Should Plymouth Place a Moratorium on Wind Turbines?

Town Meeting will consider a petitioned article to halt permitting for wind turbines for two years, do you believe wind turbines are a detriment to health or are they an eyesore in neighborhoods?

With four wind turbines peeking over the horizon along Route 3 in Kingston and seven more lined up for construction in Plymouth, a group of residents has submitted a petition for a Fall Town Meeting article that would set a two-year moratorium on more permits, and the group is getting support from many people, who say they support “green energy” from across the region.

The framed image of Plymouth Bay lined with offshore turbines located in the Mayflower Meeting Room at Town Hall, as well as the goal of the beginnings of energy independence by 2020, are facing a backlash of opposition.

The Planning Board began its review of the article Monday, as dozens of people, including residents from neighboring towns, spoke against zoning turbines in residential areas and other locations in town that would be considered not only an eyesore, but also a detriment to public health.

Kingston’s municipally owned turbine located on the town’s capped landfill is undergoing a noise study by the state, after neighbors began complaining that the whirring blades are causing health problems ranging from ringing ears and chronic headaches to vertigo and sleep disturbance.

The petition’s author, Kerry Kearney, said he isn’t against wind energy. “I just don’t think they should be built so close to residents,” he told The Boston Globe Monday.

Plymouth was one of the first communities in the state to enact a wind-energy bylaw, in 2005. The town’s Energy Committee chairman, John Corcoran, said the bylaw was originally drafted to allow construction of a municipal wind turbine near the waste-water treatment plant to generate a little income for Plymouth.

“It was going in an area that everybody could accept,” Corcoran said. The turbine was never built, but the bylaw, following a review by the state, was expanded to allow for wind projects on private property in addition to those on municipal land.

Since the bylaw’s enactment, the Zoning Board of Appeals has approved special permits for turbines in four locations: on bogs off Head of the Bay Road; near Hedges Pond Road; near Walmart at Colony Place; and the Balboni commercial-industrial property off Camelot Drive.  

No turbines have been completed, but the Balboni tower is under construction.

Kearney said the biggest flaw is the local bylaw’s distance requirement, which allows a turbine to be no closer than its full height, from the ground to blade tip, from a neighboring property line.

“There are lots of examples of where there are turbines three tower heights away from residents, and people are still struggling with health problems,” Kearney said.

Turbine opponents face strong support for turbines from Senate President Therese Murray, who said last December that she would not support a moratorium on wind turbines in Massachusetts because all options need to be considered to satisfy the state’s future energy needs, according to The Berkshire Eagle.

"There are places where you can put them where they are not harmful to people," Murray said, while answering questions at a Berkshire Chamber of Commerce function at the Country Club of Pittsfield. 

As examples, the Plymouth Democrat referred to two projects in her home district: A windmill going up on a landfill in Kingston and a similar facility that supplies power for dormitories at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Bourne.

"You can’t just cut everything out of the mix," Murray said. "Everything has to be done correctly and they have to be placed in the right place….

"I think wind power has to be part of the solution for our energy fixes," Murray said, "but I don’t believe losing local control is the way to go. So I would have to support my towns that don’t support the siting bill."

However, in a letter to the Plymouth ZOning Board of Appeals in February, Murray said, "It is my strong belief that Industrial size wind turbines do not belong in residential neighborhoods.

"Wind turbines have been a part of the renewable energy conversation in the Commonwealth for some time now and I support wind energy as it has the potential to save cities and towns thousands of dollars and reduce the negative environmental impacts to our Earth. However, we must ensure that municipalities can move forward with turbine projects while preserving the health and well-being of residents. No one should be subject to unnecessary discomfort as a result of any turbine and we need to site these projects responsibly."

Petition articles with sufficient signatures are automatically placed on the Town Meeting warrant, but are reviewed by the town’s attorneys. Based on the legal review, Town Manager Melissa Arrighi said, some sections of the moratorium proposal may need adjustment for Town Meeting to act on it.

