For the third time, selectmen discussed Duxbury’s involvement with a wind turbine project in Plymouth, but no amount of urging or testimony from concerned citizens could change their minds about supporting a contract with the project.
Selectmen voted last week to pursue a contract for four wind turbines proposed to be located at Mann Farm, a 380-acre cranberry farm on Head of the Bay Road in Plymouth. The project, brought to the town’s attention by the Alternative Energy Committee, is expected to save the town 20 to 30 percent on its energy bills over the next twenty years.
Hounds Ditch Lane resident Joanne Levesque asked for this issue to be put on the selectmen’s meeting agenda on Monday. Levesque said she became involved in the wind turbine debate in Duxbury when the Alternative Energy Committee proposed to build one at the North Hill golf course in 2011. Neighbors objected to that plan, which was ultimately withdrawn. Since then, Levesque said she has been following the issue in other towns, such as Plymouth and Kingston.
Levesque was opposed to the Future Generation Wind project because of the health impacts that can occur with people living near the industrial wind turbines.
“When I found out that there were nearly 300 families living within 2,500 feet, I was disturbed,” she said.
Levesque said that people living near turbines in Kingston, Scituate, Falmouth and other towns have had health problems due to the noise and shadow flicker produced by the turbines.
She pointed out that the state was reviewing its regulations for noise related to wind turbines and that there were many bills before the state legislature regarding new rules for turbine. Therefore, she urged selectmen not to contract with Future Generation Wind until they had more information.
“I’m convinced that the reports that this project is based on are fatally flawed,” said Levesque.
She said that there were many neighbors who were opposed to the project but couldn’t afford to hire a lawyer to fight it. Many letters from Plymouth residents are part of that town’s board of health records, which she had viewed. She said she was also told that once the project is operational, these neighbors expect to file multiple nuisance complaints.
One of the neighbors, Michael Murphy of Plymouth, attended the meeting and told selectmen that this project will have the biggest turbines in the state. Murphy said his house will be 1,800 feet away.
“I ask you to reconsider your vote. There are still a lot of neighbors down there who are opposed to it,” Murphy said.
Selectmen told Levesque that because of the concerns she raised about the project last month, they met with Plymouth cranberry grower Keith Mann of Future Generation Wind last week. They said they were satisfied that Mann had done the proper amount of public outreach and that they could see no reason to not move forward with the contract as the project had been thoroughly vetted and permitted by state and local authorities.
Selectmen Chairman David Madigan said that by contracting with a wind-to-energy project, town officials were trying to save the town money and use a source of renewable energy to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear power.
Selectman Shawn Dahlen said the town was not doing anything wrong and if town meeting voters authorize them to go forward with the project then the town was protected by the contract.
“We receive the credits and the discounts only if and when the power is generated,” he said. “If for any reason or if there is any legal roadblock, we have no money invested, we just won’t be able to take advantage of the savings. We’re making a decision to be a consumer of a product that is legally available.”
Voters can decide whether or not Duxbury pursues a contract with Future Generation Wind by attending the annual town meeting on Saturday, March 8 and voting on Article 21. The meeting takes place at 9 a.m. at the Performing Arts Center.