Wind Turbines Win Big In Falmouth Vote

Falmouth, Mass., residents got a chance this week to make their voices heard on the contentious issue of the town’s two big and allegedly noisy, headache-inducing, sleep-robbing, toothache-causing wind turbines.

They said yes to wind – rather loudly.

falmouth wind turbines

image via Facebook/Vote No on Question 2

Question 2 on Tuesday’s Falmouth ballot would have authorized the costly “decommissioning, dismantling and removing” of two Vestas 1.65-megawatt wind turbines at the local wastewater treatment plant. The measure failed miserably, with the nays swamping the yeas by a 2-1 margin among the 8,941 ballots cast [PDF].

As far as anyone could tell, this was the first time wind turbines had come up for a public vote like this.

It was a familiar divide: One group backing the removal said the turbines “had resulted in adverse effects on families including health, economic matters, and neighbors’ quality of life”; turbine supporters, meanwhile, said that removing the turbines, at a cost of $14 million, would be a rash reaction to a relatively small number of complaints.

A report [PDF] commissioned by Falmouth’s selectmen said that complaints began to flow “soon after Wind 1 began operations on March 23, 2010,” with neighbors citing “noise, health and safety concerns” (Wind 2 went into operation in February 2012). The report said that 32 to 41 families reported negative health effects, mostly sleep disruption. This in a town with a population of more than 31,000.

The town has attempted to appease the anti-turbine parties by curtailing operations, both during strong wind events and at night, moves critics clearly found unsatisfactory.

On its website, Windwise Massachusetts, which had campaigned against the turbines, said “(t)he lopsided vote on Question 2 in Falmouth on May 21st was sobering.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

  • disqus_HWwj3JohbO

    Poor Falmouth…. sold on the idea that giant meta turbines, which exist in the tens of thousands all over the globe as rusted hulks, abandoned after builders collect their tax credits and the first inevitable repair bill comes in, are efficient… There are dozens of more efficient ways to generate energy… in fact, New England doesn’t have a generation problem, it has a storage and delivery problem…. Just check out Catherine Zoi’s comments (former energy dept head) …..These mega turbines are filled with rare earth minerals mined in China to the devastation of their land and water….only winners are the builders…..Falmouth could have had 30′ turbines far from any homes that generate 10x the energy of these behemoths that are OLD TECHNOLOGY….kinda like having a room-sized computer when you could’ve had an ipad….. oh well….

    • PD

      You got one of these 30-foot turbines that puts out 16.5 megawatts of power in your back yard or what?