For instance, she said, the proposed bylaw would stop building permits from being issued for approved turbines during the moratorium. Those projects, however, would be grandfathered, and could therefore move forward with construction after the moratorium, Arrighi said.

What are your thoughts on wind turbines? Should there be a moratorium on new projects? Should the town continue to issue new permits? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Steve Pitney September 16, 2012 at 01:27 AM
It's worse than that. The policies of Mass have invited in all these out-of-state carpet-bagger renewable energy companies who will leave when the subsidies go away. Gov "everything's fine" never took the time to adequately support and develop new industry in the Commonwealth.
Steve Pitney September 16, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Sorry, Pat, but there should be a requirement that facilities, whether solar, wind or nuclear, at the end of their lives have to be recycled, scrapped what have you in a safe responsible manner. What you are proposing has even less regard for the "arithmetic". Engineering and recycling cost money. I enjoy seeing the moving art form that is a modern wind turbine, but I oppose mandates from central planning which forces us all to buy energy at confiscatory rates (Cape wind at 28 cents a KWHR for WHOLESALE???).
Steve Pitney September 16, 2012 at 01:39 AM
I'm with you on solar, but let's put them on rooftops and non-farm-able land. At some point we will not be able to have food flown from half-way round the world, and we will wish we saved our local farmland. We need to make sure the sites themselves will be able to use the electricity produced. We need to take full advantage of a distributed smart grid WITH Energy storage, otherwise, we will all have to spend more upgrading our electric grid.
Steve Pitney September 16, 2012 at 01:47 AM
We need to develop energy supplies intelligently and sensitive to the market, not Big Gov Central Planning. The more supply, we should see the lower the cost. We were originally told told Cape Wind would produce power at 3-4 cent/kwhr. Now Gov "everything's Fine" is strong-arming NGRID AND NSTAR with 28-cent per kwhr for power from Cape wind that is not needed during the winter. Nothing is "free". A big-box chain is advertising solar for free, which is deceptive advertising. At least roof-top solar ease strain on the grid when demand is high in summer, when everyone is running their AC. Intelligent local energy keeps cash in the local economy.
lilyloo September 16, 2012 at 01:49 AM
how about the war on woman in kingston, the woman who have had their families health and welfare degraded by the turbines that terry murray and lieawatha warren support? Is that a war worth fighting? has fauxahontes's home in cambridge been "hammered" by an operational wind turbine? she wouldn't know hammered if it hit her upside the head!!!! such double talk!
lilyloo September 16, 2012 at 01:51 AM
how about the war on woman (and their families in Falmouth?) are they not being continually assaulted from their operational turbines...what does terry murray and lizzie warren and coupe deval have to say to them????
lilyloo September 16, 2012 at 01:52 AM
oh, and the war on woman in Fairhaven, Ma...has Terry Murray stepped in to help? has fauxcahontes promised to stop the "hammering"?
Steve Pitney September 16, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Let's not forget the economic mainstay of women and families...home ownership. How's the hopey-changee thing working out for you and your home's value, especially if you live near a turbine?
Marie Jane September 16, 2012 at 11:32 AM
"There are places where you can put them where they are not harmful to people," Murray said, while answering questions at a Berkshire Chamber of Commerce function at the Country Club of Pittsfield. (I WOULD HAVE TO ASK MS. MURRAY, to name specifically "the places" and the research and testing that was done for the specific places [SHE] identifies.) "You can’t just cut everything out of the mix," Murray said. "Everything has to be done correctly and they have to be placed in the right place. (NO ONE HAS ASKED THAT ANY energy technology be cut out of the "mix". AND, yes Ms. Murray "they have to be placed in the right place) Again the question, "Where are the right places"? WE ARE REQUESTING A MORITORIUM ON INDUSTRIAL WIND TURBINES, UNTIL YOU AND THE GOVERNOR AND THOSE IN FAVOR OF INDUSTRIAL WIND TURBINES AT ANY COST CAN AND WILL GUARANTEE IN WRITING THAT Industrial Wind Turbines do not cause health problems, are safe, and economically sound, AFTER your have been instrumental in using the "free" money to properly TEST AND RESEARCH. "I think wind power has to be part of the solution for our energy fixes," Murray said, "but I don’t believe losing local control is the way to go. So I would have to support my towns that don’t support the siting bill." (BECAUSE OF THE PUSH FOR THE INDUSTRIAL WIND TURBINE AGENDA, AT ANY COST,THE PEOPLE OF MASSACHUSETTS CANNOT AFFORD TO LOSE LOCAL CONTROL SO YOU, MS. MURRAY, AND ALL THOSE WHO REPRESENT US HAD BETTER SUPPORT LOCAL CONTROL.)
