turbines Finally Silenced & Banished Forever

    Now, the rent seekers behind the project and the politicians that helped promote it are being grilled over the $10,000,000 that was squandered on a project that’s turned out to be one that the wind industry would rather be forgotten.

  5. I wonder if they too were also told they are as quiet as a refrigerator at 20m ..

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