Cape Cod town may be first to tear down turbines

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BOSTON -- A Cape Cod town that once considered its first wind turbine the crowning achievement of its climate protection plan may become the first community in the country to tear its turbines down.

The Falmouth selectmen's board chair, Kevin Murphy, flatly calls the project, whose first turbine began spinning in 2010, a failure. And the board is backing a proposal to borrow $14 million to dismantle the original turbine and a newer, town-owned one.

From the start, neighbors have complained about the turbines' noise. They also attribute a range of physical and mental health problems to them.

But other residents report no problems. Some in town say it's far too soon to tear down a critical renewable energy project they estimate could produce $450,000 in annual revenue.

"It's pit neighbor against neighbor," Murphy said.

On Tuesday, Falmouth's 243-member Town Meeting assembly was to decide whether the question about borrowing the money to dismantle the turbines should be put to voters in a May referendum.

The American Wind Energy Association said it's the first time any town has considered taking down its turbines.

Both turbines are built at the town's waste treatment plant. Falmouth's original turbine was the first municipal utility-scale turbine in Massachusetts.

In May 2012, 47 people told a board of health hearing about various problems they blamed on the turbines, including sleep deprivation, vertigo and memory loss. But 15 others said there were no problems.


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