Bill Carson September 17, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Yes ,12 -12 and 23 . The turbines should be shut down from 7 PM at night until 7 AM in the morning and anytime the wind goes over 23 miles per hour during the day. Between Fairhaven,Falmouth, Scituate ,Kingston and Plymouth thousands of noise complaints have been filed .Yet the state with its mandate for a percentage of renewable energy by 2020 continues on a course of taking sticks from the bundle of property rights from residential property owners ! The property owners are the original stateholders ! IT'S TIME TO VOTE OUT THE PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS FIASCO
Barbara Durkin September 17, 2012 at 01:28 PM
On the basis alone that wind turbines harm human health a wind moratorium is warranted. Two malfunctioning wind turbines cost ratepayers an extra $1.86 million according to Princeton Municipal Light Dept. Wind energy is the greatest hoax of the 2st Century.
mark cool September 17, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Abdicating thorough examination of the true benefit of commercial wind energy is just another example of jumping on the “green” bandwagon. Actually, it's more like the rat's following the "pied piper's"(the Gov... the Pres) tantalizing tune (propaganda/half truths) over the cliff, only to drown in the river of ignorance. Drowning is much easier than doing the rigorous analysis. Yes I'm for a moratorium! Press the State Department of Public Health to guarantee that the suffering in Falmouth will not happen in Kingston! They will then point that that's the responsibility of the State Department of Environmental Protection. Fine! Press them for a guarantee. They will point to the Mass Expert Panel Report (not a study but a review of literature). Fine! Press the Panel for a guarantee. CAN'T .. they're not accountable. Where does the 'buck' stop? It appears it exits your wallet and ends up in Mary O's purse... all the while... Kingston drowns.
lilyloo September 17, 2012 at 03:32 PM
here is an ethics question... there is an article about the town of Marion Mass enthusiastically supporting purchasing "net metering" credits from the Mann Bog wind project via Future Generation Wind LLC... read excerpt here: Two months ago, May Town Meeting voters approved an article allowing the Selectmen to enter in to an agreement if it proved in the town’s best interest. The benefits of this agreement are substantial, Dawson said. To start, Marion does not have to incur any costs of construction for the wind turbines. Secondly, the deal should ensure that the town saves an estimated $1.7 million on its electrical bills over a 20-year period. Bill Saltonstall, a member of the Marion Energy Management Committee, supported the deal. “There is no capital expense for the town to cover,” Saltonstall said. “There’s really no way we could lose on this. We think it’s a very good arrangement for the town. I’m just really pleased.” My question: what are the ethics of the town of Marion "outsourcing" the adverse impacts to Plymouth residents while they are free and clear to use "net metering" purchases to keep their town free from any risk? So now we will become divided perhaps between communities who expose their residents to risk/harm and those that keep their residents free from impacts by allowing and encouraging others to degrade their communities... Is this an ethics question of importance, is Marion unknowingly participating collateral wind damage?
Marie Jane September 17, 2012 at 06:53 PM
