The Falmouth Experience:

The Trouble with One Town's Wind Turbine

 

By Sean Corcoran



Some residents of Falmouth, Mass. say they're suffering headaches, insomnia and depression because of a 400-foot tall town-owned wind turbine that began operating there last year. Most scientists say wind turbines don't cause health problems, but the experience of residents has strengthened anti-wind sentiment in the region. WGBH's Sean Corcoran and Climatide's Heather Goldstone investigate the science and politics of The Falmouth Experience.


Part One: Life Under The Blades

Encouraged by the Patrick Administration’s goal to expand wind power, communities across the commonwealth are considering or constructing wind turbines. In the town of Falmouth, MA, some residents say a 400-foot tall turbine installed last year has changed their lives — and not for the better.

Extended Interview: 'You can't be forcing these on people'
Climatide Analysis: Wind energy: The onshore-offshore connection


Part Two: Sick From The Noise



Some residents of Falmouth say the sounds coming from a large, town-owned wind turbine are making them sick. While turbines are not silent, claims of health impacts, including sleep disruption, headaches, ringing in the ears, and depression, are often controversial. And there’s limited scientific data to resolve the debate.

Extended Interview: 'It put me into depression'
Climatide Analysis: Debating the future of renewable energy


Part Three: Flickering Light



Residents in the town of Falmouth say that a nearly 400-foot wind turbine has severely impacted their quality of life. They talk about noise and health issues, but sound isn’t the only thing generating discontent. There also are complaints about a phenomenon called ‘shadow flicker’.

Climatide Analysis: Is annoyance a health impact?


Part Four: The Green Debate



Efforts to install land-based wind turbines on the Cape have slowed, largely because of opposition to a turbine that was installed last spring in Falmouth. Prominent pro-wind spokesperson Liz Argo says the Falmouth experience is an isolated incident, but anti-wind advocate Eric Bibler says the same thing could happen anywhere.

Extended Interview: 'What can we learn from Falmouth?'
Extended Interview: "The towns are conflicted"


Part Five: Making Waves In The Wind Debate



Because of its strong winds, Cape Cod is a crucial part of Governor Deval Patrick’s plan to erect enough wind turbines to power 800,000 home by the end of the decade – a quarter of them on land. But complaints about a wind turbine in Falmouth are raising the possibility that one bad experience could jeopardize Patrick’s state-wide push for wind energy.

Climatide Analysis: Why not to dismiss the health impacts of wind turbines

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