We heard from Liz Argo in this morning’s story, The Falmouth Experience: The Green Debate. Argo is a Cape Cod resident who has been a wind and renewable energy advocate since 2003. She has worked in sales and management for renewable energy and is now a renewable energy consultant. She’s been a vocal advocate for onshore wind. You can read or hear more of her interview here (and don’t miss our extended interview with wind opponent Eric Bibler, too).
Liz Argo: None of us want to throw Falmouth under the bus, but what can we learn from Falmouth?
As we go forward, there has to be a certain degree of conservatism that’s brought into doing a sound study. The parameters that guide what you are looking at — maybe those need to be adjusted.
Falmouth has proven that it comes right up against current the sound levels that are acceptable. We know why now: It’s an older turbine technology that is noisier and it’s a quieter environment. So 10 dB there over ambient (sound) — that’s probably little bit more than family should have to as we go forward. I think we’ll see as we go forward and that the sound level will be lowered. Instead of having 10 db over you might have 8 db over or less.
In Brewster, we’ve learned a lot form Falmouth, and it’s such a shame that it’s being characterized as another Falmouth, that it could be another unpleasant experience. We just know from the sound tests that its sound levels are so much lower than what they have in Falmouth. Different turbine technology and a louder ambient environment.
Sean Corcoran: So what happened in Falmouth has already infected the debate here on Cape Cod.
Liz Argo: What happened in Falmouth has very definitely made doing any well-sited wind project on Cape Cod nearly impossible right now.
You’re touching on the whole crux of the issue for getting a project to go forward, even a well-sited project. We have studies that are peer-reviewed journaled study. Let’s use real estate because that’s the topic it keeps coming back to, that and infrasound. We have the studies that say real-estate values will not be impacted. But we have too many people who are too panicked who are bringing forward less-than-peer-reviewed studies, but they’re throwing so much noise and study at it that even the peer-reviewed studies end up being questioned.
There’s a fellow from Illinois that has been asked to do a study, he’s an appraiser. His work has not been peer-reviewed. But it’s being bought as an equivalent to these peer-reviewed studies. And the planning board, unfortunately, they’re not able to distinguish between a study of one level and study another level, lesser level.
These planning boards and select boards and so on, they are not experts in wind, they have other jobs they are doing a great job, and without them we’d be lost. But to put these decisions in their hands is almost unfair to them. They’re expected to take in mountains of information and somehow digest it and sort through, saying, “Okay, this is legit, this is not legit.” It’s just asking too much of them.
The Wind Energy Siting Reform Act holds tremendous promise for wind development in Mass., particularly on Cape Cod. We need standards. If the standards can be brought forward with that kind of professional level of research and attention then we would have a terrific bar terrific guideline for correct wind citing.
We need a wind-energy siting-reform group they can come in and say those are hugely different projects, and help local planning boards understand it. And here’s why: Right now, (planning boards) are just being buffeted by the waters that are pushing them one way and then another way.
With a well-educated and formulated wind-energy siting-reform act coming out of Boston, we’d have some guidelines that would help everybody.