A free ride is a great thing is it not!! The consuming public must realize that it is their hard earned money that is paying to allow our "representatives" free rein"or is it reign? How best would the consumers of all that is being promised learn that this may not be in their best insterest?Do what each of you has done,do your homework,let your curious mind wander and, by all means, do it as if it truly was your back yard that one of these 62-ton, unfriendly,machines was being placed.Keep in mind that a lot of the persons who have input information into this subject on this blog are not your neighbors, they have suffered under the ineptness of poor judgement; they are from far and wide trying to make our representatives accountable for their poor judgement. It is time our town fathers,mothers,representatives at all levels should be held accountable for decisions they make in our behalf that are hazardous to our health,peace of mind, well being,and ill spent monies directly from your wallet to a bad "deal" at your expense and in their own self-interest and that of the developer and manufacturer whether unwittingly or not. AND,most important:BEFORE our representatives move forward they must be held responsible to implement the research/testing that will enable them to give us the guarantees we seek.AND,an immediate MORITORIUM must be placed on all Industrial Wind Turbine permits, zoning changes,installations until guarantees are forthcoming! "Unknowingly" is not acceptable.
Bill Carson September 17, 2012 at 07:52 PM
The wind industry has a dirty little secret ! Most of the turbines built in Massachusetts have gear box driven drive transmissions .These gear boxes fail within five years .Just enough to get out of the warranty. Portsmouth Rhode Island High Schools three year old wind turbine failed this year and will cost millions to repair the out of warranty turbine ! Now the wind industry is telling new customers that all the new turbines have newer direct drive transmissions ! The direct drive newer turbines have permanent magnets inside the turbine that can't be replaced - They won't tell the customers the down side of the newer turbines. Vote out all our representatives !
Marie Jane September 17, 2012 at 11:38 PM
I am sure there are a lot of dirty little secrets.I would just ask that the politicians represent the interests of the persons who voted or elected them to the job of doing so. I am terribly annoyed that we have to do the research and prove the case and then have to do battle too; even to the point of hiring legal counsel; there is something inherently wrong with the picture.Our representatives at every level have been forewarned that Industrial Wind Turbines can be hazardous to the health of human beings.We in Massachusetts,3rd densest population in the country,7,840 sq. miles/828 people per sq.mile, have elected officials who do not get the fact that we are not Iowa 35th highest in population with 55,869 sq. miles/54 persons per sq. mile.The Iowa Governor told the L.A. Times that they have Industrial Wind Turbine success and do not need the PTC (free money/handouts).From coast to coast, north to south there is a place for all modes of energy technology and the ability to test and develop, but we have to cram a 450+ foot Industrial Wind Turbine, literally feet from the places humans live. Not every location is suitable for oil, or gas, or coal, or solar, or hydro, or Industrial Wind Turbines. Would you not think that the 545 lawmakers of this country would have figured this out.We need a National Energy Policy/Program/Plan.Instead our Massachusetts politicians are beating up their constituency.This is where the dirty little secrets come into the picture.
wedge September 19, 2012 at 10:58 AM
Line the pine hills with them...
Marie Jane September 19, 2012 at 12:52 PM
the "Pine Hill(s)" or the pine hills?
lilyloo September 19, 2012 at 01:28 PM
marie jane: the commenter "wedge" could use a good "wedgie" as they say...he refers to Pine Hills...the 55 and over retirement community which has some very nice homes and a golf course to boot...never been there but the ads sure make it seem like a great place to live. Which of course is why "wedge" does his usual thing and makes fun of those who show concern on this issue. He gives life to the notion that there are people out there that add to the problem instead of wanting to be compassionate and search for a solution...which is what the moratorium is all about...take a break and in the mean time educate the community on the risks of wind power. There was a meeting last night in a town other than plymouth where it was seriously discussed that the Mann Bogg owner/Future Wind LLC wants to peddle energy credits generated in Plymouth to other towns to help them satisfy their renewable energy portfolio... Think about it...other towns, such as Marion and this new town could outsource the adverse impacts to Plymouth neighbors of the Mann Bogg project turbines and have their residents in the clear...what are the ethics of this type of arrangement??? Have not heard a discussion on this topic...
