A Barnstable Superior Court judge has ordered the town of Falmouth to limit the operation of two, town-owned wind turbines, including shutting them down completely on Sundays and holidays.
The order comes as Judge Christopher Muse considers complaints from some neighbors that noise from the turbines at the town's wastewater treatment plant causes health affects, including insomnia, headaches and vertigo.
Under Muse's order, in addition to holidays and Sundays, the turbines will be shutdown from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. The order stands until January, and Muse instructed the town to consider and discuss mitigation options with nearby homeowners, including residents Neil and Elizabeth Anderson, before submitting an update to the court in 75 days.
The town of Falmouth has struggled with what to do with the turbines -- including whether to regulate their hours of operation -- since a few dozen residents in the area of Blacksmith Shop Road began complaining soon after the first turbine was turned on in 2010. The town's own zoning board ruled in May that the turbine called Wind 1 constitutes a nuisance, setting up a conflict between the zoning board and the Board of Selectmen.
Earlier this year, voters did not act to decommission the turbines in a town-wide election, and there appears to be disagreement among town leaders regarding the most appropriate action to take.
Some town leaders have expressed concern that curtailing the turbine hours will cost the town money, and it may also lead to Falmouth having to repay a loan used for construction.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.
Listen to this edition of The Point: What's the Future for Land based Wind Turbines in MA, for background information on the Wind Turbines in Falmouth.
Sean Corcoran and Dr. Heather Goldstone talk about the Wind Turbines back in 2011 for PBS News Hour.
"In a week-long series, Heather Goldstone, reporter for the blog Climatide, and Sean Corcoran of WCAI on Cape Cod, Mass., look at the debate in one Massachusetts community where a 400-foot tall turbine has been turning for less than a year. While little scientific research has been completed to substantiate the claims, many residents living near the turbine are complaining of sleep deprivation, headaches, and tinnitus, or ringing of the ears. And they explore tricky questions such as: Is annoyance a health impact?"