Marie Jane September 19, 2012 at 02:29 PM
lilyloo, I find the ethics of the Industrial Wind Turbine agenda and all elements involved in it to be seriously ethically questionable.I was a bit stymied when you first brought up the ethics question (Monday, 9/17/2012, 11:32 a.m.),more because the ethics issue is so apparent and the fact that the dots when connected, are not being publicly discussed and exposed and questioned is also ethically questionable.It is quite unfortunate,as it relates to this issue, that there is an election happening and the world is in crises. By the time the media is able to devote time to the Industrial Wind Turbine issue and the Energy issue, in general, much water will have flowed over the damn and much harm done. I feel it is quite important to keep pecking away, let the lawmakers and our representatives know that we are not happy whether it is your (our) back yard or not because, ultimately, it will be and, ultimately, it is your (our) hard earned money that will be paying the freight. Our town fathers must be held responsible and cannot and should not get away with passing the buck. If the Industrial Wind Turbine agenda (Mann Bogg Project and the like) cannot be guaranteed to have NO adverse impact whether to the town it is in or other towns then it cannot be allowed to move foward .It has to be good for all and, if not, then it is not good for any. MORITORIUM is an opportunity to get it right! Pine Hills (residences) is quite beautiful. My reference was to a place of peace.
Patrick Ryan September 19, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Here is something we could learn from Germany, They tried wind energy in the 80's, and went solar. Today Germany produces 22 gigawatts per hour from solar, thats equal to 20 nuke's. The US has 3900% more solar radiation than Germany. So why are we so hot for wind turbins.Why are we subsidizing them along with gas coal and oil. We want to get off foreign oil Germany has the answer, but no one is listening .
Marie Jane September 19, 2012 at 08:09 PM
And, that is the head-scratcher question, if you know and I know and most of the people who have written here "know", they why don't "they" know? We are a resource rich country and I feel there is room for all energy technologies; so, why is the focus so heavy on Industrial Wind Turbines?
wedge September 19, 2012 at 08:27 PM
I actually would rather see solar than wind. I have had photovoltaics for 30 years on my house and they don't move, are quiet, I don't have to climb the tower, and they still produce energy afterall that time..... but wind would take up the slack in the winter. I have had 2 windmills that required a lot of attention.
lilyloo September 19, 2012 at 08:50 PM
wedge: nice to hear you not marginalizing those that are, or soon will be, hurting to varying degrees from industrial wind turbines question for Plymouth: the zoning board has issued permits for projects based on a by-law most officials now agree to be inadequate...SO, how is it that Future Wind LLC is peddling electricity to other towns with a document that claims: Environmental & Community Effects: • Zero emissions Really? zero emissions? Low frequency noise/sound is an "emission", correct? How is it ethical that Future Wind LLC is allowed to market their "product" using faulty misleading and fraudulent information about Environmental and Community Effects? and also, permit approval given by the Plymouth (zoning?) Board ...YET it was the Plymouth planning board who, 2 weeks ago, when discussing the moratorium publicly stated that their current by-law (the one they followed to approve the Mann permit?) was not protective enough and needed to be amended) and the selectmen said the same last night when discussing the moratorium. So the logic would be? Plymouth approved a permit based on a faulty, admittedly un-protective by-law. If this Mann Bogg turbine project is constructed and residents who live nearby are impacted by "emissions" is there a negligence lawsuit that can be brought on the operators who forged ahead misleading folks about "emissions, zero" and the town of Plymouth board for permitting a project in light of an admittedly faulty protective by-law?
wedge September 19, 2012 at 10:04 PM
I would still like to see the Pine Hills lined with wind turbines. I would also like to see a line of them from the Gurnet to the nuclear waste dump.
Pat Baker September 27, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Me too, Wedge. As for the drawbacks, I still say wind turbine design is in its infancy. Or maybe toddlerhood. I think the low-frequency issue is real, and could be addressed by some design improvement. The only reason it hasn't been as that no one realized how sound would affect people's health, the main driver was energy production. With all this input and complaint from consumers, I would hope turbine companies return to the drawing board to implement some upgrades. Do we have any sound engineers out there reading this? Is there a way to absorb some of the sound without compromising wind flow? As for the gear boxes failing, when the auto industry finds a model craps out early, they either ditch it in favor of better models, or improve the quality of its parts and manufacture. As someone who has been told I don't get enough sun on my house for solar panels, I am interested in all options. People who live in heavily forested areas might need a good wind turbine. Someone mentioned redesign costs a while back . . . I'd take advantage of new brainstorming opportunities á la TED: crowd-source it, and let some brilliant high-school students without a lot of preconceptions come up with solutions. But I think the industry itself should respond before that.
Marie Jane September 27, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Good to see the subject remains active. Thank you Pat Baker. At 10:52 am on Saturday, September 22, 2012 I wrote a response regarding the Moratorium Issue containing some of the following excerpts and I would like to correct the population of Plymouth information. Haste! Not a good thing! (Population figure should have been 3677.9 *per square mile/2.26 total square miles.) "A moratorium is temporary....Educate yourselves about the facts and fallacies of Industrial Wind Turbines.Do you [does anyone] know beyond reasonable doubt the safe distance between humans and Industrial Wind Turbines?Will you,[anyone] give a written guarantee of safety to the residents?Keep in mind you [Plymouth] are not Iowa (a wind turbine success story according to their governor in the Los Angeles Times):Iowa boasts 54 people per square mile of land, Massachusetts 828 people per square mile, Plymouth MA *3677.9 people in 2.26 square miles[see above].My community is one of the fortunate, our representatives realized that Industrial Wind Turbines were not in the best interest of the people;our project was stopped.We went through the process first embracing the technology until we realized that there were too many questions;no one had the answers.Research,know all the answers,know the most recent known facts done by responsible independent researchers.A temporary delay is necessary.A MORITORIUM is the opportunity to get it right."
lilyloo September 27, 2012 at 01:38 PM
well, for those who question the wisdom of a moratorium i suggest they get a tape of the Sept 24th Scituate Board of health meeting...one member of their town who lives 3,500 feet from their single turbine testified to the degraded quality of life the turbine has had on him and his property...so Mr Mann of permitted Mann boggs, do you have residents that live 3,500 feet or closer...if you do...i suggest you re-consider the claim of "there will be no impacts"...and to mr kearney and his moratorium supporters, i sure wish people would understand what you propose is in the interest of public health and safety as a priority in Plymouth...a noble cause...renewable energy sources should not have such life altering consequences...get the Scituate Board of Health tape and hear what another community now struggles with...
Marie Jane October 05, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Fox News did a story on Industrial Wind Turbines last evening. In case you missed it............. http://www.myfoxboston.com/videoclipId=7804362&topVideoCatNo=238258&autoStart=true
mark cool January 22, 2013 at 01:08 PM
TEMPLATE FOR COMMUNITY WIND: http://www.falmouthmass.us/energy/wtopreport.pdf ~ The most poignant statement in all the report heralds that .. the legacy of our society is intrinsically bound to the principled value of Thy Neighbor ~ “Should health, safety, and well-being of our neighbors carry the same weight as any of the four other interests? We conclude that it should be more heavily weighted above the other interests. Should town unity and reconciliation be weighted the same as climate action implementation or fiscal impacts? We conclude that town unity is second only to the health, safety, and well-being of our neighbors. If the Board of Selectmen seeks to end the tumult surrounding the turbines, then there is only one option.” ~ Multiple Perspectives Stakeholders


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